Sunday, February 22, 2015

Shards To A Whole: Chapter 413: Right Hand

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

Chapter 413: Right Hand

Tim's up at his usual time, going through his usual routine (today he gets stretch out and slow shower time, yesterday he was on feed Kelly/make breakfast) and thinking about what to do with the teenager who is likely still sleeping in his guest room.
He's thinking it'd probably qualify as creepy to head in and leave a note for her.
Which is when he remembers that he lives in the 21st century and that the teenager sleeping in his guest room is more or less surgically attached to her phone.
So, he gets out of the shower and sends her a little note.
Morning Cristin,
You're at my house. He's not sure how much she remembers from last night. Pretty much she got in the car, fell asleep, slept walked out and into their kitchen, stared at them, glazed and wrecked, through eating a slice of pizza, and then immediately crashed into the bed in their guestroom, and from the sound of it, hadn't moved since.
We're out doing morning things. Heather (nanny) and Kelly (little girl, you met her last night) should be down there when you wake up.
Eat something.
Go back to sleep.
Shower's down the hall if you want it. Got clean t-shirts and sweats on the chair. Abby's old T-s and the smallest sweat pants (his) they had. They're still too big for Brand, but they are clean.
I'll check in when my ortho apt. is over. Give you a ride back to your car if you're awake. Let you sleep if you're not.
You're off until Monday. I checked, 55 hours in three days is okay for a job like we just had, but once that's done (and it is) you go hand it off and rest.

Gibbs eyes Tim as he slides into the truck.
"You're in a good mood."
Tim nods. "Got to work a real case." Then he gets Gibbs up to date with what's been going on. He wraps up with, "Before Kelly was born, we were wondering if I could do stay at home dadding." He shakes his head. "Pretty clear the answer is, 'No.' Even the injuries hurt less when I'm working. Well, working with a decent amount of sleep. They hurt something fierce when it's crash time."
Gibbs smiles, he knows all about that. "Driving yourself soon?"
"Supposed to wait until I'm off the narcotics, but…"
Gibbs' eyes narrow. "No buts."
"Then, no. I've done two days off, and I'm sharper on them and in less pain than I am off them and hurting, and even more sharp without the meds and not hurting."
Gibbs nods at that, too.
They drive a few more, quiet miles, then something hits Tim, speaking of not being all that sharp, "Jethro…"
Inclined head that means, I'm listening.
"I know how much difference working is making for me. Are you okay? Abbi, Mona, the house, taking care of me, is that doing it for you?"
He sees Jethro go still, carefully not answering, and gets the sense he's caught between not lying and not telling the truth. Tim's eyes narrow at that as he tries to decide if Jethro is trying to prevent Tim from worrying about him, or if there's something else going on.
Finally Jethro says, "You know how you told your guys not to poke into how you got hurt?"
"Okay," Tim says slowly.
"Don't poke it."
"I told them not to poke because I didn't want everyone at NCIS knowing the Admiral tried to have me killed. Because that's private, and I didn't want the whispers or stares. You and me, we don't have private."
Gibbs laughs at that. "Maybe you don't."
"Fine." There is a certain lopsidedness to Jethro knowing everything about them, and them not knowing everything about him, though Tim likes to think its evening up. Though as he looks at Jethro, he does wonder about that.

More scans. They ache. They burn. One position feels like his whole arm is ripping in half. Tim supposes this is better and easier than the first scans, back when he was getting the first of the casts, but this isn't fun by any stretch of the imagination. Anything even remotely connected to his right arm is registering extreme displeasure at the idea of moving in any direction, let alone moving and being held in any position other than the one he's been in for the last six weeks, but he grits his teeth, eyes tearing, and does it.
Then it's time for more waiting. He and Gibbs just sit there in the Ortho's office, waiting for the images to come back. "Starting to feel like I live in doctor's offices."
Gibbs nods. He's starting to get that feeling, too. With Tim not driving and Abby working, he's been to all of these appointments, too.
"Bet the last one was fun."
Tim smiles. "Last one was fun." He's grinning from ear to ear and shaking his head. "Kind of stupid, I mean, I love Kelly so much, all the girls, but…" he bites his lip, still grinning, "little boy."
Gibbs smiles, too, he gets it. "Yeah. Ten years. You, me, Sean, Jimmy and Donny, Tony and Third."
"Not gonna be a Third. If they have a son, they're thinking David."
Gibbs grins at that. "Dave. Dave DiNozzo. Little guy, curly hair and brown eyes like Ziva, sassy, little wise-ass like his dad."
Tim's watching that grin. "You know something we don't? Like why Ziva's stateside and Bishop went to Kazakhstan?"
Gibbs shakes his head. If anything along those lines is up, he hasn't heard, yet. "Just seeing it."
"Gearing up, going camping, guys-only weekend in the mountains."
Tim's grinning at that, too. "S'mores, fresh fish from a lake, stories around a big bonfire?"
Gibbs nods.
Then Tim pokes a bit. "Jack Gibbs? Red hair, blue eyes? Say, five-years-old? He gonna be there, too?"
Gibbs rolls his eyes and shakes his head. "Already had that conversation with Abbi. I'm done with that. I've got my kids. Seven of you buggers is enough."
Tim smiles at seven, not even sure why that lights him up so much, but enjoying it. "Okay. But you have had that conversation with her?"
"Don't date a woman pushing 40 if you don't want to have kids and she does. Not a kindness for anyone."
"And Abbi's still here, so she's cool with it?"
"Yeah, she is."

Dr. Kent heads in a moment later, new cast and sling in hand. "Good morning," they do the small talk routine and finally get to the meat of it.
He's putting the scans up on the plasma screen on the wall. "So, this is your shoulder." Tim'll take his word for it. For all he knows, that could be anyone's shoulder. Though, as he looks closer and sees the small scrap yard worth of metal holding the arm together, he decided that this does have to be his shoulder and arm.
Kent blows up the shoulder scan. "When your shoulder was ripped out of joint it tore free at the Corocohumeral ligament, Glenohumeral ligaments, and the Capsular ligaments. We put the humerus back into the glenoid fossa. The Corocohumeral and Glenohumeral ligaments ripped free of the bone taking tiny chunks of bone with them. You can see the staples we used to make sure those ligaments hooked back into your humerus properly. And, as you can see," he's moving his finger over the brighter white areas near the dead white staples, "those sutures there show that the bone reattached and knitted back together properly. So, it looks like your shoulder is stable enough that it doesn't have to be immobile any longer."
He tosses up the next shot. "This is your wrist and hand." Kent shakes his head. "Wrists heal up slowly in the best, cleanest of breaks, there're just so many tiny bones and ligaments. It's looking a lot better than it was." He splits the screen and Tim can see a shot of his wrist from right after they got it set, and the shot from now, but he's not sure what he's looking at that makes the current one better. Probably all those brighter, white lines where there were just empty black spaces and screws before. "But you're not ready to go cast free, yet."
He zooms into Tim's hand and fingers. "Fingers are looking good. All of those little defensive breaks are healed up. Metacarpals, the bones in your hand, are almost there. Just like the ones in your wrist, they're tiny and have a lot of ligaments and muscles involved, and heal up slow in the best of circumstance, and this isn't the best." Kent makes the picture of Tim's hand even bigger. "Here and here, first and second metacarpal" he points to two screws in Tim's hand, the bones that attach into his first and middle finger. "These are right under the tendons that move your first and middle finger. Right now, I'm keeping those fingers immobile to let everything in here get really rock solid.
"Your new cast is going to cover your hand, wrist to mid forearm, and your first two fingers. Since your last two fingers didn't break, and none of the metacarpals under those tendons snapped either, we're going to let them start moving around again. But take it easy." Kent wiggles his pinkie and ring finger. "The tendons that move these have to go through your wrist. Getting moving again is going to hurt, beyond just you haven't been moving. There's a ton of scar tissue in there that is not going to want to be moving around. Same story with moving your thumb, with a side of your thumb did break and get dislocated. Moving it is not going to be fun, keep at it, but do it slow and gentle, okay?"
"I've sent everything to your PT and CCed Dr. Palmer, as well. I've also emailed them suggestions for someone who specializes in rehabbing hands."
"Oh good, more doctor's appointments," Tim says dryly.
Kent nods. "I know; you're so excited. Part of my job is managing expectations. Balancing hope with reality. Reality, this is going to be long and hard and take way more effort than you think it should. Things you use to do on automatic will require effort and thought for a lot longer than you think they should. But this is also reality, if you don't give up on it, if you don't decide, 'I've got 80% of what I had back, it's good enough,' you will get full function in your hand back."
"I'm a programmer and a writer, I need both of my hands working at 100%. So, how long…"
"One hundred per cent? Spring? You'll be typing long before then, but, you're really good and fast at it, right?"
Tim sighs. He doesn't want to hear "Spring." He wants to hear "last week."
Kent looks at him. "I know."
Tim's got doubt it all over his face. Kent rolls up his sleeve and shows Tim the scars all over his forearm and wrist. "Skiing accident. I've got enough metal in my wrist to make yours look clean and tidy. Two years of rehab, but I am a fully functioning orthopedic surgeon again. Trust me, put the work in, and you will get it back. After all, you hit the wrong key, you go back and delete. It's a little different if I don't get the scalpel in the right place."
Tim nods at him. "Okay. Got it."
"Good. I'd like to set your next appointment for two weeks out. If all keeps going well, you'll be down to just a wrist/hand brace and sling then."
Kent nods. He gets it. "Let's get the new cast on."
It's still warm from the 3d printer and smells strongly of melted plastic. He almost feels a little naked with just plastic from his mid forearm to fingers.
"So, let's see what kind of range of motion you've got. We're going to start at the top of your shoulder and move each joint as far as you can without pain."
Tim sighs at that. At least since he's been doing some movement with Jimmy, his shoulder isn't completely immobile. He lifts it up and down, back and forth at the collarbone, and Kent hums a bit at that.
"Your shoulder has been adducted and internally rotated." Which Tim knows means his arm's been across his stomach for six week. "First off, try to rotate your arm."
Tim's able to move it almost a centimeter away from his stomach before it hurts. He's feeling pathetic about that, but Kent looks pleased. "Believe it or not, that's good. Next, abduction." Tim remembers from college that means move your elbow away from your side and toward Gibbs. And again, he's got about a centimeter before his shoulder screams at him. Kent's nodding along at that, too. "Extension." Moving his arm forward and up, and in that direction his shoulder is telling him in no uncertain terms that it's not doing jack shit, thank you very much. "Okay, we've got to see how much your elbow is ready to move before we get retraction. So, onto your elbow." Pretty much the only part of Tim's arm that didn't get hurt was his elbow. He's got three full inches of extension before his tricep says no more, and a similar distance of retraction before his bicep goes on strike. "That's looking good. With as badly broken as your humerus was, and the amount of surgery they had to do to put it back together, I was afraid you'd have more damage to your muscles. You'll have full range of motion in your elbow first. Okay, palm up." The cast kept his palm facing his stomach for the last six weeks. He gives it a try and just like with extending his shoulder his body is sending very clear, 'Oh FUCK NO!' signal to him on that. Kent keeps nodding. "Palm down." Exact same response. "Thumb?" It twitches slightly without pain, and he can almost wiggle the top joint. "That's good. Pinky?" He can bend the middle joint almost a quarter inch without pain, but the bottom one aches when he tries to move it, and he doesn't have the control to do anything with the top one. His ring finger is in the same boat.
"Okay, given how badly everything was broken, this is a really good place to be starting."
"I'll take your word for it."
"That's why you're paying me," Kent says with a smile. "Cast feels good?"
Tim nods.
"Good. We've got a new sling for you." Kent starts to open it up. "The cast kept your arm in position before. This is a little firmer, little more snug, than the sling you were using with that cast. He fits it around Tim's arm and shoulder, and adjusts the strap that goes around his waist. I've got it set so you've got about two inches of play for internal/external rotation of your shoulder, and a similar amount for extension and retraction. If you're getting tired and achy and want more support, just pull the straps tighter." Tim's noticing that this has four different Velcro straps that attach to his waist and ribs. "Once it's tight, it'll hold your arm the way the cast did. Loose means more movement. Try to keep it loose as much as you can, okay?"
Tim nods.
"Ultimately, you'll only have it tight for sleeping, but you're going to have to play that by ear. If it's more pain meds or tighten it up, tighten it up."
Tim nods at that, too.
"Okay. Speaking of pain meds, everything doing the job the way it should?"
Tim nods at that, too.
"Good. I'm going to write you another script for more Tylenol 3, and then you're set to go."
"No problems. See you in two weeks."

"Back to work?" Gibbs asks when they get into his truck.
"Maybe. Gotta check at home." He pulls his phone out and texts. Awake?
A few seconds later, as Gibb is pulling out of the parking lot he gets back. Yes.
Be home in about twenty minutes. Then we'll take you back to your car, okay?
"Gotta stop home."
"Picking something up for Abby?"
"Not quite." He explains who is home and why they need to get her.
He sees Gibbs' hand leave the steering wheel, start to head in the general direction of his skull, then stop and go back to the steering wheel. Gibbs then closes his eyes for a second and bites his lip before saying, "You took your exhausted, teenage, female, employee home with you?" Are you fucking insane? is clear on his face.
"I tucked a sleeping agent in, at work, last night. Which is right out of your playbook, right? Abby took the teenage girl home. Which is right out of hers."
He knows what's got Gibbs worried. It's also why he wasn't immediately all, 'let's go adopt a teenage hacker' when Abby suggested it. He's the Boss. She is his VERY young employee. This could be a disaster of epic proportions if it went badly. "I'm being careful. I was telling her she had to go home, and that we'd drive her, because she was too tired to drive home, and then Abby's asking if home alone is spooky and lonely and next thing I know she's sleeping in my guest room. I haven't been alone with her, and I'm not going to be."
"Heather's home right now, you're coming in with me, we're giving her a lift back to her car, and that's it."
"Good. She's too young to be… You can't be giving her favors. You can't have her getting a crush on you, and you can't be in a position where she might get the wrong idea."
"Speaking from experience?"
Tim digests that for a moment, wondering exactly when Gibbs learned that, then… "Wait, Abby told me you did the same for her when she was brand new at NCIS."
Tim catches a sheepish look on Gibbs face. In fact, if this was anyone but Gibbs, Tim would characterize that look as trying not to blush. Then he knows what Gibbs was doing that night. "Wait, with Abby? We're you trying… You were married!"
Gibbs shrugs. "Stephanie wasn't supposed to be home."
"Jethro! She thinks you were being all sweet and protective."
"By the time she fell asleep in my car, I was."
"But you weren't when you offered her the ride?"
Gibbs shrugs again. "Long case, bad case, Stephanie was supposed to be out of town, Stan and Abby'd already been out clubbing once, apparently she was fine with friendly and casual, and I just wanted to drink and fuck, thought she'd be up for it, too. Didn't realize how out of it she was until she fell asleep in the car. Then I realized how out of it I had to be if I'd misread the signals that bad. So home, tucked onto the sofa, Stephanie smiled at me for the first time in a month, and I went upstairs to my own bed to crash, too."
Tim grits his teeth and sighs.
"Don't you look at me like that. You did the exact same thing the first chance you got, and unlike me, you didn't strike out."
"Probably because she knew we were going on a date," Tim says dryly.
"Would have helped."
Tim's not sure what to do with that. "You ever try again?"
Gibbs shakes his head. "Got the little girl too firmly in my head after that to ever do more than flirt."
Tim nods, feeling a little relieved at that.
Then Gibbs turns to him and smiles. "Bet that feels a bit like walking in and seeing you spooning Diane."
Tim rolls his eyes and shakes his head. "I thought we were never going to talk about that again."
Gibbs nods, changing the subject a little, "So, how's Brand settling in?"
"So far so good. At some point I'll sit down with Howard and find out exactly how she was doing, but she was on 55 of 72, just kept working it until there was nothing left to work."
Gibbs looks impressed by that.
They're home five minutes later and Tim is about to get out of the truck when Gibbs stops him. "It'll take you ten minutes. I'll get her."
"Can you grab me a towel, too?"
"Hand towel. Fold it up, wedge it between my wrist and my stomach, it'll force everything to stretch a little, and improve my arm stability."
Gibbs nods. "Biomedical engineering, huh?"
"Magna cum laude."

Gibbs heads in and finds the infamous Brand. He's happy that he did not roll his eyes. She's sitting at the kitchen table in way too big clothing, with her hair long and wet, looking like she's, at most, twelve-years-old.
She's also having a pretty good conversation with Heather (who, as of five minutes ago, he thought looked twelve, but she's a paragon of maturity next to Brand) both of them chattering away while Kelly rides Heather's hip.
She's the one who sees him first. "Pop!"
"Hey, Jethro," Heather adds, bringing Kelly over for a hug and kiss.
"Heather," she gets an affectionate kiss on the cheek as he takes Kelly from her, and Kelly gets a big hug and a big kiss. "Hey, Kelly girl."
"Pop!" She's happily slobbering kisses all over him back. "Pway? Mona?"
"Not today, baby. Just picking up Brand," she leaps up as soon as he says her name. He extends a hand. "Leroy Jethro Gibbs. You can call me Jethro or Gibbs."
"Hi. I'm Cristin." She looks very shy, and even more achingly young as she blushes with him staring directly at her.
"Tim's in the truck. Head on out. I've got to grab a towel."
Both the girls are looking at him like he's insane. Gibbs starts to explain and then stops. "It'll make sense when you see it." He kisses Kelly again. "Go have fun with Heather."
Kelly nods at her Pop as he hands her back and heads into the bathroom in search of a hand towel.

When Gibbs gets into the truck, Brand is already in the backseat, looking pretty nervous. Tim's making small talk, asking if she's feeling okay.
"You introduce yourself?" he asks Gibbs while taking the towel and folding it up.
Gibbs nods.
Tim inclines his head toward Gibbs and says, "My dad."
Tim's done that before, introduced Jethro as his dad, but like with the various Slaters, there's usually been some sort of qualifier. "My dad, or close enough," or "Dad'll cover it," something like that. It's the first time he's said it and just left it there. Gibbs smiles at that.
Brand's nodding, watching him stuff the towel between his hand and stomach, and without missing a beat Tim starts to explain what he's doing, as clearly as he can with his teeth clenched.
"Hurts?" Gibbs asks.
"Yeah. Got it a quarter inch past comfortable. Figure that's the fastest way to start getting more range of motion."
"Run it by Jimmy when you get in, okay."
"I will."
"We picking up pain meds on the way?"
"Got some in my desk. Abby and I can get the rest on the way home."
Gibbs waves that off. "Heading to the house this afternoon anyway, going by the Target, might as well pick it up for you. Got some of my own errands to run, and might as well save you a few more minutes."
"No problem."
Gibbs drops them at the door at NCIS. "See you tonight."
Tim waves. Brand scoots out. "Thank you, Mr. Gibbs."
Gibbs nods at that, smiling.
Tim starts slowly hobbling toward the office, as Brand says, "It never actually ends, does it?"
"They take care of you forever, right? Been talking to my parents about that, especially the last few months," she rolls her eyes, "tired of being babied, you know? I'm not a little kid. Mom pretty much wanted to move here with me."
He nods. "Yeah. I know. I moved 3,000 miles away when I was seventeen. Jethro joined the Marines the second he turned eighteen. You need time on your own, so do they, but if you have a good relationship, they never stop caring, and neither do you."
She nods at that, catching Tim calling him "Jethro" and he starts to turn again, but stops as she says, "Why do you have different last names?"
"I'm adopted."
"Oh. Okay. So… not until Monday?"
Tim shakes his head. "No. Not until Monday. Go home, rest, play, explore DC. Summer sesson's in full swing at American and there are piles of students your age, also all away from home for the first time, head over and socialize. Or call your buddies back home, but you do not come in again until Monday, got it?"
She nods and heads off to her car.

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