Fan fic, original fic, fic recs, and artwork by Keryl Raist.
Wednesday, February 25, 2015
Shards To A Whole: Chapter 419: Nest
McGee-centric character study/romance. Want to start at the beginning? Click here.
Chapter 419: Nest
Full house for Shabbos this week, and for the first time in a long time, Tim's moving around well enough to make getting up and down the stairs leading into Tony and Ziva's building something less than a monumental chore.
So they're gathering at Ziva's place, and she's having a grand time of it.
Ziva loves to cook. She always has. And cooking for other people is even better than just cooking to make food.
This week, puttering around her kitchen, mixing up bread dough, chopping fruit for sweet nibbles, laying out olives and nuts for salty nibbles while the chickens roast, she's having a blast. She is in a full on celebratory groove, bopping around her kitchen, music on loud, scrubbing the veggies for the salad, and mixing up pitchers of cucumber-lime (virgin) mojitos. (Officially, they're standing in for the wine so that Abby can partake along with everyone else.)
Tony's leaning against the door to their kitchen, just watching. After a few beats, where she does not appear to notice he's there, he steps in and catches her mid-dance step. "Dance with me?"
She grins up at him, and lets him lead a few steps.
"So, anything I can do to help in here?" he asks after dipping her low at the end of the song.
"I think I've got in here covered. But setting the table and putting food on it would be good."
"Then I will set the table." He heads out of the kitchen, and then pokes his head back in. "Everyone, right?"
Tony's putting plates on the table, and given that it's summertime, which means the sun sets after baby girls are all tucked into bed and snoozing, they're feeding fewer people than usual tonight. "We better hurry up on getting the house done. Add one more high chair and there's no way we're keeping this herd of people in our place."
Ziva grins at the idea of one more highchair, and then a thought is triggered by 'house.' "Did Senior get you?"
"I saw he called, but we ended up playing phone tag, what's up?"
"He's got a house he wants to move on for us. He would like us to see it before starting the bidding."
Tony's eyes go wide open. "Oh. Uh. Okay… He tell you where?"
Tony thinks about that for a moment. "Oh God. If it's in bad enough shape for us to afford it in Georgetown, it's about to be condemned."
Ziva shrugs. "He says it is a great neighborhood and a very good school district."
"Scratch that, it is condemned."
"Tomorrow morning, we'll go, we'll see. He invited Gibbs, too."
Tony can see it; the more this place looks like the ruins of urban warfare, the more Gibbs'll love it. "That'll be fun. You want to tell Dad then?"
A huge smile breaks over Ziva's face. "Oh yes. Do you think Gibbs told Abbi?"
Tony's mouth opens and then closes. "I don't know. Is it stupid that I keep forgetting he's got this extra person now, who he's actuallytrying to tell things to?"
"Yes." Ziva winks at him and goes back into the kitchen, coming out a moment later with the salad. "Abbs keeps watching me, looking like she's expecting to be told something."
"Yeah, Palmer and McGee keep giving me stupid grins, too. So, tonight? Or make them wait for next week."
Ziva smirks at him. "I think we should make them wait."
"Stories!" Molly Palmer knows exactly what she wants, and she's homing in on it. Namely, she wants her (new) very favorite story (Madeline) with her very favorite Uncle (Uncle Jethro) and she wants it now.
The thing about summertime Shabbos is dinner starts at sunset. In Washington DC, in the last week of July, sunset is at about 8:30, which is also known as an hour and a half after baby girls go to bed. They've tried a few dinners with the girls up, and basically found that no one was having a good time. Sure the girls liked it, and Molly especially was being extremely vocal about not being tired at all, but between having to deal with exceptionally grumpy tiny people during dinner (not fun) and then having to deal with tiny little bears with sore paws the entire next day (really not fun) the adult members of Clan Gibbs have decided that babies get to sleep through supper when it happens after bedtime.
So, these days, the first order of business is get everyone greeted, followed by story time with Uncle Jethro (and Dad, though whether Dad means Jimmy or Tim depends on how little girls are doing.)
Jethro scoops up Molly, who already has her book in hand, and says, "Hello Molly."
"Uncle Jetro!" He gets a big wet kiss on the lips. "Madeline!"
"I see." She's holding it right up in his face. Gibbs leans back a bit and grabs it from her. "'Twelve little girls in two straight lines, the youngest one was Madeline,' right?"
Molly's astonished by that. "How do you know?"
"I used to read this book a whole lot."
"Oh." Molly's impressed by that. "Is it your favorite?"
He shakes his head. "Nah. But I like it a lot. Is this what we're going to read tonight?"
Molly nods her head. Tim and Abby head in at that, and as Tim's giving Molly her hello kiss, Molly turns in Gibbs' arms, trying to get into Tim's, which isn't going to happen, but she's really excited about something. "Uncle Tim! Madeline has a hurt arm, just like you!"
Tim's looking around, not sure who Madeline is, but Abby's grinning. "Yes, she does, doesn't she, Molly?"
Molly nods in agreement, looking intently at Tim. "It gets better."
Tim nods. "My arm's going to get better, too. See." He shows off how much less of his arm is in the cast now. He's not sure how aware of what's under the sling the girls are, but Molly seems impressed.
"How much better is it?" Abbi asks.
Tim kisses her cheek. "Well, Jimmy comes over and tortures me twice a week, but each time he does it I get another two inches of range of motion, so…"
"So, it's worth it, and you bitching and moaning is just sympathy seeking," Jimmy says with a smile. "Jethro, Abbi," both of them get hugs. "Showing off your new book?" he takes Molly from Jethro and kisses Abby's cheek. "Hey."
"Anyway, as I was saying, if NCIS doesn't work out, Jimmy's starting Master Palmer's House of Pain."
"Oh come on!"
Tim winks at Jimmy.
"Master Palmer?" Jimmy rolls his eyes.
Tim just grins.
"Dr. Palmer's House of Pain sounds kinkier," Tony adds as he heads over.
Molly's listening and watching and can tell there's a joke of some sort, because the adults are all goofing around but she doesn't know what's going on. "Daddy?"
Jimmy kisses her forehead. "It's okay. Uncle Tim and Uncle Tony are teasing me."
She glares at Tim and Tony. Everyone at daycare is very specific about how it's bad to tease people. "No teasing!"
Tim nods, seriously. "No teasing. I'm sorry, Jimmy."
That satisfies Molly. Now she staring at Uncle Tony, who's staring back, trying to figure out what to do with this. After all, there's no way he's going to say he won't tease Jimmy, he'll get ragged on that until the end of time. "C'mere."
Now everyone is looking at Tony, wondering (okay, internally smirking, they all know what's going on) as he takes Molly. She's looking a little startled, too. Uncle Tony's good for rough housing, not so good for cuddles. He's never done story time before. "How about Uncle Jethro and I read you and your sister some stories?"
Molly thinks about that, looks over at her Daddy, who nods, it's fine with him if the usual Friday night routine varies a bit, then she looks at Jethro, who also nods. "Uncle Tony's new to this story thing, so we're going to have to show him how to do it."
That makes Molly happy, because if there's anything a two-year-old loves, it's getting to boss people around.
Especially adult people!
As Gibbs quietly closes the door to Tony and Ziva's bedroom behind him, he looks at Tony and grins. "Not so bad?"
Tony grins back, then shrugs. He's still not awash in overwhelming and unending adoration for the little rug rats, but that wasn't bad. "Still like big people better."
"That's fine. You're allowed to."
"Wasn't scary. Felt like I wasn't completely out of my depth."
Gibbs wraps an arm around his shoulders and gives him a squeeze.
"Looking forward to doing that with Little D."
That turns the squeeze into a hug.
"Really don't like changing diapers. There're all those little folds the poop hides in. Ylghrk." Tony shudders.
Gibbs bursts out laughing at that. "Better get used to it. Ziva's not going to let you be a 1950's dad."
Tony shakes his head wryly. "Yeah. I know."
"So, McComputerMaster, I've got a question for you." Tony asks once the blessing is done and they're all eating.
"Shoot, Tony. Looking to upgrade at home?" Tim asks, lifting a bite of chicken to his mouth.
"Uh, no… Why, do I need to?"
"No, just…" Just he knows Tony's laptop is four years old. "Never mind, what's up?"
Tony puts his glass down. "So, once we off-loaded our Bin Laden and started playing with our new data, Bishop had a really devious thought." Everyone is nodding, following along. "Basically, she pointed out how, yeah, it's great that we have all this access now, but with how they gave it to us, they can take it away with just a few keystrokes."
"That's how every well-designed secure system works, Tony."
"Great." Tony rolls his eyes a bit, indicating that isn't exactly a revelation to him. The revelation is what that means. "We're using it, making more headway, putting things together faster and easier than ever before. It's wonderful, but… Anytime CIA or NSA says jump, we're gonna be going 'how high' because we can't afford to lose access, now."
"Double edged sword," Ducky adds.
"Yeah. So… Can we make a copy? I mean, I give you my access stick, can you make me my own NSA database?"
Tim sniggers. "Can you get me the fifty million dollars of storage I need to hold it and the fifteen or so people I'll need to run it?"
Tim just looks at Tony. "But if you get me authorization from Vance, I'll build you a backdoor so you've always got a way in."
Tony's smiling for a second, because how hard can that be, then he sees the look on Tim's face. "Vance won't give me authorization, will he?"
Tim shakes his head. "He's looking at prison time if we get caught. I am, too. However, Draga can, and this is legal, set up a program on your team's computers so that every time a new screen pops up it takes a screenshot and saves it. He'll have to build your own database for it, but you won't be able to lose anything you've accessed."
Tony likes the sound of that. Especially since he's building a web of hopefully related cases, so what gets used in Case A will hopefully come in handy for Case B. "That's a start."
"Yeah. Step two, and Draga shouldn't have any trouble with this, write a program so that whenever you aren't actively using your computers, they're swimming through the databases, constantly pulling stuff up and getting shots. He can talk to me if he needs help turning those shots into searchable data. When you get enough of it, we'll have a chat with Vance about your storage needs."
Tony nods. "Ah. And this would be… legal?"
Tim shrugs. He thinks so, but he hasn't seen the fine print on whatever agreement Tony got up with either group. He's fairly certain Tony hasn't seen the fine print, either. "A hell of a lot more legal than me attempting to copy restricted databases or hack a back door into them. So long as we're just messing with our own stuff, it should be fine."
"Ah." Tony's looking at everyone else at the table. "So, I guess we're all pretty much up to date on what I've been doing this week, then?" Nods. "So, how about it, Abbi, haven't seen you for a while, what CGIS doing to you?"
Abbi sighs. "New fiscal year starts September 1st, and this year we've gotten notice that the GAO is coming to audit us on September 2nd, so, as you can guess, this year is mayhem. They want not just Fiscal 2015, but the five years previous, too."
"Fun!" Tim says, nodding.
"Oh, yeah, excellent. Add in the fact that I wasn't in charge for '11, '12, or part of '13, and that Swissin, the guy who had the job before I did, needed to take his shoes off to count to eleven, and conveniently died last year." She's glaring at the mental image of Swissin, wishing he was still alive so she could blow off some steam by reaming him out properly. Gibbs gently rubs the back of her neck. "So, I can't even hunt his ass down and grill him, and I've got the least fun accounting nightmare you've ever seen." She stabs a bite of her salad, picks it up on her fork, and then puts it back down. "I've got full quarters where there's nothing, not even files. My computer guys keep telling me there should be information around here somewhere, that we keep copies of everything off site as well as locally, but they can't find them.
"My boss is fussing about bringing in forensic accountants to go figure out what's going on because he thinks it looks bad. He wants to just stonewall the GAO and hope they're unwilling to call a Congressional investigation, which is making me wonder if he's involved in those quarters being gone.
"IA reports to him, so I can't exactly call them in on this without him finding out about it, and since I mentioned the forensic accountant, expecting him to go along with it, he's got the heads up that I'm onto something here and is likely scrubbing things clean as we speak." Abbi chomps her bite of salad.
The rest of the table is sitting there silent, very aware of how big of a deal this is, and that they cannot talk to anyone outside of the room about it.
"You've got a work laptop with access to everything on it, right?" Tim asks.
"Bring it with you to NC. At some point, you're going to turn it on, log in, and go for a walk, at the very least I'll probably be able to tell you if your computer guy knows what he's doing or if he's BSing you, too."
"So, if this is more than just… incompetence, where do you go with this?" Penny asks.
Borin shrugs. "Officially, as head of the Chesapeake Region, I'd report it to the head of our IA department, and then he handles it. As the person who's going to have to answer to the GAO, I'm thinking those forensic accountants are showing up whether Tom likes them there or not. I want to have something to show beyond a bunch of blank spaces." Abbi takes a drink. "The real question is, do I think IA is going to do something? This feels wrong."
"Hinky?" Abby asks.
"Yeah. Those files are supposed to be off site and if they're missing, too… Lots of hinky." Abbi shakes her head. "Swisson just up and gave notice. Just retired out of the blue one day. Next thing I know, I'm in charge of the Chesapeake Division. Cases always ran smooth. He had a good handle on all of the crime stuff, but Swisson was an awful administrator. And I don't know, maybe he got promoted too high. Maybe he was on the take. But this smells bad, and it's biting me in the ass."
Gibbs has been holding her hand. This is the first time she's said that much about this all at once. He's been getting bits and pieces, but he's guessing something really shifted today, probably the information not being in the backup storage area. She smiles a little at Gibbs, and then turns to Breena and Jimmy saying, "Right now, I cannot wait for five days at the beach. Thank you so much for the invite!"
Gibbs winces a little at that, but Abbi's not looking at him, so she misses it. Jimmy and Breena are looking a little curious about five days, but not saying anything. So's the rest of the group. They're all letting five days lie. One of the good thing about a family full of cops is that when one member lets slip with something all the rest of them know is wrong they all come, very quickly, to the conclusion that there is something planned that they are not yet party to, so leave it the hell alone.
"Okay, enough of the fun of CGIS," Abbi gives Ziva a long look, smile tugging at her lips. "Have an exciting week, Ziva?"
Ziva smiles. "Quite dull really. Computers, more computers. I have been in the office every day this week. Onto more exciting things, for example, are we drawing straws for who's camping out next week?" she asks Breena.
This produces curious looks from Ducky, Penny, Abbi, and Gibbs, and something that could be called, maybe, if you were looking carefully, restrained glee from the Palmer/McGee contingent.
"No worries on that. We're" Breena gestures to her and Tim and Abby, "sharing the master bedroom…" Gibbs had been listening, cutting his chicken, but he looks up fast at that, and stares long and hard at Tim and Jimmy. Breena's going on about how the master is huge, has a little sitting area, and a walk in closet that's currently empty, and how it's just easier to use that as a nursery for all three girls, and keep all the grown-ups who respond to them in easy earshot.
Ducky, Penny, Tony, and Ziva all seem to think that makes perfect sense, and in that it means they all get their own bedroom and don't have to share or camp on the sand, they're just nodding along.
Abbi's noticed something is going on with Gibbs, and since he's already mentioned the possibility of the Palmers and McGees becoming more than just friends, she's got a pretty good sense of what's up with him.
Jimmy and Tim can feel Gibbs still staring at them.
Tim's close enough to Gibbs that he catches his eye, looks down at his left hand. and sees Gibbs follow his gaze, and then he quickly signs (by spelling the words out) w-e-r-e-f-i-n-e-t-a-l-k-s-o-o-n.
Gibbs looks back up at him, and there is very much a promise of talking soon in his eyes.
"How about you, Tim?" He jerks slightly, not noticing that Breena, having finished explaining both how the set up for the house works and who is sleeping where, had tossed the spotlight onto him.
"Um…" For a second he can't think of what he did this week. Then it comes back. He looks down at his right arm. "So, the Third Carrier Group Cyber Attack Readiness Evaluation as well as the Paradigms For Effective Surprise Cyber Attack Tests are officially finished. My reports are done, and as of 16:45 in Jarvis' inbox." Everyone goes quiet at that, not sure if this is the sort of thing where congratulations are in order. Tim sympathizes; he also felt awash in a lot of things, not sure what, really, as he hit the send button. "Got a note back from Jarvis, just as I was heading out, he hadn't had time to read them yet, but he was surprised and pleased to see I've written them." Tim swallows and sighs. "He says that I'm getting a Navy Distinguished Civilian Service Award, for going way above and beyond the call," another sigh. Everyone stares at him, he hadn't even told Abby about it, yet.
"You're not looking thrilled," Jimmy says.
Abby's petting his thigh as he shrugs. "Am I getting it for going above and beyond, coming up with a test no one else could, and doing the job better than anyone else, or for shutting up about what happened to me and not making a fuss during an election year?" Tim shakes his head. "Well, that's a grim reaction to good news. Penny, what have you been up to?"
"I had a very good week…" And Penny begins to tell them about a breakthrough one of her study groups had this week.
Ultimately, in perfect world, Gibbs would be shanghai-ing the boys before heading over to the house tomorrow. Fine sunny day tomorrow, they're all heading over to the house to try and get some hours in. (Especially since no work will be happening next weekend.)
Except, tomorrow morning, when he would normally engage in said shanghai-ing, he's meeting Tony, Ziva, and Senior at a brownstone in Georgetown to give it a once over and see if it deserves a bid.
So, no pre-house-work talk.
He could talk to them tonight, but he doesn't want anyone else wandering into this conversation, so here at Ziva's is out. And with Tim only having one functional hand, it's not like he can stuff the three of them into the kitchen for some dish washing and alone time, either.
He might be interested in drawing them off before heading home, but he wants to talk for more than five minutes, and with Abbi working like crazy lately, and her just managing to claw tonight free, (she'll be back tomorrow morning) so he's sure as hell not cutting his time with her short.
So, as much as his Dad-sense is in overdrive, he's also got a week before those two twits do whatever brilliant plan they've got in mind, so this hasn't hit emergency levels, yet. Still, the four of them, at the house, with everyone else there. Oh, Lord, what the hell are they thinking?
They're heading home, and Abbi's watching him drive, seeing the worried Dad vibes pouring off of him, looking mostly amused by it.
"So, I take it you didn't know there were only four bedrooms at the Slater's place?"
He licks his lips. "Yeah. Never been there before, and Breena left that out when she sent the invite."
He shrugs. "Afraid." He shakes his head. "Hopin' those two twits have some clue as to what the fuck they're doing."
"Two? Last time I counted there was four of them."
"I'm not worried about the girls. I know they'll be okay with each other. I'm worried about those two getting their rocks off and then getting stupid about it."
Abbi raises an eyebrow. "They look happy. Neither of them have much of a poker face, and they certainly looked like they were planning on having a very good weekend."
"I know. Now. While it's still a fantasy. Most guys can't take seeing their woman with someone else."
"Most guys don't like thinking about it, either."
That's a good point, but… "Are they thinking about that, or thinking about getting to try out a new woman?"
"Yeah. Worried they're so caught up in one half of the fantasy they're missing the other half."
She touches his hand. "So you'll be the dad and point it out to them."
Gibbs shakes his head.
"Yeah, I know, conversation you never wanted to have."
"And you don't want to get nearly that deep into their sex lives."
"Could go the whole rest of my life without getting' into that."
Abbi nods in agreement, then she shifts the topic a little, to something he is in control of. "So, everyone else seemed a little surprised by the idea of a five day beach weekend." Abbi smiles at him.
Gibbs looks a little sheepish. "You caught that, huh?"
"Kind of hard to miss."
"Thought you could use the break."
She smiles. "You know I can. So, are we staying at the Slaters'—"
Gibbs shakes his head. "Got a surprise in the works."
Abbi looks pleased by that. "Then I'll look forward to being surprised."
"There is no way this is it," Tony says as he and Ziva pull up in front of a street of appealing brownstones in Georgetown.
"Your father is standing over there. Gibbs is next to him. And they are both staring at the same building."
Tony's looking at it. From everything he can see it's a normal, attractive, expensive townhouse on a fashionable street in a good neighborhood. "It's haunted, there was a murder in it, the inside is burned out, something has to be really wrong with this place."
She's looking at it. It's brick, flush to the sidewalk, no front yard of any sort. Parking is on the street, and like all the homes in this neighborhood it shares sidewalls with the homes next to it. It appears to be three floors high (though there also appears to be an entrance on the front to a basement, so maybe four floors) and the main door is at the top of a narrow staircase on the second floor. It's true she can't see into it from here, but the windows are clear, there are flowers in boxes on the windows, it looks fine.
"I do not see anything wrong."
"There's got to be something! This is… these houses go for six million dollars. Unless it's condos on the inside, tiny, tiny condos," Tony's holding his fingers close to each other, "glorified studio apartments, that we're going to have to fix up, we can't afford this."
Ziva shrugs. "He knows what our budget is. Let's see what he is thinking."
Tony rolls his eyes. "Oh God."
They head out of Tony's car and into the July sunshine.
"Ziva!" Senior opens his arms wide, embraces her, then steps back for a second, looks her over, a massive grin breaking out across his face, then he elbows Tony and says, "I told you. I told you she'd be so beautiful you'd risk your eyesight by staring directly at her when she was pregnant! How far along are you?"
Ziva glances at Tony, and he shrugs.
"Two weeks? So much for telling you."
"Ohhh…" He hugs Tony and then Gibbs, too, who looks really startled by that, and then hugs Ziva again. "Spring baby!"
"How'd you know, Dad?"
Senior waves it off. "Please, you can always tell. No makeup, perfume, ten thousand dollar dress, nothing, makes a woman more beautiful than a baby on board. Lights a girl up from the inside, anyone with an eye for women can see it." Senior winks at Ziva. "Looks like this isn't a moment too soon. I want to show you this" he points to the house in front of them, "first. This is John Ellreth, a good friend of mine's, house. We see this, and you'll get an idea of what you can do with this sort of place. Then we'll go see the house we're looking at for you."
Tony sighs with relief. No way they could afford this neighborhood. "So where's the actual house?"
"Not far. Two blocks down, one over."
So much for that relief.
As they're heading in Tony says, "Uh… Dad, that budget I gave you, really, we can't take a mortgage for more than three hundred thousand."
"I know." He's smiling as he opens the door. "This is a traditional DC row house. The rooms are all in a row, usually, with one long hall and the stairs on the side."
Gibbs is nodding along. They're looking at a much larger version, in a much more expensive neighborhood, of what Abbi has.
"These are four floors and you can generally keep the floor plan as open or closed as you want. Some of the interior walls are weight bearing, but because these houses are so narrow it's usually only one wall per floor." Senior knocks on the wall of the hallway. "I've seen people keep narrow doors to each room, or take this wall out all together to that everything flows together."
"Abbi's place is like this," Gibbs adds. "Kept the downstairs in small rooms, upstairs is one big room."
In other circumstances Tony might have teased Gibbs about that, but right now he's quietly freaking out about how, yes, this particular house they are looking at is awfully lovely, and yes, it's classic and elegant and beautiful, and he'd love to live there, because if you were to go out of your way to design a home for Tony DiNozzo a classic, elegant brownstone in Georgetown would pretty much be it, but short of cleaning out all of the drug money they have in evidence, he doesn't see any possible way he can pay for something like this.
Ziva's looking around, asking good questions, getting ideas in place.
Finally, after about twenty minutes, Senior says, "So, you feel like you've got an idea for what to do with a place like this?"
"Yes." Ziva says, looking pleased. Tony nods.
"Great, let's take a walk." Senior's got a massive grin on his face as he says that.
"I told you!" Tony says as they get close to the place they're looking at. He can see it from the end of the block the one Senior has to have in mind, so can Ziva.
"It's a little rough."
"It's a burned out hulk, Dad!"
"Can we go inside?" Gibbs asks.
Senior nods. "Just, watch where you step. The Fire Department cleared it last week, but it's not rock solid stable."
"Oh God." Tony's not sure if this is a panic attack, or the feeling that goes with knowing this house is pretty much his relationship with his Dad, look's okay from far enough away, but the inside is hollow, charred, and filled with disappointment.
Senior takes the caution tape off what's left of the splintered and charred door frame. "This was being renovated as a historical restoration, and… Apparently they didn't quite know what they were doing. Anyway, once the fire got put out, they'd burned" Senior looks pleased with that pun, "through most of their renovating budget, so, it's on the market again." He takes Ziva's hand and leads her in.
Gibbs looks approvingly at the town house. Okay, yeah there is some (Tony's whimpering) fire damage, and the carpets all need to be ripped out (water damage from putting the fire out) along with the drywall (technically it's plaster and lathe), and the wiring (the reason for the fire) is original from 1910, there's no HVAC, but there is a furnace (coal burning) from the 1880s in the basement, that from the looks of it likely still works, like all houses built in the 1880s, it's got one (tiny) bathroom, the windows are broken, but they'd rip them out if they weren't because they're tiny panes of glass in wood, but the side walls are brick, the foundation (stone) is solid, the roof (slate) is in great shape, the spiral staircase (wrought iron) is in one piece, and the beams are aged oak and hard as iron.
Gibbs is grinning from ear to ear on this. If Tony and Ziva don't take this, he's tempted to, just because it'll be fun to rebuild.
Tony's staring at this albatross like he can't believe anyone would go for it, let alone seriously suggesting he hang it on his own neck. Ziva's poking around, smiling. After a few minutes she says, "What are they asking?"
"Three-ten, but we're going to get it for one-seventy-five," Senior says, cool as can be about it.
"How…" Tony asks, gingerly poking at one of the walls, feeling his finger sink into the crumbly, water soaked and smoke stained plaster.
"It's complicated, just trust me on it."
"Dad. I can't 'just trust you on it,' not if I'm going to end up on the hook for paying for it."
"I promise you, let me work this deal. You'll get a mortgage for the full three hundred thousand because you're going to need the money for fixing things up. You're not going to pay more than one hundred and seventy-five thousand dollars down for the house. The rest of it's going to be tax credits to the seller, points in a few other operations, redevelopment credits to the sellers, and a few other issues, but all you're paying for is one hundred and seventy-five thousand dollars."
Tony's eyes narrow. "Is this legal?"
"Yes. At least five lawyers will swear to that by the time we're done."
"Of course I'm going to run it by my contract department before finalizing it. Not going to leave you high and dry on this."
Tony hadn't realized Senior was on enough of an upswing to have a contract department again.
"Are we going to have to do anything besides fix it up and move in?" Ziva asks.
"There's a neighborhood association you'll have to conform to. And you're not allowed to change the outside, the Georgetown Historical Department has rules about that. Beyond that, no."
Tony's staring at his Dad, sure this is too good to be true.
Senior sees that look, reads it right. "If I can't get it for you, clear, on less than 175, we'll walk away."
"Oh God. Dad…" Tony knows all about too good to be true, and right now, this is WAY too damn good.
"Exactly. Dad. I know I've screwed up in more ways than either of us can count as your dad, but… Let me be your Dad for once. This is the one thing I'm really good at, let me do it for you."
"You've been broke more times than I can count, too!"
"How do you think I kept getting unbroke?"
Tony realizes he has no idea how his Dad does that. Just sometimes he's flush, sometimes he's not. "I love the deal, and real estate isn't about the deal, not this level at least. This is just find an opportunity and muck about with tax law. I can do this in my sleep. It's boring. This is how your grandfather and I got rich in the first place."
"Then why did you stop?"
Senior touches the brick wall behind him, patting it gently. "Because all this gets you is money, and money is boring." He glances around, noticing that Gibbs and Ziva have the good sense to give him some time alone with Tony. "A good deal is gambling and sex and… and… a good deal hits all your feel good buttons at once. It's like a drug. It uses everything, brains, charm, guile, knowledge, everything to get a ton of people all together to make something better than they could do on their own. This… this is…" Senior shrugs. "This is easy. Since Delphine and I have gotten together, I do at least one of these a month, make sure we've got steady income."
Senior's staring at Tony. "Junior, I know you won't take money from me. I know you don't want it. But… This is your nest egg. Once it's fixed up, you can live here or not. You can take piles of equity out of it to keep you flush. You can sell it for market value for at fifteen times what you put into it. It's up to you to take it, all I'm doing is laying it out for you."
Tony looks around at the charred wreck. He can hear Gibbs and Ziva joking about something. They sound happy.
"Gibbs!" They rematerialize. "One seventy-five a good price for this place?"
Gibbs nods, then looks at Senior, "If he doesn't take it, I will."
"How long to get it livable?"
Gibbs keeps looking around, thinking, working out what sort of man power he's got for this. "You're helping, right?"
Senior nods, smiling.
"Start working after you close… Baby's due in April; we'll get you home by Valentine's."
She heads over to Senior, eyes warm and happy. "Make the deal!"
Senior's grinning! "Wonderful. Lunch is at my place. Delphine's making crepes and we're all invited!"
After Tony and Ziva are in their car, out of earshot, Gibbs says to Senior, "You realize, when you die, and he's going through your things, he's going to find out that one of your companies bought this thing full price, sold it to another one, held it, and then put it on the market again, holding out for him."
Senior smiles. "Technically, one of Delphine's grandson's companies bought it full price as a tax write off, then sold it at a loss to a shell corporation out of the Bahamas that I have nothing to do with. Unfortunately when that corporation was looking to fix it up, they got some bad news, black mold. Black mold meant this dump was so expensive to fix up that they decided to give it to a charitable trust a friend of mine runs, for another tax write off, and that trust held it until they could get the credits for rehabbing the place. Last week they got the certification showing that they had taken care of the black mold problem and received the tax credits for both the historical rehabbing and EPA compliant toxic fungus clean up, and then," Senior snaps his fingers and makes a frowny face, "the place caught fire, right after they'd paid out enough of their rehabbing budget that it's now too expensive to finish the rehab, and now they are selling it to him and only him as the terms of being given it in the first place."
Senior smiles at Gibbs. "I've only had since Christmas, so this is as fast as I possibly could pull it off. And no, he won't find out, because not only is that end of the deal in the keeping of the trust, but he's also not the executor of my will."
Gibbs is mildly surprised to see Senior's got that many levels going on.
Senior smiles. "Like I said to him, I'm actually good at this."
Gibbs smiles. "So, when's closing?"
"They're usually six weeks out, so we'll do it that way. I'll have some sort of minor hiccough pop up about a month from now, so it doesn't look too slick. But, come September, we'll be ready to start up."
Gibbs looks amused by that.
From lunch, they head back to the other house he's working on. Everyone besides him and Tony and Ziva are there, working on getting more of the siding up.
It does look like maybe, if they really push, they'll get the siding done today. Which means that they finally have something, that from the outside, looks like a functional house.
It also means, likely on Monday, they start the job that makes him really nervous, which is roofing with Ducky and Penny. He knows a fall off the roof isn't going to do him any good, but he's also sure that these days neither of them will bounce.
Gibbs shakes his head and buckles on his tool belt. One way or another, that roof has to get on. And he's thinking that it's extremely unlikely that Ducky or Penny is going to be easily told, 'It's too dangerous for you up on the roof, so how about you sit this out?'
News of a house for the DiNozzo family sets off much in the way of happy congratulations. Tony gets a chance to wax nervous about this 'deal' his dad has set up, and Gibbs is pleased to see both Tim and Jimmy backing him on being nervous about it, and suggesting that he makes sure his own lawyers read through everything before he actually signs his name to it.
Bu,t for the most part, there's a general sense of pleasure and anticipation at the idea of the last of the nests being purchased and set to go.
"All grown up!" as Breena said.
Tim grins at Tony, "You know what happens when you get a house…"
Tony rolls his eyes, remembering saying something very similar to Tim along these lines, when he and Abby got their first place. "Yeah, yeah, babies to put in the house."
Everyone stares at him and Ziva, and Tony just smiles. "So, how are we going to balance working on both places?"
"Should be done on all the outside stuff here before you get to closing on your place. After that?" Gibbs shrugs. "Try to get ready to get working as soon as you take possession. Get the heavy work out of the way fast… Gotta figure out what all we're doing, first. Meantime, try to get the heavy work done here before moving onto your place."
"When's the lease on your current place up?" Penny asks.
"April." Ziva answers with a smile. "Have to have the new place ready by the end of March."
"Was hoping to have this one functional, maybe not done, but all the main parts in play, by Christmas," Gibbs adds. "Kind of like to have the party here, this year. Got a lot to celebrate."
"So, if we're ready to roll here by the beginning of December… How rough is this place you're getting?" Tim asks Tony.
"It's a death trap."
"Tony!" Ziva says. Then she hands her phone over so everyone else can look at the shots.
Tim's looking through the pictures and… "Tony, much as I hate to say it, but… you're right. How are we going to get this livable?"
Gibbs just smiles. "Trust me. You two figure out what you want the finished project to look like, and we'll get it there."
They're breaking up for the night, everyone getting ready to go to their own homes. (Gibbs notices that the McGees and Palmers already have plans for dinner together, apparently Jimmy's "torturing" Tim again tonight.) So, as they're packing up, he heads over to Breena and Abby, "I'll bring 'em home."
Abby looks up at Gibbs. She and Breena know exactly what's going on here. "We're gonna be okay."
He kisses her cheek. "You" he's looking at Breena, too, "aren't the ones I'm worried about. I'll bring them and some food home. Get little girls settled, and we'll have dinner, okay?"
"Okay." Abby looks at Breena. "What are we in the mood for?"
Gibbs nods; he won't have any problems getting that for them.
"Sharing the master bedroom?" Gibbs asks as soon as he's got Jimmy and Tim alone. All three of them are sitting in the shade on the back porch. They've both been expecting this, so it's not like it's a shock this is the first thing he says to them, but though they've been expecting it, they don't exactly have a plan of what to do with it.
"Five days?" Jimmy counters with.
"You first." Gibbs shoots back. "The only thing I'm risking is a sore back on mine. What are you doing?"
Though both Tim and Jimmy look like they've got a pile of snark they want to bring out, neither of them does. Instead Tim comes up with, "I thought you said, if we were okay, you would be, too."
"I know. I'm trying to make sure you're going to be okay!"
"We are. We've got rules in place and…" Jimmy glances from Tim to Jethro and back to Tim. "It's gonna be okay."
Now Jethro's staring at Tim, who says, "It is. We're good, we're, all four of us, comfortable with what comes next, looking forward to it. And… anyone can back out at any time, and we're all good, and we don't go any further than what we've got planned without at least a week of thinking time, so, we're good. We're taking it slow, and not shooting ourselves or anyone else in the ass."
Gibbs eyes narrow as he looks from one to the other. "Really?"
"Yeah, really." Jimmy says.
Gibbs relaxes a bit, still staring at them. "With each other? Not the girls, but you two."
Tim and Jimmy look at each other, and then back to Gibbs. "Yeah, we're good Jethro."
Gibbs isn't sure if they understand what he means by, 'with each other.' "You're gonna watch him sleep with your wife, and you're okay with that?"
He sees that sends a flare of nervous through Tim and Jimmy.
"Uh…" Tim says, staring at Jimmy.
Jimmy inclines his head a bit, seeming to be saying, sure, they can talk to Gibbs about this in detail. Tim nods. Then Jimmy says, "Honestly, we don't know. And we really don't want to guess wrong on that. But that 'rules' thing we were talking about draws the line well short of that, so… At least this weekend, we're not finding out."
Now Gibbs looks confused. "So… what are you doing? Like, just, sleeping together?"
Tim shrugs. "You really want the details?"
Gibbs isn't sure. Then he shakes his head, no, he doesn't need the gory details. "You made rules, hard rules?"
"Yeah," Tim replies, "Really hard rules, and built our play time to enforce them. Tonight, we're going to my place, and we'll have dinner, and we'll talk and flirt, and all three of them'll work on me because that makes the stuff Jimmy does to me bearable, then they'll probably stay over," Jimmy's nodding, they're planning on staying over, "in the guest room, and it'll be fine. We won't play at home because it'll be too easy to cross the line."
Jimmy takes over. "Next week, all of you guys down the hall, that'll do a good job of keeping everyone on the right side of comfortable. So, we go, we play, we see if we like the game, and if we don't, we don't do it again, and if we do then we'll stay there. If we think more may be fun, then we'll talk about that. But, nothing happens without at least a week of thinking time between suggesting going further and going further."
Gibbs nods slowly, that sounds like a very rational way to do this. "Okay." He's not sure if anyone can be that rational about sex, but… he's not seeing any tension or friction between the guys, so… "Okay. Don't be stupid. Don't let your balls do the thinking."
"We're going to be okay," Tim says. "We're all well aware of where the balls want to go and what they want to do, and set this up so brains are in charge."
"All right," Gibbs nods slowly.
"So, five days?" Jimmy asks.
"This accounting thing's been going pretty much non-stop since we got back from California. Wanted her to get a break. Didn't think she'd say yes to the long weekend, but she did, so I stretched it out some."
Tim and Jimmy are just looking at him, pleased, waiting for more details.
"There's a… B&B in Virginia, was there years ago. Nice place, on a lake, fishing, swimming, horses, thought it might be a good way to add a few days off. After three days of babies, some grownup time sounded good."
Jimmy and Tim are both sitting there with huge grins on their faces.
Finally Tim says, "What had you at a B&B?"
Gibbs smirks. "The same thing that'd get you to go to one."
"Okay, who had you at a B&B?" Jimmy asks.
Gibbs shakes his head.
"You made sure it's still open, right?" Tim asks.
Gibbs rolls his eyes. "I'm not so bad at this that I don't know to make the reservations before driving 200 miles out of my way."
"What's happening with Mona? You need us to take her?" Jimmy offers.
"Coming with us. They let you bring pets."
Jimmy nods, relieved that he doesn't have to figure out how to get Mona into his van along with both girls and the twenty-seven-million pounds of baby crap any trip involving babies requires.
For a moment they're all sitting there, pressing matters taken care of, then Tim says, "So, Tony and Ziva pregnant?"
Gibbs smiles, laughs, and says, "Not telling!"
Jimmy sees that look, grins, and says, "Oh, they are. Okay, he was at your house at two in the morning with cigars or throwing up, which was it?"