AUTHOR'S NOTES: As always, I'm trying to break through a bit of writer's block on some of my other stories by posting a new storyline. And while usually I'd do something like this with Harry Potter there are only so many times you can cripple the kid before it gets tedious.
In my story 'What Should Have Been' this was my original idea but I opted to change it. So for your reading pleasure, here's the alternate story which starts from the episode 'Judgement Day'.
NCIS: What Should Have Been (AU)
"Kelly, Ziva, DiNozzo… pack your bags," Gibbs said as he entered the squad room. "Director's going to LA. You're escorting her."
Kelly looked up nervously and glanced first at Tony before looking at her father. "Um… I-I'm… I haven't really been feeling great, Dad… I-I'm not sure I should…"
"Director asked for you personally," Gibbs replied, eying his daughter.
"O-Okay," Kelly said, nodding. "Right." Getting up she grabbed her bag and packed up her computer before going to the elevator. But just as she hit the button for the ground floor, Tony jumped in and once the elevator was moving, he stopped it. "Tony, that's really not a good idea right now."
"Why not?" Tony asked, looking at his girlfriend. "What's going on? You've been sick… skipping cases…"
"I'm pregnant," Kelly said, not looking at Tony.
"Wait, you're… you're what?" Tony asked, not sure if he heard her correctly.
"Pregnant," Kelly repeated. "With child. Bun in the oven. Knocked up! As in you are staring down the barrel of a shotgun wedding!" she went on, practically shouting.
"Um… okay…" Tony said, nervously. "Does Gibbs know?"
"If he does he's being very calm about it," Kelly replied, running a hand though her hair. "Look, what are we going to do?"
"We're going to go home, pack—"
"Running away. Great plan!" Kelly said, irritably. "Or did you forget Dad's a former sniper?"
"Then we meet with Ziva and the Director at the airport," Tony finished calmly. "Once we're in LA we'll talk to Jenny and see what she can do to help. Okay?"
"Okay," Kelly said, nodding. "Okay. Now please start the elevator again cause I think I'm going to throw up again."
Los Angeles, California
Jenny Shepard was no fool. She could tell something was going on with Kelly Gibbs and there was a shortlist as far as the possibilities. And considering how often Kelly was going to the restroom on the flight and how pale she looked, Jenny's money was on a pregnancy.
Once she and the others arrived at the hotel, Kelly made a run for the bathroom and after telling Tony and Ziva to go up to their rooms, Jenny went into the lobby bathroom and found Kelly coming out of one of stalls.
"I'm fine, Director," Kelly said, shakily as she went to the sink to rinse her mouth out and splash water on her face. After a few moments, though, Kelly started crying.
"It's okay," Jenny said, handing Kelly one of the faux-fabric hand towels on the counter.
"No, it's not," Kelly sobbed. "Dad's gonna kill me when he finds out."
"No, he won't," Jenny assured Kelly.
Kelly shook her head as she dried her face and sniffled. "You don't know Dad."
"Yes, I do," Jenny assured her. "I know you're the center of your father's world… and that he loves you more than anything… or anyone else." When Kelly looked up as her, Jenny gave the young woman a smile. "When we get back, you and I can talk to Jethro. Alright?"
Kelly nodded and wiped her eyes. "Thanks, Jenny."
"You're welcome," Jenny replied, hugging Kelly. "Come on. We'll get cleaned up and then head for dinner. Okay?"
Opening the door that adjoined the two hotel rooms, Ziva stepped into the room Tony and the director were sharing and crossed her arms before fixing her partner with a look. "Are you going to tell me what is going on between you and Kelly?"
"No," Tony replied, tossing his jacket over the back of the armchair in the corner.
"I am not stupid, Tony," Ziva said, gently, softening her gaze. "First, Kelly avoids an overseas trip to Baghdad. Then she gets sick at a crime scene a few weeks ago… She did not want to come on this trip and she spent a majority of the flight in the bathroom." Putting a hand on Tony's arm, Ziva asked, "How long has Kelly been sick?"
Part of Tony wanted to correct the Mossad officer, but at the same time, Tony had an image of what Ziva—and Gibbs—would do to him if they found out the truth, so Tony just replied, "She found out about two months ago."
"Does Gibbs know?" Ziva asked, sadly.
"I doubt it," Tony replied, sitting down. "I just found out before we left." Hearing a knock on the door, Tony got up quickly and went to open the door for Kelly and Jenny. "So… shall we head for dinner? I hear there's a great Italian place a couple blocks from here."
"Sounds good," Kelly said, smiling. "I'll just… go brush my teeth first."
The next morning, Ziva was awoken by the sounds of Kelly throwing up in the bathroom. Getting up, Ziva went to her overnight bag and pulled out the black pantsuit she'd brought to wear to retired NCIS Special Agent Decker's funeral. Seeing Kelly come out of the bathroom, Ziva asked, "How are you feeling?"
"Tony told you?" Kelly asked as she pulled out a navy blue outfit from her own overnight bag.
"I figured it out for myself," Ziva replied. "Tony filled me in on some of the details." After fixing her hair she asked, "Have you told Gibbs?"
"Yeah, how the hell am I supposed to have that conversation?" Kelly asked, pulling her hair back into a ponytail and doing her make-up.
"I would not think this is the kind of thing you should keep from him," Ziva said, quietly.
"I'll tell Dad when we get back to DC," Kelly promised. Seeing Ziva's melancholy expression, Kelly smiled. "It's good news, Ziva. It's just… bad timing."
"'Bad timing'?" Ziva repeated. "And what would good timing be?"
"Well, after I was married would have been great," Kelly replied. After a few moments, she asked, "What exactly did Tony say?"
"I asked him how long you've been sick," Ziva replied. "And Tony said you found out a few months ago."
Kelly laughed and smiled at Ziva who looked even more confused. "Morning sickness, Ziva," Kelly said, grinning.
"Morning… You are pregnant?" Ziva said, feeling relieved. But a few moments later she asked, "Tony is the father?"
"Good morning," Tony said as he opened the door. "Ready?"
"Yes," Kelly said, grabbing her purse. "Let's go."
After the funeral service, Kelly stood with Tony and Ziva while Jenny gave a sound bite for the few reporters who were clustering nearby. "You okay?" Tony asked, looking at Kelly who was looking at some of the people at the front of the church.
"Fine," Kelly said, distractedly. There was something about the guy at the register book that was making the hair on the back of her neck prickle. Pulling out her camera phone, she waited until the man turned before catching a slightly blurry picture of him. Seeing Jenny coming towards them, Kelly asked, "Ready, Ma'am?"
"Not yet, Ms. Gibbs," Jenny replied. Turning to Tony and Ziva, she said, "We're not due to fly out of here until tomorrow. Why don't the two of you take the rest of the trip off? Relax. Enjoy the day."
"Director?" Ziva asked, puzzled.
"I'm fine, Ziva," Jenny assured her. Turning to Kelly, she said, "Why don't I drop you off at the hotel?"
Kelly was about to ask 'What about Tony and Ziva?' but the look Jenny gave her seemed to indicate there was something else going on. "Sure."
"Don't worry about us," Tony hollered as he watched Jenny and Kelly head for the car. "We'll figure something out." As the car pulled away, Tony couldn't shake the feeling that there was something amiss.
Once in her hotel room, Kelly changed out of her dress outfit and pulled on jeans and a tank top before grabbing the denim jacket her father had given her last Christmas. Making sure she had her knife, 9mm and her backup .38, Kelly went next door and found Jenny pulling on a light blue blouse. "So… where are we going?"
"We are not going anywhere," Jenny corrected. "I'll be back later." She didn't add what she was thinking which was 'I hope'.
"You ask for me to come along just for a personal security detail then ask me to come along while you leave Tony and Ziva behind," Kelly protested. "You want me involved."
"That was before I knew you were…" Jenny sighed. "I don't want to put you in any danger."
Crossing her arms, Kelly stood her ground and she said, "Director, either I'm going with you or neither of us is going anywhere."
Facing off with Kelly, Jenny finally sighed. "If there's a bad situation I want you to get out of it as soon as possible," Jenny ordered. "Am I being clear?"
"Crystal," Kelly replied, grabbing her purse before following Jenny out of the room.
After driving for a while, Jenny finally pulled into the parking lot of a rather seedy motel. "Last chance," Jenny said as she parked and turned the car off. "You can take the car. I'll find a ride."
"I'm not going anywhere," Kelly assured her.
"Okay," Jenny said as she got out of the car.
"Take it the Ritz was booked," said a gruff voice behind them. Whirling around, Kelly looked surprised to see former NCIS Agent Mike Franks walking up holding an ice bucket in one hand and a bottle of bourbon in the other. "What the Hell are you doin' here?" Franks asked, looking at Kelly.
"I could ask you the same thing," Kelly replied, slamming the car door and striding over to the older man who set down the bucket and bottle. Putting her hand on her hips, Kelly looked over the tops of her sunglasses, giving her father's old boss a look before she smiled and hugged him. "It's good to see you again."
"You, too, kid," Franks replied, grinning. Looking at Kelly then at Jenny, Franks nodded. "Ahhh… I get it. You brought the kid along as incentive to help you. Am I right?"
"It's a bit more complicated than that," Jenny replied.
Franks looked at the two women and as he eyed Kelly he raised an eyebrow. "I see. Well… Let's get out of this sun and we'll talk."
Kelly nodded as her stomach started heaving. "Good idea."
But as Jenny started for the motel, Franks stopped Kelly. "You sure you should be here?"
"You gonna stop me?" Kelly asked, trying not to throw up all over Franks.
"If anything happens to you or Jenny…" Franks said with a knowing look.
"I'm fine," Kelly insisted, hurrying after Jenny and barely making it to the bathroom before losing her breakfast.
Back in Washington, DC, Gibbs couldn't shake the feeling that something was going on with his daughter. Going down to Autopsy, Gibbs found Ducky and the ME's assistant, Jimmy Palmer working on CPR recertifications. Seeing Gibbs' look, Ducky said, "Uh, give us a minute, will you, Mr. Palmer?"
"Sure, Doctor," Jimmy said as he left the room.
"I know that look, Jethro," Ducky said, as he had a sneaking suspicion why his old friend was there. "But I'm afraid I'm all out of secrets."
"Kinda doubt that, Duck," Gibbs replied.
"Really?" Ducky said, a slight defensive edge in his tone. "And what makes you say that?"
"Kelly," Gibbs said, succinctly. Seeing his friend's 'hand caught in the cookie jar' expression, Gibbs added, "You know?"
"Know what?" Ducky asked, dodging the question.
Gibbs couldn't help a smile. "Duck, I've been married 3 times. I have a daughter." Giving Ducky a look, he added, "I know about Kelly."
Ducky nodded. "Did she tell you?"
"Nope," Gibbs replied, shaking his head. "Tony?"
"Most likely," Ducky said as he started cleaning his desk. "Why didn't you confront him?" When Ducky didn't get a response he turned around. "Jethro, I know how upset you are about this… But Kelly is a grown woman and capable of making her own decisions."
"A bad decision," Gibbs threw in.
"Jethro…" Ducky said, quietly.
"I know Tony cares about Kelly," Gibbs said, not wanting to hear his friend's lecture. "But he got my little girl pregnant."
"And most likely Tony will put a ring on Kelly's hand before they come back from California," Ducky insisted… hopefully. "Jethro… what's really bothering you?"
Gibbs shook his head and left Autopsy. He was happy for Kelly… and a part of him was a little excited about being a grandfather… But as Gibbs stepped into the elevator, he knew that there was someone who would want to know about Kelly's condition. And the last person Gibbs wanted to talk to was his father.
Los Angeles, CA
A visit to Agent William Decker's house had led to an old, rundown diner in the middle of nowhere.
As Kelly got out of the car, she looked around. "Am I the only one who thinks this is the perfect place for an ambush?"
"Low scrubbrush, flat… lots of sun…" Franks said as he looked around. "No, kid… It's not just you." Looking at Jenny, he asked, "So what are we looking for?"
"No idea," Jenny replied as she went to the door and unlocked it. Once inside she started to look around, hoping something would jump out at her or there'd be some sort of clue.
"Thought you knew where this insurance policy was," Franks grumbled after about half an hour.
"I never said I knew," Jenny corrected. "Decker said I did."
"How did you guys code stuff back in the day?" Kelly asked, looking at some of the pictures on the wall.
"Pardon?" Jenny asked, looking at her.
"Agent Decker retired in '07, right?" Kelly said, looking at her friend and mentor.
"Yes…" Jenny said, slowly, as she went to look at the pictures. Looking at the dates on the pictures, she remembered back in Paris when they got codes hidden as dates on photos.
Kelly grabbed a pen and a small notepad out of her purse and as she handed them both to Jenny, her phone rang. "Hey, Tony. What's going on?" After a moment, Kelly sighed. "Tony, don't worry. Jenny and I are fine. We're just… handling some unfinished business. We're hanging out at this old diner."
While Jenny glared at the young woman, Franks couldn't help smiling. Kelly was as brazen as her father… and a hell of a better liar. When Kelly hung up, he said, "Let me guess… They're coming in, guns blazing."
"No, Tony and Ziva are not coming," Kelly replied. Looking at Jenny, she asked, "And there better be a damn good reason why we're not having them come here."
"DiNozzo and Ziva don't need to know—" Jenny started before she was cut off by Kelly.
"But I do! You say Agent Decker was murdered and you're next. Dad could be in danger, too… You decide we have to stay out here in the middle of nowhere to finish this and instead of getting back up you want to fight a battle with three versus who knows how many!"
"You want to leave…" Franks said, looking at her. "You know where the door is. We'll figure out something."
"Jenny, you wanted me to come because you trust me," Kelly said, looking at her boss. "Sasha's dead. And she seemed like a nice kid… Oh, brother." Kelly couldn't help a wry chuckle. "'Kid'. She's 8 years younger than me!"
"If she's dead we have to assume she talked about where we are… and Decker's insurance policy," Franks added.
As Jenny gathered up the pictures and burned them, Kelly went to one of the booths by the window and pulled out her 9mm and backup .38 before checking her knife.
"Gibbs taught you well," Franks said as he sat opposite Kelly.
"When I was 17 Dad and I had a fight," Kelly said as she checked her gun clips. "I told Dad I was going to join the army. I even went to a local recruitment center… I was about to sign up, too."
"What stopped you?" Franks asked, curious.
"Dad's new partner at NCIS," Kelly replied, flicking her gaze over to Jenny. "She's the mother I never had," Kelly added in a whisper.
"Does she know?" Franks asked as Kelly started cleaning her guns.
"Doesn't matter," Kelly replied. "She's the Director… and I'm just a Probie."
"Bullshit," Franks grumbled. When Kelly looked at him, he went on. "You've been training to be an agent since you were 10 years old. Why the hell aren't you a Senior Agent yet?"
Kelly looked away and before she could reply, Jenny said, "Because that's not where she belongs."
"Let me guess," Franks laughed, looking at Jenny. "You want her to be your successor." Shaking his head, Franks said, "You don't know the kid at all." Looking at Kelly, he went on. "She's an agent… just like her old man." Glancing back at Jenny, he added, "And you know Jethro'd never be comfortable in your position."
Jenny sighed as she considered that. Maybe she was trying too hard to turn Kelly into something she wasn't…
"Gibbs is going to kill us," Tony said as he stood on the pier with Ziva. Catching her look, he shrugged, "Okay, he'll kill me. We lost the Director, Kelly…"
"So why is Gibbs only going to kill you?" Ziva asked as she got in the car along with Tony.
"You didn't get Kelly knocked up," Tony replied. "Okay, we can't call Gibbs. Plan B." Pulling out his cell phone he called McGee back at NCIS and when the other agent picked up, Tony said, "Hey, McGee I need you to run a trace on a cell phone."
"Whose?" McGee asked and Tony heard the other agent logging onto the computer.
"Kelly's," Tony replied, looking at Ziva.
After a few moments, McGee replied, "She's not in the LA area but her last call came from someplace about 30 miles into the Mojave Desert."
"Check the Director's cell," Ziva said loudly so as to be heard on the phone.
"Checking…" McGee said although his tone made it clear he did not want to be running checks on the director's cell phone. "Same area as Kelly's phone."
"Can you get me an exact location?" Tony asked, hopefully.
"I can work on that," McGee replied before hanging up.
Looking at Ziva, Tony said, "I'm filling the tank first."
"Afraid we'll get lost, Tony?" Ziva asked as they headed down the street.
Tony didn't reply but the thought in the back of his wind was 'I'm afraid we won't find the Director and Kelly in time.'
Once her guns were cleaned and her knife was sharpened, Kelly paced next to the booths, watching the road… listening for the sounds of a car on gravel…
"When I asked if Jenny knew…" Franks said as he went up to Kelly. "I didn't mean—"
"I know what you meant," Kelly said, quietly, looking outside. "And yes… she knows."
Kelly shook her head. "Haven't told him yet."
"Why the hell not?" Franks asked, surprised. "He's your father."
"It's… complicated," Kelly said, sitting down. "The father of my baby… is someone I work with."
"Ah, shit," Franks grumbled. "Didn't your father teach you anything? Never date a co-worker," he said as Kelly recited the rule along with him.
"I know," Kelly added. "Tony… and I… He's been like a big brother for years. This year, though…"
"The two of you happy?" Franks asked, watching her. When Kelly nodded, he sighed. "Hell…"
"Yeah," Kelly sighed, sitting on the top of one of the booths, her feet on the table. "Hell…" Looking at Jenny, then Franks, she said, "Always figured I'd… find some guy… get married… have a couple kids…" With a wry smile she went on. "But with Leroy Jethro Gibbs as your father… Never dated a boy more than twice in high school. College was worse… After a while, I got tired of every guy on campus avoiding me. That's when I started doing online college courses. But Tony… he's not afraid of Dad."
"There's still time for you to get out of here," Franks insisted. "Take the car. Jenny and I can figure something." Leaning in, he said, "Think of that life you're carrying… You want your father to lose his only daughter… and his grandchild?"
"No…" Kelly said quietly, putting a hand to her abdomen. "But I also want to be able to introduce my son or daughter to their honorary grandmother."
Franks couldn't help laughing. "You really did grow up to be like Jethro, didn't you?"
"Nothing wrong with that," Kelly said with a smile. Looking out the window, she kept an eye out for anyone coming while Franks headed out to get some water from the tank out back. Seeing someone coming, Kelly got up quickly. "Jenny."
Jenny jumped up as well, drawing her weapon as they headed behind the counter, staying low. "Go…" Jenny said, looking at Kelly. "Out the back."
"No," Kelly insisted, pulling her 9mm. When the doors burst open, Kelly rose and fired off three rounds, hitting one of the men before she dropped down and moved to the side, popping up and firing another round before dropping again.
As Jenny fired and dodged, she couldn't help but admire how skilled Kelly was as she helped take down the men. But just as she was about to comment, Kelly let out a cry as she took a bullet in the right thigh before taking two more shots in the left shoulder and a grazing shot to the left hip before getting shot in the side.
As she lay on the ground, Kelly had only a fleeting glimpse of Jenny taking a stance and firing at the last shooter before she jerked backwards as she was hit in the chest by one of the downed gunmen.
As they pulled up to the diner, Ziva felt uneasy as she got out along with Tony and they headed towards the diner. Seeing the signs of gunfire, Ziva drew her weapon and she and Tony carefully went in, surveying the scene as they cleared the room.
"Oh, God…" Tony said as he fell to his knees next to one of the bodies.
When Ziva came over, she stifled a gasp as she saw Jenny and Kelly lying on the ground. Kneeling down, Ziva found a faint pulse on Jenny but when she checked for Kelly's pulse, it was barely present. "Call an ambulance," Ziva ordered, assessing Kelly and Jenny's injuries and stopping when she saw that there was an old towel wrapped around Kelly's upper leg.
"Kelly?" Ziva said as the younger woman groaned lightly. But before Ziva could say anything else, Kelly lost consciousness again. Pressing a hand to Kelly's bleeding shoulder, Ziva looked at Tony who was staring at the Director's ringing phone which he'd picked up. "Tony!"
"It's Gibbs," Tony said, looking down at the Director before looking at Kelly and Ziva. With some trepidation, Tony hung up the call and quickly called an ambulance. After a few moments, however, he dialed Gibbs' number and waited until the other man picked up.
"Jenny, what the hell--?"
"You need to get out here, boss," Tony said, quickly. "Now."
"DiNozzo, what the hell is going on?" Gibbs asked, sounding irritable.
"Just… get out here, boss," Tony said, quietly as he hung up.
Once he'd hopped a plane to LA and gotten to the hospital, Gibbs burst into the emergency room. "Kelly Gibbs and Jenny Sheppard," Gibbs said, quickly, to the nurse at the admit desk.
"Okay," the nurse said, typing in the names and waiting a moment until. "Miss Gibbs is in surgery. And Ms. Sheppard… is in recovery." Looking up, she asked, "And you are…?"
"Special Agent Jethro Gibbs," Gibbs replied, holding up his badge and ID. "How's my daughter?"
The nurse stood and flagged down a doctor. "This is Special Agent Gibbs. His daughter is one of the gunshot victim who came in last night."
The woman nodded and held out a hand which Gibbs shook quickly. "Agent Gibbs, I'm Dr. Charlotte Knightly."
"How's Kelly?" Gibbs asked, his heart racing.
"Still in surgery," Knightly replied. "She had multiple gunshot wounds: One to the right thigh which fractured the femur. Two shots to the left shoulder, both soft tissue damage only. There was also a grazing shot to Kelly's left hip…" Taking a moment to let Gibbs absorb everything, Knightly was about to go on when Gibbs asked about Kelly's baby. "Baby? Your daughter's pregnant? How far along?"
"Two… three months," Gibbs guessed.
"We'll make sure the baby's okay," Knightly assured Gibbs. "But… that does add further complications to her condition."
Gibbs could almost feel his heart stop. "What are you talking about?"
Knightly pulled Gibbs over to the waiting area and when they were sitting down, she said, "One of the bullets hit Kelly in the side, but because of the angle it was fired at, the bullet hit your daughter's spinal cord."
Gibbs couldn't think…
This couldn't be happening…
"How bad?" he asked, finally.
"It's what we call a L1 spinal injury," Knightly said, simply. "Right now Kelly has no sensation or motor function below her waist. Right now she's experiencing what's known as spinal shock. Once it goes away we'll have a better idea of what kind of recovery your daughter is going to have."
Gibbs buried his face in his hands and let out the breath he'd been holding. "Likely outcome?"
Knightly sighed and shrugged. "We don't know yet. Depends on… how much damage there was… where exactly the bullet impacted…"
"Best guess?" Gibbs asked.
"Paralysis…" Knightly said, regretfully. "There… maybe be... some recovery, but…"
"What about Jenny Sheppard?" Gibbs asking, praying that there wasn't going to be any more bad news.
"Gunshots to the arm and shoulder," Knightly replied. "Shot in the chest, but she's stable." Standing, she held out a hand to Gibbs. "Come on. I'll take you to her."
After a long pause, Gibbs stood and followed the doctor upstairs and after badging his way into the recovery room, Gibbs sat down next to Jenny's bed.
"Jethro…" Jenny whispered when Gibbs took her hand.
"I'm here, Jen…" Gibbs said, quietly. "I'm here…"
Kelly didn't wake up until two days later and even though Assistant Director Vance told him to go back to DC, Gibbs refused as Kelly was still in and out of consciousness.
Once Jenny was cleared for medical transport back to DC a few days after the shooting, Gibbs went to Kelly's room and sat down next to her bed, waiting until she looked at him. "Hey, Sniper."
"Dad…" Kelly tried to sit up but found that she couldn't. "What happened? I… I remember getting shot and…" After a few moments, Kelly said, "Dad, what's wrong? Is Jenny…?"
"Jen's fine," Gibbs replied. "They're transporting her to Bethesda."
"What about me?" Kelly asked. Seeing her father about to dodge the question, she said, "Dad… Why can't I feel my legs?"
"Bullet hit you in the spine," Gibbs said, not sugarcoating it.
"The baby?" Kelly asked. Her father probably already knew about the pregnancy by now from Ducky… or Jenny… or Tony…
"Twins, actually," Gibbs said with the faintest hint of a smile. "And they're fine."
Kelly let out a laugh which turned quickly into a sob. "What's going to happen to me, Dad?"
"I don't know," Gibbs replied, honestly.
"Well, how bad is it?" Kelly asked, not sure she wanted to know.
"You're paralyzed," Gibbs said, simply. "From the waist down."
As that news sunk in, Kelly asked, "Am I… Am I going to get better or…?"
But Gibbs shrugged. "I don't know." Seeing Kelly's doubtful look, Gibbs sighed. "Probably not." When Kelly started to cry, Gibbs took her hand and squeezed. Why couldn't the Powers That Be just give his little girl a break?
2 Months Later
The day after Kelly was transferred to Bethesda, Jenny went into the younger woman's hospital room and slowly sat down in the chair next to the bed. "How are you doing?" Jenny asked as Kelly looked at her.
Still unable to move because of the brace she wore, Kelly just gave her friend a look. "Been better."
Jenny smiled and took Kelly's hand. "I'm sorry…"
"I'll be okay," Kelly insisted, trying to put on a brave smile. After a few moments, though, the smile faded. "How's Tony?"
"Worried about you," Jenny replied. "They all want to see you… Even Abby," Jenny added with a smile.
"The, uh… Ahem… The doctors… said it's not a complete injury, but…" Kelly let out a long, shaky breath. "I don't… I don't know what to do, Jenny." Touching the metal of the back brace, she gave an exasperated sigh. "If it's not one thing or another."
"Kelly…" It took Jenny a few moments to think, but finally she said, "I'm sorry I had you out there in the first place."
"Don't be," Kelly insisted. "I wanted to stay."
"Jethro hates me for what happened," Jenny explained.
"No, he's mad at me," Kelly argued. "But… Dad's never been good at being angry with me."
Hearing a knock at the door, Jenny turned to see Tony standing in the doorway. "Agent DiNozzo."
"Director," Tony said, quietly. Looking at his girlfriend, he said, "Kelly."
"I'm going to let the two of you talk," Jenny said with a smile as she stood, letting Tony take her place.
Once Jenny was out of the room, Tony looked at the love of his life who looked away from him. After a few moments, he pulled a ring out of his pocket. "I wanted this to be… Well… More romantic, but…"
Kelly looked at Tony and her jaw dropped when she saw him slide the ring onto her finger. "Tony…"
"You're my best friend, Kelly," Tony insisted.
"Tony, this isn't…" Kelly couldn't help the tears welling up in her eyes. "Tony, look at me!"
"I am," Tony said, sincerely. "Kelly, I love you." When she didn't respond, Tony sighed. "I know how bad it is. I know… you're… not likely to get much better. And I know that you're more stubborn than your father." Taking Kelly's hand, Tony said, "Kelly… let me help you through this."
Kelly started crying and she squeezed Tony's hand as he sat there.
Walking down to Gibbs' basement, Jenny watched her senior agent for a few minutes before asking, "Are you mad at me or Kelly?" When Gibbs didn't reply, Jenny sighed. "I screwed up, Jethro. With you, Kelly… DiNozzo… Kelly's like a daughter to me, Jethro. And I always thought she'd…"
"You thought that she'd be like you," Gibbs said, not looking at her.
"She's not," Jenny admitted. "Jethro, Kelly is your daughter. You know her better than I do. You know that… she won't run away from a dangerous situation."
Gibbs set his tools down and looked at Jenny who was shocked at how ragged he looked. "Why didn't you ask me to come with you, Jen?" Gibbs asked.
"It was my mess," Jenny replied, quietly, as she walked around the boat frame. "I thought I could handle it." Sitting by the workbench, she added, "I didn't want you to… to cover for me again." When Gibbs didn't reply to that, Jenny let out a breath. "Kelly will… be on disability until she can come back to NCIS. She won't be able to be a field agent, but she'll…" Seeing Gibbs' look, Jenny sighed again. "Jethro…"
"It was almost 9 years before Kelly completely recovered from the accident, Jen," Gibbs said as he leaned against the workbench. "This isn't going to be that easy."
"Anything I can do to help, just name it, Jethro," Jenny said, when Gibbs finally looked at her.
Gibbs wanted to be angry at Jen. He wanted to yell at her but he couldn't. There were more important things to deal with right now. "Kelly's going to need a new apartment. Something with… wheelchair access," Gibbs said, trying not to think of his active daughter confined to a wheelchair.
"Once Kelly's clear to leave the hospital I'll see that she's transferred to Walter Reed," Jenny nodded. "And I'll make sure she's got a new apartment all set up."
"Thanks, Jen," Gibbs said with something resembling a smile.
"You're welcome, Jethro," Jenny replied. "It's the least I can do."
As Jenny started to leave, Gibbs dashed towards her and pulled her into a long passionate kiss. When it was over, Gibbs gave her a smile and watched her go up the stairs. Once she was out of sight, Gibbs whispered, "I love you, Jen." Sighing, he turned back to his boat and continued working.