Friday, February 20, 2015

Shards To A Whole: Chapter 406: Sick

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

Chapter 406: Sick

On Sunday, Tim wakes up to something other than the fierce ache of time for more pain medication. He wakes to the sound of retching, and Abby saying, "Oh god."
It takes him a bit, but he gets his crutch, and into the bathroom, where Abby is kneeling next to the toilet, skin ashy, hair sweaty, and looking utterly miserable.
"Are you okay?"
"No," Abby looks like she's about to say something about asking stupid questions, but her body has other ideas, and she's retching again. He hobbles over, slowly gets himself sitting on the floor, and gently pets her back.
When the spasms pass, she looks up at him and says, "I'm going to die," and begins to retch again. He gently rubs her back again. In all the time they've known each other, he's never seen her get any sort of tummy bug. Then he realizes this isn't a tummy bug, and smiles, but in a way where there's no shot of her seeing him do it.
He lumbers up, gets her a Dixie cup of cool water so she can rise her mouth, and rubs her back again as she sits back on the floor.
"You didn't have that conversation about no morning sickness with Sean, did you?" he asks as he works one of the anti-nausea points on her wrist.
"Didn't think I needed to." She looks at her tummy. "No making Mom puke, you hear?"
Ten minutes later, when she was throwing up again, it became fairly clear that Sean appears to be indifferent to said command.

Tim's been more than annoyed at his current physical limitations, but right now he wants to scream. Abby's throwing up, Kelly's fussing, and he can't really help either of them.
He hobbles into Kelly's room, talking to her, telling her good morning and stuff like that, but he can't pick her up because he needs the crutch to stand and he needs the only arm that works to use the crutch.
Okay, there has got to be a way to do this. Kelly's melting down, she's hungry and upset, and him just standing there, shushing her is not getting the job done. The changing table is literally three steps away from the crib. Once there, he can get her cleaned up (he hopes) and get the snuggli in place (maybe) get her into the snuggli (err… yeah, this is sounding like a worse and worse idea by the moment) and then get them downstairs to where the bottles are and she can start breakfast.
He nods at that plan, rests the crutch on the side of the crib, shifting weight to try to pick her up, and then mentally slaps himself upside the back of the head for being an idiot. Kelly is yelling because she is hungry. Fix the main problem, hungry, and the smaller problems (still in crib, wet diaper) won't bug her so much.
"I will be back in a minute." He grabs the crutch again, and she fusses even louder, appalled at the idea of him leaving her in her crib. He quick times it (just about normal walking speed) to the stairs, slides the crutch down, gets himself down, hobbles to the kitchen, makes up the bottle, tucks it between his cast arm and his stomach, and hobbles back up.
Kelly's yelling even louder, but she's rapidly mollified when she sees what he's got.
"I know we don't usually do it this way, but I don't want to drop you," he says, handing her the bottle so she can eat in bed.
She snatches the bottle and starts gulping quickly. Tim sees she's set, currently occupied, and heads back to his room in search of PJ pants, and more importantly, his phone.
He sends off his first text to Gibbs: Help! Need an extra set of hands as soon as you can get here.
The next text goes to Jimmy: If I can find those anti-nausea pills you gave me, can I give one to Abby?
Jimmy gets back to him first. Yes. Do you have them handy?
No idea. Don't know where anything besides my computer ended up.
The girls and I are already up. I'll get a script written and filled for Abby. I take it morning sickness came to visit?
No fever, throwing up, wishing she's dead.
Sounds like morning sickness. Got any saltines? Flat ginger ale?
I know the routine.
There's a minute long pause while Tim struggles into his PJ pants and tells Abby what he's doing while she lies on her side on the bathroom floor.
On my way. Pops up on his phone from Gibbs.
Thanks. Abby's feeling sick, and I shouldn't get Kelly out of her crib.
Stay put. I'll be there soon.
Abby pushes herself up, sways a little, but gets standing. "I think I'm done."
She heads toward Kelly's room, still looking shaky, and Tim follows behind, not sure what the hell he's going to be useful for, but going along anyway.
Apparently what he's going to be useful for is getting in the way. Abby gets in there, catches one whiff of the formula that Kelly starts her day with, and is sprinting out again, practically running him over, back to the bathroom and dry heaving.
Tim closes his eyes, sighs, and heads into the nursery. "I'm going to hang out here with you."
Kelly smiles at him, bottle in her hand, she's content to hang out in her crib.

Gibbs lives half an hour away. Even assuming he hopped directly out of bed and drove like a maniac, it'd still take at least eighteen minutes to get to Tim and Abby's.
And Tim can't just sit there, doing not much of anything useful for that long.
So, he devises another plan. He needs the crutch to go from point A to point B. Once he's where he needs to be, he doesn't much need it.
Kelly's gotten awfully stinky. That diaper is in real need of a change, and he's not about to go and ask Abby to do it. She doesn't appear to be puking anymore (at least he's not hearing anything) but he's not calling her back in until he's got a squeaky clean and yummy smelling little girl in his hands.
It takes a few minutes, but he eventually gets all of the baby changing gear on the floor right next to the crib. He gets clothing for Kelly all set. He puts the diaper trash can next to the whole set up. Now, all he has to do is get Kelly from inside her crib to on the floor, and then hope she agrees to just let him clean her up.
She's looking up at him as he leans against the crib.
"Okay, Kelly, this is going to be a team effort."
Other than her name, none of those words mean anything to her.
"You need to come to me, okay. Stand up, right here, right against the crib." He pats the edge of the crib, saying things like, "Right here. Up, Kelly, up."
Eventually she decides to play along, scoots to the edge of the crib and stands up. He gets her against his side, one good arm wrapped around her, and manages to get her over the edge of the crib without catching her leg on the side too badly.
"Shit." He did not expect to be nearly this wobbly. He shifts again, back against the crib, and just lets himself slide down it. Kelly makes an excited sound because he went down faster than he intended.
"Never a dull moment at the McGee household." He'd rub his butt if he could. (He went down way faster than he intended to, and landed square on it.) Kelly's smiling at him. He gently puts her down and gets her onto the changing mat.
"Okay, baby, you've got to work with me on this. You try to go wandering off, and this isn't going to happen. So, I need you to just stay put."
None of that means anything to her, either. But she's very interested in what's about to happen, because this is very much not her normal morning routine.
He rolls her onto her back, and starts fighting with the snaps on her onesie. Those little bastards are just not opening. At all. If he had a knife he'd be cutting her out of the damn thing, but he doesn't. The snaps are at the crotch of her onesie, and that's an awfully full diaper, so he's not about to try and use his teeth to get it open.
He's muttering about how there is no possible way he's the only father with one functional hand, and that somehow other parents have to have figured out ways to get fucking snaps open (Kelly's being very good about staying still, just chilling on her back, watching her Dad in amazement.) when he realizes that if he worms two fingers between two snaps and then spreads them apart, they'll pop open.
"Now we're getting somewhere. Up you go." He helps Kelly sit up and pulls the onesie off. Into the laundry hamper it goes. "And back down." Time to diaper wrestle.
On the upside, those little paper Velcro-ish straps are a lot easier to get open one-handed than snaps. On the downside, he's now in charge of cleaning up a mess that would have made him mutter if he'd gone after it with two hands. One hand and he's shaking his head wondering why the hell he didn't just wait for Gibbs to get here.
But, after only seven minutes, roughly 17,000 diaper wipes, and two false starts on the clean diaper, he does indeed have a cleaned up, dressed, and ready for the day baby sitting in his lap.
Kelly's looking up at him, and he's probably reading his own feelings into her, but he feels like she's proud of him for having taken care of it. He know he's feeling more useful than he has in weeks.
"Now what?"
Tim nods, grabs his phone, gets Netflix up, finds the Peanuts section, and puts on Snoopy. They both sit there, watching the show until Gibbs shows up.

Gibbs missed morning sickness. Shannon had it, but it was over by the time he got back. So, until Breena got pregnant with Molly and was tossing her cookies every five minutes, he had an, at best, nebulous concept of how exactly this worked.
And then Breena did get sick. He knows there's a fancy term for really bad morning sickness, and he knows that Breena didn't have that. But he can't imagine how bad that stuff has to be, because what Breena had looked awful, and she was on medication to keep food and fluids inside of her.
He's really hoping, on numerous levels, that this isn't what's going on with Abby. Primarily on the level of he doesn't want anyone he loves feeling sick for months at a time, but on a more practical level, if she is that bad off, he's basically moving in for the next however long because Tim really shouldn't be trying to carry anything until he can actually walk again, which, if Gibbs remembers right, is still about three weeks off.
He debates getting there as fast as he can versus picking up some ginger ale and saltines on the way over.
Getting there fast wins out. He can't imagine that Tim didn't text Jimmy, too, in search of the medication that makes Breena feel, not exactly better, but lets her keep food down, and he's got way more practice in the care and feeding of a morning sick woman than Gibbs does.
So, in twenty-seven minutes he's pulling into Tim and Abby's driveway, hoping Abby's just dealing with feeling a little green in the morning, and Tim was patient enough not to do something stupid in an effort to be helpful.
He finds Tim and Kelly first, in her bedroom, sitting on the floor, watching… "It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown? Aren't you a few months off for that?"
"Pop!" Kelly says brightly as he sits next to them.
Tim shrugs a little, handing Kelly over. "She's got no idea what season it is." Once the transfer is complete and Kelly's hugging Gibbs, Tim says, "Thank you."
Gibbs surveys the set up around him and nods a bit. "Looks like you did okay."
Tim rolls his eyes. "She's had her bottle but no solid food."
"Okay." He kisses Kelly's head. "Come on, Kelly, let's get the rest of breakfast." Then he looks at Tim. "Can you get yourself off the floor?"
He nods. "It'll take a while, but yeah. Then I'll go see if Abby's moved."
"Want me to make her some tea and toast while I'm down there?"
Tim shrugs. "If she feels like moving, I'm sure she'll come down."
"Jimmy here soon?"
"Going to pack up the girls, get the meds, and come here. If you've got any idea what Abby did with my stuff when we got back, I had some of those pills on me when I got on the Stennis."
Gibbs shakes his head. "Standard procedure, all medications are destroyed."
"No way to tell what's really in them. We do it, too."
Tim nods; he remembers that. "Yeah, okay. I'll go catch up with Abby." He starts to pull himself up.
She's laying on the bathroom floor again, so he's guessing, "How are you feeling?" is a stupid question.
"Gibbs's here. Do you want him to make you some tea and toast?"
Her eyes are closed, and she shakes her head.
"Want a blanket or some pjs or something?"
Tim hobbles off in search of her loosest, softest, most comfy PJs. It takes a moment, but he finds them, slings them over his shoulder, and hobbles back.
"Here." He sits down near her, handing over the pjs.
She sits up, slowly pulling on the black flannel jammie pants with the pink skulls on them, and one of his gray t-shirts. "I've had Goldschlager hangovers that were more fun than this."
Tim winces. Like everyone else he did Goldschlager shots (okay, in his case shot) in college, and that stuff was wretched going down, coming back up isn't something he wants to imagine.
She shrugs. "Could have the flu." Then she sighs and slumps onto the floor, her forehead resting on his outstretched leg.
He touches her forehead. "No fever. We had the same dinner. I'm not sick and neither is Kelly."
She pouts, and he pets her hair. "Don't tell me I've got six more weeks of this crap."
Tim doesn't say anything.

They hear another car pull into their driveway, along with the sound of car doors opening, and Gibbs and Jimmy's voices, along with Molly's much higher-pitched one.
A few minutes later, Jimmy's back up in Tim's room, calling out, "You guys up here?"
"In here," Abby says.
Jimmy heads into the bathroom and jiggles a Target prescription bottle. "Got some goodies for you."
Abby sits up, holding out her hand.
"Oh, you look like you feel like shit," he says as he hands over the pills.
Abby nods slowly, getting the bottle open, peeling open the pill and putting it on her tongue. After thirty seconds, it's dissolved and she says, "At least, according to Breena, they work fast."
Jimmy nods. "They do. But for her all they do is let her keep food down. They don't actually touch the feeling sick part of it."
Abby's leaning heavily against Tim. "I've thrown up five times already this morning. I'll take just keeps food in place."
"Okay." Jimmy kisses her forehead. "I'm meeting Breena, Tony and Ziva, and Ducky and Penny, at the diner. Jetho's gonna take Kelly and join us. You come if you want, lay around otherwise, okay?"
Abby nods, that sounds pretty good.
"You want to come?" he says to Tim.
"I'll stick with Abby."
"All right. As of last night, Ed and Collin are talking again, so we're tentatively on for church and Sunday dinner, too." Jimmy's not in his usual church suit, but he's also talking about hitting the diner earlier than usual, too, so he'll probably get dressed up after breakfast.
Actually, given how many members of this group end up with food all over them each time they attempt to eat something, and then get it all over whichever adult is sitting next to them, casual breakfast first followed by getting dressed and then church is probably a good plan resulting in fewer outfits which have been hastily cleaned with diaper wipes.
"We'll text if we change plans."

Tim sits with Abby, both of them quiet, resting. She's on his good side, and he's got his hand around her shoulders, so he can't pet her tummy, but he'd like to.
He kisses her cheek.
"I read somewhere morning sickness is worse with boys than girls."
She rolls her eyes at that.
"Yeah, I know it's an old wives tale." Another quiet moment. "Supposed to mean lots of hair, too."
"He's not going to have a lot of hair. We're both green-eyed blondes, this is going to be another green-eyed blond."
"Kelly's eyes are still pretty blue."
Abby pokes him gently. "She's getting green-ish."
"Uh huh." He says dryly, with a little smile. "It's a good thing I know your second-best-guy pretty well, and his kids."
"Oh! You did not just say that!" She's shaking her head, and kneeling in front of him, mock appalled.
He sticks out his tongue at her. "I think you're starting to feel better."
That stops her for a second, and he can see her self-assessing, then she stands up, and says, "Yeah. I am. Okay, whatever this stuff is, tears of angels and unicorn manes, it's amazing. Also, I'm now officially horrified at how bad Breena's hurting when she's pregnant, because I actually am feeling fairly decent. I don't want to run a mile or anything, but I might want to try eating something. You want to go to the diner?"
"You want to be in a room filled with food?"
"Eh. I know Elaine will hook me up, right."
Tim pushes himself off the floor. "Then let's go."

"Oh, good Lord, look at you two. Sitting down first, then hugs!" Elaine says as they slowly make their way into the diner.
They do get seated, and Elaine does provide hugs, and though the official reason why Tim and Abby weren't there was 'Tim's not feeling good' (After all, they aren't out about Abby being pregnant, yet.) she takes one look at the two of them, snatches the cup of coffee Tim's about to take a sip of, saying, "You'll be wanting decaf, right?"
He nods at that, and she's back a few seconds later with a cup of decaf coffee for him and a tall glass of cool, (not cold, there's no ice in it) flat ginger ale.
"When are you due?"
Abby smiles. "Beginning of February." She sips the ginger ale. "Thanks. This helps." Then she looks at Jimmy and Breena. "And those pillsreally help. And Breena, next time you get pregnant, I'm filling your freezer with food Jimmy's just got to heat up, because I set one foot into Kelly's room, smelled a whiff of formula and almost died. I'm sorry. I didn't get how bad you're hurting when you're sick. I've got a hint now, and we're doing what we can to keep you out of the kitchen next time."
Breena smiles at that, kissing Abby's cheek. She and Abby and Elaine and Penny talk about the joys of morning sickness for a few minutes, then Elaine's son shows up with two more plates, very lightly buttered rye toast for Abby which she looks at curiously, but takes a nibble of and it seems to do the trick, and (Tim shakes his head when he sees it. He's eaten it here before, but not for years) a French toast and bacon sandwich for him.
Once the food's down, Elaine looks them both over and says, "Gotta build you two back up if you're going to be ready to get chasing this little girl of yours around. She's gonna be walking any day now."
Abby nods at that, and Tim smiles.

"Church?" Abby asks as she, Tim, and Kelly head home after breakfast.
"If you want to, sure. I'm good with skipping it though."
Abby thinks about that. She is good with going. She's been doing a lot of praying lately, and spending some time in a church feels good to her.
"I'd like to go."
"Then we'll go. Probably not going to want to do Slater-family supper after."
Abby nods, she can easily see that being a bridge too far.
He's staring at his closet as Abby meanders around the bedroom, getting dressed and made up, and Kelly plays on the floor.
Tim's been wearing kilts a lot. Pretty much, with the exception of the morning he went into NCIS with Jimmy, he's been wearing kilts or the pj pants he works out in, because trying to get a broken and braced foot into a pair of non-stretchy trousers is a literal pain.
So, he's staring at his suit, and thinking about how getting his foot into it will go. It's not like the legs are that tightly tailored, and it's not like he can't flex his foot into the right position to get the damn thing on, mostly it's just that he doesn't want to.
He grabs his plaid kilt and tosses it onto their bed, along with a white button down, the green tie, and the black vest. For a second, he eyeballs his black suit jacket, and yes, right now he prefers button downs, only has to drag his arm through one sleeve that way, but threading his arm through a jacket in addition to the shirt… No.
It's very much not what he wears to church normally, but it's dressier than usual, and it's July outside. It's hot as balls out there and an excuse to not wear a full suit strikes him as a good plan.
After all, what's the worst thing Ed's going to do, stare and make a snide remark about the dragon tattoo and the skirt? Fuck that, Tim's done with it.

The correct answer is Ed will do precisely nothing beyond shrug slightly at his brothers while Jeannie fusses over him. Which is when Tim remembers that Ed's seen him in this before and that it's not new and shocking, on any level, for him.
Said brothers will give him the big hairy eyeball, looking over the tattoo and kilt, but when you're literally 'walking wounded' from an unnamed, top secret 'war gaming activity' the hairy eyeballs tend to skitter off to the side pretty quickly. Especially since the Slater family is a crew of people who have never served but are very pro-military. So, 'classified mission aboard the USS Stennis' (with Breena adding, 'That's a nuclear aircraft carrier.') were the magic words that ended any uncomfortable scrutiny of his wardrobe choices.
And there is something deliciously satisfying about having the Pastor's husband come over to greet him as they are leaving, mention how they've all been praying for his quickly returned health, and then ask about the kilt, if it's comfortable, and suggest that it seemed like a very reasonable way to deal with the summertime heat.
All in all, he was ready for a nap by the end of church, but it had been a very successful outing.

Monday afternoon, Abby looks up from his report and says… "So, do you really want this little bit here in the 'Troubleshooting For Future Tests' section where is says, 'For optimal test results, avoid testing ships run by murderous child-abusing psychopaths'?"
He thought he had deleted that bit two drafts ago. "Too much?"
She nods. "I mean, if you want to write that into a version that just Jarvis gets, fine, but for wider distribution, I'd probably just stick with your bit about how using your hack through the Norfolk computer hub allows the tester to avoid setting foot on the actual ship/ships in question, thus providing a completely blind test."
He had come to the conclusion that for optimal testing data and results it was probably much better to hack both the ship and the security feed from land and just keep watch from afar. Pretty much, it's not impossible that should someone get onto a ship and everything go haywire, especially if it's a small ship, that person might end up having a very bad day, and Tim's thinking that it's a good plan to make sure no other tester has to deal with that issue.
Tim nods.
"You really sure about this?"
"I'll rewrite, but yeah, I'm sure."
"Good. I was actually asking about you wanting to go in tomorrow."
"Oh. Yeah. I want to get back. I'm going crazy, and it looks like I've got enough of my brain back that I can at least read reports and maybe write some. I can supervise and problem solve. Friday's supposed to be my last day on the Tylenol 3, if I bite the bullet and stop on Thursday, maybe I'll be able to do some real work on Monday."
Abby smiles at him. "You get sore or tired or start to feel off—"
"I'll have Jethro take me home."
"Okay. Bright and early tomorrow morning, back to NCIS."
Tim smiles at that, pulls out his phone, and sends out an email to his Minions and the wider NCIS Cybertechs. He's back in tomorrow morning, and he'll be providing a quick get up to date briefing once he gets there.

So, on Tuesday, July 5th, two full weeks before he's supposed to be doing anything other than taking an hour or so a day to log in and make sure the building didn't catch fire, Tim hobbles into work. Very, very many promises that if he gets tired or sore he'll call Gibbs and get an immediate ride home, in addition to the fact that he's only going in for a half day, were required to get Abby to take him in, but finally she agreed and only almost took him home again twice when the car bumped over different pot holes and he winced.
But, he limps into his office, where the ten of the techs who are in the office flood in to say hello, welcome him back, and gape openly at how beat up he still looks weeks after the fight. He gets his computer up and running, and gets the camera feed up, so he can talk to everyone.
The ones in his office are milling around, staring, but trying not to. He can see another 90 of his team members are logged in, but because so many of them are online, they can see him, but he can't see them. He assumes they're staring, too. His bruises have faded, but his right arm's in a cast, he's got a brace on his left foot, a crutch leaning against his desk, and a newly split eyebrow. He smiles at them, says, "Just look all you want and get over it. And then I want you to understand that this is why you will have your gun and martial arts proficiencies. I didn't have my gun. I did have my fists, and I'm alive because of that. You're ever in my place, I want you to come out alive, too. Okay?"
They all nod, really shocked.
"I can't say what I was actually doing. I know you all have theories, and I know you've figured out it wasn't a 'conference,' and that I was not in a car accident, but that's all I'm saying about what I was actually doing. Though, if any of you know what I was doing, not have a theory, or feel like you figured it out from clues, but if you did the research and know drop by for a private chat or email me, and we'll arrange your paid day off."
"You want us barging into your private life?" Manner asks.
Tim smiles at that. "No. I'd prefer you didn't. But if any of you did track it down, that would have taken some persistence and out-of-the-box thinking, and I reward that. Which is not me saying, go find out. If you don't know by now, leave it alone. If you do know… well you know, don't spread it around, it's private. And likewise, if anything even remotely like this happens in the future, leave it alone! I do stuff you're all better off not knowing about, so don't find out. And if any of you go snooping in the future and I find out, you won't be getting cookies for it." He gives them all his fear of Boss look, and they stop staring at him, looking away, so he figures he's done well with it.
He nods at the target with the smiley face shot into it, then moves the camera so the rest of the crew can see it. "There's a reason why I want all of you to be able to do that. What I was doing was supposed to be safe. It was supposed to be routine. It wasn't safe. It wasn'troutine. They almost killed me. They didn't. And they didn't because I knew how to fight. I want you to know, too."
He shifts the camera back to him. "Not saying it's a guarantee of safety or anything, not saying you'll make it out or come back in one piece, but if you can't win, you can at least take as many of the bastards with you as you can. Someone lays hands on you, you make 'em pay for it, right?"
They all nod at him.
"Okay, let's get back to work. I'm still really slow, and at noon they'll drag me out of here and make me get a nap, but it's a start."

Three hours later, when Gibbs comes in to get him, Tim is amazed at how tired he is. All he did was wade through more emails. Not like he actually used his brain for much, but he's exhausted. He's giving Abby a run for her money on tired right now. Gibbs smiles at him when he dozes off in the car on the way home, and gently gets him up when they get home.
Tim eyeballs the steps up to his bed, feels the ache deep in his foot and shoulder, and decides he's not going to try to get up the steps to finish his nap. He turns toward his office and Gibbs looks curious. "Everything aches," Tim says by way of explanation.
"Orthopedic specialist again on Friday. See what he says."
Tim nods, easing onto his futon. "Rest, ice, take it easy, let yourself heal up, keep weight off of it. I know what he's going to say. You sticking around?"
"Little while at least. Play with Kelly some. Take her and Mona out for a run or something. Give Heather a break. Go get some rest. I'll still be here when you wake up."
"Okay. Jethro, thanks. For all of this."
He sitting on the futon next to Tim. "No problem. Hit the pool when you wake up?"
"Yeah, if you want."

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