Thursday, January 22, 2015

Shards To A Whole: Chapter 402: Another Friday

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

402: Another Friday

At any other time, six-week-pregnant Abby would have no trouble at all settling down for a nap with her snoozing husband. In fact, at any other time, simply being horizontal and six-weeks-pregnant would mean instant asleep for Abby.

But, it's not just another day, and Tim's not just catching a few zs over the course of a lazy afternoon. Hell, this isn't even healing up napping.

She's taken to thinking of it as defensive sleeping. After enough mental trauma, Tim checks out. The little switch in his head says, "Okay, you're done, sleeping now," and off to sleep he goes.

She's not sure if dreaming gives him better processing time, or if he really does just need some blank space to get himself right again, but she's seen a lot of this over the last three weeks. Abby supposes this is good. Jimmy and Wolf have both said it's a lot healthier than other things he could be doing to cope, so there's definitely that, but he doesn't rest easy when this happens. He certainly dreams, and from what she can see, they don't appear to be good dreams, though he doesn't seem to remember them unless he gets woken up mid-dream.

She's been doing everything in her power to not wake him up mid-dream.

She's trying to not think about the stories he told, because right now if she goes off on a rage, that will not mean sleeping Tim.

She's been doing that a lot, stuffing her own anger down, trying to cope with it quietly, trying to be solid and calm for Tim. She's honestly not sure how much more of this she can do without some sort of release valve for herself.

Seems like everyone else has one. Breena and Jimmy are both moving forward (with her) on the four of them becoming more. That's a good, positive step, life affirming, love affirming. That's about healing and making things whole and right. And it helps.

Jimmy and Gibbs are working on death. On teaching and learning how to destroy John, and that's good, too. That's something Abby wishes she could be part of, but right now she knows they won't let her shoot, and her own preferred methods involve working with chemicals she really shouldn't be messing with for another year (at least, probably two, breastfeeding and neurotoxins are not a good combination).

Tony and Ziva have been offering 'help' to Burley on the cold cases, and keeping a "discrete" eye on John. (In the sense that all of his credit card transactions, bank transactions, and email and text communications are being monitored.) They've dug into the cases along with Burley, spending any spare time they have on them, and chatting with people who are related to those cases who are within a hundred miles of DC. No slam dunks yet, but they're working it.

She's run and rerun every bit of trace on those cases, checked and double-checked all of the physical evidence, but, and she never thought she'd be disappointed by this, the people who ran those cases the first time knew what they were doing. She's found nothing new, nothing that points toward John, which means that work isn't a release for her. It's not a way to channel anger and get it out. It's just more anger, because by now she's certain, based on nothing beyond her gut, that John's personally responsible for all three of those sailors who went "missing" from the ships he was on, and she can't prove it.

Tim's writing and talking and writing more. He's thinking and sleeping and healing.

But she feels like she's got nothing on this. Nowhere safe to rage.

And each word out of his mouth, each sentence of those stories…

There were pictures of Tim as a child at Tori and Ben's place, and Abby snuck shots of several that Tim doesn't know about, so she's got an idea of what he looked like at six, adorable, big green eyes, insanely long eyelashes, that cute pouty lower lip, buzz cut gold-blonde hair, little plump, but more puppyish, getting ready for a growth spurt than really overweight. (Penny confirms that Tim didn't really have much in the way of weight issues until he started having problems with asthma around the age of nine, and they began treating it with inhaled steroids.)

"Tim" (Sean Murray)
Her beautiful Tim, young, innocent, hopeful. He's grinning, wide and happy in the shot she's got, no fear or nervousness in his eyes. Not a lot of shots like that after that one. The shots after that, even the happy ones, show the marks of what happened. There's always that ghost of nervous. Her Tim sad, scared, sick, crying. Her Tim, six, eight, nine, ten, and it just kept going and got worse until it (pretty much) ended at seventeen. At least, that's when the stories ended. Though she knows there's at least two more because Tim stopped talking to John at seventeen, and again at twenty-five, and there was the time after the case with Penny, when he called John up, and then didn't talk to him again until he got on that ship and saw him standing there, annoyed that a dead man was messing up his schedule.

And she has to stop thinking about this, because she's shaking with anger, and if she keeps vibrating, she's going to wake him up.

Abby's too keyed up to sleep. So she nestles into Tim, snuggling him, looking at his body in front of hers, feeling his skin, warm and finally, (mostly, right over the breaks is still green-yellow) unbruised, next to hers.

She knows from his comment to Jimmy about gaining weight that he didn't notice, but almost a week on pretty much all liquids, plus pain killers making him sleep all the time means Tim missed a lot of meals.

He lost weight those first ten days. It was hard to tell the first week, but as the swelling receded, it became pretty obvious. Clavicle, carpals on his left wrist, hip bones, all of them were too visible beneath his skin.

He's pretty close to back where he was, little softer, which'll probably bug him when he notices, but hopefully he won't notice anytime soon. Nothing he needs to be doing about that anytime soon.

She notices that the cast on his right arm is starting to get a bit too big again. One more week with this, then another new cast, maybe he'll start to get to use his shoulder again. He'd like that. Supposedly that'll be the end of the cast on his foot, still have a brace and use the crutch until he can put weight on it easily, but it'll be another step closer to looking like himself again.

Abby takes a deep breath, letting it out slow. He's healing. He's alive and here and healing, and eventually they'll be okay. But like his eyebrow, which her finger ghosts over, he'll be marked by this for the rest of his life, they both will.

Since she took the afternoon off, Shabbos is at their house today. Nothing horribly complicated for dinner, chicken on the grill, and the veggie co-op sent a box of mostly greens, so they're getting cooked up New Orleans style along with a big pot of baked beans, and they're subbing out challah for a huge cast iron skillet full of cornbread.

Tim's sitting at the kitchen table, one hand holding Kelly's as she wobbles on her feet working on standing by herself, while Abby mixes up the corn bread batter.

"I need to make an appointment with the OB."

Tim nods. He's fairly sure when they made Sean, so he thinks of Abby as being six weeks pregnant, which is about when you're supposed to go check in, except that they don't figure out how pregnant you are based on when you conceived, but when your last period was supposed to be.

"You're supposed to be what, eight weeks along?"

"Something like that. I'll give them a call on Tuesday."

He nods at that. "Except for Friday morning, my calendar is open."

She smiles at him.

"Actually, I was thinking of heading in on Monday or Tuesday."

Abby's eyebrows shoot up as she cracks eggs into the mix.

"Nothing strenuous. Can't work on anything for real until I'm off the Tylenol 3…" A thought hits Tim there. "How long does it take narcotics to get out of your system?"

"Two to four days."

"Okay, there is no way I'm waiting four extra days after I'm done with Tylenol 3 to go back to work. Do you think Leon knows it takes that long to come up with a clean test?"

Abby shrugs. "Maybe he's making sure you've got time to really heal."

"Maybe. Don't suppose you'd fake a test for me."

Abby just stares at him.

"You'd be the one running the test, right?"

She nods.


She looks up him and down carefully, looking extremely doubtful as to this being a good idea, but not completely opposed to it. "We'll see how you're doing. If you're actually up for it, it'll be your job to find someone to donate clean pee."

Tim sighs at that, but Jimmy or Tony would probably do it.

"So, what are you hoping to do by going back?"

"Just, get back in, make sure the place didn't burn down, take a few hours to remind Manner I'm still his Boss. Brand's supposed to be starting up soon, probably be a good idea to actually be there her first day. Just, I don't know, a normal Monday, ish."

"Monday's Fourth of July, so not Monday."

Tim's eyes narrow. "June's gone?"

Abby nods. "As of today."

Kelly tries to take a step and overbalances, falling on her bum and squawking indignantly. Tim leans over a bit to help her up, and his ribs ache as he does it, so he adds his own growl of frustration to the mix. But she grabs his hand, and he helps her stand, and he straightens up into a more comfortable position.

"You think Jimmy's going to add some sort of physical therapy for my ribs?"

Abby shakes her head. "You're breathing. That's probably all they need."

He shifts a little more, trying a very tentative side bend, and whimpering slightly. "Nope." Another slight whimper as he straightens up. "That's not all they need."

"Once you get standing on that foot, you can probably start adding bends and twists back in."

That sounds logical, but he's feeling this sudden need to be really working on getting his body back to where it needs to be. Probably the same need to get working again. He need to be himself again, and this limbo healing space isn't it.

Besides, he can do twists sitting down. In fact he often does them sitting down, so… He makes a mental note to ask Jimmy about that when they get there for dinner.

"No weights?" Tim asks as he shows Jimmy that he's got (almost) full range of motion in his ankle.
Jimmy shakes his head definitively. "No! You've still got four healing metatarsals and your ankle's not solid, yet. Right now we're just getting those muscles used to moving around again. Let's see what you're doing with your shoulder."

So Tim shows him. He can, once again, shrug with both shoulders. It's not smooth, by any stretch of the imagination, but he can move his shoulder joint in pretty much any direction, as long as the motion's coming from his traps, pecs, or lats.

"How's that feel?"

"Sore, achy, not as bad as last week. I was wondering about my ribs, thinking about adding some bends or stretches."

Jimmy stares at Tim, wondering what exactly this is, but he nods a little, and says, "Gotta check with Gibbs, make sure we're not getting an early start at the house tomorrow…" They're in the living room, and Gibbs is in the dining room, helping Penny set the table, so he can hear what Jimmy just said.

He shakes his head. "Raining all weekend. Bootcamp on Sunday. No carpentry. Maybe cookout at the house on Monday if the weather cooperates."

Jimmy nods. "Study time, then. Yay. You wouldn't believe how much reading I've got to get done. Tomorrow morning, I'll take a break, swing by here, grab you, and we'll get some x-rays in Autopsy. If your ribs look good, then sure, we'll work on adding some twists and bends and get your back and abs working again."

Tim nods at that.

Tim decided to go to bed early on Friday night, while the Shabbos gathering was still on. No one's surprised by that, he'd been drooping for most of dinner, and they all knew that he had another meeting with Wolf, and it's really obvious that Abby's not her normal self. They're both trying to be cheerful, and having everyone over helps, but it's obvious they're hurting.

As they're breaking up, Tony nods to Ziva, and she catches a ride home with Ducky and Penny. He helps Abby get the last of the dishes dried off and put away, and then heads off to the TV, searching around for something.

"Where's McGee keep the games?"

"Tony?" Abby's not sure what's going on or why Tony wants to sit at her place and play games, but… "Pull up the main menu, then go to games, then—"

"Okay, I got it." He searches around for a bit, and then decides that Call of Duty should do the job. He picks up a controller for Abby, too and sits next to her on the sofa, facing her. "So… you know there was that time between taking care of…" Tony's eyes fill in the name Bodnar, because they still don't speak of him, "and Ziva and I really dating."

Abby nods, starting to get an idea of why Tony might still be here.

"And, uh, part of that time was her telling me about what happened in Somalia, about the scars she still had, about…" He shakes his head, some confidences he won't tell, no matter what. Telling what she came home with is up to Ziva, and he's not going to say a word about it without her express permission and her present, neither of which are true right now. He smiles, but not happy, "And," he bites his lip and shakes his head, "And there's just hearing it, and not being able to do anything. 'Cause she had to live it, and I couldn't flip out on her by just hearing it. But I wanted to. Wanted to catch a plane and hunt them all down and kill every one of them we didn't get. Wanted to do more than kill them. But they're fucking ghosts, you know? A lot of them are literal ghosts, now, and the rest, not like they properly introduced themselves before..." He shakes his head again, still biting his lip. "And there's nothing you can do but listen, and you can't make it right, or better, or fix any of it. All you can do is sit there and take it.

"And until she almost died in that bomb last summer, sitting there, listening, making myself be calm and let her fall apart was the hardest thing I'd ever done. I beat the shit out of the next two perps who tried to run, and that didn't help much. Because nothing does, not really. It's still your person and they're still hurt and there's nothing you can do about it." He sighs and flashes her something vaguely smile-like. "But, it does get better. Slowly. As he gets to being himself again, it'll get easier. When we bury John," Tony's eyes are cold, and Abby's awfully sure that he does not mean bury John in any sort of metaphorical sense, "that'll help, a lot.

"You know I'm not really happy about the counseling stuff, but… It's useful, and when you get back to work, checking in with Wolf, spending some time talking to him one on one's probably a good plan."

Abby nods. "I know." She blinks, starting to cry. "God, it's so hard! And I feel horrible saying it because all I have to do is listen. He had to live it."

Tony nods while Abby burrows into his arms, crying.

He kisses the top of her head. "I know, Abbs, I know." And after a while, ten maybe fifteen minutes, she starts to calm down, and when she does, he hands her the controller. "And until it gets better, or until you've got a way to get it out, we can utterly destroy some Nazis."

Abby wipes her eyes and smiles a little. "Little ultra-violence to soothe the pain?"

Tony nods and kisses her forehead again. "That's the idea."


No comments:

Post a Comment