Chapter 263: Dinner at the DiNozzos'
Apparently there are some problems money can solve. And looking at an email with a schedule for interviewing all nineteen of the potential nannies over the next four days reminded Tim very clearly why he was happy to write a check that big to Anderson’s. (And reminded him that he needs to be spending as much non-interview time writing over the next week as he can.)
Tuesday to Friday, they’ve got interviews. A ton of interviews.
Possibly sending a note saying, ‘We’re free all week, fit as many as you can in,’ wasn’t the best idea ever. He was thinking they’d see, maybe, five.
But nope, all nineteen. In four days.
Okay, time to write up some questions.
Sometimes people just fit.
It would have been nice to say that had been the case with any of the perspective nannies. Just like with their resumes, they’re lovely, talented, devoted people. But none of them felt like, ‘Yes, this is the exact right person I want in my home taking care of my child.’
As Tony put it when they were talking about it at Shabbos, “No Pah!”
Abby shook her head, “Not even a…” She made a soft p sound.
“There’s nothing wrong with any of them. They’re all charming, driven, focused, professionals. They’d all probably do a great job. But none of them click.”
“What happens next?” Jethro asks, holding Kelly on his lap while eating a bite of the cold cucumber-dill soup Ziva had made for supper. Shabbos supper is sushi (Which is apparently Kosher. That was a surprise to Gibbs, but fish is parve, and as long as it had fins back when it was swimming, it’s okay to eat. So sure, no octopus, squid, or clam, but tuna, sea bass, and salmon are fine.) and the soup. So, fancy enough to be a celebration dinner, but no heat needed to make any of it. He never thought he’d go for cold soup, but with as hot as it’s been lately, this is awfully nice.
“Call ten of them back, and pick them out basically by tossing darts at the board,” Tim answers.
“What do you want out of a nanny?” Jimmy asks.
“Same thing you would, Palmer, thirty-six, twenty-four, thirty-six, right, McGee?” Tony says with a smirk as he’s returning to the table with more sushi. Tim whacks him in the hip, glaring.
“The problem isn’t what we want,” Abby says. “Looks like they’ll all provide excellent care. It’s some way to tell that one of them will do a better job than one of the other ones.”
“Yeah, besides having a knee-jerk aversion to tweed—“
“What, Timothy, is wrong with tweed?” Ducky says, looking amused.
“Nothing, on you or Jimmy, during winter or fall, but on a fifty-year-old woman with a proper British accent, in the middle of summer, it just makes me feel like I’m about to be taken to the Principal’s office and reprimanded.”
Abby chuckles. “Okay, yeah, that one was funny. The whole time we’re doing the interview he’s staring at her like a deer in the headlights, looking like he wants to run away. He didn’t ask a single question, and just about sprinted to go get it when she asked for a glass of water.”
Penny’s smiling at him, nodding. “Sister Mary Bernadette.”
“Yeah,” Tim says, shaking his head.
“Is there a story behind that name?” Jimmy asks.
“Is this your agitated nuns story?” Ziva asks.
Tim stares at her for a second, and then he remembered the Doyle case with the image of the bleeding nun statue buried in the video.
“Nope, agitated nuns were from California. This was Annapolis. Second time we lived there?”
“Third. You were born there, too.” Penny nods.
“Right, second time I remember living there. Anyway, I was eight. Public schools were okay, but the gifted program was too easy, so I’m at Saint Mary’s Elementary. She was in charge of our class, and was very, very strict, very British, and very fond of year round tweed. Huge woman, at least, it felt like she was ten-feet-tall and six hundred pounds, with a perpetual glare on her face. One of those women who had every ounce of joy surgically removed from her personality.”
“She taught third grade for thirty years. That’ll suck the joy out of most people,” Penny adds.
“Anyway, cardinal rule of the class, thou shalt make no noise, at all, ever. You didn’t want to even breathe loud in her class. And I had a friend in the desk next to mine, Michael, and he really thought it was absolutely hysterical to get me in trouble. So, she’d be writing things on the board, droning away about whatever, and he’d start flashing goofy faces at me. I’d be staring at the back of her neck, trying not to see it, but you can’t not see the guy with the two pencils up his nose sticking his tongue out at you. So, invariably, I’d look over, and start to laugh, and within a second I’d hear the crack of her pointer slamming down on my desk, she had this way of doing it so that it’d land less than a hair away from your fingers, but she never actually hit them. And then six hundred pounds of ten-foot-tall Nun was looming over me, saying,” Tim tried a British accent to go with his impression of Mary Bernadette, but killed it, and not in a good way, “’Mr. McGee, do you need to leave class?’ or ‘Mr. McGee, do I need to tell your father that you couldn’t behave?’” He shuddered for effect.
“And as a result you’re scarred for life?” Brenna asks, joking.
“As a result, I apparently find large women with British accents and head to toe tweed disconcerting. Ms… Corday? River Corday?” Abby nods. “Anyway, she looks like a great nanny. She’s practically Mary Poppins. The only thing going against her is the fact that I’ve had issues with tweed-wearing authority figures in the past. But that’s the thing, they’re all great. The best we’ve been able to do in weeding them out is one needs a live-in position, and one likes tweed.”
Jimmy stares at them for a moment. “Talk about your first world problems.”
“Oh, yes, we know. We really know,” Tim says.
“Yeah, ‘Oh no, we’ve got tons of really ultra-qualified people who want to take care of our baby. Boo hoo!’” Abby adds with a hefty dollop of sarcasm.
“But, the fact that it’s a stupid problem doesn’t make it any less real. So, next few weeks, Abby’ll see ten of them longer, see how they do with Kelly, and we’ll both hope—“
“That one of them will finally click.”
A bit later, Tim asked Tony, “So, how was the first week as Team Leader?”
Gibbs grinned, Ziva rolled her eyes, and Tony groaned.
“So much paperwork!”
Gibbs smirked. “Haven’t had this much free time since ’97. Managed to get to bed before midnight every night this week. Cut two cups a coffee a day because of that.”
“Jerry,” the man who runs the coffee stand outside of the Navy Yard, “wanted to know if you were sick or something. Tells me he’s got a new Harley he’s paying off, and you’re not doing your part,” Tony says, making the other’s laugh. Then he switches topics, a bit. “You’re back on Monday, right?” Tony asks Tim.
Tim sees the gleam in Tony’s eyes and says, “Oh no. No. No. I am not your paperwork boy anymore. No. I’ve got more than enough on my own plate right now. SecNav wants my next report. He outranks you by a mile. I’ve got tests to write. Just finished the latest Deep Six rough draft, so now I’ve got to go back and beat it into shape for my editor. I’m not doing your crap, too. You wanted Team Leader, enjoy it.”
Tony’s aiming puppy eyes at Ziva. She shakes her head. “McGee’s better at your signature.”
“McGee’s better at my signature than I am.”
“Probably because a good two-thirds of them come from me. It’s not hard. There were only two things I knew cold by the end of my first week on Gibbs’ team, Tony’s signature and don’t mess with Jethro’s coffee.”
That got a laugh.
“You want me to train Draga on it?” Tim asks. Just because he doesn’t want to do the paperwork doesn’t mean he wants the team’s ability to do the work bogging down in unfiled reports.
“Already tried. I dropped a pile of paper on Flyboy’s desk, he looked at it for a second, flipped through the pages, and then said, “I’m really pleased with your confidence in me, but until I’ve got the title of Team Leader, I’m not doing the Team Leader paperwork.”
“Give it to me on Monday. I’m not filling it out, but I’ll explain to Draga some of the glorious joys of being the tech guy, let alone the probie tech guy.” And, it’s possible the smile of Tim’s face may have indicated a certain level of mean pleasure at the idea of foisting that job off to someone new.
“Aren’t you the senior agent, now?” Abby asks Gibbs.
Gibbs shrugs. None of them are claiming the spot right now. He’s got the years, but is leaving in January. Tim’s senior to Ziva, but also leaving at some time in the not wildly distant future. Ziva’s the one who’s really going to get the job, but she doesn’t seem to mind being in limbo until the three of them get fully settled.
“Isn’t the paperwork your job?”
Gibbs just shook his head. “Tony only thought I was tossing it all on him.”
“You mean me. You don’t think he did your paperwork, did you?” Tim added. “Took an extra three weeks, but I can do your signature, too. Ziva’s the only one who does all her own paperwork.”
“If I knew you would fill out any page that hit your desk…” Ziva says with a smile.
“Don’t even think about it. I don’t have your signature down, and I’m not feeling any compelling reason to learn it.”
“So, besides a massive paperwork backlog, how’s it going?” Penny asks.
Tony smiles a little. “Better. Draga still doesn’t love me, but he’s a lot clearer about where the lines are now. That Jethro will take orders from me makes a lot of difference. Basically, since he’s not second guessing me, and he’s been around longer than dirt. No offense.” Gibbs shoots him the you’re being a smartass look, but doesn’t whack him upside the head. “Anyway, if Gibbs, with his vast experience, thinks I know what I’m doing, that’s good enough for Draga.”
“He is asking more, why do we do it like this questions and fewer do you know what you’re doing questions,” Ziva says.
“How’s he doing on tech?” Tim asks.
“Fine.” Tony answers. “Not as fast as you are, but he’s doing the job. He’s better in the field, but he’s handling tech.”
“That mean I’m riding the desk tomorrow?”
“Maybe. Let’s see what comes up. I want him handling all the basic tech and working with you for the advanced stuff until you leave. Field time isn’t going to vanish anytime soon. You are. So we’re going to make the most of it.”
Dinner was breaking up when Gibbs asked Breena, “What time is church tomorrow?”
“You’re really going to come?” She also looks amazed by this.
“Sure.” They’re in Tony and Ziva’s bedroom, she’s getting Molly, and he just wanted a shot to talk to her alone.
“It’s at eleven.”
“I offered to invite Ed to Bootcamp. Jimmy said he didn’t want that.”
Her eyebrows shot up.
“He ever changes his mind about that, are you okay with it?”
“Uh… Inviting him to Bootcamp to do what?” Breena looks very concerned by this development, because she’s awfully sure this isn’t a friendly offer to workout.
“Learn firsthand that Jimmy deserves his respect.”
“Beat that fact into him if need be.”
She looks disturbed by that, but doesn’t immediately say no. “Tell me how you think this’ll work.”
“Your father and your husband are the two most important men in your life. In your kids’ lives while they’re little, too. It’s not good for you to be caught in the middle. And it’s not good for them to see him disrespect their father. I was sure, after Jon died, that he’d ease up on Jimmy, see that he was a good man, a good husband, and a good father. But it sounds like he still doesn’t get it. If he doesn’t respect that, maybe he’ll respect force.”
“He respects money, Jethro. He’s worried that Jimmy doesn’t make enough to support our family.”
Gibbs thinks about that for a moment. He’s never asked and doesn’t actually want to know, but… Okay, you don’t get fabulously rich on a government salary, but you also pretty much can’t be fired, the benefits are gold plated, and your family gets taken care of after you die. Whenever Ducky retires, Jimmy’ll be going up about five pay grades. (The jump between Assistant ME and ME is huge at the Navy Yard branch because ME also comes with Director of Autopsy.) He knows Breena is making money, too, so…
“Won’t be able to support you, or won’t be able to buy you diamonds and vacations in Switzerland?”
She smiles wryly. “Is there a difference?”
Gibbs gets it, and it shows on his face.
She nods. “Yeah. Add in Jimmy not wanting to work for Slater’s, which I completely support, and approve of… but… In my family that’s almost divorce insurance. Guys don’t leave when their whole life is wrapped up in the family. We’re like the funeral home mafia, once you’re in, you’re in, and there’s no getting out. But Jimmy’s not in, not the way my uncles are, not the way my cousins’ husbands are, and that worries my dad. But, mostly, I think it’s money. And I don’t know if you and Jimmy punching him into a pulp will help with that.”
Gibbs smiled a little and inclined his head, indicating that he understood what she was saying. “Might make Jimmy feel better.”
That got a smile out of Breena, too. Then a sigh. “They’re both adults. If they need to fight it out, fine. I think it’s stupid, but if it happens, yeah, I’ll be okay with it. I’m not going to cry on Jimmy if he coldcocks my dad. There have certainly been times I’ve wanted to do it for things he’s said to Jimmy, too. And if my dad cries on me, I’ll remind him that getting into fights with guys who are thirty years younger and use fighting as a way to work out is a really bad idea. And I might then suggest to him that a certain level of politeness is due to the guy who knocked him flat.”
“Okay. Just wanted to make sure it wouldn’t cause trouble with you and Jimmy.”
“No. He’s my dad, and I love him, and I know he wants the best for me, but his idea of the best and mine didn’t exactly match. I want kindness, love, and joy. He wants wealth and security.”
Gibbs nods. Then he kissed Breena and Molly’s foreheads. “Thanks. Won’t let anyone get really hurt if it comes down to it.”