Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Shards To A Whole: Chapter 267

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

Chapter 267: That Was Wednesday

Abby’s jogging his shoulder.


“It’s seven. Gotta get up.”

He looks at the clock. Ten more minutes. He’ll cheat on his shower. His hair doesn’t really need to be washed. “Mrphgm.”

He feels her lips on his shoulder. That’s nice. Warm body pressed against his back is awfully nice, too, in a very comforting, sleepy sort of way. Then there was crying, and the soft, warm, pleasant weight of her body against his back vanishes. A very short bit later, he feels it again. Sort of. She’s sitting back against the headboard. Her leg is along his back. She pulls the pillow out from under his head, he groans, and she uses it to prop her arm. That gets a half-awake glare from him.

“You’ve got to get up,” Abby says with a half-smile as Kelly settles into her arms to nurse. (Something about being a nursing mom means she’s not perfectly sympathetic to him being tired.)

“I know.” He pulls himself up, spends a moment with his cheek pressed against her shoulder, enjoying the feel of her skin, his finger idly stroking Kelly’s cheek. Then he levers himself out of bed and toward the shower.

He’s brushing his teeth when he says to her, “I feel like I used to do this a whole lot easier.”

“You used to have a sleep reserve.”

He nods at her, heads back into the bathroom, turns on the shower, and gets in. Then he notices his toothbrush is still in his mouth, and that’s not precisely the order he usually does this in.

8:03, the elevator doors open, and he’s once again back at work.

And there is, thank… Gibbs (he thinks, he’s not entirely sure what the new snack schedule is) coffee, on his desk.

Tony’s already at his desk. He looks up at Tim. “Good. Come on, interrogation time.”

Tony stands up, before Tim’s even had a chance to get any of the coffee he’s staring at longingly into his body, and says, “Draga, you’re with us, too. McGee, I want you watching. Draga, you’re with me. Just stand there and look disapproving. Don’t say anything.”

Draga nods.

Tim grabs the cup and follows along.

“And when I say stand, I mean it literally. I want you standing over him, little to the side and behind. He’ll be able to see you in the mirror and his peripheral vision, but not dead on.”

Draga nods again.

“You got a weak stomach?” Tony asks.


Tim shake his head. He doesn’t mind being on the watching part of this interrogation. “He’s been in there eight hours. Trust me, Gibbs and Ziva didn’t let him have a bathroom break on the ride up. It’s gonna smell bad in there,” Tim answers.

Draga laughs a little. “My son didn’t finally get potty-trained until he was three and a half. I can deal with wet pants.”

“Perfect.” The grin on Tony’s face is ice cold.

Snader looked awfully broken by the time Tony and Draga got in there. Broken, jumpy, deeply ashamed. He’d been tidy about it, but there was a puddle in the corner, and the way he’s squirming suggests he’d really, really like to get to a toilet.

Tim can’t see the expression on Tony’s face, but Draga’s looming over Snader, looking at him like he’s a puppy who just pissed on the rug, and he hasn’t yet decided if he needs his nose rubbed in it or whacked with a newspaper.

Tony doesn’t say anything for a long minute, then he carefully places the full color pictures of Ender’s body in front of Snader.

“What I want to know is, how this man was, according to you, doing his job.”

Snader just stares. “Who is that?” he finally asks, eyes glued to the pictures.

“Don’t get cute.”

His head shakes slowly. “Who… Is that… Ender?”

“Yes, that’s Ender,” Tony bites out. “How many dead men usually show up on one of your shifts?”

“But…” Snader’s expression is somewhere between shocked and confused, and right this second, confused might be winning.

“You gonna tell me he’s got an identical twin?”

Snader’s jaw drops. “How long…”

“Like you don’t know. So, what’s the deal? Guy doesn’t show up for five days, and you say nothing. Then suddenly you change your mind and report him missing? What’s the game?”

Snader is still staring at the shot. “This is really Ender?”

“DNA and dental evidence don’t lie. That’s Ender.”

Snader flips the shot over. “Not an identical twin.”

“Huh?” Tony asks. He wasn’t expecting that.

“I didn’t report him missing until Saturday because until Saturday someone always showed up. If we had been on land, I would’ve laid into him, but… we were in the middle of the ocean. We weren’t picking up new crew.”

That throws Tim for a loop, he sips the coffee, trying to figure out the angle on this.

Tony says, “Back up. Someone worked all of Ender’s shifts?”

“Yes.” Snader’s nodding. “Someone who looked a whole lot like him. The first time I saw him, I remember thinking, this isn’t right. I kept looking at him. It was like he’d gotten taller maybe, skin a little darker. But we’re at sea, more than a thousand miles from the nearest port. On land, where there’s plenty of other people, fine, you see something like that, and you call it in. But, there are no other people. We were floating in the middle of the ocean. He knew the job. He knew his co-worker’s nicknames and everything, got the in-jokes. He spoke the same way. Voice was a little too deep, but he had all the same speech patterns. He, just… didn’t quite look right.”

Tony rubs his temples, and Tim’s texting this to Gibbs and Ziva, asking them to pull up James Ender’s picture and run it through facial recognition, see if anyone interesting looks a whole lot like him.

An hour later, they’re back in the bullpen.  Ziva’s got two pictures up on the plasma.

“This is James Ender.” She gestures to the man on the right in the Naval Uniform. “And this Hiri Al-Said. Not his real name. According to the facial recognition software, the two are a ninety-three percent match. James’ mother is Iranian. His father is an American. Hiri is believed to be Iranian, as well.”

Tony hears that and jogs up the stairs.

Ziva and Gibbs watch him go. Ziva raises an eyebrow.

“He got read in on whatever it is the Navy won’t tell us. Apparently, this is relevant to that,” Tim answers.

Gibbs nods. “Al-Said’s been on the terrorist watch list since 2009. He was captured once in Afghanistan, but got free after a few days. We’ve been looking for him for years without a hint of him.”

“Any relation between Ender and Al-Said?” Draga asks.

“Unknown,” Gibbs says. “We called Ender’s parents, and Ziva emailed them the photo.”

“It’s 5:00 where they are. They’re probably not awake, yet,” Ziva adds. “What we know about Al-Said’s life prior to 2009 is sketchy at best. And what we know about since is even less detailed.”

“Wonderful.” Tim’s staring at the photos. “Don’t terrorists usually want some credit?”

“McGee?” Ziva asks.

“We’ve got Simmers, who’s trying to look insane. Make it look like this was the worst attack of someone hearing voices in his head, ever. We’ve got Blake, who’s got the skills for it, but no motive. Ender who appears to have just looked right for Al-Said to hop in and take his place—“

“And do what?” Draga adds.

Gibbs nods, that’s a good question. Why did Al-Said even need to be on the ship, let alone for a few days…

“It would have taken days to get all the charges in place,” Draga says.

“Yeah, but Blake’s the demolitions expert. What was Al-Said playing Ender adding to the mix?” Tim asks.

“Does engineering run security sweeps on the places they put the charges?” Ziva asks.

Gibbs, Draga, and Tim nod. If they do, that’d be an awfully good reason to have someone on the engineering crew.

“Is Al-Said MDeed?” Draga asks.

“Be a huge coincidence if he’s not. Al-Said was supposed to have been in Egypt for a few years,” Gibbs answers. Just as his voice trails off, his phone chirps. He picks it up, answers, nods, hangs up. “We’re invited up to get the details on this.”

So up they went.

Tim recognized the short hair and posture, but didn’t have a name for the first few seconds. Then the man facing Tony and Vance turned toward them.

Kort. Trent Kort. Of course the CIA was involved in this.

The glass eye looked really good. If Tim didn’t know one of them wasn’t real, he wouldn’t have noticed.

Vance gestured to the conference table and sat down, deep, weary, I’m-so-done-with-this-shit, clear on his face.

Gibbs is bristling at the existence of Kort. “More messes you didn’t get cleaned up?”

Kort flashes Gibbs a wry smile. “In a manner of speaking, Agent Gibbs. More precisely though, this is an op we were running smoothly, and then the Army made the mess of it, and we’ve been trying to fix it for six years.”

“Let’s have it,” Gibbs says.

“Hiri Al-Said, or as he was known once upon a time, Thomas Ender, the older brother of your James Ender, was recruited by the CIA in 2007. He was proficient in Pashtun and Farsi, with a mountain dialect we were in need of. We sent him in on a deep cover mission in 2008, and by 2009 it was clear that he wasn’t up to it any more. We arranged to have him removed from his mission. The Army succeeded in getting him out. They did not succeed in keeping him out.”

“Not up to it anymore, how?” Ziva asks.

“Stockholm syndrome?” Kort spreads his hands, indicating a mystery. “His sympathies were shifting in an inappropriate manner.”

Everyone winced. 

“He was ‘captured’ in 2009, and we had arranged for him to be ‘transferred’ to Gitmo, where we’d break his cover, debrief, rehabilitate, and probably return him to civilian life.”

“And watch him for the rest of his life,” Vance adds.

Kort nods tersely. “That was the plan. And it was going swimmingly until the Army fell asleep at the switch, his convoy was hit, successfully, and the Taliban managed to recapture him. We had three back up positions for reclaiming him set. He didn’t use them. We spent a year trying to get him out, but he had gone deep underground. At that point Thomas Ender officially went from MIA to KIA.”

“Oh…” Ziva’s face goes white and her posture slumps.

“Agent DiNozzo?” Vance asks.

“We emailed his parents a picture of him, asking if they knew who he was.”

Tim can feel the eyes on him. “No. I can’t delete an email once it’s sent. I can hack their account to erase it. I can’t promise to do it before they read it.” Vance is staring at him. “Who’s their provider?”

“Gmail,” Ziva replies.

“I’m on it.” Tim stands up, making sure he doesn’t need to be there for the rest of this. Vance nods at him, and off he goes to try and unsend that email.

Half an hour later, as he’s hitting delete, and destroying any trace of Ziva’s email, the rest of his team heads down.

“Give me the short version,” Tim says as he logs out of the David Ender’s gmail account.

Tony replies, “Here’s the short version. We’ve got a CIA-trained operative who joined the other team. The reason Navy wouldn’t give us any info on what was nearby was because a several submarines that aren’t supposed to exist were going to be very close to a certain aircraft carrier at 18:10 on Saturday. If something were to happen to those submarines people sympathetic to the Taliban would be very happy. If some maniac with a grudge and too much C-4 happened to be involved in taking those subs out, then certain other people would be embarrassed, and yet a third group of people wouldn’t feel a need to bomb Iran in retaliation for it.”

“So, this is war, not terrorism?” Tim says.

“Yeah. Fear’s a great side effect, but that wasn’t the tactical upside of this move. You get the email?” Tony asks Tim.

“Yeah. Mom and Dad aren’t waking up to, ‘Hey, guess what, your kid’s alive and a wanted terrorist.’”

“You think they know?” Tony asks.

“Already got the request for permission to go through their phones and financials in the works.”

Tony adds, “Vance has sent word to the LA branch. They’ll be sending agents in to talk to the Enders in person. See if Thomas has visited them. Meanwhile we’ve got three missing terrorists. You said you found Simmers’ Fortress of Solitude?”

“Yep,” Tim answers.

“Gear up. Let’s see what’s there.”

The Fortress of Solitude was a warehouse. Not a huge one. Probably fifty feet by one hundred feet. Just another flat-roofed cinderblock building among a bunch of other industrial flat-roofed cinderblock buildings.

They were careful about it. Drove by once just looking around, checking for any sights of anyone there. Didn’t see anyone or any cars.

They took one of the non-descript vans. So it’s them in a white van. Inside it, Tim’s got the tech working, scanning to see if anyone is transmitting anything nearby. But there are no radio signals, no wifi in range. If there’s a camera or something, it’s transmitting by wire.

One more circuit, slow, looking like lost delivery guys. (Tony actually stopped the van and left a brown box on the door of one of the other buildings and then pulled them away.) No one spots any obvious cameras. Tim and Draga get pictures of the layout, and they take their time going over them. They’re in the parking lot of the nearest coffee shop. Tony’s inside, just hanging out, drinking his coffee, keeping up the appearance of a delivery guy, as the four of them huddle up in the back of the van, planning their attack. And like any layout, there are places that would make for a good ambush, and other spots that look like they were made for a trap, so at least they can avoid them.

One last step. As Tony pulls the van up close to the warehouse again, he hits the switch that jams radio, cell, and wifi transmissions. If someone is watching, they won’t be able to just flick a switch and blow them up.

Unless, of course, that switch is hardwired.

Time to go in.

They clear it first, fast, careful, watching each other’s backs and all around. But it’s empty. Really empty.
It’s just a warehouse, filled with crates.

And God alone knows what’s in those crates.

Tony headed back to the van, killed the jamming, called Vance, let him know they wanted the bomb squad, and then turned the jamming back on.   

“Experience is a great teacher. We’ve had four different cases where the perps tried to hide what they were doing with a fake wall,” Tony says, staring at the wall in front of him.

“And you think there’s a fake wall?” Draga asks.

“You’re the one who sees everything. Tell me how big the outside of this warehouse is compared to the inside.”

Draga trots outside, eyeballs the warehouse, and then heads back in again.

“You’re right.”

Tony rests his hand against the wall. “Think if we go knock on this, we’ll find at least one section, maybe all three, are hallow and hiding goodies.”

Draga knocks, and it does sound hollow. He, Gibbs, and Tony start hunting for the latch. There has to be a way to open this.

Draga spots it, high up, just where the wall meets with the support beam. He stretches up onto his toes, pressing into it, as Tony yanks on his arm, saying “Wait.” He and Gibbs and Tony all heard a click as the wall swung out, and then a much softer snick sound.

Tim isn’t paying much attention to what Tony and Draga and Gibbs are doing. He’s getting pictures of the whole layout. Hundreds of boxes to go through. Any of them could be filled with C4. Gasoline canisters toward the back wall, lots of them, and from the smell of it, they aren’t empty. He’s sure bleach and petroleum jelly’s around here somewhere, too. He and Ziva are very carefully going through, mapping everything out, looking for tripwires, pressure plates, anything that could spell disaster.

Draga heads out, looks around, and then goes back in, calling out, “You’re right.”

He gets a few more shots and then feels his blood go cold when he hears Gibbs yell at the top of his lungs, “Tim, Ziva, run!”

He doesn’t hesitate. His body is running before Gibbs has even finished the words, moving as fast as he can to get away.

“McGee, go.” “Get out of here, McGee.” “Go on, McGee. Go!” Many variations, many places, many dangers, but one thing has always remained constant. That’s the one order he has never, ever obeyed.

Until today.

And he hates it. And he’s got no idea how he’s going to live with himself if whatever set off Gibbs hurts them.

But he’s running, because, in the end… Because this won’t be the end, not for him, not today. And because no matter how well earned it is, a name, a pension, a badge, and a flag are not enough.

Each pounding step, getting him closer to cover, is a promise to Abby and Kelly, that no matter what, he will come home to them.

He’s a husband and a father and that comes first, but right now, hiding behind the cinderblock wall of the nearest building, begging God that his loves come through, son and brother aren’t very far behind.

There was a slithering roar, and he doesn’t know what that is, but it scares the hell out of him, followed, maybe two seconds later, by a blast that left his ears ringing, his heart pounding, and though he’s ashamed to admit it, he wet his pants, too.

He pulls himself up, looks around the corner, sees the ruined building, crumbled walls, smoke pouring through the shattered roof, flames dancing between curtains of black, and collapses, sobbing.

No way anyone got out of that.

The second he hears the snick, Tony knows it’s a trap.

It’s a stupidly easy trap. Open the wall. If you know it’s trapped you only let it open an inch, slip the pin off the string, and then then the detonator doesn’t go off.

Stupid, stupid, stupid. Beat Draga up later, if you live.

It didn’t blow the second they heard the snick. Angels on your side. Hope today isn’t the day your luck runs out.

McGee runs away from it.

Ziva runs toward them.

“Go!” Tony’s screaming it, can’t see how it works yet, hoping there’s a shot of killing it before it kills them. But she’s by his side.

“You go. I go.”


Timer, counting down, fifteen seconds. No time, not nearly enough time to figure the damn thing out and dismantle it.

“It’s a detonator.” Gibbs has the knife out, getting ready to cut wires, at this point it’s just a blind  hope that he’d get the right ones, and Tony knows it’s just a hope and a prayer.

It’s a detonator.

He grabs Gibbs’ hand. Detonators work by making a smaller explosion that sets off the bigger one. It’ll blow, maybe hurt them. But if it blows the C-4 tucked into that wall, it’ll kill them.

Boxes all over the place. Who knows what’s in them. Wall of C4 next to them.

“Fuck it. You can only die once.” Tony grabs the detonator, yanking it out of the wall of C-4, and tosses it as far as he can.

Tim wasn’t ashamed of the fact that when Tony found him, he was rocking back and forth, sobbing.  

The only thing he was sure of, no way they came through, and the pain of that, the shattering, crashing, searing pain left him unable to do anything but sob.

Tony dropped down next to him, wrapping his arm around his shoulders, and said, very loudly, his ears are fucked right now, “Booby trapped with a bomb. You ran away. Ziva ran to us. Second after you left, I said, ‘Fuck it, you can only die once,’ and threw the thing as far as I could while we hugged the floor. Think I blew the gasoline. Big rush of fire went straight over us. Kind of cool really.”

Tim’s staring at him, eyes wide, tears streaming down his face. Then he grabs Tony, pulling him into a full body hug, clinging onto him.

“Looks like only a few of the boxes had explosives in them. That went next. Big boom. Haven’t heard anything since. C-4 next to us didn’t blow, thank God. Ziva’s splinting up Gibbs, he might have broken his ankle. Blast picked us up and threw us. And Draga’s pretty stunned, got him lying down. But everyone’s alive. None of us can hear. You think you could call 911?”

Tim nods, taking as many deep breaths as he can, trying to pull himself together.  

He holds onto Tony, hands on his shoulders, testing, making sure he’s in one piece. Tony flashes him a lopsided smile, and then crumples.

Tim’s frantically frisking him, trying to figure out what’s going on, but his eyes slowly open, his focus shaky. He looks up at Tim and says, still very loud. “I think something hit my head.”

Tim nods. He doesn’t try to talk to Tony; he can’t hear or read lips. Tim just gestures with his hands, trying to get the idea of stay lying down across, and hopes he does. He spends a full minute pounding on his phone, cursing at it, slamming his fingers down on the screen, as if hitting the numbers extra-hard will make the call go through faster, but nothing happened.

Then he remembers the jammer and sprints to the van, rushing in, slamming off the jammer, and calling with both his cell and radio for all available back-up.

After this sort of accident, usually agents aren’t allowed back on the case until they’ve been medically and psychologically cleared.

As the only one of the group who got clear of the explosion, Tim’s answering a lot of questions.

First there were the questions of the first responders, mostly EMS, but Fire, too. Lots of what happened, who’s hurt, how bad, questions.  Mercifully, there was a minute between them and the first wave of the NCIS techs hitting the scene, where he could get cleaned up.

Then there was everyone out of Norfolk, several members of the local PD, and eventually half of the DC branch of NCIS all milling about, wanting to do their job, but the explosions set the place on fire, and they had to wait for the fire trucks to get done. And Fire had to wait for the bomb squad, because burning building filled with C-4 was nothing anyone wanted to walk into. So, instead of investigating the place, they’re investigating him, peppering him with questions.

But once EMS got Gibbs in an ambulance, he hopped in, too.

Which means now he’s in the emergency room, near his team, but still answering questions. Vance is standing next to him, getting the play by play. Tim thinks he’s doing a pretty good job of it, though he’s not really there. He’s staring at the beds where Gibbs, Ziva, Tony, and Draga are, willing the doctors to show up faster, get answers quicker, and tell him his loves are going to be okay.

Ziva’s announced (loudly) to everyone who will listen that she’s just fine, nothing wrong at all, but she hasn’t been cleared. (Apparently both Tony and Gibbs jumped on her to try and keep her safe.) She’s being kept for observation for right now, making sure that she’s not so high on adrenaline that she just can’t feel the pain.

Gibbs has been into X-ray twice. His left knee and ankle are… They don’t know yet. X-rays aren’t back. But his leg is splinted and propped up, ice on his knee and ankle, pain-killers dripping through an IV into his arm. He’s dozing.

Tony’s on his bed, laying there, looking awfully listless. Ziva’s holding his hand. Tim knows that the current diagnosis is mild concussion, but they’re taking him for a CAT scan whenever the scanner gets free.
Draga’s sitting on his bed, looking shell-shocked, also diagnosed with mild concussion, holding his phone, staring at it.

After yet another question, Vance is either satisfied or has given up on trying to get useful information out of Tim. (If he was paying less attention to his team and more to Vance, he might know which of those two options is correct, but he wasn’t, so he doesn’t.) And Tim’s able to return to his team.

None of them can hear, so he doesn’t try to talk to them. He holds Gibbs’ hand for a moment, but he’s out for right now, so that’s more to comfort him than to comfort Gibbs. More than any words, any sight, the touch of real, warm flesh is proof of life.

A nurse takes Tony for his scan, and Ziva goes with him.

He sits next to Draga’s bed, using Ziva’s as his seat. Draga’s still staring at his phone. Tim can see the screen is shattered. He takes his own out, still working, and wrote on it. Use it. Text whoever you want.

“Want to hear my son’s voice.” Also loud. He probably thinks he’s whispering, but he’s not.

Not until you can hear. Can he write?

“Just his name.”

Skype? See him for a bit?

Draga shakes his head, looking very sad. “He’s in daycare right now.”

Tonight, then.

“Not until we can talk. His mom sees I’m hurt, she’ll use it against me in the custody case. Say my job is too dangerous for me to be allowed to have custody.”

I’m really sorry.

Draga nods at that.

“Mr. Draga?” a nurse asks.

Tim nudges Draga, who looks at the woman. She’s got a whiteboard with her and writes on it. “We’re ready to take you for your scans.”

He nods, hands Tim the broken cell phone, and waves as she and a few others in scrubs push his bed away.


He goes and sits next to Gibbs again. Holding his hand, watching him breathe, trying to not think about the blast. Second time in his life he’s been a whole lot closer to an explosion than he’s wanted to. Even behind a cinder block wall he could feel the force of it. Sound that tore through him, made his bones vibrate. He doesn’t want to think what in the middle of it was like.

He looks at his own phone, thinking of calling Abby, but doesn’t. She’ll worry. He’s at least three hours away, no matter what. And that’s bullshit because when it comes down to it, if he tries to talk about it right now, he’ll cry, and he doesn’t need to be doing that in the middle of the emergency room, not when he’s literally the last man standing on his team.

They’re all alive. They’re fine. (Maybe. Tony’s being scanned to make sure his brain isn’t bleeding. Draga’s being scanned to see if his ear drum ruptured.) They’re in a hospital with doctors hovering over them. They’ll heal.

He supposes right now, if he was the uninjured one, Gibbs would be up, single-handedly solving the case, making sure the bad guys didn’t hurt anyone else.

But Tim isn’t Gibbs. And maybe it’s just his conscience making him feel better about not jumping up to solve this, but he’s feeling pretty sure that wherever Blake, Simmers, and Al-Said/Ender are, they’re not about to do anything else. Not for right now. Not if madness is a front and they prefer military targets that require top secret clearance to find.

His phone buzzes. Vance. Fires are out. Got teams collecting evidence.

Good. Make sure they get photos of everything and send it all home. First thing tomorrow morning, I’ll start on it.


Gotta make sure my team’s in one piece. Do you know how Ender knew the subs were there?

A minute goes by. I’ll ask Kort.

Thanks. Might get us a better handle on how to find them. Keep an eye out for traps. He can feel Vance rolling his eyes at that.

See you tomorrow.

He takes Gibbs’ hand in his again.

“Not dying, Tim,” Gibbs says, turning to look at him, too loud.

I know. Tim signs back.

Gibbs looks really startled by that, and then starts something fast and complicated, and Tim can’t follow it.

Slow. Learning. Can you hear?

Everything’s... Another sign Tim doesn’t know. Gibbs sees he doesn’t know it. “Buzzing. Loud.”

Okay. Tim doesn’t know the sign for X-ray or scan so he spells it out. X-R-A-Y not back yet. They don’t think your knee is broken. Not sure about ankle.

Not broken. Doesn’t hurt like broken.

He figures Gibbs would know. Then he notices what Gibbs signed. Are you hurting?


More medicine?

No. Don’t want… More signing Tim’s not following.

He shakes his head, letting Gibbs know he’s lost again. Better signing than reading sign.

You think? Slower, more deliberate hand gestures. Tim still doesn’t know what they mean. “Don’t want to get loopy.”

Only thing you are doing tonight is coming home with me and sleeping. Take the pain medicine.


Tim hit the call button. I am leader until Tony’s cleared. You are on the bench.

Gibbs looks past Tim and sees only Ziva’s bed is still on the floor, and none of the rest of the team is next to him. Tony?

Tim fills him in on the other three. By the time he’d done that, another nurse had come around.

“What’s going on?” she asks.

“He’s still hurting.”

Gibbs glares at him and the nurse, but doesn’t say anything until directly asked, “On a one to ten scale, what’s your pain level?”

He thinks about it. “Five-six.”

“Okay, we’ll get you some more pain medication.”

“Thank you,” Tim says to the nurse.

Happy? Gibbs signs at him.

There are a lot of lovely, sarcastic responses Tim could say, but Gibbs wouldn’t hear them, and just lip reading them doesn’t get it across the way voice does. There aren’t a lot of lovely, sarcastic responses he can sign back. So he settles for, Yes.

It’s another twenty minutes before the Orthopedic specialist shows up with Gibbs’ leg scans. Gibbs is laying in his bed, drifting, whatever they’re giving him is hitting him pretty hard.

“Mr. Gibbs,” the doctor offers her hand. “I’m Sarah Grunwelt.” Gibbs slowly focuses on her. “The good news is you don’t have any broken bones.” She can see Gibbs isn’t really all there. She looks at Tim. “Are you next of kin?”

“Yes. I’m his son.” It won’t hold up if anyone investigates, but he doesn’t think anyone will. He’s the right age, in the right place, and Gibbs isn’t disputing it, so no one should ask any questions. 

“Okay. Nothing is broken.” She puts the X-rays up on the light board. “It looks like something large and hard hit him here.” She turns back to them and circles the area between Gibbs’ ankle and calf. “It’s a very deep bruise.” Yes it is. Tim can see it. They cut the leg of Gibbs’ pants off, and he’s looking at a patch of purple-black larger than his hand, blue, green, yellow extending from his ankle to his knee. “And it’ll really hurt, but it should heal up just fine. His knee is more of a problem. Do you know what an ACL or a PCL is?”

“Yeah.” Anterior and Posterior Cruciate Ligament, the main bits of tissue that keep the knee stable. New and better ways to deal with ACL blowouts was one of the issues they actually played with back at Johns Hopkins. “Degree in Biomedical engineering.” Dr. Grunwelt looks surprised by that. He’s a cop, in his NCIS gear, with a bunch of other cops, biomedical engineering wasn’t anything she would have assumed he’d know anything about. ACL blow outs from sports or the job, sure. But not that he’d have studied it.

“Okay. His ACL and PCL aren’t torn, but another ounce of pressure and both of them would have gone. They are both very strained, and right now, any little thing will rip them free. I get the sense your dad’s not much of a laying around sort of guy…”

Tim looks amused and shakes his head. “No. He’s not.”

“Then glue him to his sofa. Use duct tape if you have to. His knee needs time to heal up. To heal all the way. At his age, you blow those ligaments and you’re looking at a lot of pain, a lot of surgery, and limited mobility for the rest of your life.”

Tim nods.

“We’re going to get him fitted for a brace for his knee and some crutches, but unless he’s absolutely got to move, like going to the bathroom, I want him sitting or lying down for the next week.”

Gibbs winces, letting them see that he has been following the conversation to at least some degree. The Doc sees he was paying some attention, so she turns to him. “You think a week is bad? You get up too soon and wreck those ligaments, you’ll be on your back for six months, maybe a year, and you’ll walk with a cane for the rest of your life. Are you going to give your son any trouble about resting?”

Gibbs shook his head.

“Good. And when that week is up, you are going to take it easy. No running. Limited walking. Not too much standing if you can avoid it. You’re not going back to running down bad guys for at least a month, got it?”

Gibbs nods as that, too.

“Until the bruising goes down, the brace isn’t going to be very comfortable. We’ll give you pain medicine to deal with that, and when you’re awake and laying around, you can take it off. But anytime you’re going to move, and when you’re sleeping, I want that brace on. I do not want you rolling over in your sleep and tearing your knee up.”

And yet another nod.

“Okay. I’ll print up a full set of instructions. You guys live near DC right?”

“Yeah.” Tim answers.

“I’ll add a few recommendations for follow up care.”

“Thank you.”     

From there Gibbs napped. Tim sat next to him, waiting for his team to get back. But no one showed up.
He’s feeling fidgety, wanting to do something useful.

You still at the scene? He sends to Vance.

A minute later he gets back. Yes.

Send me the pictures. Tell me what you’re finding.

Thought you were off until tomorrow, making sure your team’s in one piece.

I’m multi-tasking.

He can imagine the look that gets. Good. So far all we’ve got is smoke, soot, broken crates, reams of soggy paper, and enough C-4 and stuff to make C-4 to take out the block.

Great. What’s the paper?

If it wasn’t torn to bits from the explosion and water-logged from putting the fires out, I might know. Right now, it’s paper mache. The lab might be able to get something useful off of it.

Even better. Any news from the LA guys talking to Ender’s family?

Not yet. It’s only eleven there.

Okay. I’m looking through the pictures and going over the contents of Blake and Simmers’ computers and phones.

Updates on your end?

Gibbs is off his feet for a week. Limited mobility for a month after that. No news on Tony. Ziva’s with him. Draga’s just getting wheeled back.

Let me know when you know how they are.

Will do.

Draga was cleared with a mild concussion and a ruptured left ear drum. He was told to head home, take it easy, and if he got a bad headache that he needed to get back to the emergency room, fast.

“When can I go back to work?”

His doctor shrugs. “Tomorrow, if you feel up to it. But resting is probably a better idea.”

Draga doesn’t look like he wants to rest.

Ziva was cleared as being fine. Bumped and bruised up, but her hearing would be back to normal in a few hours.

Tony didn’t get cleared. Mild concussion was actually a contusion, that would, probably, be okay, but they wanted to keep watch on him overnight, make sure the swelling went down instead of got worse.

So, by four o’clock, instead of closing in on Ender, Blake, and Simmers, instead of resting in the morgue,  instead of all the thousands of other ways today could have gone, he’s hugging Ziva, squeezing Tony’s knee, saying goodbye, that he’d see them soon, and getting ready to drive Gibbs and Draga back to DC.

Bit before seven, they’re back in DC, and he stops short of the Navy Yard, pulling into the parking lot of Gibbs’ favorite diner. Both Draga and Gibbs are looking at him curiously.

“Both of you, stay put.”

Draga shakes his head, not willing to ponder the mystery. Gibbs just settles back into his seat. Ten minutes later, he’s back with food for all three of them.

“Thought we could use some food. I’m starving.” He looks to Draga. “I don’t want you driving home without any food in your system.” His gaze switches to Gibbs. “And the Docs don’t want you taking your pain meds on an empty stomach.”

Draga opens his box and sees a huge club sandwich, chips piled high next to it, and a crisp, green pickle spear. “How’d you know what I wanted?”

“Not a clue. I told Elaine it had been a really hard day, and she had three guys in desperate need of food, two of them walking wounded, and gave her a hundred. Ten minutes later, this I what she gave me.”

Gibbs smiles. Then opens his box, finds a bowl of chicken soup, rye bread toast, little butter, and scrambled eggs. Same thing his mom used to make for him when he was sick. And a huge travel-sized cup of black coffee, which she didn’t, but Elaine always sends with his food when he gets take out.

“Who’s Elaine?” Draga asks between bites.

“Gibbs found her years ago. She’s his psychic waitress friend.”

“Like Vincent.”

“Who?” Tim asks between bites of his burger, a perfect warm-pink medium, with lots of bacon and lots of fresh tomato. It’d been in a box with fries (very salty, thank you Elaine!), piece of apple pie (which he doesn’t usually eat, but had been craving) and a tall, ice cold Coke (also not something he usually goes for, but loves with a burger). He’s half paying attention to Draga and texting Abby, letting her know he should be home in forty-fiveish minutes and has already had dinner. He debates telling her Gibbs is coming home, too, but decides not to. When they get home is soon enough to get into it.

“Café Diem? Eureka?”

Tim’s shaking his head.

“Cool TV show from a while back.”


He got Draga to his car, and made sure to get a promise out of him that if he started to feel sick or wrong or out of it or anything, that he’d give them a call.

Draga seemed mildly amused at the mothering, promised he’d call if he took a turn for the worse, and slipped into his Charger to head home.

Tim pulled the van to right next to the roadster, headed to the side, and got Gibbs out. Gibbs looks like he might be about to protest being coddled like this, but Tim’s glare cut him off. So he quietly leaned against Tim, and hobbled to the side of his car.

“I’m going to check the van in, and then I’ll be back.”

Gibbs nods.

Two minutes later, they were heading home.

Gibbs dozed most of the ride home. He jerked awake when they went past the exit to his house heading toward Tim’s.

“What are you going to tell her when we get home?”

“The truth.”

Gibbs doesn’t seem to like that idea. He’s got a wary look in his eyes, and he says, “Bad plan, she’ll get scared and worry.”

Tim shakes his head. “You think she can’t tell when I’m lying? She’ll let me do it if it’s something minor like a surprise, but she always knows. If I try to tell her you tripped down the steps, she’s going to know I’m lying, and then she’ll be scared, worried, and mad because I’m lying to her. Not going to do it.”

“She’ll cry.”

“So? I will, too. We all almost died today. I thought I lost all of you. For a full minute…” He doesn’t finish that. If he finishes that, he’ll flash back to that minute, and he’s still got to drive. “That’s worth a few tears. I’m the husband. It’s my job to handle the tears. You don’t want to see it, you don’t have to. I’ll get you set in my office. I’ve got a good sofa in there. It was supposed to be a bedroom, so there’s a door between it and the downstairs bathroom, so you won’t need to use the stairs at all.”

He’s not sure what that expression is on Gibbs’s face, but he doesn’t say anything one way or the other about going straight to sleep after getting to Tim’s house.

Tim knows what he wants to be doing. Felt it the second he walked through the door and saw Abby on the sofa nursing Kelly. She didn’t look up that first second he was in the door, expecting just another night, and for that second, he’s watching her, on the sofa, shirt open, their daughter against her breast and that yesnowalivefuck, your body, mine, up against the wall, hard and fast and more than anything else NOW! sensation pounded through him so hard it made his knees weak.

It’s not sexual desire. Not exactly. Sex is how it’s expressed. He wants her. Wants hard and hot and fast and wet and her and again HER and right now.

But it’s not sex, not really. He’s not hard (though a kiss, or hell, good eye contact would probably take care of that) and usually this level of want goes with hard. Usually this level of want goes with thrusting and leaking and hot and slick and moaning, moving faster and faster and aching, heavy, hard, pleasure-pain need NOW.

But, it’s not sex. It’s tied to sex, entwined with it. It’s life. It’s one more day where the bullet didn’t have his name. It’s home again to his woman and his child.

And though his brain may get the metaphysics of this, the philosophy, he’s not just a brain in a jar being carried around by a robot.

He’s a man, and balls and cock and guts and heart are all part of this equation too, and they want to fuck. Because that's how they understand life. That's the guts in charge above, beyond, and below thinking, understanding of life. They want real, tangible, physical proof that he’s still alive. They want to be alive, make life, and just, anything, warm and alive and real and breathing and…

And Abby’s staring at them, wondering why she’s got two shell-shocked guys in her living room, looking scared, and Gibbs really isn’t very steady on one foot leaning against Tim, and Tim’s not just a body seeking more life, he’s a father and husband and son, and it’s time to live up to those as well.

He looks to Gibbs, silently asking if he wants to sit with them, be there for this, or go to his office and rest. Gibbs nods at the sofa. So he helps Gibbs to the sofa, gets him down sitting across two of the three cushions. He finds a pillow to prop Gibbs’ foot and knee up, makes up a quick ice pack, and put that on Gibbs’ knee, and then scoots so he’s sitting behind Abby and Kelly, and entirely wraps around them.

“It’s a long story,” he says without her asking, his lips on her shoulder, basking in her skin on his, and Kelly’s silk fine hair under his hand.

“I’ve got time.”

He can feel Gibbs staring at him, No, Shut up! Don’t tell her that! Stop! Not that! as he hits different parts of the story. He’s not entirely sure why Gibbs decided to join in on this if he’s going to keep staring at Tim, begging him with his eyes to not keep talking.

Maybe, because as much as he doesn’t want to deal with this, he knows that doing it is right. Maybe he thinks he’s trying to be useful, save Tim from himself.

But Tim doesn’t shut up, and he doesn’t gloss over it, or make light of it, or act like everything was okay today. Because she’s his wife, and she’s strong enough to take the truth, and right now he needs her strength. He knows he needs a partner to lean on, and he can’t always be the strong one. And here, at home, with his girls and Gibbs, he doesn’t have to be.

And yeah, Abby did cry. And so did he. And, though he probably wouldn’t admit it, Gibbs did, too.

Part of him feels so sorry for Gibbs, for constantly feeling like he couldn’t do this, like he couldn’t ever let anyone see him be weak or break.

Tonight Abby’ll carry him. And eventually he’ll carry her. And they’ll both carry Gibbs, even if he’s pretending he doesn’t need it.

And it occurs to Tim, that maybe part of the reason Gibbs is here, silently watching this, tears he won’t wipe away dripping down his face, is because no matter how uncomfortable this is, he knows he needs it, too. Maybe it has been too damn long since Gibbs didn’t have to be the strong one, and maybe he’s here because he’s finally willing to (grudgingly) let himself be carried.

Eventually, the story ends. And eventually, Kelly needs to go up to sleep. Abby stands up and Tim follows her, holding both of his girls for another long minute, his cheek against Abby’s, his lips on the top of Kelly’s head. He doesn’t want to stop touching them, doesn’t want to lose the feel of warm skin and breath against him.

Abby kisses him, and nods to Gibbs, who looks pretty wiped out on the sofa.

He nods back, letting them go. He kneels next to Jethro as Abby and Kelly head up.

“You just want to crash here? Or you want the privacy of my office?”


“Okay, come on, sit up. I’ll get you in there.” He helps Jethro get settled, and then heads back to his car, grabs Gibbs’ go bag, and brings it into the office as well. He snags his desk chair, and wheels it next to the sofa, where Jethro’s sitting, and puts the go bag on it, then heads out. A minute later, a glass of water, and his pain meds are sitting on the chair, his crutches are leaning against it, all within easy reach.

He knows Jethro keeps pajamas in his go bag. “You want help getting changed?”

“No.” Gibbs looks frustrated, and possibly verging on embarrassed. Changing he can do just fine, because he can do that sitting down. The world doesn’t go all swirly when he’s sitting down.


“Damn pain pills. I can’t stand up without feeling like I’m going to fall down, and need to use the head.”

“I got ya.” And he did, and okay, yeah, that’s pretty weird, and way more up close and personal than he ever expected to be with Gibbs, but bodies are bodies and everyone’s got one, and they all do basically the same thing, so acting like it’s a big deal doesn’t make anything any better. (Though five weeks of diaper duty might have made Tim a whole lot more matter-of-fact about this than he ever was before.) Plus, Gibbs is better off with an extra set of hands keeping him steady when it came to getting his pants off, or putting his pajamas on. (After all, since he was there, and since Gibbs was half-dressed anyway, might as well help.)

It took about ten minutes, but he got Gibbs settled on the sofa, and Tim headed up to Abby.

There’s a dull glow coming from their bedroom. So, main lights have to be off, but not completely dark. Probably the candles. He smiles at that. Kelly’s down, so they should have close to two hours.

Sure, he’d like all the time in the world, but that’s enough.

Every extra minute is enough.

He closes the door behind him. Usually he leaves it open. Makes it easier to hear what’s going on in the rest of the house, but the converse of that would be true, too. Open door means it’s easier to hear what’s going on in their room as well, and right now Kelly sleeping soundly matters a whole lot to him.

Abby does have the LED candles glowing away, and is laying on their bed, propped on one elbow, naked, waiting for him.

He stands next to their door for a moment, looking at her, letting his eyes roam over her skin.

“Like what you see?”

“Yeah. I do.” He crosses to her, pulling his clothing off.

She’s kneeling on the bed, and he’s standing in front of her, face against her shoulder as she holds him, kissing his ear. And for all the immediate lust/fuck/sex/now of walking in, and that hasn’t gone away, it’s still there, speeding his pulse, right this second he’s content to just hold onto her.

“What do you need?”

He smiles at her, kissing her lips. “You.”

That got a smile back, and another kiss, a long, wet, slippery, sweet, so sweet, her breath against his, lips encouraging pleasure and joy. “What do you want?”

It’s only been five weeks since Kelly was born, and she’s not bleeding anymore, but they haven’t had sex yet, and, yeah, there are things he wants, lots of things he wants. Hard, thrusting, deep, and fast. Fucking for the sake of letting you know you’re alive. Fucking to make a baby. Fucking to chase away the cold of death and the shock of having the rug yanked out from under you. He wants all of that.

But hard and fast and spread wide and deep and her clawing his back to ribbons while he pounds into her over and over just isn’t an option. Not tonight. Not this soon.

“Whatever you can give me.”

That got a smile, too, understanding his point, and a kiss. “I still want to hear what you want. Turn us both on with your words. Might not be able to give it to you, not yet, but we’ll both enjoy the story.”

He holds her close, carefully, too tight will hurt her breasts, and smiles at that, because it’s true. They won’t get to up against the wall. They may not get to full on sex (though he’s hopeful) let alone baby making sex (not this soon, they already agreed to that), but that doesn’t mean they can’t enjoy the fantasy of it.

“Just, want you. Want your skin and breath and body and heat.” He’s kissing her throat, stopping to feel her pulse against his lips. Her fingers are rubbing soft circles in his hair and down his neck and back.  He’s quiet as his hands trace down her shoulders, over her arms, and then settle on her hips.

Her forehead rests against his while she stares into his eyes. “When you walked in, you were staring at me like you wanted to eat me alive. What were you thinking?”

“Not sure thinking’s the word. More like…” He picks her up, and she wraps her legs around his waist, and he takes the few steps to the nearest wall, so her back’s against it. “More like… just… the feel of it. The sight and smell and feel of this.” Okay, not quite this, they aren’t moving, and his dick’s pressed against her tummy, but it’s close and warm and her breasts are against his chest and he can see her eyes and kiss her lips. “Of you on me and up against the wall, hard and fast and deep and mostly just that slick, wet, thrusting,” he’s punctuating each word with a short grind against her stomach, “rhythm of hard fucking.”

Her eyes slip closed and she sighs at that, rubbing against him, heels digging into his ass. “I like that.”

“Yeah.” He does, and he really likes her body wriggling against his, but more than that there’s this overwhelming sense of love. Of his heart so full of her that he can’t hold it. He stops grinding against her, and just holds on, savoring her body wrapped around his, and this feeling of all-pervasive love.

“Tim.” There are tears in her eyes as she kisses him.

“Yeah?” He can feel his own tears, and this isn’t how he was thinking it was going to go, but it was a hell of a day and if they need more snuggling and crying, they’ve got time.

“You came home.” She’s crying again. Relief he thinks. He kisses her tears, and feels her wipe his away.

“I came home.” Another long kiss, her hands cupped around his face. He takes a deep breath. “Always come home to you.”

Deep kissing, his lips sliding on hers, and eventually he takes a few steps back, sitting on the side of the bed, her in his lap, rubbing all over him. She pushes him back, and he lies back, watching her as she reaches over to the bedside table, grabbing the condom, tearing the package.

Sense memories are interesting things. It has been years since they’ve done it with a condom, but just the smell of it whips him back. Abby straddling him adds another layer to it. Been there, done this, enjoyed it a whole lot, both of their first times went like this, same smell, same position, and he’s feeling very connected to that right now.

The first time they did this, this almost didn’t happen. He’d been so nervous, and then so turned on, felt like his whole body was quivering with wanting to get off, and he’d tied her hands, undid his pants, and she looked up at him, grinned, said, “Nice, McGee!” and then licked him, and God, he almost lost it.

She opened her mouth and sucked him down, and he knew if he didn’t stop this right that second that he was going to lose it, because tied-up girl kneeling in front of him, sucking him off was so many of his fantasies all wrapped up in one that he knew he’d barely make it long enough for her to get all the way down his cock again, so he stepped back.

Then he helped her up, and slowly, carefully, and with a whole lot of attention and enjoyment licked from her ear to her pussy, and went to town on her. And yeah, he might not have had much (okay, any) technique at that point, but she was willing to tell him what to do, and he was very good at following directions.

After she got off, he untied her. (Because he wasn’t comfortable with tied, kneeling girl blowing him, not then, no matter how hot it got him or how hard it made him.) And she grinned at him, very pleased, cheeks and chest flushed, and took his hand, “Bedroom, McGee.”

“Okay.” After her Christmas tree-light filled living room, her bedroom seemed pitch black. She mentioned being careful about the edge of the “box sofa bed,” and her sheets were cool and satiny, and they were lying on their sides, naked, rubbing against each other which was all sorts of good, and eventually she rolled him onto his back, straddled him, and by then his eyes had adjusted enough that he could see her reach over to the… back… (lid?) of the “box sofa bed” (which he was suspecting had a much more common and revealing name, but he wasn’t about to mention it then) snag a condom, and just the sound of her opening it had him leaking, and slipping it over him made him groan, loudly, and he felt a little stupid about that, but she was grinning, happy, and said something like, “If you like that, you’ll love the next part,” and slid down him in one long, brilliant rush of silvery red pleasure and golden happiness.

He stayed on his back for two, maybe three thrusts, but having her rise and fall on him, watching, but barely touching wasn’t enough, so he sat up, wrapping his arms around her, holding her still long enough to kiss her slow and deep, his tongue on hers, and though he’s never told anyone, even her, he felt something… electric… like a frisson of tingling energy through his whole body at that touch.

And at that point he just let go. Wasn’t bothering to try and live up to anyone’s expectations. Stopped caring how long he lasted and if it was long enough. He just let the pleasure flow through him, and it did, leaving him, probably a minute later, limp, twitching, high as a kite, and smiling.

Abby was lying on top of him, propped on her elbows, gently petting his face, and had said to him, “God, you’re beautiful when you get off, McGee.”

He thinks he said, “Thanks.” He knows he was still smiling, and for once he didn’t feel any need or desire to stammer or bluster or wrap himself in protective words.

And for the first time in his life, he was really satisfied after sex. Not just that it had felt good, though it had, but that he’d really been there, and she had, too, and they’d both had a very good time. First time he felt like he didn’t need to ask if it had been okay. First time he didn’t feel a need to grab his pants and cover himself back up again after. First time it occurred to him that he might not actually be that shy or modest.

Their second first time was fast. Pulling and tearing at clothing, trying to get closer, more skin, more touch, more pleasure, fast.

His pants were around his right leg still, bunched up on his shoe, and he remembers fumbling around trying to get the condom out of his pocket, and finally snagging it, and handing it to her while he took care of the lube.

First time they did it, he didn’t know the trick of putting a little lube on the tip of his dick or the inside of the condom. But by the second first time he’d had that trick in his arsenal for years. So he handed her the condom, and with years of working with her, both of them moving toward a single goal, he knew she’d take care of getting it out of the wrapper, and he could take care of the lube, and they’d get together that much faster.

So he was rubbing a few drops of it on the tip of his dick, hearing the crinkle of the wrapper, and then she pushed his hand out of the way, straddling his thighs, rolling it over him, and a heartbeat or two later, he was fully in her, both of them groaning, clutching each other, finally feeling like they could slow down and savor it.

And that time there was no electric frisson. But the sense of joy, and peace, and of finally being home, that was there.

And later, when he thought about it, he realized that was the first time he had sex with someone he truly loved.

This time she put the lube inside the tip of the condom before sliding it over him. The smell is the same. The feel of it, cool and slippery, is the same. Her legs against his hips, fingers slipping down him. Déjà vu all over again.

But as she slipped down on him, he was expecting… more. Especially after what went into getting to this point. Especially after today.

It doesn’t feel right. Not that it’s wrong or bad or anything, but it’s not sex. Okay, that sounds dumb, obviously it’s sex, she’s slowly easing down his dick, that’s more or less the definition of sex. But he’s getting, on a visceral level, why he’s heard other guys complain about wearing a condom.

It’s warm and snug, and that’s all sorts of good. (Once upon a time, like say, both of their other first times, warm and snug was his definition of good.) And he can definitely feel her moving, that’s lovely. But that glorious wet, slick, hot, soft, skin, slide isn’t there. That plush, sucking almost kiss of a sensation is gone.

It’s like vanilla extract compared to a real vanilla bean. It’s similar, but the nuances are gone.

And Tim really likes the nuances.

And it’s not like he won’t be able to get off.

But, it’s just… not nearly as good as without.

And especially today, especially with the chill of death in the air, and the warmth of life in her body, he wants skin, wants life, wants her life on his and maybe both of them wrapping together to make more life. 

He strokes her face, kissing her. Might not be everything he wants, but it’s good, and it’s her, and that matters more than the feel of it.

She’s watching him, and probably sees it in his face, or maybe she’s feeling the same thing. She smiles at him, and pulls off, taking the condom off, slipping back down onto him, sighing, and he’s groaning, head back, awash in how good that feels, how it amps everything up to eleven, and once she gets settled, he pulls enough of his brain together to say, “You sure?”

“Yeah. We both need this. And if it makes a baby, all the better.”

“Yes!” And God, he wants that so bad, so hard, needs it, needs it now.

She rocks forward, and he groans again, loud, hands settling on her hips, guiding her.

That brings her up short, stopping all movement. “Tim, Gibbs’s downstairs!”

Maybe he should feel embarrassed, but he just can’t muster it right now. “He’s on a boatload of painkillers. And honestly, if somehow he’s awake, I don’t care. He’s been here, knows how this works. Not like anything we’re doing is going to make him blush.”

“If it makes me blush?”

Okay, that’s a valid point. Just like he didn’t much want his mom listening in, she might have something like that for Gibbs. “Then I’ll be quiet. Does it make you blush?”

She thinks about it and gives him a squeeze. His jaw clench at the pleasure, but he keeps the groan quiet, and breathes out, “Oh fuck, Abby, so good!”

She smiles. “Nah, not going to blush.”

“Good.” He rocks into her, fingers slipping down her butt, and she moans softly. “Because I want to hear you and feel you and touch you and taste you and see you.”

She slips back down on him. “Forgot smell.”

He moans at her body sliding wet on his. “Kind of distracted right now.”

She purrs at him, leaning down so her lips caress his ear, and moans low and rich as he slides into her.
“You sound so good.”

Her lips meet his for a deep, wet kiss, stroking, petting, slipping, and rubbing, her tongue matching the pace of his dick, and he sucks it in as she thrusts.

He’d been planning on saying something about tasting good, but, he lost it.

Lost most of the other thoughts in his head.

Just let them go and let himself steep in the pleasure of this. Of her body, naked, on and in his. Of his body, naked, in and on hers. Of another day of being here, in and with her. Of making it home one more time. One more close call, the whisper of one more bullet that didn’t have his name on it.

He lets it roll over him, her skin and heart and life against his. Of no-holds-barred making love, moving towards more life, pushing death and mortality back, at least a few more seconds, and maybe an entire generation.

Her fingers between his, grasping, hard, her breath against his lips, the sound of her in his ears, and the slippery, wet, pleasurefuckjoy of her body rubbing against his.

He arches high and hard into her, feeling the waves of ecstasy cresting through him, feeling her tight and rippling on him, and then both of them wet and limp and breathing hard against each other.

Her left hand in his right, he lifts it to his mouth, and kisses the tip of her ring finger. “Always come home to you.”

She kisses the bit of his shoulder under her lips. “Amen.”

And that’s all the prayer he needs.

And that was Wednesday

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