Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Shards To A Whole: When Are You Bringing...

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

Chapter 365: When Are You Bringing...

"Think he's gonna bring her?" Tony asks Ziva as they get ready for Shabbos.

"No. He'll tell us ahead of time."

"It's been six weeks. Not like we've never met her before."

"I know, but…" She spreads her hands wide. Short of kidnapping Borin and dragging her to Shabbos or Sunday Dinner or Bootcamp, they've done everything they can think of to try and get Gibbs to bring her to one of their weekly gatherings.

But he hasn't, and besides glaring at them when they all stare at him and drop less and less subtle hints (Last week's was Breena flat out asking, 'So, when are you going to bring her?' and by that point you really can't call it a hint anymore.) he refuses to give them any sort of response.

Which means he's got six frustrated, gossiping kids on his hands, all of whom really want to get to meet (again) the new girlfriend, and get to see her as a girlfriend.

Gossiping about Gibbs and Borin is currently the favorite hobby of what used to be the MCRT. And it's not like they don't have other things to do, but right now they're the big news. After all, no one's pregnant (and by mutual accord they don't gossip about efforts related to getting that way, at least, not beyond their own spouses at home), everyone's married (except Gibbs), all babies are settled in, jobs are jobbing along.
All in all, the status quo has, for the moment, re-set, and sure Jimmy's collection of interviewees was fun, but that was two days of chatting. (Mostly about what on earth a 'personal demon' is and who would possibly mention that to someone at an interview, followed by Jimmy doing a bit more scrutinizing of Ms. Bast's work history and coming to the conclusion that she'd left way more animal-oriented jobs after a year or so than was comfortable.) And yeah, the thing with Tim's navy test was cool, but, well, besides Tim getting all hot and bothered about the details, it's kind of nebulous for anyone who isn't Abby.

It's not like they're doing anything mean, they aren't being snide or snippy, talking about Gibbs and Borin. Invasive, sure. It probably wasn't entirely necessary for Abby to dig up that face morphing software and make up some baby Gorins. (They were awfully cute, though.)

And looking at Baby Girl Gorin, (while Tony and Abby discussed whether any potential Gorins would be their kids' cousins or aunts and uncles) Jimmy said, "I think that train left the station a long time ago."

Which resulted in Abby, Ziva, and Tony all staring at him. "What do you mean, Palmer?" Tony asked.

This was when it occurred to Jimmy that Gibbs' vasectomy was unlikely to be common knowledge, and that it was entirely possible that besides Ducky (who was Gibbs' medical proxy and doctor for a million years) he might be the only one who knows about that.

"Just, you know, get the sense he's done with kids. Three ex-wives, no kids with them." Jimmy said, fast.

"You are a terrible liar," Ziva replied, closing on Jimmy.

"How can that possibly be a lie? He has three ex-wives. He didn't have kids with them."

"But that is not why you think he's done with kids." Ziva said.

"Okay, how about he's almost sixty, and no man in his right mind starts a family that old?"

Ziva didn't buy that, either.

"Okay, I know he's done with kids."

"Jimmy?" Abby asked.

"Doctor patient confidentiality. Can't tell."

More staring, but they let it drop.

"She coming?" Breena asks as they head into Tony and Ziva's place on Friday night.

Ziva shakes her head. Week seven, still no Borin. She turns to Jimmy and Tony, "On Sunday, you two and Tim, you will get Gibbs, and you will talk to him, and you will make him bring her next week, yes?"

"With what? Am I going to drug him or something?" Jimmy asks. "If anyone's going to make him do something it's you girls. You need to go cry on him or something."

Ziva rolls her eyes. "You will talk. Explain. This is home. We bring the people we love home."

"Might not be love. Not yet. Not this soon. And…" And for Tony it all clicks into place, slamming into place, hard. "And if it is love, we're not going to see her anytime soon. If it's love, it's going to scare the shit out of him and he's going to take it really slow."

Jimmy nods.

Breena stares at both of them, eyes narrowed and shakes her head. "Men."

Jimmy sighs. "No. I get it. If she's a disposable girlfriend he can bring her around, because if it doesn't work it won't hurt so bad. If it's real, and he lets us see it's real, then if it doesn't work out, he doesn't just have to deal with being hurt, he's got six of us trying to be useful and comforting and…"

And Gibbs steps into the kitchen saying, "And in my business all the time, hovering around, asking me how I am, treating me like I'm made of broken eggshells, and moping on me."

Ziva takes two steps over and gives Gibbs a hug and a kiss. "We want you to be happy."

He gets double teamed by Breena with another hug. "And we want to see you being happy."

"Are we doing hugs in here? I want hugs!" Abby bustles in mid-hug. Adding herself to the press. "Borin meeting you here?"

Gibbs stares up at the ceiling. And yes, he does not mind having his arms full of warm girls all happy to see him, but… "How about you guys let me date her for a while before you get the wedding all planned out?"

Abby and Breena look slightly guilty. (Not like they planned the whole thing out, but… Slow day. No customers at Slater's, Tim's software is whipping through the paperwork in the lab, so they may have spent an hour or two texting about it.)

"Fine. Still, you know she's welcome in any of our homes, right? Just as welcome as you are. You don't ever have to feel like you can't bring her around. And, it's exciting, Gibbs! You're dating again and acting so much happier and… We want to share, too!" Abby says.

He kisses Abby's forehead, then Ziva, then Breena, and sighs. "It's going well. I'm enjoying it. But, I don't even know if we're really dating or not. So, how about you let us get that figured out before adding you to the mix?"

"How can you not know?" Breena asks.

"We… haven't actually gone out."

Which is true. They've made dates to see each other, at one of their homes. And she drops by sometimes. (He's been tempted to just show up at her place but A: he does not have a key, and B: if she wants people-free downtime, he doesn't want to barge in. Sometimes you just need to be alone.) But there have been several ten day long stretches where they didn't see each other at all. And she has had to cancel two the 'dates' they made. Though they usually text for a minute or two a day. So, it's not like weeks have gone by without any contact.

And yes, he thinks (hopes) this is serious, or could move in a serious direction, but they could just be fuck buddies. (Okay, he could be building that in as a buffer so it won't hurt so damn bad if it falls apart.) It feels real and serious and good, but… he's wary. After all, they've had some pretty serious conversations, but… but they've all been about the past, and Gibbs is fairly sure that those conversations are just mostly housekeeping, the kind of things you talk about if you're anywhere near a half-way decent person and you want to do what you can to avoid hurting the person you're with or wasting their time.

So, besides a general sense that they seem to be liking this, and they'd like to keep seeing each other, there's been no definition as to what it is they have.

"You haven't gone out?" Breena stares at Gibbs as they pull away from him and move into getting dinner on the table mode. "What are you doing?"

Abby laughs at that and the somewhat startled look on Gibbs' face when she asks. "Jimmy's rubbing off on you, Breena. That's a question worthy of him."

Breena squints at Gibbs. "Come on, that can't be all you're doing, right?"

No, it's not all they're doing. Eating, sleeping, talking, quietly reading/watching movies/watching a game, sometimes go for a run or swim (maybe that qualifies as out for a date?), all happens, too, but, yeah it's a lot of what they're doing. Plus it's one of Borin's favorite ways to blow off a bad day at work, and it certainly was one of his back in the day, too. So, it might be two thirds of what they're doing when they're together and awake.

Tony's got a really dirty grin on his face as he slaps Gibbs on the shoulder while Gibbs continues to stand there feeling a bit blindsided by that question. "Lucky man!"

That snaps him back into action. Tony gets a light head slap. "I'll bring her round when we're both ready for it. Okay? And you all nattering at me isn't speeding me up, got it?"

He gets four versions of "Fine" from the ladies and Tony.

They say the prayers, bless the children, and sit down for dinner.

"How was the first week?" Tim asks Ducky, passing the Challah. Monday had been his last day at NCIS, and unlike Gibbs, when Ducky said that he did not want any fussing about it, they paid attention.

"Infernally slow, Timothy." He and Gibbs share a look. "But not as bad as it could have been. I've been spending a few hours a day working with Eleanor on her profiling technique. It is an interesting hybrid approach we're creating, her use of numbers and patterns with my use of psychology.

"Possibly, if this proves to be effective, we'll have a paper or two worth writing."

"And a new sub, sub-specialty for people to work on," Penny adds.

"There is that." He passes Penny the salt, unasked. "And how is your new assistant settling is?"

Jimmy starts to answer but Tony cuts in with, "You mean The Ghost?"

"He's quiet," Jimmy says.

"No. You and Tim are quiet. Ziva, when she's in ninja mode, is quiet. Your new assistant is dead."

Jimmy rolls his eyes a little. "Thursday was our first call out. Dr. Allan is still trying to figure out the line between properly respectful and… unnervingly reserved. He's never been at a crime scene before, let alone one that was in someone's home. So he was being very quiet, and very precise—"

"And very nervous. If he inhaled twice the whole time you were in there—" Tony says.

"It's also been a long time since he's had anything to do with a dead body. And that was a smelly crime scene. So, yeah, he was nervous, and he was being very careful, and he didn't breathe much because the vic had been in that house for forty-eight hours. And at one point, while he was laying out the body bag, he was being so quiet Tony almost tripped over him."

"Just about broke my ankle trying to save from that."

Jimmy rolls his eyes a little again. Allan may not be huge, but even if he was silent, he's still a full-grown man next to a dead body; Tony should have been paying better attention. (Of course, Tony's got a different view of the subject, along the lines of he was photographing behind the body, and the last time he looked, no one was back there, and next thing he knew he'd stepped back into something soft and moving.)

"So you are saying he's a perfectly functional medical professional trying to do a good job in a new and sensitive environment?" Penny says, dryly.

"Precisely. Thanks Abby." He takes the green beans from her, taking a large serving for himself, put five of them on Molly's plate, and passes them onto Gibbs who is sitting next to Molly. "He talks more when we're back in Autopsy. But, especially when someone else is there, he doesn't want to be cracking jokes over the corpses."

Breena shakes her head. "You've got to break him of that, or this job'll kill him."

"We're working on developing a sense of humor. I'm trying to get across the idea that they're people. Dead people, but still people, and people like humor, they like being talked to, and the like getting a chance to tell their stories."

"He'll get there," Abby says. "You were awfully quiet the first few weeks, too."

"That's how I remember it."

Ducky laughs. "That's not how I remember it. You hovered around behind me, repeating everything I said into that recording device." Ducky mimics the way Jimmy held the recorder, right up to his face. "How many hours did it take before you just recorded what I was saying?"

"Three minutes." Jimmy says dryly. "I remember things better if I say them and hear them. Since you found it annoying, I just started doing it in my head."

"How are you liking having Autopsy all to yourself?" Gibbs asks.

Jimmy shrugs. "It's really quiet. I'm," he looks to Ducky, "used to a constant stream of some sort of educational information, stories, anecdotes, or something in the background. So, now when we're working, I start talking, just to fill up the quiet."

Ducky nods, understanding.

"Meanwhile, Dr. Allan's looking at me like I'm some sort of bizarre wing nut because I can talk about things like wing nuts, and why they're called wing nuts, and when they started using them, and—"

"You weren't really going on about wing nuts, were you?" Ziva asks.

"No." Everyone's staring at him. "Sort of. Surgical screws. Our current guest has three in his femur. That's how we were able to ID him."

"DNA?" Tim asks. (He's been busy with the Navy-wide computer test, and was out of the office yesterday and spent just about all of today sitting in front of his computer digging through what he got access to yesterday, so he missed this part.)

"Missing identical twins. We found one of them," Tony says.

"But not which one," Tim fills in, the light going on for him. "Anyone want that chicken wing?" Everyone shakes their heads so he snags it. (The wings are his favorite part. At least they are the way Ziva cooks chicken, all brown and crispy and salty and yum!)

"Right." Jimmy says, catching the bit of chicken Molly tried to send flying before it got more than two inches from her fork. "No flinging food. Do you need to be excused?" Molly shakes her head; she knows that if she's excused before she eats everything on her plate, there'll be no dessert, and Aunt Ziva always makes sure there's a special dessert for her, so she doesn't want to miss it. "Anyway, he's got the screws, we take them out, look them up. And then we've got an ID."

"Do you have a missing twin?" Tim asks.

"As of 13:27 this afternoon we have a missing twin." Ziva answers.

"He's not being overwhelmingly forthcoming on why he was missing and what happened to his brother. So he's spending some quality time in holding, and we're going to head back in around two in the morning to have another chat with him," Tony replies.

"He's not the vic?" Tim asks.

Abby shakes her head. "Bishop and Ducky and I ran the numbers, looked through everything, and best we can tell, he's two or three levels behind this, but not directly responsible for it."

"Yeah, he did something that went, very, very wrong, brother dear ended up dead, he ran for it, and now we've got to figure out what the hell he did to get a guy so angry at him that he stuck a knife in his brother seven times."

"The guy's wife?" Breena asks. "Tim can you…" She's nursing Anna while trying to eat, but can't cut her chicken one handed. Tim's sitting next to her so he takes over slicing the chicken breast into bite sized pieces for her. She nods her thanks when he's done.

"Seven stab wounds, yeah, it's something like that," Tony answers. "So, you were in Norfolk today?" Tony asks Tim.

"Yesterday…" He takes a few minutes to explain how his conversation with Admiral Finnegan went, what he learned, what he hoped to do. "If I can pull it off…" he wraps up, "whoever's in charge of that ship is going to wet his pants when it happens. I'm thinking I'll make the ship target another one of the ships nearby. It won't actually target or shoot but the computers will think it is."

"Can you do that?" Penny asks between bites of sage stuffing.

"That's where 'if I can pull it off' comes in. I've got the blueprints and an invitation to come on in and ransack the place, now all I've got to do is see if I can."

"In your copious spare time," Abby says while wiping mushed cauliflower off of Kelly's chin.

"Got a bit more of it now. Paperwork software is still holding strong. Only two error reports today and both of them were user issues."

"User issues?" Ducky asks.

Tim shakes his head. "Code 1D10T, problem is located between chair and keyboard. Same thing with the job processing software. Cops can't type. And if they don't put the information in correctly, the computer can't use it. But that's not a bug on my end, so I'm feeling very good about this."

"You should. Monday's case, we broke the case by three, finished filling in the database once, and by five all of the paperwork had spit out, nicely filled out, ready to file. It was perfect, McGee!" Ziva says, very happy.

"Great. Now, how do you feel about running a how-to-type-class for those twits in the desks behind yours?"

Ziva shakes her head. "Not a chance."

Breena and Abby are tidying up the dishes after dinner. Abby's rinsing, Breena's making sure everything is stacked properly in the dishwasher, and Gibbs is on lugging dishes in from the table duty.

He places the dishes next to Abby, and she puts her hand on his wrist. "This week, take her out. Go somewhere, in public, with her, and have a good time."

He raises an eyebrow.

"Women like to go out, Gibbs."

Breena nods along with that. "Makes us feel good. And we like showing off when we've got a handsome man on our arm."

He just looks at both of them and then nods quickly before heading back into the dining room to grab more dishes.

When he came back in, Ziva followed him, and she has a different question for him. "You are almost done with Shannon, right?"

He nods. Everything's done but the name, which he's still stuck on.

"So, does that mean you are out of projects?"

He eyes her tummy for a second, and she catches that. "I am right now."

"Good." She pulls him back into their dining area and pats their table. It's a good dining room table. Sleak, elegant hardwoods in rich, warm cherry browns. "This seats six comfortably, nine of us is a squeeze, Borin will be ten, and the kids will need more room soon. Would you be willing to take a commission for a dining room set?"

"No. But I'd make one for you as a gift."

"The wood and hardware and everything has to cost real money." And yes, properly kiln dried hardwoods are not inexpensive. "Let us pay the cost, at least. You can gift us the designing and the labor." (She and Tony had guessed this was probably the best deal they could get out of him.)

His eyes narrow at that, but Ziva's got that set look on her face, and he's sure that if he doesn't budge on this, they'll just go buy a table.

"Fine. You want something like this but bigger?"

She nods a bit. "Not precisely like this. We want it to look like something you made, but we like these colors."

He nods again, and thinks a little more, especially about what he's doing on Monday. About the Realtor DiNozzo Sr. had hooked him up with and what she wanted to show him on Monday. Namely, what might be the future Mallard Manor.

And if this place is big enough, and close enough (supposedly it is) that might end up being where future Shabboses (Shabbi? He doesn't know what the plural of Shabbos is) are held. Because it's not just that kids will take up more space (because they will) but because he's fairly sure there will be more than four of them, and if Borin does become part of this, that gets them up to at least fourteen people for dinner, and he none of them have a dining area that can handle that easily. He knows for certain that nowhere Senior's going to find for Tony and Ziva will feature enough room to hold the kind of table she's talking about, at least, not if they want to use that room for anything else, and they will.

"Get me pictures of what you like. We'll talk more, then."

Ziva smiles at him.


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