Friday, September 5, 2014

Shards To A Whole: Normal As A Wedding

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

Chapter 384: Normal As A Wedding

Tim supposes it's a good thing that his wife is squeeing with joy at him developing white hairs, but he's not exactly relishing it.

She's standing behind him as he sits at the table, playing defense on keeping Kelly's food on her tray. At almost a year old (God, how'd that happen?) she's more or less feeding herself these days, but feeding herself often means food all over the place. He feels Abby start to play with his hair. He doesn't mind that at all, it feels good and is putting him in a good mood for the next part of today.

She's making some fairly excited sounds that haven't really filtered through his determination to make sure that at least some of the food on the tray ends up inside Kelly.

Finally, it does filter through.

"I knew it! I knew you'd be one, too. My very own silver fox!"


"White hairs. You've got sixteen of them."

"Oh. Great." By which he means, not great, and she gets that from his tone.

"What's wrong?"

"I'm thirty-eight."


Tony now
"You're forty-two, no gray hair. Tony's forty-eight, no gray hair."

Abby laughs. "Tony's been dying his since he was thirty-five. And Jimmy's exactly the same age you are, and he's got some, too." For Jimmy, some means probably about two percent of his hair is white, all scattered about his head.

"Tony dyes his hair?" Tim asks.

"You didn't know that?" Abby's really surprised by that.

"How would I know that?"

"His hair's been getting lighter for more than a decade now. It was almost black when he started."

Yes, Tim had noticed that, but it didn't seem like any sort of big deal. From what he can tell everyone's hair changes color some. "My hair's been changing, too."

"Getting darker. That happens. Mine's not as blonde as it was before I started dying it. No one's hair slowly goes from almost black to medium brunette over fifteen years without help."

Tim stares at her, not sure if that's right or not.

She shrugs. "I noticed because I know what hair-dye smells like, and occasionally he comes in smelling like Garnier."

Tim lights up. That he knows about. Every now and again Tony comes into work or Bootcamp smelling a bit fruity. It's not unpleasant or anything, but it is a pretty distinctive aroma. "Is that the sort of fruity smell?"

"Yeah." She nods at that, emphatically.

"He told me that was lube."

Abby looks horrified at that idea. "Why would anyone use lube that smells like that?"

"I was thinking the same thing after I got past the massive yuck of you-didn't-get-enough-of-a-shower-to-wash-the-damn-stuff-off! but we had only known each other for a few weeks when I asked, so I sure as hell wasn't going to ask for specifics. So, really, that's hair dye?"

She nods.

Tim smirks. "I've got to tell Jimmy that. Tony's been ragging on him for months about the gray hair."

"Well, now you have ammo to shoot back with."

He grabs a grape as it goes flying by his head and puts it back on Kelly's tray. "No throwing the food." She grins at him, big eight tooth grin, grabs it, and puts it in her mouth. "What did you mean by you knew it? Have you been thinking about this for a while?"

Abby smiles. "Like since we were first dating. One night Kate and I got talking about you guys, and talking about you guys got into what'd you'd be like in twenty years, and I was betting you'd be a silver fox."

He grins at that.

"Didn't think you'd be so thin," her hands slip down his arms, "or so built, but I like that."

He pulls her down for a kiss. "Glad to hear it."

"So, when's Sarah and Glen coming?"

Tim glances at the clock. "Any minute now."

And, as if conjured by those words, they hear a car in their driveway. "And they're here!"

"Perfect." Senior's wedding starts in two hours. That gives them plenty of time to get changed, and to the church.

"Can I borrow your sporran?" Tim's holding his phone to his ear, kilt on, shirt half-buttoned. He's hoping Ducky can save him on this. He'd told Borin that he'd do the kilt for the wedding, and then noticed a tad late that he was missing part of the outfit for the whole formal kilt concept.

He hears the sigh on the other side of the phone. "Timothy, one does not borrow a sporran."

"Yes, well, one doesn't have one, and apparently they're kind of required for the whole formal kilt thing, so…"

"Fine. Get your own, soon."

"I've got one on order already," Okay, not technically true, but only because he hasn't decided which one he likes better. He does have a website up and is dithering between two of them. It'll be true before he gets out of the house. "But, it's not going to get here in an hour."

He hears Ducky chuckling.

Sarah whistles at them when they get downstairs.

"Good God, you two can do stylish!" Once again, they may not be fashionable, but there is definitely some style going on here. He's got the tux jacket and vest, a white button down, and hunter green tie (eldritch knot), along with the kilt, which feels kind of odd to wear without boots. He's just relieved that half a dragon sticking out of the top of his sock doesn't look too stupid. He was afraid it was going to look like it was peeking out of his sock.

Abby's the really stylish one. She'd been jonesing for the dress she has on for about two years, but no reason to get it or wear it, and then those magical words showed up in the mail. Black tie cocktail party.

Tim knows just enough about fashion to know that he likes the dress, and that the guy who made it, Alexander McQueen is a big deal. Beyond that… No clue.

But he does like it. And it goes with his outfit perfectly. It's plaid, navy and hunter, black and silver, like his. He doesn't know what to call that sort of shape, but it goes from her chest to her knees, one little bit swirling up from her left breast to wrap around her throat, the rest falling into a flouncy pleated skirt, the left side of which is tucked into a wide, black leather belt circling her waist. Under the skirt are many flounces of white lace, and all along Abby's chest, shoulders, and arms is more white lace, with black arabesque detailing.

It looks fucking awesome, and he does not regret a penny of what it cost. (Once they got off the phone with HR to make sure he was still getting paid bi-weekly and not, seasonally, or something, they've been having a good time with Tim's recent raise.)

Lucky for them, they paid for it, and the hotel, and the rest of this, before Gibbs levied his Asshole Fee and wiped out what was left of that month's play money.

Of course, as Tim's looking at the shot of the two of them Sarah took, compared to the black eye(s?) he could be wearing to this, a few grand wasn't that big of a deal.

"Make sure to get shots of Ducky and Penny for us!" Sara says as they head out.

Tim's nodding as he kisses Kelly goodbye.

"No problem," Abby adds to her hug and kisses.

"See you noonish tomorrow!" Tim says, and they're off.

They're in the car, en route to the church, looking forward to this. He notices Abby yawning as he's telling her about almost having the last of the contracted Tibbs novels done. Ten thousand words to go, and the Continuing Adventures of LJ Tibbs go on spec. Which means when he's feeling inspired he'll crank one out, but the one novel-a-year pace is done.


She smiles. "Nah. Just sleepy." She sighs. "Had a hard time getting out of last night's case."

Tim nods at that. "Tony was texting me about that one yesterday. Afraid he'd end up stiffing his dad on his best man."

"Lucky for all of us Draga noticed that envelope between the books."

Tim nods. "Feels a little weird to just hear about them, you know?"

"Maybe?" Abby half shrugs. "I almost always just hear about them."

"Yeah, but you work them, too. All week I've been perfecting my test, hacking a database in Tokyo, and fighting with HR about hour tracking. Can you believe they still want us filling out pieces of paper?"

Abby's already heard every flavor of Tim complaining about any branch of NCIS wanting paper documents, so she nods at that.

"I mean, I can give them precise, to the second, accountings of how long my guys are working, when and where, but no, they want paper forms!"

"Tim…" Her hand lands on his, squeezing gently, giving him a look that he knows means, calm down.

"I'm calm. I put Howard on it. She's writing a program that will take the information off their computers, fill out the forms, and then print the damn things out for us. All my guys have to do is sign. She tells me it'll be done next week."

"That's good."

"And two weeks from now, Loretta in HR will call me up to complain about how they're all printed out and none of them were actually filled out by the individual who's being tracked."

Abby snorts at that, and yawns again.

"I think you needed a nap this afternoon."

She nods. "You know it."

They get to a stop light, and he leans over to kiss her. "I don't mind if we get there late and leave early."

She laughs. "As long as we put the hotel room to good use after we leave?"

"And before we get there," he says with a big grin.

"Twice in one wedding? You're feeling frisky, aren't you?" Her hand trails up the inside of his leg, giving him a gentle squeeze.

He grins, looks her up and down. He really likes that dress, and it's going to look even better on the floor. He grins again, taking his foot off the break and driving them toward the church.

Tim is intellectually aware of the fact that this is a big wedding. The fact he's been invited to this thing is a less than subtle hint in that direction, but still…

It's a huge church, easily seats a thousand and it's almost full. He can't even begin to imagine knowing this many people.

They're waiting at the front doors for the rest of their crew, minus Tony and Ziva, who are part of the wedding party.

Ducky and Penny find them first, and yes, Ducky does have his sporran. Tim takes one look at that and blanches. Abby clutches his hand when she sees it, whimpering. Ducky appears especially pleased with this reaction and is happily handing it over to Tim, who really doesn't want to touch it.

"I'm sorry, Ducky, I can't wear that."

"Timothy… First you to borrow it," Ducky is absolutely grinning as he says this, "which required me locating it, and now you tell me you can't wear it?"

He shakes his head, still staring at it. "I didn't expect it to be so… lifelike. What is that, a badger?"

Penny's smirking widely, enjoying this interaction way too much.

Attack Rodent
"That Timothy, is indeed a badger." Tim was expecting a small leather pouch, not… Oh God, it's taxidermy hell: a full badger's head, shiny, beady eyes glinting away, with its two front paws hanging down, and the pouch made of its pelt, and the damn thing is about the size of a salad plate. If he puts this on, he'll be standing around with what looks like an attack rodent on his crotch. "This badger is the result of my first hunt with my father. Back in the day we kept Dachshunds, Dachs is German for badger, and they were bred to hunt the wee beasties…" Tim finds it interesting that as Ducky gets going on this story, his accent deepens, gets harsher, reminding Tim that Ducky is actually from Scotland, (He's spent so many years with Ducky, that at this point, he doesn't really hear the accent anymore.) and once upon a time, he was a small child, out on the moors, with his father, chasing after a pack of Dachshunds in search of this particular badger.

Ducky keeps going, telling about tromping over broken ground, barking dogs, and what felt like hours of following his father in search of this critter, and Tim takes it from him, very gently, and puts it on, which stops Ducky dead. "Timothy, I never expected you'd actually wear it."

Yeah, it looks several steps beyond dumb as hell, but… "Is even half of that story you're telling true?"

"Yes, it is."

He half shrugs. "Do you mind if I wear it?"

Ducky smiles at him, very pleased by that. "My father would have been gratified to see someone put this on without a fight." He looks back at the badger. "Honestly, it always gave me the willies. The eyes tend to follow you no matter where you go."

Penny laughs at that.

Gibbs and Abbi find them next. The last time Gibbs gave him that what the hell? look he was wearing eyeliner to Shabbos for the first time.

Now both he and Abbi are staring at the sporran. They're trying not to, but failing miserably.

"I borrowed it from Ducky. He's got a great story about it."

Gibbs looks to Ducky, who launches into the story again.

Jimmy and Breena are late. They wait outside as long as they can, but the bride is getting into place and ready to walk down the aisle, so they all scoot in, fast, grab seats by the back and get settled.

Half a minute later, Jimmy and Breena slip in beside them. Jimmy next to Tim, whispering that Molly decided now was a great time to have a massive existential toddler crisis about whether or not Mommy was ever coming back.

He and Abby are nodding along, the rest of the group looking sympathetic, as the bridal march begins, and they all stand up.

Two more minutes later, when said march is done and they all get to sit down again, Jimmy nudges him and whispers, "Why are you wearing a stuffed weasel on your dick?"

And so Tim misses most of the first reading, because he is bent over, biting his lip, vibrating, silently laughing so hard he has tears in his eyes.

The next time they stand up, he takes it off and hands it back to Ducky, who seems to appreciate the fact that he managed to keep it on for fifteen whole minutes. Ducky quietly says back to him, "Probably a wise choice. I fear Tony would have had some sort mental breakdown if faced with so many glorious options for making fun of you."

"Thanks, Duck."

"You're welcome, Timothy."

While it is true that Tim has come to the conclusion that it is vastly more enjoyable to be a guest at a wedding than being in the wedding, or the guy getting married, this part here, in the church, listening to, by conservative estimate, nineteen million songs and readings, is awfully boring.

The nice part of being the groom is that not only did he have input in the matter, thus pruning the ceremony part of their wedding down to as small as possible, but, as the groom he was also not, in the slightest, paying any attention to any part of the ceremony that wasn't his or Abby's vows or ring exchange.

He honestly can't tell you who said what, or what hymns were sung. What Abby was wearing, her walking down the aisle toward him, details about the vows, the way it felt, he's got those down, but the rest of it is fuzzy at best.

But this, right here, right now, as yet another nameless cousin (okay, he could check the program if he wanted a name) is droning on and on about love. Sigh…

It'll be over soon.

They get to see Tony and Ziva for about two seconds while going through the receiving line at the doors of the church.

If there is such a thing as a person built for a tuxedo, it's the DiNozzo men. He knows Tony tends to think of his various cousins as screw ups, but apparently they're screw ups who look good in black wool. The whole line of them are cool and pressed, perfectly attired and just vastly too fashionable to be real.

Tim doesn't get a chance to really say anything to Tony, but he gets across in his look, I get why you left.

And Tony nods back, looking at the cousin on Ziva's other side. He's polished, poised, looks ready to step out of a magazine. Yeah, made the right choice on that, didn't I?

Back to the Adam's House. Tim breaks away from everyone else, briefly, to check in and grab their keycards.

Key tucked into his pocket, he heads back, and finds his family all milling around.

He snaps a quick picture of them as he heads in. Candid shot, everyone is just standing around, talking, and sure the guys don't look like they were measured for their first tuxes at age three, but they do clean up well. They also all look pretty similar. Jimmy's also wearing his tux from Tony's wedding. Ducky has on a standard cut, with cummerbund and bow tie, black tux, probably with a boat load of history to go with it. Gibbs is in the blackest black Tim's ever seen. (He's thinking that Abby's probably going to snag a few threads of his jacket to find out what the hell it is and where she can get some of it. It's really black!)

So, in that they're guys in black tuxes, they more or less look like every other guy in the room. Right now Tim is the only man in the room who doesn't look like every other guy in the room. The ladies on the other hand…

It's occurring to Tim that Penny probably used to do things like this a lot. She's at ease in her little black dress and scarlet silk wrap, hair up, cocktail held elegantly. Hell, she's old enough that she probably remembers cocktail parties, when people used to get dressed up and did this at each other's homes. In that she was married to Nelson, and becoming an Admiral is two-thirds politics and one-third astounding talent, she probably hosted a lot of them back in the day.

Tim's trying to imagine her in a 1950's dress, small waist, fluffy skirt, martini in one hand, cigarette in the other, schmoozing with the other officers and their wives.

He's having a hard time picturing it.

Abbi's in green. He thinks Breena would call what she's wearing 'Grecian' but he's not sure. It starts at one shoulder and is tight over the bust, and then flows soft and drape-y to just above her knees. It's dark green, forest at night green. In fact, the only reason he can tell it's not black is that she's standing next to Gibbs, who's wearing the Platonic Ideal of black. Her hair is curly and down and looks really soft and pretty. She shifts a bit, laughing at something Gibbs said, and Tim realizes that her dress probably is black, but the threads have some sort of little green shimmer thing going on that you can only see when the light hits them right.

Breena's in white gold and pink. It's a sheath dress, some sort of thick, rich, silky brocade, the background in white with gold fibers adding just a little shimmer, and an overlay of pink roses. Her hair is up, some little bits of it falling down in soft curls, and she's also looking very soft and pretty.
Abby sees him getting pictures, and winks, sticking out her tongue. He gets a shot of that, too.

When he closes on them, he says to Penny, "I was just thinking about this, seeing you all, but… Did you used to do things like this? Cocktail parties?"

She smiles, laughing gently at that. "Once upon a time, the McGee house was famous for the driest martini anyone had ever tasted, red hot music, great conversation, and tasty food… Well, as much as anything we ate back then qualified as tasty. I was a wizard with Jello."

Gibbs laughs at that. "So was my mom. Fruit jello, meat jello, fish jello."

"Fish jello?" Jimmy asks, appalled.

"I'll have you know, that a properly constructed tuna and lime jello salad is… Honestly, appalling," Penny says with a smile. "It looked amazing though. I even had the special fish pan—"

"My mom had that, too!" Gibbs adds.

"Did she used to put the sliced green olive where the eye went?"

Gibbs nods. "Dad took one look at that and said, 'Never again. Not eating anything that's lookin' at me!'"

They all laugh at that.

"Nelson got back from Korea in '54. From then until he was shipped out to Vietnam in '63, at least once a week, I spent all day cooking, the boys got put to bed early, I got all dressed up and pretty, and hosted at least five other couples at our home for cocktails and dinner."

"Nelson was home for nine straight years?" Abby asks.

"No, dear. He was away about six months a year every year. But, as his wife, I was keeping up appearances, making sure his connections were fresh, keeping an ear open, and making sure he knew what was happening stateside. By '63 I was getting sick of being the perfect wife, cocktail parties were dying out anyway, and with actual men coming home in body bags again, it seemed a politic time to end the frivolities."

"So, you were working as hard at his job as he was?" Breena asks.

"Not precisely. Probably about a third as hard as he was, I had my own job, and running the house, and keeping the boys out of trouble, but I was working on it. Admiral is a political game as much as a tactical one, and without a very sharp secretary and an even sharper wife, the climb from Captain to Admiral is a very steep one. By the time you've hit the upper officers ranks, none of their wives are pretty little accessories; they're all in the game. Or, at least that was true in the fifties, sixties, and seventies. I don't know about now."

Tim wonders how much of that was involved in his parents' marriage falling apart. He knows that he doesn't remember cocktail parties and getting paraded around as the perfect child more than once or twice a year. Of course, his father hit Admiral after he left home. He's got no idea what sort of gaming went on behind the scenes.

A waiter heads on by, drinks on a tray, none of them are non-alcoholic, so he and Abby both skip them, and he decides to head over to the bar and get them something to drink. By the time he's back with a Diet Pepsi for him and a Coke with two cherries for her (Yes, she's been avoiding caffeine, but he figures that if she's this sleepy at half past five, a boost would be welcome. She takes the glass from him, pets it and whispers 'Hello My Love!' to it, smiling at him.) they're on a different topic.

Eventually the wedding party show up. Eventually they head off to yet another ballroom, this one filled with tables covered in sky high flowers, crystal, and silver. Tim's thinking it's entirely likely his house cost less than this wedding.

They can't even see the head table (where Senior and Delphine are flanked by their eight attendants, each) from where they are. Luckily there are enough of them to fill their own table, so they aren't making awkward small talk with strangers. (Or more likely, making several strangers painfully bored as they chat with each other.)

The food is good, (prime rib) somewhat cooler and less rare than Tim likes, but he figures the logistics of feeding this many people all at the same time mean that as long as even vaguely the right thing shows up on his plate, the team in charge of this is doing superb. And, yes, everyone does have (more or less) what they ordered.

They talk about what they've been up to over the week. Penny's got her grad students working away. Breena's been mediating between fractious family members. Though, fortunately, this week the fractious family members have belonged to families other than hers. (Her own family is entering week eight of the Collin-Amy standoff, but she thinks her father is starting to soften some.) Ducky and Jethro have gotten all of the windows on the west side of the house popped out and replaced. Abby and Jimmy tag team the tale of their latest murder. Abbi and Tim share stories of bureaucratic wrangling.

All in all, a pretty normal week for this crew.

And, after a while, as stories get told and conversation flows, food is cleared away, and the band starts up, letting everyone know to head to the dance floor for the first dance.

It really is a band, eight guys are up there doing their thing. And the music is swing. Fast, perky, fun.

Tim looks at Abby, who has been yawning an awful lot, and comes to the conclusion that unless by leaving early he means eight-thirty, there's really not going to be any fooling around post-wedding, at least, not until tomorrow morning.

He's holding her hand as they watch Delphine and Senior dancing their first dance and gently kisses her ear. "Slip away with me?"

She smiles at him, both of them carefully backing out of the ballroom to go find their own room.

They're heading up the main elevator this time, but the hallway looks really familiar, and it's when he's putting the key into the door that Tim realizes this is the room across the hall from the one they got at the Palmers' wedding.

He laughs at that, explaining it to Abby, who's grinning, too.

He presses her against the door as soon as it shuts, and the room's not exactly the same, but it's very close. "Good memories?"

"Oh yeah!" she kisses him, warm and soft, inviting him to taste as well as touch.

He carefully unwinds the bit of plaid that wraps around her throat, and then unzips the dress. Enjoying the view of her stepping out of it. (Dress that fancy, costs that much, he's certainly not rumpling it up. He carefully lays it over the arm of the sofa in their sitting room.) White lace push up bra, white garter belt, white stockings, and black pumps, yeah, he likes that view a whole lot.

"God, you're so beautiful."

She's unbuttoning his vest. "Not looking bad yourself."

"At least since I took the sporran off?"

She giggles. "That thing was ghastly."

He's nodding, then kisses her as she pushes off his jacket and vest. A few seconds later, his kilt hits the floor, too. He undoes his tie, stripping out of his shirt as she kisses him and rubs his dick.

Last time they did this, it was up against the door. He likes the idea of tradition but wants to play with it, too. He lifts her in his arms, slipping into her in one stroke the way they did last time, but this time he doesn't press her up against the wall. Given her comment about enjoying how built he is these days, he's showing off, holding her up.

He feels her legs wrap around the small of his back, enjoying her holding him tight as they kiss.
He's lifting her high, rocking her on him, as he lowers his head to nuzzle and lick her nipples. She hisses at that, jerking back slightly, so he goes softer, more gentle. He's got a fairly decent looking goatee right now. Well, at least he's hit the part where it looks intentional as opposed to he just forgot to shave, and apparently it's prickly.

Though softer and gentler seems to be working a treat, she's moaning against him, voice getting higher with each thrust as he rolls his tongue over her nipple.

Her slipping over him, fast and deep, is working for him, too. His orgasm's building, body growing tighter with each stroke.

He adds a bit of tooth, just a light graze and a little pressure, not more than a bare nip, to what he's doing to her, moving her a bit faster and a little harder, too, reveling in the sound of her getting close, that high-pitched, breathy almost pant, almost moan of a sound.

Can't touch her clit, not in this position, not with his hands at least, but he leans back a little, so he can grind his pubic bone against her, and that does it, she's rippling and moaning against him as she comes. Her body rippling on his sets him off.

He holds her up for another minute, both of them catching their breath and relaxing, and when she's done pulsing, he lets her feet touch the floor. He's about to pull out when it hits him that the tissues, which he did remember to bring, are inconveniently located about six feet away from him, on the floor, in his jacket pocket.

She sees him staring at his jacket and begins to laugh.

"Think that's funny? Not my stockings that're going to get wet with cum."

"I know you're a better problem solver than that." She nods behind him and to the left, where there's a tissue box on the table beside the sofa.

"Ah." He picks her back up, and walks them over to the tissues. She grabs one, and takes care of cleaning up.

They're both looking very happy and pleased with themselves when they get back down to the dance floor.

Swing music. Senior and Delphine decided on a Swing wedding.

Ducky and Penny are doing great with that. They're both old enough to remember when it was popular, the first time.

Tim makes a mental note to ask Gibbs when he learned to dance. He's doing fine. Borin's a bit off footed, but not too bad.

Tim is… competent. But in that he did take ballroom dance in college, and in that swing was part of it, and he did (of course) get an A in the class, he's got a very basic understanding of where feet go when and the like.

Like Jazz, which he loves, Swing is all improv, which is, unfortunately, not his strong suit, but… he's dancing with Abby, and by this point in time, as long as either of them has the vaguest clue what they're doing, the other can follow along easily, and with the amount of physical stuff he's been doing with his body over the years, he's a lot better at it than he used to be. (With the exception of one dance at Jimmy and Breena's wedding, with Breena, it's been twenty years since he's done any Swing dancing, but he's still better at this than he was in college, what with the whole doesn't need to choreograph each move out ahead of time, thing.)

Add in the fact that Abby really is a good dancer, and seems to be able to pick things up just by watching them once or twice, and in a matter of three songs they're doing well. (Okay, he's not flipping her around like some of the other guys are with their dates, but he's got the sense they actually do this sort of thing regularly.)

Jimmy's never done this before and from the looks of it, that dance at their wedding may have been the last time Breena did any Swinging, too. So, they're just sort of happily bopping along, making due with more conventional steps.

Ziva's got it. Tony does, too. Tim didn't know that he actually knew any formal dances. (They've been clubbing often enough that Tim knows Tony's good with pretty much any style of music, and can handle a decent box step when the music slows down, but he's never seen Tony do anything he could identify as a rumba, or a merengue, or the like.)

All in all, a good time is being had on the dance floor.

"Rescue me!" Tony says to them as he heads over to their table. "If I have to hear about another merger or another party in the Hamptons I'm going to go insane!"

Tim and Jimmy are getting a break, sipping drinks. Abby's dancing with Breena right now, and they're happily watching.

Jimmy smirks widely at that. "Not having fun?"

Tony stares at him. "This is the most vapid evening I've ever spent. Oh, God, there's another of them! He's trying to get me to 'invest.'" A somewhat drunk looking man, a bit younger than Tony is veering toward them. Tony makes a fast bee line into the crowd, looking to lose his tail.

An hour into the dancing, the party slows down for cutting the cake. Everyone sits down, watches Senior and Delphine laughing and nibbling bites of chocolate cake from each other.

Then, as the cake is served, Tony stands up to do his Best Man's speech, and… "I remember the first time I met Delphine. It was a little over a year ago, at my wedding, and Dad told me he had a date. A date he really liked, loved maybe, and I'll admit, I rolled my eyes. Because Dad falls in love every ten minutes.

"But, even though, as the Groom, I wasn't exactly paying much attention to anything beyond making sure I got to the ceremony on time, I did notice that Delphine was someone special. I noticed her grace, and the ease of her smile, and how my Dad lit up when she touched his hand.

"And for the first time in a long time, I was hopeful for him.

"Fast forward a year, where I've gotten to know you, and see how you make my dad happy, how loving you is making him a better man, and I have to say that I am so very thankful that you love my father, and that you've decided to join our family." Tony raises his glass. "To many years of joy for both of you."

They all nod at that, good, solid best man speech, especially given how little Tony's been involved in Senior and Delphine's life. And it's not just a reheated version of the speech he whipped out for their wedding.

The wait staff is placing plates of cake in front of them when Tim asks, "Where did you learn to dance, Jethro?"

He takes a bite of his cake. (Chocolate, vanilla frosting, chocolate cream between the layers, it's yummy.) "Asked Shannon to the Marine Ball. She said yes, and was very excited. Realized I didn't actually know how to dance, when I got her letter back and read her gushing about it. Didn't want to let her down. Captain Jimsin's wife offered lessons for anyone who wanted to learn. Took 'em in my off time with twenty other guys." He smiles wryly at that memory. Him and twenty other teenage Jarheads in the Captain's living room, working on their two-step.

"And was she properly impressed?" Abbi asks him, warm smile on her face.

He inclines his head a bit, dry smile on his face. "Probably would have been more impressed if I'd learned any sort of disco, which was the music they were playing, but we both had a good time. How about you, Duck?"

Ducky places his cup of coffee back into the saucer. "There are certain things that are part of any proper gentleman's education. Dancing, elocution, Latin, Greek, and at least one modern language, hunting, equestrian, some form of properly masculine sport, I rowed and boxed, the ability to paint, sketch, or play an instrument, and the ability to produce, or at least recite, insipid poetry upon command. Thus, as a lad, Mother made sure I received lessons in all of those things.

"Of course, as a lad, I was not terribly interested in any of those things."

That gets a laugh. "Gentleman…" Jimmy's looking at Ducky. "So, are you Lord Mallard or something?"

"No!" Ducky waves that away. "My father was the youngest brother. So, we were well-off, but never inherited the title. I do believe my cousin Milton is Lord Mallard."

"Milton Mallard?" Breena asks, giggling, fork paused en route to her mouth.

"Aunt Edith had atrocious taste in names."

"So you learned as a kid and…" Tim adds, keeping the story going.

"And while it is true that the Medical School at Edinburg allowed women to attend long before any other Medical College in the UK, it is also true that while I was there, there were only three females in attendance, and the college kept them in segregation from the male students during our off time with the rigor of harem guards who have sworn their lives to the protection of the virtue of the ladies.

"It is also true that a doctor has long been seen as a desirable catch, and that the first Friday of every month featured a 'mixer' in which both local ladies and dancing were available. In preparation for said 'mixers' dance classes were offered, where I was able to hone the skills mother tried to instill upon me. And by the age of twenty-four, I was significantly more interested in honing those skills. How about you, Timothy? I was rather surprised to see you handle a decent Charleston."

Tim holds his hands wide. "You had to take one gym course a year to graduate from Johns Hopkins. Ballroom dance seemed like a good way to meet girls."

"Was it?" Jimmy asks.

Tim nods. "Always twentyish people in the class, never more than four guys. If I'd been a bit less shy, and a bit more confident, that would have been a lot of fun. Ended up being fairly nervous about doing it right. Had a better time the second and third time I took it. It's possible that I qualified as good by my senior year. Instructor had me demonstrating steps when I was a Senior."

"More than once?" Gibbs asks.

"You could take the same gym class for credit over and over as long as you passed it. One of my roommates took four semesters of bowling. He was all in favor of a gym class he could drink beer and smoke during."

"You lived with a smoker?" Breena asks.

"Not exactly. Senior year I had a quad. Common room/kitchen in the middle, door on each side leading to a bathroom with two bedrooms off of it. I was on one side, he was on the other. No one smoked in the common room or in my room. Okay, Jimmy, you're up. How'd you learn to dance."
Jimmy shakes his head slowly, swallowing his sip of coffee. "It's an epic story. Great story. Completely amazing, you'll never, ever believe it."

"Because it's a huge lie," Tim says, taking a bite of his cake.

Jimmy elbows him. "Alas, in that the statute of limitations is not, technically, expired, I'm not able to tell that story until shortly after 2020." That gets a laugh, and he pauses for a few seconds before saying, "Pretty much the same story as Gibbs," he strokes Breena's cheek, and she leans into the touch. "Met a girl who liked to dance, didn't want to look like a moron, so, and here's the twist, I asked her to teach me."

"Which I was happy to do. So, I guess it's my story then?" The others nod at her. "Pretty common. Ballet as a little girl, jazz as a slightly older girl. Had to take square dancing in gym in middle school. By then no one 'danced' at dances, it was just all about bopping around to the music. So, I was pretty good at bopping around, and then this guy showed up," she kisses the back of Jimmy's hand, "and we went out a few times, and somehow he got the idea that I actually knew how to 'dance' dance and asked me to teach him, so I'm learning them from Monday to Friday, and showing him how to do them on Friday nights."

"Then I'm working on them from Saturday to the next Friday, completely unaware of the fact that she's learning them the week before teaching me. It was a lot of fun, though."

"Yeah, it was. So, you're up, Abbi."

Both Abbies look at each other, and Breena quickly adds, "You're Abbs when we're all together, remember?"

Abby nods, taking another bite of her cake, and Abbi begins, "Like you all saw, bopping around is pretty much all I do. Never took any sort of dance lessons. But softball, field hockey, basic training, I'm good at picking up any sort of physical thing, quickly. Not too hard to follow him." She smiles at Gibbs, and raises and eyebrow, "But maybe I'd like some lessons at some point." That gets her a quick kiss, too. "Okay, Abbs, you're up."

"Footloose. You have to remember that I grew up in a house that was either silent or so loud that the paintings were rattling on the walls. So, neither of my parents were much for dancing, they couldn't keep the beat on anything they couldn't feel, and most people don't like the volume high enough for that.

"So, volume's up, and I'd be bopping around, just playing with it. But then Footlose comes out and it just appealed to my little rebel-wanna-be. Not that anyone had any problem with dancing where I lived. But, off to the library I went, and they had some Betamax tapes of how to dance, I took them home, bribed Luca into helping, and we learned how to dance."

"How'd you bribe him?" Jimmy asks.

"Even then I made the best chocolate chip cookies ever. A bit later, I'm thirteen and Dirty Dancing comes out…" All of the women at the table nod along at that. "And I decided I wanted to learn even more about how to dance."

"Decided you wanted your very own Patrick Swayze," Breena adds, and Abby nods at that. (Once again all the women at the table share a look.)

"They had classes at the Y, so I signed up for them. They were less interesting than I had hoped." Everyone laughs at that. "So, that leaves you, Penny, right?"

Helping to improve morale.
"I was nine when World War II began. My older sisters were fifteen and seventeen. We've been a Navy family since there's been a US Navy, and my father was a Captain. He… understood sailors as he liked to say. So, according to my Dad they were old enough to go to USO dances. I was not. Had to be fifteen to go out. So, they'd get ready to go out, get all pretty and… I wanted to be them so badly. They were allowed to wear lipstick and real silk stockings on USO nights. Dad was a big fan of keeping up the soldier's 'morale' up. As he said," she smiles, chuckling, "I haven't thought of this for years, and I'm just now getting why my mother thought this conversation was so hysterical. Anyway, as he said, 'A fighting man needs to keep his spirits up, and nothing lifts a man's spirits like dancing with a pretty girl.'" Everyone laughs at that.

"Your father was okay with your fifteen and seventeen-year-old sisters, lifting spirits?" Tim asks incredulous.

Penny smiles. "To a degree. His youngest brother, my Uncle Brian had had polio in the early thirties when he was a teenager. So unlike all the other men in our family, he didn't go into the Navy. He became a priest. And every week, at each dance, Edna and Maggie Langston were chaperoned by our Uncle, Father Brian, who made sure that dancing was all they managed to do while they were out."

"And you learned to dance from them?" Abby asks.

"Yes. They wanted someone to lead, so they could practice, and I was tall for my age. I didn't learn how to play the girl's role until I started 'officially' courting Nelson when I was sixteen. Speaking of which," Penny puts her fork down, takes one last sip of her coffee, and then stands up, "I'm rather fond of this song." She holds out her hand to Ducky who rises eagerly, eyes sparkling. "Dance with me?"


Tim's back at the table, getting a drink, taking a quick break from dancing, waiting for Abby to get back from the restroom, when Gibbs draws closer. "Where did you find?"

"Gibbs?" Tim's about two pages behind on this because he has no idea what Gibbs is asking him.

"Don't look confused at me like that. Every wedding we go to, you and Abby slip off. You were both missing for twenty minutes two hours ago. Where'd you go?"

"Why do you want to know?"

Gibbs just stares at him.

"Oh." Tim giggles. "Stupid question." He hands over a key card. "Room 416. Don't make a mess."

Gibbs looks from the key to Tim and back to the key. "You get a room for a quickie?"

"No! I get a room for the night. Sarah and Glenn have Kelly all night. But if I have a room, I'm not going to go find a corner somewhere to have the quickie."

Gibbs looks at the keycard.

"Look, if you want a corner somewhere, I can guarantee you that Jimmy's found one." Tim scans the dance floor, not seeing Jimmy or Breena. "Actually, he's probably still in whatever corner he's found. But every time I've been here, I've had a room. So… just flush the condom, don't use the bed, and remember to give that back to me before you leave tonight, okay?"

Gibbs tucks the card into his jacket and grins.

Two minutes later, Abby's back, in his arms, dancing close and slow with him. "I saw Gibbs and Borin heading out of the ballroom."

Tim nods, kissing her gently. "Yep. They're borrowing our room."

She giggles at that. "Talk about twisted family traditions."

"Hey, weddings should be properly celebrated, and how better to celebrate one?"

She laughs at that. "So, think we're even now. We did it in his bathroom, he's in our room?"

Tim doesn't know why, but he finds that idea ridiculously funny. He hasn't had any alcohol tonight but he's feeling almost giddy anyway.

"I love you."

She's smiling wide and bright at him. "Love you, too. So, what do you think they're doing?"

He rolls his eyes. "Crossword puzzles. And beyond that, I don't need to know."

"Come on, you can't tell me you aren't curious."

"I am not curious. At all."

Abby sighs. Two seconds later Jimmy and Breena are dancing near them. Abby looks up at them, and says, "Okay, so Gibbs and Borin are off in our room, you want to know what they're doing, right?"

Jimmy winces, and Breena says, "Oh my God, really? That's so cool! We've got to get talking to her when they get back."

Tim slowly shakes his head, and Jimmy nods in agreement.

Breena gives Tim a gentle shove, swapping from dancing with Jimmy to dancing with him, as Abby flows over to Jimmy. "Are you two really trying to say you're not even remotely curious?"

They both shake their heads.

"There are a finite number of things they could be doing up there, and I don't need to be able to narrow it down any further than that," Jimmy says.

"Plus, neither of us could care less about what Gibbs looks like naked."

Breena and Abby both laugh at that.

"Okay, what's so funny?" Tony asks. He and Ziva finally managed to get free of the wedding party and join them. They're not so much dancing now as standing, talking, in a close circle on the side of the dance floor.

The four of them look at each other, quickly, and while Tim's fairly sure the girls would tell Ziva in a heartbeat, they're all feeling a little reticent about talking about this beyond the four of them.

"I asked Ducky if I could borrow a sporran, and he brought this stuffed dead badger for me." Tony and Ziva seem to think that's hilarious. Once they stop giggling, Tim continues on with, "So, he tells me about how he and his dad hunted the poor thing down and all their family together time, so I put it on, get into the church, sit down, and the wedding's just getting started when these two show up," they know that means Jimmy and Breena, "and Jimmy sits next to me, looks down and asks…"

"Why are you wearing a stuffed weasel on your dick?"

The girls had missed that. They knew Jimmy said something that set Tim off, but not what, and are now laughing hysterically again.

"Which was when I decided that family memories might be great, but I really didn't need to be wearing that."

Abby finally stops laughing long enough to say, "I can't believe you thought that was a weasel."

Jimmy's hands go wide in a defensive gesture. "Weasel, badger, I knew it wasn't a rat or a skunk."

Tim's dancing with Breena when he feels someone slip something into his pocket. Since Breena's not bothered by it, he knows it's not something to be alarmed about, and looks over to see Gibbs standing next to them.

A very satisfied and pleased looking Gibbs.

"You look like you had a good time," Breena says.

Gibbs looks smug.

Tim takes a quick glance at his watch. "You were gone for an hour and a half."

Gibbs shrugs, huge, sassy grin on his face. "Who gets a quickie when he's got a room?"

Tim shakes his head, slowly, smiling at Gibbs, but there's some challenge in that smile. "I can't believe you went there, but, okay, I'll take the bait. You know who gets a quickie when he's got a room? The guy who can still get it up more than once a night."

Breena snorts out a fast laugh at that. Gibbs eyes go wide, and then he starts laughing, hard. When he stops, he looks Tim dead in the eyes and says, "Really nice bathtub in there. Never much for baths, but I'm thinking of changing my opinion on that."

Breena lights up at that, and Tim bites his lip shaking his head with mock rue and passing Breena over to dance with Gibbs. "She wants all the details. I don't. Have fun."

It is early. Not even ten yet. But Abby's tired, and Tim's perfectly fine with cutting out early. Good long sleep tonight, and then lots of fun tomorrow morning. (He's already ordered the room service.)

Everyone gets hugs and kisses, and then they head up to their room.

In the elevator, on the way up, Abby's leaning against him, back to chest, and he's got his chin on her shoulder. He kisses her ear, listening to her pleased hum at that. She squeezes his hands which are clasped in front of her, around her waist.

"A million worlds, Tim, infinite possible lives, universes untold, any possible option that can occur, does, somewhere, and I'm certain that this life, right here, with you, is my happiest."

She turns in his arms, and he holds her close, kissing her deep and soft. His fingers cup her face, as he pulls back, smiling. "Me, too, Abby."


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