Dec. 5, 2010 - Two Weeks after Leroy proposes to Tim
Sarah McGee is the Energizer Bunny on speed this morning. She's been up all night racking her brain and finalizing everything in writing - her plan, complete with options and last minute new ideas, expense projections and timelines that are accurate and informative. In the two weeks since she was told about her brother's engagement, she's spent lots of time thinking of something to give him and her soon to be brother-in-law for an engagement/wedding present and research what it will take to give it to them. It's taken her all this time to do her homework, talk to the right people and process in her own head, exactly what's involved and lay out in complete detail exactly what she's offering. She was looking for something special and meaningful, like their relationship. She's positive that she's hit the nail on the head with her final plan.
As Tim's sister, it's her job to give him the best wedding present she can possibly give him. And what she's come up with fits that bill. It's big It's out of the ordinary and she's completely satisfied that it's the best thing she can give them. After all, her brother's finally getting married and if the man's present state of mind and obvious 'on top of the world' mannerisms are anything to go by, he's so deeply entrenched in this relationship that it will last forever and this will be his only marriage - as it should be. Which means she only gets one shot at doing this right.
But, Gibbs' lack of family outside of his NCIS Team had already brought her to the conclusion that she needed to give him a present as well. Holding the nicely done up paper copy of her invitation - done on the spectacular word program on Tim's computer, no less, she smiles as her finished plan rolls around in her mind one more time. Yeah, they both needed this.
Sitting back down, she looks over what she's put in writing - after all, if she doesn't spell it out - in full detail, it will get lost in translation and the effect will have been lost completely, taking away all effect of her giving it to them in the first place. Printing out several copies of her gift, she folds one up and slips it into the large envelope and attaches the gift bow and ribbon to it.
Picking up her purse and the other copy, her own, she heads downstairs to talk to Penny. After all, she's told he nothing about this yet but won't give the gift without letting her see it first. She smiles as she anticipates her grandmother's surprise followed up by her support.
"Leroy, I'm not so sure you having lunch with Sarah by herself is a good idea." Tim says as he continues washing his lover's hair, his long fingers scraping that scalp the way he knows Leroy enjoys.
"Mmmm. Can't hurt, Tim. Not like she's gonna scratch my eyes out this time." Leroy jokes as he relishes the younger man's ministrations on his head.
"I know. Just...don't let her give you any crap, all right?" Tim worries as he gently prods the older man to turn and let the water rinse his head off now.
Once his hair is rinsed and he can raise his head again, Leroy offers a reply. "Tim, she's as happy for you as your grandmother is. What crap are you worried about her dumping on me? "
Tim sighs. "You're right. So, then this is probably her divulging her secret 'present' then?" He surmises with a touch of indecision.
"Most likely. Not gonna worry about it." Leroy says calmly as he reaches for Tim, prodding him under the water now.
"Okay. Bring me back something?" Tim asks, his eyes closed as the water cascades over his head. "I'll hold off eating lunch til you get back since we just had a late breakfast."
Reaching out to help Tim upright himself again and step away from the water, Leroy teases him with a grin. "Did ya get enough?"
"Mmmm. Let me see. If you're offering more, then no. I've got plenty of appetite left." Tim grins back.
"Dessert. When I get back." Leroy promises with a kiss as he returns the favor and washes Tim's hair now.
"Gonna hold you to that, Leroy." Tim warns.
"Countin' on it, love."
"Sarah. Are you sure this is what you want to do?" Penny asks as she looks through what her granddaughter has drafted yet again. It's her third time doing so, wanting to make sure the young lady hasn't overlooked or forgotten to address anything that might be involved in this gift she's about to give her brother and his intended husband. "It's a big decision."
"I know it is and I want to do it." Sarah firmly states. "Penny, I'm the only one that's ever gonna do something like this for them and Tim deserves to have this chance. We both know he does. Hell, after the loss of his first family, Gibbs does too!"
"It would be very sad if Tim weren't ever given an opportunity like this. Gibbs too, I agree." Penny quietly responds. "But, I don't want you pressuring Gibbs into this, Sarah. Losing his first family the way he did has affected him in more ways than you could ever grasp. And if Tim isn't asking him to do it, we shouldn't either. It's not our place."
"It's probably the reason Tim's never mentioned them even considering having a family." Sarah surmises with all due seriousness. "But, I know Gibbs loves Tim and I know he'll want to at least be given this chance to think about it before anything is said to Tim. You know, kinda the same way a parent doesn't want to ask their child if they want to do something with someone else before they have the okay from the other person - so the child won't be disappointed when they don't get that permission?"
"You're right." Penny nods. "Still, I hope you're 100% sure about this, because if they decide to accept your offer, there'll be no turning back or changing your mind. I won't let you do that to them."
"Penny, I would never hurt them like that!" Sarah objects to the idea.
"I know. But, it still needed to be said."
"So you can say, you made sure I looked both ways before I jumped?" Sarah jokes as she shrugs her way into her jacket while at the front door.
"Yes." Penny firmly agrees. "I don't want any of you hurt if things go wrong with this."
"Penny. I promise, I will not deliberately hurt them with this."
"Good. I knew I could count on you, Sarah. Just remember to treat the entire subject with kid gloves and you'll do fine."
"I will. I have to go. Gibbs is meeting me in twenty minutes."
"Don't keep me in suspense for too long." Penny requests.
"I'll tell you how it went when I get home." Sarah promises as she heads out, envelope in hand and her heart almost up in her throat. She's about to do something so huge, nothing she's ever done in her life before can even come close by comparison. And if things go the way she hopes, it will consume her life for the next year and a half or so. She's looking forward to it - and the end results.
She just hopes they'll accept her wedding present.
Waiting for Sarah to show up at the diner, Gibbs isn't exactly worried about this lunch meeting. After all, Tim's little sister has already given them her blessing - more than once, actually. He can still hear her excited shriek of joy over the phone when she'd called Tim the day after they'd told the team they were getting married. There's no doubt about her support now, even if it had been rocky at first.
He relaxes even further as she walks into the place, her smile actually lighting the space around her with an air of joy. Watching with a grin of his own, he sees Sarah spot him and quickly head in his direction, a large brown envelope tucked under her arm that he hadn't noticed before. She slides into the booth, setting the envelope down on the table just beyond her right elbow without looking at it as she catches and holds his eyes.
"Thanks for meeting me. Have you ordered?"
"Waitin' on you to get here."
"Okay. What's good in this place?"
"Oh, Honey. Just order what Leroy here orders. He always seems to know what's good on the menu when he comes in." The waitress chuckles as she arrives at their table, a pencil tucked behind her ear and a pot of fresh coffee in her right hand.
"Wow. Okay." Sarah laughs hesitantly.
"Why does this pretty thing look familiar, Leroy?"
"Anne. Sarah McGee. Sarah. Anne." Gibbs makes the introductions, but keeps them brief.
"Oh, so this is Tim's sister I've heard so much about." The Head Waitress exclaims excitedly.
"We don't talk about you that much." Gibbs jokes,
"Don't you listen to him, sweetheart, they've got nothing but good things to say about you!" Anne tells Sarah.
"I have no doubt." Sarah tosses out with a grin.
"You're hungry." Gibbs reminds her. "Meatloaf's good."
Sarah's expression is clearly uncertain but she goes with it. "With coffee." She requests as she settles back against the cushioned booth bench.
Gibbs nods at Anne and picks his coffee cup back up, drawing in another deep sip. Setting his cup down he looks back at Sarah, deliberately not addressing the envelope on the table. "How've you been?"
"I'm great! I'm so excited for you guys!" She gushes. "Two weeks! Are you ready?"
"For a quiet ceremony and celebration at home - yeah. Yeah. I am." Gibbs tries to calm her down, even though he feels almost warm inside at the reminder.
"You do know that quiet and celebration don't really belong in the same sentence, right?" She teases, inwardly warmed by the dreamy-like look in the man's eyes.
Gibbs smirks at her.
"Anyway, the reason I asked you to have lunch with me is because I wanted to give you your present - yours and Tim's. Call it your engagement/wedding present. And before you ask, no, I don't want to give it to you in front of Tim. I want you to have time to process it first; to think about it first."
"Why do I need to that without Tim?" Gibbs asks her quietly.
"So you can refuse it if you want to - without a word ever being said to Tim - if you do."
"Ok. I'm curious."
Sarah shakes her head. "I'd rather we eat first. If that's okay."
"Sure." Gibbs agrees as he retreats behind his coffee once more.
"So, Penny and I have all the decorations and the set up plans - hope that's okay. You may want it at home and small and private, but that doesn't mean we can't dress it up nicely for the occasion, right?"
Gibbs smiles. "Got no problem with that. Tim told her she had his okay two weeks ago, remember?"
"Right! Can we just surprise Tim? Save him from stressing out over it?"
"Works for me."
"Have you two talked about ideas for it at all?"
Gibbs shakes his head. "Been swamped with work."
"Gibbs, I know you guys don't bring your work home with you! At least not past the point of eating dinner and relaxing together." Sarah disagrees. "And no, I'm not going behind any forbidden doors here. I just know my brother. I know that as much as he loves you, there's probably not a night that goes by that he doesn't help you leave work at the door."
Gibbs smiles softly. "Yeah. You do know your brother."
Thirty minutes later, having gotten and eaten their food, both of them are sipping their way through their after dinner coffees and Sarah sets her cup down with a sigh. "Okay. I've put this off long enough. Guess, it's time to bite the bullet."
"That bad, huh?" Gibbs jokes.
"Only if it doesn't go over well." Sarah deadpans as she reaches for the envelope. She pulls out the top sheet of paper and slides it across the table to him. "This should explain it better than I can verbally get it out."
Gibbs sets his coffee down and picks up the piece of paper she's just given him. His eyes immediately jumping to the salutation at the top of the page.
I know now, without a shadow of a doubt that you love my brother with all your heart. I also know now, that you've changed that you're a much happier, contented person for it
More importantly, I know that you're serious enough that Tim is your 'forever love'. The fact that you have found the capacity in your heart to have that again after the experiences you've been through - is profound and moving to me. It's added a dimension to what I see between the two of you that is deep and real and it's brought me to offer you and Tim something I hope will enrich your lives together even more.
If you want - that is - if you're interested in having a family with Tim - of your own making - I would be honored to be your surrogate - that is, I will carry the donated egg(s) - once they are viable and have been successfully fertilized by either you or Tim (or both if you choose) - and are ready for a host to carry them for the nine months.
I offer you this - to be your Gestational Surrogate -
because I know that Tim will be an awesome dad and I know that you already know how to be one, yourself.
Because you both deserve the chance to have a family - if you choose to
I want to be the one to help make that happen - without you having to pass on the chance to have kids of your own.
But, I won't be angry or think less of you if you don't want to go through fatherhood again. It's for this reason that I'm asking you first - whether or not you want to accept my gift.
Because we both love Tim, the ball has to start - and stop if you so choose- in your court.
That is my wedding gift to you.
Again, if you choose to say no - I completely understand and this will go no further than you and I.
Leroy can barely swallow around the lump in his throat and his eyes have gone blurry. His hands holding the paper are less than steady. He's an emotional wreck behind the walls of steel he's hiding behind, just barely able to keep it together. Never in his entire life has anyone offered to do something so personally extraordinary for him - Tim's loving commitment to him, notwithstanding. It's overwhelming for someone who doesn't do well with expressing himself to others. He's afraid to open his mouth, not sure what will come out - not sure if the tears of overloaded emotions will betray him.
He looks up from the paper at long last, fixing his eyes on Sarah's. She's touched on something formerly untouchable - long left alone and not even so much as brought up or contemplated with the man who loves him more than anyone else on earth - until now. And now that Sarah has breathed a breath of fresh air into that vault - the idea of being a father again - with Tim - is so beautiful and soul searingly warming that he can barely catch his breath, the thought of saying no actually hurts!
Carefully, he tries to give voice to his reaction. All he manages to get out, however, is her name. "Sarah.... I...."
"Something tells me, you like the idea." Tim's sister hedges quietly. She can see that he's overwhelmed. The fact that there are tears in his eyes is a shocker for her as it is, so she's treading carefully now, not wanting to overload the man any further.
"Don't know...what to say. How to...." He swallows hard again. "Gonna get your brother down here. He needs to be in on this."
Sarah smiles widely.
Settled comfortably behind his typewriter, Tim is contentedly free writing without a care in the world. Currently, his upcoming wedding has been planned out by his grandmother and sister. He needs only to wait for the actual date to get here, unfortunately still 14 days away. Any cooking and arranging he needs to do won't happen until just two days before the big day and he's not sure how much will be left for him to actually have to do. For now, he's free to relax and enjoy his alone time while Leroy has lunch with Sarah.
Sarah. Yeah her reaction to the announcement of their pending nuptials had been one excited squeal after another - thankfully over the phone. It had left Tim feeling positive and completely at peace with everything. Even with the nerve-tenderizing discussion of his parents hadn't dimmed his sense of peace as he and Leroy had finally opened themselves up to that topic.
Admitting to his love that his relationship with his father had been one of nothing but strife and heartache ever since he'd been old enough to have an opinion of his own, had been hard for Tim, not because Leroy is hard to talk to - for Tim's he's not - but because it was another highlight of his failure as a son to measure up to the expectations of his father - someone he's long yearned to feel that unconditional love and acceptance.
Leroy had been the ear and shoulder he'd long needed to let it all out - to have a sounding board to give feedback as to how he could handle things with his father better or differently. To hear from his love that there was nothing he can do to fix what isn't fixable finally set his mind at ease and gave him the ability to set it down and leave it alone. Leroy is right. If all these years of doing the best he could with everything he'd had to work with, from work to writing novels, wasn't good enough for his father. Nothing he ever did ever would be. It's time to stop beating that dead horse and go about living.
Sighing contentedly, Tim takes a break from the keyboard and does some stretching to keep the kinks at bay. As he raises his intertwined fingers over his head to stretch his arms out, the ringing of his cell phone disrupts his peace and quiet. Frowning, he drops his hands and scoops up his phone, flipping it open as he does. It's been less than two hours and there's no telling what's gone on with Sarah at the helm of this lunch get-together she's requested with his love. "Leroy?"
"Need you to come over here."
"Babe?" Immediately, Tim's concerned. Leroy sounds upset but just barely, like he's doing everything he can not to sound upset. What the hell has Sarah said? Isn't she supportive of them now? What the hell's going on?
"Nuthin' to worry 'bout, Tim. I just need you to come here."
"Ok. I'll be right there. You sure you're okay?"
"Never been better, luv." Leroy answers calmly. "Just...." The older man's voice breaks just before he ends the call.
"What the hell happened?" Tim asks the empty space around him. With genuine worry, he sends his mind back over his lover's responses, drilling them into his brain. Playing them on auto-replay endlessly as he runs out to the car and jumps in, revving the engine and leaving out as fast as he can without actually burning rubber.
He prays Leroy's not downplaying something bad for his benefit. Confusion reigns in his mind since his sister's been so supportive. His nerves are become frayed and tension is stiffening his hands on the wheel as he makes his way to the diner. Please, God, don't let anything be wrong between them now!
Sarah watches as her brother's finance' stares at his now closed phone. Mentally, she applauds herself for being able to render the normally stoic man under the best of circumstances, speechless. But a bigger part of her remains concerned that she's screwed up somehow, although from what she's processing of the reaction in front of her, she's guessing that it's just the opposite. That warms her on the inside, to know that she's just lifted this man's spirits even higher - with something as initially inexpensive as her wedding present to him and her brother. Sure the actual process from beginning to the end result will be expensive - but this part of it - the presenting of the gift of it - hadn't cost her anything more than effort, thought and time.
"He probably hasn't said anything about a family because he doesn't want to bring up anything that might hurt." She quietly reflects. "I'm not trying to either, so I do by accident, I'm truly sorry."
"Stop worryin' about it and you'll do fine." Gibbs suggests, mentally appreciating her sensitivity.
Sarah nods. "Okay. I can do that."
Giving him a wavering smile with a sliver of the unease and uncertainty she's feeling right now, she retreats behind her own coffee cup to wait out her brother's arrival. It's obvious Gibbs doesn't want to talk right now and that's okay with her. She knows he's not the most talkative person to begin with. In fact, she's long been let in on the running joke that he's the functional mute of the family. Usually, she finds humor in that thought when she thinks of it in terms of the man her brother's fallen head over heels in love with, but right now, there's too much of a serious atmosphere surrounding them for her to find it.
Pulling into the parking lot of the diner, Tim is quick to look through the windows to seek out the pair he's come to join. He finds them each hiding behind a coffee cup and huffs a quiet laugh. Yeah, that seems about right. Ok. Now, at least he can walk in there calmly and find out what's going on without thinking the worst any longer.
Seeing his fiancé' pull into the parking lot just ten minutes later has Leroy once again reading what Sarah presented him with, as if needing to refresh his memory more acutely. He's already requested a cup of coffee from the waitress for Tim, with plenty of milk and sugar to go with it. Now all he needs is for Tim to get in here and see this.
Sure, they've never discussed having kids and Leroy hasn't forgotten that. Then again, he hasn't let go of what Sarah said about Tim deliberately never having brought it up to save Leroy the pain of even thinking about Kelly in terms of him not replacing her but even worrying about doing so. Vaguely he recalls similar reasoning behind his own choice to never bring it up. Here and now, however, this golden opportunity has incited not pain in his heart, but joy! The thought of having a family with Tim has lit something inside him that he can't label and can barely contain. He finds himself hoping desperately that Tim wants this.
"What's going on?" Tim asks with a shaky voice as he slides into the booth next to his love and looks directly at him, temporarily ignoring his sister.
Sliding Tim's cup of coffee over to him, Leroy calms his fiancé'. "Relax. Just need to share your sister's wedding gift to us - with you."
"But she had to give it to you alone first?" Tim asks with confusion as he looks over at his sister at long last.
"Tim." Leroy says as he holds the paper up. "Need you to read this." The expression on his face begs Tim's earned trust be extended to them both here. It tells Tim that he'll get it when he does.
"Okay." Tim takes a few calming breaths as he glances at the paper. Seeing Gibbs' name at the top, he sighs and begins reading, unaware of the two pairs of eyes watching him with concern.
Reading what his sister has offered - her reasons for doing it - and her concern for not just Tim but Gibbs' reaction to her offer as well, soon has Tim's eyes going blurry and his throat going tight with emotion. Sarah has zeroed in on the one thing Tim had long ago promised himself he would never subject his love to again unless the man himself asked him for it.
Lowering the paper, he looks over at his love, sees the shine in his eyes, recalls the emotion he'd heard in his voice over the phone, and reaches out to hold his hand. "You want this."
"I do if you do." Leroy tells him with a quiet wave of emotion, his hand still wrapped up in Tim's.
Fighting hard to keep the emotions at bay, Tim continues to swallow hard. Finally finding the chance to breathe, he finally looks at his sister, but can only manage a short response. "Thank you."
Smiling widely, Sarah slides out of her seat and gets to her feet. "Happy to do it Tim. For both of you." She kisses his cheek and smiles at Gibbs, "Read through it all when you want to. Call me when you're ready to move on it."
Too moved to speak, Tim can only nod at her before she heads out.
"You okay?" Leroy asks his love who hasn't spoken or moved in the five full minutes since Sarah had left them in the diner.
Blinking, Tim looks over at Leroy. "Neither one of us ever talked about kids. Are you sure you want this?"
"Would never have called you if I wasn't, Tim."
Tim nods. "I know. I just...she asked you first so you wouldn't feel pressured."
"Tim. The minute I read this, I wanted to do it. I want a family with you! Being a father.... there's nothing like it. Not gonna rob you of that."
Tim swallows hard and quietly lays himself open another layer formerly unexposed. "I would really like to be a dad."
"Weren't ever gonna ask for it, were you?" Leroy asks compassionately, pulling Tim closer to him with a warm hand on his upper arms and his arm up over Tim's shoulder.
"No." Tim firmly admits without any change in tone or pitch of his voice. He leaves it at that because he knows that Leroy already understands exactly why he'd planned on sacrificing that part of his dreams. Only Leroy understands that Tim's dreams had changed directions months ago - enough that they'd found each other and embarked on this odyssey together - and that Tim was willing to let that change include not having kids - for Leroy's sake.
Sarah has just changed that whole ‘not talking about it' idea - and highlighted the fact that he and Leroy need to talk - to make sure they don't have anything still left unspoken between them.
Apparently, Leroy realizes that too because the next thing out of his mouth is the quiet suggestion that they go home and talk.
Together, they pay for the tab and head out of the diner with the envelope and letter tucked up under the younger man's arm. To Leroy's surprise, Tim doesn't head to his own car, but that of the older man's. Obviously, Tim wants them to truly spend the time together right now. As Leroy starts to ask him if he's okay, Tim nods in the direction of the parking lot.
Turning to look, Leroy notices Sarah, still parked in the lot, talking animatedly on the phone, her face wreathed in smiles and joy. With matching grins, Tim and Leroy look at each other, the answer already clear to both of them.
As if reassured, Tim smiles softly, withdraws his hand from Leroy's and turns to go to his own car. "See you in five, Luv."
With a matching smile and a teasing glint, Leroy throws out a dare. "Last one home gets that desert last!"
Tim's laugh rings out through the air between them. "You're on!"