NEVER TOO MUCH
Jimmy wonders if he and Tim spend too much time together. Then Tim is seriously injured and is hospitalized and Jimmy realizes something.
An established relationship story.
Written: November 2014. Word count: 3,050.
They worked together; they socialized together; they lived together; they spent far more time together than apart. Sometimes, just occasionally, Jimmy wondered if they spent too much time together. If the almost twenty-four seven was healthy; if in fact their relationship would be even better if they didn't spend quite so much time together. He gave the matter so much thought that he even considered looking around to see if he could find another job.
Ever since Gibbs and Ducky had retired (and Tony had left NCIS for pastures new), they had spent even more time together. Tim had been promoted to Senior Field Agent and had his own team consisting of Ned Dorneget, Ellie Bishop and Conrad Zuse. In turn Jimmy had been promoted to Medical Examiner and had his own assistant: Alexander Richards. As such Tim spent more time visiting Autopsy than he had done when he had simply been on Team Gibbs, and of course as ME, Jimmy spent more time explaining things to Tim, going through things with him and even in the squad room.
Looking back, before Gibbs and Ducky had retired, Jimmy realized an entire working day could go by and Tim and he wouldn't actually spend any time together, not even to say a fleeting 'hi'. If Gibbs kept his agents tied to their desks or out interviewing suspects, and Ducky kept Jimmy busy either in Autopsy or running things up to Abby, the first time they might see one another was when they got home.
Even though he had often been in Autopsy when Gibbs had gone down to see Ducky, once Jimmy was in effect Ducky, he realized he hadn't actually appreciated quite how often Gibbs had gone down to Autopsy; quite how much input Ducky had had in each case. It was only when he and Tim had taken over the reins, that he discovered the bond between Senior Field Agent and Medical Examiner was closer than any other in the agency - and that was putting aside any person relationship the two people might have.
Of course there were days when he barely saw Tim at all; when the case was ongoing and the body had revealed all it could. Days when Tim spent hour after hour after hour at his desk and Jimmy spent it in Autopsy. But those days were fewer than the days when he saw Tim several times a day. And they tried to grab at least half an hour each day to have lunch together, even if at times it was spent going over the case.
Even when they socialized they did that together. Mostly, when they went out, it was just the two of them; they'd go out to dinner or occasionally to the cinema or for walks or even to the theatre. On the rare occasion they did go out with other people, it was usually with the rest of the NCIS team. Once or twice Jimmy had been out with the people he had been at medical school with and Tim had been out with some fellow on-line gaming enthusiasts. However, even those times were rare given the nature of their work and how difficult it was to commit to anything - or rather to actually keep the commitment.
Once you had let people down more than once, they didn't seem that keen to include you again. And it wasn't as if Jimmy and Tim were that bothered anyway. They did enjoy one another's company; they did like spending time together; they did like in effect living in one another's pockets, or being joined at the hip as someone had once suggested.
Neither of them had ever been hugely into socializing, instead preferring to stay at home and spend time together. As the issue as to whether they spent too much time together had been on his mind that day in particular, it had been a rare quiet day and Tim had wandered down more than once simply to chat to Jimmy, Jimmy decided to raise the matter with Tim that evening.
"Tim?" he said, as they settled down to eat dinner. Both of them enjoyed cooking and between them they tried to cook if not every evening, then certainly more evenings than they grabbed take-outs.
Jimmy paused for a moment as he spun the pasta around his fork. "Do you think we spend too much time together?"
Tim paused with his fork of pasta halfway to his mouth. "Has someone said so?"
Jimmy shook his head and quickly ate his pasta and wiped his mouth on his napkin. "No. But I was just . . . Well you know, wondering."
Slowly Tim ate his forkful of pasta and poured a little more red wine into their glasses. "Do you think we spend too much time together?" he asked. He put the bottle back down and reached across the table to capture Jimmy's hand.
"No!" Jimmy exclaimed, entwining his fingers with Tim's and smiling. "Not at all. It's just . . . Well, since Ducky and Gibbs retired and we took over their jobs -"
"I'm not sure we 'took over their jobs'," Tim said and smiled ruefully. "I don't know about you, but I know I'll never fill the role as Gibbs did. I may be the Senior Field Agent, but I'm not and never will be Gibbs."
Jimmy nodded. "I know what you mean, Tim, and I agree. I'm not Dr. Mallard."
"No, you're Dr. Palmer and you shouldn't try to be Ducky." Tim took his hand away from Jimmy's and returned to eating his dinner.
"And you shouldn't try to be Gibbs. Actually, I don't think
we do do that. I think we're both us. I sometimes think if Dr. Mallard came back
to NCIS he'd be horrified with the way I do things."
Tim shook his head. "No, he wouldn't, Jimmy. Ducky isn't like that. And you know what? I'm sure Gibbs wouldn't either - well he wouldn't say anything; he might think it."
Both of them laughed and for a minute or two turned their attention back to eating before their meal grew cold.
Finally, Jimmy put his fork down onto his empty plate, wiped his mouth again and said. "It's just that we do spend more time together since we became Senior Field Agent and Medical Examiner. Plus we live together and when we go out we hardly ever go out on our own; I can't remember the last time one of us went out without the other one being there. Can you?"
Tim thought for a moment and shook his head. "No, I can't. And it's true that we do spend more time together at the office - which to me is a good thing. But if you are concerned, then . . . I can stop coming down to Autopsy unless I do need to see you about a body."
Jimmy smiled at him and took his hand. "I'm not concerned, Tim, at least not really. I just wondered if you were.
"Well, I'm not. So you can stop worrying. Now how about an early night?" Jimmy smiled and nodded.
THE NEXT DAY
It really should have been a straight-forward call-out to a crime scene. And it was. Well, it was up until the moment a shooter appeared from apparently nowhere, fired four shots and suddenly Tim was on the floor, bleeding from wounds in his chest and head, his gun on the ground next to him. He hadn't even had time to fire. The others had and the shooter was dead; dead from six bullets in his back as he'd turned to flee the scene.
As Jimmy waited outside the operating theatre, alternating between pacing up and down, sitting with his head in his hands and standing by the doors trying to get a glimpse of what was going on inside, he knew he wouldn't be able to give any kind of report as to what had happened. The director would be there soon, he knew that and he would expect Jimmy to give him some kind of report, even though Jimmy was just the ME and not a field agent. He had been there, in terms of working for NCIS, after Tim he had been the second most senior person there. But he couldn't remember anything. Well nothing really important. He squeezed his eyes shut and tried to concentrate on what had happened.
He remembered getting there some ten minuets after Tim and his team had arrived.
He remembered it had been Alexander who had driven the truck.
He remembered getting out of the truck and walking towards the others, towards Tim who had just stood up after looking at the body. Just looking; Jimmy knew that. Tim wouldn't have touched the body, not until Jimmy had arrived and given him permission to do so.
And then . . .
And then all he remembered was ten shots. Four from the man who would now be in his Autopsy, in one of his refrigerated drawers. Six from Tim's field agents. Ten shots followed by someone (it had to have been him) crying 'Tim'! And then running towards Tim, seeing his bleeding body and . . .
And then they were at the hospital and Jimmy didn't know what had happened. Had he been professional? Had he automatically cared for Tim? Had he called, or told one of the others to call, the paramedics? Had he -
"Dr. Palmer?" He looked up to see Director Vance standing next to him.
He blinked and quickly stood up. "Hello, Director Vance," he said, aware he had started to tremble.
"Sit down, Jimmy." He felt a hand on his shoulder gently pushing him back down onto the chair.
"I'm sorry, sir," he said.
Vance sat down next to him and handed him a Styrofoam mug of coffee. "Drink it," he said firmly, but kindly. "Then you can tell me what you're apologizing for."
"Thank you." Jimmy took the mug and held it between his hands, but he didn't drink from it. "For not being able to remember what happened," he said. "Earlier; at the crime scene. I was there. I saw it. I heard it. I . . ." He swallowed hard and made himself drink a mouthful of the coffee; it was harsh and bitter, but also sweet - just what he needed. The sugar gave him a kick he hadn't been aware he had needed
Vance squeezed his shoulder. "You're not a field agent, Dr. Palmer. It isn't your place to remember details. That's what Agents Dorneget, Bishop and Zuse are there for. They are all writing up their reports for me."
"But I - I know you don't really approve, oh, not in any bigoted way," Jimmy hastened to add, "of Tim - of Special Agent McGee - and me living together. But -"
"Have I ever said I didn't approve?"
"Well, no, but. What about Rule #12?"
Vance sighed. "That was Gibbs's rule, Palmer, not mine. Besides, you and McGee shared a home before Gibbs retired. He allowed it."
"But only because we promised our personal relationship wouldn't interfere with our jobs." Jimmy said quickly, drinking some more of the coffee and enjoying the sugar rush - but aware he needed to be careful not to have too much.
"And as far as I can tell it doesn't," Vance said, sipping from the mug Jimmy suddenly realized he held.
"But . . . But I can't remember what happened." Jimmy spoke in a rush. "I don't even know if I . . . If I . . ."
"Did what you've been trained to do? Care for a person in need?" Vance spoke quietly.
Jimmy nodded. "Yes, Director Vance."
"In that case let me assure you, Jimmy, you did indeed do that. Dorneget told me in some detail what you did when you reached McGee's side. How competently and professionally you did it. How you ordered them to call for an ambulance while you took care of Agent McGee. And the doctor who first saw him when he arrived here, assured me had it not being for you being on hand with your knowledge and ability, Timothy would not be alive. You saved his life, Dr. Palmer." He put his hand on Jimmy's shoulder.
"Yes. You did. So you don't need to remember the sequence of events, you don't need to be able to recall what happened, because you did your job."
Jimmy swallowed "Thank you, Director Vance," he said, stumbling over his words slightly.
"You're -" Vance broke off as the door to the operating theatre opened and a surgeon came out, he was taking off his cap and mask.
Jimmy stood up quickly and hoped he wasn't visibly shaking. The doctor looked at Vance and at Jimmy. "Are either of you Mr. McGee's next of kin?"
"Yes," Jimmy said, knowing his voice was trembling slightly. "I am. I'm Tim's -"
"Partner," Vance said firmly. "Dr. Palmer is Special Agent McGee's partner, and as such is fully entitled to hear anything you have to say."
The surgeon's lips actually twitched slightly which gave Jimmy hope, as he addressed Vance. "I assure you, Director Vance, I fully intend to pass on any and all information to Dr. Palmer. Now," he turned to Jimmy and smiled. "The good news is, Special Agent McGee is still alive - and that, doctor, is mainly due to your quick thinking and professionalism."
Jimmy sighed with relief and fought back the tears he had so far not shed, but which now wanted to stream down his cheeks. "Alive?"
The surgeon nodded. "Yes. Although," he said, somewhat more softly. "He is in a deep coma and we won't know if there was any," he paused.
"Brain damage?" Jimmy said softly, biting his lip and forcing himself to maintain eye contact with the surgeon.
The surgeon stared at him. "Yes. Until he wakes up we will not know for certain if there is any brain damage."
"For certain?" Vance asked quickly.
The surgeon glanced at him and nodded. "As far as we are able to tell, which I admit isn't very far, there hasn't been any. However, there might be."
"Can I see him?"
"Not until he's out of recovery, no. And even then, it will only be for a few minutes at a time. He will be in critical care, and is likely to remain there for some time. However, as his next of kin you will be allowed to see him."
"Thank you." Jimmy spoke softly.
"Just to warn you, although I'm sure as a medical man you'll know this, Agent McGee will be hooked up to a number of machines, including one that it currently breathing for him."
Jimmy swallowed hard. "Should I . . . Should I . . . Should I contact his family?" he managed to say.
Before the surgeon could answer, Vance said, "I'll do that for you, Jimmy." Jimmy turned to look at him. "I would do it if you and Timothy weren't partners; it's appropriate I do it."
Jimmy breathed a sigh of relief. It wasn't that the Admiral and Mrs. McGee or Sarah or Penelope disapproved of Tim's relationship with Jimmy, even the Admiral had accepted it. It was just that he honestly didn't know if he could make that kind of call. "Thank you, Director."
"Now, Dr. Palmer, may I make a suggestion?" the surgeon said.
"Go and wash your hands thoroughly and your face," he added. "I don't want you to scare the nurses." He smiled.
Jimmy nodded. "I'll go and do that straight away."
TWO MONTHS LATER
"Careful, Tim. Here let me help you. Careful now. That's it, you sit down and I'll -"
"Sit down next to me." Tim spoke firmly, as he let Jimmy guide him down onto the couch. Once he was sitting and resting back against the cushions, he pulled on Jimmy's hand. "Sit down, Jimmy, before you fall down."
"But I was going to make you -"
"Whatever it was, it can wait. Now sit down. Stop being my doctor and for a moment be my partner; the man I love. The man I -" he paused for a moment, swallowed and said softly, "The man I want to call my husband." He tugged harder on Jimmy's hand and Jimmy let himself be pulled down next to Tim.
Tim turned Jimmy's hand over in his and held it tightly. "Jimmy Palmer, will you marry me?" He brought the hand he held to his lips and kissed it.
Jimmy swallowed hard. "Oh, yes, Timothy," he said. "Yes. Yes. I'd love to marry you."
"Good. Oh, and Jimmy, we'll have no more talk about us spending too much time together, will we?"
Jimmy shook his head, remembering all the hours he hadn't been able to spend by Tim's bedside, and how it had been so hard to sleep at nights because their bed had felt cold and empty and lonely. How the hours at home had dragged because Tim wasn't there to talk to or laugh with or kiss or simply just be with as they watched a movie or an episode from one of their favorites series. No, he and Tim didn't spend too much time together; in fact it would be impossible for them to spend too much time together. They would never spend too much time together. In fact however much time they spent together it would never be enough.
"We will invite Gibbs and Dr. Mallard to the wedding, won't we?" Jimmy asked, settling down close to Tim.
"Of course. But other than that apart from the rest of the team and our families, that will be all."
"And Agent Vance," Jimmy said softly but firmly.
"Vance?" Tim raised his eyebrows.
"Yes," Jimmy nodded. "He let me spend more time at the hospital sitting by your bed before you came out of the coma than he should have done. He let me manage my work around you; he was really good, Tim. He has to be there."
"He will be." Tim smiled and turned his head so that he could kiss Jimmy.
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