AUTHOR'S NOTES: I was listening to Rascal Flatts on my iPod the other day and listening to their song 'Every Day' got me thinking about how nicely the lyrics fit Gibbs.
Story Summary: On his 50th birthday, Leroy Jethro Gibbs thinks about how his team has saved him over the years.
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NCIS: The Ways You Save Me
It was almost 3am and Gibbs hadn't left the basement.
His 50th birthday was today and part of him dreaded going in to NCIS.
Tony would try and give him some sort of gift… a movie, most likely.
Abby would write a 'Happy Birthday, Gibbs' on a cup of coffee.
Jen would probably try to slip him a card…
Putting slats onto his boat, Gibbs wondered how he'd managed to live this long. It seemed like every year brought a new disaster and put him on death's door. One of these days his luck would run out and where would he be then? How many times could he survive before it became too much?
The hours wore on and around 6 Gibbs decided to head in. After all, if he didn't show up someone would probably come by looking for him.
Walking into the squad room Gibbs only saw Ziva who was unwrapping her morning breakfast burrito.
"Good morning, Gibbs," Ziva said, looking up. "You're here early."
"Couldn't sleep," Gibbs replied, going to his desk and setting his coffee cup down.
Ziva set her breakfast down and walked over to her boss's desk. When he looked up, she said, "I never thanked you…" To Gibbs' look of 'for what' she added, "For coming back… for saving me…"
"I owed you, Ziva," Gibbs said, shrugging it off.
"No," Ziva insisted. "If I had needed a recommendation to stay in this country… or if I needed an interagency favor that would be one thing… You know I don't ask for help, Gibbs. You came running… You could have said 'no' but you came to help me."
"You helped me, Ziva," Gibbs replied. When Ziva looked confused, he went on. "I tried to run away… but I came back because… Because this is what I'm meant to do. I still owe you, Ziva… because I would have come back even if DiNozzo had been the one asking for help… Or McGee…"
"Then promise something," Ziva said, solemnly. "Promise you will never leave us again."
"Ziva…" Gibbs said, quietly. He wanted to make that promise but he knew that he couldn't.
Hearing the elevator ding, Ziva stood up quickly and headed back to her desk just as Tony came in, eyeing her breakfast wrap.
"Hey, you stole mine, remember?" Tony said as Ziva snatched her sandwich away.
Ziva pulled out a second wrap with a smile. "Which is why I bought you one."
Tony tentatively reached for the burrito and said, "Thanks."
"You are welcome," Ziva replied, taking a bite out of her own wrap.
Going down to Abby's lab, Gibbs found his forensic scientist working on a few old case files. "Whatcha doing, Abbs?" Gibbs asked, making the younger woman jump.
"Gibbs! How many times do I have to tell you not to do that?" Abby exclaimed, jumping up and hugging her boss. "Anyway," She added, turning back to her computer. "I'm just having a little fun with some of the old case files."
"Fun?" Gibbs repeated, confused.
"Connect the cases," Abby explained. "It's like 'connect the dots' but in this case I took 5 random case files and I'm trying to make them link together." Looking at Gibbs with a set expression, she said, "And you're joining me, Tony, Ziva, McGee, Ducky, and the director for pizza and cocktails tonight."
Gibbs sighed. "Abby…"
"It's your birthday, Gibbs!" Abby said, brightly as she hugged him again. "You're 50!"
"Thanks for the reminder, Abby," Gibbs muttered.
"It's an event to celebrate," Abby insisted. Calming down, she added, "Besides, a little fun is probably good for everyone, you know? I mean Ziva was on the run, Tony was accused of murder, then McGee… We need to get away from things, you know?"
Gibbs couldn't help but laugh. Sometimes he felt that the sole reason he liked Abby Scuito was her ability to make him laugh… smile… She had a zest for life and she knew how to keep you on your toes. She could drive him crazy but when she wasn't around, he missed her smile.
After Kelly and Shannon died, Gibbs hadn't smiled much and had laughed even less. But after Abby Scuito had first walked into NCIS looking for a job and wearing her usual clothes... As soon as she'd started rambling, Gibbs had stopped her with two words: "You're hired". Of course, that had set Abby off again and Gibbs found himself laughing harder than he'd had in years.
If it hadn't been for Abby's insistence during the reopening of the Paulson case, Gibbs knew he'd probably still be down in Mexico.
Smiling at Abby, he said, "When and where?"
Abby beamed at him and hugged him again.
The day went along quietly and Gibbs used the 'downtime' to work on paperwork and filing. At the bottom of one of his desk drawers he found Kate Todd's old sketch book and pulled it out, leaning back in his chair.
Kate had been a great agent… She'd had the heart, the desire, and most importantly, she understood why the job was so important. That while the navy and marines kept America safe, someone needed to keep them safe.
On the rooftop that day, Kate had dived in front of a bullet to save him and while it had been part of her protection detail, Gibbs never forgot how she'd acted without a second thought. She have taken a bullet for the president when she was with the secret service and Kate had valued Gibbs' own life that highly.
Looking around the squad room, Gibbs had no doubts that Tony or McGee would do the same.
"Jethro." Looking up, Gibbs saw NCIS Director Jenny Shepard standing in front of his desk holding out three birthday cards. To Gibbs' questioning look, Jenny replied, "From Fornell, Lt. Col. Hollis Mann, and Mike Franks of all people."
"Nothing from you, Jen?" Gibbs asked, giving her a look.
"You'll get mine at dinner tonight. I assume Abby told you?" Jenny replied, smirking.
Gibbs smiled and nodded. "Upper Crust, at 1930," he replied.
"Good," Jenny said as she headed off.
Gibbs opened the card from his old boss and mentor, Mike Franks, first. It had a bottle of Corona sitting on a table in front of a beach. On the inside it just said, 'Happy Birthday!' In Franks' handwriting were the words, 'I'd write more, but the beer's getting warm.'
Gibbs smiled as he opened Fornell's card which read 'Someday you'll look back on this birthday and smile… because you won't remember falling asleep in the cake'.
Opening the card from his girlfriend, Army Lt. Col. Hollis Mann, Gibbs was relieved when he saw that she hadn't tried to go for funny. Just a 'happy birthday' on the front and inside were the words, 'Next date, drinks are on me'.
It had taken Gibbs a long time to get over losing Shannon. And even though he'd tried moving on, none of his ex-wives or girlfriends ever really understood him.
Not like Holly…
She understood and had somehow gotten him to open up to the idea of really loving someone again.
Picking up the phone, Gibbs dialed Holly's number and when he heard her pick up, he smiled as he said, "About that date…"
The restaurant Upper Crust was a quiet pizzeria that specialized in deep dish style pizza but they also made excellent thin crust pizzas. In the back by the open kitchen, Holly Mann found the NCIS team laughing and smiling as Gibbs looked a bit uncomfortable as he sipped his glass of bourbon.
"Col. Mann," Jenny Shepard said with a smile as the other woman walked over. "Nice of you to join us."
"Sorry I'm late," holly said, looking at Gibbs.
"Have a seat," Gibbs said, indicating the empty chair next to Ducky. With a smirk, he said, "Buy you a drink."
Holly laughed. "Hey, I'm buying tonight, Gibbs."
"Great," Gibbs said, looking at the others. "Drinks are on her tonight." Winking at Holly as she started bristling, he added, "Make it up to you later."
"You better," Holly said, not noticing the others watching her and Gibbs.
"I'll tell you how I got the boat of my basement," Gibbs promised.
Holly laughed. "You're on."
As the night started to wind down, Gibbs actually started to feel better about being 50. Maybe reaching this point wasn't just about his own luck or strength… Maybe it was also the people in his life that helped him survive… Whether it was Kate Todd diving in front of a bullet… or Abby giving him a hug when he came down to see her.
Every day someone at the table seemed to give him a new reason to value life… to keep going…
Leaning back in his chair, Gibbs smiled as he caught the last lines of the song on the radio.
'Every day you save my life'