A/N The authors, Gottahaveharmonfreak (Gottahavemyncis and HarmonFreak1) wish to thank all the authors of all the wonderful McGibbs, Tim-centric and Gibbs-centric stories we've read. This is an original story that has been happily influenced by our reading.
Locking his apartment door behind him, Tim laughed as his dog whined at him, in a hurry for their evening walk. Both of them were still settling back into their own home after Tim's recent experience as a toddler. Tim chuckled again as the dog pulled on his leash. As strangely difficult and awkward as his transition back to adulthood had been, it was good to be independently mobile again, and to have control over his body, if not exactly over the dog.
As he followed Jethro on their usual route, he thought again of the love and care he had received from his entire team, his family. Each of them had helped nurture and care for him, from buying supplies to feeding and playing with him. He thought of Tony teaching him how to crawl, Ziva's tender care in feeding him, Jimmy and Ducky watching his health, helping take care of him, Abby supplying toys appropriate for his new age and playing with him. But Gib…bs? Gibbs had been amazing. In just a few days, he'd given Tim the love and care that Tim had never experienced with his biological father, the Admiral. Truthfully, Tim had never fully realized what he'd missed by having an obsessively rigid naval officer for a father. He'd known for years that Gibbs was a father figure for his teammates, but prior to his enforced second childhood, he'd rarely had that paternal energy aimed in his direction. As he returned to his grownup self, he found he was almost saddened by losing that energy and yet he found there was something more he wanted. What that was, he wasn't quite sure yet.
Jethro strained on the leash again, bringing Tim out of his reverie. Both dog and owner's faces lit up as they reached the park and saw who was stepping out of his car, waiting for them. Jethro unleashed gave happy licks to his second favorite person, his owner's temporary caregiver and boss, Gibbs. Tim also gave the man a happy greeting in the form of a strong hug, both men grinning at each other. Though Tim had returned to his duties as Junior Agent on Gibbs' team, this was the first opportunity since Tim had moved home that the two men were able to spend time outside of work. They ended their hug with Gibbs rubbing Tim's arms, encased in a warm jacket.
"It's pretty cold out tonight, Tim, supposed to snow after midnight. My namesake might even need that sweater Ziva knit for him for tomorrow's run!"
Tim rolled his eyes, "Oh yeah, you think he's going to hold still while I wrestle that onto him? He can barely stand having his leash clipped on!"
Both men laughed as the dog, seeming to know he was the topic of discussion, gave them an indignant look. He whined a bit as Tim put the leash back on him.
"C'mon boy, it's too cold out here to stand around but we don't want to be chasing after you either!"
Jethro gave him a soft snort and led the way down their favorite path, his two men following obediently. Within a few minutes, he'd taken care of business for the night and turned back towards Gibbs' car. Gibbs laughed as he realized what the dog was doing.
"Look Tim, Jethro has decided I'm giving him a ride home. You want to come along too?"
"Jeez dog, don't be so lazy, it's not that cold or that far!"
"Nah, c'mon McGee, I'll let you make me coffee in payment, how's that?" Tim snorted at that and with that the three males, human and canine climbed into the bright yellow car and headed back to the apartment.
Once home, Jethro headed for his warm bed while Tim started the coffee brewing. Gibbs shed his jacket and watch cap, wandering towards the kitchen to watch Tim. On his way, a small furry object caught his attention. Laughing as he picked up Hero from a nearby table, he clutched the dog close to his chest, inhaling the baby scent that still lingered on it. That was one smell he wouldn't forget anytime soon. His mind raced as he made his way to the kitchen.
While he missed having baby Tim to care for, he knew they had much stronger ties now; ties he was sure would last. Funny thing was, as paternal as he'd been with little Tim, what he was starting to feel towards grownup Tim was something very different. He wasn't sure yet just what that was; he'd decided to relax, enjoy their time together and see how things played out. Now he stood in the entryway of the small kitchen, looking forward to the strong brew he knew Tim was making and enjoying watching the young man work around the kitchen.
As the coffee began percolating, Tim turned around, surprised to see his boss cuddling the dog, which he had affectionately named after him.
Clearing his throat, Tim spoke, "I see you found Hero."
Holding up the stuffed dog, Gibbs shook it back and forth, "Still smells like baby Tim. When I saw him sitting on the table, I just couldn't help myself. To be honest, I'm surprised to see him out, thought maybe he'd be tucked away in a drawer by now."
Tim blushed and smiled coyly, "I like to keep him nearby, reminds me of some of the better times I've had in my life."
Not expecting that response from his little one, uh, Tim, Gibbs nodded, "I know what you mean and I completely agree. Aside from Shannon and Kelly, taking care of you ranks high up on my list."
Digesting the information he had just learned, Tim swallowed the lump in his throat. Suddenly unable to make eye contact with his boss he focused his gaze on the floor. There was a moment of silence before Tim finally stuttered, "Gib…bs, have you eaten? I'm just going to make some scrambled eggs and toast, sound good?"
"Sure, Tim, I just had a couple bites of a peanut butter sandwich; eggs & toast sound great!"
"I'd offer some ham too, but someone" and Tim rolled his eyes toward the dog, "grabbed what was left."
Jethro had the doggie grace to hide his muzzle when both guys glared in his direction.
"Oh yeah, he knows he's busted!" Tim laughed, "He hasn't had any treats in two days, including from the dog walker."
"Man, you're strict!" Gibbs snickered as he snagged a piece of toast Tim had just buttered.
"Hey! Well, ok, I guess you didn't want cinnamon toast then."
Gibbs pulled a face, "You want it back? I love cinnamon toast!"
"Nope, got plenty more. Go sit down, I'll pass your plate in a few minutes."
Gibbs sat on the stool at the breakfast counter and watched Tim finish preparing their meal. As hungry as he was, he was really enjoying just watching the man effortlessly moving around. As Tim handed him a full plate, Gibbs cocked one eyebrow and Tim smirked at him.
"Yeah, yeah, I know, coming right up!"
As Tim poured coffee into the mugs, he had a passing thought at how easy this was, how confident he felt with his sometimes fearsome boss. Of course, they weren't at work right now but still, he never would have dreamed that he would be able to tease and joke with the man, much less offer him a meal. He gave Gib…no, Gibbs, he was going to have to get past that nickname he'd used during his unexpected babyhood, his coffee and sat down next to him with his own plate. Tim was starving and perhaps tucked into his meal a little too quickly; as he ate a tiny bit of egg escaped the fork and landed at the side of his mouth. Not noticing, he kept on going; however, Gibbs couldn't resist and leaned over with a napkin.
"Got a little piece of egg there, Timmm, let me get it." Swiping at the offending bit, he smirked as he saw the blush growing. At least he had managed to avoid calling him Timmy, but not by much.
"Aw c'mon, wasn't that bad! You waited too long to eat, in too much of a hurry?" Seeing he was causing the younger man even more embarrassment, Gibbs gave him a soft head slap.
"Tim, it's just me. If I can't tease you, who can?" That got a smile out of his…agent and Gibbs returned to his food. Finishing, he relaxed with his coffee and casually remarked, "Ya know, I kind of like you calling me Gib, no one's ever called me that before." Tim's eyes widened and he glared at Gibbs. "Boss!"
"Yeah, really, ok so I'm teasing a little but I really do like it; so don't worry about it. Would it be ok if I call you Timmy once in awhile? Not at work of course."
Tim, thinking hard, finished his meal and sat, looking at Gibbs. The two of them sat there looking at each other for several minutes. Finally, Tim cleared his throat, "Uh no, I don't mind if you call me Timmy, just as long as it's never in front of DiNozzo or Abby or my sister."
"So Ziva, Ducky and Jimmy are ok? What about Vance…or Penny?" With a laugh, Gibbs grabbed the empty plates as Tim rolled his eyes at him. "Ok, so no Timmy at work or in front of the relatives; got it." As Tim started to get up with the rest of the dirty dishes, Gibbs nudged him back down, "Nah, I got this, you cooked, I'll clean. And I meant what I said about you calling me Gib, but if I can't call you Timmy at work, you can't call me Gib at work! Unless you slip up." He smirked at Tim's astonished look.
Finishing rinsing and loading the dishes into the dishwasher, he looked around to make sure he'd gotten everything. Still sitting at the breakfast counter, Tim cleared his throat. "Uh, there's a hockey game on tonight, want to stay and watch?" Gibbs' face brightened, "Sure, didn't know you like hockey." Tim grinned back at him, "Yep I do and there are a lot of things you don't know about me!" Several heartbeats came and went while both men again just looked at each other.
Tim broke the silence, "Do you want more coffee or would you like a beer?" Gibbs knew alcohol of any kind was a bad idea tonight. Personal matters aside, the snow had started since he'd been here and he did not want to drive through that with a muzzy head or tempt himself into staying over. At that thought, he gave himself a mental head slap and replied, "More coffee sounds great, Timmy."
His next thought was that he needed to stop talking before he really went off the rails; he was supposed to be the functional mute, what was with him! He had no idea what was going through Tim's mind and was still very aware of their recent experiences as baby and father figu…caregiver. "You know what, kiddo, I think I'm going to take a pass on the hockey game tonight. I should get out on the road home before the snow gets any worse."
Tim managed to look accepting while internally experiencing both relief and disappointment. "Ok, that makes sense. Don't want to drive through too much of a mess – the plows won't be out this way yet."
While Gibbs gathered his jacket and cap, Tim poured coffee into a go mug and handed it to him. Gibbs grabbed the mug and then kept going, pulling Tim into a one-armed hug. "Thanks, Timmy, you do great scrambled eggs! I've had a great time; my namesake can have a ride home anytime." Both men grinned at each other as Jethro walked out the door and into the snowy evening. Tim stood, his forehead against the door, pondering everything that had been said, everything that had happened. Whatever this was or was going to be, right now he was happy and he felt his face break out into a smile.