Disclaimers: TS belongs to Paramount/Pet Fly. NCIS belongs to Paramount/Belisarius.
Laud and Tarnish -- TS/NCIS crossover
“Um, excuse me, do you have a pen I could maybe borrow? I promise I won’t steal it or anything. People are always taking my pens, so I’ve made a vow never to take anyone else’s and then forget to give it back. Unless it’s a gift. Or you know, I’ve lost it. But that won’t happen! I promise! I just need to fill out this form for the frowny teller lady. Teller person? Bank person? Person at the window who won’t smile at me? I mean, who wouldn’t smile at me? Me! I’m a happy person. I smile at everyone. People should smile more. Don’t you think? Your friend looks like he’s trying to hide his smile. Bossman does that too, I mean, my boss, I mean Gibbs, my boss. I call him Bossman. You probably shouldn’t call him Bossman. But don’t call him sir. He doesn’t like being called sir. Not that you’re going to meet him. Probably. Why aren’t you smiling? You look like you should be smiling. Are you not okay?”
Blair’s eyes popped open three sentences into the ramble. Five sentences and his eyes got wider. A few more and his mouth started to drop, wondering if the black-haired, pigtailed, happy Goth-dressed is that spiderweb tattoo on her neck? woman, complete with black and silver dog collar, sitting next to him ever stopped to breathe. A few more sentences and he decided she evidently didn’t need oxygen to talk like the rest of the world.
On the other side of him, he could hear Jim, obviously failing to hide his smile, stifling a chuckle behind his hand.
Bossman? Really? I should try that on Simon. An image of Simon’s glower floated in front of his mind’s eyes, giving him a moment of amusement in the midst of his emotional topsy-turvy. On second thought, maybe not a good idea. I think he prefers sir.
When her words stopped, it took Blair a few seconds to catch up and realize she’d asked him how he was. Or rather how he wasn’t. He just looked at her, swallowed, and tried to smile, succeeding only a little. “I lost a good friend recently. Unexpected. It’s been--”
He didn’t know how to describe how it had been. Coming off the horrible case only to get that phone call from his mom and then flying out here on no sleep and nerves already worn thin by weeks of police work...he wasn’t sure how he was still managing to stay as together as he was, nightmares notwithstanding. If it wasn’t for Jim...
The woman’s eyes softened and she laid a hand on his wrist where it rested on the arm of the chair. Her voice was low, quiet, soothing. “I’m so sorry.” Something flashed through her face and Blair could tell she’d lost someone close to her as well in the past in some unexpected fashion. That kind of understanding couldn’t be faked.
“Thank you.” He touched her hand with his. “My name’s Blair, by the way.”
“Abby.” Her eyes drifted to just behind him, questioning silently.
“Jim.” Blair could hear the remains of the smile in his voice, along with some subdued curiosity on how this stranger could bring forth a calmness that he had failed to achieve. “You still need a pen?”
Abby blinked and her face lit up again. “Oh! I do. Do you have one I could borrow?”
“Chief? You must have an extra or three somewhere in that bag of yours.” Jim’s nudging voice brought back to mind the original question that began Abby’s stream of consciousness paragraph.
Blair reached down to his backpack sitting against the chair and hauled it up to his lap. Shoving aside ever-present notebooks, a battered paperback, a voice recorder, and a thick manila folder he kept trying to ignore, he dug out a zipped packet of mixed pens and pencils. “What’s your pleasure?”
She smiled, an interesting wicked quirk to her lips. “Ooh, so many choices.” Sighing, she plucked out a blue pen that had Rainier University in script printed along the barrel. “But the form the frowny bank lady gave me says to fill it out with blue ink. Thank you, kind sir.”
“You’re most welcome.”
Her head bent forward, braided pigtails touching the paper as she began to fill out the form in rapid strokes. Blair turned back to look at Jim, who touched his shoulder, squeezing it slightly as he raised an eyebrow. The silent ‘you doing okay? better?’ question hung between them. He tilted his head to the side with a slight smile, answering just as silently, ‘yes, better.’ Releasing his shoulder, Jim’s posture shifted a bit, signaling his acceptance of that. A flick of the eyes toward the woman filling out the form asked ‘why her?’ followed by an almost unnoticeable frown of ‘why couldn’t I help you like that?’
Unnoticeable for anyone but someone used to interpreting minutia and half-spoken and sometimes not-spoken words used by a certain cop/sentinel.
Not sure he had the right way to answer without saying something but knowing he couldn’t leave it entirely unanswered, Blair raised a hand and touched Jim’s shoulder and leaned just a bit more into his personal space. He kept eye contact all the while. ‘You did. You do. You always do.’
“You two do the ‘talk without words’ thing almost as good Bossman and Tony.” Abby’s whispery voice startled them. “Maybe better, but don’t tell them that. They’d be jealous.” When they looked back at her, she was still writing, never looking up at she continued. “And Chief? Does that mean Blair’s the boss?”
go to part three