Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Shards To A Whole: Chapter 417: Or

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

Chapter 417: Or

Tim didn't get a lot of thinking done after Jimmy and Breena and the girls left.
He'd meant to. He and Abby went upstairs, he got his sling back on, and for all of the looking forward to having some sex after Jimmy and Breena went home, he was awfully tired, sore, physically drained, and drugged.
He fell asleep waiting for Abby to finish brushing her teeth.
Morning, though. Morning's turning out very nice. He wakes up with Abby warm and snug against him. Even better, he's not feeling her usual go stiff, lay very still, reach out for Zofran and wait for nausea to pass behavior, either.
"Hi," he says gently, wondering if she's awake.
"You feeling okay?"
She wriggles a little bit. He knows that usually it's the first few moves of the morning that lets her body wake up and decide if it's nausea time. "Actually, yeah."
He kisses the back of her neck and then eyeballs the clock. They've got maybe fifteen minutes until Kelly wakes up. "Quickie now, or naptime?"
Abby rolls over and quickly kisses the tip of his nose. "Naptime. I've really got to pee."

He's sitting up, starting his morning stretches and foot PT, when Abby gets back out again. "How's your shoulder?"
"Tender." Really tender. Right now he feels like he worked it way too hard last night. The part of his arm that's visible under the sling is bright pink. He's mildly surprised to see no bruising. With as bad as that hurt, he expected bruises.
He finishes with the exercises on his foot, takes his brace off (shower soon), and then takes the sling off his arm. "That feels better. That's way too scratchy to wear without a shirt on underneath." Last night he hadn't noticed, but this morning, all of the Velcro straps feel really rough and scratch against his skin.
He's looking at his arm, like it's some sort of strange creature that somehow ended up attached to him. "Let's see how this goes. Want to see how far I can move without hurting myself. Pretty much had no range of motion yesterday." He grits his teeth and begins by trying to lift his arm. That was the move that caused his arm to say, "Oh, fuck NO!" to him at Dr. Kent's office. This morning, it shifts about an inch.
His eyebrows dart up at that, and Abby asks, "Is that good?"
He nods. "Couldn't move at all in that direction." He tries adduction and rotation, and he's got at least 90% more range of motion in every direction. Tim stands up, and tries to extend his arm at the elbow. "I was best at this before." And he still is. It's almost half way between the 90 degree angle it was cast in and straight. He can even, with a little work, some mild cursing, and gritted teeth, get his arm twisted enough so that he can try extending it behind him. Attempting that gets a definitive "WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU?" message from his shoulder, but in that it was a question his arm couldn't even ask yesterday, he's feeling awfully satisfied.
"Jimmy's a miracle worker." Then he leans over and kisses Abby. "And so are you."

He's out of the shower, and trying to roam around the house crutch-free. He still can't tackle stairs just by walking, so he does sit and scoot down, but the rest of both upstairs and downstairs are coming along well as he hobbles/limps from place to place.
His foot isn't loving him putting his whole weight on it, but given how mobile his shoulder is today, he's done babying his foot. He's getting it working again, pronto, and that's that.
(That there might be issues with this plan, in that, unlike Jimmy he's not a physical therapist or doctor, so he does not, in fact, know what he's doing is not occurring to Tim. He's doing much more of a 'if it hurts it must be working' sort of thing.)
Meanwhile, he's got ice packs all over his shoulder and chest, is taking the maximum amount of Aleve for his weight, and is hoping that as the swelling in his arm backs down, he'll be able to move even more.

"You mind if I head into the office for a bit?"
Abby's got her music on and is bopping away with Kelly. She looks a little disappointed by that idea but, says, "Sure, if you want. Just, let me wrap…"
"I can drive myself."
Her eyes narrow. She's looking him over as he stands in their living room, weight on both feet (mostly), he's got on his kilt and boots, and a button down to keep the sling off his skin. He certainly looks ready to go out.
Her eyes narrow a bit more. "What pain meds are you on?"
"I checked. Tylenol 3 isn't anti-inflammatory. Jimmy doesn't want me taking Aleve with Tylenol 3, so I took the Aleve instead, since it'll do more for my arm. Percocet's been out of my system for hours. I can drive. Want to head in, lay eyes on what's out of Okinawa, then head home, pick up another bottle of that Riesling, and maybe get us some lunch."
"You sure you're feeling up to it?" Abby's looking at him, full well knowing there's nothing he wants to do at work that he can't do from his computer here, pretty sure that what he really wants to do is go drive some.
He shrugs. "If I'm not, I'll come home."
"Okay." She nods, sounding tentative. "Have fun."
He nods back, looking very eager. "I intend to."

Tim supposes this is what driving, alone, for the first time was supposed to feel like. He doesn't remember how he actually felt because he got less than 500 feet before being t-boned by a bus.
This, however, is very nice. This is power and freedom and control of himself and anything else he wants to do. This is not needing to wait for someone, this is not being dependent, hell, this is not needing to be polite about being schlepped around all over the place like a bag of groceries. He LOVES this.
This, he thinks, is how car guys are born. That first few seconds of pure, unadulterated freedom spiraling out from the steering wheel to the road. Right now he really wants his Porsche back. He wants to open her up and do something insanely fast and stupid.
Especially given he's only driving with one hand.
He sighs. That's a good sign of being middle aged. The part of his brain that's mature and responsible reins him in. He's just, barely, functional again, now is not the time to go tearing around and get into a car accident.
So, he was going a little faster than he usually does, with the windows down, which he usually doesn't, music loud, which is something he only does when he's on his own, sucking up speed, and wind, and sunshine, as he heads toward the Navy Yard.

"No crutch?" Burt asks as Tim heads through the metal detector. As per federal guidelines, it's got to get x-rayed every time he goes in or out.
"Not right now. I'll get sore enough later, but right now, it's in the car."
"I hear that. Broke my foot skiing six years ago, couldn't wait to get walking again."
Tim nods in agreement, heading down to his office.

He waves at Connon and Trevet as he heads in. They nod in his direction, not really paying attention, working away at whichever jobs they're on.
He takes a minute to read through his emails, nodding along, pleased to see that as of 06:17 the entire cache of data from the chips had been decrypted, and all of the documents they could use the versioning tool for were done, too.
Meanwhile, Quantico is telling him that hell will freeze over shortly before they let him use a bunch of students to scan things like the New York City Phonebook, and that maybe he should go poke Homeland about getting some bodies to do the busywork.
He's not surprised to see that, but he's also not worried about it. Figuring out how to solve the problem is in his backyard, using the solution belongs to someone else. He forwards the email to Tony, figuring that making people do things they don't want to is something he's better at anyway.
Then, given that he's got the architecture planned out, and has six coders working on it already, he sends Leon an email detailing the current NCIS Cyber-defenses overhaul.

He's using his crutch by the second stop. At the wine shop, his body is telling him in no uncertain terms that it needs help.
Moving around on his own, running errands, just being out and about alone, that still feels good, but, he's getting tired; he's hurting all over.
He knows lunch is a bridge too far.
Back in the car he texts Abby. Got to work, got wine, am done. Coming home soon.

"Tim!" he hears from Abby as soon as he gets in.
"Get in here, right now!" So, he scoots as fast as he can into the living room just in time to see Kelly take one step before landing on her tush.
"Walking!" he says to Kelly, huge smile across his face.
Abby's nodding with a very wide smile.
"Up." Kelly says. Abby takes her hands and Kelly pulls herself into standing position. Kelly looks up at Abby and says, "Walk," very seriously.
Abby lets go. "Okay, you walk, baby."
Tim's getting on the floor as fast as he can (not very fast) wanting to be able to catch her, or have her walk to him, or just, something, he doesn't know what. He's just really happy and excited. He reaches his good arm out and she takes three toddling steps to him, and then grabs his hand, and he's grinning all over. "You're walking!"
Kelly nods, looking very sure of herself, very pleased.
Abby's giggling. "That's the same look you get when you've done the job right."
He smiles up at her, pulling Kelly in for a hug. "Well, she has!" He kisses the top of her head. "That was perfect, baby."

He might not be good for much in the way of grown-up walking around, but sitting still and just holding Kelly's hand is something he's okay at.
So, while Abby gets lunch ready, he's on "Up" duty.
Kelly's taking this very seriously. She's completely focused on making her feet go where she wants them. He knows he does this when he's learning something new, and he thinks Abby does, too.
What's new, or different, or just Kelly being Kelly, is that when she falls, or the foot doesn't end up where she wants it, she doesn't seem to feel any sense of… of anything bad. She just stands back up, or picks the foot back up, and tries again.
He knows, as far back as he can remember, getting anything wrong was a cardinal sin. It was inside him, the feeling of shame and discouragement and horror that any little failure inspired.
He's not sure how much of that is him being him, or things trained into him from long before he can remember. He wonders if, when he took his first steps and fell down, he cried because that's who he is, or if he fell and got chewed out for it, and that taught him to cry whenever he fell.
He doesn't know, doesn't remember, and right now, he's having way too damn good of a day to ask Penny about it.

Tim puts down his phone as Abby comes into their bedroom. She's just got Kelly down for naptime.
"Just got a text from Jimmy. Anna's cutting a new tooth, and they're thinking she'll do better sleeping in her own crib tonight, so dinner's at their place."
Abby nods along with that. "Sounds good. We bringing anything?"
"We're on salad and drinks."
"Easy enough." She lays down next to him on their bed. "So, we okay with last night?"
He exhales. "Um… yeah. I'm really okay with all three of you taking care of me like that. That was… I don't know." He touches his arm. "It hurt, you know, but… It was really safe, too. It was… intimate, and… loving. You remember telling me, when we got these," he touches her cuff tattoo, "that it hurt, but it didn't matter because you were safe and nothing bad was happening?"
Abby nods. She doesn't specifically remember saying that, but that's how she feels about tattoos, so it likely did come out of her mouth.
"It felt like that. Very safe, very… cherished. Sexy, but not by the end, at least, not the way it was in the beginning, but… It kind of felt like sex was supposed to be the next step, like I could see myself kissing Breena and you snuggling in, and… and I didn't know what the hell Jimmy was supposed to be doing, but I didn't want him to go away, either." Okay, that's not enough to get what he was feeling across. "I actively wanted him there, but… I was actually wondering what he would do, and not in a 'I can't predict his behavior' sort of way, but in a 'Both of the girls are with me, so you, what, watch? Join in?' I just… didn't know."
Abby nods at that. "I think all of us having some breathing time was a good thing. That was really intense."
"You okay with it?"
"Oh yeah. I could see the way you were looking at Breena when we stopped, the way she was looking back at you, trust me that kiss would have been welcome, and I was rooting for you to kiss her. But, I also think this is too important, to all four of us, to just go with the flow or get caught in the moment. Any steps we take, we need to talk and think about ahead of time, because we can't mess this up."
Tim nods at that. "So, what's the next step?"
Abby shrugs. "That's what we're talking about tonight. Not a decision we get to make on our own."
He nods at that. "But, you're still in favor of all of it. The four of us together, like, um… a quadruple?"
"But you and me… we'd still be you and me, right?"
"Yeah." She strokes his face. "Always. Anything that might mess that up… No. Don't want to even get near that."
"So…" Tim's trying to think of a word to cover this. "Swinging?"
Abby thinks about that. "No… Not really. We're not just swapping out partners for fun. It'd be all four of us, together. And, I don't see this being temporary or just the occasional treat. But, it wouldn't be an every night, thing, either."
"Going steady?" Tim says dryly.
"My second best guy and your second best girl?" She laughs at that. "Something like that. Is that… okay?"
He shrugs and sighs, looking up at the ceiling. "I don't know. I'm really good with me and you and Breena. All sorts of good with that, but…"
"I know."
He shakes his head. "Not this one. Kind of feel like I shouldn't be okay with Breena if I'm not okay with Jimmy."
That does catch Abby's interest, and isn't something she expects.
Tim's having a hard time putting it together, too, because it's a new sensation/idea for him. "I mean, when I started fantasizing about her… Neither of them were real people, you know? She was just a pretty body, and he was that kind of weird guy down in autopsy, comic relief for some of the intense scenes in my books. But, they're really people now, really, really people. And, they're in our lives, and we love them, and… And I don't know."
"They're a package deal?"
"Something like that. Or… it doesn't feel fair to have Breena if I'm not cool with him having you? And… he matters enough to me that fair matters?" Tim thinks that's getting closer to it.
"Love is when someone else's happiness is vital to your own."
He smiles gently at her, nodding a bit. "Yeah."
Abby inclines her head. "You do want her."
He nods.
"And I know you want me."
He nods at that, too.
"You know he wants me, too, right?"
"Didn't go blind or stupid recently."
"Is it a problem?"
"No. But wanting isn't having, and… watching him touch you will either turn me on so hard I won't know what to do with myself, or I'll hit him so hard we both feel it for a week. And I'm kind of afraid I'll get off on watching, feel bad about it later, and then be an asshole about it after."
Abby kisses Tim, lips soft and lingering on his. "That's why we talk. Why all four of us talk."
Tim nods. "Kind of afraid everyone else is ready to leap in, and I'm the only one who's scared."
She kisses him again. "Love and respect, Tim. If this is where the line is, this is where the line is, and that's it. No cajoling, no pouting, no trying to pull you or anyone else a single inch further than they're ready to go."
This time he kisses her, his leg gently stroking along hers. For a few minutes they're both quiet, thinking, kissing, petting each other.
"Kindness," he eventually says. "That's part of this, too. Thinking back, I get all you and Breena were doing to keep me distracted. That was a kindness, and it really did help. Especially on narcotics, I think sex is the most distracting thing you could possibly do for me."
"It's not always?" Abby asks with a laugh.
He shakes his head and then grins at her. "Come on, you've seen me code. I've been in it so far you could set the house on fire, and I won't notice. I don't think we've had the sort of sex where I won't notice a fire alarm," he teases.
Abby grins at that. "That sounds like a challenge."
Tim smiles back at her. "Uh huh. Well, we've got two hours before Kelly wakes up…"

"You know we were planning on hitting the beach house in August…" Tim and Abby nod as Breena says that. They do know that the Palmers were planning on some down time for the first weekend of August, which is two weeks away. "Come with us?" Breena asks.
That's a way to get this conversation started. It'd been sort of lingering behind the light conversation and interactions while the girls were up. All of them aware of it, but not touching it because they don't want to be fussing with babies while trying to have this conversation. So, they'd gotten together, had a pleasant dinner, played with little girls, got some insanely adorable shots of Molly helping Kelly walk, then got babies tubbied and put to bed, and now all four of them are on Breena's back porch.
Jimmy and Breena have several of those chaise lounge porch recliners, and for this conversation, for this night, they've got them drawn close together, small table between them, with the remnants of the wine and fresh peaches and strawberries for nibbling. Tim and Abby are sharing one lounge, Jimmy and Breena have the other. Add in some togas and it's got an Ancient Rome sort of vibe, of course (as Ducky would tell them if they asked) the Ancient Romans perfected the intimate dinner party, so it's not a bad vibe to have. Add in the fact that the lights in the house are off, and all that's illuminating them is the glow from the citronella tiki torches set around the porch and the moon, and it's a very close, very 'romantic' setting.
Jimmy smiles a bit. He's leaning on his right side, Breena sitting in front of him, leaning back against his stomach, her feet propped onto Tim and Abby's lounge. He sips his drink, and says, "This was supposed to be my summer study break. Since I had to shift two of my continuing education classes to the fall—"
"Sorry about that," Tim says. Like Jimmy, he's leaning on his side, curled into a question mark shape, unlike Jimmy he's on his left. Abby's lying on her back, in front of him, legs draped over his thighs.
"Don't be sorry. I've got to get a minimum of 50 clinical hours, and I can sub out classroom hours for clinicals, so I was able to clock all that time I was with you for that, which means I'm actually ahead of where I would have been if I'd gone to those classes."
"So, are you getting credit for all the PT?" Tim asks.
Jimmy nods. "Yeah, I switched out historical clinical pathology for myofascial rehab. Technically you're my guinea pig, and I've got some evaluation forms you're going to need to fill out. And I'm… kind of learning some of the techniques the night before doing them to you, but-"
"You're saying I have to grade you?"
"Uh, yeah. Jethro's going to have to, also. I'm using all the hours I worked on him, too. Anyway, with only two CEU courses over the summer now, I don't need three days where Breena and the girls have something fun to do and I can spend all day buried in a textbook or watching medical seminars online."
"So, come with us," Breena says.
Tim's starting to wonder if the wine's a good idea. He's had one glass, Abby's, of course, had none, and between them Jimmy and Breena have finished all but the last inch of the bottle, so… Okay, actually none of them have had more than a glass and a half. So, just enough to make everyone feel a little bit loose, not enough to cloud thinking.
Okay. That's good. Tim and Abby look at each other. They knew they were going to be chatting about this, but 'beach weekend' is a bit more vague than either of them needs. So… "Just the four of us hanging out, having fun on the beach or…" Abby leads.
"I don't know," Breena replies. "But especially after last night, I want to find out. I'm officially starting our conversation on 'or.'"
"'Or's' a kind of stupid name. Can we get something better?" Tim asks.
"I'm sure we can get something better," Breena says, sassy, "once we figure out what the hell we're doing."
"Sex." Abby says, very definite. "We're talking about all of us having sex, with each other. Or not. Or watching each other have sex. Or touching but not sex. Or playing with hard boundaries. Or…" Abby squints up at Tim a bit. "Actually, right now, 'or's' a really good name for this."
"Okay, fine. You guys talked about this some, right?" Nods from the other three. "While I was unconscious, what did you three come up to with regards to us 'orring'? I mean, that's when you got talking about this, right?"
Jimmy laughs at 'orring.' "Not much of anything, at least not decision-wise."
"Mostly took the plunge of saying, out loud, to each other, that we'd regret it if we never at least tried," Breena says, staring at Tim. "You almost died. And if you had…" She shakes her head. "That would have been it, game over, no chance to explore us… 'orring' away, and like I said, I don't know where this is going. I'm not sure where the lines are and what we'd be comfortable with. But if something had happened to you, I know Jimmy and I wouldn't have just mourned the loss of a dearly loved friend, but also the opportunity for the four of us to be more than what we are now."
Tim looks at the other three and says, "So, do we want more? I mean… This is good. This is warm and comfortable and easy and good. I love what we have with each other." He can see they all agree with that, and he can see the same sort of fear he's feeling in Jimmy's eyes. "And more… if it works…" He sighs. If it works… Who doesn't want this? If it works. "Like I said to Jethro, I know I've already got the cake with the frosting, the ice cream on top, along with whipped cream, cherry, and sprinkles, too, but apparently there's a possibility of coffee to go with it. Which would be awesome, but, I don't want to mess up the perfect dessert because I got greedy for coffee." He looks at Jimmy and Breena, "And I don't want you guys fucking up your perfect coffee because cake was looking good, too."
They nod at that, and Breena gently strokes her toe against Tim's shin.
"We could call it coffee if you don't like orring," Abby says, keeping her voice light. She knows this is serious, but like anything serious, being able to laugh through it is important.
"Nope. You don't like coffee," Breena says to Abby. "Can't do this if you don't like it. And… that's our bedrock, we don't do anything anyone doesn't like. We just… keep checking in, making sure it's okay. That's why we've got perfect coffee and perfect cake, because we're honest with each other, and trust each other, and really love one another. I mean… We're sitting here talking about this, with all four of us, and… I'm not afraid to say anything right now, and I really hope you aren't, too, because, anything, it's all on the table because this won't work if we can't do that. If we can… That's how we made it to two couples, right, kept checking in, kept making sure we were all good?"
Jimmy sends Tim a look, and Tim knows what that looks means. He figures Tony or Gibbs would get it, too. Namely, there's a point, with sex, where checking in and thinking, and making sure everything is okay becomes really difficult, and stopping is even harder, and part of building a good relationship is not getting yourself into a situation you can't get out of until you know you won't have to get out of it.
And, for Tim, if there's anything likely to get him past the point of able to stop, it's Abby and Breena naked and happy and wanting more.
He looks at Jimmy, Jimmy's looking back, so he guesses he's the one who gets to explain this. "You know, if we do this, go to the beach with you, just the four of us…" Tim sighs. "Okay, I know me, and when we went clubbing, it was hot, really hot, balls in charge, brain checked out, holy shit, all I want to do is fuck, hot. And, I don't know, maybe girls don't have this problem, but there really is a point where my brain literally stops working, and I'm fairly sure Jimmy's got a point like that, too," Jimmy's nodding enthusiastically, "and… And… If just the four of us go… Okay, one night, sure. I can keep the big head doing the thinking for one night. Two…" He's cringing a bit, "probably. I can likely keep my brain in charge for two nights, keep checking in, making sure everyone is cool. Three nights on our own, baby girls all sound asleep, we're fucking," he says voice absolutely showing this is a foregone conclusion. "At least, I'm going to want to. A lot. And no matter what the big brain is thinking, my dick will have rationalized a way to get what it wants, and it can be VERY convincing when it wants to be."
The girls giggle at that but Jimmy's nodding; he knows exactly how strong that desire can be.
"Hell, I want to, now. We're all dressed, mostly sober, not touching, just talking about it, and yes, I want to do it." And right this second, all together, quiet night, alone, talking, he does want that. He wants it a lot. "I want all four of us, upstairs, in bed, naked, fooling around. I don't know if I've got the control to say no if we're all messing around. And I don't know if I'd be cool with it in the morning. So… Limits. We need some sort of limits in place, ahead of time, so I know where the lines are and what's on the menu and what's not."
He licks his lips. "That's really… that's what made clubbing work. I knew we had rules. I knew you two," he means the girls, "knew that we had hard lines, and that you weren't going to push them. And, once that sunk in, I could really get into it and enjoy playing."
Jimmy's been nodding a long with that. "Yeah. Actually, night three is probably optimistic. Either it goes well, like clubbing did, and by the time we're naked I'm going to want to do it, or it'll go badly, and I'm still going to want to do it, but I'm going to regret it when my brain's in charge again."
"Just go for a night?" Breena asks. "I mean, you both think you can handle that, right?"
Tim and Jimmy are nodding. One night of blistering hot sex all over the place, feeling their way through… Yeah, that's temptation they can endure, and more importantly, enjoy.
"We could do that now," Abby adds. "Here, now, tonight." She can see both of the guys are ready to jump at it, and can feel that Tim's body has tensed, ready to move. Just from seeing that, she knows that if they just jump at it, all of them in bed together is going to end up with all of them in bed together because messing around is going to create a positive feedback cycle where every time they all check in and make sure the next step is good, they're going to say 'yes.' "No, bad plan, part of what we're looking for is a way to set this aside from our usual routine, build in some enforced thinking time. So, us, together, doesn't happen at home, ours or yours, not yet. But off at the beach, that's good. That's a separate space, help organize things…" They can see Abby's putting this together in her head, so they wait for her to finish getting it together. "Okay… Four bedrooms, right?"
Breena nods.
"Five couples. We invite everyone else. We'll share a room. Master bedroom's big enough for that. We can… whatever, but the girls will be sleeping in there, and everyone else will be down the hall, so we'll have to stay quiet. Can't go full out. And I'm fairly sure having to face everyone…" Eh, everyone… not that big of a deal. "Gibbs…" Much bigger deal. That steely blue gaze giving you the 'don't be stupid look' will work wonders for this plan. "The next morning should keep brains in charge. If it's good… Okay, no, we need set rules for this, too. We share the bed for sleeping, get comfortable with each other, watch each other, enjoy watching, but only play as couples. Take clubbing one step further. If it's not good, we'll sack out on the floor, you take the bed, and we're all still friends when we go home."
Tim, Jimmy, and Breena are all looking at each other, and then Abby, and then each other again, and, yeah, that feels good. That's a decent next step, little further down the road, but not doing anything they can't back out of.
"And, if it is good, and we're happy…" Jimmy leads.
"Then we stay where we are or go further. We'll feel our way through it." Abby smiles; she knows how to set this up. "You guys ever really Dom/sub?"
"Read 50 Shades, but you already told me that was terrible," Breena says. "Why?"
"Yeah, it is. Especially in regards to why I'm bringing this up. Okay, so, not a big shock, what with the collars and all, but we do, sometimes, for real. And we've both got some experience with it with other people," Abby says.
Tim knows where this is going and thinks that this'll definitely have some really good guidelines for how to get into, and out of, something that might be sticky, and keep everyone happy and friends.
"It's a game," Tim says.
Abby smiles. "Best, most fun game, ever. But games have rules, made by the players, all set out, sometimes in writing even, though I don't think we need to go that far, and agreed on, ahead of time."
"And just like a game, at any time, anyone can back out. Anyone can call time or stop. And if the rules aren't working, you break play and rewrite," Tim adds.
"So, that's how we do this? Set rules ahead of time, like right now, the rule is we're playing with our own spouses, watching, and that's where the line is," Breena says, "And if the game isn't fun, we just, stop?"
"Yeah," Jimmy's liking this. He can follow rules. "And if it's good, we can learn and rewrite from there. And if we don't like it, we won't play that game again."
Tim nods, feeling… he's not sure, something of an excited rush and a sense of stepping up to the edge of the cliff and looking over, and a sort of… quietly anticipating joy. "Weekend at the ocean." He smiles. "I think we're going to like this game."
Breena stands up, kisses Jimmy, and heads into the kitchen. Two minutes later, she's back with her phone, snuggling into Jimmy. "And everyone has been invited to a weekend at the beach."
That feels… Tim's not sure, awesome he guesses. Whatever it is, it's big and good and soaring.
"So, rules… We set them all out, clear, ahead of time. For right now, as we're working this out, rules get set at least a week before play; that gives us all lots of time to think." Abby says. Everyone nods. "Okay, me and Tim, you two together, no touching beyond that."
Everyone nods.
"Anyone can break play for any reason, at any time, and we're all cool," Tim adds. "Doesn't matter what it is, or how stupid it seems, too cold, sheets are the wrong color, you think my cologne smells annoying," Breena waves that off. She helped pick more than half of them. "Anything's wrong or uncomfortable, and we talk about it."
More nodding.
Tim looks at his arm. "For example." He gestures to his right arm, feeling a little silly, but A: he wants to make sure that everything is on the table, and B: he doesn't want to be self-conscious about it. "I usually have a few more tricks at my disposal."
Abby laughs and nudges him. "Everyone knows you aren't bringing your A game yet, no one cares."
"Still feels a little dumb," he's looking at Breena as he says this, "you're watching, but won't get the whole show."
"Do you want to wait until your arm is better?" Breena asks.
"No!" Spring or whenever he's really got full use of his hand back… No. Too long to wait. "Just… I'm usually less awkward, and the cast and sling are sort of scratchy, so I don't like the way it feels against my skin, so I'm usually a lot more naked and…"
"And you're injured, and we all get it," Jimmy finishes. "Trust me, we've both figured out you're not particularly shy anymore."
"At least, not with you two. Just, the reverse of last night, it feels a little odd to be wearing a shirt when everyone else is naked, and…" this feels stupid, too, but he does want to lay it all out, so rolling his eyes he says, "a hard-on and a t-shirt looks kind of stupid, you know?"
That gets a laugh. Tim can see kindness in all three of the sets of eyes watching him, and that makes him feel better about it.
"Speaking of shy, we're not telling anyone, besides Gibbs, about this, right?" Breena asks. "He's already talked to you two, so he's going to know what's going on as soon as he figures out there's one more couple than there are beds, and we're not making Tony and Ziva sack out on the sofa."
The other three nod. But it's clear they're thinking about it.
"For now," Tim says, but this sort of gets into what he was talking about with Abby, and a few of the other thoughts he's had bouncing around in his head. "This goes further… I mean… If this is something we just do, sometimes, you know, for kicks then… Then it's like the other stuff we do for kicks, private. Like, okay, I know you girls basically don't have limits about what you tell each other, but I don't tell Tony about what Abby and I do in bed in any detail, and…" he's looking at Jimmy.
"Yeah, I don't go into it in any real detail with Tony or anyone, really."
"We talk," Tim says.
"Well, yeah, we talk, but you're not anyone."
"Thanks. And even with each other, we're still—"
"Intentionally vague," Jimmy fills in.
Tim nods. "Anyway, if it's more than… more than a shiny new toy, we'd probably have to tell everyone else, eventually at least, right?" Tim thinks about the sketches he was working on for the house. "Like, if this is just fun... Our rooms at the house are across the hall from each other, on our own little wing. And if this is just fun, then, that's fine. We sneak over to your room or you to ours some nights. But… I mean, we're not building the interior anytime soon, not really, and if this is more… Are we going to want just one space for the four of us?"
"I guess that's part of what… what this thinking time is for," Breena says. She smiles at them. "Before we get to touching each other…" She's looking at Tim, bites her lip, thinking, and the other three wait for her. She smiles again, maybe feeling a little silly or uncomfortable, but this we talk everything out thing is very real, so they will wait for her to get comfortable enough to say it. "Sex matters to me. I mean, in a way it doesn't, didn't to you three. And I know I'm the one who started this conversation going all those years ago, but… For me, if we touch," and everyone knows she's talking about Tim. Obviously, given those Valentine's videos, whatever's gone before with Abby doesn't trigger the concern she has here. "If I'm going to make love to a man who isn't my husband, this has to be real, it has to be about love. It can't just be… something we do for kicks. Can't just be about horny, you know?"
Abby's nodding first and fastest, but Tim thinks he gets it, and Jimmy reaches over, hand cupping gently against the back of Breena's neck, and he looks at her, love in his eyes, and kisses her, soft and gentle.
When Breena pulls back from Jimmy's lips, she shifts back a bit, so she's fully spooned into him, draping his arm over her waist, drawing strength or comfort from his touch. "We have sex; it's forever. We don't cross that line until we're sure in our bones and guts and balls and sure that we can keep this going for the rest of our lives. Otherwise, it's look, don't touch, just a show we put on for each other for fun."
And that's the line, that's where the most tentative one of them is comfortable, so that's it, and none of them will push it.
Breena takes a sip of her wine and looks at Tim, "So, a space for all of us?"
He shrugs a little. "Thinking about it, some… I mean… Okay. I'm always going to want some time with just Abby, you know?"
The other three nod, they all get that. They may be thinking about a quadruple, but they are also two very happy couples, who would like to stay two happy couples.
"But, we've got the right side of the hall, and you've got the left, and… I mean, we can keep that hall there and just wander about. Or we can wall our wing off, take that hall down, really mess around with the floor plan… I'd still like us to have our own rooms, but… that whole section could be space for 'our' family. We're building up space for the older kids to be off on their own up on the top floor, so, our room, your room, some sort of central space, bathrooms, nursery for little kids. But whatever it is we're doing, sex or no sex, that sort of set up is making it loud and clear to anyone who comes to our home that we don't have the sort of relationship the rest of the family does."
"You think this would bug them?" Jimmy asks. "Gibbs knows, and I was honestly surprised at how calm he was about the idea. I was expecting death threats, and he was all, 'just make sure you really think it through.'"
"Ziva already knows we're thinking about it. She's the one who got me thinking about it," Breena says, "which got me talking to Abby. So, she's never seemed shocked by the idea."
"If Penny's lectures about monogamy being a tool of the patriarchy to devalue the economic contribution of women while simultaneously capturing and enslaving them was more than just her blowing off steam, I'd imagine her being okay. At least, I never got the sense that she was big on the marriage is a sacred arrangement ordained by God that cannot be violated or rearranged in any way," Abby says.
"Tony's told me about his threesomes, and Ducky's… eluded to having been involved in at least one orgy, so they're at least familiar with the idea. I can't imagine they'd be shocked," Jimmy adds.
"Can I be shocked?" Tim says. "Duck was part of an orgy?"
Jimmy wiggles his hand indicating he's not sure. "He didn't flat out say it, but… he's never been a monk or asexual. He's been happy to let me know the sixties were a lot more wild than they typically let on, and no one was kidding about the free love thing, and… Wait, wasn't your grandmother part of all of that, too?"
"She was married to my grandfather at the time. And that's all I want or need to know about that," Tim says while shaking his head.
Breena laughs at Tim's answer. "When it comes down to it, that's probably all any of them want to know about us, too. I doubt they'll want the details."
Abby laughs. "You've never really had a conversation with Tony, have you?"
Tim and Jimmy are nodding. "He'll want the details. He wants all the details."
"Oh come on, like you don't," Breena elbows Jimmy.
He shrugs. "Sort of. Yeah, I'm curious, but… I try not to be creepy about it."
Abby and Breena giggle at that.
"Stop it. I know you two are curious, too. You think I go deaf when you get chatting about Gibbs or Draga in the next room?"
"You heard that?" Abby asks, little guilty.
Jimmy nods, staring at her, and then at Breena.
"Heard what?" Tim asks.
"For Draga, they want to know if the carpeting matches the drapes."
Tim smiles a bit. "I know the answer to that."
They're looking at him curiously.
"We shared a room on that one case."
Nodding, both girls staring at him, waiting for the answer. Tim rolls his eyes a little, but he's enjoying teasing them. "Yes, he's a natural redhead, no he's not usually as hairless as he was at last year's Fourth of July, looks like he shaves his chest because he was kind of stubbly when we were rooming together. What did they want to know about Gibbs?"
Jimmy shakes his head, pretending to be a lot more horrified by this than he actually is. "You don't want to know, and they shouldn't have been asking. Especially you," he gives Abby a mock you should know better look. "He's practically your dad."
Abby shakes her head. "But he's not actually my dad, and I'm allowed to be curious. I'm curious about everyone I meet that I'm even vaguely attracted to. In fact, as a scientist, it is in my job description to be curious about everything!"
Breena's been giggling through this, and Tim has to admit that now he's curious. Jimmy's probably right, he likely doesn't want to know, but… too much build up. "What were you asking about?"
"She wanted to know if he liked getting spanked. You know, handing out the head slaps and all, some sort of reverse repressed desire thing."
Tim closes his eyes and rests his face in his hand. "Yep. I didn't want to know that."
Jimmy's still feeling pretty perky, and Abby did open the conversation along those lines, so… "You're curious about spankings for everyone?"
Abby nods. "Not spankings specifically. But, I watch people, see what they do and how they interact with each other, and that makes me wonder what they like in bed. Tim was so shy at first, so… It made me wonder if he liked being in charge, you know, if that was one of his fantasies, and lo and behold, he did."
"What'd you wonder about me?" Jimmy asks.
"Took a while to get a good sense of you. At first, I was mostly wondering if you'd ever had sex before."
Breena's staring at Jimmy, smiling and shaking her head. "Were you really that awkward?"
Jimmy cringes. "I may have been."
"He asked me to please call him Jimmy two seconds after I had just called him Jimmy. He's offering me tissue samples from a dead guy and says, 'White meat or dark?' He superglued his hands to my wrists because he was so moonstruck being in the same room with me, then Tim walked in and once he got us unstuck he chewed him out so bad he almost made Jimmy cry."
Jimmy opens and closes his mouth. "I wasn't crying."
Abby raises an eyebrow, staring at him.
"He ripped the skin off my palms so your delicate little arms didn't take the full force of getting us apart. It hurt!"
"Uh huh," Tim says. He can write a book about getting the skin of your hands ripped off by removing superglue, and it stings, but it's notthat bad.
Abby looks back at him, "And yeah, it was kind of hot to see your alpha side actually pop out for once back then, but flipping out on Jimmy who was in no way a threat wasn't very cool, either."
"Doesn't have to be cool if you thought it was hot. 'My girl thinks it's hot' is all the excuse any guy has ever needed for anything," Tim says, smugly.
That gets a laugh.
"Anyway," Abby gets back to answering Jimmy's question now that she's thought of a decent lie. Her real answer, that she caught him mid-trysts with Lee in Autopsy (they'd forgotten that Ducky had that camera on, so she got an eyeful one night when she was calling down to ask for more samples) and was wondering whether or not the corpses in autopsy were a turn on, or just something he was so used to they didn't hit his radar, would likely bring up bad memories. "You were the main witness on that one case, and we hypnotized you, and you started talking about our shoes. That got me wondering about you. Did you like to wear them? Smell them? Look at them? Were you a foot guy? Or was it the actual shoes? You always looked really buttoned up, but I was wondering how kinky you really were under those conservative little suits."
Jimmy smiles at that, then he kisses Breena. "We gonna let them see and find out?"
She smile back at him, giving him a long, wet kiss. "Think they'd like that?"
Jimmy's staring at Abby, eyes sliding all over her. "Ten years is a long time to be curious." He grins at Abby. "But I think you'll think it was worth the wait. And, maybe, if everyone else goes to sleep early, you can find out if I like spankings."
Abby grins back at him, and then looks at Breena. "First time we met in person, really met, not just got a glimpse of you, you guys were working on wedding planning, and it was Jimmy and I and you and Amy and we we're talking about the wedding costumes and what the ladies of honor would be wearing, and you were so pretty and pure and nice and sweet and… And I wasn't wondering so much as fantasizing about getting you all hot and dirty, and having Jimmy watch us, see him react to it, and then having him join in."
Jimmy closes his eyes and bites his lip at that. Breena kicks it up a bit by wiggling in his lap a little. His hands grasp her hips, keeping her still, then he kisses her gently.
"Then he let slip you were a virgin until you got married, and that got me wondering," Abby shrugs a little. "But we've talked about all of that by now, so…"
Breena nods. "Well-covered territory."
"Uh, we'd probably like to hear you talk about that," Tim says, looking hopeful. He's been enjoying this conversation a lot, as Abby knows, because how much he's liking it is poking her in the hip.
Jimmy's looking very interested. "If we're making rules and all, I'm always in favor of listening to you two talk about sexy stuff."
"Me, too," Tim adds. "This… talking, teasing, I like this."
Jimmy's happily nodding along. "This is good for you, too, right?"
Abby and Breena smile, looking at each other.
"Yeah, it's good. This is fun and safe and easy," Abby says.
"You still want to hear about virgin until married?" Breena asks, and both guys nod, eyes wide, liking this a whole lot. Breena grins at them, and inclines her head, letting Abby know she gets to tell this.
"You really sure?" Abby asks, licking her lips.
Now both guys are looking, very, very interested.
She smiles sweetly and then says, "Okay, but it's not sexy." The guys don't pout, but they kind of look like they wanted to. "New Orleans is very Catholic, and so is white Louisiana, but most of the south is Baptist, so I grew up with a lot of 'no sex until marriage' types, but they were always… sanctimonious twits about it. And Breena's not. You're just a big ball of love with some skin on you, and I'd never met anyone who made that choice who wasn't…" Abby's looking for a nice way to say it.
"An uptight prude?" Breena adds.
Abby nods. "Maybe not that far, but never met anyone who was really comfortable with sex, liked it, thought it was good and holy and treated like it really was a gift from God, something glorious to be enjoyed, who decided to abstain. I mean, okay," Abby doesn't talk faith or religion much with Jimmy or Tim because neither of them care much about it, but, they've asked, so… "To me Christianity has one core, love. God loves us, He wants us to love each other. Part of love is sharing the good things, freely giving what makes life good. And I never got how you could base a faith on the idea that it is the duty of each of us to share the good things, all the good things, charity isn't just giving money to the poor, it's about giving all things to anyone who needs them, and then say sex is awesome and holy and beautiful and something God created so humans could revel in the joy of loving each other, but don't share it. That's the only thing you don't share. Keep it tucked away, just you and this one other person, hog it all up and be greedy with it. Everything else in the universe that's good, give that away with abandon to anyone who crosses your path, but not this. That never made any sense to me."
"So, that's what we were talking about. It was a lot heavier on the theology and much lighter on both of us giggling and saying suggestive things than you'd probably like," Breena finishes.
"Oh." Tim nods. "Yeah… That's, um… not bad or anything, but, you're right, not what I was expecting."
Jimmy nods, too. "Stranger in a Strange Land, right?"
Abby smiles at that. "The Gospel according to Heinlein? Yeah, that probably helped my thinking along, but I was on the way there before I got my hands on Bob. I was… I don't know, eight? And I figured out that I liked kissing. So, I'm at Sunday school, kissing everyone, and one of the nuns had a fit about it. Then she had a bigger fit when I told her that Jesus wanted us to share the things that make us happy, like cookies and toys, and kissing made me happy, so I was sharing it."
All three laugh at that.
"She didn't have an answer that made sense to me. Finally, she huffed off and got my mom, telling her that I was being 'inappropriate' and that I couldn't come back to Sunday school until I could control my 'base urges.'"
"What'd your mom say?" Jimmy asks.
Abby smiles. "She told me no kissing boys who weren't Papa or Luca or Uncle Max until I was sixteen, and then we went over what cold sores were, and how to tell if a guy had one, and why not to kiss him."
"Your mom was awesome," Tim's saying as Breena's phone buzzes.
She picks it up, reads, smiles, and texts back, and then says, "And Ducky and Penny are in for a weekend at the beach."
"What are we going to do if they don't all go?" Tim asks.
"Have a good time, sleep in our own rooms, and maybe get a night out just the four of us the next weekend. One night on our own sound like an okay Plan B?" Abby says.
They all think about it, and slowly nod. "That works."
Another buzz. "Gibbs is in. Abbi can't come until Friday evening."
"Uh, when did you set this for?" Jimmy asks.
"Same time we were going, Thursday night go there, Sunday come home."
Jimmy sighs. "Sunday back traffic is always nasty. Getting down there isn't too bad, but coming back… Yuck."
"Friday night down was also a bear, so, hard time down, hard time back. Decided it was better to go after the nasty traffic relaxed and rested than it was to face it after a long week."
Tim shakes his head a bit. "Does this feel bizarrely surreal to the rest of you? Foursomes to summer vacation traffic and back again?"
That gets a laugh.
Breena's staring at her phone. "Wonder why we haven't heard back from Tony and Ziva. Think they're okay?" One of the side effects of Rule Number 3 is that with this group, if you text, you get a response within minutes usually.
"Tony was up all night traveling. And Ziva was supposed to be on all day interrogating." Tim squints at Breena's phone, but from where he is, he can't read the numbers. "What time is it?"
"Bit after ten," she answers
"Probably just saying hello again," Abby says. "Plus, part of why you usually don't send the whole team out on any given job is so there's always someone left who can raise the red flag if you don't check in. Draga or Bishop would have fired off the all hands on deck if they were in trouble."
That feels right.
"Plus, if there was trouble, Gibbs would have sensed it and gotten all of us looking," Tim adds.
Abby nods along with that. "Big time." She stretches a bit. "So, another bottle of wine and talking and chilling out, or early night?"
"You guys planning on staying over? Guest room is made up," Breena asks.
"I'd like that. It's always easier not to move the sleeping baby," Abby says.
"Amen on that. And I'm good for more wine. Besides, I haven't gotten you up to date on the latest Slater Funeral Home Drama."
Jimmy gets up to go get said bottle of wine, and as he's heading into the house he sighs. "Drama's the right word for it. I'll be out in a sec, you start getting them up to date."
"So… As you know, my Uncle Wes…"

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