Chapter 3

Hearing a small voice crying, Tony opened one eye and after a moment of lying in bed, staring at the clock which read 11:48pm, he finally got up and went into the nursery where Cassidy was fussing loudly. After getting her changed, Tony started rocking her. "Bet you can't wait till your mommy comes home." After a few moments, he added, "'Course, it's not going to be easy when she is home." Looking at Kate, Tony sighed. Just like her namesake, Kate was a quiet child, but there was a look in her eyes that said she was taking in everything she could about her surroundings.

"Knock, knock!" said a bright, cheery female voice.

After a few moments, Tony was surprised when Abby came into the nursery. "What are you doing here, Abby?"

"Wanted to check in on you," Abby replied, shedding her cape and tossing it on a chair. "Gibbs said you put in for paternity leave while Kelly's doing rehab." Looking at Tony, she asked, "How's she doing?"

"Kelly?" Tony asked as he put Cassidy back in her crib. "She's doing okay."

"Tony…" Abby said, giving her friend and co-worker a pointed look. "I know you… and I know Kelly. Talk to me, Tony."

Tony looked at the babies and said, quietly, "You want some coffee?"

"Tony…" Abby said, recognizing the question as a subject change.

But as they headed into the kitchen, Tony still didn't reply as he brewed a pot of coffee. After about 5 minutes, he said, "Kelly's coming home next week. She'll still have her physical therapy sessions, but…"

"Tony, what's wrong?" Abby asked.

"I asked Kelly about… setting a wedding date," Tony replied as he started putting sugar in his cup of coffee.

"And?" Abby asked, wondering what was going on.

"And she didn't want to talk about it," Tony replied. "Any of it. Not the dress, rings… honeymoon…" Sitting at the table with Abby, Tony added, "She wants to get married… She's excited to be a mom…"

"So what's the problem?" Abby asked, looking at Tony.

Tony played with his mug and after a few moments, he said, "I don't know…" Seeing Abby's look, he said, "She doesn't want to talk about it."

"She's a strong person," Abby assured Tony, putting a hand on his. "She'll get through this."

"It's not like the car accident, Abbs," Tony insisted. Getting up and walking around the kitchen, he felt angry, frustrated… "Abbs, what are you doing here?"

"Gibbs wanted me to check on you," Abby replied as she watched Tony. "He's worried about you."

When Cassidy started crying again, Tony went into the nursery and came out holding Cassidy in his arms. "She's going to be bossy when she grows up," Tony muttered.

"What about Kate?" Abby asked, looking into the nursery at where Kate was still sleeping like a rock.

Tony looked into the room and shook his head, a smile on his face. "She's hardly ever fussy… she's only really cried a few times."

Going into the nursery and picking up Kate, Abby looked at her before looking at Tony. "You okay, Tony?"

"Yeah," Tony insisted, nodding. Looking at his daughters, he still felt a thrill of fear. "Yeah, I'm okay."


Going into the physical therapy room, Gibbs looked around and after a few moments, finally saw Kelly as she reseated herself in her wheelchair next to the weights station. Walking over to her, Gibbs looked at his daughter and sat down on the bench she'd been lying down on. "How're you doing?"

Kelly shrugged, looking at her legs and the wheelchair. "It's a good day," she replied, heading towards the hallway, her father behind her.

"Kelly, what is it?" Gibbs asked as they headed outside.

When Kelly stopped, she looked at the wheelchair and then at her father. "It was my fault, Dad," she said, quietly.

"The shooting?" Gibbs asked, not understanding what Kelly meant. When Kelly didn't reply, Gibbs headed over to a bench and sat down so he was level with Kelly. "What is it, Sniper?"

Kelly looked at her father—the light of her whole world for most of her life—and finally said, "When Mom died… It was my fault."

"What?" Gibbs asked, confused. Shaking his head, he said, "Kelly, it wasn't your fault."

"Yes, it was, Dad," Kelly insisted. "Dad… I was the reason… It's because of me Mom and I were out that day."

Gibbs wasn't sure what to make of that. Kelly was the reason that Shannon had been…? But that didn't make any sense. "There were video tapes from the library in the backseat of the van."

Kelly nodded. She'd never told her father about the accident… what had happened that day… And she didn't know why she was telling him now… "I was restless… After Mom IDed Hernandez, NIS wanted us in protective custody. We didn't leave the house… Agents brought over food and stuff… But I wanted to get out of the house… go play at the park…"

Gibbs remembered hearing about the report… seeing the van… Looking at Kelly, Gibbs couldn't believe what he was hearing… "You asked Shannon if you could go to the library…"

"I begged," Kelly corrected. "One of the… One of the NIS agents drove… Mom was in the passenger seat… I was sitting behind her." Closing her eyes, Kelly seemed to go back in time… She could practically hear the sniper shot echoing… Opening her eyes, she said, "Mom's dead because of me."

Gibbs stared at his little girl for the longest time. "This isn't a punishment, Kelly."

"Yes it is," Kelly insisted. "Because I got my mother killed… and I almost got Jenny killed… and I got Kate and Paula killed…" Kelly was crying now and she furiously wiped away her tears. "And I deserve this."

"Kelly, listen to me…" Gibbs said, waiting until Kelly finally met his gaze. "None of this is your fault, Kelly… You didn't cause the accident… And if it weren't for you, Jenny could have been killed too."

"I told Kate that it was more important for her to protect you than me," Kelly went on. "If she hadn't been up on the rooftop with you…"

Gibbs didn't know what to say to that. How long had Kelly been holding on to all this? "Kelly, you're not being punished," he insisted. "And I don't blame you for what happened to Shannon… or Kate… or Cassidy… or Jenny." Taking Kelly's hand, Gibbs waited until she finally nodded. "Okay?"

Kelly wiped her eyes and nodded again. "It's just… I see Kate and Cassidy… and…" Sniffing loudly, she asked, "How am I going to be a mother… and a wife… when I can't even walk? How can I live my life in a wheelchair?"

"Is that why Tony said you don't want to discuss wedding details?" Gibbs asked as Kelly started to wheel down the walkway. Following her, Gibbs waited until Kelly shrugged.

"I want to marry Tony," Kelly replied. "I love him. But…" Looking at her father, she said, "Tony's going to have to take care of me and the kids. And… I don't want to do that to him."


Most people figured that Gibbs worked on his boat as a hobby… something to keep his hands busy…

But anyone who really knew Gibbs knew that the basement was where he could let his mind wander if he was stuck on a problem… A place where he could let the work calm his mind and—somehow—allow him to understand and work through any problem.

When Jenny came down the stairs holding take out Chinese, part of her didn't want to bother Gibbs since the look on his face said that he was lost in a sea of troubling thoughts.

Yet somehow, like he always did, Gibbs knew she was standing on the stairs, watching him. "Come on down, Jen," Gibbs said, as he finished planing the beam he was working on.

"I didn't want to bother you," Jenny said as she reached the bottom of the stairs and set the bag of food on the workbench. "I thought you were at Walter Reed with Kelly," she added, watching Gibbs pull take out boxes out of the bag. When Gibbs still didn't say anything, Jenny put a hand on his shoulder and when he turned to her, she could see the pain in his eyes. The same kind of pain that had been in his eyes 2 years ago when he'd come out of his coma and thought she was Shannon. "Jethro…" Jenny said, gently as Gibbs abandoned the food and went back to his boat.

After a few minutes, Gibbs said, "I always wondered what… what Kelly and Shannon…" He stopped and leaned against the boat frame. "Why the Hell were they out that day? How did Hernandez know where to hit them?" Closing his eyes, Gibbs tried not to feel angry… But thinking of meeting Shannon that first time… how much he loved her… Shannon always said 'no'. Why didn't she tell Kelly 'no' that day?

Jenny could see Gibbs struggling with something… but she didn't know what to say. "Jethro… What happened that day?"

Gibbs straightened up, sitting under the frame. "Kelly… begged Shannon to get out of the house." Leaning forward and resting his forehead against his clasped hands, he said, "They were coming back from the library."

"Jethro…" Jenny said, not quite sure she wanted to believe what she was hearing. Did Gibbs blame his daughter—the #1 girl in his whole life—for Shannon's murder? "There's no way anyone could have known. It wasn't Shannon's fault… or Kelly's."

"No…" Gibbs said, looking up. "It's mine. I put the Marines ahead of my family… and it cost Shannon her life."

Jenny looked at the food and started packing it back up. "I'm going to go put this in your fridge." After a few moments, Jenny turned back to Gibbs and gave him a small smile. "If you ever want to talk… about Shannon…?" she said, leaving the sentence open-ended.

Gibbs gave her a nod and watched her go back up the stairs before turning to his boat. Running a hand along the still rough wood, he sighed. The woodwork wasn't providing the catharsis it usually did, and that troubled him. He was usually able to relax after about an hour down here, but tonight… For Gibbs, the fact that he couldn't calm his troubled mind with the boat was troubling. He could hear Shannon's voice in his mind, "You should go see a shrink, Jethro." No, thank you. But sighing, Gibbs headed up the stairs and slipping out the back door, he was gone before Jenny even knew he'd left the basement.


Settling down for a cup of tea before preparing to turn in for the night, Ducky was surprised and more than a little annoyed to hear incessant knocking on the front door. Opening the door, however, Ducky was even more surprised to see Gibbs standing there looking somewhat lost. "Jethro… What's the matter?"

"Can I come in, Duck?" Gibbs asked, cautiously.

"Well, yes, of course…" Ducky replied, standing aside and letting his friend come in. After closing the door and latching it, he asked, "What brings you here at this late hour, Jethro?"

"Kelly," Gibbs said, succinctly as he went into the living room.

"Ah," Ducky said with a nod. "Tea?"

"Sure," Gibbs said, absentmindedly as he sat down on the sofa. When Ducky handed him a cup of tea, Gibbs sipped and frowned. Frowning at his cup, he asked, "What is this?"

"Tea, Jethro," Ducky said, an amused smile on his face. Handing his friend a second mug, he added, "Coffee, black. No sugar."

Trading the tea for coffee, Gibbs waited until his friend was sitting before saying, "Kelly's the reason Shannon was out that day."

"Yes, I know," Ducky said in a somber tone. Seeing Gibbs' look, he added, "Director Sheppard called me about 5 minutes ago."

Setting his mug down, Gibbs leaned forward. "I… I don't know…"

"Jethro," Ducky said, his tone gentle and comforting. "Shannon probably gave in to Kelly because both of them were feeling trapped. Shannon wanted to get out of the house as much as Kelly." Setting his cup down, Ducky fixed Gibbs with a look. "If Shannon had lived and Kelly had died… Would you have blamed Shannon?"

Gibbs sighed and stood, pacing the room. "Help me out here, Duck."

Standing as well, Ducky said, "Jethro… what happened at the hospital?"

Gibbs didn't know how to explain, but he just said, "Kelly thinks she's being punished."

"Punished for what?" Ducky asked. After catching Gibbs' look, he said, "For her mother's death?"

"I tried telling her it wasn't her fault," Gibbs said to Ducky's unspoken question. "I think she believes me, but…"

"Jethro, Kelly has been dealt a tremendous blow," Ducky said, calmly. "She's feeling overwhelmed by everything, and she's trying to make sense of things. Give her time."

"I just feel helpless, Duck," Gibbs admitted. "When Kelly was recovering from the accident, I took her to NIS… I tried to distract her… give her something to focus on."

"Then maybe that's what she needs now," Ducky said, thoughtfully. Seeing that Gibbs wasn't quite sure about that, Ducky went on. "Get Abby and Ziva to help Kelly with wedding plans… Have Tony bring their daughters over…"

Gibbs wasn't sure but at this point he was willing to try anything.


"How's it going, Kelly?" Dr. Isabelle Neal asked as she walked up to the young woman.

Lying on one of the benches, lifting weights, Kelly finished and slowly sat up, ignoring the pain in her lower back. "I'm fine," Kelly replied, as she moved back to her wheelchair. "Why do you ask?"

"Because we had a session an hour ago," Isabelle replied. "And you missed the session before that."

"You don't know what it's like," Kelly said, bluntly. "And until you do… It's just pointless."

"Why is it pointless to talk about how you feel?" Isabelle asked as she followed Kelly out of the workout room and down the hallway.

Kelly stopped and wheeled around. "Look, I'm… I'm getting around better… I'm going home in a couple days… I'm doing okay. I can… I can live with this."

"If you want to talk, I'm here," Isabelle said, looking at Kelly.

"Yeah, I know," Kelly said with a deep sight. "I just…"

"Why don't we go to my office?" Isabelle suggested. At first she expected Kelly to refuse but after a few moments, Kelly nodded and followed the psychiatrist to her office.