Sunday, November 10, 2013

Shards To A Whole: Chapter 251

McGee-centric character study/romance. Want to start at the beginning? Click here.

Chapter 251: Baseball

“Jethro?” Not that Tim isn’t pleased to see Gibbs in his living room, but it’s 2:00 on a Wednesday.

“Closed the case. Now it’s a paperwork day. Tony’s got it.”

Tim nods at that, thinking that by Tony’s got it, Gibbs means that Draga and Ziva are filling out massive reams of paper, and Tony’s making sure they’ve got a steady stream of wisecracks and coffee to go with it.

“You mean Tony’s keeping them in coffee while Ziva and Draga fill out the forms?”

“Draga doesn’t drink coffee.”

Tim’s eyes go wide. “That’s not gonna last long.”

“He’s got these little silver cans… Goes through like ten of them a day.”

“You mean Red Bull?” Tim’s looking horrified at that.

“Something like that.”

Tim whistles softly. “He might like Caf-Pow then.”

Gibbs nods, filing that away for possible later use, then he asked, “So, did you mean it when you said you liked baseball?”

“Yeah.” Tim nods, trying to remember when he’d said he liked baseball, but he does, so… Oh, yeah, that maniac with the bomb and Ziva going undercover as Ziva.

“Not just spinning a line to keep Tony off your back?”

“I like baseball.”

“Good. Which team?”

“Whoever’s on. Never hooked into a particular team.”

Gibbs grinned. “Even better. Would have hated to hear you’re a Yankees fan.”

Tim’s still feeling like this is a pretty surreal conversation. He was sitting on the sofa, checking his email while Kelly hung out in his lap, (Abby’s getting a nap) and then Gibbs wandered in, snagged Kelly out of his lap, and now it’s the middle of a work day and Gibbs is asking him about baseball while cuddling his daughter. “Why?”

“Pirates are playing the Mets. It’s on in ten. You, me, baseball, sleepy little girl, sound like a plan?”

“Uh… Sure… let me see what I can do.”

“Do? You turn the TV on. Should be on ESPN.”

“We don’t have cable.”

“Huh?” Gibbs looks stupefied at that. Even he has cable. (Mainly so he can see ZNN and ESPN.)

“Got rid of it when we moved to the place before this one. Just wasn’t worth it. Watch everything on streaming.”

“How does that work?”

For a second Tim’s tempted to explain how it actually works, but he realizes Gibbs isn’t asking him to explain streaming video but is asking how it’s working out. “Just fine, everything we want to see is on streaming, and it costs a whole lot less. It’s great, as long as you don’t want to see live sports.”

Gibbs is squinting at him. “How can you like baseball and not watch it?”

“I like playing it. I mean, I’m not good at it or anything, not like Tony, but I liked to play.”


“There’s a reason I hopped into that catch you had with Ziva about two seconds into it.”

Gibbs nodded, he remembered that. Once the boys got over the shock that Ziva did know baseball, and that she had played as a kid, they grabbed gloves and joined in. Tim first, he found one, called out to Ziva, and she fired the ball off to him, and he sent it back to Gibbs, little wide, but not horrible. A minute after that, Tony hopped in, perfect form, very accurate aim, and they got to hear some of his stories about how he played in high school and college before he got his knee ripped out.

“You gonna be a little league coach?”

Tim smirked at that, then headed to his computer to see what he could do. Maybe ESPN offered daily passes or something…

“I think it’s softball when girls play.”

“Softball coach then.”

“Maybe. Let’s get her up and walking and talking before planning out her sports career.”

Gibbs stares at Tim for a second, and suddenly realizes that in addition to a glorious Navy career his dad probably did have a sports plan set for him from the day he was born, and he probably took a lot of crap for not being good at sports.   

And it occurs to Gibbs that Tim probably wasn’t terrible at baseball. He was probably okay at it, especially if he worked hard enough at it to get on a team, but he was probably second string, dependable but not fabulous, and that wouldn’t have been good enough for The Admiral.

“You play in high school?”

“Nah.” He doesn’t look up from the computer as he answers. “Little league. Did that for a few years, then we moved again, and I never picked it back up. Didn’t exactly have a baseball build as a kid. Football for one year of junior high, then we moved again, and I couldn’t make the new team. Wrestled for a year in high school, but didn’t like what I and the rest of the team needed to do to make weight. Not healthy, at all. Moved one last time sophomore year, and was on the intermural football team as a Junior and Senior.”  He fiddled with his computer a little more. Okay, so… this wasn’t going to be technically legal, but… one game… They do this more often; he can get cable. “Got it. So, are we rooting for the Pirates or the Mets?”

“The Mets?” The look on Gibbs’ face is saying are you really asking me this? “Bite your tongue, Tim. Pirates.”
Okay, that makes a certain level of sense. Stillwater was about an hour and a half north of Pittsburgh, so… yeah, he can see that.

“You play as a kid?” He asks Gibbs as he connects the TV to his computer so they can see the game on the big screen.

“Born in ’59. We all played. And watched. And listened to games on the radio. And once, twice a year, LJ, my Dad, and I would head down to Pittsburgh to watch a game. You ever been to Pittsburgh?”

Pittsburgh Skyline
“Just as a layover, or break points the few times I was up in Stillwater.”

“It was a steel town, then, pretty grungy, but…  You go in for a night game, and Three Rivers Stadium’s down on the point…”

He sees that Tim doesn’t know enough about Pittsburgh to get what that means.

“Three rivers come together, shaped like a Y. So the city’s the shape of a slice of pie. The tip of the pie is where the business district is. All the high rises, and also where the stadium was. And that part of Pennsylvania is mountains and hills. Pittsburgh’s down low, because it’s between the rivers. To get there from the north you’ve got to go through a mountain, the Tunnel they call it, and almost immediately after that, you’ve got one of the rivers, so through the Tunnel, over the river on a huge suspension bridge, and if you go in at night, it’s dark in the Tunnel, and you come out on the bridge with the whole city lit up and sparkling in front of you.”

Tim smiles at that, liking the image of Jackson, maybe eight year old Jethro, and LJ, all in the front seat of… knowing Jackson, it was a truck, probably a Ford, and Jethro’s eyes going wide at the first sight of the city.

Pittsburgh at night. 
Gibbs nods. “Pittsburgh during the day was gray, and covered in soot, and ugly as sin. It was a steel town, and the sky was smoke all the time. At least then. But at night…” He’s been holding Kelly this whole time, and she’s been quietly chilling out, enjoying voices and her pacifier. He shifts his hold so he can look her in the face, “Maybe one of these days, you, me, and your Dad’ll go up to Pittsburgh, and I’ll show you the view out of the Tunnel, and we’ll catch a game.”

Tim flipped on the TV. “Let’s see if this works.”

It did. Not the highest definition ever, but probably better than what Jethro has at home. Definitely bigger, and the sound is good.

They watched for about ten minutes. Sitting quietly on his sofa, but every minute or so, Tim looks over to see how sleepy Kelly is, and now her eyes are starting to droop, and the pacifier sucking is getting slower.


“Mmmm…” He’s lounging on the sofa, very sleepy baby on his chest, beer in hand, game on in front of him; he’s looking really content.

“Gotta put her in her crib. Otherwise she’ll be a bear about sleeping on her own for the next two days.”

“Okay.” Gibbs handed Tim his beer, and reluctantly headed up to Kelly’s nursery. She startled a little when he stood up, and fussed a bit as he headed up, also not thrilled with the idea of her nice, warm, Pop-bed going away. But she’s being sung to, (Suspicious Minds) and patted gently, and carefully laid on her back, and she is really sleepy, and…

A minute later, Tim’s handing Gibbs his beer again, and Gibbs said, “Did I miss anything?”

“Mets scored three runs.”

For a second Gibbs’ eyes went wide, then Tim smirked, and Jethro shoved his shoulder. “Smart ass.”

Tim quirked his head, smiled a little, took a drink, and settled back to watch a game with his dad.

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