A KISS IS NEVER JUST A KISS

 

By

 

Ashleigh Anpilova

 

Tim has a dream and it troubles him. When the dream seems to become a reality, it worries him even more.

A first time story.

Written: February 2013. Word count: 4,245.

 

 

"Jimmy! No!" Tim cried, sitting up in bed; he was shaking, gasping, his heart was racing as he struggled to breathe and his body was damp with sweat. Fighting to control his breathing he reached out his hand and turned the bedside light on.

 

As the light filled the room he looked around him and realized he was in his bedroom; he wasn't standing on the beach, watching Jimmy run away as Gibbs whirled around, brought his Sig up,, aimed it and calmly fired it - all four shots hitting Jimmy and sending him crashing to the sand where he lay still, lifeless, the blood ceasing to flow. Nor was he, ignoring Gibbs barking his name, running towards the fallen Jimmy, where he dropped down onto the sand and began, even though he knew it was futile, to try to resuscitate Jimmy; his mouth covering Jimmy's in a ghastly approximation of a kiss.

 

Still shaking, Tim reached for the mug of water that stood on his night-stand and holding the mug between both hands drank the cool water, gulping it down as he tried to moisten his far too dry throat. As he fought to stop himself from choking after drinking the water too fast, he again heard Gibbs's words: 'He was a traitor; he'd committed treason; I had no choice.'

 

"No," he said, putting the mug back down onto the night-stand and running his hands over his hair. "It was a dream; only a dream; it wasn't true. Jimmy isn't a traitor; he'd no more commit treason than I would." But even as he said the words aloud he felt himself shiver and for a second dared to allow himself to wonder if he was completely certain about Jimmy's innocence.

 

After all what did they really know about Jimmy? He wasn't the most open of men, as Tim now realized; he rarely, if ever, spoke of his family, Tim wasn't even sure if either or both of his parents were alive or if Jimmy had siblings. He'd never talked about where he'd been to school or what had made him apply to NCIS for the position of Assistant Medical Examiner. And he'd certainly never even hinted as to why his marriage to Breena had suddenly been called off.

 

And there had been that time when he'd been having sex with Michelle and it had always been at NCIS; he'd never taken her home and she'd never taken him home - and look what Michelle had turned out to be! And apart from his bachelor party for a wedding that never happened and one other occasion, he'd always turned down any invitation to join all or some of the others for a drink or dinner - and that included Thanksgiving at Ducky's, the MTAC Christmas movie evening and -

 

Tim shook his head; what was he thinking? Okay, so Jimmy didnít talk much about personal things (unlike someone else Tim could mention) didn't join in things, didn't explain why his wedding had been called off and had had - whatever it was he and Michelle had had. However, that didn't mean he was about to or had or was committing treason; it didn't make him a traitor - of course it didn't.

 

Besides, Ducky liked him; Ducky trusted him; Ducky respected him; Ducky cared about him; Ducky was even paying for him to attend Medical School - which was one of NCIS's worst kept secrets, although Tim was certain Jimmy hadn't been the one to break the secrets, to tell anyone. In fact Tim remembered how distressed, how upset, how awful Jimmy had looked when Tony had asked him outright if it had been true. Tim remembered how Jimmy had turned bright red, then ashen, then red again and had stammered and stuttered and shaken until Gibbs slapped Tony around the head and told him to mind his own business for once in his life. And that if he repeated what he'd just said that he'd be out of a job so quickly he wouldn't know which way up up was. Tim was certain Jimmy hadn't been acting; he was certain he was genuinely horrified that people had found out.

 

And if Ducky liked and trusted and respected and cared about him, if Ducky was willing to pay the costs of putting him through Medical School, then Jimmy was what he appeared to be: a genuine, kind, gentle, quiet, reserved, occasionally gauche and inappropriate young man who just sometimes tried too hard to please and to fit in - just like Tim himself.

 

Completely reassured and certain it all had been just a dreadful dream, Tim turned off the light and lay back down. But as soon as he closed his eyes he was back on beach seeing Gibbs shoot Jimmy, hearing Gibbs tell them that Jimmy was a traitor and had committed treason and he'd had no choice but to shoot him.

 

He forced himself to remain in his bed for another two minutes before he gave in and admitted to himself he wouldn't get back to sleep. So instead he got up, showered, pulled on some sweats, made himself a cup of coffee and sat down at his typewriter and began to type.

 

It was only when, after three hours of what he thought had been fruitful work and he read back what he'd typed, he discovered he'd introduced an entirely new sub-plot, one that centered entirely around treason, committed by a character who hitherto hadn't appeared in the book, a character who turned out to be Pimmy Jalmer's second cousin twice removed, that Tim feared he was going or had gone at least a little bit insane.

 

THE NEXT DAY

 

"Good morning!" Tony called loudly as he strode into the squad room. His gaze came to rest on Tim and he smiled. "And what were you up to last night, Timmy my boy," he asked, in a fair approximation of a British accent.

 

"Nothing, Tony. I just couldn't sleep, that's all."

 

"Oooh, what was she like? Hey, boss, our little Timmy is finally growing up." Tony dropped his bag onto his desk and rubbed his hands. "Well, come on, McSexy, I want details."

 

"Well, I don't. Sit down and shut up, DiNozzo."

 

"Sitting down and shutting up, boss," Tony said swiftly, dropping into his chair. However, he continued to stare at Tim for another minute or two before Gibbs raised his head and just glared at him until Tony looked down at his desk and began to sort through a pile of files.

 

Five minutes later as Tim stared at the same screen he'd been staring at for ten minutes, Ziva hurried into the squad room. "I am sorry I am late, Gibbs," she said, hurrying to her desk and taking her coat off. "I am afraid I had a little trouble on the way to work." Gibbs raised an eyebrow and Ziva frowned. "I am quite certain I was not driving as fast as they said I was driving. However, I . . . It will not happen again, Gibbs."

 

"Hey, McGee," Tony called. "Isn't there some rule about that?"

 

"About what, Tony?" Tim said, because it was easier than ignoring Tony.

 

"Lying to the bo- I'm shutting up now, boss," he said swiftly as Gibbs turned his attention from Ziva to look at Tony.

 

"Now?" Gibbs growled. "Okay," he said after a moment or two of silence as he stared at Tony, "we've finally got a lead on the Parkinson case."

 

McGee frowned. "Parkinson?" he asked, his fingers already flying over the keyboard as he accessed the NCIS database.

 

"You know the treason case. Oh, I forgot you were on leave when we opened the case," Tony said. "Where was it you went again? Oh, yes, nowhere."

 

But Tim had ceased to consciously hear Tony as he pulled up the case file and scanned the contents - not that it took long there was very little in it.

 

"McGee!"

 

Tim looked up to see Gibbs frowning at him. "Sorry, boss," he said, "I was just getting up to speed with the case." Gibbs stared at him for a moment before giving him a curt nod.

 

"What's the lead, boss?" Tony asked.

 

"It's -" The sound of Gibbs's phone ringing silenced him. He grabbed it, "Gibbs. Yeah?" He listened for a moment before slamming the handset down, standing up and grabbing his Sig. As one Tim, Tony and Ziva all stood up and took their Sigs from their desk drawers and grabbed their bags. "McGee, call Ducky and tell him we have a body on the beach."

 

"A body on the beach," Tony said, "sounds like it should be a title of a book."

 

"It is," Tim said without thinking as he grabbed the phone and pressed the button labeled 'Autopsy'.

 

"Is it? Oh, that's a shame; I was thinking you could name your next book - Shutting up, boss." And without a backward glance Tony raced off across the squad room.

 

Tim was surprised to see Gibbs was holding his hand across the elevator doors when he reached them less than a minute later. "What kept you, McTardy," Tony said as Tim slipped inside. "The boss told you to call Ducky, not -" He fell silent as Gibbs glared at him.

 

Then Gibbs glanced at Tim, "You all right, McGee?" he said his voice low.

 

Tim nodded. "Yes, boss," he said. "I just couldn't sleep last night."

 

"Yeah, heard that. You worrying about something?"

 

Tim shook his head. "No, boss. I'm fine." And he forced himself to smile at Gibbs. Quite what he was betraying he didn't know, but for Gibbs to not only notice but also take the trouble to ask if he was okay, made him think he wasn't doing a very good job of hiding the unease he still felt even though it had all been just a dream.

 

Gibbs drove; Tim rode shotgun, much to the displeasure of Tony who more than once muttered about being 'the senior agent' only shutting up when Gibbs threatened to make him get out of the car - while it was still moving - and Tony and Ziva sat in the back. Even though Gibbs drove at his usual speed, more than once Tim was sure he caught sight of Gibbs glancing at him out of the corner of his eye.

 

For once, Tim had no idea how it could have happened, Ducky and Jimmy were there before Gibbs and the field team. Even as, tires squealing as he hit the brake pedal, Gibbs brought the sedan to a halt, McGee felt his mouth grow dry, his pulse begin to race and his back become wet with sweat. He fought as hard as he could to control his breathing as he stared at the beach - the same beach as he'd seen in his dream. The same beach Jimmy had died on; the same beach where Gibbs had shot Jimmy; the same beach where it was revealed that Jimmy was a traitor and had committed treason.

 

Ducky and Jimmy were leaning against the Medical Examiner's van as they pulled up and as Gibbs turned the engine off Ducky, Jimmy behind him, came over to the car. "What kept you, Jethro?" he said brightly. "Mr. Palmer and I have been here for several minutes."

 

Gibbs glared at Ducky in the way he glared at Ducky, which was not anything like the way he glared at anyone else - in fact it really couldn't have been called a glare - and got out of the car. "You know a short-cut I donít, Duck?" he asked, going around to the trunk and opening it.

 

"Ah, now, Jethro, that would be telling, would it not?" Ducky said, his eyes twinkling with mirth as he gazed up at Gibbs.

 

Gibbs grinned as he pulled on his NCIS jacket and cap. "Had time to have a look at the body yet?" he asked.

 

"Yes and no," Ducky replied.

 

"Duck." It was a growl, but not anything like the way he growled at anyone else - in fact it really couldn't have been called a growl.

 

"I do apologize, Jethro," Ducky said quickly, not actually sounding particularly apologetic. "It is just that I was actually being accurate and not factious."

 

"Yeah?"

 

Ducky nodded. "Yes. You see Mr. Palmer and I did indeed have time to have a look at the body."

 

"But?"

 

"Well, my dear, there wasn't, there isn't, a body for us to look at."

 

Instantly any hint of humor and relaxedness in Gibbs's demeanor fled as he pulled out his gun and glanced around him. As one Tim, Tony and Ziva pulled their guns out and began to scan the area. "Duck, want you and Palmer to get back into the van and get the hell out of here."

 

"But, Jethro, I -"

 

"Get into the van now, Ducky."

 

"Oh, I don't think so, Agent Gibbs, do you?"

 

As one the four field agents whirled around to find a man standing with a gun to Ducky's head; a man who was the spitting image of Jimmy who stood mouth open just staring at the man.

 

"Who are you?"

 

"The man for whom you are looking."

 

Gibbs glared. "Cut the cryptic crap."

 

"I assure you, Agent Gibbs, I was not being cryptic."

 

"All right. Just put the gun down and we'll talk."

 

The man who looked so like Jimmy Tim had to focus hard to stop himself from beginning to shake. "No," he said quite calmly.

 

"Four against one." Gibbs finger tightened on the trigger.

 

"True. However, I believe I - hold the cards, shall we say, Agent Gibbs." And the man tightened his finger on the trigger of the gun he held against Ducky's head. "Now how about you four put down your guns."

 

"Isn't going to happen."

 

"Is it not? Oh, dear me. And I truly believed your affection for the good doctor was more considerable than it clearly is. Oh, well . . ." He shrugged in a nonchalant way and once more his finger tightened on the trigger. Tim gripped his gun more tightly, his gaze was now on Gibbs, as he knew Tony's and Ziva's would be as well and he saw Gibbs's finger squeeze the trigger just a little bit more as his stare never left the man's face.

 

"No!" The cry split the air as Jimmy launched himself forward.

 

Tim wasn't certain what happened next. He heard two shots; he heard a cry; he heard the sound of at least one body hitting the ground. Then he heard Gibbs shout, "Stop!" And then he watched Jimmy run away as Gibbs whirled around, brought his Sig up, aimed it and calmly fired it - all four shots hitting Jimmy and sending him crashing to the sand where he lay still, lifeless, the blood ceasing to flow.

 

"Jimmy! No!" Tim cried even as he realized it wasn't Jimmy who had run away, but the other man who had looked just like Jimmy. Instead Jimmy was lying on the ground, it was clear that blood had been pouring from a wound in his shoulder, but as Tim stared down it no longer flowed. His face was ashen and Tony bent over him as Ducky now sitting on the ground, supporting his right wrist with his left, gave Tony orders.

 

"Tilt his head right back, Anthony. No, right back. Timothy, take over." Without even pausing to wait for Tony's reaction, Tim dragged him out of the way, dropped to his knees, tilted Jimmy's head back and to try to resuscitate Jimmy; his mouth covering Jimmy's in a ghastly approximation of a kiss.

 

As he alternated between breathing into Jimmy's mouth and obeying Ducky's, "Harder, Timothy, you press down harder on his chest. That's it," Tim forced his mind away from the dream; the dream in which Jimmy had died as he reminded himself that Jimmy had been dead, dead from Gibbs's bullets, before Tim had put his mouth on Jimmy's.

 

As he continued to breathe for Jimmy and continued to depress his chest under Ducky's calm encouragement he managed to spare a quick glance in Ducky's direction. Ziva was now crouched on the ground next to Ducky, her arm around him, quite clearly supporting him. Tim noticed that Ducky's face was now very pale as well as being damp and he was supporting his wrist even more. He couldn't see any blood on Ducky, so assumed it was just a broken wrist and shock.

 

Suddenly beneath his mouth Jimmy spluttered and his body jerked. Tim sat back on his heels, his fingers going to Jimmy's pulse; he breathed a sigh of relief as the pulse became steadier. "Welcome back, Jimmy my boy," Ducky said, "and well done, Timothy. Now put pressure on the shoulder wound, to stop it from bleeding. That's it, well done." Ducky's voice was shaking somewhat as he gave the orders and now that Tim could spare more time to look at him he could see that he was trembling as Ziva tightened her grip on him and held him more securely.

 

"Dr. Mallard?" Jimmy cried, blinking as he looked around. "Dr. Mallard?" he cried now trying to sit up.

 

"It's all right, Jimmy," Ducky said, his voice low and Tim could see he was making a determined effort to keep it from shaking. "I'm here, I'm alive - thanks to you, my boy."

 

Jimmy still continued to blink and fight Tim. "Jimmy," Tim said firmly, pushing him back down. "Ducky is all right, isn't he, Ziva?"

 

"Yes, Jimmy. Just rest and stop moving about. I assure you Ducky is all right."

 

"Are you hurt, Doctor?"

 

"Oh, a broken wrist and a few bruises, but nothing that won't heal very quickly," Ducky said, once more clearly making a determined effort to keep his voice from shaking and to keep his tone bright.

 

"I'm sorry, Doctor," Jimmy murmured.

 

"My dear Jimmy, I assure you that you have nothing for which you need to apologize."

 

"Sure donít, Palmer," Gibbs said, causing Tim to jump slightly as he hadn't heard Gibbs and Tony return. "You did good, Jimmy," he said, dropping to his heels and squeezing Jimmy's unwounded shoulder. "Although another time -"

 

"I rather hope there will not be another time, Jethro," Ducky said crisply. "Now has anyone thought to call for an ambulance? I am quite happy to go to the hospital in Jethro's car, but Jimmy here -"

 

"I'll be fine too, Dr. Mallard," Jimmy said once more starting to sit up.

 

It was Gibbs who gently but firmly pushed him back down and pulled his cell phone out and dialed 911.

 

LATER THAT NIGHT

 

After it had been discovered that a second bullet had grazed Jimmy's head and that he had a large bump on the back of it from where he had hit the ground, the hospital insisted on keeping him in for the night.

 

Ducky had indeed broken his wrist, but the break had been a clean one and amazingly the bone had remained aligned thus while he would need to be in plaster, he didn't require an operation to reset the bone. Two cups of tea later and he was happily telling stories to anyone who was prepared to listen - and even a few who weren't.

 

Gibbs had sent Tony and Ziva back to the Navy Yard to start the paperwork while he waited until Ducky had been plastered and given instructions that Tim doubted Ducky would conform to, before Gibbs took Ducky home - leaving Tim with Jimmy. His reason, when Tony had been foolish enough to ask why Tim got the easy job whereas he had to go back to work, was simply that Tim had been on leave when the case had first become a case. Gibbs had also 'reminded' Tony of just who was the boss - leaving Tony more than a little pale-faced and Ducky sighing softly and muttering 'Oh, Jethro'.

 

Once the bullet had been removed from Jimmy's shoulder and the doctor had assured Tim the wound although looking pretty awful hadn't actually done any damage to the bone and that Jimmy would regain full use of his arm, Tim called Gibbs to report only to be told he could go home for the day.

 

However, he hadn't gone home; he couldn't go home. Instead he now sat by Jimmy's bed watching Jimmy doze as his mind replayed the events of the morning.

 

"Tim?" Jimmy's voice sounded groggy.

 

"Yeah, Jimmy, it's me. How do you feel?" Tim said, moving a little nearer to Jimmy and even putting his hand over Jimmy's.

 

Jimmy frowned for a moment and then said, "As if I'd been shot in the shoulder and had an argument with the ground."

 

Tim laughed a little. "Yeah, well, that's probably because you were and you did." He smiled down at Jimmy, "Can I get you anything? Do you need a nurse?"

 

Jimmy shook his head, winced, bit his lip and then said, "I'm thirsty. Can you ask if I can have some water?"

 

"I checked that earlier," Tim said standing up and pouring some water into a glass. "And you can. Here, shall I help you?"

 

"Yes, please," Jimmy said.

 

Tim raised the head of the bed so that Jimmy was sitting more upright and then put his arm under Jimmy's head and helped him lift it up so that he could take a sip or two from the glass Tim held.

 

"Thanks," Jimmy said, resting his head back on the pillow.

 

"My pleasure," Tim sat back down in the chair next to Jimmy and without being consciously aware he was doing it he put his hand back over Jimmy's.

 

"My chest hurts," Jimmy said after a moment or two had gone by.

 

"Yes, sorry, that was me - following Ducky's orders," Tim said. "He told me I had to press down hard, very hard."

 

"You do," Jimmy said. "So many people get it wrong in films and TV shows, just as they get artificial resuscitation wrong."

 

"You know, I'd never really thought about that until today," Tim said. "I should have done, given we have to take courses, but . . . Well, I just didn't - but I realized today, as Ducky was giving instructions, quite how wrong shows get it."

 

They looked at one another in silence for a moment or two, then Jimmy said, "I dreamed of you kissing me - I mean . . ." he fell silent as he stared at Tim. Tim swallowed hard, not certain what to say, just aware that something had changed between them. Suddenly Jimmy asked, "Who was that guy? The one who looked just like me?"

 

"Jason Gutheridge, the brains behind the treason case we started working on a few weeks ago."

 

"What was he doing at the beach? And why did he want to hurt Dr. Mallard?"

 

Tim shrugged. "I guess we'll never know for sure, but our best guess is he wanted to use Ducky as collateral to get out of the country. But why he set the whole thing up, I don't know. Why he didn't just leave. We didn't have any evidence, well not enough, but  . . ." He trailed off and shrugged again.

 

They once more stared at one another in silence as Tim realized he no longer just had his hand over Jimmy's he was in fact holding it. He started to release his grip, but Jimmy spoke. "Don't," he said quietly. "I mean unless you want to."

 

Tim swallowed hard around a tongue that suddenly seemed too large for his mouth. "I don't want to," he whispered.

 

Jimmy smiled. "Good," he said.

 

Once more they fell silent. Finally Tim dredged up more courage than in truth he believed himself to have - at least in personal situations - and said, trying to make his tone nonchalant, "Did you really dream of me kissing you?"

 

Jimmy swallowed and nodded. "Yes." His voice was little more than a whisper.

 

Tim swallowed hard again. "As in me giving you artificial respiration?"

 

Jimmy started to shake his head, stopped and said softly, "No." He stared directly into Tim's eyes and said softly, "It's a pity it was only a dream."

 

Tim mentally crossed his fingers and took a deep breath as he tightened the grip he had on Jimmy's hand. "It doesn't have to be," he said in a voice he barely recognized.

 

"Doesn't it?"

 

Tim shook his head. "No," he said then gathering his courage up again and before he could change his mind, he moved from the chair to the bed, lowered his head a little, put his mouth on Jimmy's and kissed him.

 

They were still kissing when Tim heard the sound of what he assumed to be a nurse just outside the door. He gave Jimmy one more kiss and then moved from the bed back to the chair where he was sitting when the nurse came in and told him he had to leave as visiting hours were over.

 

He lingered just long enough to kiss Jimmy one more time before with a promise that he'd collect Jimmy from the hospital (he was sure Gibbs would agree) and take him home, and another that this wouldn't be the only time they kissed, he left Jimmy's room.

 

 

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