AUTHOR: Ashleigh Anpilova
PAIRING: Timothy McGee/Jimmy Palmer
SUB-GENRE: Established Relationship
SUMMARY: Tim has noticed the Jimmy seems somewhat quieter and withdrawn, but doesn't really start to worry until he overhears a conversation between Jimmy and DiNozzo. Determined to get the bottom of the problem, he tackles Jimmy once they are at home; what he learns shocks him.
WORD COUNT: 3,010
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Written for angstytimelord: Z - Zero tolerance
DISCLAIMER: I don't own these characters, nor am I making any money from them. I merely borrow them from time to time.
Tim watched his husband stir his coffee and frowned. The frown wasn't just because Jimmy didn't take sugar so had no need to stir the coffee, but also because Jimmy had been far quieter than usual during breakfast and had seemed almost distracted.
In fact, Tim realized, he had been like that for several weeks now. Each time Tim had asked if everything was okay, Jimmy had smiled and said yes and that it was just a busy time at work and the case they were working on was particularly trying. They were all things which Tim couldn't argue with. However, instinct honed over four years of being married to Jimmy, plus a year dating before that, told him that something else wasn't right. He wasn't really worried though, he was sure it wasn't anything serious. They had no money worries; no one in the family (blood or otherwise) was ill; their relationship was as strong as it ever had been; maybe it was just work after all and for once his instinct was playing him false.
He reached across the table and touched Jimmy's hand. "Are you all right, Jimmy?" he asked.
Jimmy glanced up and smiled. "Of course, Tim. I'm sorry if I seem distracted, I was just thinking about the current case. We're missing something; I'm sure we are. I'll have to talk to Tony about it when we get to work."
Satisfied for now, especially as before he had left the navy yard the previous day, Tony had stopped by his office and said pretty much the same thing, Tim squeezed Jimmy's hand before taking his away and glancing at his watch. They really did need to leave within the next ten minutes. "I'm sure you and Tony will sort it out. And if you want a third opinion, you know my door is always open."
Jimmy smiled. "I do. Thank you, Tim," he added. He looked at his watch. "We really do have to go," he said, with a hint of regret in his voice.
"Yes, I'm afraid we do." Tim stood up, pulled Jimmy to his feet and into his arms and kissed him. Jimmy made his pleasure clear as he parted his lips for Tim, and for a moment or two they simply stood and kissed, letting the rest of the world move on without them.
Finally, they broke apart and moving around one another in a well oiled routine they quickly cleared the table, put things into the fridge and turned the coffee machine off. After a brief visit to the bathroom to wash their hands and brush their teeth, they both grabbed their briefcases and left the house.
"We'll take my car today," Tim said, pulling out his car keys.
"Are you sure?"
"Yeah. I feel like driving." Jimmy smiled at him and got into the car.
They parted in the squad room, Tim to go up to his office, Jimmy to go and talk to Tony. Before they parted, Tim squeezed Jimmy's shoulder and gazed deeply into his eyes for a second or two, telling him with the look how much he loved him. They were quite open about their relationship; neither of them had ever wanted to hide it, and as far at Tim was aware no one was troubled that NCIS's male director and male medical examiner were married. As he went up the stairs to his office Tim mused, not for the first time, about the fact he was director of a federal agency. Even after two years he occasionally had trouble really believing it; he had never expected it; the best he had dared to hope for was leader of the field team.
However, that role had, upon Gibbs's retirement been given to Tony; at the same time Jimmy had been promoted to medical examiner as Ducky had also retired. Tim had been moved back to Cyber Crimes where he was promoted to head of the unit, and then a year later when Vance decided he needed a less stressful job as his kids were getting to the age when he wanted to be around for them more, Tim was offered the directorship. After he had got over his initial shock and surprise and spent some time talking it over with Jimmy, he had happily accepted the job. Two years later he had no reason to regret his decision.
Tony, Jimmy and Tim himself were the only three members left of 'Team Gibbs', or at least the heyday of 'Team Gibbs'; Abby and Ziva having both finally married and decided to become full time moms. Ned Dorneget was Tony's right hand man and had been with the new team from the day Tony had taken over the reins. However, the other two members of the field team, along with Jimmy's assistant ME had changed a couple of times. The new forensic scientist had been in place since Abby had left, but while he did his job perfectly well, exceptionally well, if Tim was being honest, he hadn't bonded with the team in the way Abby had. He was a nice man, a pleasant man, a man Tim had spent a bit of time with, but he clearly preferred to keep himself to himself, both at work and out of work.
"Good morning, Director McGee," Tim's assistant said, as Tim walked into Sam's office.
"Good morning, Sam. How are you today?" Tim smiled at Sam.
"I'm fine, thank you, Director." Every day Tim asked the same question, every day Sam looked surprised but also very pleased that Tim asked.
"Good. Is there anything urgent?"
Sam shook his head. "No. But Director McDonald called and asked if you were free for lunch."
"Yes. I told him I would have to wait until you arrived though before I was able to confirm whether you were free." That was one of the many reasons Tim liked Sam so much; he wasn't just efficient, he was thoughtful and never made such arrangements without checking with Tim first.
"Lunch will be fine - remind him though it's his turn to pay." Tim smiled, nodded and headed into his office.
A COUPLE OF HOURS LATER
Tim squeezed the bridge of his nose, glanced at his watch and decided he had time to pop down to Autopsy for five minutes before he made a couple of calls and went out to lunch. As so much of his job involved sitting behind a desk or a conference table, he made a point of taking the stairs rather than the elevator as frequently as possible.
As he reached the turn in the stairs leading down to Autopsy, he heard two voices; both of which he easily identified.
"Things can't go on like this, Jimmy," he heard Tony say. "You have to tell Tim."
Jimmy sighed. "I know I should. But I don't know how to, Tony. I don't want to upset him."
"I understand that, but you're the one who's being upset. Tim has a right to know. Tim should know. You know that. Look, do you want me to have a word with him? Would that make it easier?"
"I don't know, Tony. It's good of you, but . . . No, I'll tell him. You're right. I have to tell him. It's not going to go away. I thought it would. I thought it was a one-off and then when it happened again I told myself it was just -"
Jimmy laughed softly. "Something like that, yes. But -"
"It's not, is it? It's serious, Jimmy. You know that. I know you don't want to upset Tim, hell I don't want to upset him, but you have to tell him." Tony's voice was more serious than Tim had ever heard it. "In fact, if you don't tell him, I will."
Jimmy sighed softly. "I know. And I will, Tony. I really will. I'll tell him tonight." Jimmy sounded resigned and more than little somber. "Please, don't tell him, Tony. It really does have to be me. I will tell him tonight. Really I will."
"Good. Okay, I've got to go. I left Dornie showing Beckie the new filing system - for the third time. I'd better go and rescue him. I'll see you later."
"Okay. And thanks, Tony."
Swiftly, taking the stairs two at a time, Tim hastened back up to the landing and coughed somewhat ostentatiously as he somewhat nosily started to make his way back down. "Oh, hello, Tony!" he exclaimed, wincing slightly at how false he sounded.
"Hi, Tim. Sorry, Director McGee." Tony grinned and for the first time ever Tim had to force himself to smile back. It was a standing joke between them and usually Tim was glad of it as it showed Tony really didn't have any problems with the fact that Tim was his boss. But today . . . Today he had actually wanted to shout at Tony and tell him not to be so childish. "I was just telling Jimmy we should go out for a drink together some night; it's been too long."
Tim nodded. "Yeah, that would be nice, Tony. Anyway, I must go. I need to see Jimmy and then I'm having lunch with David McDonald."
Tony gave him a knowing look. "Oh, that will be fun!" he said, before grinning at Tim and continuing up the stairs.
Tim waited until he knew Tony would have gone before turning around and slowly heading back up the stairs himself. He couldn't face Jimmy right now; he had to think about what he had overheard. He had to believe it wasn't what it could appear to be. He had to. He couldn't lose Jimmy.
LATER THAT NIGHT
After they had loaded the dishes into the dishwasher they returned to the lounge; Tim sat down and Jimmy poured them each a drink. He had been even quieter and more withdrawn during dinner, and it had taken Tim every ounce of his patience not to grab him, shake him and demand to know what it was he had to tell him.
"Thanks," he said, taking the glass from Jimmy. He then caught Jimmy's hand before he could move away and pulled him down onto the couch next to him.
For a moment or two they just sat in what was fast becoming an awkward silence before Jimmy sighed and said, "There's something I have to tell you, Tim."
"Okay." Tim stared at Jimmy. "I'm listening."
Jimmy took a deep swallow of the whiskey in his glass, moistened his lips, fiddled with his glasses and hair and cuffs. "I should have told you when it first happened. But . . . And then it happened again and again and . . . I didn't know how to tell you. I love you so much, Tim, I care about you. I didn't want to upset you and I know what I have to tell you will upset you."
Part of Tim wanted to do nothing more than to run away or to tell Jimmy he didn't want to hear. Part of him wanted to pull Jimmy into his arms and kiss him and go on kissing him until Jimmy had forgotten what he apparently had to tell him. Part of him wanted to scream, to yell at Jimmy to demand to know why, and ask what he had done to make Jimmy turn to someone else.
He swallowed hard. "Go on. Tell me, Jimmy. Tell me and then," he paused and swallowed again. "And then we can see what we can do about fixing it," he said quietly. They could fix it; they could. After all Jimmy had said he loved him; as long as they still loved one another they could weather anything; they could fix it.
"Okay." Jimmy emptied his glass, wiped the back of his hand over his mouth, looked at Tim and said, "I'm being . . ."
Tim listened as Jimmy told his story. For a moment he felt a flash of relief race through him when he realized Jimmy wasn't telling him what he had feared Jimmy would tell him. However, once that passed all he could feel was anger and disgust and the desire to hit someone very, very hard. As Jimmy told him of the innuendoes that had been made and then the out and out blatant, revolting comments that, among other things, included the fact that the only reason Jimmy was NCIS's ME, was that he was sleeping with the director of NCIS, Tim's rage increased. Once Jimmy had begun to speak, he went on, went on telling Tim things that shocked and angered him, went on to tell him about the sickening anonymous emails, the so-called 'pranks' and other bigoted things.
Part of Tim simply couldn't believe what he was hearing; he had always thought NCIS was a completely open, non-bigoted agency. They had a zero tolerance policy, and as far as he had been aware everyone had adhered to it. Jimmy and he weren't the only openly gay members of staff. He had never heard whispers about discrimination and this kind of abuse; not even the faintest of faint hints had come his way. He was so stunned that for a moment he actually thought that were it anyone other than his husband who was telling him the things he was telling him, that he would struggle to believe him. In all honesty, he was struggling to believe Jimmy, even though he knew full well that Jimmy was telling the truth.
Finally Jimmy came to a halt and just stared at Tim; he was clearly waiting for Tim to speak, to say something, anything. And then before Tim could speak he said quietly, "You do believe me, don't you, Tim?"
Tim grabbed his hand and held it tightly. "What? Of course I believe you, Jimmy. No one could make such disgusting things up. How long has this been going on for?"
Jimmy glanced away from him. "About three months. I am sorry I didn't tell you, Tim. Really I am. But . . . I know how passionate you are about NCIS; I know how you pride yourself on running a fine, open, free from discrimination agency; I know we have the zero tolerance policy for any kind of bullying and discrimination and - I just didn't know how to tell you. I didn't tell anyone to begin with. And then one day Tony came down to Autopsy and I was just sitting in front of an email; he read it and - He told me to tell you, Tim. In fact earlier today he told me that if I didn't tell you he would."
Tim nodded and squeezed Jimmy's hand. "I do understand why you didn't tell me, Jimmy. But I really wish you had have done. Do you know if anyone else is being abused like this? Dornie, maybe?"
Jimmy sighed. "I don't know. If he is then he hasn't said anything, not even to Tony. But then I didn't say anything and wouldn't have unless . . . I am sorry, Tim. You do forgive me, don't you?"
Tim pulled Jimmy into an embrace and held him tightly against him. "Of course I forgive you, Jimmy. Although technically speaking there really isn't anything to forgive. And in case you're still wondering, I really do understand why you didn't tell me. But, Jimmy, I need you to promise me something."
Tim smiled and kissed the top of Jimmy's head. "I hope you mean that. I need you to promise me that if anything like this happens again or anything similar you will tell me. You can tell me as your husband or as your director, but you must tell me."
Jimmy sighed softly and moved back so that Tim could see his face. "I promise, Tim. I just - I promise."
"Good. Now, who are the bastards?"
"Do I -"
"Yes, Dr. Palmer, you do." Tim spoke firmly. As he did he realized his tone had been very similar to the tone Gibbs used to use on the rare occasion he pulled rank on Ducky. In spite of everything it actually made him smile a little and for a moment it warmed him.
Jimmy gulped and widened his eyes so much Tim was sure they must be hurting. Then he gave Tim a gentle, partly rueful smile. "Kenneth Hawkins, Alan Baker and Sidney Walker."
Tim nodded. "Thank you. And did you keep the evidence?"
"Not all of it. To begin with I got rid of it. But once Tony knew, he made me swear I'd keep everything."
Tim really did owe Tony. "Good. Where is it?"
"Okay. We'll go in early tomorrow and you can show it to me. And then . . . Well, let's just say NCIS will be looking for three new agents."
"Do -" Jimmy fell silent as Tim stared at him. "Can we go to bed now?" he asked, after a moment or two; his tone was slightly hesitant.
Tim smiled. He couldn't think of anything better. "Yeah, Jimmy, we can and we will. He stood up and pulled Jimmy to his feet and with his arm around his shoulders led him up the stairs and into their bedroom.
He would deal with Hawkins, Baker and Walker tomorrow. He would let him see quite how angry he was, quite how disgusted he was, and quite how seriously NCIS took its zero tolerance policy. Yes, he would lose three very good agents, but it was a small price to pay to get rid of bigoted bastards. He would also make quite certain they never got a chance to work for another federal agency again.
However, all that was for tomorrow; it could wait. Tonight he was going to spend as much time as he could making love to his husband and showing him just how much he loved, wanted and needed him.