Thursday, July 3, 2014

Shards To A Whole: Good Days

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

Chapter 347: Good Days

Tim's getting the sense that while it's true that his hours are ending more reliably by six (5:30, really) every day, that he's probably going to be heading in (or remoting) to work every day, as well.

Yesterday they got yet another fix in place for the job scheduling software, and he wants to make sure it worked properly all night long.

(If he'd been thinking about it, but of course, he wasn't, he would have complimented Tony on not being totally useless with a computer. It's astonishing how inept some of the guys on the other teams are. He spent an hour muttering at the job scheduling software about how even Gibbs could run this program without killing it while trying to figure out how to make it even simpler. He's redefined "foolproof" down twice now. He hopes he won't have to do it a third time.)

He gets into his office, sees Hepple, (Not happy about working Saturdays, he's sulking and working slow. Good. Retire, Tim thinks at him.) Sturm, (earbuds in, bopping away, fingers flying over the keyboard) Ngyn, (Curled in a little ball, sleeping on one of the sofas. He makes a mental note to see what she's been up to all night.) and Patil (not officially on right now, but he's putting in extra time on the paperwork software.)

He gets into his office, logs in, and finds "Yes!" (he punches the air in victory at this) the job software has been successfully working all night and has correctly triaged and assigned every job it's gotten.

He writes a quick email to all of the Minions, lets them know it's working properly, and gives them the heads up on how they'll give it a week, reassess, and if it's still doing the job right, they'll start work on expanding it NCIS-wide.

Tim checks in on Ngyn's work. It was a big problem, long, complicated, intense, but thank you job triaging system, in her wheelhouse. She handled it alone… Probably would have been a better team effort, but she's the only one on Friday graveyard shift right now, so not a lot of teaming options when it came to it. When he gets all of NCIS up on this, that'll change. He does know that he's overheard Patil and Soth mention things she had texted them about, so she's not completely going it alone these days.

His eyes scan over the jobs on tap, nothing's screaming for attention while everyone ignores it, and then logs out.

He stands up, sees Patil still coding away. He checks his phone, yep, Patil's shift ended at 04:00, four and a half hours ago. So, that deserves some petting.

Patil likes… Tim checks his phone, again; he's been surreptitiously writing down what sorts of treats the different Minions like. He likes the Dunkin' Donuts Dunkin' Dark coffee and Snickers bars. Tim heads over to the coffee machine, makes up a cup, grabs a Snickers from the vending machine, and takes them over to Patil's desk.

He puts the coffee and the candy bar on his desk, touches his shoulder, (Patil's working hard, hadn't noticed him come by, and startles at that.) and says, "Good job."


"Your shift ended hours ago. You're still here, still working. Good job. I appreciate it."

"Had an idea for the paperwork software, wanted to get it out."

Tim smiles at him. "Good. Order yourself some real breakfast. If you're not sleeping, you've got to eat. So eat, okay?"

Patil's looking pretty surprised at this, but says, "Okay."

"I'll let you get back to it."

"Uh… Thanks."

As Tim's walking out he sees Ngyn curl up even tighter on the sofa. She's looking a bit cold. He makes a mental note to get some blankets down here, too.

So, having successfully gone to Target and picked up both pregnancy tests and blankets for the sofas, Tim gets to the part of his outing he's not exactly looking forward to.

He'd been planning on heading over today to get some one on one time with Gibbs all week. See how week one of retirement really went. (He's sure the version of it that came out last night and what really happened are, in some fundamental ways, not precisely the same thing.)

But, having Mona there is dampening his enthusiasm for heading over.

Abby's right, though. The more time he spends over, the more he gets to see cute-ball-of-doggy-love the less he'll see mile-long-teeth-and-one-hundred-pounds-of-leaping-black-death every time he glances over and catches Mona in his peripheral vision.

But, like with Jethro, making that transition won't happen overnight, and it will take effort.

He pulls in front of the house, walks up to the front door, and stops. Usually he'd give a quick knock and head right in. And sure, Gibbs says Mona's smart, and that once she knows someone she's cool with them, but, he doesn't trust it. Can't feel safe, not in his gut, not yet. Like anytime he heads into work, he's wearing his gun. (The Navy Yard isn't in the most desirable neighborhood in DC.) So, hand on gun, he knocks, opens the door, (gingerly) and pokes his head in.

Nothing comes running at him, that's a start.



Okay, they can't be too far off, Gibbs' truck is in the driveway.

He heads down to the basement, fairly sure they aren't down there. Gibbs' hearing is more than good enough to respond to a hello from the first floor if he's down there, but he'll check just in case.

Nope, not down there. Tim looks around again, seeing what's really down there.

A finished bed. Well, almost finished. It's not assembled. But it's done. Tim's fingers ghost along dark brown oak, and warm-golden burl. He can see how it'll look all put together, light but solid. Wood finished to a deep, warm satin sheen.

The footboard is all slats. Mostly the dark brown oak of the original bed, but the top and bottom cross pieces are new, finished with the same golden stain that's lit up the burl in the headboard's veneer.

Gibbs had explained what he was going to do with the legs. How he'd split the beams from the old bed in four, set them into blocks of new wood at the so there'd be a stable space for the side supports and for the head and footboards to fit in, along with a block at the top and the bottom to make a secure column, and Tim had nodded along with that, no idea how it would look.

The correct answer is awesome. It's very strong looking without being overly heavy. Gibbs pegged all the pieces together, and the pegs are in contrasting wood colors.

Tim thinks if Mission and Art Deco got drunk and hooked-up one night, this bed would be the result.

The headboard draws him over. Wood is wood is wood to Tim. He likes it well enough, but it's not meaningful or special to him. But, even as a woodworking philistine, Tim can see this is exquisite. Once again, the cross pieces are the new, golden wood. Between them are four, he'd call them screens for lack of a better word. (Slats? Too wide for slats.) Each screen is edged in the dark brown oak from the old bed, with a ten inch wide panel (panel, there's a good word for them) of gleaming, golden burl. The rest of the bed's got a satin finish, matte almost, but the burl is glossy to the point of looking like glass.

If he had never seen burl before, didn't know wood could do this, he'd think it was some sort of liquid, many colors of gold swirling together in rivers and eddies, somehow frozen, captured in a wooden frame.

Tim knows one other thing, looking at this beautiful work in front of him. Last Friday, at the retirement party, Gibbs thought he had three weeks' worth of work left on this bed.

Today it's finished. Tim, tentatively, on a spot that won't show, touches the finish, really pokes it, not the barest brush he had done before. It's not just finished, it's dry.

Gibbs isn't sleeping.

Or probably doing much of anything else.

He's thinking he'll wait for up to an hour. If Gibbs and Mona aren't back by then, he'll text and make a time to see them.

But, in less than five minutes he hears, "Abbs?"

Tim heads up the stairs, seeing Gibbs sitting on the sofa, unlacing his sneakers, breathing hard, covered in sweat. Mona's flopped on the floor, belly on the carpet, panting, next to him.

"Me, this time." He drove the roadster. Doesn't take the SUV if he's going out by himself. "Good work out?"

Gibbs nods. Tim heads into the kitchen and pours him a glass of water, then comes back with it a few seconds later.

"Thanks." Gibbs takes the glass and drinks it back in one long series of gulps. Mona watches him do it, eagerly.

Tim shakes his head at her. "I don't deliver water for you. But it looked like there was plenty in your bowl."

She slowly gets up and trots into the kitchen. They both hear contented slurping a few seconds after that.
Gibbs is rubbing his knee.

"You want some ice for that?"

Gibbs nods, breath starting to slow down.

Tim heads back to the kitchen, makes up an ice pack, and heads back, sitting down next to Gibbs on the sofa, handing over the ice pack.

"How far'd you go?" Tim asks.

"Three and a half."

"Farther than usual. Knee holding up okay?"

"Yeah. Sore. Ice it down. Hot shower in a bit. More ice tonight. It'll be good to go tomorrow."

"Really? No jogging for five months to more than three miles a day in a week is good to go?"

Gibbs shrugs. He is sore. But he's also sure he's not ripped his knee up. He remembers Basic, he knows, intimately, exactly where the line between pushing as hard as you can go and injury is, and he may be dancing on the line, but he hasn't crossed it, and doesn't intend to.

"Jimmy ever wants to give up the Morgue and go into rehab, he'd be great at it. Didn't think I'd be back this fast."

Tim flashes Gibbs his best cut the bullshit look.

"I'm not ripping it up. Spent too damn long on my ass to go and tear it to bits the first week out."

Tim raises an eyebrow at that. He knows exactly how little pain you feel while you're pushing yourself, and how you ache later when the endorphins wear off. But Gibbs doesn't say anything about that. He just sits there, continuing to cool off.

"I saw your bed. It's beautiful. You want some help getting it upstairs and put together?"


"Thought you said just the peg work alone was going to take ten days."

Gibbs shrugs at that, too. It would have taken ten days if he had been working on it the way he used to, from 20:00 'til midnight. "Bit more free time then I'm used to."

Tim nods at that, really looking at Jethro. Yes, he looks tired, really tired, but he just ran three and a half miles, tired is normal for that. His eyes are a bit red and bloodshot, too.

"You sleeping, at all?"


"What's enough mean?"

Gibbs holds up his left hand, looks at it, and then looks at Tim, shaking his head. "We get married when I wasn't lookin'?"

"I'll back off. Just want to know you're okay."

Gibbs looks frustrated. "I'm as okay as I can be. Tony and Ziva and Draga and Tinkerbelle—"


"That's what Tony's been calling her."

Tim snorts at that. There is a sort of Tinkerbelleishness to Bishop.

"They're on a triple homicide. They're hunting down killers. You're running a department, changing how NCIS does Cybercrime. Abby's running her lab, catching killers. Jimmy's looking through bodies for clues. Ducky's putting together psychological profiles. I'm jogging, and putting together a bed, and right now, the highlight of the day is heading over to visit with Kelly or going over to Breena's and taking Molly out so Breena can get a real nap when Anna goes down. I'm not exactly feeling vital right now."


"Yeah, well, bed's done. Shannon's next. At the rate I'm going, I should be able to get her in the water by early March. That'll help. Getting out there was always good. But… it's just… busy, you know?"

"Yeah, I do." (No he doesn't, not really, but he can empathize.)

Gibbs stares around the house. "Just really noticing how shabby the inside of the house looks, so, there's some more stuff to keep me occupied. Get Kelly's room redone so the girls have their own space when they're over here. That'll eat more time."

"You've got hobbies; you need a job."

"Yeah." Gibbs is feeling very close to telling Tim about what job he's hoping to start up once he's got Shannon ready for the water, but he doesn't. It's not that Tim wouldn't approve of his abused girl underground railroad. (He's sure he would.) Or that Tim would feel torn, that he'd have to report Gibbs (because he's sure he wouldn't). No, it's that if he tells Tim, Tim's going to feel like he has to help. More than that, Tim is going to want to help. And so will Abby, which means Breena and Jimmy will be in, and then comes Tony and Ziva… And, no.

It's one thing to put his own future, freedom, life on the line for this. If he gets caught, he'll go to jail, and that'll be it. (Of all the things he could or should go to jail for this strikes him as the most... worthy.)

But he's not willing to get his whole family into this. If he gets caught, he doesn't want them going down. Doesn't want his babies in foster care because their whole family ended up in jail for this.

So, he doesn't tell Tim what he thinks his next job might be. But he does see the way Tim's watching him, sees that recognition that something else is going on in his head.

"Should I ask?" Tim says.

"No." Gibbs stands up, slowly, and hands over the ice pack. "Should get that shower before I get stiff."

Tim nods.

"Church and bootcamp tomorrow?" Gibbs asks.

"Sure. You want to come over for dinner tonight?" Tim sighs, looking at Mona who's sitting in front of them right now. He forces himself to stroke the top of her head, and she... he'd call it a smile, but she's a dog and dogs don't really smile. She looks very pleased by that. "Mona's invited, too. She's um… got a standing invite at our place."

Gibbs smiles. Tim couldn't have sounded less enthusiastic about that if he had tried for a week. But Gibbs knows he's making an effort, and appreciates it.

"Sounds good. See you then."

He's halfway up the stairs when Tim says, "Bed?"

"Right. Yeah, let's grab that."

Doesn't take long for both of them to get it up. Not long to get his mattress and box spring out of the way. An extra set of hands made assembly a lot easier, and Gibbs had the whole thing designed so that once all the pieces were slotted together, one peg per leg kept everything tight and solid.

"I'll get them glued in after the shower."

Tim nods at that, taking a shot of the bed all together for Abby. "This could be your next job. Might not be catching killers, but it's real, and beautiful, and people would pay well for it."

Gibbs shrugs at that. "You looking forward to the day where all you do is write?"

Tim shakes his head, because no, he's not. Maybe one day he will, but... Just like Gibbs, he needs the justice. He needs to be doing something bigger than just him.

Gibbs nods.

"I get it. See you tonight."

Tim gets home just as Kelly's waking up from her morning nap. So, he gets her, and Abby gets working on lunch.

Kelly's sitting in the high chair, munching down Cheerios between bites of mushed ham and peas that he's trying to get into her mouth while Abby makes them omelets.

"How'd it go?"

"Do you mean, did I shoot Mona?"

She flashes him a mildly exasperated look.

"Fine. We have reached detente. I told Gibbs he's always welcome to bring her over when he comes here. Might have to get a doggy door or something so she can get in and out easy."

Abby nods at that, sliding the mushroom, caramelized onions, and Swiss omelet onto a plate, and grabbing two forks for them.

"How's he doing?" she asks as she puts the plate in front of him, sitting next to him.

"Worse than he looks, not as bad as he could be?" He grabs his phone, and pulls up the pic of the bed. "Here. He's got this done."

"Oh, that's beautiful." She says, looking through the picture.

"Yeah, it is. But it was supposed to take three weeks."

Abby nods. "He sleeping? At all?"

"He says he's sleeping enough. I asked what enough was, and then told me to stop acting like his wife."

She laughs at that.

"He's got something cooking."

She cuts a bite off the omelet and offers it to him while asking, "What sort of something?"

He chews for a moment, scooping mushed peas off of Kelly's chin and back into her mouth.

"Don't know. He told me not to ask."

"Think it's bad?"

He thinks about that. "No… Not bad… Didn't feel bad. More like… protective? But whatever it is, he doesn't want to talk about it. Not to me, at least."

Abby looks puzzled. "What doesn't he talk to you about? You're the one he's most likely to talk to."

"I know. But he was thinking about it and I could literally see the wall go up. He had that sort of open, grouchy look, we were talking about him getting Shannon done and heading out, and then his eyes went blank and his posture shifted. So, something on the water, but no idea what it'd be."

"Hmm…" She chews her own bite of lunch.

"Yeah. Mysteries. One thing's sure, he's never going to say anything about it unless he wants to."

"And let me guess, one other thing is true, you're not going to snoop."

"I'm not going to snoop. That's true, too. But, he's coming for dinner, so you're welcome to try and grill him, too."

She shakes her head at that. "No thanks." She eyeballs the bags from Target. "Maybe by the time he's here, we'll have something else to discuss?"

Tim smiles at that.

Last time they were in that space between ovulation and pregnancy test time, Tim couldn't make time move fast enough.

It hasn't been so urgent this time. Part of it, he assumes, is that they've done this once.

Part of it is they've got Kelly, so yes, he'd love, love another baby, but if she's not pregnant, is not as big of a deal.

And part of it, a big part of it, is that wedding planning is significantly less absorbing to him than setting up his own department and hacking his way through red tape and code.

Last time, he had hours for his brain to sit there thinking: Is this is? Am I a father? How is life about to change?

Well, he doesn't know if this is it. But he is a father. He's fairly sure how life will change with the addition of another baby, and he's spending way fewer hours on rote paperwork filling out (not that he's got less paperwork, but it's new paperwork, so he can't just slide into automatic and do it without thinking about it) so he's got less time for thinking about it, and fewer questions to wonder about.

Which is not to say, that when Abby came out of the bathroom, and they stood, hips against his dresser, her holding the test up, his arm around her shoulders, staring at the little electronic grains of sand shifting from one side of the hourglass to the other that he was any less excited than he was last time and they were reaching to flip the test over and see what it said.

And that same golden rush spreads through him when the hourglass blinks three times and the word Pregnant pops up. Abby shrieks with excitement again. (Quieter this time, Kelly's napping.) And once again he's grinning so wide he doesn't think his body can hold it. His fingers, toes, ears would smile if they could.
He's giggling a little, and thinks a bit. It's the end of January, so, nine months out means… "Happy second anniversary to us!"

She pokes him gently. "No. It won't be that late." She grabs her phone and finds a due date calculator. "September 16th!"

"Happy almost anniversary then!" He kisses her, pulling her so she's standing between his legs, his hands on her hips. "Happy new school year, to you," he says, hand cupping her belly.

"We've got every season now."

He giggles again. She's right about that. He's winter. She's spring. Kelly's got summer, and new McSciuto has fall.

"We're gonna need one of those two seat strollers. If Kelly takes after me, she'll barely be walking by then."

"Two cribs, or try to get her moved into a big girl bed?"

"Oh… Well, Jethro said he was looking for more projects."

Abby laughs. "Think he meant this?"

"I think he's eyeballing wood for Tony and Ziva's crib."

"Too bad! He's got a new order in place."

"You know, they're talking about starting when Gibbs left." He strokes her belly, slipping his fingers under the waistband of her skirt to make contact skin on skin. "Your cousin might not be much younger than you are."

"Cousin might already be in the works. Cousin might be older than you are."

Tim's head shoots up to look Abby in the eye. "You speculating, or is Ziva sending out some hints?"

"Speculating." She laughs again. "Can you see it? Gibbs and his girls? Him and five little baby girls? Three of them under a year old?"

"I can see the fifteen-years-on version of this. Pop, Pop's sniper rifle, and putting the fear of Gibbs into future boyfriends." He kisses her again, nibbling her lower lip, then pulling back. "Gibbs and his girls… You thinking this is a little sister?"

She thinks about that for a second. "Yeah. Another little green-eyed blonde."

"Wavy hair, like yours?"

"Yeah… Laura Rose McGee?"

He squints at her. Not that it's a bad name or anything, just seems kind of random.

"You don't like it?"

He shakes his head and kisses her. "Just don't get it. It's not bad, but… how about Maggie?"

"Maggie McGee?"

He hadn't thought that through. "Not Maggie. Bridget?"

"Is that what you're calling Breena's character in the dragon book?"

"Uh… Yeah."

"That intentional?" He nods. "BreeAnne?" She asks, coming up with something closer.

He shakes his head at that. "Nope. We've got time, lots and lots of time. Might end up having to whip out some boy name, you know?"

"Eight months. And, nope. Just like last time, this is a girl. I can feel it."

"Okay." He likes the idea of two daughters.

"Gabrielle McGee? Gabbi?" she asks.

"Abby and Gabbi?"

She winces at that. "Not Gabrielle."

"Nooo!" He's shaking his head, feeling wonderfully fine, so amazingly happy, and just goofy all over.

She scoots a bit closer, rubbing up against him in a very pleasant way. "Like you said, lots of time." She kisses his lips.

He kisses back. "Lots and lots of time."

She's unbuttoning his shirt. "However, we don't have lots and lots of time until Kelly wakes up."

He glances at the clock. Little under an hour. "Nope." He kisses her throat, while turning them around so she's back to the dresser. "Not lots and lots of nap time. Not anymore."

Her leg slides up his, curling over his hip, and he cups her face in his hands, taking a few seconds to just look at her and smile, bask in her smile back. "Love you so much."

Her lips find his, kissing "Love you," back to him as she unbuttons the last button on his shirt.

She slides his shirt open, hands stroking over his chest, lips following, trailing over his throat, collarbone, and chest.

"Mmmm…" His hands settle under her skirt, palming her butt, stroking gently, and when she kisses her way back up to his lips, he finds the zipper and undoes the tan plaid skirt, letting it drop to the floor. He steps back, wanting to look. Abby, white knee socks, small white thong, white t-shirt, and one of his black leather jackets. "God, you're so hot!"

She smiles at that, stroking the few hairs leading below his navel, before hooking her thumb into his belt, and pulling the tongue through the buckle.

He grazes his knuckles over her thong, just a light touch, while she gets his belt undone, and starts to work on the zipper.

He slips the bit of cotton to the side, thumb finding her clit, rubbing gently, enjoying the way her eyes close and she sags for a second, just feeling it. He bites, gently, below her left ear. "Good?"

Her hands grasp his jeans, pulling them down past his hips, then she shifts her grip, giving him a warm squeeze. "Yeah."

He moans quietly, letting her feel the vibration of his voice against her throat, as she continues to gently squeeze him. She hops up onto the dresser, wrapping her legs around his hips, pulling him close again.

For a few strokes, he's just next to her, dick rubbing on the soft cotton of her panties and the silk-suede of her skin. And that's good, but they both want better. She takes him in hand, and he slips in long and slow, both of them groaning at the feel of it.

This is an old dance, familiar, well-loved. His thumb knows what to do, her body squeezes around him warm and lush. It doesn't take long for both of them to be shuddering and gasping, high on each other and this shared joy, shared ecstasy of their life, their love, and the life it's made.

Even if Gibbs wasn't a trained investigator, even if he hadn't spent years working with Tim, even if he wasn't Tim's defacto dad and hadn't seen him earlier today, he'd have known something was up.

When he gets a wide hello hug as soon as he walks in the door, and then Mona gets affectionately petted while Tim just oozes happy all over the place, something is definitely up.

Abby bouncing in a few seconds later, also all aglow, is also a remarkably unsubtle hint that something is up.

So, the list of somethings that can be up resulting in this level of happy now, but not four hours ago when he last saw Tim is awfully small so…

He stares at Abby for another minute, and she's happily playing with Mona. He knows some people claim they can tell a woman is pregnant just by looking at her, but if that skill actually exists, he doesn't have it.

It'd be one thing if she was far enough along for there to be some level of change. He can spot that like an eagle, but if she is pregnant, they would have just found out, and knowing them, that probably means she's about nine seconds pregnant.

Tim's got Kelly in his arms, sitting on the sofa next to Jethro, quietly, in a very happy, very satisfied sort of way, contentedly watching Abby play with Mona.

"You two just gonna sit there beaming at me, or you gonna say it?"

"Told you he'd figure it out," Abby says to Tim.

"Yeah, well, this time we don't have a wedding to hide behind."

And with those words a wide smile spreads across Gibbs' face, too, that's exactly what he wants to hear. "When?"

"Middle of September," Abby says, getting up, sitting on the sofa, between her guys, snuggling both of them. "Little girl's," she pets Kelly's face, "gonna be a big sister!"

Kelly's remarkably unimpressed by that.

They told Jimmy and Breena at breakfast, and after several moments of congratulations, when are you due, and the like, Jimmy appeared to do some math in his head, smirked at both of them, and then says, "So, Merry Christmas to you, huh?"

Tim laughs at that.

Abby gently slaps Jimmy's shoulder.

"You really need to sterilize your upstairs bathroom," Jimmy says to Gibbs.

This time Tim whacks Jimmy's shoulder. "Shut up!"

Gibbs rolls his eyes and says dryly, "Like anyone doesn't know what you two are up to when you vanish for fifteen minutes during a party. Clean up after yourselves, don't be too obvious about it, and I'll keep pretending I don't know about it."

Abby blushes scarlet at that, and Tim spends a minute, head down, staring at his food, laughing silently.

Then Gibbs looks Jimmy dead in the eye and says, "And just because you two are quicker and sneakier doesn't mean I don't know about you, either. Same rules for you."

"So, who are we telling?" Breena asks as she takes a bite of her pancakes, utterly nonplussed, while Jimmy sits there, gobsmacked. "Making the announcement at dinner today?"

Abby shakes her head. "Nah. Want to just enjoy the secret for a bit, you know?"

Breena and Jimmy both nod at that.

"Tony and Ziva, Ducky and Penny, tomorrow. But that's it for a while," Tim says.

"Once I can't keep my eyes open anymore, that'll be time to make the announcement."

"So, Tuesday after next?" Breena asks.

"Oh… don't remind me. I hate how out of it I feel when that first trimester tired hits."

"At least you're not getting ready to buy out the drugstore of all the anti-nausea meds."

"Good point."

Jimmy's in the locker room with Tim and Gibbs post-Bootcamp. They've worked out, fought, Jimmy double checked Jethro's knee, and it seems to be holding up properly, and have finished up with showering and are getting ready to split up and go home.

"So, you really knew?" he asks Gibbs, "I knew you knew about him," he points to Tim, who's pulling on his boxers, "'cause he'd tattoo I JUST GOT LAID on his forehead if he could." That comment earns Jimmy another whack from Tim. "Didn't know you'd caught me."

Gibbs is toweling off his hair. "You think you and Lee sneaking off at Duck's was stealthy?" Gibbs gives him a get over yourself look.

Jimmy looks a bit chagrined by that. "I think the word is horny, not stealthy."

"Yeah." Gibbs nods. "Already knew you'd pull a stunt like that, otherwise I wouldn't have caught you."

Jimmy nods. "Good. Didn't think we were ever gone long enough to make it easy to tell."

"Most guys don't brag about being Zippy the Wonder Rocket," Tim says.

"If Zippy can get his girl off in three minutes, he gets to brag about it." Jimmy deadpans back at Tim.

Gibbs rolls his eyes at both of them. "Just because it's been a million years since I've had a girlfriend doesn't mean I've forgotten what that shit-eating, just-got-laid grin looks like, and I've seen both of you strutting around my house wearing it."

"Speaking of which," Tim adds. "Did I see Borin kiss your cheek at the retirement party?"

Gibbs half nods, that did happen. He's not sure it mattered though. "Her and about twenty-five other women."

Tim nods slowly. "Uh huh… Didn't hear twenty-five other women tell you to not be a stranger."

"Really?" Jimmy hadn't seen that bit. "You like her?"

Gibbs doesn't exactly shrug. "Never thought about it. Not much anyway." Which means that since he's worked with her several times, it's just easier to see Borin as a cop. Cops are, in Gibbs' mind, sexless. With the exception of the occasional fantasy, (after all, he's not blind, but said fantasies reinforced why he needed to see Borin as a cop first, second, and last) he'd kept Borin in a non-sexual/colleague box. After Hollis, he expanded 12 to cover any woman who he ran an investigation with.

But she's not a colleague, not anymore.

"Maybe you should. She's single, attractive. You two have a lot in common. You know you get along. Might be fun to spend some time with her," Tim says as he buttons his shirt.

Gibbs nods. He's heard worse ideas, and she did tell him to call her. (And, if he were to let himself explore those fantasies a bit, he'd admit that they did push his buttons nicely.)

Tim pulls his jacket over his shirt and hefts his bag onto his shoulder. "See ya, tomorrow," he says to Jimmy, and then lays his hand on Gibbs' shoulder. "Any day you're getting stir-crazy and want some company that talks back, come on over for dinner. At the very least, I'm home every night now, so don't feel like you've got to be on your own, okay?"

"Don't want to wear out my welcome."

"I had you within arm's reach for ten hours a day five days a week for fourteen years, you can be at my place for dinner every night until the end of time, and you're not going to wear anything out."



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