Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Shards To A Whole: Chapter 255

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

Chapter 255: Ten Minutes

Tim quietly eased the door shut behind him, and found Jimmy lurking in the upstairs hallway at Gibbs’ house.

“Molly still asleep?”

“Oh, yeah. Two baby girls, right in the middle of his bed, snoozing away.”

“Good. One of the neighbors started blasting off with something that was pretty loud. Wanted to check on her.”

“Nothing. She didn’t notice me singing, or the little chirp Kelly let off when I laid her down, or…” Tim fished out his phone and showed Jimmy a pic of their girls sleeping together.

Jimmy smiled, took Tim’s phone, and sent himself a copy of that shot. “Good.” 

Tim sat down, back against the wall. Jimmy raised an eyebrow at him.

“Always hang around for five minutes or so. Make sure she’s really asleep. Nothing worse than get her down, lay down yourself, close your eyes, and boom, she’s crying again.”

“Didn’t take you too long to figure out how to skip that.”

“Nope. Put her down, sit outside her room, count to three hundred, and then if she’s really down, back to bed.”

“That works.” Jimmy sat down next to him. “I don’t get it.”


“Paying a grand for sex.”

“Not as enthusiastic about oral as Franks?” Tim asks Jimmy.

Jimmy’s look indicates he’s a very big fan of oral, so that’s not exactly the issue here. “Just… you know… If you’re gonna spend a grand you’d want something… exotic, right? Not the same thing you got last Tuesday.”

“I get you.” Tim thought for a moment. He can’t think of anything he wants, exotic or not, that he’d pay a grand for. Hell, he can’t think of anything, exotic or not, that he wants that he doesn’t already have, or at least wouldn’t have once Abby’s all healed up again. “What would you pay a grand for?”

“I don’t know. That’s why I don’t get it. I mean… Look, I’ve got great food, conversation, relaxation, and my brain sucked out through my dick at home. I really can’t think of anything I want that I don’t already have.”

“Yeah.” Tim nods. “Like the bachelor party and the lap dance thing. I’ve already got that.”

“Exactly. Of course, Franks and Gibbs were single then. Might have made a thousand dollar blow job more appealing.”   

Tim shrugs. “Maybe. I mean. I’ve had the thousand dollar blow job. Hell, I’ve had the five thousand dollar blow job. And if there is such a thing as a ten thousand dollar blow job, I’ve had that, too. But, you can’t get that from a stranger. You just can’t. Unless a woman really knows your body, and she wouldn’t if it was a once or twice thing, the sex isn’t going to be that good. I mean, okay, she’s a professional, she does it a whole lot, so lots of experience, and let’s say she’s got tons of natural talent, and okay, I’ve obviously never done it, but, let’s say blow jobs really aren’t that complicated, and that the basic technique is more or less the same for every guy, and the real skill comes in knowing how to apply that technique, but even with all that she doesn’t know me inside and out, and hell, add a condom on top of that, so it just can’t be that good. ”

“Maybe.” That seemed like a good point. Breena can play him like Mozart with a piano. A stranger, not so much. Jimmy laces his hands in front of him, and looks at his watch. It’s a decent Timex. Looks good, tells time, does everything he needs it to do. It cost about seventy dollars. “Maybe it’s like the shiny, gold watch. It’s not that it tells time that much better, it’s showing off that you can afford to buy it.”

“Could be. And if usually you’d do that with buddies or business associates, you’re showing off how much money you’ll drop on them for their comfort.”

“Makes a bit more sense. I’ll blow five grand making you happy; you’ll sign the fifty million dollar contract; everyone wins.”

“I guess.” Tim’s not feeling particularly convinced by that, but he’s also not the guy who’s ever signed the fifty million dollar contract, and it wasn’t like he needed any real persuading to sign the seven hundred and fifty thousand dollar one for the last three Gemcity books.

“So, you’ve never…” Jimmy asked.

Tim shook his head. “No. You?”

“Spring break, freshman year of college, the Choir went on tour in Europe, and we spent two days in Amsterdam. I was still partying pretty hard back then, and stoned off my ass and laid sounded like a great Friday night.”

“And?” Tim’s curious about this. Not like he’s never thought about it. He’s been awfully lonely and horny in the past, but he’s also a cop, and never lived anywhere it was legal.

“And it was.”

Tim’s silently saying, okay, tell me more.

Jimmy shrugs. “More fun than jerking off, but, honestly, not that much better. Not worth possibly getting busted for. Got back here, and never tried again. And at least when you do yourself, no one expects you to get up and leave right after. And, okay, just, remember, I was eighteen, so it’s not like I was in danger of setting any endurance records, so that was probably the fastest hundred dollars I ever spent.”

Tim smirks, laughing quietly. “Well, if you get paid per customer, instead of by the night, you’re probably trying to get it done fast.”

“Could be.”

“Like you had a thousand dollars to blow back then, but if you had…”

Jimmy thinks about it. “Probably still not worth a grand. Too lonely for a grand.”

“Yeah. Maybe it’s because I’m not so hard up I’m climbing the walls, but, sex with a stranger, even a beautiful one who knows every trick there is… seems kind of beside the point.”

Jimmy nods, acknowledging that. “So, really, you never…”

“No.” Tim shrugs. He doesn’t want it to sound like he’s standing on some high moral ground here. Sure, teasing Fornell with it was fun, but that’s not why he’s never done it. “But, I also never lived anywhere it was legal.”

“Never been to Europe?”

“Only on work. Got stuck in Germany overnight with Tony.” Tim rolled his eyes. “Sure as hell wasn’t even suggesting it. Germany again, with Gibbs, and just… no. Mexico, where I managed to poison myself. Mexico a second time, where I was supposed to be looking out for Abby and managed to poison myself again. Canada I was on my own, sort of.”

“Sort of?”

“Not all of the Mounties are male.”


“By the time I got to Nevada, Abby was with me, and we did blow over a grand a night, but together.”

“Do anything interesting?”

“Yeah, but not like that. Penn and Teller, Cirque du Soleil. Went dancing. Played the tables. That was fun. I mean,” it feels a little weird to say this, but, “we’ve got the kind of money where we can blow a grand or two a night on fun. Can’t do it a lot, but every once and a while, sure. And it was a lot of fun.”

Jimmy nods at that. They don’t have the kind of money Tim and Abby do, but the occasional lavish night out isn’t out of the question.

“So, you’re in Vegas and all you did was shows on the Strip?”

“Only there for two nights. We did Cirque the first night and had a date with Penn and Teller the second night.”

“Nothing risqué?”

“Cirque was risqué, lot of fun for a date night, but we didn’t do anything like a strip club or show girls. You know, I’ve never actually been to a strip club, except for work.”

“It’s overrated. I don’t know about you, but my idea of a good time isn’t looking at naked girls with a whole bunch of drunk guys. I like looking at naked girls just fine, but I don’t need a dozen or more other guys with me when I do it.”


“And if it’s spend a few hundred dollars on a woman I don’t know or on Breena, Breena wins.”


“And if you aren’t willing to spend that kind of money, you feel like a jerk, because they’re dancing for tips. So, I can come home with a present that makes her day, or go spend it on some lackluster sex where I don’t even get to get off. I just don’t get why anyone would pick the sex.”

“Not everyone has great sex at home.”

“I guess. But…” Jimmy squints a little, looking at the wall across from them. “You think that’s it?”

“For some guys, sure. Why?”

“I don’t get Tony sometimes.”

“Join the club.”

“Ziva’s beautiful. She’s smoking hot. I cannot imagine anything involving her is lackluster, and he still tried to take us to a strip club for your bachelor party, when he was engaged to her.”

Tim nods.

“And it’s not like he just met us, so he had to know neither of us are strip club type guys.”

Tim nods at that, too.

“So, was he looking for an excuse to go himself, or was he just going through the motions? This is what a bachelor party looks like, so this is what we’re going to do.”

Tim shakes his head. “I don’t know.”

“If she’s really not pregnant, I don’t get him flipping out on Draga, either.”

“She’s not. She actually drank the beer she was holding. Two of them.”

“You think they’re okay?”

“Yeah.” Tim thinks about that. He hasn’t been paying much attention to anything outside his immediate family right now. “I mean, have you seen anything else?”

“No. Just that.”

Tim leans his head against the wall behind him. “They’re okay. Maybe starting to feel their way through that space where you realize you’re together forever, but there’s still a whole lot of attractive people out there.”

Jimmy smiled at that. “And you’re going to look, and you’re going to think about it, but you’re not going to do anything about it because you love your wife, and she trusts you, and you’re not an asshole.”

“Something like that. I know it’s something he’s nervous about.”

Jimmy looks curious.

“Back when they were first dating. He was worried about looking. ‘Cause, he’s more or less doing it all the time. And maybe it’s because looking always used to lead to touching for him. Or maybe he just hasn’t gotten to the point where he really gets that Ziva loves him, and that’s not going to stop being true, and sure, she might like the view on another guy, but that he’s still her world.” He thinks about that for a second and says, “Oh.”


“His mom died, Wendy… he’s never said, but I think she left him… Jeanne left.”

“Any sane woman in Jeanne’s position would have left.”

“Not saying you’re wrong, but, I’m getting to a point here.”


“For months he thought Ziva was dead. EJ just vanished one day. Maybe it’s not insane that he can’t rest as easy in the idea that she’ll be around forever as you and I do with Abby and Breena.”

“Good point. I’ve been broken up with, but, no one ever just vanished on me.”

“Yeah. I’ve been dumped my fair share, and honestly, a few other people’s fair shares as well, but, I’ve only had two serious relationships, and I ended the other one.”

“You broke it off with…?”

“Helen. Grad school girlfriend. She didn’t want me in law enforcement. Wanted me to be a full time writer. Or if I had to have a day job, the IRS was a good compromise. I wanted to carry a gun and put bad guys away. I wanted it more than her. So I signed with NCIS and headed to FLETC, and she dumped me when I told her I’d taken that offer. Which was exactly what I expected her to do.”

“Okay. But, I get your point, a history like that means it’s easier not to get worried when our girls look.”

“Yeah, at least, I’m assuming that’s why you and I weren’t flipping out.”

“Yep. This time last year, you would have flipped out.”

Tim thinks about that. It’s not entirely unlikely. Definitely would have been true two years ago. “How long ago for you?”

“Three years? Breena can look at Draga, Abby can too, not an issue. Now, if he had asked to see them…”

“Yeah, that would have provoked major flipping out.” Tim checked his watch, ready to get up, but Jimmy stopped him with a question.

“Could you have gone undercover like he did?”

“Huh?” He hadn’t followed Jimmy’s leap to that question and isn’t sure what he’s asking.

“The thing with Jeanne.”

Oh. “You mean, play Thom, get close to a girl, try to make her fall in love with me, and use her to get close to her dad?”


Tim thinks about that, and decides there are two parts to that question. “Like play the role, or use the girl?”

“Use the girl. I already know you’d muff the role a day or two in.”

Tim sent Jimmy a quick glare. Not really angry. He would have muffed it.

“Just, you know… She was a doctor. Nice girl from everything I heard. She didn’t break any laws. She never hurt anyone. Not like she was running guns for her dad. Just, seems like a real asshole thing to do. I mean, we’re supposed to be the good guys, right?”

Tim shrugs. He’d never thought about it like that. “What’s got you thinking about that?”

“Just dad stuff, probably. All the guys out there that one day Molly and Kelly, and this new one…”

“Thinking she’s a girl.”

“Yeah, leaning that way. Get to find out for sure in the beginning of September.”

“Anna, right?”

“Yeah, if she’s really a girl. Hadn’t thought about Jeanne in probably nine years, but you mentioned her, and… I don’t get that either. I don’t get how you pretend to be someone else and worm your way into someone else’s heart. I guess, that’s not you paying for sex, that’s you being the hooker. But it’s not, because if you’re a hooker you don’t expect the John to fall in love with you. You aren’t trying to gain his trust and affection, just get him off.”

“Are we still talking about Tony and Jeanne or are we talking about Lee and you?”

Jimmy shrugs. “At least Lee was trying to protect her family. Someone takes Molly, and… I don’t know what I’d do… Anything, probably, and God help the poor son of a bitch who gets in my way. So, yeah, for Lee, I was the poor son of a bitch. Wasn’t fun, but I get it. But Tony was… what? Advancing his career?”

“Trying to put an awfully bad guy away.”

“How? You saying we couldn’t have put Jeanne under surveillance and just grabbed her father when he stuck his head out to go visit her?”

“I think he was supposed to get evidence on him. We knew who he was and where he was. Grabbing him wasn’t the problem.”

“Then that’s worse. That means the plan was to get Jeanne so into him that she’d take him home to meet her dad. This wasn’t just get close; it was make her fall in love. Make her want the ring and the home and the kids and... And if her dad was that careful, then he wasn’t going to just leave things lying around for Tony to find. This was build trust, become part of the family, and then, what? Marry in? Be useful? Hope daddy offers you a job? Three years and a kid later leave with the information they needed to nail this guy?”

“I don’t know.”

“So, could you have?”

“No. Especially, not after you put it like that. That’s not something you do to a person. But a target, for someone who’s selling guns all over the place and killed my dad—“

“Killed my dad?”

“That’s why Director Sheppard wanted him so bad.”

“That’s even worse. ‘I’m a damaged daughter, so I’ll do it back to your kid?’ And Tony went along with that?”

“I don’t think he knew that. I hope. I think he had a target in mind, and she was beautiful, and fun, and charming. He spent time with her and she became a person, he fell in love with her, and didn’t know how to get himself or her out of it.”

Jimmy shook his head. “That’s grim.” Then looked at his watch. Ten minutes. “I’m guessing she’s really down.”


“Let’s get back to the party.”  

“Sounds good.”

They were heading down the stairs when Tim asked Jimmy, “Did Gibbs look distracted to you?”


“During the story.”

“Not that I noticed.”



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