Friday, January 17, 2014

Shards To A Whole: Chapter 278

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

Chapter 278: Lunch With Jimmy (Or The Difference 270 Chapters Makes.)

“Family is exhausting,” Tim says as he rolls the stroller next to the table and sits down across from Jimmy.

Jimmy smiles and tickles Kelly’s feet. She looks awfully startled, in that at any given time she’s not really aware of having feet, so having someone mess with them is something of a shock.

“I think she’s going to be ticklish.” Jimmy looks up from Kelly and really sees Tim. “You got your face back! Moving back into work mode?”

Tim shrugs, not feeling any need to explain why his goatee is gone. “I’m ticklish. Abby is. Wouldn’t be a surprise if Kelly is.”

“I didn’t know that about you. So, which branch of the family is keeping you from your beauty sleep? Baby or Grandpa.”

“Last night, Grandpa. She’s actually sleeping through the four AM feed now.”

“Congratulations.” And once again Jimmy engages Kelly, picking her up, cradling her in his arms, leaning in close, and saying, “Good girl, letting mom and dad sleep. You keep this up, you’re gonna end up with a little brother or sister.”


Jimmy’s eyes shoot up from Kelly and back to Tim. “Maybe? Already?”

“Probably not. She’s nursing. Only happened once. But, we’ll find out for sure next week.”

Jimmy laughs. “So, on purpose, or did you guys just forget?”

Tim’s shuffling through the baby bag, searching for Kelly’s bottle. “On purpose but not planned.”

“What does that even mean?” Jimmy asks, looking curious.

Tim looks up at him. “Come on, we’ve talked about this. You almost get killed, and really there’s only one thing your body wants to do to convince you and her you’re still alive.”

“Ah. Right.”

“So, plan was condoms until Kelly’s three months old, try not to have two kids in one year, but got home, almost died, and we were following the plan, but… It just felt wrong.”

“If you’re doing it to convince yourself you haven’t died, it should make a baby, or at least try?”

“Yeah something like that.”

Jimmy nods as Tim finds the bottle. “I get that.”

Tim pulls it out, and shakes it up, then hands it to Jimmy, because it’s easier to hand the bottle over than the baby.

“I’m on feeding duty?”

“You picked her up.”

“Lucky for you, Kelly, I know what I’m doing.” And he does, one arm holding Kelly, the other holding the bottle. “But it has been a while, so I appreciate you helping me get back into practice.” Kelly latches on and sucks greedily, looking a little confused about this person who’s holding her and talking in the perky voice. But he’s got food, and that makes him her favorite person. Once she’s sucking away, Jimmy looks over at Tim again. “You know, we’re required by law to tease the ever living hell out of you if you end up with two kids in one year.”

Tim rolls his eyes and nods.

“End up with three in two years and we drag you off to the urologist for the vasectomy whether you want it or not.”

“Oh, come on!”

Jimmy shakes his head a little. He’s joking, but he’s serious, too. The kind of tone that says he doesn’t think it’s going to be an issue, but making sure Tim knows that it would be an issue if it happened. “That’s just not cool. It’s not good for her, at all. Really not good for her.” Comments about Abby’s age and why three kids in two years might not be completely out of the question are left unspoken, but Tim gets them anyway. “Once, okay. Twice, that’s a pattern, and it ends there, because it’s really not good for her.”

“I know that. I’m not a moron.”

“Just making sure you know the lines.”

“I end up with three kids in two years, and I’ll take myself in.”

“Good.” Jimmy looks back down at Kelly. “Want some time to enjoy you all on your own!”

“Is this her?” Dana, their usual waitress at Carlo’s, asks as she comes over, setting a cup of decaf coffee in front of Tim without even being asked. Sometimes it’s good to eat at one of the same four places all the time.

“This is her,” Tim says.

“Oh my God! She’s adorable.” Dana leans down to pet Kelly’s cheek. She flashes that irked look. Dana laughs at that. “She’s what… six weeks old now?”

“Exactly six weeks old tomorrow.”

“Where’s Abby?”

“Having a girl’s lunch with Ziva right now. So I’m on baby duty.”

“Uh, excuse me,” Jimmy says. “You’re loafing. I’m on baby duty.”

Dana smiles at that. “And you look like you know what you’re doing.”

“Well, I should. Not like I’ve never done this before.”

Dana nods. “So, you two getting your regular lunches?”

“Yes.” Jimmy replies.

 Tim shakes his head. “Feeling pretty hungry today. I’d like a bowl of tomato soup to go with the grilled chicken salad.”

“No problem. Should have it up in a few minutes.”

“Thanks, Dana.”

“Soup in July?”

“I’m hungry.”

Jimmy stares at him, at the shaved goatee, and just nods, laughing a little, looking really smug. Tim grins. Then Jimmy looks back down to Kelly. “She’s so tiny. It sounds so dumb, but you forget. This morning Molly was tiny.”

“She is.”

“She’s a toddler. Kelly’s what, eight pounds?”

“There abouts. She’s got a check-up tomorrow, so we’ll find out for sure.”

Jimmy touches Kelly’s face, fingers tracing over her cheek. “You forget how blue their eyes are, too.”

“End of December.”


“When’s the twenty week scan?”

“Earliest they’ll do it is eighteen weeks, so we’ve got an appointment for the 11th.”

“You want us to come?”

“Abby maybe. You don’t need to take time off for it.”

“I don’t need to, but if you want support, we’ll both be there.”

Jimmy looks up at him from Kelly. “It’s going to be fine. I know that. The nuchal fold came back normal, the genetic counseling said everything was good, but I’m still really nervous.” He nods towards Dana, who’s waiting on another table. “We still haven’t told anyone who doesn’t see Breena in person. Haven’t told my mom or brother, yet.”

“It’s normal.”

“Yeah. Great. Still hate feeling afraid like this.”

Tim nods, smiling sadly, understanding.

“Anyway…” Jimmy says, changing the subject, because until his newest child is alive and healthy and in his arms, this fear just isn’t going away, so something else to focus on will help. “Tell me the whole story with Ender.”

So Tim did, happy to get Jimmy thinking of something else. By the time he was done, Kelly had finished her bottle and was sleeping in her stroller, and he and Jimmy were both on post-lunch drinks.   

Tim wraps up by saying, “I’m temped to hack Hanson,” he sees Jimmy doesn’t remember which one of the names that was, “The head of the CIA.” Jimmy nods. “See what he’s got on Ender, what he was actually doing. But that’s probably just rubbing salt into the wound. It won’t make him any less dead.”

“Might let you know what happened to James.”

“Yeah. Might. Did he kill James? Was he so committed to the role he kept working with a guy who killed his brother? Did he even know? No, he had to. If he didn’t kill James himself, he had to have a plan to get him off the ship. If he didn’t have that plan, Simmers and Blake would have known something was wrong when the ship didn’t blow.”

“Think he was cold enough to leave the body there so he’d have a plausible excuse for how the detonator got found?”

Tim blows out a frustrated breath. “That’s absolute zero level cold.”

Jimmy just stares at Tim.

Tim shrugs. “I don’t know. For all I know, Ender never mentioned them being brothers and just played it as he found a guy who really looked like him. Running the faces through the recognition software and ‘planning from there.’”


“Yeah. Anyway… it looks like Vance wasn’t going to tell me. But now I know. And I do need to tell Tony. And I’m worried about telling Ziva. I don’t want to do it now, because they’ve got enough on their plates right now.”

“Yeah. What was so different about this time? My sense was as soon as anything dangerous happened, you all ran right into it. That the Venn diagram between self-preservation and your team was two circles on opposite sides of the page.” Jimmy says, circling each of his forefingers. “Is it just because they’re married now?”

“Spent most of last night talking with Gibbs about this. But, short answer, no. It’s not just because they’re married. Day after they started dating, Tony was telling me that if it’s ever him or her, the right answer is her, and he didn’t need to because the right answer has always been her. Before her, the right answer was Kate. And maybe that’s stupid and sexist, but… especially after we lost Kate…”

Jimmy nods at him. He gets that.

“I mean we all know Ziva can take care of herself. So we don’t… well, we didn’t used to… get stupid about it. But no matter what, she was the one who was going to come home. I mean, hell, we went to Somalia to get her back. We didn’t even know she was still alive. Actually Somalia should have been a good hint on how insane those two are on this.”

“’Those two,’ if memory serves, you went, too, Tim.”

“Yeah. A quarter of my family just died. I’m not letting two thirds of what’s left run off on a suicide mission without at least someone who actually wants to come home on the team. I didn’t go for Ziva. I hoped she was alive, but I didn’t feel it in my gut. I went for Tony and Jethro. If she was dead, I wanted to make sure they actually came home. Before we left, Abby said that to me. ‘No matter what you find out there, you make sure they come home.’”

“Isn’t she supposed to say that to Gibbs?”

“I would have thought so. Especially then. But she said it to me.”

“Because that time it wasn’t about making sure you fought right, it was about letting the white whale go before it killed you.”

“I guess.”

“So, they’re both kind of insane on this, but you guys get almost killed every year or two and until this time, Tony and Gibbs kept it under control, what was different?”

“Apparently, he and Tony, and me, you, too probably, are allowed to go on suicide missions if there’s any shot at all of getting the girls out. Hell, even if there isn’t any shot of getting them out. Save them or die trying is perfectly okay.”

Jimmy nods along with that. “Sounds right.”

“Yeah. Here’s the change. Actually, no, it’s not a change. They’ve probably always felt that way. Here’s what came into play on this one: they aren’t allowed to save us or die trying.”


“Yeah. We’re allowed to be the big damn heroes, but they aren’t.”

“Huh.” Jimmy looks perplexed. “Like, I get that if we’re talking about Abby or Breena, but Ziva? She’s better at this stuff than Gibbs and Tony, right?”

“I think so. But, apparently this was the first time Ziva had a good shot of getting free, and ran into the danger, and, on top of that, apparently both of them acted like freaking twits, at least, if what Gibbs was saying was true, which didn’t do much to improve anyone’s confidence in the whole situation. But, from what Gibbs was saying, there was nothing she could do by running in, but die with them, and that’s not okay..”

“Huh. So, she runs in, freaks them both out, and now everything is upside down?”

“Looks like it. And then apparently he and Tony decided to have some sort of heart to heart about it...”

“Because getting marriage advice from the guy who’s been divorced three times is such a great idea.”

“Marriage advice from the guy who’s been divorced three times because he’s never gotten over losing his first wife, and is still walking wounded on that front… I don’t even think it was marriage advice so much as how to deal with fear, and fear of losing your spouse is the one area you do not want Gibbs’ help. He suggested to Tony that she not be on the team anymore. Tony latched onto it, added his own particular version of screwed up to it, and now Ziva’s at your place.

“Anyway, that was my half of it. Talking with him until late last night. How about your half, how’s Ziva?”

Jimmy looks slightly disturbed. “It’s really nerve wracking to be in a home with Ziva when she’s pissed. She goes really, really quiet, so you never hear her move, she just appears out of nowhere.”

“Any less pissed, now?”

Jimmy shrugged. “She appeared to be pleased at the idea that Tony might have been talking to someone, but he doesn’t get any sympathy for having a hard past. That’s not really right. There’s sympathy, but I can’t ask her to overlook him being stupid because he’s had a hard past. I can’t say to her, ‘Cut him some slack, his mom died,’ because hers did, too. And ‘He's flipping out because Kate died’ doesn’t mean much when she had to kill Ari two days later.”

“Gibbs killed Ari.”

Jimmy shakes his head. “No. He didn’t. She did. Gibbs set it up as a trap, him as the bait, and trusted Ziva to do the job.”

“Oh, God.”


Tim shakes his head a little, sighing. “I actually said to him last night that I didn’t know how he could let himself love Ziva so much, so quickly, given how dangerous her life is.”

“Guess we were talking in parallel. I suggested that maybe she and Tony might benefit from some marriage counseling.”

Tim’s nodding along with that. “Got Gibbs to agree to see someone.”

“How much alcohol did you pump into him to do that?”

“Abby asked me the same thing.”

Jimmy looks at him expectantly.

“It’s still my team, and I told him he wasn’t going back until he’d seen someone. Twice. And I’d check.”

“I’m glad I don’t work for you.”

That gets a smirk out of Tim. “How’d it go when you suggested it to Ziva? Lead balloon?”

“Not that bad, but she wasn’t enthusiastic.”

“What does not enthusiastic mean?”

“She stared at me like I was speaking Swahili, laughed, realized I wasn’t joking, and then said she’d think about it.”

“Think they’ll do it?” Tim asks.

“I think they’ll do everything in their power to avoid it.”

“That’s kind of a pattern with this group.”

“Yeah, I’ve noticed,” Jimmy says dryly. And both of them know they both also have stuff that might be better off talked with someone about, and both of them aren’t doing it, either.

“You didn’t go talk to someone after Jon died, right?” Tim asks. He didn’t think Jimmy had, but he also hadn’t known about the sleeping pills until Jimmy told him.

“Breena did. I probably should have. But she was seeing our pastor, and that’s fine and makes sense, and she found it a comfort, but… I wasn’t in the mood to buy what she was selling.”

Tim nods at that. “Talked to Gibbs about that. He says it helps. Not right away. Nothing helps right away, but eventually you hurt less and feel less angry and the idea that they’re out there, waiting for us, helps.”

Jimmy shrugs. Not brushing it off, but not willing to engage it for himself. “So, Gibbs believes?”

Tim nods, not sure if he wants to say how deep Gibbs goes on that one. “I’m sure he’d talk to you about it if you ask.”

“That sounds like there’s a story in there.”

“There is, but it’s his story, not mine. Mostly. I guess some of it’s mine, but not most of it.”

“That’s ominous sounding.”

“Good choice of words there. It’s… Just ask him about it sometime.”

“God, that’s grim.”

“Yeah, well… You ever have a sex dream about another guy?” It was out of his mouth before he’d made any decision beyond maybe they didn’t need to be thinking quite so much about pain and death right now.

Jimmy’s staring at him like he just turned green, a really, thoroughly perplexed look on his face. “I think you need to leave the clowning around stuff to Tony. He’s way better at it.”

Tim turns his hands up in a, it’s what came out, gesture. “It’s not depressing.”

“Okay, yeah. Just… death, pain, missing the ones we love, sex dreams with men. That’s not exactly a natural progression, Tim. Why would your brain go there?”

“Got talking about it with Abby this morning. She thinks it’s weird that I haven’t. I thought it was pretty normal for a straight guy to not be dreaming about other guys. But I only know me. You’re here. You’re a straight guy. Gibbs’d just stare at me like I’m insane if I ask him. Tony’d get insulted by the question, and then lie to me. Ducky’d probably answer it, and then give me an hour long dissertation on the psychology of sexuality and Penny would kick in another hour of feminist theory of gender/preference fluidity.”

“I guess.”


“You haven’t?” Jimmy’s sounding a bit guarded as he says that.

“No.” Tim’s slowly shaking his head.

“Come on, all of us have had that wake up in a cold sweat, heart pounding, wanting to wash your brain out with bleach moment.”

“Well, yeah. But none of mine have involved another man.”

That gets an intrigued look out of Jimmy. “If it’s not another guy, what are you dreaming of that makes you want to wash your brain out with bleach.”

“Just…” Tim shakes his head. “No… let’s not go there.”

“Okay.” Jimmy’s staring warily at Tim.

“So, you have?”

Jimmy rolls his eyes a little, looking slightly embarrassed. “Well, until five minutes ago, I thought we all had, at least once.”


“So, you really haven’t?”

Tim takes another sip of his coffee. “I don’t remember a lot of my dreams, but, I don’t think so.”

“Not buying it. You just don’t remember.”

Tim shrugs.

“Why were you and Abby talking about that?”

“Just laying around while she fed Kelly, talking. Got talking about sex dreams. She wanted to know if—“ He realizes that he doesn’t want Jimmy to have quite that level of detail for what they were talking about, so he quickly edits what he was about to say, “I ever dreamed about guys. I said no. That not dreaming about guys was part of the whole being a straight guy thing, and she seemed pretty doubtful about that. So, she’ll be happy to know that she’s closer to right than I am.”

“I think it’s the waking up and feeling really squirmy about it after that’s the defining characteristic of being straight.”

“Uh huh. So, does it happen a lot?”

“NO!” Jimmy’s horrified by that. “Been more than twenty years since the last time.”

“Hey, just asking.” Yeah, well, that wasn’t horribly grim, but this was probably way too damn far into overkill territory. But… but he’s curious, and Jimmy isn’t going to flip out about it, and there isn’t another guy he can talk to about stuff like this, so… “Why squirmy after?”

“Uh?” Jimmy’s staring at him like that should be a really self-evident thing.

“Just, my own brain bleach dreams usually involve someone or thing I really don’t like.”

“Men are pretty high on my list of someones I don’t like,” Jimmy says dryly.

“Someone I actively dislike. Not just some random person.”

Jimmy nods at that, then asks, “Thing?”

“Like I said, we’re not going there.”

“How could a ‘thing’ make you feel all squirmy in a bad way?”

“Thing as a verb, not noun.”

“Oh.” Jimmy’s getting the sense that he’s talking uncomfortable dreams, and Tim might be talking nightmares.

“Not saying I’m interested in guys ‘cause I’m not but… don’t think it’d make me feel gross.”

Jimmy shrugs. “It’s been a long time. Might feel different about it now.”

“Good point. As a teen that would have been a brain bleach dream.”

“That’s all I’m saying. Spent the three days after more or less wrapped around my girlfriend, because it did kind of freak me out. Now, married, kid at home, another on the way, probably not a big deal. So, your brain bleach dreams involve a someone?”

“Sounds like yours did, too.”

“Not a real person. Well, yeah, real person, not like a comic character, but no one I actually knew. Yours?”

“No.” Tim’s shaking his head.

“Come on, who am I going to tell?”


“So it’s someone we know? A woman someone we know? Shepard?”

“Just. No." Tim's shaking his head. "We do not need to go there.”

“Please?” Jimmy's looking awfully curious, and Tim's thinking maybe this wasn't his best hop off of an uncomfortable subject gambit, ever.

“What are we? Sixteen-year-old girls?”

“Says the guy who brought this up in the first place. Was it a sixteen-year-old girl?”

“NO! Stop it.”

“Fine…” Jimmy lets it trail off for a second while he drinks more of his Diet Sprite. “Ziva?”

Tim glared at Jimmy. Jimmy’s eyes lit up. “Oh, you have, haven’t you?”

“Yes, and you have, too, and, no, that’s not the brain bleach dream and if you ever say anything about that I am writing out a detailed list of every single piece of porn on your computer and giving it to Breena, Ziva, and Abby.”

“Whoa. Calm on down.” He’s holding up his hands in placating gesture, and then points at Tim, “And don’t do that. Breena’s stuff is on there, too, and trust me, you don’t know which is mine and which is hers.”

The look on Tim’s face says, really, you’re going to try that on me? “Ultra X Fetish Shoe House is Breena’s?” he asks, completely deadpan.

Jimmy’s having a very hard time not smiling. “It could be.”


“Fine. If it’s not Ziva…”

“You’re not letting up until I talk, are you?”

“Wasn’t planning on it.”

“Threat still holds, and I’ll tell Breena why I’m doing it, and she won’t get pissed.”

“Terms accepted.”


“Gibbs’ Diane?”

“Yeah. Gibbs’ Diane. Night after the first time we met her. Woke up in a cold sweat wishing I could rip my eyes out.”

Jimmy just laughs.

“And then, a year later, she wants me to ‘hug’ her.”

“Oh God. You poor guy.”

Not enjoying it.
“Yeah.” Tim shuddered. “That’s kind of how the dream started, too.”

“You know,” Jimmy says, thinking about, “She is kind of hot.”

“That wasn’t the problem,” Tim said seriously, because it wasn’t. Diane being hot is why (probably) that dream started. “That’s never the problem. She’s mean and a bully and she was both of those things in the dream, too.”

And suddenly Jimmy’s got a much better idea of what ‘thing’ means.


“Yeah. But Spawn of Satan reputation aside, she’s actually not that bad once she opens up some. She’s one of those really bright, really accomplished people who’s also really insecure and covers it by attacking everyone.”

“So, she’s mean and a bully.”

“Yeah. I guess that is the traditional mold. According to her, she was softer before Gibbs.”

“You believe it?”

“I didn’t then. Now… Yeah, I know him well enough I can see how it probably went. I’m sure he liked the challenge of her, because softer probably didn’t mean soft. Liked that she’d stand up to him. Loved the body, because like you said, she’s hot. And Tony dug up this shot of her from about the time they would have been married, and smoking hot. Ducky said he was a lot like Tony back then, so he was probably all quiet charm and those big blue eyes. But she wasn’t Shannon, and he didn’t love her, and she didn’t know what was going on or why he’s pulling back. And she’s not soft, and she doesn’t put up with crap, so she’s going behind his back, because he won’t talk to her, rummaging through his stuff, finds the pictures, he’s still got his old photo albums, and she finds out he had this whole life he never mentioned. Next thing we know, she’s getting friendly with Fornel.”

“And we’re back to why you never ask Gibbs for marriage advice.”

“Or if you do, you listen to what he says, think about it, and do the opposite. So, that’s mine. Who was yours?”


“Who freaked you out so bad you spent three days glued to your girlfriend?”

Jimmy rolls his eyes. “It’s really silly.”

Tim just looks at him.

Talisa and the Twerp
“Fine. The apartment we lived in was small, and Clark and I shared a room. I’d do my homework at the kitchen table, because it’d be quieter, sort of, out there, and my mom is hovering around, getting dinner ready. In our room, he’d mess with me and stuff, but out there, he wouldn’t because she’s right nearby. Anyway, I’d be working, and she’d be watching this show, a lot, because she was like a major Beau Bridges fan and he was the star, and I didn’t pay much attention, because I’d be working. But there was this smoking hot actress on it, Talisa Soto, oh my god, just, so hot.”

“I don’t know who she is.”

“Kind of looked like Selma Hyack.”


“Yeah. Gorgeous. Most perfect caramel colored skin and long black hair and...” Jimmy’s expression gets across that it wasn’t just her skin and hair he was impressed with. Tim nod, he knows what Jimmy’s not saying. “So, when she was on screen, I paid less attention to my homework and a lot more to her.”

“How old were you?”

“I don’t know. Fifteen, sixteen, something like that.”


“Anyway. I’m studying my history, reading through this pathetically boring text on the unification of Germany, and my mom’s got the show on, and I fall asleep studying, and I start dreaming about her, which was great, but there was also this twerp on the show, a guy about my age, and suddenly he was in the dream, which was kind of weird, but not terrible, and then she wasn’t in the dream anymore, that wasn’t good at all, and I wake up sticky and horrified with my mom asking me what I was moaning about.”

“Oh lord.”

“Yeah, talk about conversations you don’t ever want to have with your mom while sitting at the kitchen table, let alone conversations you don’t want to end with, ‘Well, come on, clear up, we’re having dinner in three minutes.”

“No.” Tim's somewhere between horrified on Jimmy's behalf and about to burst out laughing.

“Yeah. She’s just standing there, staring at me, waiting for me to get up.”

Tim's vibrating and biting his lip he's trying so hard not to laugh. Then Jimmy rolls his eyes and smiles, giving Tim permission to lose it, and he dissolves into a laughing fit.

After a minute he says, "Sorry, I know I shouldn't laugh at that. At least you could use the books for cover.”

“Which I needed. All I want to do is get a shower and die of embarrassment, and she’s like, ‘Come on, Jimmy, we’re having pot roast.’”

“What’d you do?”

“Lurched up, ran to the bathroom, made myself puke, because once again, little apartment, and you could hear everything in there, so if I didn’t sound sick, she’d be knocking on the door, wanting to know what was up, then got the shower, and spent the rest of the night in bed, playing sick.”

Tim shook his head. “I have to say, I’m deeply glad to have never had that experience.”

“Yeah. Could have gone without it, too.”

Kelly chirped a bit.

“I know that sound. That’s the it's halfway through my nap time, you need to get moving if you want me to be home to Abby by my next feed call,” Tim says.

“Then I won’t keep you.”

“Last question, is Ziva going home anytime soon?”

“She didn’t have a plan when I last talked to her.”

“Okay. I’m going to get Kelly home, and then I need to track down Tony, see how he’s doing.”

“Let me know how it goes.”

“Will do.”

No comments:

Post a Comment