Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Shards To A Whole: Chapter 277

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

Chapter 277: Pillow Talk

They got eight minutes of afterglow together before Kelly started crying again.

Tim got up. “I’ve got her.”

Abby waited until she saw him walk past his dresser, past his pj pants, to say, “You’re naked.”

Tim shrugs, he’s two steps from the door. “No line of sight from downstairs to up here.” You have to be in the upstairs hallway to see their end of it. Sure, the bathroom and guest room are near the stairs end of the hall, but Kelly’s room and his room isn’t.

“Hey, baby girl. You have a good nap?”

She looking up at him, seeming to be pretty irked about this whole having to wait to get cleaned up before the food comes thing.

“Yeah, I know. But you’re pretty smelly right now, and the grown-up half of this equation is going to be much happier if you’re all nice and clean before you get into our bed.”

That answer didn’t seem to make her any happier. But since he is an adult, and he is picking her up and getting her changed, she knows that means the food will be coming presently, so the crying stops.

“One clean, hungry baby, looking for her mama,” Tim says as he lays Kelly on the bed next to Abby. She’s already laying on her side, which is good for nursing when they two of them want to snuggle.

Tim lays next to them, Kelly between him and Abby, watching as she gets her breast into Kelly’s mouth, and Kelly starts sucking greedily.

He lays his fingers on Abby’s shoulder, tracing down her ribs to her hip. Feels like it’s been a million years since they just laid around in bed together, awake, touching, and talking.

“Missed this,” she says.

“Yeah. Been a while. ”

“Got plans for today? Want to run downstairs, grab up some food, and lay around in bed all day?”

“God… I’d love to…” There’s a sort of sheepish expression on his face.


“Promised Jimmy we’d have lunch. Should check in with Ziva and Tony, need to at least get downstairs at some point and poke Jethro, see if he’s still in one piece. Gotta give Fornell the heads up about Ender.” He lifted up on his left arm and looked over her back to the clock. “But I’ve got two hours before I need to get moving to make it to lunch.”

“Then I’ll take two hours, and I should call Ziva, see how she’s doing. Get some girl talk in. You guys probably didn’t get the whole story.”

“We never do.” He gently strokes Kelly’s cheek and she half looks over to him, but realizes that won’t work if she wants to nurse, so goes back to ignoring him. “You want to start alternating the 1:00 feed?


“Same as last time? You take three nights off, let your body get used to not nursing. I’ll catch them. And once you’re adjusted, we’ll swap?”

“Sounds… I was going to say good, because the whole sleeping thing does, but, ow… Hate this weaning part, it’s really uncomfortable.”

“Sorry about that.”

“All part of the job.”

“How about you stay out with Ziva as long as you need, have a good lunch. Use the pump. I’ll get her formula for lunch, and feed her a bottle of yours tonight.”

“That’ll work.”

“Three nights of getting to sleep from ten until seven should sound awfully good, too.”

She strokes Kelly’s tummy. “Oh they do, trust me. It’s the part where I wake up at five or so feeling like my boobs are going to burst that’s not sounding so good.”

He gently strokes the tip of his index finger over her breast. “What are you going to do when you go back?”

She tilts her head in a way that means not sure. “Pump as much as I can. Nurse morning and evening feed. Probably the ten o’clock one, too, as long as it lasts. But my guess is that she’ll end up on all formula all day pretty soon after I get back. Can’t see taking a half hour break every three hours to pump.”

That makes sense to him. When she’s working, she’s working and doesn’t much appreciate having to break. “Looking forward to getting back?”

“Yes. No. I’m loving this time here with her, and I know it’s short, and I don’t want to miss it. But I’m going insane home all the time with no puzzles to solve. And no, ‘why are you crying now’ doesn’t count as a puzzle to solve.”

He smiles at that, stretches again, feels his stomach rumble, and sits up. “What sort of food did you want me to grab from downstairs?”


“Okay. I’ll be back in a few minutes with food.”

He’s slipping on his pj pants when Abby says, “Tim.”

“Yeah?” He’s turning from his dresser to look at her.

“Remember your blushing comment on Wednesday?”

He thinks about it, and, yeah, he does, but he's not immediately seeing how it's relevant. 

“If you go down there with a wet goatee, smelling like my cum, and Gibbs sees you, the next time I see him, I will blush. Wash up first.”

He starts to giggle at that. Then rubs his face, and yeah, it’s still wet and a bit sticky. “Didn’t even occur to me…”

“I know. Doesn’t usually matter if you walk around the house looking like we just had sex. Not like it’s a problem for me. But…”

“I get it. I don’t mind him knowing we have sex, but,” he touches his goatee, “that’s a step further than I want to go, too. I just didn’t think about it. Can’t see my own face.”

He heads to the bathroom to wash his face. Might was well brush his teeth, too. A minute later he heads out. “Presentable?” His hair’s still sticking up in fifteen directions, and all he’s wearing is a pair of flannel drawstring pants and his wrist cuff, but yeah, he looks like himself just getting up (as opposed to himself just gotten off).

“You’ll do.” She looks at him for a long minute, eyes trailing up and down his body, letting him know that she likes what she sees.

He sits on the side of the bed next to her, and kisses her shoulder, scraping his moustache across her skin, nipping gently. “Since you've got me thinking about it; how was that?”

It takes her a second to figure out that he’s asking how oral with his facial hair felt. “Honestly?”

“No, lie to me. Only reason I’m asking is I want you to pet my ego. Yes, honestly.”

She shrugs a little. “Kind of itchy and distracting.”

His eyebrows furrow. “That’s not good.”

“Couple times I was pretty close and then you’d shift and suddenly I was getting attacked by a toothbrush.”

He winces. Apparently he’s not winning any awards for greatest lover ever this week. “Great. Shaving went onto the plan for today.”

“That’s a good plan. I like the way it looks. And it feels good when we kiss,” she brushes her fingers over it, “or like how you just trailed it over my shoulder, but… don’t love it for oral, and when I get back to waxing regularly, just, ouch.”

He nods. And if they’re being this frank... “I really don’t like condoms. You’ve spoiled me, because back when all sex involved them, they were just fine, but now…” he kisses her, carefully, “now I know how good real sex is, and how spectacular your body feels, naked and wet and silky on mine, and if it’s about me, I’m good with mouth or hands or anal any other part of your gorgeous body until we can go back to non-condom sex.”

“And what if it’s not about you?” she asks with a smile, because after all, it’s not just all about him.

He laughs a little. “If it’s not about me, then they’re fine. I mean, it’s still sex with you. It’ll still feel good, and I’ll still get off. But, if we’re talking about general preferences, I’d rather skin on skin than skin on latex on skin.” He kisses her again, standing up, getting ready to get them some breakfast. “From now until we get back to baby making sex, it’s lady’s choice. You get to pick what we’re doing, and if I see the condoms come out, that’s fine.”

“You just wouldn’t mind if they sat in the drawer and collected dust.”

“Not at all.”

“And when we’re back to baby making sex?”

He smiles at her, eyes hot and sexy. “Gonna lay you out, hitch your leg over my shoulder, and slip into you long and slow, just easing into you, making sure to get that angle you like while rubbing your clit. I’ll do it so slow, all the way in and all the way out and over and over and over. Every single inch of your body clinging and slipping over mine.” He leaned in to kiss her one more time. “Gonna make you come so hard your ears ring and you see stars, and your body pulsing on mine’ll set me off, and we’ll see if all that hot, wet, clenching skin, and searing pleasure can make a little brother or sister for Kelly.” One last kiss, wet and slow, and if they’re ever going to eat, let alone not do something even more horrendously inappropriate with Kelly in the room, he really needs to get out of there. “I should probably get us that breakfast.”

“Yeah.” She sounds a little breathless as she says it, grinning at him, and he grins back, leans in one more time, and gently licked her bottom lip, just couldn’t not do that, then saunters down to get them some food.


Gibbs nods at him. He’s sitting at the kitchen table, coffee and eggs in front of him. “Got some in the oven on warm for you two.”

“Thanks.” Tim opens the oven, and there are two plates of scrambled eggs in there. He shuts the door and starts collecting peaches, strawberries, almond milk, and yogurt for Abby’s smoothie. “How’re you feeling this morning?”

Gibbs flashes him a look that may mean Come on, we’re not girls, we don’t have to actually talk about this stuff or possibly Pretty damn tired and maybe Didn’t we do enough of that last night?

Tim shakes his head. “Use words. I don’t know what that look means.”


“Okay. I know that look didn’t mean that.”

He certainly didn’t have any problems following the back off in the look that followed.

Tim raised his hands, and said, “I’ll stop poking.”


Tim very pointed doesn’t ask while he cuts the peach for Abby’s smoothie.

“Hannah used to do that,” Gibbs says quietly, not looking up from his coffee.


“Ex-number one. She’d sit there silently not asking me things.”   

“Huh.” Tim shakes his head, then looks at Gibbs and quirks an eyebrow. “Must suck when people won’t talk to you.”

Gibbs glares a little, but there’s no heat in it. “Were you always such a smartass?”

Tim grins. “I have my moments. You and Tony probably should have heard some of the things I used to say in my head to you. You need anything else while I’m up?”


Tim hits the blend button and the whirling of the smoothie kills any shot of talking.  When it finished and he had her smoothie poured into a glass, he turned back to Gibbs. “Really, you okay?”

“Thought you weren’t poking.”

“You didn’t like me not poking.”

Gibbs sighs, looking put upon. In his own home if he’s in a bad mood, he just goes down to the basement and works until he feels better. “Slept like shit, knee aches, I’ve read every book I had on my to-read list, and I’m bored.”

Well, Gibbs doesn’t want to talk much, so Tim’s not touching slept like shit. Nothing he can do about achy knee. Gibbs is moving around well enough he can get his own pain meds if he needs them, but there is something he can do about the lack of reading material, which may help with bored.

“Have you actually read my books?” While he was getting clothes and stuff for Gibbs, Tim noticed that he did have copies of all of his books on the bookshelves in his room.


“Like ‘em?” Gibbs has never said anything about them. Until he was fetching clothing, Tim didn’t even know Gibbs had them.

Gibbs nods. They aren’t his favorite books ever, but they’re good. Once he got over the whole the-main-character-was-based-on-me part, reading them got fun.

“Wanna be a beta reader?”

Gibbs looks startled, he’s got no idea what that term means. “A what?”

“I finished Shadow Force recently. After I finish one, it goes to hibernate for a month or so. Then I read it again, make sure I actually wrote what I thought I did. Abby or Penny, sometimes both of them, read it, too. Beta reading, the second reader. Then I take my notes and theirs, and beat it into a second draft. It’s rough as hell, completely unedited, on paper, and it’s the only copy I have, so you’ve got to be just as careful with it as you are with Kelly, and she can’t get anywhere near it, but if you want to read it and let me know what you think, I’d be interested.”

Gibbs thinks about it. It’d be a good way to eat up the last day of laying on his back. 


“Reading on the sofa?”


“I’ll put it, a pad, and a pen on the coffee table for you.” Tim heads out of the kitchen, and he hears him moving through the office, then footsteps in the living room, and back to the kitchen. “Don’t write on it. Penny’s gonna read this one, too.”

Gibbs nods again, watching Tim debate how to take both plates of eggs, and the smoothie upstairs. He settled for moving all the eggs to one plate and balancing a fork on it.

“Breakfast in bed?”

“That’s the idea. Haven’t had a lay in in forever. Still got almost two hours before either of us needs to get ready to go anywhere, and I don’t plan on getting out of bed again until then.”

That got a small smile out of Gibbs. “Enjoy it.”

“I intend to.”

Abby was still on her side, Kelly still sucking away. She had her phone and was reading something, head propped on her hand.


“That was faster than usual.”

“Jethro made the eggs. All I had to do was carry them up.”

“Nice of him.”

“Yep.” He takes the phone from her and hands her the smoothie. Then set the plate with the eggs on it just behind Kelly, and settles into bed next to them, back against pillows propped on the headboard. He forks up a bite of the eggs, holds them out to her, and she eats them. “I remembered to say thanks.”

She nods at him while chewing, and he gets a bite for himself. They’re good. Gibbs cooks them in butter instead of the spray oil they use, and Tim thinks he adds milk and sour cream to them, too. Whatever it is, they’re tasty. Probably bad for him. But, once again, tasty.

“How’d last night go. When I got up to feed Kelly, I could hear crying. Didn’t sound like you,” Abby asks after she swallows.

“Probably was me some, too, but you were hearing him. Didn’t wake you up, did it?”

“Nah.” She shakes her head and Kelly looks up, wondering why her breakfast is moving. “Only one cry is on my wake-up-right-this-second-sensor, and it’s not his.”


“It’s funny, because Kelly crying did wake me up. Heard that and the switch flipped, and I was up. But the whole time I could hear him in the background, but that didn’t do it. Slept right through that until her little, baby cry cut through it.” Abby sips her smoothie. “This is really good. You do anything different?”

“Nope. Probably just got a really good batch of peaches.”

Another nod. “So, how drunk did you get him?”

Tim chewed another bite of egg. “Cold sober.”

Abby’s eyebrows went high as she sipped her drink. “Wow.”

“Yeah. Also got him to agree to see a counselor.” 

Her jaw drops. Finally she pulls it back up again. “It doesn’t count as sober if you shoot him up with something other than alcohol.”

He smirks at that. If you had asked him last week what it would take to make Leroy Jethro Gibbs go see a counselor, he would have said, ‘narcotics.’ “Really, sober. Not a chemical in his system. Well, maybe pain meds, but if he was on them, he took them before I got in there with him. I told him that unless he wanted to start planning his retirement party, he was going to talk to someone, at least twice. Not letting him back on the team until he does it.”

Now she’s looking worried. “How’s that going to work when Tony takes over?”

And that’s something that didn’t occur to Tim, either. Fortunately, it also didn’t seem to occur to Gibbs. “We didn’t get into that. But I told Vance that I’d hold the team until it was ready to work again, and I will. And if that means Tony spends some time working for me, or he and Ziva decide they need some vacation time to work things out, both of those options are fine. But they can’t work together if they don’t get this sorted out, and Jethro’s been struggling with this guilt for too damn long. I’m in charge right now, so I’ll abuse the hell out of my power to get them moving in the right direction.”

She smiles at that. “Tim McGee, Benevolent Dictator For Life.”

“Damn right, baby.”

“Eggs,” she says, pointing at the currently empty fork. He fetches another bite for her, she took it, chewing, and then asks, “What did you say to him that got him crying?”

He took his own bite. “Long talk about fear and love and back to Shannon again, because it always goes back to Shannon, and I said I was glad he didn’t kill himself after she and Kelly died.”

Abby blinks hard and swallows. “That’d do it. That makes me want to cry, and I wasn’t there.”

“Yeah.” It certainly had made him want to cry.

“Think it helped?”

“Honestly?” The expression on his face makes it clear he’s not sure.

“Nah, lie to me, I like the happy sunshine and roses version.”

“He’s all better. Took the ring off before we went to bed. He’s hunting for a new red head online while we speak.”

She poked him and stole his bite of eggs.

“I don’t know if it helped. I’m not even sure what helped looks like. But I know he thinks it’s not cool for Ziva to run into a bomb for Tony, but perfectly fine for Tony to run into one for Ziva, and that it’s based entirely on the fact that he didn’t save Shannon and Kelly and feels like if he couldn’t do that he should have died with them. And I’m not a psychologist, but even I know that’s not a good thing.”     

“That’s why you got talking suicide?”

“Yeah. Asked why he didn’t do it. Not sure what answer I was hoping for, something to link into not feeling like it was his fault, but he couldn’t give me that, couldn’t tell me why he didn’t pull the trigger, and I don’t know if he doesn’t know or if he just can’t tell me. He did tell me he was a lot closer than I thought he’d been—“

“How close?”

“Knows what a gun barrel tastes like.”

Tim can see her heart breaking for Jethro, and since he’d felt it the night before he knows exactly where she is. “Yeah. So, I told him I was glad he didn’t do it. And he spent an hour or so crying on me. And I have no idea if it helped, or changed anything, or… He’s in a pissy mood this morning. But he’s also saying he didn’t sleep well, his knee hurts, and he’s bored.”

“Is he lying?”

Tim shrugs. “I’m sure all of those things are true. I don’t know if that’s the whole story. I gave him Shadow Force to beta read to help with bored.”

“Oh my. That’ll be interesting.” Abby beta read Most Precious and Traitor Within and she knows exactly how rough ‘rough’ is. (She’s one of the few people who knows that his spelling skills drop in a direct ratio to how deeply he’s into whatever part of the story he’s telling. The more into it he is, the faster he types, the worse the spelling gets. Anything that’s spelled perfectly with precise grammar and all the commas in the right places is filler written to bridge one scene to the next.)

“To say the least.”

“Did you explain that he’s not proof reading?”

“No. Just said it was the first read through, and I wanted his thoughts.”

She shakes her head a bit, images of lots and lots of red ink.

He took another bite of the eggs. “Maybe it doesn’t have to help,” he says, taking it back to Gibbs, and she doesn’t seem to be having any trouble following that he’s not talking about Shadow Force. “Nothing changed or got better with my parents by talking about it. In fact, I think it’s safe to say things got worse with my Mom. So, talking about it didn’t ‘help’ but sharing it wasn’t bad, either.”

“Maybe it’s enough to just know the people who love you love you and they’re not going to freak out or run away if you let them know who you actually are?”

“Yeah.” He nudged her hand, taking a sip of her smoothie. “You’re right, that did come out well.”

She nods. “Sooo… are you going to talk to your mom at some point?”

He flashes her a little dismissive gesture before saying, “I should. But like going to the dentist, I know it’s going to hurt, I know I’m not going to like it, and I have the feeling it’s not going to provide me with any real benefit.”

“Going to the dentist is good for you!”

“Yeah, I know.” And he does. Which does not mean he likes doing it. Just being in the waiting room gives him a headache. “You and everyone else on earth says that. I’m still not buying that I’m any better off than I would have been by just brushing, flossing, and only going when my teeth actually hurt.”

Her eyes narrow a little. Abby’s beyond religious about taking care of her teeth. And unlike Catholicism, which she sees no issues with him sort of just barely going along for the ride, doing a good job taking care of his teeth is something she expects from him as well. As a result, he’s been seeing his dentist a lot more often.

“Not saying I won’t go. Just don’t think it’s good for anything.”

“Uh huh.” She changes the subject, a little, or gets it back to where it was. “You don’t think talking to her again would be a benefit?”

He rolls his eyes to the ceiling. “Sometimes I miss her. Sometimes I forget, and I miss her so bad that I just ache for it.” He smiles, but it’s a sad smile. “Lots of things I want to tell her about Kelly, but that doesn’t last more than a minute or two because I remember, and so much of that crap was her. There are three emails from her in my inbox now. Haven’t been brave enough to open them.”

“You might be pleasantly surprised,” she says with her hopeful voice.

“I might get my heart ripped out again. And I’m… If that’s what it’s going to be, I can wait. And honestly, I can wait for good, too, because speaking of things where I don’t know what helped looks like, this is another one where… I just don’t know. Say there’s a massive, I’m so sorry, apology in there. It wouldn’t change things.”

Abby squeezes his knee and kisses him. He kisses back, feeling the comfort of her touch, and the deep peace of not having to do anything about this. She won’t push him, and right now, that matters.

When he pulls back, she detaches Kelly from her left breast. “Come on baby, you’re all done on that side.”

Tim picks up the plate, holding it and the smoothie so Abby can get herself sitting up, Kelly on her lap, face over her knees, and start the gentle percussion that goes along with coaxing a burp out of their daughter.  

In a few seconds, there’s a massive belch, the sort that Tim can’t imagine can come from someone so small.
“Can’t believe she can burp like that. I can’t do that, and I’m seventeen times her size.”

“You don’t live on an all milk diet.”

“There is that.” Tim scoots over a bit, and Abby rolls over, getting Kelly set on her right, while Tim walks around the bed to sit facing her again.

Kelly got latched on, slurping away, dreamy expression on her face, looking really relaxed.

“That is one really blissed-out little girl,” Tim says as he gently strokes her hair.

“I think she’s getting a dose of my post-climax oxytocin.”

“Hmmm… Interesting side effect.” Tim stretches, laying on his stomach, nuzzling Kelly’s ear, enjoying the smell of clean baby, and the ridiculously soft feel of her silk fine hair against his cheek. Abby’s fingers trace down his back, and he purrs at that.

“You’re looking pretty blissed-out, too.”

He kisses Kelly’s head, and looks up at Abby, smile in his eyes. “I’m at home, in bed, with my girls, pretty high on my own dose of oxytocin, and I’ve still got more than an hour before I have to do anything besides lay here and enjoy you two. I am pretty blissed-out.” He leans up on his elbows to kiss Abby. “How about you, feeling pretty good right now?”

“Yeah. Be even better if the rest of those eggs got over here and into my mouth.”

He reaches over to the bedside table, and grabs the plate, probably about one egg left on there, and begins feeding it to her.  

For a moment there was just the sound of content sucking/chewing, then Abby says, “You never did give us any details, how was Bootcamp? You and Jimmy fought Ziva together? How’d that go?”

“We spent the first two rounds tripping over each other.” He touches one of the bruises on his shoulder. “I think that one’s Jimmy’s elbow.”


“Not too bad.” He holds up his left arm, still mottled with bruises from defending against Ziva. “This is sore.”

“You should put more ice on it.”

She finishes the last bite of eggs, and he puts the plate back on the bedside table, then scooted down, laying on his side, facing her, moving close enough so her leg could rest on his hip, Kelly snug between them. “I should, but I don’t feel like getting up right now. Anyway, when I was heading toward the ring, I heard Ziva asking Jimmy if we’d ever done anything like this, and he said we’d danced,”

“Uhhhh… Did I miss something…”

“He meant the four of us. But I said the same thing to him.”

She winks at that. “You know, if you two ever do do that…”

“Yeah, you want pictures and so does Breena.” He rolls his eyes and sticks out his tongue a bit. “Anyway, two rounds in it occurred to me that if we had some music maybe we wouldn’t be tripping all over each other, because we have danced as a foursome and we didn’t spend the whole time tripping over each other and obviously something was different, so maybe it was the lack of music. Got my old, college Nine Inch Nails favorites together. Jimmy knew them, too. And we got a whole lot better. We even won round nine. Then Ziva and Jimmy added their own music. It was fun. And we were a lot better with the music, even Ziva’s music, which neither of us had even heard before.”

Abby thinks about that. “Of course you’re better at it with music. When we dance, you and Jimmy lead. You’re like two poles, and Breena and I move between you, but each of you runs your own dance. When it’s all four together, whichever one of you is deeper in the press keeps leading. But when you fight, no one’s leading, or you both are, so it’s a mess. Add in the music, and it leads, so you work better.”

“Makes sense. And when it was NIN, or, Jimmy picked the Mortal Kombat soundtrack—“

“Good choice.”

“Yeah. But we both knew that music so we were doing better with the whole I look to my left a little and he nods a bit and between the two of us we get Ziva off balance.”

Abby seemed to be thinking about that, too. Her fingers traced up and down his shoulder, skirting the bruise. “Think you’ll do it again?”

“Yeah, I do. It was good, and I kind of want to show it off to Gibbs.”

“I want to watch.”

His eyebrows went high. In six months Abby’s never wanted to watch them fight. Something about not enjoying seeing him getting hit. Which he understands. If she was joining in on Bootcamp, he wouldn’t want to watch, either. Even if it’s not a real fight, even if it’s just practice, he doesn’t want to see anyone hit Abby.

Then it occurred to him what was different about this and why Abby might want to watch. “You’re never going to get us to dance with each other, so you want to see this?”

He saw the grin spread across her face as she watched him understand the context for wanting to watch. “What’s not to like? You, Jimmy, hot, sweaty, moving together, loud music, yeah, I like that a whole lot. Breena will, too.”

He laughs at that and tries to think of what it must have looked like from the outside, but he doesn’t have too much of an idea. He was so focused on the fight that the only images he has are what his eyes were seeing. “Probably not as interesting as you think it’ll be.”

“Oh, it will be.” There’s that sexy grin again. “Wait. Your dream. Club, loud music, hot, sweaty… How much of that started fighting with Jimmy?”

“The music and the way my body felt.”

“Was Jimmy in the dream?”

He rolls his eyes. “I’m still a straight guy, so, no. He wasn’t. Not having guys in my sex dreams is one of the defining characteristics of being a straight guy. Just you and Breena.”

He gently nibbles that little naughty smile that lit up her lips. “Hey, I can hope, right?”

“Hope all you want, love.” He shook his head, rolling his eyes a little. “Hope all you want.”

“So, are you saying you’ve never had a sex dream about a guy?”

Tim’s eyebrows scrunch together. His immediate answer is no, but he decides to think about it for a minute to make sure. “Nope. Or if I ever have, it’s not the sort of thing I remembered when I woke up.”

“Weird.” She looks really perplexed by that.

“Actually, um… no. I think that’s pretty damn normal for the kind of guy I am. I’m fairly sure Jimmy and Tony don’t dream about sex with men, either.”

“Or would never admit to it if they did.”

“Come on, Jimmy’d tell if he did. I just don’t think he does.”

“You could ask.”

“Umm… no…” he says while shaking his head.

She thought about that. “I’d ask.”

“And nothing is stopping you from asking.”

Kelly’s sucking started to slow down. Abby began stroking her cheek. “Oh no you don’t. No falling asleep, yet. Gotta finish both sides. Come on, baby, wake up.”

Her eyes lazed open and the sucking got a little faster. But she’s also looking a little miffed at the whole not being allowed to just drift off thing.

“That looks exactly like your I’m so done with you look,” Abby says with a chuckle.

“You’re not done with us, are you?” Tim asks, nuzzling her cheek and shoulder.

Her eyes track toward him, but she’s pretty focused on the food, so she doesn’t try to turn her head.

“She’ll be six weeks old tomorrow,” he says, slipping his index finger into her tightly clenched fist. “Hard to believe you’ve only been here six weeks.”

“Feels longer to you?” Abby asks. It’s been a very long six weeks for her.

“Longer, shorter, I don’t know.  She’s got a doctor’s appointment tomorrow, right?”

“Yeah. I’ve got one, too, and so does Gibbs.”

“Okay, I’m available for whatever chauffer service is needed.”

“Good. I think his appointment is the same time mine is.”

“We’ll make it work.” Tim sighs and stretches again. Bright yellow sunlight is striping between their blinds and over Abby. He trails his fingers along the stripes. Kelly’s in her shadow right now, no stripes for her, and they pick back up again on his side.

They lay there, Kelly nursing away, Tim idly tracing his fingers over Abby’s side and hip, Abby’s leg curled over his hip, both of them enjoying this series of quiet moments with each other.

And eventually Kelly finished up. And like before, she was looking awfully sleepy and peaceful. Tiny babies don’t smile, but they can look pretty satisfied. Once Abby got her detached, Tim picked her up, patting her back while taking her to her room. Another massive baby belch, and then once again she goes down to sleep.

That makes him think something, about relative time, and he’s getting ready to mention it when he heads back into their room, but Abby’s not in their bed.

A second of listening lets him hear the shower running, and turning toward the bathroom shows him the door is open. Shower time together works for him.

He heads over there and sees she’s not got the shower on. She’s filling the tub, sitting on the edge, water lapping at her ankles. Laying around, talking, warm water, yeah, he’s good for that, too.

He shucked off his pj pants and sat next to her. “When I put her down, I was thinking, for us a day is one wake up to the next. I wonder if it’s the same for her. She’s growing so fast, and if each sleep cycle is like a day for her…”

Abby shrugs. “Could be. I always thought a day was on dawn to the next.”

“Or that. Sometimes wonder how this all feels to her.”

“Yeah. She lives in a world without words, barely any images, it’s all touch and sound and smells and weird blurry things whizzing past.”

“She knows these.” He lightly touched her breast.

“Well, she spends a lot of time with them up close enough she can focus on them. I bet once upon a time we all knew that.”

“Probably. Think that’s why even straight girls like breasts? All those good, warm, being taken care of, safe, and happy associations.”

“I think that might be why you like breasts.”

“I like them for a whole lot of reasons,” he says with a smile, kissing her shoulder, “but yeah, that’s on the list, too.”

She leans over and kisses him quickly. “Temperature on the water good?”

“Yeah, feels good.”

“Great.” She shut off the water, and he slipped in, back against the slanted side of the tub, and she followed, settling between his legs, head against his chest.

“Mmm…” she purrs at him.

He kisses her temple. “Yeah, liking this a whole lot.”

Her fingers close between his, left hand in left hand, wedding rings next to each other. His head drops back against the edge of the tub, and they both just rest with each other.  

He’s getting pretty close to drifting off when his brain wanders back to ‘not that bad.’

He strokes her shoulder and arm, settling his right hand on her stomach, just below her belly button, about to ask, when she says, “It’s kind of trippy.”

“What is?”

“I can’t feel that.”


“There’s like a four inch wide strip below my belly button to my c-section scar, where I’ve got no feeling.”


“Yeah.” She took his hand in hers and traced the edges, about four inches wide and four inches long, just below her navel to the top of her pubic hair. “No sensation at all there. Just completely numb.”

“Is it supposed to be like that?” He’s feeling a little alarmed by the fact that six weeks later she’s still numb.

“I don’t know. I read that numbness could be a side effect of a c-section, but it didn’t say how much. Gets better supposedly.”

“Like, gets better in a few weeks or months or…”

“Don’t know. Have to ask Dr. Draz about it tomorrow.”

He skimmed his fingers from her navel to just below her scar. “Nothing?”

“I can feel where you are now. The bottom side of the scar has full sensation,” she moved his fingers to the point where they were tracing the bottom edge of the scar, “but anything above it on the midline is dead.”

“Nothing at all, not that tingly dull feeling you get with Novocain?”   

“Nothing at all. It’s like your hand vanishes when you get there.”

“Huh…” He’s not sure what to do with that. It doesn’t sound like she’s complaining, just telling him, and that, along with a whole lot of other things, goes into the seventy million reasons why it’s great to be a guy file.

“Were you about to say something? I think I might have cut you off.”

“What does ‘not that bad’ mean?”

“Not that bad.”

Yeah, that’s not helpful at all. Not that bad covers paper cuts and stubbed toes to the bruises all over him right now. “Like, sore, or achy, or…”

“Kind of like anal without enough lube and you didn’t stretch enough ahead of time.”

“Fuck!” He’s utterly horrified by that. Been there, done that, didn’t like it at all. “That’s not ‘not that bad,’ that fucking hurts!”

She shrugs. “Then it’s a bad example, because it’s not that bad. I still got off. Too tight, stretching further than was comfortable. Like” she pauses and says, “That’s not going to mean anything to you. It’s just not comfortable. Doesn’t hurt as much as getting a tattoo.”

“The whole way through, or does it get better as we got going?”

“The whole way through. Gonna take a while for my hormones to get all the way back into synch, and until then…”

He sighs and kisses her shoulder and makes a mental promise to keep his face as smooth as possible. “I know. Jimmy said right now your body is doing everything it can to not get pregnant again. I get it. Just, really, don’t like the idea of hurting you, at all. Even if it is ‘not that bad.’ Especially since we aren’t getting a lot of time for this, I want it to be really, really good when we do.”

“I know. We’ll go slow next time, start with one finger and tongue and figure out what feels good.”

“YES! You, me, Kelly’s nap time, one finger at a time and lots of lube and my tongue driving you crazy, and… Didn’t you get some sort of surprise or something?”

“I did,” she sounds very happy as she says that.

“And do I ever get to see it?”

“Tonight? Tomorrow morning? Wanted you to be awake enough to appreciate it.”

He smiles at that, kisses the top of her head. “Looking forward to it.”

She cups her hand under the water, then slowly dribbles a stream of it down his knee. “So, what’s on for lunch with Jimmy?”

“We never got to Ender. Stuff with Ziva took precedence, but he still wants to know what’s up. And then there’s the thing with Ziva and Tony and how Gibbs works into that. And just haven’t had the chance to really talk to him since last weekend.”

“Good. Glad you’re getting time with him.”

“Even though it means we’re not spending the day in bed.”

“I really should check in on Ziva. If that wasn’t true…”

Tim nods. “If that wasn’t true, I’d cancel on him. He’d understand.”

“Yeah, he would. But if that wasn’t true, you’d have talked it out yesterday, and all the rest of the stuff that has to get done today would have been done, and we would have had the chance to go to bed together at a sane hour last night.”


She lifts his hand, kissing his palm. “I’m liking today, though.”

“Yeah. I am too.”

Abby sat up, away from him, and twisted around so she could face him, wrapping her legs around his hips. “You’re going to talk to Jimmy about Ender?”

“Yeah. Still got to tell Ziva and Tony, too.”


“Probably not.”

“And Tony and Ziva can wait until they get themselves straightened out?”

“Yeah. Not giving them any distractions they don’t need. I mean, I can easily see both of them grabbing onto that and ignoring what’s going on with them.”

“Because that’s not a common pattern for us at all. Finding something else to think about to get away from our problems.” She scoots closer, wrapping her arms around him as well as her legs. “So, it’s been two days, you’ve talked and fought and fucked… How are you doing with Ender?”

He blows out a long breath, and drops his forehead to hers, his arms circling her back.

“I’m still here. And I think I’m okay. I mean, you know I’ve got legendary not-dealing-with-it skills, but I think I’m okay.”  

“Still angry?”

He half shrugs. “I’m always going to be angry at that bastard. And if Kort knows what’s good for him, he’ll stay the fuck away from me for the rest of his life, because I will hit him so hard I will break my fist on him, and enjoy every second of the pain because it’ll hurt him even worse.”

“Speaking of maybe seeing a counselor…”

“Cranston’s going to be busy soon,” Tim says, too quickly.

Abby knows a bad excuse when she hears one. “Yeah, because she’s the only counselor on Earth.”

“I know. I get it.” ‘Cause Tim also knows a bad excuse when he makes one. “But, I’ll tell you, and I’ll talk to Jimmy, and eventually tell Tony and Ziva, and then I want to bury it. Just let the fucker go.”

“Can you?” The look on her face is concerned. She sleeps with him, knows how he gets nightmares, knows how the things that he pushes out of his waking mind come back to visit sometimes.

“Yeah. I really think I can. Not losing any more sleep over that son of a bitch.”


They both know that means she’s letting it drop for now, but reserving the right to bring it back up again if it seems to be haunting him. He kisses her gently, nodding, accepting those terms.

Her finger trace over his goatee. “So, shaving it off?”

He nods.

“Want me to do it?”

That gets a smile out of him. He’d certainly enjoyed it the last time she shaved him. “Yeah, let me get it trimmed first. Are the trimmers still in the drug cabinet?”

“I haven’t moved them. Have you?”

“Don’t think so.” He gets up, water dripping off him, and takes the two steps to the medicine cabinet. “Yep, still here.” A minute’s worth of buzzing resulted in a much, much shorter goatee. (And a lot of dark brown stubble in the sink.)

He grabs a new blade for his razor and heads back to the tub.

Abby smiles at him as he sits in front of her. “Hey, you’ve got lips again!”

“Ha ha ha.”

She scoots closer, taking the blade from him and fitting it into his razor, while he reaches behind him to grab his shaving cream from the little shelf it lived on.

Abby puts the razor on the side of the tub and takes the cream from him, rubbing it between her palms to make it foam, then gently stroking it onto his face.

“Hold still.”

He blinks in response holding still very clear in his expression.

That also gets a smile out of her as she rinses off her hands and began to carefully run the blade over his face.
“I missed how this smells.”

He squeezes her foot.

“Okay, I’ll stop talking until you can talk back.”

One more squeeze.

The slightly raspy sound of the blade pulling over his face, the crisp, slightly citrus scent of his shaving cream, and the feel of her fingers as she tilts his head one way and then the next, making sure she gets all of it, the smooth slide of sharp steel across his skin, and right now, Tim’s feeling very home, very cherished, and just, all over, good.

She dunks the blade into the tub, swishing it through the water one last time, then touches his lips.

“There’s the face I fell in love with.”

And he smiles at her. 

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