Monday, December 30, 2013

Shards To A Whole: Chapter 270

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

Chapter 270: Future Thoughts

Kelly’s fussing. She’s on her back, on a blanket, on the floor, under one of those baby play arch things. It’s a plastic u-shaped device with colorful stuffed animals hanging off of it. Supposedly, when she’s a bit older, she’ll be able to kick and punch at them, make them move. Right now they’re just bright shapes for her to stare at.

Gibbs is on the sofa, also on his back, foot and knee propped up, ice on his knee.

It’s Saturday afternoon, and he knows why Kelly cries. Being stuck on your back sucks.

He carefully starts inching his way to getting onto the floor to get her, but Abby, who had been in the kitchen, making lunch for both of them, beats him to it, scoops Kelly up, and puts her on his chest.

She glares at him. “You staying put?”

He rolls his eyes and sighs, focusing on Kelly, stroking his hands down her back.

Abby nods and heads back to the kitchen.

Gibbs looks at Kelly, who’s calming down and staring at him. “I’m bored, too.”

“I heard that,” Abby calls back.

“It’s not a secret.”

Abby came back into the living room a few minutes later, drinks for them in hand. She takes Kelly from him while he very carefully pulls himself up, and then gives her, and his coffee, back to him. “Chicken lettuce rolls sound good?”

Gibbs nods at that. For all the crud they eat on duty, food at the McGee house is surprisingly healthy. Of course, that’s probably counterbalancing all the crud they eat on duty. Though right about now, he’d really, really like something with a ton of fat and probably some bacon on top. He might suggest burgers for dinner. Tim’s home, sleeping off yesterday, which they still haven’t heard about beyond last night’s Got ‘em. Home late. text, and he’s not helpless with a grill.

“Got another possible nanny you can try to scare into submission this afternoon.”

“Wonderful.” Gibbs doesn’t feel particularly scary lounging about in his pajamas, knee in a brace, four days of stubble on his face. Crabby sure. But right now he feels like any of the potential nannies take one look at him and start to get nervous that they’ll be taking care of him, too.

Or maybe that’s him projecting.

He’s nervous about it. And that’s part of the reason why he’s bored and crabby, because he’s taking this seriously, staying down, healing.

Once he got enough of the pain meds out of his system that his brain was back online, he was planning on telling everyone to stop pampering him, and let him go to work. As much as he’s sure that putting the fear of Gibbs into potential nannies is important, (That’s his darling girl there, and they had better well take the best possible care of her or they will answer to him!) terrorists trying to kill people takes a certain sort of precedence.

He’d been absolutely certain that the doc had been exaggerating, and that she was just trying to scare him into resting (wouldn’t be the first time someone with a string of degrees next to his/her name told him to do something he didn’t really need to do), and all he needed to get up and… and he did get up, and he felt the top half of his leg move immediately when he told it to, his hip and thigh were completely with the program and doing exactly what they were told to do. His knee and calf on the other hand… he felt the bottom half lag behind the top for a heartbeat or two, pain shooting through his knee, (and that was just getting up, he hadn’t put any weight on his knee, yet) and he suddenly got the idea that maybe the doc knew what she was talking about on the whole ripping out his knee thing.

So, he keeps the brace on a lot, (even though it does dig into what is still his very bruised calf, and hurts like a bitch) because every time he moves without it on, he can feel that there is a lot more play in that joint than he wants. When he stands up to hobble over to the head, or get a shower, even with the brace, he can feel the slide between those bones, and he’s very, very aware of how easily this could go very wrong.

So, for the first time ever, he’s actually following doctor’s orders and resting. And trying, but he’s afraid he’s not really succeeding, to not be a massive pain in the ass to Abby or Tim.

They’ve already got a baby, they don’t need a helpless fifty-six-year-old living on their sofa, especially not for a year.

Sitting on his ass worries him on another level, too. Because there’s only so much reading and sleeping he can do. Which means he’s got lots of time to think. He did do a lot of thinking about the case, but thinking about the case reminded him of something.

One day soon, there won’t be any more cases.

And when that’s true…

He remembers the case they worked about the CO who ate his gun rather than face mandatory retirement. And he’s not there, not at all, he’s got Kelly and Tim and Abby, and Molly and the new baby, and lots of family stuff but… They all have their own lives and jobs and things that fill up each day.

And he’s got the Shannon, which for some reason isn’t nearly as done as he was expecting it to be at this point. Something about building cribs… (He’s got some maple he’s planing away, getting ready to find out if Baby Palmer is a boy or girl.)

But there’s only so much woodworking he can do, and that’s not twelve hours a day, every day…

And sure, once Shannon’s done, he’ll take her out, but he’s not feeling much desire to just vanish for six months at a time anymore.

There’s deskwork. They’ll let him review cold cases and recommend ‘new’ leads on them until the reaper finally shows up for him. And like Mike, he’ll be able to come back every now and again and ‘help’ (he’s already checked the regs, post-mandatory retirement, he can’t spend more than fifteen days a year on active duty). And if he feels like bouncing from one base to another, chatting with guys who are coming to the end of their enlistments, he could become a recruiter. 

But for a guy who’s used to working eighty hours a week, that’s still a lot of down time.

Tim and Abby need a nanny. They need someone who knows the hours, understands why they can’t say, ‘we’ll be home at seven,’ loves their baby, and will do everything to take great care of her.

He looks at Kelly, who’s on his chest, chewing on his t-shirt, (She must have lost her pacifier in transit. Yep, it’s on the carpet, just out of his reach. And he’s damned if he’s going to call Abby out here to make a whole other trip to get it. He’s never been so frustrated by something being less than five feet away in his life.) so he gives her a finger to suck on, which she approves of. And honestly, though he is enjoying grandpa-hood, and though he loves time with Kelly, he can’t see himself doing this full time.

He loved his own Kelly beyond all reason, but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t about to jump out of his skin the week Shannon had pneumonia, and he was on stay-at-home-dad duty.

Of course, he was a really different guy then.

“What do you think?” he asks Kelly. “You and me? Let mom and dad have someone who already understands the insane hours?”

“Think about what?” Abby asks, sitting down next to him. “Did you lose your paci?” she asks Kelly.

Gibbs nods. “Think she might be getting hungry, too.” He gestures to the large drool soaked spot on his shirt. If it’s anything to guess by, Kelly’s looking for a breast.

Abby sighs. “Okay.” She grabs the pacifier off the floor and hands it to Gibbs, who didn’t mind getting his left hand back. Then she got up again, headed into the office, rooted through the bag with his clothing in it, and found Gibbs a clean t-shirt.

A moment later, she’s got Kelly in hand, who is indeed trying to get to a breast, and Gibbs is changing out of one t-shirt for another.

“Can I eat my lunch?” Abby asks Kelly.

Kelly whines at her.

“I’ll take that as a no.” Abby says. She hands Gibbs her lunch, “Hold this,” while settling Kelly in to nurse again. “You just ate. What is going on?”

“Almost six weeks old. Growth spurt time.”

“Great. So, what were you asking her?”  

“Just playing with an idea. Not sure it’d work. Not sure I’m actually up for it.” Abby’s looking intrigued. “Gonna retire soon enough. Maybe you don’t need a nanny for all that long…”

Her eyebrows shoot up. “You serious?”

“Maybe. I don’t know. Went pretty stir crazy when I was on all babies all the time with my Kelly, but… You need someone who understands the hours are crazy, someone who gets why you can’t tell them when you’ll be home.”

“True…” Abby’s nodding. “Keep thinking about it. If you’re serious, then we’ll talk about it, but… you sure you’re not just looking at the calendar and realizing you’ve suddenly got nothing planned?”

If he could reach, he’d kiss her forehead, but he can’t, not without seriously changing his position, so he squeezes her hand and smiles. “Always did know me too well.” 


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