Friday, February 20, 2015

Shards To A Whole: Chapter 408: Faithful

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

408: Faithful

More doctors' appointments, must be Friday.
"It's looking good, Tim. Your tarsals are coming along nicely. The vibrational heads have gotten them healed up a lot faster than expected. You're going home cast-free on your foot, which means you can start, gingerly, putting some weight on that foot."
"I can stop using the crutch?" Tim asks.
Dr. Kent nods, but not enthusiastically. "For about two steps at a time. You can start working on putting some weight on your foot, but not all the time. We're going to stay with the braces for now, bones heal a lot faster than the ligaments and tendons that ripped when your ankle dislocated, but no more casts. Time to work on just getting everything moving again."
Tim exhales, happy to hear it. "How about?" He touches his right arm.
Kent shakes his head. "Nothing new for that today. Next Friday we'll rescan, see how your shoulder is doing. At the very least, we'll size down some-" That annoys Tim. Yes, he's not moving his arm at all, so he's losing muscle mass, but he doesn't want to be. "And if it looks like your shoulder joint is solid, we'll see about moving you down to a cast for your wrist and hand. So, with any luck, another week and you get to start working on shoulder and elbow range of motion again." Kent checks his notes. "Actually, no matter what, next cast you get to start using your pinky and ring finger again."
Tim supposes that's good news, but it's not like he can type with seven fingers, not when the three missing ones are the ones he does the most with. But still, that's a little bit more of himself he's getting back. Another inch closer to getting his body back.
He'd be happier about that inch if the finish line wasn't ten miles off. But, if an inch is what he's got, an inch he'll take.

"Only four?" Tim's hobbled his way down to Autopsy to go visit Jimmy and talk about his pain medication.
He's sitting on Jimmy's chair while Dr. Allan hovers about in the background shuffling something, trying to look like he's not listening.
Jimmy's leaning over his desk, next to Tim, initialing papers while talking to him. "1000 mg a day. 500 for the first shot, and either 500 twelve hours later, or one 250 at twelve and eighteen. Take your pick. Or stop being a twit about it and take the damn Tylenol 3."
Tim's looking up at Jimmy, how tempted he is to get a pain killer that's not fighting out of its weight class clear on his face. He sighs. "I want to start really working again."
Jimmy pats his good shoulder, sympathetic, but his voice has an edge to it. "Then you're going to hurt. I'm not letting you screw your stomach or stroke out because you're too stubborn to take a narcotic."
Jimmy can see Tim's got frustrated all over his face.
"It's not a race, Tim. Take the pain meds. The better you feel, the more you'll move, the more you move the faster you'll heal, faster you heal, the less medication you'll need in the long run."
That gets an eye roll, but one that's resigned to the fact that Jimmy does know what he's talking about. "I am so bored!"
"I'm done my email backlog. I've got all the requisitions done. All I'm doing in there is sitting on my ass collecting dust."
"You've got that much free time?" Jimmy can't believe that.
"How long would it take you to get done with your housekeeping if you didn't do anything but it?"
Jimmy inclines his head, especially with the automated paperwork taking most of the housekeeping off his plate, that's a good point. "Go home, write, do something useful. Get the welcome packet ready for… Brand right?"
"Brand does start Monday. Which I'm looking forward to. But, I've already got the welcome packet done, and all the stuff she's got to fill out is on her desk, already." It'd taken him a lot longer than he'd like to admit, but he was bored enough to go down (up, eventually he'll get his mental compass used to the basement instead of the third floor) to HR, and pick up all of the forms (fortunately there were enough of them he could tuck them between the cast and his side, and they didn't slip out) and then hobble back to her desk and set her up.
"Good God, you are bored, aren't you?"
Tim nods. "I can't go home because I can't drive, and Gibbs dropped me off here and headed to the house after, so I'm here until Abby takes me home. Can't write here because I can't type, and I'm not about to be saying that story out loud in my office."
"You've got a door."
"Yeah, but they come in, and I'm not getting caught saying…" Which is when Tim notices that Dr. Allan isn't even pretending to mess around with whatever it is in the back of Autopsy and is just happily leaning against one of the tables, listening away to the two of them. Allan doesn't need to know precisely what he's writing these days, so Tim edits mid-sentence. "It's NSFW and that's that. I don't want my guys messing with stuff like that here, so I'm not, too."
"So, you're saying the next bits are interesting?" Jimmy looks intrigued. He's heard second-hand that Tim's written some chapters of the book that Abby really liked.
"Uh… Yeah."
"Breena and Gibbs and I still in it?"
Tim may be blushing at this point. He's written some non-smutty bits, but not a lot of them, and yes, Breena's in some of the smutty bits, and Jimmy's (sort of) in a few, but no Gibbs, and with the way Jimmy said that last bit, it sounds like all three of them may be in theinteresting bits, and he really doesn't want Allan whispering that around work, so he modifies his answer some. "Mostly writing stuff with Abby and I. Not so much with you guys, yet. Outlining stuff with you in it, but no real writing."
Allan definitely looks intrigued by this, and Tim's wondering if Jimmy's cool with him knowing about it, or, if, given that Jimmy's back is to Allan, he just doesn't know that Allan's listening in. Tim glances, meaningfully, toward Allan, and Jimmy's eyes follow his, but he doesn't seem to be bothered by the fact Allan's just hovering around back there.
"Well, write some boring parts that the Minions won't mind if they walk into. Gotta do set design and stuff like that, right?"
Tim nods. He's bad at setting. Not describing it, he's good at describing a setting, but the reason why all of his books to date happen in the real world with real people is that making things up whole cloth isn't his strong suit.
But he's got an internet connection, two hours to kill, and an idea of the vibe of the place, he can kill two hours on research.
He stands up slowly and takes a step, wincing, not reaching for his crutch. Jimmy just about leaps to his side, getting a hand under his good arm, steadying him. "What are you doing?"
"Doc says I can take a few steps without the crutch."
"Not in here you aren't! Not like this. There's nothing on your good side for you to grab onto if you wobble, and the floors in here are linoleum over concrete. You fall here, and it'll hurt." Jimmy grabs Tim's crutch and hands it to him. "The idea is to heal, not injure yourself even more by doing too much, too fast, stupidly. Breena and I are coming over to dinner tonight." Once again, Shabbos is at their house, though with the way he's healing up and hopefully walking more soon, and maybe, if things are really looking up, able to walk up steps, this is probably the last week at their place. "When we get there, we'll redo your PT plans, okay."
"Fine." Tim takes two steps. "It's going to hurt, isn't it?"
Jimmy nods. "Take the Tylenol 3, even if you don't want it in your system when you're at work, take it so we can work on your PT and you can sleep easier."
Tim sighs. "Okay. When I get home."
"Good. See you tonight."
"Thanks, Jimmy." And Tim slowly makes his way out.

When he sees the elevators close, Jimmy turns to Dr. Allan. "Enjoying that?"
Allan inclines his head to indicate, yes. He is finding the dynamics and relationships of his new job interesting. "I thought we aren't supposed to treat our family and friends."
Jimmy shrugs. "We're not. He's got a real PT he's seeing, and I'm not handling any of the real work. Mostly I'm… I don't know, keeping him pointed in the right direction and trying to save him from being stupid."
Allan looks amused by that. "Full time job?"
"Not usually. You know how it is, healing is long and frustrating, and it's easy to want to take short cuts."
Allan nods at that, and Jimmy wonders if he knows about it from a physical level or just the emotional one. "He writes books?"
Jimmy nods.
"Like real books, ones I could go out and buy?"
Jimmy nods at that, too.
"And you're in them?"
Jimmy can see that Allan finds that idea uncomfortable. "When he's writing, he's Thom E. Gemcity. The last of his current series comes out in November. They're mysteries based on us."
"He's starting on a new… not sure if it's a one shot or series. I don't think he does, either."
Allan thinks about that for a moment. "Is it odd, Dr. Palmer, to see yourself through his eyes? I mean, that's how the books work, right?"
Jimmy's never thought about it that way, and he's suddenly thinking about going back and reading The Traitor Within, where Pimmy Jalmer dies and James Relamp shows up. He does know, though that level of it never hit him, that he likes Relamp a whole hell of a lot better, because Jalmer was this cross between awkward, goofy, and creepy that set his teeth on edge.
Which also gets him thinking if that's how, back then, he looked to other people, too. In which case the whole 'Autopsy Gremlin' nickname makes a hell of a lot more sense.
He also knows that Relamp is the version of him that Tim saw after they got to know each other, and that Relamp reflects a version of himself that he likes. The image he wants to see in the mirror. He wonders if Daegan M'Gy will be someone he likes even better.
Allan's still waiting for him to say something, so Jimmy pulls his thoughts together and says, "Everyone you ever meet will see you somehow, and even with your dearest loves, you'll never really know what it is they see. With Tim, you know. If you read the books, you'll see, especially the first one, all of the characters besides Amy and Cathy." Tommy's partner who had been killed, off screen. The series starts up with the hunt for her killer and a new member of the team, Lisa, joining up. "Are mean and rough." Jimmy smiles a bit. "A whole bunch of jerks who sort of all tolerate each other. That gets a lot better over the series, the characters get backstories: they learn how to deal with each other. That's fifty-fifty us getting better with each other, and they're stories, so he can't just dump it all in at once. But if you read all of them, you'll see us go from a bunch of jerks who sort of tolerate each other into a family."
Allan's looking interested, like he might actually read those books.
Jimmy sighs, there's a downside to reading those books. "Just, if you do read them… Nothing, and I mean nothing that Pimmy Jalmer does ever actually happened in real life."
Allan looks disturbed. "How bad is it?"
Jimmy shakes his head and rolls his eyes. "I don't care what he and Breena say about it being a dream and symbolism, I'm a freakingsaint for putting up with him."

Penny Langston is used to waiting for the other shoe to drop. She spent a good third of her married life with her husband actively fighting, waiting for the sound of footsteps on her front porch. For four months, her husband and two oldest sons were in Vietnam. For the years that followed, at any given time at least one of her men were in active danger, somewhere.
So she's used to that faint nagging pull of fear.
Which does not mean she likes it.
She's feeling it for John right now, very strongly. And for everything else that's going on with him, for all the pain and horror and anguish of the quagmire of shit, she still doesn't want him murdered, but for all Tim said about not going after him, she is not stupid, and she is not unaware, and she is not bad at reading people.
Something very bad is going to happen to John, and the only hope she has for it is that Tony or Ziva or that other Agent will find something he did and get him in jail before Jethro or Tim kills him.

The worst part of waiting is that she's still part of this family. She's with these people every few days. Right now, she's at the house, spending hours with Ducky and Jethro.
On the surface, everything is calm. They're wrapping up the stone facing on the bottom three feet of the house, getting all the masonry looking nice, filling in the tiny bits, stuff like that. They're talking, working together, but the tension is there.
She can feel Jethro's anger, because she feels it, too. Every time she sees Tim she wants to rage, wants to scream at that idiot child of hers for doing this, wants to hit him, hard, wants to make him hurt and make him grieve. She just, unlike the rest, doesn't want him dead. She wants him broken, repentant. She wants him to have the full on Come-to-Jesus-epiphany, wants all of the anger and pride and rigid identity to shatter and... On one level, even if it happens it doesn't matter; she knows there's no shot of John ever coming to terms with the rest of the family. She knows he will never be welcome in any place that is Tim's home, which means here, or the home she shares with Ducky, let alone his own home, or Jethro's, but she can hope, at least, or dream maybe, of a day where they might at least talk on the phone again, or maybe, if he ever really got it, have a cup of coffee face to face again.
She places another tiny bit of stone, covering a few inches of wall, shaking her head. It's not going to happen. She misses his voice. It feels stupid, but she wants a few more words, real, spoken words, not invective screamed at each other.
But she can't get them, because for all she hopes, and for all the dreams, she knows John isn't going to change.
Which means waiting, tense, to see how the other shoe falls, dreading how bad it will hurt.

There are, hopefully, distractions from this. Something that gets their mind off of it, and gets them working, together, on something good, something useful and healing.
"Next Friday, I've been invited to join a meeting of people who feel that current immigration laws are problematic," she says as they break for lunch.
Gibbs looks startled for a second and then nods. "Been so long since I thought about that, I almost forgot it."
Ducky unpacks the lunch box he brought. "We have been a bit distracted of late." He, too, thinks getting them working on something other than John is a good plan, if for no other reason than his continued domestic harmony. Living with a woman who is, rightfully, tense and jumpy is not fun. Not that he doesn't understand and sympathize, but, it is his experience that any emotional difficulty goes better with long, hard work on a worthy cause. At least, that's how they've always dealt with problems in the past.
"Problematic how?" Gibbs asks, taking a sandwich from Ducky, and opening the cooler of cold drinks, handing the first of the icy Gatorades to Penny.
"Thank you, Jethro." July on the Potomac. It's got to be close to 95 degrees, and even with boat loads of water and working on the shady parts of the house, they are hot. "Specifically, they want to talk about people in need of asylum and how to get it for them."
"Interesting?" Gibbs isn't sure if she's being vague to be vague, or if that's all she's got on this.
Penny inclines her head a bit, indicating that she also doesn't know if they're going to be talking about a specific person in need of help, or if this is a political meeting about lobbying for change on the rules for asylum seekers. "No promises or anything, but… Maybe it's time to get that boat ready to hit the water."
"Just got to stick a name on her, and she's ready to go."
"Then pick a name, Jethro. If there's something for us to do, I want us to be ready."
He smiles at her, but she doesn't smile back. "Whenever you need to go, I'll be ready."

Abbi didn't make it to Shabbos that week, which actually suits Jethro just fine. It's not that he doesn't want her there, he does. He's hit the point where seeing her is the highlight of his week, and he feels a little boost in his mood when her number pops up on his phone.
But, there's something that he wants to toss open to the family, but doesn't necessarily want to talk to her about.
So, today's the day.
"We're working on the house tomorrow." They all nod at that. Another bright and sunny Saturday means working on the house. "And Jimmy's going to help me get the boat into the boathouse." That's the first Jimmy's heard of that, but it's good cover for another week of sniper practice. It's been raining a lot so he hasn't gotten much practice in beyond working on taking the rifle apart and putting it back together. Which he can now do with the rifle in its silk bag. He doesn't need to see, or directly touch it, anymore. Supposedly that's progress.
"You all know she was supposed to be Shannon," Gibbs says. He doesn't want to make a big deal out of it, but they all know about this, and he might as well just get it out and say it, rather than pretend he doesn't hear them gossiping about it later. "But… like Jimmy said, she can't be Shannon if I've got a future beyond living in the past. Can't be Shannon if I'm hoping on taking Abbi out there. So, I need a name for her, and I don't have one. I'd like it if you'd all think about names."
"Do you have any themes? Ideas for what the name should focus on?" Ziva asks. "Or should it just sound nice?"
"Hope. The future. Better days ahead, hard days behind."
"I like Better Days," Abby says. "Or does it have to be a girl's name?"
"Hope's a girl's name," Tony adds.
"It doesn't have to be a girl's name, and I like the idea of 'Hope' but I'm not christening her that. Want something more… I don't know. Something."
Penny puts her wine glass down, and looks at Jethro, "I like Better Days, too. It's light, relaxed, like a boat ride's supposed to be."
Tim says something under his breath to that, which may have been, "Or it's the Bataan Death March," but he's quiet enough no one hears him.
"Eos, the dawn of a new day. Elpis, the personification of hope. Antevorta is the goddess of the future. Amphitrite was the consort of Neptune and the goddess of the sea. There's also-"
"Duck, it'd help if I could spell them."
"Does it have to have a name?" Breena asks.
Gibbs nods. "Yes. Can't register it without one, and I can't take it out of the boathouse and onto the water until I've got it registered."
"Hoping to get sailing soon?" Jimmy asks, thinking that might end up being part of their training exercises. They're less than three hours from international waters, so load up, grab some targets, and it wouldn't take long before they were not only nowhere near anyone else, but outside the reach of US law enforcement.
"Yeah. Not sure when exactly, but when the weather breaks, and it starts to cool down again, I'd like to get out. Nothing like fall sunset and night on the ocean." And, while that may not have been something he was planning a minute ago, he is now, because that's true, there really isn't anything like a warm day and cool night, out on a calm ocean, billions of stars overhead, water lapping gently at the hull below.
Penny's smiling (something they've seen all too little of lately) and nodding at that. "Nothing else like that, at all."
"We'll have to do that. You and I, some fall night." Part of this is cover for whatever they may be doing in the days ahead, part of it is a genuine invitation to spend time together, both of them doing something they love.

Jimmy and Breena and the girls stay late after dinner.
"Well…" Jimmy says, staring at Tim. They're downstairs right now, while Abby and Breena handle tubby time.
"Uh, yeah?" Tim says back. He's feeling pretty relaxed and mellow right now. Possibly having something to do with two glasses of wine, a Tylenol 3, and a very good dinner.
"Lots of stuff to grab, soft, carpeted floor, and sofas all over the place to land on. Up you get."
Jimmy wiggles his finger, a gesture that means up. "Get your ass up. You decided you wanted me as a physical therapist, well, guess what?"
Tim sighs. "Great. You were a drill sergeant in a past life, weren't you?"
Jimmy giggles a bit at that idea, and so does Tim. After a second, Jimmy gets serious again. "Quit yapping and get to it."
Tim scoots himself to the edge of his seat, and stands up. It's hard and it really hurts. He's biting his lip and has his eyes closed. He can feel each break in his foot, and there is way more play than he likes in his knee and ankle, but, for the first time in weeks, he is standing on his own feet, without any help.
For about three seconds, and then down he goes again. Jimmy shifts a bit, gets a hand behind him, so he doesn't hit the sofa at full speed, but hit it he does, cursing with relief.
"Okay, that's good. How bad does it hurt?"
"Bad enough I'm considering the exercises you're making me do for my ankle mild discomfort. And given how much pain medication I'm on…"
Jimmy smirks at that. "I'll call that a five on the one to ten scale."
Tim nods a bit. "Only because it's fast. I can feel everything when I do that. Breaks, dislocations. I stand on it and everything screams."
Jimmy nods, sitting in front of Tim, carefully palpating his foot.
Tim jerks his foot away. "That hurts!"
"Yeah, I know." Jimmy grabs his foot again, continuing his examination, a bit more gently this time. "Trying to see how messed up the soft tissue is. The thing about broken bones is they're not broken or healing in a vacuum. There's all these muscles and tendons and ligaments and nerves and blood vessels around them, and if you're going to have functional limbs you need to make sure they haven't just turned into one big knot of scar tissue."
"Great. How's it feel?"
"Like a foot."
Tim flashes him a quit dicking with me look. "Like a foot's supposed to feel?"
"Yeah, more or less. Everything is going to hurt for a while because you haven't been moving it much, but the more you do, the better it'll get." Jimmy sits back on his heels. "Look, if you can stand the boredom, keep taking the meds. The more you walk, the more you flex, the stronger and more flexible, and the faster everything heals. There's the reason your OB had Abby up and walking around twenty-four hours after the c-section, and that was to make sure the scars healed up strong and flexible. Your Ortho and PT is making you move as much and as quickly as possible for the same reason."
Same choice staring him in the face, use his body or use his brain. "I hate this."
"I know. But… look, I know you, you'll be off the narcotics by the time we get to any of the real work on your shoulder, so, at least now, while you can, baby yourself some. There's nothing you're doing down in the basement right now that's worth this pain."
"You don't know that."
"Please," Now Jimmy's flashing his quick dicking with me look. "You'd have gone cold turkey and dragged me up to Leon to tell him you could work if that was the case."
Tim inclines his head a bit; Jimmy's right about that. "What would you have said?"
"At your size, twenty-four hours off means you're safe to work. Won't necessarily be as sharp as cold sober, but if it's an all-hands-on-deck emergency, you're clear to hack. Especially since you've got that software in so you don't have to try to type."
"No problem." They hear a loud splash and giggling from upstairs. "I think Molly just showed Kelly and Anna her latest trick."
Tim can hear Abby and Breena corralling babies who are laughing uproariously.
"What's she doing?"
"She's figured out how to pull herself up on the arm rail and cannonball off the side of the tub, and she's really fast at it. Little booger waits until you're holding Anna, washing her off, and scoots up there in a flash, next thing you know everyone is soaked."
Tim's biting his lip, trying not to laugh.
"Yeah, just you wait until you're on tubby time again."
"Tubby time means I've got two working arms. I cannot wait to do tubby time again."
Jimmy smiles at him. "Yeah, I know."

"So, I'm guessing I'm supposed to actually go to your house and mess around with your boat?" Jimmy says into his phone. He's in his car, heading to Gibbs' place, figuring that the best way to lie is to actually tell the truth.
Gibbs nods and then says, "Yes," because while Jimmy's gotten pretty good at reading his different forms of quiet, it's not exactly easy to do that over the phone.
"I'll be there in fifteen."
It was actually twenty-four minutes later, but, in that he's got cups of coffee, (hot for Gibbs, iced for him) and a collection of cold snacks (high today, 97) he's forgiven for being late.
"So, what do we do?" This doesn't look terribly difficult to Jimmy, from everything he can see the boat is on the trailer which is attached to the truck, so, to him this looks done, but he's also never done anything like this before.
"Nothing, right now." Gibbs tosses Jimmy his keys, opens the door, and Mona goes bounding into the cab, excited by another day out and about at the house.
Jimmy nods at that, slowly. "Are we doing anything at all with her?"
"Lot easier to get her in the water with two guys."
"All right."

They're on the road when Jimmy asks, "So, this is boat number…"
"Three. Built one after everything went wrong with Diane. Built Kelly. Now this one."
Jimmy knows what happened to Kelly, shot full of holes, disassembled by Abby, logged as evidence. It's probably, still in a million pieces, in the deep storage evidence lock up for NCIS. "What happened to Diane's boat?"
"Finished it a bit after Stephanie and I split, filled it with newspaper and gasoline, lit it, and pushed it into a lake."
"You spent years building a boat to set fire to it?"
Gibbs looks non-plussed. Jimmy looks amazed. Gibbs shrugs. "It made sense at the time. Pretty fire."
"I'd imagine a wood boat filled with flammable materials would be." Another thought hits Jimmy. Gibbs gave Kelly away. "Um… Is this the first one of these you've actually sailed?"
Gibbs nods.
"You do actually know how to sail, right? This isn't something you did once three decades ago, right?"
That gets Gibbs' don't be a smartass look aimed at him.
"Just checking."
Five silent miles later Gibbs says, "Everything about Diane burned. How we started, how we ended, all of it. And Stephanie was more fire. By the time that one was done, so was I. Done with them. Done with married. So, out to the lake, a lot of bourbon in me, a lot of gasoline, kindling, and two wedding rings in Diane, and up in smoke they went.
"I could build Kelly, but I couldn't sail her. Too many memories. Building her was good, giving her away was good, Leyla and Amira and Mike had some great times with her." Gibbs shrugs. "Just like her namesake, I hated how she ended up, but it was out of my hands."
Jimmy listens to that, and sighs quietly. "Yeah, you really need a name for her."
Jimmy shrugs. "Don't ask Tim. He's terrible with names."
Gibbs rolls his eyes at that. Not that he disagrees, after all he's read most of Tim's books, (he decided not to go find the sexy ones) so he knows that Tim is bad with names. He also wasn't desperate enough to ask Tim for a name.

Once she's in the water, bobbing gently against the trailer, a thought hits Jimmy. "Um… Isn't it easier to get the name on her if she's not swaying in the water?"
Gibbs nods at that.
"So… We taking her back out again in a week?"
He shakes his head. "I'll put her name on clear vinyl, and then attach that." That's not standard operating procedure for naming a ship, but, if he wants to put a new name and numbers on it quickly and easily, that's the way to go about doing it.
Actually, he thinks about that some more. Ducky and Penny have that lawyer on standby, if he were to… build a corporation or a non-profit or whatever the hell they do, that corporation could own a boat. That boat could be registered out of… wherever works best. The fact that that boat would be identical to a boat owned by Leroy Jethro Gibbs, but had a different name, tags, and flag, would just be convenient. He could swap out his tags if he needed to, and because they'd both be legit, he wouldn't have to worry about a deep background check on them.
He makes a mental note to mention that to Duck and Penny, and then sighs quietly because now he needs two names.
"Okay, you unhook her, and I'll sail her into the boat house."
So, Jimmy gets to it.

Saturday had been a long and full day. Ducky and Penny had spent close to eight hours at the house. Today's job for everyone who isn't Tim: attach the log cabin looking siding to the house. With the whole crew working they got the entire first floor and half of the second floor attached. (Tim continued to work on floor plans. As the only one besides Penny with any engineering background, and unable to do any heavy lifting, he's become the unofficial architect for the house. To say this makes him nervous is an understatement. To say that someone who actually has a degree in architecture is going to look over this plan of his before they start ripping out walls is a fact.)
That's a good day's work for eight hours.
And so, 'round dinner time, Duck and Penny head home to a quiet night of take out, hot showers to sooth sore joints and muscles, ice packs to cut down on any swelling and inflammation that may arise as the result of said day of hard work, followed by a lazy night of reading and talking.
That's how most of the night went, pleasant, warm, and comfortable. In that Penny isn't crying or, from the looks of it, wrecked by anger and guilt, this is one of the best nights they've had in weeks. As they settle into bed, light sheet and blanket draped over them, Penny, who had for the last few weeks turned her back toward Ducky, a sign of a need for comfort, snuggling, and sleep, tonight reached for him, facing him, a sign of desired kisses, it turned into a very good night, indeed.
While it's true that anyone who knows Ducky knows that he likes to hear himself talk, it's also true that there is a select group of ladies who are familiar with the fact that, properly relaxed, and in a splendid post-coital mood, that he can wax poetic and often goofy toward his companion, and in that tonight was the first time in weeks that he's been in such a mood, he is feeling especially effusive.
"I have always felt there was a special melody to the name Penelope," his soft Scottish burr caresses the syllables of Penny's name as his hand slips over her arm that's resting across his chest. By this point, she's well-used to his post-sex chatter and finds it soothing and relaxing. "Donald, of course, is frank and boring, no music at all, but Penelope, beautiful sounds flowing one after the other."
"Mmm." Penny's never been very impressed by her name. It's just a name to her.
"Rhymes with Calliope, muse of epic poetry, which is fitting I suppose, in that Penelope is the leading lady of an epic poem."
Penny exhales, slow and deep, drifting, her lips pressed to Ducky's shoulder. "Uh huh." She knows all about Penelope from the Odyssey. Long ago, before feminism, before learning to stand on her own, she was a child bride with a husband often away for long stretches of time. "Penelope is faithful," she wore that on her heart and kept it close as a mantra. If that Penelope could wait twenty years, running her husband's home, keeping gold-digging suitors at bay while raising her son, she could handle six months or a year.
And she did, but they were long months and longer years.
Ducky's thinking along a similar line, remembering reading the Odyssey years ago, and two words, inspired by his beloved's name and the hunt for another name spring to mind, "Semper Fidelus."
That wakes Penny up a bit, those aren't words she's expecting. "Mmm? Semper Fi?"
Ducky kisses her forehead. "Jethro's boat. The hunt for a fitting name, something that captures what that boat was supposed to be about, a testament to his loves, and to who he is and who he hopes to be, faithful to his need to protect people."
Penny thinks about that. "Shannon and Kelly are not forgotten, but not the bedrock of his life anymore, shifting his passion and focus to what comes ahead, and promise of his faith to that, plus all of his Marine life wrapped up in it." She's smiling at that. "I think it works."

By Sunday, Abby's got a new morning routine. Wake up, feel like crap, grab Zofran, take Zofran, stay very, very, VERY still for about ten minutes, tentatively sit up, nibble a few saltines, sip some lukewarm ginger ale, and, by then, she's not exactly feeling spiffy, but she's good enough to face the day.
Usually, by noon her hormones figure out what they're doing, and she's feeling better.
Thus, she is, according to a not very scientific survey of Breena and Penny, the only woman in existence to ever have morning sickness only in the morning.
By Sunday, Tim also has a new morning routine. He wakes up, grumbles a bit, grabs his pain medication, dry swallows it, sits himself up and starts on his range of motion exercises. He pretty much has to start with them, because apparently his body is under the impression that all of his injured areas should fuse tight while he sleeps, and if he doesn't start out stretching, he's pretty much not going to be moving anytime soon.
Abby's still mid-stay very still and he's very tentatively starting on his torso twists (which Jimmy said he could start today) when he says, "Remember how we used to wake up? All snuggled together, maybe a little sex, warm and comfy?"
"Then we did some yoga, grabbed Kelly, and got on with the morning." Yoga in the sense of quiet, meditative time together more or less died when Kelly was born. However, they did usually manage to get ten or so minutes of stretching out, and then one of them would grab her and take care of her morning routine and breakfast for them while the other one finished working out and got a shower. Next day, they'd swap. Little hectic and crowded, but it was getting the job done.
And now it's not. Abby's sleeping every second she can, and Tim's just getting to the point where he can do a few, very basic, seated poses and hip openers. He's mostly doing his breathing, then working on stretching out his calf and shoulder a bit, today he's adding in the twists for his ribs, and if all goes well, he'll eventually stand up and take a few steps.
"Yep." Abby reaches for a saltine and sits up.
"That's my anniversary goal. October 23, 2016, four years after our second first date, we're starting the day wrapped in each other, feeling good, making love."
Abby smiles at that. "End the day that way, too."
"I really hope so!"

Sunday was another bright and sunny day, which meant another day at the house, and by the end of it, when the rest of the family had headed off to their own homes, Ducky asks to see the boat.
"Sure, Duck." Jethro'd done the grand tour yesterday, but he's fine with showing her off again.
The three of them head to the boat house, and for a moment stand there, watching her bob slightly with the gentle rise and fall of the water.
"I think I may have stumbled upon a name for her."
Jethro looks pleased at that and his face is telling Ducky to say more.
"Semper Fidelus."
Gibbs smiles at that. He can see the angles on that, and he also deeply approves of a name that is welcoming to Abbi as well as summing up what this boat meant and means to him.
Penny rests her hand on Semper's bow, "She's a symbol of faithfulness, to the past, to the future, a commitment to doing the right thing."
Gibbs nods. "I'll get to work on it. Now all we need is another one." This time Penny and Ducky are staring at him in confusion, but the minute or two in which he explains what he's looking for in the way of two registries has them both nodding in concert. "Come on up and in."
He gives Penny a hand up, and Ducky as well, though both of them are capable of climbing in themselves. Below decks he has several storage areas, and, towards the bow, built in above a small desk area, is a small, letter-box looking drawer that he taps. "This one's for carrying her papers. Every boat has one, where you put your charts, your registration, whatever other information you need." He opens it, and it's about five inches deep. "I'm thinking I can modify this, put two shelves in and a lock. Turn the key half-way, and only the bottom shelf opens, turn the key the whole way and the top shelf will open, giving you the second one. Keep whichever set I'm supposed to show in the bottom one, and the second set in the top, only pull them out in an emergency." He takes one step over to the bunks. The top bunk is small, a good size for a child, but an adult won't fit up there. He gently taps the wooden planks that support the top bunk. "Hollow one or two of these out, and I can carry the alternative registration and name in here. Things get hairy, I can swap names and regs in less than five minutes. As long as I've got a bit of heads up, I can sail right past whoever's looking for one ship by carrying the marks of the other. Name her Semper Fidelus and fly the Marine flag as well as the US one and no one'll look twice at her, unless they're actively tipped off."
Ducky and Penny look impressed by that.
"So, tomorrow, I'll get her registered. You guys see about getting the second registration up, and… come Friday…"
Ducky feels a rush of anticipation. He knows that most likely all Friday will accomplish is introductions to another set of people who may, or may not, get them one step closer to the active part of their plan, still there is the thrill of the grand conspiracy moving forward and he's enjoying it.
"Come Friday," Ducky says.
"Friday," Penny finishes.

No comments:

Post a Comment