Disclaimer: Don't own NCIS. If I did, I would be somewhere where the high temperature is a little more 81 (the high temperature in Los Angeles today) and a little less 102 (the heat index for today where I live).
Author's Note: So, on Fathers' Day, I got the idea to write a fic with each of the characters interacting with a father or a father-figure and I remembered the comment Palmer made about his name and just sorta ran with that. I still can't believe that I looked down at a sheet of paper and thought, "Man, I cannot wait to write for Jimmy Palmer." This takes place in Palmer's childhood.
Main Character: Jimmy Palmer
It was the picture of Americana. On a sunny, suburban front lawn, a tall, handsome man gently pitched a baseball to his son.
Of course, in the picture, that would have been followed by the crack of fire-treated ash making contact with well-worn leather. However, in reality, the pitch was followed by a huffing grunt as Jimmy swung the bat a split-second after the ball whizzed past.
"Just a little late, Jim, you'll get it," his father coached, "Choke up on the bat this time."
Jimmy sat down the bat, picked up the ball, and threw it to his father in an awkward movement that set his Coke-bottle glasses askew. Despite the errant nature of the throw, his dad was able to easily capture the ball in his mitt.
Jimmy sighed, his dad wanted so badly for him to be good at baseball; he'd even named him after a baseball player. Jimmy, however, did not share his father's love or skill for the game and even went by 'Jimmy' at school rather than 'Jim' like his father called him.
It was on days like this, though, that Jimmy wished he was good at baseball.
Days where his dad spent hours gently coaching him on his batting stance, his grip, his swing, his throw, the way he stood in the outfield, the proper way to slide into a base.
Days when they would go to the sporting goods store and his dad would insist on buying his son a real Louisville Slugger bat and Wilson glove because that's what they used in the big leagues and then he'd go home and show his son how to properly wrap a glove to break it in, then use his own to teach him how to oil a glove.
Days when Jimmy listened to stories about his dad growing up and wanting to play for the Baltimore Orioles, but had blown his shoulder in high school.
It was days like this that made him wish he were Jim.
But every swing throwing him off balance, every baseball that hit his glove and dropped to the ground, every throw that careened five feet off its mark reminded him that he was Jimmy.
Jimmy's throw fell about two feet in front of his dad, but the older man just smiled and picked up the baseball. He held it out in front of him and said, "You watchin', son? Here it comes."
He gently pitched the ball right to Jimmy who swung the bat and felt relieved when her heard the pop of the bat making contact.
He opened the eyes that he had closed tight and looked up just in time to see the baseball strike an overhanging branch of the sprawling oak that shaded them. The branch sent the ball zooming into the fence. Bouncing off the fence, the ball continued on its path. Then, with a metallic thud that made Jimmy wince, the baseball slammed into the garage door and left a sizable dent.
He dropped the bat to his side and hung his head in shame. His eyes began to blur with tears that were threatening to fall. Then he felt something that made the tears stop, his father's hand rested warmly on his shoulder. He looked up and saw his dad smiling down at him
"I'm sorry, Dad," Jimmy whispered.
"Don't worry about the door, Jim."
"No, Dad, I'm sorry I'm not any good at baseball. I know how much it means to you-"
"Hey, hey, hey," his father said, kneeling down to his son's level, "Don't you worry about that. Baseball...baseball was my dream. One day, you'll find something that you love and I know you'll be great at whatever it is. Don't worry about baseball, you've got your whole life ahead of you. You've never been a disappointment and you never will be. Just find something you can put your whole heart into and work as hard as you can. You've got a bright future, Jimmy, even if it isn't on the diamond."
Jimmy smiled at his dad who said, "Now we better go and call someone about that door before your mom comes home."
Together, they walked into the house and Jimmy felt the weight fly off his shoulders knowing that his dad was just as proud of Jimmy as he would have been of Jim.
A.N.: You know, this is a short story, wouldn't have figured that it'd have taken me as long as it did to write it. However, I wrote it while trying to watch Wipeout...which means I was watching Wipeout while this story sat on a clipboard in my lap...Wipeout is the world's greatest guilty pleasure.