Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Shards To A Whole: Preparations

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

Chapter 361: Preparations

The sound of one foot stepping onto his front porch stairs begins to draw Gibbs from asleep to awake. The second foot, stepping from stairs to the porch proper, pulls him a little closer to all awake. One more step gets him thinking that there might be something he should be doing, but really he's too sleepy and warm and comfortable and naked and wrapped around a beautiful woman to want to do anything other than snuggle in and go back to sleep.

The sound of his doorknob turning, a body slamming into the door, Fornell cursing loudly, and Mona leaping up to bark wildly at him, however, kills what was left of warm and happy and sleepy, and wakes both him and Borin all the way up.

He sits up, carefully, she's mostly lying on him, and takes a moment to untangle himself, leaving her the blanket.

"I'm coming." He yells to the door, along with, "Mona, quiet!" while he looks around for his pants. (They've got to be around here somewhere.)

Meanwhile, Borin wraps herself up in the blanket, grabs her clothes, purse, and scurries up the stairs to get a shower.

Fornell's in a pretty good mood. It's a lovely Tuesday morning, crocuses are starting to poke up, he doesn't need to be in the office until after noon, and today, he and Gibbs are heading off in search of his wedding tux.

He hops up the step, humming a little, puts his hand on the doorknob, (Relevant fact: Gibbs did indeed get a lock for his door. A deadbolt. The doorknob is still sans-lock and turns freely if you grasp it and apply some torque.) turns the doorknob, and crashes shoulder first into the door when the damn thing doesn't open.

Two seconds later, there's some sort of large, black, barking thing having what sounds like a mental breakdown on the other side of the door. Gibbs had mentioned he had gotten a dog, so why Fornell's surprised he got an attack dog isn't clear, (after all it's not like Gibbs was going to get a toy poodle or something small and cute like that) but he is feeling mildly surprised. (Though given how Mona is spazzing out about him on the other side of the door, he's awfully glad he didn't just walk in.)

Then, two more seconds later, he hears Gibbs making noise from the area of the living room. Why Gibbs spent many full days' worth of hours making a bed to not sleep in it boggles Fornell's mind, but Gibbs is weird like that. Followed by holy shit a woman, redhead, wrapped in the blanket that lives on Gibbs' sofa, and likely very naked under said blanket, streaking up the steps.

Suddenly he's feeling a whole lot less boggled.

Then, and only then, once she was fully up the stairs and out of sight, did Gibbs, in a pair of sweats and nothing else, with a firm grip on Mona's collar, open the door.

"Looks like you forgot our date," Fornell says, with a laugh, rubbing his shoulder, as he breezes in. "This is the dog, huh?"

Gibbs looks at Fornell, eyes narrowed, but Fornell's just beaming at him, very pleased with himself and the universe right now, so Gibbs says, "Mona, Tobias. Tobias's welcome here, too, so you be nice to him."

She barks one more time and spends a moment just looking at him.

Fornell holds out a hand to be sniffed, and Mona deigns to take an interest in him. One last woof, and she heads up the stairs to see what Borin's up to.

"So, looks like you've got more than one new friend," Fornell says with a huge grin.

Gibbs grunts in his direction, not sure what the hell to do right now.

Fornell waves a hand at the stairs. "Go. I can get myself coffee. She like hers god-awful black, too?"

Gibbs nods. "Weren't you supposed to be here an hour from now?"

"Thought you might want pancakes. Didn't realize you had something better than pancakes at home."

Gibbs glares at him slightly about the 'better than pancakes' line and then shrugs, because breakfast does sound good, though Fornell wasn't precisely who he was hoping to have it with.


"Take it you had plans this morning?" Borin asks as he steps into the shower behind her, she's wet and naked and facing him, and he's not having any trouble at all getting used to having someone to shower with.

He gives her his well, sorta, I'd rather be here with you look.

"I've got to get to work, anyway. Might as well do whatever you were going to do."

"Tuxes. That's Fornell." He's not sure if she knows who Fornell is. He doesn't think he's mentioned him. He knows he hasn't mentioned to shared ex-wife saga. "He's getting married in October. Today we're getting tuxes."

"We're?" That's got her interest.

"I'm the best man."

Her eyebrows shoot up, and she bites her lip trying not to laugh.

"Why is that funny?"

"Are you going to give a speech?" And she does laugh at that.

He glares gently at her and turns them so the water's at his back. "Give me the shampoo."

She does; he squirts some in his hand, and begins rubbing it through her hair. And then he starts rubbing her neck, and shoulders, and then breasts as he presses up against her and the water cascades down them.

"That's not my hair."

He rubs against her deliberately. Morning wood deflated a bit with Fornell crashing into his door, but naked woman in his arms is perking it back up. "You mind?"

She kisses him, melting against him, and he groans at the feel of that. "Your friend is downstairs, and I don't like being quiet."

He's gonna shoot Fornell. He pouts a little, sighs, but respects it, returning to rubbing the shampoo through her hair.

She sighs at that, leaning against him. "You doing anything tonight?"

"Not supposed to be."

"You've seen me all dressed up. I don't think I've ever seen you in a suit. My house. Seven. Wear the tux."

His eyebrows shoot up; that could be very interesting. He nods, approving.

"Don't know where you live."

"I'll text you the address."

"Okay. I'll bring the bourbon and dessert?"

She smiles at that.

He lingers in the bathroom, watching her get ready. (Didn't take him long to brush his teeth and hair and pull on his I'm-retired-uniform of cargo pants, t-shirt, and flannel shirt. He'll shave closer to date time.) She didn't mention the hairdryer when she found it, but she did look at him and smile. That made him feel good.

And when it comes down to it, he likes watching a woman get ready. Likes watching her take her clothing off (oh, yes, very, very good!) but putting it back on again is fine, too.

Eventually he gets the sense that she's a bit uncomfortable with him just staring at her while she does her hair, so he heads back down to see if Fornell did indeed make some coffee.

He did, and whipped up some eggs.

"You're out of bread," Fornell says to him as he heads into the kitchen, grabbing his coffee and sucking some of it down.

"Thought we were going out for breakfast."

"We are. She's got work right?"

Gibbs nods and heads to his freezer. "Bagels." He pulls one out and tosses it in the microwave to thaw.

"You've got bagels in your freezer? For her?" Fornell shakes his head. "Must be love. Can't wait to meet this one."

"Ever work a case with CGIS?"

Fornell thinks for a moment and then his eyes go wide. "Borin? Is that Abigail Borin up there?"

Gibbs grins.

"How do you even know her?"

"Navy and the Coast Guard. Usually had a case or two a year with them. Worked 'em with her until she got promoted. You?"

"She ripped two of my guys new assholes when they fumbled a case and didn't call her team in. Poor bastards limped for a week when she got done with them."

"Only a week. I'm getting soft," Borin says as she heads into the kitchen. She looks at him, thinks for a moment, and says, "FBI?" Fornell nods. "One of them had the nerve to call me 'Hon' when he finally got around to returning my call."

Fornell winces, he knows that Agent well enough to know that he is that stupid. Though that didn't end up in the report. "He knows not to do that, now. Tobias Fornell," he offers his hand.

"Abby Borin," she shakes his hand, and looks at him pulling the bagel out of the microwave, slipping it into the toaster. "I get him making me breakfast…"

"I'm the better cook. He turns eggs into rubber."

Gibbs sips his coffee, inclining his head, Fornell is right about the better cook part, maybe not about the eggs to rubber part. (Fornell likes his soft and kind of squishy.)

"You two eat together a lot?" she asks, looking from the one to the other. Gibbs can tell she's amused at the idea of him having a buddy.

"He got a fiancée a while back, so less now."

"Usually take out, anyway. But maybe two times a month I pop over and make him a real meal."

"Steaks on the fire are a real meal."

"Penne with sausage and peppers is a real meal. You make... snacks."

"Half pound steak is a snack?"

"Big snacks."

"You make penne with sausage and peppers? With the sauce?" Abby asks.

"Of course! Nona made sure we could all cook. Don't like to this time of year because the tomatoes taste like paste, but come summertime…"

She looks impressed. The toaster pops, and Fornell grabs the bagel, slipping the eggs (which he has cooked into a nicely holding together circle) between them, and handing them over.

"Make him bring you to dinner at our place and you can find out all about it," he says with a smile.

Borin smiles at that, looking vastly amused by the idea of a date with Gibbs' friends. "Thanks." She takes a bite of her breakfast and smiles at Fornell. "For the food and the invite." Her eyes skim across the kitchen to the clock on the microwave. "And I've got to get moving."

Gibbs walks her to the door, kissing her goodbye.


He smiles and nods, eyes warm and wicked.

That gets a grin out of her, and another warm, close kiss. "Oh, yeah, definitely tonight."

He and Fornell are at the diner when Fornell says, "So, you've got a girlfriend? When were you going to tell me?"

Gibbs doesn't say anything.

"You didn't mention it at the retirement party, and we poured so much alcohol into you you were singing and dancing, so it had to be after that."

Gibbs glares, that is not how he remembers that party.

"Don't give me that look. Pride got you up there, and I've got video of it. So, how long?"

Unfortunately, Gibbs thinks that might have actually happened, 'cause that's the kind of thing Pride's good at, but he's not entirely sure, so he glares at that, too. "Two weeks."

Fornell takes a bite of his banana pancakes. "God, this woman know me. Elaine, these are perfect!" Elaine waves at him. "You like her?"

"Try not to date women I don't like."

"You know what I mean. Date for the wedding, eight months from now, like her or just clearing out the pipes, like her?"

He shrugs. "Hope so."

Fornell speaks Gibbs well enough, and can read his face well enough that he's answering 'hope so' to the first half of that question, not the last. "Wow." Fornell eats another bite of his pancakes while Gibbs drinks some of his coffee. "She looks a lot like our ex-wife."

Gibbs shrugs, a it happens look on his face.

"No, Jethro, it doesn't just happen. It's not like every third woman in this city is a tall, strong red-head with a sassy tongue. We move to Ireland, and you want to give me that look, fine, but not here."

"She is who she is."

"Yeah, I know. And you are who you are, so question is, you doing something stupid, chasing after someone bad for you?"

Gibbs shrugs. "Hope not. Trying not to. Doing things different this time."

Fornell nods. "Good." He thinks about it for a few minutes. "Different, how?"

"Told her about Shannon and Kelly."

Fornell nods at that, too. "Decent start."

"Told her why I haven't been on a date for two years."


"Haven't been on a date for two years."

"Good point."

"Sat my ass down and listened to her stories, and not just as a way to avoid telling mine."

Fornell smiles at that. "So, come on, tell me about her? She's a Fed, what else…"

Tuxes. Lots and lots of tuxes. Sigh.

While it is true that Diane will talk anyone-who-gets-too-near's ear off about how Fornell is 'cheap' that is not entirely true or accurate.

Fornell is frugal, this is true. He grew up with people who lived in Italy in the aftermath of both World Wars, so the home he grew up in was extremely frugal and used every usable portion of everything. So, it's not so much that he's pinching pennies when he adds a tablespoon of water to the tomato paste can and swishes it around to get every last bit out, it's because that's how he was raised, and Nona will do cartwheels in his grave if he wastes food. (This is also true for any clothing that is still wearable. He comes from a world that mends things.)

Likewise, if it's something that doesn't matter to him, he is downright cheap in addition to frugal. (Which is why in one rather fierce fight with Diane when Emily was young and money was tight, Diane had bought a, what he thought was freakishly expensive, moisturizer, and then threw it out when it was less than a quarter used, because it made her skin break out, she started calling him cheap, and well, it just never got much better than that.)

But in that he is no longer a middle-aged FBI Agent providing the only source of income for a family with a small child, he is significantly less stressed out about money these days. And given that Wendy, who is, second only to Emily, the light of his life, has told him he has to look good for this thing, he is determined to find a good tux, cost be damned.

So, they are at as upscale of a place as you can go, and still rent tuxes. Assuming you are going to lay down money to rent a tux, this is where Tony would send you. (Though he'd try to convince you to buy one because, look, what do most guys wear rental tuxes to? Weddings and proms. Do you really want to think about what fluids got spilled all over and in that tux before you had it? No. Just the idea of a rental tux makes Tony cringe and want to break out the alcohol wipes.)

Early morning, work day, besides the sales man, the place is empty. So he waits less than three seconds before swooping down on them to offer assistance. (It's also extremely obvious to the sales associate that these are two guys who do not regularly do formal wear of any sort.)

The salesman gets them measured, Fornell first, while asking what Fornell was looking for in a tux. (Black. Fornell's looking for black. What Fornell knows about tuxes could fill an especially small thimble. He's worn one precisely twice in his life.)

Gibbs does feel pretty satisfied to see the waist measure has dropped from a (snug) 39 inches (Tony and Ziva's wedding tux) to 34 (33 ½ really.) He's more satisfied to see Fornell staring at him about it. Though getting measured now is making him wonder if this stupid thing is going to fit in October.

"Isn't the wedding eight months from now? You're not moving it up, are you?"

"Still set for October," Fornell answers, looking at different black vests.

"So why are we doing this now?"

Fornell sighs. "Got some sort of formal thing in May we're going to."

That triggers a memory for Gibbs, so he fires off a text to Tony. Your dad's wedding going to be formal?

A minute later he gets. Black tie.

Am I invited?"

Last I heard, this was going to be a close, intimate gathering of Dad, Delphine and every other person on Earth they've ever met. Yeah, you're gonna be invited. Why?

Looking at tuxes with Fornell for his wedding, wanted to know if I'll need one for more than two days.

Two days? You getting married again without telling us?

Gibbs laughs. Back to work, DiNozzo.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I want all the details later.

Fornell's reading over his shoulder. "That's a good question, why do you need one for more than two days?"

Gibbs grins. "Hot date tonight."

Fornell punches him in the shoulder and laughs. "You son of a bitch."

An hour later they left, Gibbs with a tux in a bag over his shoulder (plus his receipts for rentals in May and October. The sales associate promised him that if he wanted to re-measure closer to time and change the size that wasn't a problem.) Fornell with the paperwork for both the wedding in October and his 'formal thing' in May.

The tux place is near a mall. The mall has food. So, as they're heading out, Fornell says, "Lunch?"


They find an Indian place that looks promising and settle in for curry and naan.

"So… you, size 34… that just that Bootcamp thing you're doing with the boys?"

Gibbs shakes his head. "Running a lot. Jimmy got me doing some stuff when my knee was hurting, that helps, too."

"What kind of stuff?"

Gibbs looks up and shakes his head. "You'd never believe it."

"Like what? You a vegetarian now?"

Gibbs takes a deliberate bite of his lamb vindaloo curry. "Not that unbelievable. It might be yoga."

"Might be?" Fornell asks with a smile.

"He wanted me to actually do it, so he couldn't just call it that, could he? But I know he and Tim do it and there's stretching stuff, so…"

Fornell laughs. "Stealth yoga."

Gibbs shrugs. "It helps. It's hard. I could do it when my knee wouldn't hold me. Being more flexible is kind of nice. Got better over-all strength which is good. Got back to running, didn't hurt as bad as I thought it was going to."

"You've got a girlfriend who's twenty years younger, you better keep working out. And get your heart checked. Otherwise you're going out with a smile on your face."

Gibbs smirks. "Good for that, too."

Fornell's eyes narrow. "Good how? Heart good?"

"Probably good for that, too."

"Younger girlfriend good. So… good how?"

"Everything moves easier good. Low back doesn't complain if I'm on top. Haven't tried yet, but if my knee'll hold, my back will, too, for standing up."

Fornell thinks about that, after all he's got a honeymoon coming up. "Huh. Palmer taught you this?"

"He's a doctor."

"Well, yeah, but…Palmer? Goofy one with the glasses, right?" (Fornell has DiNozzo and McGee firmly in his mind. Palmer is, especially in regards to any sort of image of a physical body, a somewhat fuzzier proposition.)

Gibbs sighs. He doesn't like to admit he notices stuff like this, but... "Remember those naked pretty-boys Emily's got on her phone?" (The reason Gibbs knows about them is because Fornell found them, and once he started breathing again, he called Gibbs to have a complete and utter meltdown of epic proportions.)

Fornell nods, slowly, malice in his gaze. "Had on her phone." Those guys were very naked and doing indecent things to each other. Stuff he didn't know about until he was in his thirties. Finding them on his seventeen-year-old daughter's phone had been horrifying.

Gibbs gives Fornell his yeah right look. The chance those boys weren't back on there the second she got her phone back, just better hidden, is non-existent. "Jimmy's built like them."

"What?" Fornell's coffee stops midway to his mouth as he just stares at Gibbs.

"Yeah." Gibbs nods.

"Really?" Fornell puts the coffee down, looking really perplexed.

"Yeah. Kid's ripped. I wasn't that toned when I was a Marine. I wasn't that toned when I was an eighteen-year-old Marine, let alone thirty-eight."

Fornell's eyebrows are high. "I didn't know real people could look like that."

Gibbs spreads his hands wide and shakes his head.

Fornell thinks some more about this and purses his lips. "Think he'd be willing to talk to me about it?"

"Offer to buy him lunch, and he might. He made me show him what kind of exercises I had been doing, and then he spent the whole time wincing at me and groaning about how no wonder my knee ripped to shreds, I'd been killing them for years. And then he showed me how to actually do the damn things and suddenly even a pull up was a hundred times harder."

"How can a pull-up be harder?"

"You're supposed to do them slow."


"Yeah. Then fast, then just sort of hover half way, then bounce some, slow, then all the way up and all the way down, slow again. Then, if you're showing off, you do 'em one handed. First time we did Bootcamp he punched me, staggered me, and I was already braced for it. Didn't know how he had that much force. Then I saw him do pull-ups. Mystery solved."

Fornell laughs at that then shakes his head. "Palmer."

Gibbs nods.

On the way back to his truck, Gibbs texts Abby. What's the name of the bakery that did your wedding cakes?

He's in the ABC store to pick up some bourbon when he gets the answer back along with: And you need a baker why? Would this have anything to do with the tux? Seriously, you getting married again?

It's my night to bring dessert. No. I'm not getting married again. Tell DiNozzo more working and less gossiping.

Slow day, Gibbs, gossip keeps us going.


You know it. Tim's beta version goes live tomorrow, but right now we're filling out forms. Dessert, huh? Sounds like fun. When you gonna bring her to Shabbos?

Back to work, Abbs.

Hey, am I Abbs and her Abby? That's going to be confusing, isn't it? I mean, you're not still calling her Borin, right? That'd just be wrong.

Paperwork's not doing itself, McGee.

:) Oooo! I like that. 'Course you do that, and Tim'll be just as likely to answer as I am.

Getting in the car now.

Fine, I'll quit bugging you.

Gibbs is buckling his seatbelt when his phone buzzes again.

I lied. That bakery, they make the most amazing chocolate-covered strawberries. The berries are huge, and they soak them in brandy, then fill them with whipped cream, and then dip them in chocolate. If Abby likes strawberries, you've got to get some for her.

Thanks Abbs.

Ziva says when they went out for drinks, she got a strawberry margarita.

I'll keep that in mind.

She also says you better bring Abby to Shabbos soon.

Are you all just sitting around the lab gossiping?

We're in Autopsy. Tony still wants to know why you need a tux, and Jimmy wants to know why he just got a call from Fornell.

Gibbs sighs, looks up at the ceiling of his truck, supposes having people in his business is part of this whole family-loving-you-thing, but sometimes it's a pain in the ass.

Fornell wants to get in better shape, and the tux is private.

Cool! Chocolate covered strawberries and tux! Oh yeah! Lucky Abby! Suggest that to Tim at some point. You got one with a vest right? Cummerbunds look kind of dumb. Not that you'd look dumb in any sort of tux, but vests are better. And you're just about to shoot your phone, so I'll shut up. Have fun on your date.

Thanks. He turns off his phone and stuffs it in the glove compartment. And then a few seconds later he pulls it back out and turns on Google Maps so he can find the bakery.

Tux, check. Dessert, check. Bourbon, check. He feels like there should be something else… An idea springs to mind. Honey dust… Not check. That would be fun. He pulls out his phone and then immediately decides there is no way in Hell he's texting Tony to find out where he got the stuff in the first place.

(When the box with no card and the honey dust showed up for Christmas of '02, he thought it had been a present from Elizabeth. She certainly enjoyed it, and he did, too. But she didn't know where it came from and suggested he needed to do a better job keeping track of his girlfriends if he didn't know who was sending him sex toys. When Christmas turned to New Years, and New Years to Valentines, and no bottle of bourbon showed up, he figured out how he ended up with the Honey Dust. Getting a chance to tease Tony with it later was just icing on the cake. Honestly, it's the best Christmas present he's ever gotten from Tony. Certainly the one he had the most fun with.)

So he googles where to find it instead.

Four places sell it in DC, and one of them is in a decent, expensive neighborhood, so hopefully it won't be too sleazy.

He shakes his head and snorts a little, another Adventure, though this time without Molly.

Having been married four times, and having dated a lot between those marriages, and dated some more after them, Gibbs is pretty confident in the idea that he knows his way around a woman and is well-versed in the art of sex.

That, on a purely technical level, he knows what he's doing.

And he's a cop, so he's seen a lot of… weird… stuff over the years.

So, it's not like he's some sort of nervous virgin as he's walking into this place, but, best he can remember, he's never been in a sex shop as a customer. It's a small store, but, Holy God, there's a shit ton of sex stuff in here. (And he read the reviews saying this place didn't have an amazing selection.) There is way, way, way more stuff involved in sex than he'd ever dreamed of or… His eyes land on… he's not sure what that thing is, but he's certain he doesn't want to know.

Okay. He wants honey dust. It's got to be in here somewhere. He roams around, looking for the stuff, and finds the lubes and… He knows they come in different flavors. That was true even back when Shannon was still alive. But, they've got… fifty brands, different versions of each brand. Who can possibly know, that specifically, what kind of slippery stuff they like? (He ends up grabbing three kinds. When it comes down to it, he wouldn't mind knowing, that specifically, what sort he likes.)

Condoms are near the lube, he guesses that makes sense. When he'd grabbed some after their first date he hadn't really spent much time perusing the selection. Just grabbed what looked like the thinnest sort they had, and went with that. But he's in a sex shop for God's sake, and he's got four hours before he needs to be anywhere else, so he might as well look.

So he looks. And like everything else, this has changed since he did it last. (He can't really imagine how what's basically technology from the dark ages has managed to change this much in five years, but… It has.)

He picks up a "more sensation" pack, which he's in favor of, sees the shape is kind of different than what he's used to, and thinks about it for a minute. He's about to just put them in the little basket with everything else, try 'em out and see, but he notices the price and decides maybe he doesn't want to spend that much if he can't tell the difference.

He gets his phone out. And then, shaking his head, he puts it back in his pocket and puts them back on the shelf. He's good with what he's already got.

Okay, honey dust has to be somewhere. (And no, he's not about to ask where.) Fortunately it's in the next aisle over, and shit, it comes in like seven flavors now, too. (Coffee and bourbon not among them.)

There's a four pack so he grabs that, can taste them when he gets home, and pick there.

He heads toward the register, back through the condom aisle, and stares at the boxes again.

This time his phone comes out and he actually texts. You alone, or is the gab fest still going on in Autopsy?

Tim sends back. I have no idea what they're doing in Autopsy. I'm in my office overseeing the installation of the paperwork software for my guys. So I'm not alone, but no one's reading over my shoulder, either.

Got a minute?

Yeah, a few. This is the boring part. Ten minutes we'll start finding new and interesting ways to break it.

Gibbs stares at his phone, and stares at the package, and back at his phone. Fuck it, he's gonna ask. Extra sensitive condoms, ones that're shaped weird, they actually feel different?

Tim has to read that three times to make himself believe it's actually on his phone.

Gibbs is staring at his phone and the utter lack of response on it, imagining (pretty accurately) the look on Tim's face right now.

Finally he gets back. I can't really feel a difference. Jimmy think's I'm insane and likes them better.

Do I want to know why you know that about Jimmy?

Stocking Tony's honeymoon box. Turns out we didn't agree on what the best kind were. Which is why Tony got a few kinds. So he's probably got an opinion, too, I just don't know what it is.

Gibbs shakes his head.

Do I want to know why you're asking?

Wondering if it's worth the extra money.

Jimmy's got them, if you wanted to snag one to just try them.

No. Gibbs literally cannot imagine the conversation that would be involved with doing that. He can feel Tim laughing at the idea of it, though.

There's another pause where nothing comes up, and Gibbs decides what the hell, they don't cost that much, and they sell three packs so… He puts it in his basket.

You know about putting a little extra lube inside them, right? Pops up as he's about to step closer to the register.

That seems like it'd be counter-productive. Don't want it to slip off.

Not that much. Drop in/on the tip, keep it off the shaft, it won't slip off. That, I can feel the difference on.

Gibbs stares at the phone, and all the lubes in his basket. Might be worth trying.

System's live, got to go. Pops up on his phone.

Hope it works.


It's a very black tux.

Wendy's got her heart set on a black and white wedding, so a black and white wedding they're having, and this is the blackest suit Gibbs has ever seen. This isn't so much a color that absorbs all light as a color that scares it off.

It's really black.

And there is a vest. (Fornell tried on the cummerbund. They looked at it, and put it back about two seconds later.) It's black with a charcoal pin stripe. Gibbs honestly isn't sure if it's two colors or if it's just a slightly different texture that reflects the light differently.

Shirt's white. Little black studs for buttons. Black cuff-links. Black tie (also with the charcoal pinstripe.)

It's very black. He looks at it, sitting on his bed, and decides he needs to shine his dress shoes. If he's going
to be this sharp looking he can't have dull shoes. So he does.

Slipping into the tux feels a little weird. Not bad say, just… yeah, weird. It's one thing if say he's getting ready to give away a bride or get married himself (both of the times he's worn a tux previously) he's got that firmly entrenched in stuff that goes along with weddings in his mind.

He's gotten dressed up for a nice date out, but, they aren't going out… This is just because she wants to see him in a tux. And as reasons for getting dressed up go, doing it because she enjoys it seems just fine, it still feels a little weird.

He's looking in the mirror, tying the tie when why this is weird really hits him.

It's weird because it's him going out of his way to be physically attractive to a woman. If Gibbs can be said to have any sort of dating game, it's all personality based. Which is not to say he's unaware of the fact that he is (and was, definitely was) an attractive looking guy, but it's not anything he's ever done anything about, either. (For example, at no point when he's purchased clothing has the thought 'Do I look good in this?' ever occurred to him. 'Does it fit? Is it comfortable? Will it last? How much does it cost?' He's thought of all of those things, but 'Does this color make my eyes look good?' let alone, 'Does this show off my butt nicely?' are collections of words that have never appeared together in his mind.)

Until now. Because right now he's doing this so she can enjoy looking at him. He knows in an abstract sort of way that women must like looking. He knows that when he was younger he'd sometimes catch them doing it.

All the pictures Shannon took of him certainly indicated she liked looking at him.

But it's still a novel sensation to realize that he's getting dressed up so a woman can look at him, and then take his clothing off.

And it's certainly not like he minds the idea. And it's definitely not like he hasn't put clothing on hoping it was going to come off soon, but this feels different.

He looks at himself again, very black tux looking crisp and formal, straightens the tie a hair, checks his cuff-links, and decides he looks good. He's sort of vaguely thinking that if this is something he's going to do more than once, maybe he should talk to Tony, because if anyone he knows understands how this attempting to look good thing works, he does.

Enough of that. He grabs the bag with the dessert, bourbon, and honey dust in it, tugs on his coat, makes sure Mona's got lots of food and water, and then heads off.


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