Version two of 4th verse 23rd psalm
Disclaimer—I do not own NCIS, the characters or much anything else for that matter. What I do have are my dreams and my imagination. Spoiler Warnings for the entire show from beginning to this season's end. I also firmly believe in a writers claim to artistic freedom. I have tried to stick to what I know is canon in these stories, but sometimes in order for the story to really work I will need a little wiggle room. So I won't ask forgiveness, just patience and a little understanding. Please see the Prologue for other explanations.
Verse Four—Leroy Jethro Gibbs
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me.
Driving away from the funeral Jethro is glad that no one had needed a ride home. He wants to be alone. The funeral had been nice, the flowers were beautiful but he knows that it is all just a huge show. It is all a farce and a façade for the living because the dead are dead. How many people has he seen die? How many have died because of him? How much can Death take from him? He asks himself these questions over and over as he aimlessly drives on the freeway. He finally sees a familiar exit and pulls off the highway and eventually stops the car in the parking lot near the beach.
Slowly getting out of the car, he walks over to the huge tree lying on its side in the sand. He can't believe the tree is still here after all the years of storms that should have moved it. He remembers sitting on this exact log and holding his service pistol in his hands.
But that had not been the first time he had faced death and felt the loss of a family member, a dear friend or a fellow worker. Jethro Gibbs can practically measure his life by the losses in it.
The first death that he had ever experienced was that of his mother. When she died he felt the loss of both his childhood and his innocence of the world. Life could no longer hold the same happy glow for him without the stable influence of his mother. It wasn't long before he was an angry teenager joining the Marines.
As a sniper he was responsible for the death of many enemies on the orders of others but each bullet seemed to take a chip out of his soul anyway. He had seen so many men and buddies die in Panama and Desert Storm and each of them took a bit more of him with them. It was something that most all of the men tried to fill with beer and sad country songs after drinking a toast to the fallen and smashing the glasses. The worst gouge had been when Lt. David Cameron had bled to death in his arms. That death had even managed to come back to literally haunt him many years later.
The largest and most painful loss that death has ever taken from Leroy Jethro Gibbs was when he was informed that his wife, Shannon, and 8 year old daughter Kelly had been murdered while he was serving his country so far away from home. As he had stood beside Shannon's grave he had lost his heart. The love of his life was buried in the ground. When he looked at his daughter's grave he lost his faith in God. He couldn't understand how a loving God could let a child die like that, or how a supposed merciful Father would take his whole family away from him. Jethro realizes that he lost his mind for a while or he would have never had contemplated joining his family the way he had that afternoon sitting on this very log.
Gibbs looks up at the gulls following a shipping boat back to port. Picking up a small stone he throws it into the bay and lets himself slip back into remembering the pieces of himself that have been taken by deaths in his life.
He has seen plenty of agents die during his long career at NCIS. But the first agent that had really gotten to him had been Chris Pacci. He felt that a piece of his happiness at work had been taken and replaced by guilt. Gibbs had been too busy chasing Ari to help Chris with a question about a cold case. That case had lead to Chris' death and the nagging guilt which surrounded Gibbs for some time.
The death of one of his own team had cut him to the bone and Death had taken a great deal of the joy of his work from him. He had had so many plans for Caitlin Todd. All professional of course, she was too pure for any other such thoughts, and too young. But he could see himself training her to one day being a top investigator at NCIS; and maybe above and beyond that job. She had the make up to be the best agent he had ever seen. Gibbs stands up from the log and slowly begins to walk the deserted beach lit by the afternoon sun. Silent tears fall that still come whenever he starts letting himself think about the things death has taken from him.
When Agent Paula Cassidy had died in an explosion in the same building that had claimed the life of the rest of her team just days before, Death had also taken something from him. Death had taken some of his joy with his friend and Senior field agent Tony DiNozzo. Having to witness Tony watch his former girlfriend being blown up on the other side of a wall and being so emotionally hurt by it; really hurt Jethro even if he didn't really admit it to anyone else.
Jethro stops walking as he reaches a small pier. He takes off his dress shoes and socks and sits down and hangs his feet off the edge into the water. A boat with a couple slowly sails by and Gibbs smiles to himself at the loving way the woman has her arms around her man at the back of the boat. His mind suddenly flashes to the next in the series of times death has taken people from his life. Jen, his favorite nickname for her, or at least the only one he had been allowed to call her in public. When she had been murdered in a shootout in the desert of California, the only part of him that had a hope of falling in love again died with her too. Jenny had started out as his Probie agent, then partner and then lover. When she had left him he had moved on but had never forgotten his love for her. Her sudden reappearance six years later as Director of NCIS had thrown his heart for a loop. He had done his best to keep his reawakened feelings to himself throughout the time she served as director, but the flashes of them in the throes of passion sometimes flashed through his mind. The last shreds of his heart were buried with her in that coffin.
The sun is setting and sparkling off the Chesapeake Bay. The pecking of tiny minnows pulls Gibbs out of his memories and he wipes his wet cheeks. He stands up and dries his feet off with his handkerchief. As he pulls on his socks and shoes he thinks back to the next two times death has visited his life and what it took from him.
That time his judgment and confidence had taken a hit he wasn't sure he has recovered from yet. He had recommended Brent Langer's move to NCIS from the FBI. When Michelle Lee had shot Langer and exposed him as the possible mole in NCIS Gibbs experienced something for the first time in his life. Ducky had tried to call his friends hand on it but Gibbs had to realize it for himself. Langer's death had taken his "gut", his confidence, his instinct he had always trusted to keep him and his team safe.
Agent Michelle Lee had betrayed her country, NCIS and him. She had also made him do something he never thought he would; knowingly and willing shoot a woman. In the brief seconds that she had given him permission to shoot, her eyes had gone from foe back to friend. Leroy Jethro Gibbs had passed the shooting of a woman on to a team mate before, with dire future consequences. Gibbs felt a huge piece of his humanity ripped from him as Agent Lee took her last breath and he removed her badge.
The last rays of the sun outline a woman waiting beside his car twirling a black lace parasol. As much as Death has taken from his life she has always been his comfort and strength for over a decade reminding him of a time long ago.
Jethro remembers when as a very young child he had asked his mother to explain the message the preacher had delivered that Sunday morning. The sermon had tried to put into plainer words the meaning of the 23rd Psalm. At the family dinner table young Leroy asked his mother why people shouldn't be afraid of the valley of the shadow of death and just how did God put a rod and staff into people's lives to comfort them. His mother had stopped eating the Sunday meal and reached over and pulled her son into her lap.
"Now Leroy, what I feel God means by that verse is that we shouldn't be scared when someone around us dies. We are left here to live and rejoice that our loved one is in Heaven. Do you understand that part?"
"Is that like when Mrs. Uland died next door, her husband said he would be ok because she was going to be waiting in heaven for him?"
"Yes son." His mother kisses his head softly.
"But what about the rod and staff part comforting him and giving him strength?" Leroy asks playing with the lace on his mother's dress.
"We are the rod and staff the Good Lord provides Leroy. When we took food to his house and we went to the funeral we helped comfort him. Now when we still check on him to make sure he is doing ok we give him strength. God uses us to give strength and comfort to others. And someday when you are walking down that dark valley you will have friends to help give you strength and to comfort you so you can make it through the darkness."
"I understand now Momma. I love you."
"How long have you been here?"Jethro asks as he wipes the fresh tears from his face while walking up to his car.
"Just an hour and one CafPow." She answers putting her arms around him.
"You didn't have to wait this long." He says returning her hug.
"You gonna be alright Gibbs?" She asks letting him lean into her embrace.
"I'm gonna be just fine now." He pulls her closer, "I'm gonna be ok."