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Title: No Time Like the Present
Pairing: Jimmy Palmer/Tim McGee
Table: 5, 12_stories
Prompt: 11, Truth
Author's Note: Spoilers for the NCIS episode "Pyramid."
Disclaimer: This is entirely a product of my own imagination, and I make no profit from it. I do not own the lovely Jimmy Palmer or Tim McGee, unfortunately, just borrowing them for a while. Please do not sue.
***Jimmy set his mug of tea down carefully on the table beside the couch, trying to keep his hands from trembling. It had been three days since Cobb had kidnapped him and the NCIS team had brought him back home safely; he shouldn't still be this shaky.
He had told Tim that he was fine, but in truth, he wasn't. He didn't want to admit to his boyfriend that he was so shaken up about something that Tim might very well have found commonplace; he didn't want to seem as thought he couldn't take care of himself.
The truth was, he couldn't, Jimmy thought wryly. He had never been given any sort of training about what he should do if he found himself in the clutches of someone like Cobb; he'd never been told what to do if he was kidnapped by someone who could very well kill him.
All he'd been able to do was obey his captor, and hope that Tim and the rest of the team would figure out where he and the other two captives were. It had all worked out for the best in the end, but he had been sure when it was happening that he would die there.
He'd never been so afraid in his life. He'd had nightmares ever since they'd been rescued; Tim had woken him up two nights in a row from horrible dreams, dreams where he was drowning and there was no respite, dreams where he had known that he was going to die.
The first night, he had woken himself up with his screams; he'd been embarrassed to realize that those sounds had been coming from his own throat. Tim had held him and comforted him for the rest of the night, even though he hadn't been able to go back to sleep.
He didn't want to go to sleep tonight; he was sure that he would have the same nightmare again, only this time, it would be worse. And he didn't want to wake Tim with either tossing and turning, or with the kind of screams that had awakened his boyfriend that first night.
Jimmy knew that Tim was worried about him, and that he thought those kinds of nightmares were normal after what he'd been through. But he didn't want them to torture him any longer; three nights of barely any sleep were more than enough.
He wasn't used to dealing with all the things that Tim saw on a daily basis when they were working on cases. Yes, he saw the dead bodies -- but they were safely dead and in the morgue, or at least dead at the crime scene itself. They weren't criminals threatening him.
Glancing at the doorway to the kitchen, he let out a soft sigh, resting his head back against the cushions of the couch and closing his eyes. Maybe he should talk to Tim about what he was feeling. Maybe his boyfriend had been through this at some point, too.
Tim was a lot braver than he was, going into situations every day that could be potentially dangerous. He hadn't expected anything like what he'd been through to ever happen to him -- especially as he'd been safely inside NCIS when it did.
But then, no one expected something like that, did they? Neither he nor Barrett had realized who Cobb was, or that they were in such imminent danger. They had felt completely safe because of where they were; they'd learned the hard way that wasn't so.
There was no way that he could pretend to be like Tim, fearlessly taking on the bad guys, even though he worked for the government just as Tim did. What they did was as far divided as night and day -- he stayed safe, while Tim laid his life on the line.
He hated that disparity in what they did, even if he did know that he wasn't brave enough to face what Tim did every day. He hated the fact that unless he was at a crime scene, surrounded by several of his colleagues, he was safe in the morgue while Tim took on dangerous situations.
Jimmy sighed, opening his eyes and staring up at the ceiling. It wasn't like he could tell Tim what he felt; he'd feel that he was asking his boyfriend to quit the job the loved, that he was good at, just because it could be dangerous at times.
He would never do that, Jimmy told himself firmly. He would never expect Tim to change his life in such a drastic way. It was just that after his own recent experience, he was feeling vulnerable, and he wanted to protect Tim in any way that he could.
There was no way that he could ever be the kind of person who protected someone else in a physical way; his form of protection came from avoidance and caution. That was what he was trying to do with Tim, and that wasn't going to work.
Tim couldn't stop doing what he did for a living. It was in his blood, a part of him. If he switched jobs to suit Jimmy, to make him feel that his boyfriend was safer, then ti would change something in him, and he'd no longer be the same man who Jimmy had fallen so deeply in love with.
No, that wasn't entirely true, was it? He would still be the same man -- but he would be a changed man if he wasn't doing what he loved. Something would go out of him, some spark that was indefinable but which made him the person he was.
Jimmy didn't want that. He didn't want Tim to feel that his boyfriend was pushing him into a job that was safer, simply because of his own fears and one bad experience. He had to square his shoulders and keep going, to put what had happened behind him.
If either of them let what had happened with Cobb affect their lives too deeply, then the bastard would have won. Jimmy didn't want that; he didn't want to let one psychotic killer's agenda get to him in a way that would color the rest of his life.
Even in death, Cobb would have scored a victory over NCIS if he continued to be afraid of the possibilities that could lie ahead for both himself and Tim. Part of what he had wanted was to make people afraid, to make them hide behind their own fears and uncertainties.
He wouldn't give in to that, and neither would Tim. They would continue to work for NCIS, and live their own lives without looking around them in fear of what could happen at any given moment. Neither of them would lead their lives trying to stay safe in every way.
Of course, they'd look out for each other, watch each other's backs, and try to keep themselves as safe as possible -- but neither of them would back down from any situations that might place them in harm's way. That was no way for anyone to live.
If he was completely honest with himself, he actually got a little rush out of thinking about the fact that whenever he was out at a crime scene, anything could happen. But maybe that was only because he was surrounded by his colleagues, and knew that they would keep him safe.
Jimmy's lips twisted in a wry smile at the thought. When Cobb had kidnapped him, he'd been safely within the walls of the NCIS building. His colleagues had been all around him -- and no one had been able to keep him and Barrett from being taken hostage.
Truth be told, no one was perfectly safe, no matter where they were or what they were doing. He could be taken hostage any time, in any random crime. He couldn't spend his life being afraid that something like that might happen -- either to himself or to Tim.
Besides, the worst was already over, wasn't it? he told himself with an inward smile. He'd already been through that experience, so if something like that ever happened to him again, he would at least have some idea of what to expect.
He should tell Tim how he felt. They needed to be honest with each other about everything -- and this was no small quirk that could be shrugged into the background. This was something that could grow into a phobia, one that Jimmy didn't want to have to deal with.
Those phobias wouldn't develop if he talked to Tim about how he felt, he was sure. He would be able to push those fears away, to hold them at bay with his boyfriend's help. There was no need for them to grow into overwhelming terrors that got the better of him.
He and Tim had promised to always tell each other the truth about their feelings; he couldn't hold this back. It was something that could affect both of them in the future, and it would be far better to talk it out than to let the fear fester and grow out of proportion.
Jimmy looked up as he heard Tim come into the living room from the kitchen, smiling and holding a hand out to his boyfriend. There was no time like the present for them to talk -- and he was sure that the sooner they did, the better he would feel.