Chapter 7: Now

"Well, and how's our invalid doing?" Jethro's father asked as he strode into the living room Monday morning.

Jethro shrugged. "Okay."

"Okay!" His father raised his eyebrows before perching on the side of the couch. "Come on, son – you get a few days off from school, miss the math test, have your mom wait on you hand and foot..." He leaned closer. "It's the situation you dream of, right?"

"Not exactly," Jethro admitted, giving the sling on his arm a pointed look. Mr. Gibbs smiled.

"I broke my collarbone too, in college. Hurts like the dickens, doesn't it?"

"It's not that bad," Jethro said quickly. His father simply looked at him. "Well, yeah, it is." They both laughed. It did hurt, but not as much as the repeated unanswered calls he'd made to Shannon's house over the weekend.

His parents still didn't know the real reason he'd gone over to Mrs. Clark's, or that Shannon was missing. Whenever he'd hung up the phone from trying to call he'd simply told his parents the McCarthy's were apparently not home and they'd left it at that. Jethro knew his mother had noticed something was bothering him because he'd heard her talking to his father, but they both seemed to think it was his injury.

Just then there was a knock on the front door. A moment later he heard the sound of footsteps and his mother's voice saying, "Oh, Jethro's been trying to call you all weekend," and his eyes widened.

"Who's there?" Jethro made a move to get off the couch, wincing in pain and his father put a hand on his arm.

"Easy, you've got to go slow, remember?" Jethro nodded grimly and eased himself into a sitting position as his mother entered the room.

"Jethro, there's someone here to see you."

"Shannon?" Jethro grinned with relief. "Where were you?"

"Mom's uncle died—I had to go to Minneapolis for the funeral." Shannon stared at the sling encasing his arm. "What happened to you?"

"Oh...I just slipped on some ice," Jethro said quickly. He gestured towards a chair. "Have a seat."

"I can't stay long because of the bus, but your mom said you weren't going to school today. Do you want me to bring your homework assignments by after school?"

Jethro nodded. "Sure, that would be great."

"Okay, I'll see you then."

"Wait ― before you go, I've got something for you," Jethro said quickly. He started for the stairs.

"I'll get it ― you need to move slowly with that arm and you don't want Shannon to miss the bus," Jethro's mother interjected. "Where is it?"

"On the corner of my desk." Jethro followed her as far as the hall.

His mother came back down the stairs a couple seconds later. "Is this what you were looking for?"

Jethro nodded, grinning, then walked back into the living room. "This is for you." He held out the carved boat he'd finished.

Shannon's face lit up. "Oh, wow!" She took it carefully, gasping as she saw the name on the hull. It read Shannon. She stepped forward and hugged him, careful to avoid his arm. "Thank you, Jethro!"

Jethro's eyes widened with surprise as he returned the hug with his good arm. His mouth curved into a little grin as he replied, "You're welcome."

0

"I still wish I could have seen the look on Collin's face when you walked on the bus that day," Gibbs sighed, a grin stealing over his face. Shannon chuckled.

"I thought his eyes were going to bug right out of his head. I don't think he talked to me for a week."

Her husband shrugged. "Wasn't that much of a loss."

Shannon nodded. "True." She looked over at Gibbs. "You never told me that before," she said softly. "That you went looking for me like that."

They looked at each other for several long seconds, not saying anything, before a little smile crossed Gibbs' face. "What can I say?" he replied in a soft voice as he leaned over and kissed her lips. "I don't leave people I care about behind."

THE END