McGee-centric character study/romance. Want to start at the beginning? Click here.
Chapter 348: Bad Day
Abby knows that sensation. She figures all women do. That sort of dull, aching, low gut, wrong but familiar sensation.
But she's not supposed to be feeling it.
Not… for another year, at least.
But she is.
Mildly crampy, wet, bit of a headache.
Yeah, she knows it. And it's not the way she wants to wake up at, she glances at the clock, 4:38 in the morning on Monday. She reaches out from under the blanket, grabs a handful of tissues and stuffs them between her legs before getting up and heading to the bathroom.
For a second, she begs God that they come away white, but, as she pulls them away, they're the intense red of first day of her period blood.
Usually her period's not much of a big deal. Light flow, lasts about four days, not too much emotional craziness (she's got more than enough of that just on her own, her cycle doesn't seem to effect it), mild cramps the first day. As periods go, they're not bad.
So, it's probably not any sort of hormonal issue that's making her sit on the bathroom floor and sob.
It's just pure, unadulterated, heart feels ripped out sadness.
Tim woke to… he wasn't sure, he took a second to place it, and then he knew. Abby crying. He's half tempted to go back to sleep, because she does cry a lot when she's pregnant, and as of this point he's still zero for nine million on thinking up some way to fix whatever has caused the crying.
But, something, his "gut" probably, really doesn't like the way that crying sounds. This doesn't sound like a bad dream, sad thought, snuggled Kelly and just burst into tears crying. This sounds… off.
So he drags himself out of bed, knocks gently on the bathroom door. "You okay?"
That 'no' scares the shit out of him, but he's not going to just barge in on her. "Can I come in?"
She opens the door, eyes bright red, chest heaving, and immediately collapses into his arms.
"Abby…" his question dies on his lips. He sees the tissues, wadded up in the trash can, sees the open box of tampons, and puts two and two together and rapidly comes up with four. "Oh."
She's nodding against his chest and he kisses her temple, stroking her back.
He doesn't have any words. He's not even sure what he's feeling. This hurts, but it's not sobbing pain. Maybe it will be, eventually. It certainly is for Abby. This is more an aching, breath knocked out of you by the sucker punch that gets you right in the solar plexus, sort of pain.
It's an hour later, after her crying has calmed down, when he tentatively says, "Do you think you should see Dr. Draz?"
She shrugs at that.
And he really doesn't know the answer to that. He's not trying to gently nudge her toward it. He's honestly not sure if she should or not.
"Would you like me to give her a call? Get an opinion?"
"Okay. I'll go do that."
He's on the phone, on hold, when he hears Kelly wake up, so he heads toward her, but Abby's got her. She nods at him, letting him know she's got this, and he heads downstairs where he can talk without a fussing baby in the background.
He finally gets Dr. Draz and explains what happened.
"Okay, first thing first, do you have another pregnancy test lying around?"
"Yes." He bought a two pack, because if it was negative but her period kept not showing up, they'd want to test again.
"Have Abby take it. Just because you're bleeding doesn't mean you aren't pregnant anymore. Give me a call back in a few minutes when you know what the result is, okay? This might be a lot of upset for nothing alarming."
He heads into Kelly's room where Abby's nursing her. "Doc says it's a good idea to retake the pregnancy test. See if this really is your period or just some sort of bleeding. Which can be normal."
She looks up at him, not seeming very enthusiastic about that. And he can see from the way she's looking at him that she's certain this is not just some sort of little bleeding thing.
"Do you want to take it?"
She shrugs. "When Kelly's done."
"Okay. I'll… um…" He feels so useless right now. Normally, he'd be getting his morning shower, she'd be feeding Kelly, Heather will get here soon, and the day begins. "What do you want for breakfast?"
"Uh…" He can see she doesn't really want to eat, and he's not exactly hungry right now, either, but they may as well eat. "Make me some scrambled eggs?"
She comes down ten minutes later, and shakes her head. "Negative."
"Fuck." It comes out pretty flat. Mostly just expressing how disappointed he is. He didn't have much hope that it was going to come up positive. He puts the plate with the eggs on it in front of her, she looks at them, pokes them a few times, and then they hear Heather coming in. She gets up quickly, tosses the eggs in the trash, and Tim understands she doesn't want to explain why she's not eating.
"Hey guys! How's this morning going?"
Abby plasters a really fake smile on her face. "Fine. Kind of slow. But I know someone wants to play." She hands Kelly over.
"Hey, Kelly girl! Did you have a good weekend?"
Kelly grins up at Heather.
Heather seems to notice that both of the grown-ups are still in their pajamas. "You weren't kidding about a slow start. I always have a hard time getting up and running on cold, gray days like today, too."
"Yeah, it was a good day to stay in bed," Tim says, taking his cues from Abby. "Shower time for us."
"Okay." Heather's looking like that's probably more information than she needed. "Have fun?"
"Sure," Abby says, voice flat, and they head upstairs. She does head into the shower, and he calls Dr. Draz again.
"The test was negative."
"I'm so sorry." Her voice is soothing, or would be if he was in a willing to be soothed mood.
"Uh… Thanks. Do we need to come in?"
"Probably not. You said it's been, at most, four weeks since she would have conceived?"
"If the flow gets very heavy, or she's passing large clots, or very bad cramping, then sure, come in. But, if it acts like a normal period, then she doesn't need to."
"I know this probably isn't very comforting, but this happens all the time. Something like four out of five embryos don't implant in the first place, and a decent number of them don't stay long after implanting. It usually means something's gone wrong in the cell division."
"And it's also possible that she wasn't pregnant at all. False positives aren't unheard of, and the hormones involved in nursing can throw off a test sometimes."
"She's going to be fine, and this will in no way effect your chances of having other babies."
"Okay," falls, numbly, off his lips again.
"Thanks. I should go."
And he hung up.
Tim joins Abby in the shower. They're quiet in there for a long minute, just holding each other. She's not crying anymore, and he hasn't.
Her voice is very quiet, practically a whisper as she says, "I can't stop thinking about what I could have done differently. Gotten more sleep, worked less, those two cases where I worked all night can't have been good for this, and I had eggnog at the Christmas party, and… I'm standing in a hot shower. I know you're not supposed to get hot showers. Get your body temperature too high and you can cook…"
Tim's not sure how much ranting she needs to do to feel better, and when he needs to jump in and stop it, but as she jumps from hot showers to took two Advil four days ago, and the sushi she had for dinner last night, he's thinking now is probably the time.
"It's not your fault."
"I've had three Caf-Pows this week. I know that can't be good!"
"Abby. It's not your fault. We don't even know for certain that you were pregnant. Dr. Draz says that the nursing hormones can cause a false positive, and even if you were, it usually a cell division thing, not a you made an inhospitable womb for your child."
"But I should have…"
"NO." Because he can't have her going there, because nothing good lives there. "Would you have told Breena she should have done something different, quit working, stayed away from the embalming chemicals?"
That horrifies Abby, and she swallows hard, blinking.
"It's not any different for us. It's not your fault. It's not my fault. It just is. Or isn't. Because we don't really know, not for sure."
She's looking at him, so sad, and that's crushing him. "If it's not my fault, then there's nothing I can do to change it for next time."
He kisses her.
"And we did know, Tim. Doesn't matter if it was real or not, we knew and we felt it and that's all the real anyone ever gets."
He kisses her once more. "I know," and he does, because she's right, they did know. They watched it turn positive, they felt the joy of it, and they knew. And now it's gone. And that starts his tears.
"You want to go to work?"
She nods. "Might go home early. But if I spend today snuggling with Kelly, I'll just dwell on it."
"If you want to stay home, you can snuggle with me, too."
She shakes her head. "Not that I don't want the snuggles, but we can go out and make life better for someone else today, maybe break Tony's case open or something, or stay here and cry."
"Then let's go."
Jimmy might not be the sharpest knife in the drawer when it comes to picking up non-verbal cues, but when his two best friends, who should be in a jubilant mood, join him for lunch, both of them looking like they've taken a hard beating, he's not having a difficult time figuring out what's going on.
So, he doesn't ask, "Are you okay?" It's clear they aren't. But, though he's awfully sure what flavor of not okay this is, he doesn't want to assume either. Just because he immediately jumps to they lost the baby doesn't mean it's true. That's his own past feeding into this, and it could be something else.
But it's not.
So, it's a very quiet lunch, with a lot of hugs. He makes sure both of them eat, because you've got to eat, and hearing how this morning went, he really doubts they had breakfast.
When they head back to work, he stops the elevator, pulling his phone out, ready to call Breena.
It doesn't hit him as hard as he expected it to. This time last year, this would have dropped him to his knees. There's distance here, now. This loss aches, but when he was sitting in the booth at the restaurant, waiting for one of them to say the word miscarriage, he was expecting it to feel like knives.
And it didn't.
And he doesn't know if that's himself healing, or if it's a sign that the calluses and scars have numbed his ability to empathize.
He does know he's worried about how Breena will take it. He's half-afraid this will be like going back, like being in the Doc's office getting the bad news all over again. He's hoping, that like for him, this will ache, the sadness of disappointed friends, but that it won't be an instant flashback.
He thinks about waiting to get home to tell her, but… He'd like to stop by Tim and Abby's tonight, bring food, make sure they aren't alone.
He hits Breena's contact number.
"Hey, Jimmy, what's up?" she says when she picks up. He's not calling the way he was after they lost Jon, not every half-hour, or hour even, but he still does check in once or so a day, usually just to say hi, see how things are. So, she expects to hear from him at some point during the day on slow days. And, since he never knows how long he'll be out on non-slow days, she expects a call on those days, too. "Catch another case?"
"No. Not today." He sighs, and she catches the flavor of that sigh.
"Oh." He can hear and feel her wince. "Are they…"
"From the looks of it, they're as okay as can be." He's quiet for a moment. "How about you?"
"Sad, disappointed. That's what should happen, right?"
"How about you?" she asks, getting why he's asking, and from the sound of it, hoping that he's okay, too.
"The same. I saw them sitting in the restaurant, looking deflated, and… I kind of expected it to hurt worse, but…" He can't see it, but he knows she's nodding, understanding.
"This may hit harder, later, but right now, just… sad," she says.
"Have they told Gibbs, yet?"
"Don't think so."
"He's out with Molly and Mona right now. When they get back, I'll tell him."
Beth wasn't kidding. Mona likes kids. She's smart as a whip, and when she hears the words, "Come on, let's go see Molly," she bounds up to the truck, leaps into the cab as soon as he opens the door, and sits in the front seat, looking very alert, beaming, Well come on, get moving, let's get there already! at him.
And Molly loves Mona. As soon as she hears the quiet clicking of Mona's claws on the tile floor in the mudroom, she comes tearing in shouting "MONA!" (Followed by, "Shhh… No shouting in the house," in Breena's voice as she follows, more slowly, pets Mona's head, and gives Gibbs a kiss. While it's true that the rest of the crew met Mona for the first time on Friday night, Breena and Jimmy were sworn to secrecy on Tuesday, because Gibbs wanted to take Molly and Mona out.)
And thus, last Tuesday, Adventures with Uncle Jethro, began.
Anna, at six weeks old, has gotten to the point where she's reliably sleeping for at least an hour and a half out of every three. So, a bit before lunch, he and Molly and Mona go out for 'adventures,' (The park, the mall, "the zoo" (Petsmart, both Molly and Mona like to watch the fish,) anywhere he can go with a toddler and a dog.) where they go run around and play, followed by lunch at his house (or Jeannie's if she's home, and he's thinking he'll check in with Penny and see if she's got any days where she's got some lunchtimes free), then more playing, and bringing Molly home for naptime, thus buying Breena two full nap cycles where she can sleep.
It's, as he told Tim, the highlight of his day. And Breena certainly appreciates it, too.
Today's adventure is a Petsmart run, where they get more food for Mona, and then spend twenty minutes watching the fish. Gibbs idly wonders if the fish get nervous with two sets of eyes tracking them as they go swimming back and forth, but decides that fish are awfully stupid, so they probably don't notice.
Then over to the diner. ("Shhh… our secret. Mama thinks we're having peanut butter and jelly at home." Of course Breena knows what's really up, but the idea that she and Uncle Jethro have secret outings tickles Molly to no end.) Elaine hooks them up with one burger with everything, rare, for him, peanut butter and jelly, for Molly, and one burger, hold the bun, lettuce, ketchup, cheese, tomato, mayo, and pickle, raw, (packed up to go. Eliane would have liked to let Mona in, but the health department is awfully strict.) for Mona.
Followed by romping at the park, and then back to Jimmy and Breena's with a sleepy toddler he goes.
When he gets in, Breena's nursing Anna. He's already carrying Molly, so he just nods toward her bedroom, and Breena nods back.
He kisses the top of Molly's head. "Stories and snuggles and naptime?"
She nods. "Nigh' Moon?"
"We'll do Goodnight Moon. You gonna find the mouse for me?"
Goodnight Moon's a hit with Molly, though, unlike Kelly, she likes to see the pictures, so, once he's got her changed and his hands washed, he finds a copy of the book, and they settle into the rocking chair in her room, and he quietly reads the story to her. She cuddles in his lap, looking at each page, finding the mouse in each picture, and sucking her thumb.
He gets to the end of the story, and tucks her into her bed, kissing her again, as she goes off to sleep.
It's not a shock to Gibbs, he knows her parents after all, but Molly Palmer is the sweetest child he's ever met. Sure, she gets crabby and frustrated, and if you get her overtired she's an all-out holy terror, but for day in day out life, when the grown-ups are doing a good job of managing her, she's just a little ray of sunshine and cuddles.
He's wondering a bit (for example he knows Ed will talk your ears off about how sweet his girls were as babies, but part of that's time and distance rose colored glasses) what Breena and Jimmy were like as little kids.
He's also wondering if Anna's gonna be a spitfire just to mark her own territory out.
He heads into the kitchen, getting himself a cup of coffee, and calls out quietly, "You want anything while I'm in here?"
And a minute later he heads toward Breena, sitting across from her in their living room.
"Go well?" she asks him.
"Went fine. Those two'll sit there watching the goldfish for an hour if I let them." He smiles, but notices she's not looking that happy. "You okay? She nap?"
Breena nods. "Anna napped just fine." She smiles at him, but it's sad. "Jimmy called me after lunch…" He can feel bad news coming and braces for it. He knows it can't be the worst, she wouldn't be here alone if someone had died, but whatever she's about to say won't be good. "Abby miscarried."
"Fuck!" He says it low and quiet, wincing at the news.
Breena nods. "Yeah."
"Are they… okay?" He finishes, lamely. Of course they aren't okay.
"They both went to work today. Probably heading home early."
He nods at that, already making plans in his mind.
"I'm going to head over."
Breena nods. "We'll join you when Jimmy gets home, bring some food."
Gibbs waves that away. "You rest. I'm on food."
If he was paying more attention, he would have noticed that Breena didn't nod along with that. But he wasn't. He's mostly just feeling very disappointed, and trying to think of what to do to be comforting for Tim and Abby.
He heads off shortly after that, planning on going to the grocery store, grabbing something for them, and then going to their place, letting Heather go home early. (He's guessing they wouldn't have told her what was up.)
He's standing in the grocery store, debating chard or kale (neither of which he has ever given a flying fuck about before, or for that matter, could have identified as something other than "Spinach?" but he's shopping for Tim and Abby and they like curly green veggies) when he can feel Rachel in the back of his head saying, "You're avoiding it by being busy. They don't care if you get them the perfect dinner or not. Just being there is enough. Let yourself feel it, Jethro, don't push it away."
He put the greens down and left.
He's been sleeping like shit since he retired. Too much time, not enough work to keep his brain active, and that means no sleep.
But last night, and Saturday night, he'd slept pretty well. He'd been dreaming of Tim and Abby's son.
And yes, he does know that anything you want to do with a boy, you can do with a girl. He really knows that, and maybe it's because for as many sons as he's collected over the years, he's never started out with one from the beginning, but he was really looking forward to a little boy.
It's not even so much that he's got "boy" things he wants to do. His fantasies of camping and rough housing and teaching them to shoot and drive involve the girls, too.
But, God, he wanted a little boy. He wanted Tim and Abby's little boy.
He especially wanted Tim, and Tim's son to have men around him that adored him no matter what.
He wanted to be able to give that to Tim as much as to the image of the child in his head.
And he knows it's not like this is it, that there will never be any other babies. He tells himself the same things that he figures everyone else in this situation says to themselves, there'll be other chances, this isn't it, but saying goodbye, or maybe, he hopes, putting that dream on hold, hurts.
Gibbs is waiting for them when they got home. He sees they're surprised to see him, but he smiles a little, puts Kelly on her play mat (Mona immediately trots over to her and lays down right next to her, keeping her company), and pulls both of them into a hug. "Breena told me when I took Molly home. She and Jimmy'll be over if you want them. Or just me if you want more quiet."
"They're already on their way," Abby says, quietly. Jimmy had texted her about that when they were driving home. "They wanted to make sure we ate."
Gibbs smiles at that, kissing both of them. "You think I didn't bring food?" (And he did. He told Elaine he had some sad people at home, but not why, he hinted it was a bad day at work, and she did her magic. Much better than him glaring at greens in the grocery store.)
There's a quick knock, followed by Tony and Ziva heading in, also with food. It's a mitzvah to feed those who mourn, and it looks like if there is any obligation owed to those who hurt, this is the one their family is all over.
Jimmy and Breena are there less than half an hour later, with yet more food.
It's a very quiet meal, even Molly seems to sense something is up, so she's staying close to Jimmy and Breena. There's lots and lots and lots of food. Tim and Abby aren't going to need to do anything other than put food in the microwave to heat it up anytime this week. Which is probably the plan.
Whether or not they were telling Ducky and Penny came up, and Jimmy got deputized to pass that along tomorrow. With everyone else knowing, there was no way it wouldn't slip out.
And eventually everyone but Gibbs went home. It's not so much that he thinks he's got anything that'll help, but having him near is comforting, and if he's being honest, being near is comforting for him, too.
It's not late. In fact, it's honestly not all that long past Kelly going to bed, but they're tired. Physically tired, it's been a long day, and emotionally drained.
So Gibbs doesn't say anything when they go to bed two hours early.
Tim appreciates that. He appreciates all the things people haven't said to him today. And yes, his family learned, the hard way, what not to say to someone where they are, which he supposes is the tiniest damn silver lining in the history of silver linings, but…
No one minimized it. No one said they shouldn't be sad. No one tried to jolly them out of it, or make them look on the bright side, or any of that hollow, meaningless cheering-up shit.
Today they were allowed to be sad, allowed to grieve an idea or a hope or whatever it was.
And tomorrow will be better, he knows that, Abby does, too. Tomorrow, they'll get their minds wrapped around next month, and trying again, probably start charting so they know what's going on. They'll rally round each other and move on. But they needed today, too, and he's very pleased they got it.
Abby's cuddled up in his arms, spooned against him. His face is pressed against the nape of her neck. He feels her take his hand, lift it to her lips, and kiss it.
"Next month will be different," she says.
"Yeah, it will." He kisses the back of her neck. "Valentine's baby."
She nods. "Valentine's baby."