Thursday, September 4, 2014

Shards To A Whole: Mediator

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

Chapter 381: Mediator

Gibbs supposes, that five years ago, he would have just headed straight into Autopsy and started smacking Jimmy around.

Of course, five years ago, he didn't think Jimmy could have even imagined pulling shit like that.

Well, he could have imagined it. But he wouldn't have had the balls to pull it off. The downside of the boys growing some backbone is that they'll want to use the damn things from time to time.

It feels odd to Gibbs to be the guy who's looking to fix things, calm them down, get them soothed over, rather than just being the guy who storms in and kicks everyone until they all get along again. Of course, as he thinks about it, he's not really 'fixing' anything. He can't actually 'fix' this. What he can do is make sure each of them is as okay in themselves as possible, and try to help them get to understand where the others are coming from so they can then 'fix' it themselves.

So, what's that? Mediator? Whatever, feels weird.

He feels like he's got a handle on Ziva's side of things. Or at least as much of a handle as Ziva does. But he's not sure if she's going easier on Jimmy than she needs to because she's also got some pissed at Tony going on, and thus Jimmy can be an indirect way to get that out, or if she really does sympathize.

He doesn't know where Tony is, because he hasn't seen the fallout of whatever the hell it is Jimmy's done to him.

And he's got no clue on Jimmy, either.

But he's going to find out.

No funeral today. That's a good thing. He doesn't stick out in his cargo pants and Marines t-shirt.

Gibbs heads around to the service entrance and knocks. A few seconds later, Jeannie opens the door. "Jethro?"

He gives her a bit of a smile. "Breena here?"

She nods. "She's working with one of our clients."

Gibbs nods at that. "I know my way." And he does, so he heads back to the mortuary.

Breena's standing next to a steel table, wearing scrubs of her own, as she gently applies makeup to the elderly woman on the table. She's talking to her, letting her know what she's doing and why, and doesn't hear him come in.

"We do this to everyone Mrs. Sander. Just makes you look like you're asleep. I know your kids said you didn't like makeup, so it's nothing drastic. No mascara or lipstick. Just enough foundation and blush so you're not all gray. Then we'll get you dressed and ready to go." She puts the sponge down, and sees Jethro, jerking a bit.

"Don't ever just creep into a mortuary, Jethro."

He shrugs and pulls up a stool.

"So, which one was crying on you?" she asks.

"Which one wasn't's more like it."

She nods. "Tony and Ziva going to be okay? I know all of this has to be killing Ziva."

He nods. "Tell me about Jimmy. He go bonkers last night?"

She sighs. "He didn't tell me the whole Lee story until July. Apparently, it happened and he buried it, and then he and Tim are talking about Tony, and Jeanne gets mentioned, something about Tony not having an easy time trusting that a woman'll stick around, because before Ziva they all left…"

Gibbs is nodding; he's following that, can see how Tim might have mentioned that, and… yeah, depending on when in July, Tony and Ziva were in a rocky patch… okay, that makes a certain amount of sense.

"Somehow Jeanne got mentioned as one of the ones who left. Probably because Tim had the 'official' 'Tony's girlfriend' story more in mind than the real story."

Gibbs nods at that, too. He's actually got no idea, at all, of how much of that whole story Tim has, or for that matter, how much of it he has. Not like they ever sat down with Tony and had a long talk about it, let alone a full debrief. They found out about the Frog side of it months before they found out about Jeanne, and by the time they knew about her, it was done. They all know what Tony was doing and how it was supposed to work, sort of, but Tony's girlfriend was way more entrenched than the second half of the Grenouille story.

"Somehow, they're talking, and it clicks for Jimmy, what happened to Jeanne, what happened to him with Lee. If you remember the second half of the Fourth of July party, he was in a wicked bad mood and kept poking Tony."

Gibbs doesn't really remember that. Franks, stories, he was a bit toasted that night… Tony in a foul mood the next morning. He shakes his head, he doesn't much remember what Jimmy may have been doing that night.

"We get home, and we get Molly down, and I get him talking. I get the whole Lee story. It's a good thing you killed her, because if you hadn't…"

Gibbs nods. He doesn't think Breena would really try anything, but he understands that's more a statement of how angry she was in response to that story.

"Anyway, he was so angry. But, he was also with it enough to know it'd been ten years. Lee's dead. Jeanne's out of the picture. Past can't be changed. So, he decides to bury it again. I suggested to him that maybe that wasn't the most healthy plan he'd ever had, and that just possibly, he might try talking to Tony about it, but he looked at me and said, 'If I talk to him, then I have to acknowledge he did it. And if I do that, I have to do something about it. If it's real, I can't let it lie. So, I'd rather this not be real.'"

Breena raises one eyebrow and says, dryly, "If memory serves that's NCIS coping method 101. Ignore it until it bites you so hard you can't ignore it anymore."

Gibbs inclines his head, she certainly isn't wrong about that.

"So, yesterday, he couldn't pretend it hadn't happened, not anymore. From what he told me he was doing okay as long as it was a real threat to Tony and Ziva, but once he knew it wasn't…"

"He couldn't use the threat to keep himself from thinking about it." Gibbs thinks about what he knows about Jimmy. Jimmy's the guy who gets the shakes after the action's over. He's good as long as he needs to be good, but as soon as it's done, he's useless for a while. So… yeah, he was probably all over helping Tony and Ziva until the crisis was over. Then he got shaky. Then he got thinking. Add in sick child… yeah, protecting them, helping them with a sick child… he'd be right on top of that Until he knew there wasn't a sick child anymore. Once he knew the nightmare was just that… and once it was over, it'd be over…

Gibbs feels like he's getting Jimmy and where he was in mind.

"You knew what he was doing?"

She nods.

"You went along with it?"

He didn't ask why, but Breena figures it's implied. She nods. "Two parts on that. One, he's holding Anna, and he looks at me and says, 'What if it was her?' I've got the kind of job that makes enemies. What if someone tries something with her to get to me?' and the second part is that I know about a few missions Ziva hasn't told the boys about. I didn't much like the idea of them hurting, but…

"What would you do if it was Kelly, Jethro? Your Kelly, Tim's Kelly? How about Anna or Molly?" She looks Gibbs full in the eye.

He doesn't answer, because he doesn't need to. Breena knows exactly what he'd do to the guy who tries something like that on one of his girls. That brings up another question, what would he have done if Grenouille had lived and gone after Tony? After all, he heard, just like everyone else going after ARES, that everything Grenouille was doing was for his kids. That brings about another thought, one he sincerely hopes Jen never had: NCIS's claim on Grenouille was somewhere between shaky and non-existent, but if he attacked an NCIS agent, they'd have jurisdiction. God, please Jen, tell me you didn't set Tony up to get assaulted or killed.

Breena speaking jerks him out of those thoughts. "It happened to Jimmy, Gibbs. MY Jimmy. My sweet, funny, gentle, and trusting Jimmy. The things I love best about him got turned against him. You think I care less about him than you do our girls? And since Ziva and Tony had both been on the dishing out side of it, I figured they could handle a night of taking it, treat others how you would be treated and all that, especially if it made him feel better.

"He called after he got done talking to Tony, he's doing better. Don't know about Tony, but Jimmy's a lot closer to solid than he was last night."

She shakes her head, looking at Gibbs. "I wish this whole thing never happened. I wish Helen had stayed the fuck-" Gibbs blinks, he doesn't remember the last time he heard Breena curse. "away from Tony, and I wish he'd had the sense God gave a cat and turned down the Jeanne mission. I wish this whole thing never touched us. I wish Lee had stayed out of NCIS. I wish her sister never got kidnapped. I wish she had trusted you guys to fix it.

"I wish for a lot of things. Here's something I wish: I wish one of you bastards had acknowledged that something bad had happened to Jimmy when the Lee thing blew up. That would have been nice. Just a few words. Apparently none of you even asked if he was okay." Breena's eyes are right on Gibbs' as she says that, making it awfully clear she's laying that on him.

"You guys put her body in his morgue. For three days." Breena shakes her head and rolls her eyes at that. "And maybe if any of you ever dealt with anything when it happened, or if any of you had even hinted to him that he had any right to feel something about it at the time, he wouldn't have stuffed it so damn far down and let it fester for this long.

"I wish he'd talked to Tony about it before it blew up. I wish I could get him to do something more constructive with all of his shit beyond beating on you guys. Bootcamp helps, it does, and I'm glad he's doing it, because it's a lot better than when he was just stewing, but therapy would be a good plan, too. But you know about doctors and getting doctors to go see another doctor.

"There's a lot of things I wish for…" She sighs. "He's my husband. He and my kids come first. What he did to them eased his pain, and it wasn't entirely out of the blue. Not like he just woke up in a bad mood and decided to start kicking people at random. So, I can live with it. I can back him on it. Can you, or are you going to go slap him upside the head, hard?"

Gibbs sighs. "He goes off the rails again, call me?"

"He was already with Tim."

Gibbs sighs again. He gets how close they are. He gets they can say and… apparently… do… things… maybe… he's still not sure what exactly happened last weekend, with each other that they can't with Tony, but… yeah, sometimes the two of them together is not a great plan.

"I was just pleased to see he didn't come back covered in bruises. Those two don't seem to have gotten much past the beat it out stage when it comes to dealing with pissed off. I'm not sure if ganging up on Tony is a step in the right direction or not."

"Lord. Okay."

"What are you going to do?"

Gibbs shrugs, but stands up, and kisses the top of Breena's head before he leaves. "He's lucky to have you."

She nods. "And he knows it."

Gibbs never did say anything to Jimmy about the Lee case. Once he was done with his questions, that was it. There was the investigation, and hunting down Bankston, and then getting her sister back, and having to deal with the fact that he killed Lee.

It was a good kill, but it's still a life he ended.

And even the good kills hurt.

And none of the rest of them really would have talked to him, either. They weren't close enough for it back then. Ducky might have… or he might have lectured Jimmy about how ridiculously inappropriate it was to be screwing away all over the office and how lucky he was not to get fired for it.

Gibbs sighs, knowing Ducky, it's entirely likely that Jimmy got the latter speech.

Getting a visitor sticker feels weird. Gibbs doesn't need one when they use the gym. Officially they're supposed to sign him in, but they just head in like they always do.

After all, the rules you don't make for yourself don't really apply.

But, in that Gibbs no longer has an ID that opens the doors to the Navy Yard, he's standing at the front desk waiting for Clark to get him an ID. He's not big on small talk, but Clark's chatting about how retirement is going, so he half-heartedly plays along.

A minute later he's got his VISITOR sticker.

"Take it you know the way, Mr. Gibbs?"

"I can probably muddle through."

"Have a nice day!" And thus he's waved off, through the metal detector, and on his way to Autopsy.

Dr. Allan's wiping down the autopsy table with alcohol.

"Get a customer?" Gibbs asks as he steps in.

Jimmy looks up at him. "Suicide. All wrapped up."

Gibbs nods at that. "You got time to get a coffee with me, then?"

"Sure. Dr. Allan, once it's all tidy, you're free to leave."

Allan nods, staring at Gibbs.

Jimmy catches it. "Sorry. I forgot you haven't met. Dr. Sam Allan, Leroy Jethro Gibbs."

Gibbs and Allan do the traditional nice to meet you stuff. Allan's genuinely curious; he has, of course, heard about the infamous Gibbs. Gibbs is going through the motions, he wants to get to talking with Jimmy.

But they get wrapped up, and in a matter of five minutes, they're out front, sitting on one of the benches, both of them with a coffee in hand.

He stares at Jimmy, really seeing him. "You okay?"

Jimmy shrugs. "Now, yeah. This morning really helped. Feels stupid to be this pissed, this many years later, but it's real, and it's right now, and just sitting on it never really seems to work, so might as well get it out and done."

Gibbs nods at that, agreeing with the basic concept, but thinking with a decade down, that Jimmy's got an interesting definition of 'not sitting on it.' "You going to talk to Tony again?"

"Sooner or later. I don't expect him to apologize to me. He didn't do it to me. And I'm not apologizing to him, because he deserved every single word of it and every single minute of it. He needed to know how that night felt. I think he does, now. Not my brightest moment, and I'm not getting the buddy of the year award, but... on my end at least, we're in spitting distance of good."

Gibbs sighs at that. "Put Tim and Abby in a bad place."

"Yeah. I know. Feel bad about that. Feel really bad about what I did to Ziva. I hope they forgive me for it. I hope you do. Didn't hit me until this morning that you were probably hurting, too. I'm sorry about that." Jimmy stares at Gibbs. "No denial, no excuses, no, 'I didn't think you'd get hurt.' I mean, I didn't think you'd get hurt, but that's because I kind of forgot about you." Gibbs holds up a hand, he knows where Jimmy's going with this. "I know what I did. I did it intentionally. I was pissed, so I kicked Tony until I felt better, and bruised the rest of you, too."

Gibbs may not approve, but he respects that. You fuck up, you admit it, you say you're sorry, you face the music, and you move on. "Are you feeling better?"

Jimmy shrugs. "Yeah. Not dancing around with joy in my heart or a song on my lips or anything, but I'm better." Jimmy takes another drink, looking at the Navy Yard. He can see the Director's Office from here. "You know there are no files on that case, not on the computers at least. Tim's gonna check the paper copies, but given how there's literally nothing on the computers, he's sure he won't find anything on paper.

"Jeanne went through all of that, for nothing, and at first, when I grabbed Tim's hand and said, 'Don't tell Tony,' it was about me, all about me, and I'm not going to lie, a lot of this is still about me, but it's about her, too. Everything she went through was for nothing. We never made any arrests. The CIA handled the whole thing, apparently, at least that's how Tim remembers it. No arrests, no convictions, no… nothing. It just vanished.

"That feels bad. Been thinking about that all night. All that pain, for nothing. If… if it had mattered, if… something good had come out of it, it'd be easier, you know? But, there's nothing. It was just meaningless, random pain. Kind of like Jon, you know?" Jimmy looks away from the main building and back to Gibbs. "But, no one did Jon to us. No one had any choice in the matter." He sips his coffee again. "So, then I showed up and bit Tony's head off, and he let me. Not like he was going to say to me, 'It was for a good cause' or 'I didn't know what I was doing' or… He just took it."

"People make mistakes."

Jimmy nods. "I know. Burning Ziva, sticking Tim and Abby in a bad place, that's mine. Ziva's a bad one. She says she accepts my apology, and I really hope she does." He doesn't ask the question, but he knows that Gibbs has had more recent non-professional contact with Ziva than he has.

Gibbs nods. "Yeah. She does. She's pissed at you, but you've earned enough brownie points over the years that she let you have that one. But that's your one freebie. Try something like that again, and she's going to kick your ass from one side of DC to the other."

Jimmy nods.

"And so will I."

He nods at that, too. "I deserve that."

Jethro sips his coffee and quietly says, "I didn't go after every drug dealer in Mexico. Just went for the guy who actually did me pain. I know Lee's gone, and I know that's unsatisfying. But she's gone. And kicking someone else isn't going to scratch that itch."

Jimmy purses his lips, not sure exactly how Jethro means that. He spends a good two minutes really thinking about it, then he says, "We had to pry you out of that desk with a crowbar. Are you really going to tell me that going after the next best thing doesn't help? Or are you trying to tell me that all of this," he gestures to NCIS, "wasn't about going after the next best thing?"

Gibbs also takes a moment to think before answering. "This was the next best thing. And, especially when you've got nothing, the next best thing will keep you up and moving. Keep you going until you can get something, or until the next best thing becomes your something." He sips his coffee and turns to face Jimmy. "But you don't have nothing. You've got piles and piles of not nothing all over the place. You are neck deep in not nothing."

Gibbs gently rubs the back of Jimmy's head, where it meets his neck, and then gives him a slap, hard enough to sting, not hard enough to make his head ring. "So don't fuck it up, and don't burn people you love!

"The next best thing is never going to do it for you. The best thing will never do it for you. You may have noticed, getting the best thing didn't actually make me better. No one ever accused me of being well-adjusted back in '93. More than twenty years of second best didn't do it, either. Nothing outside you is ever going to do it for you. It can help, but it won't bury your dead or calm your demons. It'll, just, maybe, give you room to find out how to do it for yourself. You got a plan for dealing with this, for fixing it, for you, on the inside, so it doesn't come back?"

Jimmy nods. "Yeah."


Jimmy takes a drink, quiet, and then says, "I keep thinking about Jeanne, and me… And me for her."

Gibbs doesn't quite seem to be following that.

"We're here for the victims, right? That's literally my job. Everything I do is with or for the victims. I'm the last voice a dead man will ever have. But, no one ever spoke up for Jeanne." Jimmy smiles, sad at that, looking away from Jethro, back toward NCIS. "And yeah, it was way too little, and way too damn late, but... Someone should have stood up for Jeanne. Someone should have said, 'Whoa, slow the fuck down; there has got to be another way to do this!" Jimmy looks back to Jethro. "I'm someone. So, that was the plan. And like I said, I'm feeling better, maybe not all the way there, and pretty cruddy about pulling that on Ziva, but… There's peace in there now. I'll sleep tonight."

Gibbs sighs, shakes his head a little, and rubs the back of Jimmy's head again. "Breena's worried about you."

He nods. "I know. I'm good, probably ninety-seven days out of one hundred now, but… She lives with me, so she sees the bad ones, too."

"Cranston's a really good listener."

"I'm sure she is."

"Wouldn't hurt-"

"I've got to sleep sometime, Jethro. Job, kids, house, continuing education. I'm pretty much scheduled straight though all summer long. Got two breaks in there, long weekend late July and a break for Labor Day, and I'm going to need them."

"She'll still be there in the fall, and so'll you."

Jimmy nods. He figures if you've hit the point where you're so messed up that Gibbs is telling you you need to see someone, you've got to go. "Email me her number?"

"No problem."

Next stop is Tim's office. Tim's in there, working away on something, fingers flying away on the keyboard.


He jerks slightly and looks up at Gibbs, who closes the door behind him and then whacks him, hard, upside the back of the head.

Tim shrugs a bit at that. "If it's Tony or Jimmy, Jimmy's gonna win."

Gibbs shakes his head, and then looks a bit more carefully at Tim. He sees the split lip, and… "You not shaving again?"

"Clayt suggested it as part of my cover. Might have almost a goatee again by the time we get going."

Gibbs lightly touches Tim's lip.


Tim nods. "Arms and shoulders are pretty bruised up, too. Got Tony riled up enough he could let it out. And I'm sure they'll both beat the crap out of me next bootcamp. I'm fine with that. I knew what I was doing, and I did it anyway."

Gibbs shakes his head. "We've got to get better ways of dealing with this. Beating the shit out of each other all the time isn't a good plan."

Tim shrugs. "Seems to work better than talking. Though not doing stupid shit like this in the first place will hopefully do an even better job of it."

"Amen to that." Gibbs sits down. "You and Jimmy okay?"

Tim nods. "Yeah. Didn't love what he wanted to do, but I got it. Happened to me once, too, only for a day, but… Especially if you don't a lot of attention from girls, a woman who really digs you, makes you feel really good… and then it's gone, and she never really… It sucks, Jethro." Tim shakes his head. "Not fun being the one played. So I'm not holding it against Jimmy. He's backed me on plenty of my own insane, I can cover him for this." He pulls his collar to the side, showing Gibbs a greenish blue bruise on his shoulder. "In more ways than one, if need be."

Tim shrugs a little. "While back, Jimmy told me that, basically, at any given time, only one of the two of us needs to be sane. Just wish I'd done a better job of being the sane one. Wish I'd been with it enough to do a better job of talking him down, or had come up with a better way to deal with it, but I didn't. Apparently I'm still pretty pissed at Tony on that whole thing, too."

Gibbs raises an eyebrow.

"Didn't hit the front of my mind, at all. But, he's in here today and asked me why I didn't talk Jimmy out of it, and it literally never occurred to me. At no point did even a hint of there's an option other than we steamroller him or you have to lump it occur to me. So I had to think of why that didn't hit, 'cause it wasn't exactly a reach to come up with something else. Once Tony was in the room, I had one in less than thirty seconds. For a second, I was sort of flailing around and then that image of his car blowing up, and then the corpse..." Tim shudders a little. "You remember how burned and wedged in it was, so I ended up helping Jimmy and Ducky get it out, and… yeah, apparently I'm still a bit pissed on that." Tim shakes his head.

"Jimmy says there's no files on that case."

"None I can find. I asked Janice in records to see if she can find anything, but, you know, they're all by case number down there, and if you can't look the case number up because there's nothing in the electronic files… According to her, cases that old are sent to deep storage, which is a warehouse in Norfolk. They're supposed to be stored by number, by year. But, every case from every NCIS branch will be in that warehouse. Without that number, that case basically can't be found, assuming that there's even anything to find."

Gibbs sighs at that.

"And, I'll admit, I'm not feeling motivated enough to hack the CIA and see what they've got on Lodestone."
Gibbs nods. "Don't think Jimmy needs you going that far."

Tim nods back, agreeing.

"Does Abby need a headslap, too?"


Gibbs shakes his head, standing up, getting ready to head to the Lab. "God, you're a bad liar."

"You think I'm ever going to tell you to go smack my wife?" Tim stands up, and steps close to Gibbs. "In fact…" he turns so the back of his head is toward Gibbs and points to it. "I'm taking hers, too."

Gibbs shakes his head, pats the back of Tim's and says. "It doesn't work that way."

"Fine. No slapping her."

Gibbs licks his lips. "I will deliver a metaphorical head slap."

"Thank you."

In the elevator, on the way up, it hits Gibbs how similar Tim and Breena's reactions to this were. Both well-aware that this would hurt Tony and Ziva, but Jimmy outranked them, and that was that.

Another second after that, it hit him how similar Tim's responses to Jimmy and Abby were, too.

He sighs at that. On one level, if the four of them are going to do… whatever this thing they're thinking of maybe doing is… then they should feel that way about each other. At least, if this thing has any shot of not biting them all, they're gonna need that. They should close ranks to protect their own, because if this ever goes farther than the four of them, and... him and Abbi, they're going to take some shit for it.

If they're willing to risk this… then yeah, Tim should be just as protective of Jimmy as Abby, and vice versa and all the other permutations.

He sighs a little at the idea of Tim being Jimmy's… boyfriend… no, if they do this, it'll be permanent… so… husband? He doesn't know how the hell that's supposed to work. He's awfully certain the guys are straight. Sure, they've never had any conversations about that, but he's not blind. He's been out with both of them, and while he's caught both of them checking out women, he's never seen either of them check out a guy. And yes, he knows they're a hell of a lot more comfortable with each other, on every level he can see, than, well, pretty much every other set of guys he's ever met, but… He doesn't get any sense they're even remotely interested in each other sexually.

Gibbs wonders vaguely if he needs to point out that a foursome with two guys in it will also involve, by definition, two dicks, but decides that, even if the two of them are not impressing him with their combined brainpower right this second, they have probably already sussed that particular fact out.

He really hopes that doesn't end up biting them. He's really not looking forward to some sort of existential sexuality crisis this late in the game.

But if the four of them get into this… thing… are they going to end up with a permanent situation of the four of them on one side and Tony and Ziva on the other? One reason their team really worked was because it was a team. Sure, at any given time two of them were ganging up on the other one, but alliances kept shifting, and it never stayed static for too long.

Though, thinking about that more… The alliances did keep shifting, but, really, it was more often Tony and Ziva on one side, and Tim on the other. And, whenever something went over the line, it was always Tim on one side, and Tony with Ziva or Tony on his own, on the other.

Of course, they're not all working together any longer, so now… Now the alliances are set, three teams of two.

Sort of.

Last summer when everything went bonkers with that case and getting hurt and Ziva and Tony's marriage all messed up…

Jimmy took care of Ziva. Tim and Abby got him.

Tony was mostly on his own. He thinks both of the boys made sure he got some attention, but he didn't get the sort of care and hand-holding that he and Ziva did.

And Tony never really gets that sort of attention. At least, not from anyone who isn't Ziva. Gibbs sighs at that. The elevator doors open at the lab, and they close again. Gibbs gets his phone out.

Want to talk? He sends to Tony.

A few minutes later he gets back. No. Crashing tonight. Asleep by eight. Lay in tomorrow. Lots to say to Ziva.

I'm here if you need me.


Gibbs hits the L button again.

Tim and Jimmy both had a vaguely guilty and chagrined air about them. Breena was completely matter of fact about everything, and Abby…

His read on Abby's body language as she comes bouncing over to hug him is that she's completely unaware of any drama that may be going on in the wider world.

"Hi, Gibbs! What, no Caf-Pow?"

Her underlings are around, and he's not saying anything in front of them. "Only when I'm on the case."

"And no cases for you. So, what can I do?"

"Take a walk with me?"

"Corwin, you good with me out for a bit?"

Corwin nods.

Once they get out of the Lab, Gibbs watches her carefully, but the perkiness doesn't dial back.

"What don't I know?"

She half-shrugs. "A whole lot of things I'd expect, but the relevant ones are that I sicced the IRS, Medicare, and two insurance companies on Helen. Then I offered Tony the option of searching every database I've got, and Tim hacking the ones I don't, to go find any kids he may have."

Gibbs' eyebrows rise, and he nods a bit. Sure, that's not… Hell, he doesn't know, that might actually be even for her part of it. That might even be a bit ahead. Depends on what the IRS does. Then his eyes go wide, he knows who Abby knows at the IRS. Helen's gonna have Diane go after her. For the first time ever, Gibbs is feeling like he might have to give Diane a call and suggest that she go full bore on someone.

Another thought hits, past what Diane's going to do to Helen, the offer to find Tony's kids. "He gonna do it?"

"I think he and Ziva are going to have a long chat about it. I mean, I don't have everyone on Earth, let alone the US, and a lot of his kids, if he has them, would be young enough they probably wouldn't be on any of our databases, but… It's a start. He's probably got some out there, don't know if we can find them, but…

Abby gives Gibbs a thorough looking over. She's been around long enough that she caught the tail end of Stephanie and the fallout of that. She remembers when he wasn't doing all of his drinking in his basement. "How about you Gibbs? You ever get curious about if you left any little Gibbslets along the way?"

He shakes his head.

"Didn't leave them or didn't get curious?"

He shakes his head again.

"Well, if you ever do, the option's open for you, too. Sticking one more profile into the search won't take much more work. In for a penny, in for a pound, right? We're going to run Tim, too."

Gibbs looks curious at that.

"No, not for that. He knows his kid. His dad… He's got no idea how many half-brothers and sisters he may have kicking around."

Gibbs nods, that's a… actually that's likely to be interesting. "Running you, too?"

"Don't see why not. Might get closer to tracking down my birth mom or dad. So, you poking around trying to make sure we're all okay?"

"That's the idea."


"Haven't seen Tony, yet. Ziva's not good."

Abby nods. "I think that's more between her and Tony than the rest of this. The kid thing's pretty sensitive for them right now."

"She's talking to you and Breena about it?"

"Yeah. She's…" Abby inhales, ready to get talking and then stops. "Actually… This probably isn't a conversation for you."

Gibbs nods at that. He doesn't need those details. "Just want to know she's talking to someone."

"Yeah. Us, she and Tony are talking… Uh…" A thought hits Abby. "Look, I know you're gonna be all, go track those kids down, do the right thing, be a Dad, hoo rah, but… They're not her kids, Gibbs. And if he says yes, especially if he's feeling pressured to say yes… You got to remember, that she's going to be stuck with a guy who's really skittish about having kids with her, and then the actual, real, live kids he had with other women.

"I get it."


Tim heads into Autopsy. It's just about normal quitting time, little bit early, but he's got something to do.

Jimmy's at his desk, books in front of him, reading and highlighting away.

He looks up when Tim comes in. "Hey."

Tim heads over to him and leans, his hips on Jimmy's desk. "Hi. What're your plans for after?"

"Dinner, more studying, early night."

Tim nods. Then he gets his phone out and texts Breena If I bring Jimmy home with food, about half an hour after you'd normally get there, is that cool?

What kind of food? Pops up a few seconds later.

You pick.

Pizza for Molly and I. You've got Jimmy (I assume) so something for him, too.

Will do. And yes, I've got him. He'll be home 7:00ish.


"You making a date?"

"Sort of, asking Breena if I can steal you for a bit."

Jimmy seems to appreciate that these days Breena gets asked that, not him. "Okay… and we're doing what?"

"Washing Tony's car."

Jimmy shakes his head a bit, but nods. "Okay. This part of payback?"


"I'm sorry about putting you and Abby in a bad place."

Tim shakes his head a bit. "We're good. Sorry I failed on the one-of-us-being-sane end of things. If there's ever a next time, I'll try to do a better job of it."

"Better job?"

"You want to guess how long it took me to come up with, 'Here, how about you and I go over and tell them it's a hoax, put Ziva out of her misery, and then we'll both go full bore on Tony,' once Tony was in the room, suggesting that maybe there were options other than side with you or side with him?"

Jimmy winces. "Oh… Yeah… that was kind of obvious, wasn't it?"

Tim's nodding.

Jimmy closes up his books, marking his page, and tidies up his desk. They both stand up to head off. As the door to Autopsy opens, Jimmy asks… "So, why would you be going full bore on him, too?"

"Couple things… Did I ever tell you about Amanda Barrow?"

"I don't think so."

"Okay… It wasn't like it was weeks or months or anything. Just a few days… but…"


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