AUTHOR: Ashleigh Anpilova
PAIRING: Timothy McGee/Jimmy Palmer
SUMMARY: A sequel to Being Brave. It's the day after Tim kissed Jimmy and ran away; both men arrive at work early, determined to see the other, but not sure how to go about it.
WORD COUNT: 3,150
DISCLAIMER: I don't own these characters, nor am I making any money from them. I merely borrow them from time to time.
THE SQUAD ROOM
It wasn't quite six o'clock in the morning when Tim arrived at his desk, put his coffee down, turned on his computer screens, took his coat off and sank down into his chair. He took a tentative sip of his coffee and pulled a face - how did Gibbs drink it so strong and black? - before he forced himself to take another sip. He needed it.
He'd barely slept the night before due to the fact that his mind had been churning over and over and playing out various scenarios in his head; one of which being Jimmy's fist making contact with his jaw. Not that he really believed Jimmy would hit him, he was far too gentle a man, but even so he had played the scene out several times and each time he'd just let Jimmy hit him, let him knock him to the ground and walk away.
After another sip of the hot, strong, bitter, black liquid he put his head in his hands and groaned. Why had he run away after kissing Jimmy? Why hadn't he stayed and faced Jimmy? Why hadn't he stayed and talked to Jimmy? Why had he kissed Jimmy in the first place? The answer to the last question was easy: he'd kissed Jimmy because he wanted to kiss him; he'd wanted to kiss him for months. But what now? Did Jimmy feel the same way? At more than one point during their drink and meal and the drive back to his apartment Tim had felt that Jimmy did feel the same way but had that just been wishful thinking? Had his own feelings for Jimmy been so strong he'd read Jimmy wrong?
He and Jimmy had to talk which was one of the reasons he'd got to work so early; he'd hoped that Jimmy might get there early too and then they could talk and he could find out just how Jimmy felt about him and what happened next. Of course talking at the office wasn't the best thing, but he didn't think he could get through an entire day without talking to Jimmy.
He looked at his email, wondering if Jimmy might have emailed him, but there was nothing from him. Nor was there a text message or even a missed call on his cell phone. Tim sighed, drank the last few drops of coffee and tried concentrate on checking that he'd done all the background checks Gibbs had asked him to do.
Jimmy hurried into the darkened Autopsy trying not to trip over his own feet. It was still early and the lack of lighting told him that Dr. Mallard hadn't arrived yet. He turned a couple of lights on, took his coat off, turned the computer on and logged into his email wondering if Tim might have emailed him, but there was nothing there. For the fourth time he checked his cell phone, but again it was devoid of messages and missed calls from Tim.
He sighed, leaned back in the chair, took his glasses off and rubbed his eyes. They felt gritty and his head ached in the low-level way he hated, because it wasn't bad enough to take an aspirin, but it was bad enough he knew it would be there, nagging at him for most of the day. It was his own fault, he hadn't slept properly the night before, he'd been awake for most of the night tossing and turning and replaying the evening with Tim, which ended with Tim kissing him and then running away from him.
Jimmy sighed again. Why had Tim kissed him and ran away before he could say or do anything - like kiss him back? Why hadn't he stayed and talked? Why had he even kissed him in the first place? Jimmy was trying to figure out if Tim felt the same way about him as he felt about Tim. At more than one point during their drink and subsequent dinner and during the drive back to Tim's apartment, Jimmy had felt that Tim did feel the same way.
However, now he wondered if that had just been wishful thinking, if he wanted Tim to like him as more than just a coworker and friend, just as he liked Tim, so much that he somehow transposed his feelings onto Tim and had misunderstood. But could you misunderstand a kiss? Tim had kissed him; no matter what else he might have done or thought or felt, the one thing Jimmy couldn't deny was that Tim had kissed him.
He and Tim needed to talk which was one of the reasons he had got to work so early; he'd hoped that Tim might get in early as well and then they could talk, not that talking at the office would be easy but even if he only got a chance to invite Tim out for another drink and Tim accepted, well that would be something. But he didn't know if Tim was in and he didn't want to go up to the squad room in case Gibbs was there as he had no reason for going and if he went up without a reason Gibbs would know something was -
"Goodness me, Mr. Palmer, you are here very early."
Jimmy jumped, stood up, managed to get his feet twisted with the chair and nearly fell over. "Dr. Mallard! You're here."
Dr. Mallard stood just inside the still open door and stared at him. "Yes, I am, as are you - but why, Jimmy my boy, are you here so early?" Now he did come into Autopsy and began to remove his hat and coat.
"I . . . Um . . . Er . . . I had some . . . It's just that . . ." Jimmy trailed off under the steady, pale blue gaze as his mind went completely blank and he had no idea what reason to give for being at the office so early. "Shall I make you a cup of tea, Doctor?" he said as inspiration hit him.
Dr. Mallard's steady gaze, which Jimmy suddenly realized could be as penetrating as Gibbs's, never left Jimmy's face for a second. "Yes, you may make us both a cup of tea and then if you wish to, you may tell me what is on your mind." Now Dr. Mallard did look away and returned to hanging his hat and coat up.
Jimmy hurried out of Autopsy and went to make tea for both of them and thought frantically; could he tell Dr. Mallard? Should he tell Dr. Mallard? What would his mentor think if Jimmy confessed to being in l- to liking another man? Especially when the said other man also worked for NCIS? Would he feel compelled to tell Gibbs? But even as the thoughts tumbled over one another in his mind, Jimmy knew he had to talk to someone and Dr. Mallard, his boss, his mentor, his friend, the man he liked, respected, admired, looked up was the best person he could tell - in truth the only person he could tell.
Decision reached, he made the tea and carried the two mugs back into Autopsy, handed one to Dr. Mallard and sat down on the chair next to him. "Tim and I went out for a drink last night," he said, "and then we had dinner - he's going to recommend what new computer I should get."
"I didn't know you needed a new computer; didn't you buy one at the end of last year?"
"Well, yes, but . . ." Jimmy fell silent as he felt his cheeks begin to burn and to his annoyance his feet began to twitch, which always happened when he was extremely nervous.
Dr. Mallard stared at him for a moment and then said quietly, "I see. Am I correct in presuming it was just Timothy and you who went out? And that you were not joined by Abigail, Ziva or Anthony?"
Jimmy nodded. "Yes, Doctor."
Dr. Mallard sipped his tea. "And did Timothy advise you on your new computer?"
"Um, well, he said I needed to think some more about what I wanted it for. Dr. Mallard he kissed me." Jimmy blurted it out before he really thought about it as he felt his cheeks begin to burn even more and he had to push his feet down hard onto the floor to stop them from twitching. He forced himself to meet Dr. Mallard's gaze, hoping as he did he wouldn't see disgust or anger or any other similar negative emotion in the pale blue eyes. To his relief he didn't.
"Well, Jimmy," Dr. Mallard said after a moment or two of just staring at Jimmy, "may I ask if you wished Timothy to kiss you?"
Jimmy nodded. "Yes, Doctor, I did. But the thing is," he swallowed some tea, "the thing is, as soon as he kissed me, he ran away."
"Ran away?" Dr. Mallard sounded stunned.
Jimmy nodded again. "Yes. You see we were outside his apartment, I'd given him a ride home and he had trouble opening the door to get out. I leaned across him to help and he . . . He kissed me, got out of the car and ran into his apartment building. And now I don't know if . . ."
Dr. Mallard took another sip of tea. "Well, there is only one way to find out, is there not, Jimmy?" Jimmy nodded. "Am I correct in presuming that is why you are here so early?"
Jimmy nodded again. "Yes, but I don't know if Tim is here and . . . I daren't go up to the squad room in case Agent Gibbs is there."
Dr. Mallard chuckled softly. "Well now, I can help you there," and he picked up the phone. However, before he pressed any buttons he looked at Jimmy, "You do wish to talk to Timothy, do you not?"
Jimmy nodded. "Yes."
"Very well." Dr. Mallard pressed two buttons. "Ah, Timothy," he said, "I was looking or Jethro; is he not in yet? Ah, right thank you. No, it's quite all right, Timothy, I shall call back later. Yes, thank you." He put the phone down and turned to Jimmy. "You are quite safe; Jethro is not in yet and nor are Anthony or Ziva. Thus, I suggest you go up to the squad room and invite Timothy out for a cup of coffee. Well," he said, "for what are you waiting?"
Jimmy stood up quickly. "Nothing. I mean . . . Doctor?"
"Don't you mind? I mean doesn't it . . ."
Dr. Mallard looked at him. "When you get to my age, Jimmy, and have seen so much hatred in the world and discovered just what despicable acts one human being can and does do to another, you find favor with and smile on any chance people may have of happiness and pleasure. So, no, my boy, I do not mind nor does it trouble or disgust me, if that is what you were thinking. Now off you go."
Jimmy stood for another moment or two before beaming at his mentor. "Yes, Doctor," he said, turning and tripping over his own feet; he grabbed one of the autopsy tables and managed to stay on his feet. "Thank you, Doctor," he added and hurried out of Autopsy.
Ducky stood and watched him go and thought about what he'd been told and whether it surprised him at all - and he realized it didn't. Now he thought about it, now he recalled the interaction between Jimmy and Timothy, he realized there had been a spark between them for some time. He just hoped they could sort it out and thus find happiness with one another - and as for Jethro's Rule #12, well, Ducky believed he could, if necessary, convince his old friend to turn a blind eye and not to object.
And something else he must do was to remind Jimmy yet again that it really was all right to call him 'Ducky' and not 'Dr. Mallard' or 'Doctor' all the time. Although given how long it had taken Jimmy to finally drop the 'Agent' or even 'Special Agent' when talking to or about Jethro, he might just have to resign himself to the fact he'd be retired before Jimmy managed 'Ducky'.
THE SQUAD ROOM
Tim was still staring at his computer when he heard a noise. He looked up only to see Jimmy climbing to his feet. Instantly Tim jumped to his feet and hurried towards Jimmy and without thinking about it, took Jimmy's arm. "Are you all right, Jimmy?" he asked. Jimmy nodded. "What happened?"
Jimmy's cheeks colored a little. "I didn't see that cable," he said pointing down.
Tim frowned, let go of Jimmy's arm and squatted down and began to follow the cable back to where it was plugged in. "It shouldn't be here," he said, unplugging it and winding it up. "You could have been badly hurt. I'll have a word with Robson; he's completely irresponsible leaving a cable going across the floor like that. In fact I may ask -"
Tim jumped. "Yes, Jimmy?"
"Forget about the cable, okay. I'm all right. Look, Tim," he paused.
"About last night . . ."
Tim stared at Jimmy and a feeling akin to panic began to make his stomach churn. "Jimmy, I -"
"We need to talk about it."
Tim swallowed hard and nodded. "I know."
"So, I think we should go out and have coffee at that new coffee shop."
Jimmy nodded. "Yes," he said firmly, "now."
After a moment or two, Tim nodded. "Okay," he said hurrying back to his desk and grabbing his coat. "Let's go."
THE COFFEE SHOP
Apart from one other couple the coffee shop was empty. Tim chose a table in the far corner and Jimmy got the coffee. Tim was pleased to discover when Jimmy brought them back to the table and handed Tim his and he took a sip that it was exactly as Tim liked it.
For a moment or two they just sat in silence sipping their coffee and glancing at one another and then looking away. Tim couldn't remember the last time he'd felt so nervous and he knew why he did: it was because Jimmy mattered to him so much.
He decided he should break the silence. "About last night, Jimmy," he said forcing himself to meet and hold Jimmy's gaze. "I'm sorry I kissed you," he said in a hurry.
Jimmy had opened his mouth to speak but quickly closed it as Tim spoke; he turned pale, then his cheeks flushed and he looked down at the table. "Oh," he said.
Suddenly Tim realized how it must have sounded. Throwing caution to the wind he put his hand over Jimmy's and said softly, "Actually, Jimmy, I'm not sorry I kissed you. But I am sorry I ran away afterwards." He held his breath and waited.
Jimmy looked up at him and Tim watched a smile light his face up. "Are you? Are you really, Tim? Do you mean it?"
Tim squeezed Jimmy's hand. "Yes, Jimmy," he said. "I really mean it. I'm glad I kissed you, Jimmy, and," he swallowed hard and leaned forward a little, "I'd like to do it again."
Jimmy's eyes grew really wide as he stared at Tim. "Would you?"
Tim nodded. "Yes. Look, Jimmy, I like you; I really like you. I've liked you as more than just a coworker and friend for some time now."
"I like you too, Tim," Jimmy said and beamed at Tim.
They sat still in effect holding hands, gazing at one another and talking happily and naturally for quite some time, before Tim suddenly glanced at the clock and realized how long they'd been out of the office. He stood up quickly and pulled his coat on. "Look at the time," he said. "Gibbs is bound to be in by now. We'd better go, but we're still on for tonight, right?"
Jimmy pulled his own coat on. "Yes," he said. "How about you come to my place and I'll cook?"
Tim hesitated for a mere second before grinning and saying, "I'd like that. I'll bring some wine. Now we must go." Then he had an idea and rather than head for the door he hurried up to the counter and ordered coffee for Gibbs, Ziva and Tony.
As they hurried back to the Navy Yard, Tim being careful not to drop or spill the coffees he carried, something came to him. "Jimmy?"
"Do you really need a new computer?"
Jimmy blushed. "No. That was just an excuse to get you to come out for a drink with me. Although," he added, "I did mean it about trying out an on-line game or two - if you really meant you'd give me some tips."
Tim smiled. "Of course I did."
THE SQUAD ROOM
They parted company once they got inside the Navy Yard, Jimmy hurried off to Autopsy and Tim took the elevator up to the squad room. As he'd expected Gibbs, Ziva and Tony were already at their desks. He swallowed hard and taking care not to trip over his feet or any other cable that may be about and gripping the coffee container extra carefully he hurried over to where they all sat.
"I'm sorry, boss," he said, putting the coffee down on his desk and pulling Gibbs's out. "I went out to get coffee and -"
"Where did you go, McTardy, Brazil?" Tony said and laughed. He fell silent as Gibbs turned his stare on him. "Sorry, boss," he muttered.
Tim hurried over to Gibbs and held out the coffee. "Here you are, boss," he said, "it's just as you like it. And I'm sorry, boss, it won't . . ." He trailed off under Gibbs's intense stare.
After a moment or two Gibbs took the coffee from Tim and took a sip before nodding at Tim. "It's all right, Tim," he said quietly, "I don't mind." And then after holding Tim's gaze for several seconds he looked down at the file he'd been studying.
Tim stood and just stared hard at Gibbs; he was certain Gibbs hadn't been talking about him not being in the office when Gibbs had arrived. "Thank you, boss," he murmured in a voice so low only Gibbs would have heard it before a smile on his face he turned, hurried back to his own desk and took Ziva and Tony their coffee.
He was still smiling when he sat back at his computer and turned his attention to making triply certain he had done all the background checks Gibbs had told him to do.