Classification: Family, 5 Things, A/U, Romance
Spoilers: 1 for an episode that aired in the US in May, 2006 and one for an ep that aired the US in November, 2007.
Disclaimers: Gibbs, it doesn't matter how long you stare at me, my answer isn't changing. I don't own NCIS.
A/N: There's a couple of changes in the timeline since it's A/U.
Summary: Five moments a little girl never got to reach.
December 22, 1995
"There you are!" Kelly shook her head and closed the door to the girls' washroom. "I was looking all over for you."
Maddie shrugged apologetically. "Sorry. It was the only place I could escape from the ghost of Jacob Marley."
Kelly giggled and hopped up to sit next to her friend on the counter. The sixth graders were performing A Christmas Carol for the school Christmas play that year and both girls had tried out for roles. Maddie had been cast as the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, although at the moment, with her reaper's hood pulled back and her hair coming loose from its ponytail, she looked like she looked more like one of London's street beggars. Kelly's hair was coming loose as well, but that only added to her work-worn portrayal of Mrs. Cratchit, wife to Scrooge's clerk.
"I told you you shouldn't have danced with Jimmy at the Christmas dance," Kelly teased. Jimmy Palmer, who was playing Jacob Marley, was considered the class dweeb. He also had a huge crush on Maddie. "Now he thinks you like him."
"I know, I know," Maddie moaned. "Ugh. You know what he actually said to me?"
Kelly grinned. "Do I want to?"
Maddie rolled her eyes. "I sure didn't. He said this play proves that we are meant to be together, because we weren't even separated in death."
Both girls exploded into giggles. "Because you're both playing ghosts," Kelly managed to get out. Maddie nodded. "What a dork!"
"Kelly! Maddie!" The girls jumped up quickly as the drama teacher came rushing in. "You girls need to hurry—it's almost time for you to go on stage."
"Sorry, Miss Tavistock," Kelly said quickly. Maddie grabbed for her mask, which was still sitting on the counter.
"Kelly, your hair is coming loose." Kelly stood still as her teacher tightened the bobby pins, then gave her a quick pat on the shoulder. "Hurry, now."
The girls scrambled out the door in time to see another figure exit the men's washroom next door. Kelly's eyes lit up. "Uncle Mike!"
"Hey, Kell." Kelly ran forward for a hug and realized immediately by the smell why he'd been in there. She spoke quickly, praying her teacher wouldn't smell the smoke too.
"You're missing the play."
Her father's old supervisor smiled. "Not the important part." He nodded down at her and she grinned shyly.
"I didn't think you'd make it." Ever since getting her part back in October, Kelly had been begging her parents to get Mike Franks to come see her. When she was six he'd been the NCIS agent assigned to protect her and her mother from a drug dealer while her father was fighting in Iraq. They'd remained in touch and later, after the Gibbs family returned to D.C., Mike had recruited her father to join the NCIS office at the Navy Yard where he'd recently been reassigned. The crusty agent had remained a fixture in Kelly's life for four years until his abrupt retirement to Mexico the previous summer.
"Wouldn't miss it," Mike said to her with a wink. "Go on now. You've got to get ready."
Kelly nodded and started to follow her friend and teacher down the hall, then quickly turned back. "Merry Christmas."
Mike gave her a playful glare that sent her giggling again. "Bah humbug."
February 11, 1999
"You're home late," Shannon observed. It was 11:00 and Gibbs was only now walking in the door.
"Had a stubborn bastard in Interrogation," her husband explained as he dropped a kiss on her lips. "We had the evidence." He quickly kissed her again. "Plus an eyewitness." He leaned over for another kiss. "And the guy still was claiming we had the wrong man." This kiss was decidedly longer.
"I'd say that was worth the wait," Shannon remarked when they finally pulled away.
"Oh, gross, get a room." Kelly gave a mock groan as she walked into the room. "You'd think you guys were still newlyweds or something."
"Speaking of rooms, weren't you supposed to be in yours an hour ago, sleeping?" Gibbs' voice was mildly stern.
"She got to stay up late tonight," Shannon said wryly. "She's got a research report due tomorrow."
Gibbs nodded. "Ah. And when was this one assigned?"
"Only last Friday," Kelly said quickly. Her father didn't say anything, just simply looked at her. "But I didn't start working on it till yesterday."
"And we're going to talk more about that this weekend, aren't we?" Shannon added, her tone gentle but still firm. Kelly nodded sheepishly.
"This is the third night this school year, right?" Gibbs questioned.
"Yeah, but I won't be up till twelve this time," Kelly assured him. "I'm almost done."
Her parents exchanged amused looks. "How long is 'almost'?" Gibbs prodded.
"Half hour, maybe."
"Which is a half hour improvement." Gibbs couldn't quite keep the smile back. "Okay, just go get it done."
December 19, 2001
"You know, it's funny," Gibbs remarked as he studied the figure in front of him. Red hair twisted into wild curls all over. Gray vest over a white cotton blouse. Matching gray pants that fit like normal pairs but ended a good five inches higher than usual. And a homemade green cloak and hood. "When we read the books in high school, I never thought of Sam Gamgee as quite this sexy."
Shannon chuckled. "Well, I hope you don't after tonight, either."
Gibbs grinned unrepentantly. "Well, hey, I could grab one of your dresses and an apron and come with you as Sam's wife—what was her name, Posy Dot?"
His wife burst out laughing. "Rosie Cotton. And you'd give Tony enough blackmail material to last past your retirement."
"There is that," Gibbs replied, still grinning.
"Okay, Mom, I'm ready!" Kelly—or rather, Frodo Baggins—bounded down the stairs towards them. Like her mother she was wearing a hobbit vest, blouse, and cape with her pants too short, only hers were burgundy. She'd also curled her hair to match the promotional posters, but hers was a rich dark brown courtesy of a rinse she'd gotten from Abby. The lab tech had insisted it was temporary, 12 shampoos at most. Gibbs certainly hoped she was right.
Kelly had borrowed another piece of her ensemble from Abby as well: a gold chain, on which she'd put a ring replica she'd cut from a promotional bookmark.
When Kelly had seen the number of Star Wars fans decked out in costume for opening night of The Phantom Menace a couple of years earlier, she'd been adamant that she would do the same thing if The Lord of the Rings ever made it to film. She'd adored the books from the first time Shannon had read them with her and had reread them several times since. She'd assembled her costume in time to take it, minus the colored hair, for a dress rehearsal to a Halloween party. And the effort had been so successful she'd even gotten her mother to go in costume too.
Gibbs raised his eyebrows as he saw his wife put on a pair of comfortable brown leather slip-ons. "I thought hobbits didn't wear shoes."
"These two do," Shannon said firmly.
The lineup had begun to form already outside the theater, even though there were still eight hours until the movie actually started. There were several other people in costume as well, including a rather familiar-looking Gandalf.
"Shannon! Kelly!" Abby waved her staff. "Over here!" Gibbs chuckled.
"I want a copy of that photo."
"Dad!" Gibbs' eyes just twinkled. Kelly started to follow her mother, then leaned back in the car window.
"You sure you don't mind not coming?"
"Reading the books together was something special you shared with your mom," he said gently. "This first time should be too." In a lighter tone he added, "I'll go with you if it's good enough to see twice."
Kelly nodded in understanding. "Love you, Dad."
"You too. Have fun."
The hobbits were standing with Gandalf again when he came to pick them up over 11 hours later. All three were chattering excitedly and it looked like Kelly was talking even faster than Abby.
Gibbs glanced briefly at his watch, then at the movie times being shown on the billboard. There was another showing in 45 minutes. He quickly pulled into a parking spot, a grin stealing over his face.
November 6, 2007
"Hey, Kelly, I've got something for you." Maddie held up a photo. "I couldn't resist digging it out last night."
Kelly burst out laughing. The image showed the two of them as eight-year-olds, playing wedding. Kelly was wearing a white cotton nightgown—the closest thing they could find to a white fancy dress in either of their dress-up clothes collections—with her mother's white scarf for a veil. Robert, Maddie's 3-feet-tall rabbit her father had won for her at the fair, stood in as groom.
"I think my taste in wedding dresses has improved," Kelly quipped.
"It couldn't get any worse. But are you sure Tim's cuter than Robert?"
"Madds!" Kelly scolded. They both started laughing.
Kelly had gone to the NCIS New Year's Eve gathering at Ducky's home with her family every year since her father had first started working there in 1991. Originally they'd been an occasion for Kelly to play with Mrs. Mallard's beloved corgis. Later, they'd been opportunities for first crushes, although even the youngest FLETC graduates had been much too old for her at first.
All that had changed at the 2004 party, where Kelly had found herself striking up a conversation with the newest member of her father's team, Timothy McGee. He'd heard about her interest in horses and had been interested incorporating a character with equestrienne experience into the plot of his newest book. Kelly had offered to get together with him at a coffee shop where he could really take notes, then invited him to the arena where she worked part-time while studying at college. He'd called her a couple of times for follow-up questions, but gradually his research had become less on the horses and more on Kelly.
The laughter in Maddie's eyes softened to amazement. "I can't believe you're really getting married," she whispered.
Kelly pulled her friend into a hug. "You know, there's still time to make this a double wedding," she said softly.
Maddie chuckled. "I'd kind of need a groom, first."
Kelly tilted her head in mock thought. "Well, I heard Jimmy Palmer broke it off with Agent Lee."
Maddie's tears gave way to giggles again and she gave her friend a playful punch on the shoulder. "Don't even think of it."
"You ready, Kelly?" Shannon appeared suddenly behind them. Kelly swallowed and nodded. Shannon grinned. "Come on."
Gibbs was waiting for them when Kelly stepped out of the dressing room. He stared at Kelly for a long moment. "You look beautiful," he said finally, his voice hoarse.
Kelly's eyes welled up with tears. "Thanks, Dad." He offered her his arm and they followed Maddie to the entrance of the sanctuary.
The organist's music slowly changed and Kelly's first bridesmaid stepped forward slowly, making the journey down the aisle. Then the second, followed by Maddie, Kelly's maid of honor. Finally it was Kelly's turn.
The actual walk seemed to be in slow motion. Kelly attempted to make eye contact with as many people as possible, but her eyes wouldn't move from the front of the Church where Tim was standing just in front of Tony. The incredible love in his smile caused tears to come into Kelly's eyes again and she felt grateful for her father's steadying arm at her side.
They reached the end of the aisle and Tim stepped forward, ready to take her hand. Gibbs gave her a soft kiss on the side of her head, then gently placed her hand in Tim's. "Take good care of her."
May 10, 2009
"Now I know why husbands were never allowed in the delivery room."
Gibbs looked up as Tim flopped himself into a waiting room chair a few feet away. "How's it going in there?"
Tim sighed. "Well, let's see. Kelly just asked the doctor if she gets a 20.00 bonus if for staying in labor past 18 hours." They both grinned. "And then she told me she will kill me if I so much as think about getting her pregnant again. And she doesn't care about the forensic evidence."
Gibbs burst out laughing. "That sounds like Kelly," he admitted.
Tim chuckled. "Actually, I think she's doing better than me."
The older man grinned again and walked over to take the chair next to him. "You know, when Kelly first got pregnant and talked to her mom about labor, Shannon said you forgot all the pain once you had the baby."
Tim looked skeptical. "Then how come she never got pregnant again?"
Gibbs smirked. "I've always wanted the answer to that too."
"You ever asked her?" Gibbs shot him a look. "Good point."
Just then a nurse entered the room. "Tim McGee and Jethro Gibbs?" Both men quickly stood up and she smiled. "This way."
Tim's jaw dropped and he turned to look at Gibbs, who just smiled. "Go on, Tim."
Kelly was sitting propped up in the bed when they arrived, looking exhausted, but completely thrilled. She was holding a tiny white-wrapped bundle in her arms.
Tim stopped still in the doorway and stared at them. "Oh, wow," he breathed.
Kelly looked up at him. "Well, are you going to come in?"
"Yeah." He slowly stepped towards the bed, then carefully sat down in the chair next to her. "Oh, wow." He looked up at his wife. "So, is it Frodo or Arwen?"
Kelly shot him a mock glare. "It's Olivia," she corrected. She looked up at her parents. "Olivia Grace."
Tim reached out a hand and gently stroked one of the tiny fingers. "Hi, Olivia," he said softly. "It's your Daddy."
"You want to hold her?" Kelly asked him. He nodded and carefully accepted the baby in his arms, then settled back in the chair. Kelly shifted so that she could rest her head on his shoulder, still smiling.
Gibbs watched the young couple, a tear trickling down his cheek. The last time he'd seen his daughter in a hospital bed was when she was six, and she and Shannon were in a car accident. The doctor hadn't even been sure she'd live through the night. Now here she was eighteen years later, holding her own child. He shook his head in disbelief. It can't have been eighteen years. Gibbs stole another look at his daughter. Can it?
A/N: Just in case anyone's wondering, the choice of Kelly's wedding date being the same as a particular episode was deliberate. So was the wording of Gibbs' last line.