Monday, September 8, 2014

Shards To A Whole: Zzzzzz...

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

Chapter 385: Zzzzzz....

"Abby, we've got to get moving if we're going to make it to breakfast."


"You feeling okay?"

She raises her head from the pillow, glares at him, and says, "Let me sleep, McGee."

He backs out of the bedroom. "Letting you sleep."

Once he's downstairs, he says to Kelly, with a wide, beaming smile on his face, "You know what? I think you might have a little brother or sister in the works."

If it had just been one day of sleepy Abby, he wouldn't be grinning or jumping to conclusions like this. But it's not day one. It's day three of sleepy Abby. (Or maybe day eight. He's not sure if the wedding should count. She did perk back up again after a full night's sleep.)

Thursday night all the stars aligned properly. They got home by six. Dinner went off without a hitch. By seven thirty Kelly was asleep, and he and Abby were on the sofa. The idea, the idea he'd been hoping for all day, was sleeping baby, little TV, then lots of sex, and sleep for them.

So the plan was working. They'd settled in to get up to date on Sleepy Hollow. Abby was snuggled in nice and close. All was good with the world.

Halfway through the show she was dead weight on his chest, cuddled in and sound asleep.

And as much as he appreciated having her warm and close and cuddled in, he'd been hoping for a different sort of warm and close. So, he let two more shows go by, hoping she'd wake up, feeling refreshed from her nap and ready to play, but eventually the clock hit eleven, she was still dead to the world, so he picked her up and carried her to bed, and she slept through that.

Friday morning she claimed she wasn't feeling sick, just really tired, and yeah, the first part of the week had meant two hot cases, so she's been working harder than usual. So, she's sleepy, okay.

Friday night, Abby was drooping by the end of Shabbos, fell asleep on the car ride home, staggered up to their room and was asleep again as soon as she hit the sheets.

Saturday she slept in late, they had a very enjoyable afternoon nap time, followed by dinner with Kelly, and both of his girls were in bed and asleep by seven thirty.

Which meant now, on Sunday morning, he's feeding Kelly breakfast on his own, while sending Jimmy and Gibbs a text saying they were skipping breakfast at the diner this morning.

Gibbs sent back. Okay. Bootcamp?

Think so. Let you know closer to time. Gym, right? Rain's pouring down right now, and supposed to continue on and off all day, so Tim's thinking they're not going to the house today. Though, he's also a little wary of bootcamp in the gym. Everyone is getting along right now, but he knows Jimmy hasn't spent any time alone with Tony or Ziva, and that things are superficially fine, but still a little tense.


Jimmy sent back. Tired? Keeping her up all night?

Not that sort of tired.

A minute later he gets: Ohhh! "Tired" :)

Really hope so. Don't know yet.

Let me know when you do.


So… Sunday morning, and he and Kelly have ventured out to Target to run some errands. Windex, more pacifiers, (he has no idea how they can possibly go through them so fast. If it weren't for the fact he changes her diapers, he'd swear that she eats those things. As it is, he's expecting that sooner or later he'll find fifty of them all stuffed in an air conditioning vent or something.) toothpaste, (Tom's of Maine, Spearmint.) pregnancy test, (He's grinning as he tosses that in the cart.) frozen wild blueberries, (just in case) more of the puffed fruit snacks Kelly likes, and the K-Cups assorted flavors he likes to keep his department well-stocked with (along with a decaf pack for him).

He's in an awfully good mood as they head toward the check out, and for that matter, so is Kelly, (he's pointing things out, naming them, and she's trying to repeat them back to him) so maybe they don't need to head home right this second.

He'd like to get Abby some sort of little present to go with the pregnancy test. Some sort of I-love-you, so-happy-you-chose-me-to-have-babies-with gift.

And, sure he can get her a rose, a NonCaf-Pow, and tie the rose with a bow to the pregnancy test, but he's hoping for something a little more impressive than that.

Plus, not like he can just walk into a florist, let alone a supermarket, and just grab the kind of roses she likes best. They might, if he's lucky, have the sort they had at their wedding, white with the red edges, black roses are special order though, so are the ultra-dark red ones she likes, too.

Of course, there's a nursery on the way home… Couldn't get one for her there, but a whole bush. That's an option.

He flashes Gibbs a text: What's involved in planting roses?

Dig a hole in the ground. Put the roots in it. Add dirt. Water. Why?

Just checking.

You do it in the early fall or spring.

Or not.


Want to do something nice for Abby.

Roses are good, but they'll be dead by August if you put them in now. No later than March.


So, what to get? What to get? This is a moment where it'd be a hell of a lot easier to be Jimmy or Tony. Head to jewelry store, grab pretty, sparkly thing, and you're all set.

And like with the roses, it's not like Abby doesn't like pretty, sparkly things, it's just that she's got very specific tastes and a good present takes that into account.

"What do you think Kelly? What's a good happy baby present?"


Tim nods solemnly. Kelly's pretty firmly convinced that cookies are the answer to everything right now, and the odds are pretty even on she's answering his question or requesting them for herself.


Requesting them for herself then.

"Uh uh. Lunch. Then cookies."

She pouts at him. "Cookies."


He ends up going with a rose. Mostly because he's not seeing or thinking of anything that's really wowing him, and because he thinks he's got a plan, that buys him some more time, and that she'll really like.

When he gets home, he'll get online, find something cool, and give it to her on Kelly's birthday. He thinks that's a very good way to say thank-you-for-having-my-babies.

She's still sleeping when he gets home. That's making him smile even more. He certainly remembers when she was first pregnant with Kelly and wanted to sleep eighteen hours a day.

And yes, he probably shouldn't be getting his hopes up, but… It feels good. And he'd rather be happy than worried that something's wrong.

They've had lunch (with cookies) and he's put Kelly down for her afternoon nap, by the time he hears Abby thumping down the steps.

She pauses at the bottom of the steps, and he calls out, "In my office."

A moment later, she's in his office, sitting on his lap, eyes scanning over the page that's in front of him. "You're really doing it?"

Tim nods. He typed the last words yesterday, now he's re-reading. "The last ride of LJ Tibbs. Anything that comes next is a prequel."

"You think you're going to do another one?"

"Probably. I'm not done with them. Just want to go and play with some new things. Got a really rough outline for the Dragons series, and about six scenes written. Be kind of fun to just write, no deadlines, no page caps, just tell the story however it unfolds."

She nods at that, snuggling into him.

"I've got a present for you."

"Ohhh…" Her eyes light up and she smiles. "I like presents!"

He pulls a pregnancy test out of his top drawer with a baby pink rose tied to it.

Abby takes one look at the rose and the pregnancy test and starts crying.

That startles the hell out of Tim because of all of the possible responses to his little gift that she could have come up with, that wasn't on his list. And it's not good crying either, this is deeply unhappy, world's-about-to-end crying.

Part of him is terrified that this is a response from last time, but she even didn't get to the tired part last time, so she's got to be further along…

"My temp didn't drop this month." More sobbing, and okay, so she might have missed it, that happens, right? This doesn't seem sob worthy. She can see he's clueless.

"Tired, erratic mood swings, no temperature shift, they're all signs of menopause."

"Oh." He winces. "Shit." He rubs his face. "I didn't even think…"

"That the clock's run out, and we're never having another baby. That we've been trying for almost a year, and I'm fucking barren!"

"Oh… Abby… I just… I'm sorry."

"I'm not pregnant; I'm just old."

He doesn't know what to say to that. You're not old may be true, but it's also not true. She is forty-two and the clock is just about run out.

She's crying more, and erratic moods might be a sign of menopause, but the last time he remembers her sobbing like this she was pregnant.

"Wait. The day after we went clubbing with Jimmy and Breena, you couldn't get a good temp that morning because we'd been up all night?"

She half shrugs. "Didn't get one at all."

"Well, okay then." He picks up the pregnancy test and shakes it. "Come on. Let's see what's going on before we start crying about it."

She's not looking happy at him, and he's sure that if it isn't positive this is probably the absolute wrong thing to do, but… he feels it in his guts and… "Please."

"Fine," she snaps out.

A minute later they are sitting next to each other, on the floor next to their bathroom, watching the little grains of electronic sand shift through the gray on gray hourglass that let them know the test is working.

The last grain drops, then the screen goes blank, and then it flashes up one word. Pregnant.

Abby shrieks at it. Tim feels that frisson of joy again, and this time, minor hearing damage.

He pets her tummy, "Hey there, little dude," then he kisses her. "Don't ever tell me you're old."

"I am."

"Well, you're my old woman, and you're also the mom of my kids."

She's smiling and giggling at that. He smiles, too, and then kisses her again, soft and sweet. "You know, we've probably got almost two hours of naptime left."

She giggles at that, too, and straddles his lap.

"You want me to tell everyone at Bootcamp?" Tim asks as Abby gets a very late breakfast or possibly very early dinner.

She exhales long and deep. Celebrations are better with friends, but telling everyone to stop celebrating last time was hard.

"Yeah. Tell them. Neither of us are any good at keeping stuff like this quiet. And we might as well all enjoy the good as much and as long as we've got it."

"Okay." He's grinning. "Boy or girl?"

She thinks about it. "No real feel, yet. I still like Sean James if this is a boy."

His fingers find her stomach again. "Well, you gonna be SJ McGee?"

"Sean! Not SJ."

"I like SJ!"

"Then you can call him that. I'm calling him Sean."

"If he's a him."

"Fifty-fifty shot. More we talk about it, the more I'm feeling boy."

"So, you want to call this one McScuito, too, or just go straight for Sean."

She inhales and exhales dramatically. "To hedge our bets or not?"

"Yeah." He's smiling at her. "I'm leaning toward all in."

"Me, too. Okay, don't tell them at Bootcamp, I want to see Jimmy hear the name. Invite everyone for dinner, okay."

"Was Gibbs already coming over?"

"I think so. That was the plan on Friday."

"Great. I'll get the bootcamp crew, you want to call Ducky and Penny?"

"No problem."

"So, how does this work?" Abbi asks Jethro as they wait outside the NCIS building.

"Tony and Ziva get here soon, then we all get warmed up. Tim, Jimmy, and Collin'll show up eventually."

"Who's Collin again?"

"Jimmy's likely brother-in-law."

Abbi blinks at that.

"He's living with Breena's sister. Looks serious, but no ring yet."

She nods. "So, we get in there…"

"Warm up, practice. There's one ring. I usually set the fights, who's against who. What everyone does, who's on offense or defense. Ziva works on technique, now. Last fight, she was training them on nerve strikes. Jimmy handles general fitness, strength training, stuff like that."

"He's the one who's got you standing on one foot."

Gibbs nods. "Supposed to be good for me."

Abbi's giving him a look suggesting that Jimmy might be pulling his leg on that. They see Tony and Ziva heading toward them, and in a minute, they join Abbi and Jethro.

"So, why are we here half an hour early?" Tony asks.

"Tim's got that test this week, and I want him ready to fight cold if need be."

"We're ambushing Tim?" Abbi asks.

"More or less."

As soon as Tim walks in, before he's even put his bag in his locker, Gibbs says, "Tony, Ziva, Abbi, all three of you on attack, hard, like you mean it. Tim, you're on defense."

Ziva grins. "With pleasure."

Tim glances over at Gibbs, this is overkill in his eyes, but Gibbs just shakes his head, so, without a warm up, without expecting it, Tim's on fight mode. He tosses his bag to Jimmy and heads into the ring and the next thing Tim knows he's being double-teamed by very fast moving DiNozzos,, while Abbi hangs back a bit, watching, looking for openings to jump into.

Short of having them jump him on the way in, this is probably as close to a real fight as he can get. And Gibbs is going to make sure he's ready for a real fight.

Jimmy's standing next to Gibbs, watching Tony and Ziva and Abbi put Tim through his paces. "You've got a really bad feeling about the test, don't you?"

Gibbs nods, grimly.

"He's going to be fine."

Gibbs doesn't nod at that. "What do you have for me?" Part of Gibbs' usual warm up is checking in with Jimmy, showing off how well he's doing with whatever it was Jimmy set for him last time, and then getting new additions to his training routine.

Jimmy rolls with the change in topic. "How are you doing on the balance challenge?"

Gibbs shuts his eyes and stands on one foot, without wobbling, for a minute.

"Good. Okay, variation on a theme time. On your toes. Eyes open." Gibbs looks pretty stable at that. "You've got that down. Close your eyes."

And with teeth gritted, Gibbs closes his eyes, and is down on flat feet in less than two seconds.

"That's the next balance challenge."

"Why are we doing this?"

"Because I'm not visiting you in the hospital because you fell and broke a hip."

Gibbs flashes Jimmy his exasperated look, but closes his eyes and rises up on his toes again. "You can do this, right? You're not just messing with me." (He's down on flat feet before he gets both of those sentences out.)

Jimmy looks satisfied and holds up one finger. He tosses his and Tim's bags aside, slips his shoes and socks off. "Tree pose." He's standing on one foot, other foot tucked against his thigh, hands at heart center, palm to palm, then he rises onto his toes, and then closes his eyes, holding that for a full minute before setting himself down again.

"Yeah, I can do it. And I can do a version of it on one hand, too."

"Why?" Gibbs can understand why you'd spend hours, days, huge chunks of your life working on something other people can see. Practicing for a sport or something. He gets doing the work to look the way Jimmy looks. But he's not getting the point of this. Seems like time you could be doing something else, something useful.

"Why does any man do something physically difficult and kind of stupid? To impress women."

Gibbs laughs at that.

"No, not really. I mean, yes, Breena's impressed by that, but that's not why I can do it. Being able to do it feels good. The focus necessary to do it is good, for a lot of things. You can't hold something like that if your brain is whirling around." He shakes his head a bit, that's part, but not all of it. "I don't talk about it much, but… I'm diabetic, you know that. I manage it so well most people don't even notice. As much as you can beat it into submission, I have. But it's not like I've got allergies. This isn't some little annoyance that makes me periodically uncomfortable. This is serious, and eventually, it will kill me. But it's not taking me easy." Jimmy shakes his head. "So, until they develop that artificial pancreas, I'm running a race against my body, and the better I do with it, the longer I get to keep running. If I want to be there to play with my grandkids, I can't just let myself slide. And, since I want you here to play with my grandkids, too, you're not letting yourself go, either."

Gibbs smiles at that, nods, and then pushes himself up on his toes again.

Tim knows that he's not winning a three on one fight. Not if a third the team he's up against is Ziva, and another third is Abbi, who he's never gone up against before and has a completely different style than he's ever dealt with. His only goal is to just keep at it long enough to not embarrass himself.

But, eventually, like with all fights like this, he hits the mat.

Tony helps him up, and for a moment they all just stand there, breathing hard.

"Test ready to go?" Tony asks after a minute.

Tim nods. It's ready. It's beyond ready. He's grinning, wide and happy at the idea of it. He's going to turn an entire strike force upside down, and it will be completely awesome.

"Be careful."

Tim holds his hands out in a quit worrying gesture. "I'll be with the Secretary of the Navy. Everything should be fine."

Tony nods. Ziva's eyes have narrowed. They don't have the entire story of Tim's issues with his dad, but the bits they do have are enough. Plus, as the test gets closer, nervous is radiating off of Gibbs, so, they're all catching it, too. Same for Abbi, Gibbs hasn't given her all of the details, but she knows McGee and the Admiral don't get on, and she's figured that if McGee can keep a relationship going with DiNozzo after all the teasing she's seen and heard about over the years, there's got to be more between him and the Admiral than they just rub each other wrong.

"We prep Thursday." Tim looks at all three of them. They talked about it a bit at Shabbos, so this isn't new information. "You know, when I get that cover ID that means The Admiral can't even admit he knows me without blowing the op. Then up at the crack of dawn Friday, test goes off in the afternoon, I hang around and watch, and as soon as they figure out what happened or give up, I go home. Should be back by Sunday, Monday at the latest."

Tony nods. Ziva does, too. Then she heads to her bag, rummages around in it, and comes back a few seconds later, handing him something.

Tim looks at it. "A roll of quarters?"

"Makeshift brass knuckles, McGee. The reason you have them is you are bringing home American coins for your children. Every new place you go, you get some of the local currency and take it home to them."

Tim raises his eyebrows and nods. That's a good story. Actually, he's not planning on travelling much, but if he does… He might start doing that. Another thought hits him. "Did your Dad do that for you?"

Ziva nods. "Yes, he did. We also had a map with little pins in it. Learn geography and where Abba was all in one. I was nineteen when I found out he was never where those little pins were, and that his secretary kept a supply of currency for him." She sighs, and Tim does, too. Eli David stories always have that sort of disturbing twist to them.

Gibbs and Jimmy head over, having finished whatever it was they were working on. Collin's been hanging by the edges of whatever it is they've been up to, so he joins them, too. Gibbs looks them all over, focusing on Tim. "All warm and loose?"

Tim nods.

"Good." Gibbs heads into the ring, gesturing to Jimmy and Collin to join him.

Tim stares at Gibbs for a moment, because Gibbs isn't setting up teams. "Six on one?"

Gibbs shakes his head. "Ladies out." Abbi's not looking thrilled at that, but Ziva inclines her head in a I'll explain in a second sort of way. "Your job is to keep us in each other's way as much as possible. Hard to hit one guy if there's a bunch of you fighting at once, so use it."


Ziva and Abbi are watching, and it's a melee. Hard to actually track what's going on, but Tim does seem to be keeping at least three of them out of the fight at any given time.

"So, why are we out?" Abbi asks.

"Collin won't go full out if there's a girl in the ring. Tony won't if I'm in there. And Jimmy and Tim are a lot better than they were when we started, but they can get shaky when they're tired, and Tim's tired. Gibbs doesn't want either of us getting an elbow in the face by accident."

"But he doesn't care if one of the guys do?"

Ziva nods. "Jimmy caught me in the mouth with an elbow… Six months ago. Not a big deal, just a split lip and a bruise, but every time I went anywhere with Tony, the whole time my lip was cut, people kept glaring daggers at him, and two even offered me suggestions for battered wife services. One offered to call the cops for me. And, yes, people stare if the guys have split lip or visible bruises, but it's not as big of a deal."


"So, one of them gets tired, he pulls me out. Apparently, same for you. But there is no reason we cannot spar with each other. If you're interested?"

Abbi smiles at that. "Oh, yeah. Show me your best moves, DiNozzo."

Ziva grins.

Tim's sore, and tired, really tired, as they head to the showers. Gibbs ran him through pretty much every possible fight combination he could think of in preparation for the test.

So, he's undressing slowly. Partly because nothing about him wants to do anything fast right now, and partially so he can get a minute to talk to just Gibbs.

Tony and Jimmy head to the showers. (Collin headed straight home after fighting.)

"Your gut is screaming."

Gibbs nods. "Take your gun."

Tim shakes his head. "Blow my cover. I've always got a knife, and Ziva's roll of quarters is a good plan."

"You keep them on you, all the time."

Tim nods. "It'll be fine."

"You can believe that when you're home. Until then, you're walking into battle, and that's how you're going to treat it."


"No. Don't give me any feel good bullshit about this. You stay armed, you stay alert, and you keep people around you all the time. You do not spend a second alone with him."


Gibbs nods again, not looking relieved, and heads to the showers. A minute later, Tim follows.

They're out of the shower, drying off, dressing, ready to move on with the rest of the day when Tim says, "So, kind of went a bit bonkers at Costco today. They had some really nice looking tomatoes and that bacon we like was on sale… Anyway, BLT night at my house. Everyone's invited."

Jimmy grins. Granted, for him a BLT is a salad and not a sandwich, but he's a fan. And Breena's almost always a fan of nights where someone else cooks. "We're in. Get home, grab the girls, and head on over?"

"Sounds great."

Tony looks pained. He is also a BLT fan. "Can't. Want to, but can't. Dad and Delphine got home from their honeymoon yesterday and invited us for dinner today. I think they're working on setting up some sort of Sunday dinner type thing. Her kids and grandkids'll be there, too."

Tim nods at that. "Sunday dinner sounds like a good thing."

Tony inclines his head. "Hope so. At least, none of the other wives really worked to bring him into her family and vice versa. So, any luck this is a move in the right direction."

Jimmy nods along with that.

"You and Abbi coming?" Tim asks Gibbs. When Gibbs agreed to dinner at their place, he was solo, so it's possible he had things he wanted to do with Abbi on their own.

"We're coming. That was the plan, right?"

Tim nods. "Just checking in."

All four of them are up and ready to go. They're heading toward the door, but Tim hangs back a bit. "Tony…"


"You dropped…"

Tony gives Tim a perplexed look, he knows he hasn't dropped anything, but Tim is giving him the get over here look, so he does.

"We're telling everyone else at dinner, so, let Ziva know, Abby's pregnant again," Tim says quietly.

Tony breaks into a huge grin, glances over his shoulder, sees that Gibbs and Jimmy have headed out of the locker room, and then pulls Tim into a warm hug. "Congratulations!"



Tim does a bit of math. "February, probably, early or middle."

"So Molly might be sharing her birthday time?"

"Maybe," he says, grinning.

Tony hugs him again. "So, this one going to be Timmy Junior?"

"No." Tim says emphatically. There will be no Juniors of any variety among his kids. "But… our boy name last time was Sean James, and we're both getting a bit of a boy vibe, so… Maybe SJ McGee?"

"SJ.. Sean… Sean works better."

"Abby thinks that, too."

"Wise woman." Tony grins again. "How far do you want this to go?"

"Just us right now. Labor Day's soon enough to let everyone else know."

"Okay, we'll keep quiet. I better get moving before they wonder what I could have possibly dropped that took that long to pick up." Tony pauses for half a breath before saying, "And don't you even suggest anything about the soap."

"Wouldn't dream of it."

There are things in this world better than sitting on the porch on an early June day, air warm and damp from many thunderstorms, as the last clouds scuttle away, leaving the world watercolor clean. Adding in your family, BLTs, watermelon, happy baby girls playing peacefully with each other, (Okay, Molly and Kelly are "playing," and Anna's just chilling in her baby carrier, enjoying the air.) takes that experience into the upper echelons of better things.

So, it is already a very good evening, as Abby, who's sitting on Tim's lap, gets everyone's attention during a lull in the conversation and says, "I'm pregnant!"

That gets a lot of happy responses, a lot of congratulations, many smiles and hugs, a few words on who's getting told now, when the newest McGee should be showing up, and, as is usual for brand new baby announcements, possible name ideas.

"Have any thoughts about names?" Penny asks.

Tim and Abby nod at that. "Yeah, we do," Tim says

"Another mystery 'family name' that we'll all have figured out by the time we get home?" Jimmy asks with a smirk.

Tim grins at that, and Abby says, "Not a mystery, but yes on the family name part."

"Sort of," Tim adds. They don't have any Seans in the family. "But I bet you can't guess it," he says to Jimmy.

Jimmy's willing to take up that challenge. "Boy or girl name?"

"Boy's name," Abby replies.

"Thomas. That's Abby's Dad's name, right?"

Abby nods, pleased to see he knows that. "Yes, it is, but not the name we're aiming for."

Jimmy thinks for another minute. "Jack or Jackson?" Gibbs looks pleased by that.

Abby and Tim quickly glance at each other, Jackson McGee actually sounds pretty good. Thomas Jackson… that's good, too. That's going on the list of potential baby names if they find themselves looking for another one.

"We like that, but no. Next time we have this conversation, maybe," Tim says.

"Donald?" Abbi asks.

Tim nods toward Jimmy and Breena. "They've got dibbs on that one."

Ducky looks very pleased at that.

"I'd say Leroy or Jethro, but I know you don't like them," Jimmy says to Tim, who turns to Gibbs and says, "No offense."

Gibbs nods at that. His names are country and dated, neither of which is true about his kids.

Jimmy's staring at Tim, mild exasperation overlaying a whole lot of pride in his eyes. "I can't guess it, or I won't guess it?"

Tim shoots him is best smart-ass grin. "Is there a difference?"

Jimmy laughs at that, and before he gets a shot to say anything Abby says, "Sean James. That's what we're thinking."

Jimmy looks down for a second, a very warm, very pleased smile spreading across his face, then he looks up, beaming at both of them, and heads over for more hugs. He's got an arm around each of them, and kisses Abby's cheek. As he pulls back his hand falls to Abby's tummy and he says, "Sean James, you hear that? That's a good name, so you better be the with-a-penis-model, okay?"

Everyone laughs at that, and when they stop, he adds, "Just fooling on that. Girl, boy, little bit of both, doesn't matter, we're all gonna love you no matter what."


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