Friday, August 15, 2014

Shards To A Whole: Caution

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

Chapter 374: Caution

Tim wakes to the smell of coffee the next morning, which he finds a little confusing because he's the one who makes the coffee in the morning.

Then it clicks. Jimmy and Breena crashed at their place last night.

Which is also when the rest of last night hit him.

Abby's still sleeping, so he gently kisses her neck, eases out of bed, finds a pair of pajama pants, puts them on, and heads downstairs.

Jimmy's sitting at his kitchen table, in his boxers and t-shirt, drinking his coffee, and reading something on his phone.

"You look comfy."

"I am, thanks." He pushes a second cup of coffee toward Tim. "Figured you'd be down less than ten minutes after you smelled it."

"Yeah." He takes a sip; it's the way he likes it. "Thanks."

"No problem."

"Sleep well?"

"Yeah, the bed in your guest room is good."

They sit there, drinking their coffee in silence, and that silence is significantly less comfortable than usual. Finally Tim says, "So, um… last night, was that weird?"

Jimmy looks up from his phone, and Tim sees the hickies on his collar bone and throat, while realizing he's got fingernail marks down his back, no shirt, and he didn't bother to wash his eye makeup off last night, so he's likely got raccoon eyes to go with the rest of it. They both look utterly fucked. "Getting off watching each other have sex at a club, all four of us basically spending the next three hours making out with each other, then getting off again, listening to each other have sex. Do you have to ask?"

Yeah, there's some sarcasm there, but not nearly as much as there could be, so Tim says, "I do. Cause I'm alternating between completely freaked out and totally okay with it. How about you?"

Jimmy takes a long drink of his coffee and then sighs. "Yeah, it's weird, but... not in a bad way."

Tim's not looking at Jimmy as he says, "Yeah. Maybe in a I-really-liked-it-but-I-don't-want-to-think-too-hard-about-it sort of way."

"In a we-never-ever-tell-Tony-about-it sort of way."

Tim's nodding almost violently in agreement with that, and Jimmy smiles at him, and uncomfortable fell apart. "So, we're good?"

"Yeah, we're good," Jimmy says. "Think the girls are?"

"If what Abby's telling me is right, they want to take this a lot further than just showing off for each other, so yeah, I think they're good."

"Err…" Jimmy looks somewhat uncomfortable at that. But Tim notices, only somewhat.

"Yeah." Tim drinks more of his coffee.

"Not sure I'd want to go there."

"Yeah. Like, it's a hot idea, but…"

"But…" Jimmy nods. "I mean, we've talked about it, and it's a fun fantasy, but…"

Tim nods, he knows exactly what Jimmy means by this. "Abby says they won't ambush us with it. They'll let us know ahead of time and give us plenty of room to back out."

"That's a good thing. 'Cause if it went wrong, it'd go really wrong."

"Yeah. And I don't want that."

"Me, either."

Tim takes another sip of his coffee. Part of him wants to leave it there, get up, make some eggs for them, and just let it lie. Keep this in the realm of fantasy and the occasional live show. He's thinking being the ones in the booth, watching the show would be a whole lot of fun, too.

But the part of him that knows how much he likes those fantasies is awfully sure Jimmy really likes those fantasies, too. So, he swallows again, trying to ease his nerve-generated dry mouth, looking for some moisture so he'll be able to speak, and says, "What if it didn't go wrong?"

Jimmy's staring at him, looking awfully startled by that. He carefully puts his coffee cup down full attention with laser focus on Tim. "You think it might not?"

Tim shrugs. "I don't know. I was talking with Breena about—"

"You talked to Breena about this?" Jimmy looks stunned and a bit angry at that.

"You haven't talked to Abby?"

"No!" Tim gave Jimmy a cut the bullshit look. "Not exactly. She's your wife. I'm not going to talk to her about having sex with me."

"Well, what does 'not exactly' mean?"

"I talked to Breena, and Breena talked to her, and next thing I knew we had Valentine's videos of the girls making out. That's like right out of the guy playbook."

For a moment, Tim's thinking that Jimmy has a way different playbook than he does, but it probably doesn't matter much. "I think it's safe to say that last night we not only tossed out the playbook, but that we set fire to it first and pissed on its ashes."

"Maybe." Jimmy sounds guarded at this, like he's reserving judgment and debating about if he needs to get really pissed. "What did you say to Breena?"

"Day after Tony and Ziva's wedding, Abby tells me that maybe you two might be willing to come play with us, which was the first time she told me that she and Breena had been talking about this, like really talking about it, and once I got my brain back online, the first thing I was wondering about was how your virgin-to-her-wedding-day wife got to the point of let's-have-sex-with-our-best-friends, too. And that's something I couldn't ask you. So, I flat out asked her about it."

Jimmy thinks about that, eyeing Tim… And it's an okay question, not too far out of line. He relaxes. "When was that?"

"Last Memorial Day, when I was showing her the anti-nausea points."

Jimmy thinks back, and remembers that. "You had that conversation with her when she was in a bikini while touching her?"

"Yeah, while wearing a wet bathing suit, with our whole family fifty feet away."

Jimmy laughs, rolling his eyes. "You really are a glutton for punishment, aren't you."

"Says the guy who wears skintight jeans to go out in public when he knows he's going to be walking around with a hard-on. Yeah, I'm the glutton for punishment." Tim drops the sarcasm. "But… You've talked with her about this, right?"

"Of course." She's my wife, of course I've talked to her about this. I'm the one who's supposed to be talking with her about this. Is pretty clear on Jimmy's face.

Tim nods, letting him, know he gets that. "Okay. I just… really liked the way she was thinking about it. And there's this part of me that's all Grrrr… My woman! Stay away! But if I could get it to shut up, this could be a really great."

Jimmy thinks about it. "I could see you watching what Breena and I were doing. Could tell you were getting off on it, and it didn't bother me." Jimmy lets that sit there, and then decides that if they're going to actually talk about this, then honesty is probably the best way to make sure it doesn't end up biting all four of them in the ass. "Okay, I really liked it. Taking getting caught one notch higher, you know." Tim nods; he gets that. "But, it's supposed to bother you, right? I mean, you watched Breena get off. That's supposed to piss me off, right? Not make me feel… turned on… and proud… kind of?"

Tim nods. "Best, hottest porn ever, because you're real, and actually having a good time, and… And you're watching us, so we're showing off, too, and you kick it up a bit because we're watching you, and…"

"And that feels kind of weird. Like it's wrong, but that's part of why it feels so good, but maybe it's not wrong, because it's you and Abby, so it's safe, but it's you and Abby, so maybe it's not safe and… Almost getting caught is one thing, putting on a show… And feeling like I'm… I mean, it felt really good, but…"

Okay, if Tim's filling in those blanks correctly, it looks like Jimmy is on the same page he is, and that makes Tim feel a lot better. "You could tell I was talking to Abby, right?"


"We'll… tell each other stories. And last night was the first time she flat out said she wanted to have sex with you. Not… together, the two of us doing Breena-"

"Both of you with Breena?" Jimmy looks like he feels like he should be surprised about that, but isn't.

"Oh yeah! You don't have one of you and her with Abby?"

"Of course," Which is likely why he's not surprised. "We've had that one for years."

"Us, too. Anyway this was the first time your ass got tossed into the mix, and… It didn't piss me off. I felt like it should have. I mean, she's telling me she wants to have sex with you. But it didn't, and from there, I just ran the story, all four of us, and we passed it around, playing with it, and…" He feels like he's standing on the edge of the cliff, and takes a deep breath. "And… even with you in the mix, it was really hot, and… And then the three of us were dancing… and…" Just say it. He's not going to have a fit. He's your friend and he probably feels the same way, too. "And I really liked the idea of you and me with her."


Tim can't read the expression on Jimmy's face right now. He's got it intentionally blank. No! Don't just sit there saying hmmm! Do not leave me out here on my own with my balls flapping in the breeze. "Hmm… what?"

Blank crumbles, replaced with confusion, fear, and worry. "I don't know!" Jimmy snaps out. "Yeah, it's hot! You and me and Abby, or you and me and Breena, or…" and Tim's getting the sense Jimmy's having a similar debate about actually saying out loud what he's thinking that Tim just was. "Or maybe, you and Breena, you know, on your own, and me and Abby, on our own, but like, together, same room, same bed, watching each other…" Tim's not even sure how to respond to that, because it's nothing that he'd thought of, yet, though it's starting to bounce around in his head, now. And… yeah, he swallows hard as a whole slew of new erotic images go flashing through his head. That's not hitting him wrong, at all. He nods a little, and Jimmy knows he hasn't crossed the line, so he gets to his point. "It's really hot; it's don't think about it in public hot, but if it went wrong, it'd kill us, and I don't…" He shakes his head a little, eyes on Tim's, very earnest expression on his face. "This is everyone in the world who really matters to me, all in play because of this."

Tim nods, he understands that, feels it, too.

"And if it went right… Then what?"

Tim looks at him quizzically. Concerns about this going right are nothing that's occurred to him. "I'm not following you."

"It goes right, are we, just… what? Fuck buddies? Extra fun on long weekends? Abby's alone in the lab, and I've got a sample to run, do I get to play with her? If it's really good, do we move in together, form one family? Is Abby still yours and Breena mine? What the fuck does yours or mine even mean if we do this? Do we care if the kids have blonde hair and green eyes or brown hair and hazel eyes?"

"Er…" Absolutely none of that was something Tim had given any real thought. Beyond saying to Gibbs that if they could do it once, they'd probably want to do it a lot, he hadn't thought of anything beyond them still getting along and sex.

"Yeah." Jimmy nods at him, seeing the ideas really hit Tim.

Tim opens his mouth, not entirely sure what he is going to say next, but feeling like he needs to say something, when the sound of a truck pulling into their driveway lets both of them know Gibbs is less than a minute from the door. And less than a minute later they hear the door open along with, "Anyone awake? Got a little girl who wants to see Mom and Dad, here."

"Jimmy and I are in the kitchen," he calls out to Gibbs. A second later he's holding Kelly, kissing her forehead.

"Looks like you guys had a good night," he says to Tim and Jimmy dryly. And it occurs to Tim that not only do he and Jimmy both look really fucked, but they have to smell like it, too.

He flashes Gibbs a sheepish smile, but Jimmy either misses the insinuation or ignores it, and just says, with his trademark innocent smile, "Oh yeah. Ladies are still sleeping. You want a cup of coffee?"

Gibbs looks at both of them, staring long and hard before saying, "Nah. Was planning on heading up to the house, get a good day in on that." He looks at both of them, eyes lingering on the hickeys on Jimmy's throat. "Don't want to eat up your anniversary time off, but maybe you'll both come up and help?"

"This week's bootcamp is carpentry?"

"Sure." Gibbs says.

"Yeah, I can swing that." Jimmy answers, while Tim nods in agreement. "Want me to call Collin?"

Gibbs shakes his head. "Just you two."

"Okay." Jimmy's looking a little perplexed at this, but Tim's thinking he knows what's up.

Gibbs grabs his keys. "Got some errands to run, more mortar and tools to pick up. See you in a bit?"

Tim and Jimmy nod as he heads off.

Jimmy looks back to Tim, who's bouncing Kelly in his arms. "Okay, I know I missed at least half of that conversation. What the hell was that?"

"Dad's making sure we're not about to shoot ourselves in the ass."

"Okay, how could he possibly know? The man cannot actually be psychic, and I don't care how good he says his hearing is, he did not hear that conversation."

Tim's looking sheepish again. "I might have told him, a bit more than a year ago, that we were... kind of thinking about it."

"You talk to Breena and Gibbs about this, but not me?"

"You'd have hit me last year if I brought it up then. And… I couldn't have said it. But we're talking now."

"Why would you tell him..." Jimmy looks stupefied. "How do you even get into that conversation with him?"

"It's a longish story. Just... it was the week of Tony and Ziva's honeymoon, we were on stakeout, got talking, and he'd seen us dancing at the wedding, and was... I don't know, not curious, but... cautious, I guess.

"And it was like, two days after Abby said she and Breena had been talking about it, like actually doing it, talking about it, and that was a lot to process so... I asked for advice."

Jimmy knows Tim and Gibbs are closer than the rest of him, but the idea that Tim would ask Gibbs for advice on this floors him. For a second he sits there quietly, and then another thought hits. "What did he say?"

"Take it slow, trust my instincts, and don't do anything stupid."

"Take it slow?" Jimmy's utterly shocked by that. "I'd have been thinking he would have had something closer to 'Fuck around on Abby, and I will personally introduce your testicles to my hedge trimmers.'"

"Yeah, well, I didn't put it like, 'Hey, I'm kind of bored, and Breena's looking good. So, how about I go fuck up both of our marriages and wreck our kids' lives.' I'm sure that would have gotten hedge trimmer introductions in order. Abby put it as, if it ever happened, it'd be the four of us, all together. So, that's what I told him. And that if we could do it, it probably wouldn't just be a one off kind of thing."

"One off?"

"He asked if the girls were thinking like some sort of birthday treat for us, kind of like what they did for Valentine's, or if it'd be something we'd do a lot. And... like you said... I don't know... But, I mean, if we can do this, that would mean it was fun and good, so... We'd want to do it a lot, right?"

"I guess..." Jimmy's looking wary about this. "If we can do it."

"Yeah. If... I mean, we're not... committing to anything, right?"

"No!" Jimmy stops, thinks, staring at Tim. "But we're not ruling it out, either."

"No." He bites his lip. "We're... figuring it out."

"Yeah. Okay." At that Jimmy starts to laugh. Tim's just staring at him.

Finally Jimmy gets out, "We're two white-bread, suburban dads with minivans, responsible jobs, and likely PTA memberships and volunteering for the Girl Scouts in the not wildly distant future. Hell, I wear bow ties to work! How on earth do we end up here?"

Tim shakes his head slowly, smiling a little, also getting the irony of this. "I don't know. But we might as well enjoy it, right?"

"Oh yeah."

"So, we're good?"

"Yeah. We are. Whatever's coming, we'll figure it out."

"Okay. For future reference, wouldn't mind if you and Breena were the ones on the dance floor next time. We like to watch, too."

Jimmy nods. "Noted."

Gibbs and Ducky and Penny have been putting in full days at the house over the course of the last week. (Finals were last week. She's off until the summer session begins in June.) This has resulted in remarkably little work done on the actual house.

All the siding is off. They've got new plywood up in the places that needed it. Everything is wrapped in Tyvek, and in one tiny corner of the longest southern-facing wall of the house, there's the start of the masonry work.

The reason why it's only one tiny corner is laid out in the driveway. Penny had taken one look at the load of stone in their driveway, and promptly come to the conclusion that just randomly slapping rocks against the side of the house would not result in the kind of job they were looking for.

So she and Ducky marked off the size of the area they were going to work on, and began laying out the stones ahead of time. Supposedly this will result in maximum efficiency of stonework, and will prevent a situation where they end up having to stick twenty-five tiny stones all next to each other to fill in a gap. Gibbs isn't sure about that. He knows that what is has resulted in is Ducky and Penny puttering about in the driveway debating which stone goes where, while he grabs stones they've already laid out, one at a time, and gets them up, slowly.

Apparently this is how house building goes when you're working with scientists.

On the upside, the first wall's stones are laid out, so all he has to do today is keep schlepping them from the driveway to the side of the house and apply them and the mortar to the house.

And he does suppose it's nice that this is like putting together a puzzle when the pieces are already laid out right next to each other. It does let him immerse himself in the feel of wet mortar, hard stone, tapping and scraping each bit into place.

It's not wood. He'd be doing better with wood. But this is good, too.

As soon as Gibbs realized that Tony wasn't at Tim's place, he started to get a bit nervous. He remembered that conversation bit more than a year ago about maybe the four of them becoming more than friends. He saw, immediately recognizing the hot-date-gonna-get-so-laid look on both of the guys' faces when he went to pick up Kelly. Tony told him about the Valentine's Day treat the girls made, and how it completely fried Jimmy's brain. Didn't take him more than a second to put that all together with his original advice: take it slow, don't do anything stupid, and to make sure all babies were healthy and that everyone was settled.
Everyone's settled, all babies are healthy, it's been more than a year since he said that to Tim. If there's such a thing as a prime time to move on the four of them… foursome-ing… he guesses that'd be the term, it's probably now.

Gibbs's not sure if they did it or not last night. Both guys reeked of sex, so he knows on a basic level what happened, but he doesn't know if they crossed the line or just got close. He could feel something was up, but not well enough to know precisely what.

And he doesn't know if today's pick up the pieces and clean up time, or if… if something new's starting, or… or if they even have a clue what's going on.

He just hopes they didn't fuck things up.

Gibbs has gotten a few more feet of wall done when he hears Jimmy's car pull up. He sees both of them, dressed to work, amble out, look over the stones all over the driveway, and the head to him.

Tim's got a bag in his hand. "You have lunch?"

Gibbs shakes his head. He hasn't eaten yet. Though they got the electric working on Tuesday and now have a working fridge with food in it located in the kitchen.

Tim hands over the bag. "Club sandwich, chips, macaroni salad, and Elaine sends her love, hopes to see us all back for breakfast next week." With no Sunday morning church, they hadn't been doing pre-church breakfast.

Gibbs nods, opening up the bag. "Next Sunday?"

"We're fine with that, church or no. Not like we aren't up," Jimmy adds. He looks at the wall, looks at Gibbs kneeling in front of it, and looks at the rocks. "So, we talking or working?"

That's a bit more abrupt than Gibbs was hoping for. He still doesn't have a read for what happened last night, yet.


"Then show us what to do." Tim says.

Gibbs does, picking up the next rock. They're of many different shapes and diameters, but they're all about an inch thick. The idea is to create the appearance of a stone wall. He applies the mortar to the board and the other stones, setting the newest one in place, tapping it down, making sure it's secure, and then scraping off the extra. It's not the fastest or tidiest job ever. Gibbs is very obviously not a mason, but he's got the basics down. (Thank you, YouTube.)

"Penny and Duck laid 'em all out. Grab some, measure where they go, twice, start from the bottom up, and get to work."

Tim and Jimmy nod, and get to it. Jimmy grabs his stone from a patch about ten feet away from Gibbs, and Tim snags the bottom of the other corner. (Righties, like say, Gibbs, tend to prefer to work left to right. Well, he likes to go right to left, so Tim homes in on the far edge of the wall.) They'd been at it for a moment when he hears Jimmy say to Tim. "Heads up."

Tim looks up and then quickly catches the SPF 50 sunblock that is flying toward his head. "Thanks. Already wearing some."

"Good. More goes on every hour fifteen."

"Yes, Doctor Palmer."

Jimmy nods, and goes back to applying stones to the wall. He's good at it. Might be some overlap between masonry and autopsy. At the very least, both require a certain level of manual dexterity, and the ability to manipulate malleable solids.

Gibbs keeps watch on them as he works. They seem fine, talking a little, joking some, mostly focused on doing something new and technically precise well. He's not catching any tension between them. There's a slight edge of 'are we in trouble' coming from both of them, but it's not so sharp as to affect how they're working, and it's aimed at him, not at each other.

After watching both of them for an hour, Gibbs decides to break for lunch. And him breaking for lunch means they both wrap up what they're doing to grab drinks and sit with him. Once he's got his bag unpacked, he asks, "Good time last night?" He's watching for the micro expressions, the little tells that neither of them know they do every time they talk.

"Yeah." Tim says, nodding. And yes, he had a good time. That's true. Gibbs gets the sense that there's some reticence to get too deep into it, but it's aimed at him, and it doesn't appear to be related to shame or regret.

Jimmy grins at him, wide happy expression. "Oh yeah!" And like with Tim, that's real, but there is also a reserve, and… yeah, it's aimed at him.

He catches the look the two of them give each other. Takes him a second to decide that look is, How much are we telling Dad?

Gibbs can see they're okay with each other, so… He should probably leave it alone. That's all that really matters on this. And any deeper than that is not, by any stretch of anyone's imagination, his business.

He's about ready to drop it, but Tim says, "We're fine; we're not being stupid; we're taking it slow, and we don't know exactly what's going to happen next, but nothing's happening without all four of us wholeheartedly agreeing to it."

Jimmy nods. "It's good you're looking out for us, but we're okay."

Gibbs looks at both of them, staring, trying to lay their souls bare with his eyes. "You sure?"

"Yeah," Jimmy says with a nod. Tim's nodding, too.

"You okay?" Tim asks.

Gibbs eyes narrow a bit. He hasn't bothered to think about this in terms of if he is okay. Gibbs thinks about it for a minute. If they're okay, really okay… and they look okay… Whatever it was they did last night, he's sure it didn't suddenly make both of them expert liars. So, yeah… he's okay.

Gibbs nods. Then he thinks some more. "But I won't be if you guys tear apart." He sighs. He hates trying to talk about deep, emotion-y things. "Be like having my heart ripped out if you four stopped getting along."

"Yeah." Jimmy says, looking from him to Tim, very serious. "I know."

Tim nods back at both of them, just as serious. "Me, too."

"Okay." Gibbs drinks some of his coffee and grabs his sandwich, chewing a bite, he says, "Back to work. Stone's aren't putting themselves up, and you're not eating."

Jimmy's getting up, but Tim hasn't moved. "If… and not saying it'll happen, but…" Tim rubs his face, looking a bit sheepish, so Jimmy sits down again, wanting to see where he's going to take this. Gibbs is watching this closely, too, getting a sense of where this might be going, but not sure. "If we… the four of us…get together, for real, like, serious, long-term, rest of our lives, for real… We were just… playing… last night. You still going to be okay, with us?"

Gibbs watches Tim, knows that it cost him to ask that, to lay out his need for approval that nakedly. He swallows, because, okay, if the four of them do become, whatever, it does strike him as sort of weird. Of course, a lot of things about Tim and Jimmy strike him as weird. But, at least right now, this feels more like kilts and man-of-honor weird than something he needs to actually get excited about weird.

He hates this because he has to take a moment and really feel whatever this is, because he doesn't want to just haul off with a quick answer and have it bite them later.

So, he takes the time, and Tim's looking a little nervous, so Gibbs puts his hand on Tim's signaling, be calm.

He's not feeling any immediate sense of disgust or problem. There's fear here, but that's fear of it falling apart, of their family ripped to shreds and people he loves in pain.

He exhales, trying to think of how to say this. "I'm always going to be okay with all of you. That's not changing. You are who you are, and you're good men, and I'm proud to have you as sons. But I want you to be happy. And, if you can keep the sort of good thing you've got with your own wives going while becoming… whatever this is… then yes, I'm going to be okay with you, all of you." He looks directly at Tim for this bit. "I don't care what combinations you're sleeping with each other in." He gives Jimmy a quick glance, too, but both of them know Tim's background well enough to know that matters a hell of a lot more to him than it does to Jimmy. "I also don't want to know." He hopes that'll prevent the occasional overshare Tim and Jimmy are known for, too.

Gibbs licks his lips, because there's more than that. "While back, I told Tony that rule twelve had changed. Don't date Ziva if you're not willing to marry her. It'd hurt so much if they screwed it up, you know?" Both of the younger guys are nodding. "So, that's what I'll tell you. If you do this, it better be a forever thing. I've already lost one family. I don't want to lose another one. Don't fuck around with this. Don't cross the line until you're willing to commit to it."

Tim nods, looking relieved. "Thanks."

Gibbs looks at Jimmy, who nods. He's happy to have this… conditional blessing of sorts… but it's clear that it matters a hell of a lot more to Tim.

Tim stands up, dusting off his jeans. "Okay, putting up stones."

Jimmy also stands, grabbing a trowel and then handing it to Tim. "This one's yours."


"Didn't know they made these lefty," he says to Gibbs.

"Until this morning, I didn't either."

He's closing up the truck, whistling for Mona, letting her know it's time to go home, and can hear both of the guys talking, quietly, about something.

They walk over to him, and Tim starts, "Since we don't really know what we're doing yet, we're hoping to keep this quiet."

"Be a lot easier to figure this out if it's just the four of us doing the figuring out."

Tim adds, "If there's ever anything to be, out, about, we'll be out at home, but right now, this is just for us, okay?"

Gibbs nods. He can keep their secrets.

"Tim noticed that look you shot us last night, and Borin's not stupid, so we're guessing that she's probably wondering what that was."

Gibbs nods, she had wondered, but was willing to let it go when he said he couldn't talk about it.

"So, look, we don't want you feeling like you can't talk to her," Tim says. "Anything we hit you with, you can tell her, too."

"Don't want you feeling like you've got to shut her out."

Jimmy finishes with, "Just, don't want this going through everyone else, yet."

Gibbs can read that 'everyone else' means Tony specifically and to a lesser degree Ziva. He's not getting a feel if they're concerned about Ducky and Penny one way or another. And then something else hits him, 'everyone else' is the entire Slater clan. And 'everyone else' means not shooting them looks that Tony or Ziva or say Collin will pick up on at the next Bootcamp.

Gibbs nods. "No problem."

"Good talk?" Borin asks as he and Mona step into the house.

He nods, sitting down next to her on the sofa. She knew he wanted to talk to the guys, on his own, or she would have offered to go along on today's trip. She actually likes masonry. But, they needed 'guy time' so, instead she's catching up on the shows she likes to watch on her iPad.

Gibbs isn't sure where to start this, why he was concerned, what's going on.

"You get permission to tell me what's up?"

Say what you like about dating a cop, but they miss absolutely nothing.

He nods at that, too.


He shakes his head, opening and closing his mouth.

"How bad is this?"

"It's not…" He does that I don't have words gesture, but finally gets some together. "They're tiptoeing around becoming a foursome. Not sure if they're staying where they are or going further."

Borin blinks a few times at that. She stares at Gibbs, and can see he's not on the warpath, no sense of anger, but… "Shouldn't you be getting out the sniper rifle and putting the fear of Dad into them?"

He shrugs. "If Tim and Abby and Breena and Jimmy all want to be… with each other… all of 'em, together, at once… Who am I supposed to shoot?"

Abbi opens and closes her mouth. She doesn't have an answer to that.

He looks at her, exactly on his face. "Is it cheating if you're all in it together?"

"I..." she's about to say, 'I'd say so," but thinks about it more, thinks about all together, at once, and comes up with a very uncertain, "No?"

Gibbs nods.

Abbi thinks about what she's seen of the four of them together, slotting it into that sort of a focus. And thinking about it, yeah, they are close. Really close. She's seen plenty of relationships like what Breena and Abby have, that almost effortless closeness between two women. She doesn't think she's seen too many examples of guys who similar levels of comfort with each other, but as she thinks about it, Tim and Jimmy do have that. And she can feel that's something Tony and Ziva are outside of.

"So, that's why you got tense when you realized Tony wasn't there?"

"Yeah. Know they won't do anything if he's along for the trip."

"You worried?"

He shrugs at that, too. "Feel like I should be. They seem okay. Right now, they are. But… I don't want them getting bit in the ass."

"Do you think they will get bit?"

He shakes his head. "Gut says no. They… feel… good with each other. If there's gonna be a problem, it'll be with the guys, and right now they feel solid. They're worried about getting bit, know what's at stake. Brains are in charge instead of balls, so that's good. And it looks like they're taking it slow, making sure they're all good. Maybe they'll never pull the trigger on it."

"But you think they will?"

Gibbs nods. He's feeling that in his gut to. "Tim asked if I'd be okay with it if all four of them became… I don't know if there's a word for it, a quadruple? Serious, long-term, married-style. You don't ask that if you're not gonna do it."

"Are you?"

"You know anyone who ever pulled it off? Two's hard enough for most people, four? That's juggling, what…" he thinks about it, the girls, the guys, all four of them, plus four couples, so… "seven relationships?"

Abbi shakes her head. "Not that I know personally. I mean, I know they're out there. I know it's not impossible, and supposedly four works better than three, but…"

"Yeah. If they can do it, yeah, I'm good with it. I mean… I'm from the seventies. I remember swinging. First sex book I ever read suggested fooling around with your friends as fun and a good way to get to know each other better and learn new tricks. Not like this is something I've never heard of. But I don't know anyone who made it work long-term." He sits quietly thinking about that, about all of it. "If anyone can do it, it's them, but I don't know if anyone can."

"And that scares you."



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