AUTHOR'S NOTES: Just taking care of a few questions with this chapter. I'm planning on the next chapter being a revisiting of the episode 'Dead Man Walking' and Ziva finds herself conflicted as Lt. Roy Sanders starts flirting with her.
The morning of Corporal Kyle Gibson's funeral, Kellie didn't say much as she poked at her breakfast before going to get dressed.
As he cleaned up, Gibbs kept thinking about Bree Martin's murder. Something wasn't quite right… like there was a piece of the puzzle missing. Maureen Gibson wanted her husband all to herself—that covered leaving Kellie at Social Services. She'd probably hoped that Kyle would miss his wife and beg her to come back. Not long ago, Bree Martin had started figuring out Kyle Gibson was alive. But had Maureen been watching Bree or…?
"Agent Gibbs?" Kellie asked as she came back into the kitchen wearing a black skirt, black shoes and a navy blue blouse.
Gibbs turned and looked at the young girl. "What's up?"
Kellie sat at the table and said, "I've been thinking… and something doesn't make sense."
"Oh, yeah?" Gibbs replied, sitting down as well. "What's that?"
"How did my mom know where to find me?" Kelly asked.
"I don't know," Gibbs said, simply. "I've been thinking about that. Any ideas?"
Kellie shook her head before saying, "I don't want to go today, Agent Gibbs."
"Why not?" Gibbs asked, looking at her.
"I… I don't want to say good-bye," Kellie replied, as tears started sliding down her cheeks.
"I know how you feel," Gibbs said, quietly. "It's hard to say good-bye like that."
"Dad would have liked Bree," Kellie went on. "She was funny… She loved me…"
"From what we can tell, Lt. Martin was going to give you back to your father."
Kellie sniffled again as she thought of her father. "I miss him, Agent Gibbs."
"I know," Gibbs replied as Kellie stood and went to hug him.
Ziva, Tony, and Abby were waiting at the cemetery when Gibbs arrived with Kellie and as soon as Abby saw Kellie, the forensic scientist gave her a hug, smiling when Kellie hugged back.
"You doing okay, kiddo?" Tony asked, eyeing Kellie. When she shook her head, Tony knelt down in front of her. "You want to hit me in the nose again? I can take it. Come on." Kellie shook her head and Tony raised an eyebrow. "Come on, hit me."
Kellie didn't hit him, but she couldn't help a small smile. "You're weird, Agent DiNozzo."
"It's part of my charm," Tony replied, standing up. "Rain check?"
When Kellie laughed, Gibbs gave Tony a small smile and a nod of thanks.
Turning, Gibbs saw Lt. Col. Mann walking up, dressed in her best Army uniform. "Holly."
Holly looked at Kellie and gave the child a smile before turning to Gibbs. "We're just about ready to begin the service."
As Gibbs led the way, Ziva took his arm and Tony offered his arm to Abby. "Shall we, milady?" Tony asked, smiling at his coworker.
After the service, Tony offered to take Kellie to NCIS for a while and Gibbs acquiesced as there was a stop he wanted to make by himself.
Kneeling down before the graves of his first wife and daughter, Gibbs wasn't sure what he should say. But as he touched the headstones, he said, "I miss you, Kelly. And Shannon, I know you'd probably have smacked me for holding on to the two of you for so long. It wasn't supposed to be this way. I should have been there. I failed you." Thinking about Kellie Gibson, Gibbs went on. "I'm trying to move on. I just… I still miss you… both of you." Getting to his feet, Gibbs looked down at the graves. "I'm sorry I was away from you guys so much. And I'm sorry that I put the Marines ahead of you and Kelly, Shannon. The two of you should have been my highest priority." Thinking again of Kellie and Ziva, he added, "I have a second chance… I promise… this time I'll get it right. I love you… both of you…"
Leaving the cemetery, Gibbs was surprised to find Greg Wilson standing in the parking lot. "How'd you find me, Wilson?"
"Agent McGee told me this was where your family was buried," Wilson replied, looking around nervously. "I, uh… I-I need to talk you about Bree Martin."
Gibbs fixed the man with a look. "What about her?"
Wilson looked nervous again as he said, quietly, "It's my fault she's dead."
Ziva, Tony, McGee, and Abby gathered around the two-way mirror in the observation room as they watched Gibbs and Greg Wilson in Interrogation Room 1.
"How could he have been responsible for Lt. Martin's death?" Ziva asked, a touch confused.
"I think we're about to find out to what's been bugging Gibbs about the case," Tony replied, looking at the social worker.
"What are you talking about?" Ziva asked, confused.
Tony glanced at her, giving her a pointed look before he said, "How did Maureen Gibson know where Kellie was?"
"I never met Maureen Gibson," Greg Wilson said as he stared at the table. "A few days before Bree died a woman came into my office. Told me that her daughter was in foster care."
"You didn't think to ask about—" Gibbs started before Wilson interrupted.
"Kellie was just dropped off outside our offices, Agent Gibbs. Maureen gave me her daughter's name… told me the child had vanished…" Looking up at Gibbs, Wilson added, "She seemed genuinely worried. I… I called Bree and told her she needed to bring Kellie in. Kellie wouldn't talk about her mother. If I'd have known Maureen was going to…"
"How did Maureen find out where Lt. Martin lived?" Gibbs asked.
Wilson sighed and buried his face in his hands. "I don't know. I don't know if she stalked Bree or… or what happened." Looking up again, he went on. "But ever since I saw your M.E. carrying Bree's body out of her house… I can't help but think that this is all my fault. I never tried to track down Kellie's father or at least confirm he was dead… If I had just done my job…"
"You did do your job," Gibbs said, looking at the other man. "You kept Kellie safe… you tried to help her… You finally found someone she could connect with. And you thought you were reuniting a mother with her daughter."
"I'm an accessory to murder, Agent Gibbs," Wilson insisted. "Maureen wouldn't have killed Bree if it hadn't been for me."
"He has a point," Ziva said as she watched the two men talking. "If Wilson had been more thorough in checking on why Kellie was at Social Services the poor girl could be living with her father right now."
"Or Maureen Gibson could have killed both of them," Tony countered. "It's not that simple, Ziva."
"Ziva has a point, Tony," McGee shrugged. "We ran a check and found Corporal Gibson right away. Wilson's first job should have been to find another family member."
"Foster system isn't great, Probie," Tony replied. "People make mistakes."
"But this is a mistake that could easily have been avoided," Ziva said, calmly.
"Wilson wants to be arrested because he feels guilty. Remorse isn't a crime," Tony insisted.
"What do you think, Abby?" Ziva asked, turning to the forensics tech.
"I think you and McGee and Tony all have good points," Abby replied. "But you're forgetting about one thing."
"What's that?" McGee asked, looking a bit perplexed. As Abby headed out of the room. "Abby?"
In the lab, Abby quickly brought up the case file while McGee, Ziva, and Tony gathered around the computer. "Okay. We know that the night Lt. Breanna Martin dies she was seeing an old girlfriend and was drugged with an altered form of GHB. But if Maureen was alone she could have easily killed Kellie after killing Lt. Martin."
"Maureen Gibson wasn't alone," McGee deduced. "Someone else was there and kept her from killing her daughter."
"Possible," Abby said, quickly before turning back to her computers. "But something else was bothering me. There was no signs of a struggle. No fingerprints… and no murder weapon."
"The killer took it with them," Ziva shrugged.
"But Maureen Gibson didn't own a cat," Abby said, smugly.
"So she got it from the neighbor's trash," Tony suggested. "Abby, what does this have to do with--?"
"The case?" Abby finished, hitting her computer again. "My theory? Maureen wanted Kellie out of her life. But she was still Kellie's mother. She may have been insane, but she couldn't kill her own child."
"Okay," Tony said, slowly… "But none of this is an answer to the question, Abby."
Abby turned to the senior field agent, her face set, but she was smiling. "Bree Martin wasn't killed in the house. She was killed outside. Greg Wilson may have helped Maureen Gibson find Lt. Martin, but Maureen acted on her own. He can feel guilty… but that's the only crime against him."
That night, Ziva started dinner over at Gibbs' house while Gibbs and Kellie were down in the basement.
Kellie had hardly spoken at all since the funeral and Gibbs figured that the young girl just needed some time to deal with everything.
Sitting under the boat, Kellie watched Gibbs work on his project. "Agent Gibbs?"
"Yeah?" Gibbs asked as he looked down at her.
Looking up at Gibbs, Kellie asked, "Why did Mr. Wilson come to see you?"
Gibbs set his tools down and sat next to Kellie. Looking at her for a moment, he replied, "Wilson told your mother you were staying with Lt. Martin. He felt he was responsible for what happened."
"I never talked about Mom," Kellie said as she leaned against Gibbs. "I didn't want to talk about her. I didn't love her… and I know she didn't love me."
"She didn't kill Lt. Martin in the house," Gibbs explained. "Your mother killed her and left the body in the house."
Kellie sniffled and stood, walking around the boat. After a few moments, she said, "I don't want to talk about my mom. Okay?"
"Sure," Gibbs agreed, picking up his tools again. "What do you want to talk about?"
Kellie shrugged as she grabbed a sander and started working on the other side of the boat. "I don't know." After a few minutes of silent working, she asked, "How do you get the boat out when it's finished?"
Gibbs grinned and motioned for Kellie to come over to his side. Leaning down, he whispered in her ear.
Kellie grinned and when she saw Gibbs put a finger to his lips, she nodded. "Secret's safe with me, Agent Gibbs."
"Just call me Gibbs."
Kellie nodded and hugged him before going back to her side of the boat. "So what are you going to name this boat when it's finished?" she asked, smiling.
A few weeks later, Gibbs stood in MTAC, waiting to be connected with Mossad Deputy Director, Eli David… Ziva's father.
After finding out about the two being involved, Deputy Director hadn't been thrilled. But after much insistence, Eli David had agreed to speak with Gibbs.
When the deputy director came on, Gibbs noticed that he looked a little less upset than before. "Deputy Director David."
"Agent Gibbs," Eli David said, with a polite nod. "I have been thinking about you and my daughter. I know you helped save her… setting aside your own desires to help Ziva."
"I care about her very much," Gibbs insisted. "Ziva saved my life… and I owed her."
Eli waved this away. "I look into your eyes, Agent Gibbs, and I see that you would do anything for my daughter." After a moment's pause, he added, "I know about your family. And I know that being a father you often ask yourself how could I have raised my children like I have. Trained them to be killers and spies."
"The thought crossed my mind," Gibbs admitted.
"Someday I hope to insure that Ziva doesn't have to make that choice with her sons and daughters," Eli replied. "All I have ever wanted was for my children to be happy. For my daughter to marry a good man." Fixing Gibbs with a look, he asked, "And now I ask: Are you a good man, Agent Gibbs? Will you love my daughter? Will you place her above all else? Will you protect her?"
"You have my word," Gibbs promised.
"Then I give you permission to court my daughter," Eli said with the slightest hint of a smile. "I wish you both the greatest joy."
Pacing the squad room, Ziva was on pins and needles—although that was rather redundant, she thought. Gibbs had been in MTAC with her father for almost 45 minutes and that didn't bode well. And what exactly did that mean: 'bode well'?
"What?!" Ziva snapped as she gave an ice cold stare to Tony.
Tony held up a cup and said, "Berry mango madness."
Ziva took the smoothie gratefully and sipped before looking up at the upper level. "Gibbs has been talking with my father for nearly an hour."
"So?" Tony asked, sitting at his desk. Seeing that Ziva was about to go postal, Tony sighed, "When you meet the parents, a quick talk either means they like you right away, or they really, really hate you. A long talk means that they're trying to get to know you. It's a good thing, Ziva. Trust me."
"I just don't think that my father has any right to be telling me who I can and cannot date," Ziva grumbled as she sat at her desk, jumping up again when she saw the elevator open and Gibbs signaling for her to join him.
Once the elevator doors closed and Gibbs hit the stop button, he turned to Ziva. "Had a nice talk with your father."
"I-I was starting to worry," Ziva said, quickly.
"He asked when he should come see his new grandchild," Gibbs added, watching Ziva's eyes widen and her face blanch. "I don't think he meant Kellie."
Ziva stammered for a moment, not quite sure of what to say.
"So…" Gibbs said, starting the elevator again. "Maybe we should think about getting married soon?"