Sorry guys for the long delay but life has been hectic and very eventful over the last year and that along with a severe case of writer's block has prevented me from publishing earlier.

So here is the long awaited chapter, enjoy

Disclaimer: As always I don't own them but like to play with them for a while.

CHAPTER 18

Ducky stood gazing out of his kitchen window, watching Tyson, one of his mother's corgis, chase a startled bird across the well-manicured lawn. Chuckling at Tyson's escapades, he moved away from the window and started to prepare breakfast. From the cupboard he took out two plates and placed them on a tray, and then he switched on the coffee maker in preparation for when his overnight guest finally woke up. That said guest was Gibbs, who, at that moment, was passed out on Ducky's sofa, sleeping off the large quantity of alcohol he'd drunk the night before. His surprise bachelor party had turned out to be one hell of a shindig.

With the coffee brewed, toast made and a pot of tea sitting on the tray, Ducky was ready to wake Gibbs. As he picked up the tray, Ducky realised he'd forgotten the milk for his tea. Opening the refrigerator door he was suddenly reminded that he needed to check on Palmer to make sure that he made it to work that morning.

Ducky pulled his cell phone from his jacket pocket and speed dialled Autopsy. He didn't have to wait long before a cheery Palmer answered his call. "Morning, Autopsy, Palmer speaking"

"Ah Jimmy, thank heavens you're there. I almost forgot to ring. Everything ok?"

"Yes, Dr Mallard, I've run the tests on Ensign Anderson as you asked but they've come up inconclusive"

"Send them up to Abby for further testing"

"Ruby" corrected Palmer.

"Of course, Ruby" replied Ducky correcting himself. Abby was now officially on maternity leave with Ruby serving as her replacement. Ruby, Ducky could still remember the first time he met her, so confident and passionate about her work, eagerly sinking her teeth into the evidence from her first major crime scene in her hometown of Edenvale. Abby had been so impressed with Ruby's drive and passion that she had kept in touch with the young budding forensic scientist and when a junior position in NCIS had become available she was happy to recommend Ruby for the role. When the question of her replacement was brought up, Abby had only one person in mind, Ruby.

Gibbs had questioned her choice, Ruby had only been with NCIS for four years and had little experience in running her own lab. "She's good Gibbs, trust me on this one"

"Ask her to do the test as soon as possible" Ducky glanced at his wristwatch "I should be at the Navy Yard within the hour, Mr Palmer, get Ensign Anderson back on the table"

After hanging up on Palmer, he went to pick up the tray but stopped as the sound of footsteps echoed in his hall.

"Morning Jethro"

Gibbs shuffled into the kitchen wearing just his boxers, his hair all at right angles, his normally clear blue eyes puffy with lack of sleep and too much alcohol. He flopped himself in the chair opposite Ducky.

"Coffee" he grunted.

Ducky poured out a large cup and passed it to Gibbs. He watched as Gibbs took a few tentative sips, before swallowing the rest of the hot black liquid down in one gulp.

"Better?" he asked as poured his guest another cup.

Gibbs nodded in response.

"I may I suggest you take two of these" Ducky pushed a bottle of pills across the table towards Gibbs.

"Ah, Duck you know how I feel about taking pills"

"Well today you'll going to have to make exception, Jethro. You need to be sober in time for the wedding rehearsal this afternoon."

"Is that why you're plying me with coffee?" smirked Gibbs, handing his cup out for another refill.

"Just following Abby's orders"

"What?"

"To get you to the church on time"

"Shouldn't that be tomorrow Duck" laughed Gibbs.

"I promised Abby that no harm would come of you and I would get you home, safe and sound"

Gibbs leant back in his chair. "Not quite home"

"No" replied his friend "but Jackson and I thought it would be best If I brought you home with me"

"Hold out your hand Jethro" ordered Ducky

Gibbs obediently complied "Two of these should do the trick. Now swallowed them down"

Ducky watched with an eagle eye to make doubly sure that Gibbs did take the pills.

As Gibbs swallowed the pills, memories of the previous night came flooding back.

Mike challenging Tony and himself to a whiskey drinking competition; McGee pleading with Ducky to convince Tony that he'd drunk enough; Jackson taking him aside and given him a drunk "I love you son" speech; Tony passing out on a park bench whilst everyone else played an impromptu midnight game of basketball. Abby's brother Nick challenging him to a fight over his sister's honour.

The last thing he clearly remembered was being at Tony's apartment helping Tim put Tony to bed but everything after that was a complete blank.

"How did I end up here Duck?" asked Gibbs, downing the last of his coffee.

"After making sure young Anthony was comfortable we moved on to a small Mexican bar that Mike insist we visit."

"Still doesn't tell me how I got here"

"Please let me finish Jethro. Mike, Nick and you had far too much to drink and things were getting pretty heated so Jackson and I thought it best to call it a night."

Ducky shook his head "I dread to think what might have happened if we let you go home with Mike"

Gibbs allowed himself a small smile "It was Mike that left me in a field the morning of my wedding to Diane"

"And you know how that marriage turned out. I love you and Abby dearly and I didn't want your big day spoilt by the immature antics of your friends."

Gibbs finished off his coffee and got up to leave the table.

"Ok to borrow your shower?" He ran a hand along his chin "and a razor?"

"Everything's laid out in the guest bathroom. Take your time Jethro, remember you're officially on leave"

Ducky got to his feet and begun to clear the breakfast table "And don't worry about getting back for Jackson. I spoke to him about an hour ago; he's fine."

"What about McGee and DiNozzo? "

"Tim rang me to say that he dropped past Tony's apartment this morning and found him still breathing."

Gibbs cracked a smile "You'll better take those pills with you Duck, DiNozzo's going to need them"

"Oh my, I need to get a move on. Palmer's getting Ensign Anderson ready for me"

"Leave the dishes Duck I do them for you"

"Thank you Jethro"

"No, it's me that needs to thank you"

"My pleasure Jethro but now I really must be going".

After Ducky's departure, Gibbs cleared away the remainder of the breakfast things before heading for the shower.

On entering the guest bathroom, Gibbs gave a little smile; Ducky had been his ever efficient self and laid out a clean towel, a new razor and a toothbrush for his use.

He stood at the sink, gazing at his reflection in the bathroom mirror. He looked worse than he actually felt. He scratched his chin, shower first then shave. Dropping his boxers to the floor and grabbing the shower gel that Ducky had kindly left out, he jumped into the shower.

With the hot water splashing over his body, Gibbs squeezed some shower gel into his hand, and started to rub it into his skin. With the combination of the heat from the water and the heady tropical scent of the gel, Gibbs begun to feel more relaxed than he had in the past week, and what a week it been.

Monday morning had started off badly.

Jackson was awake before Gibbs and after making himself familiar with the contents of Gibbs' kitchen cupboards; he decided on a cooking breakfast for both him and his son.

The smell of coffee and cooked bacon drifted under Gibbs' bedroom door, rousing Gibbs from his sleep.

With his stomach groaning in appreciation, Gibbs quickly got showered and dressed and went to join his father in the kitchen.

"Dad, breakfast smells great" enthused Gibbs as he stepped into the kitchen, only to find it empty. Jackson was nowhere to be seen.

"Dad?" yelled Gibbs, no reply.

Gibbs was about to check the basement, when he noticed the door to the backyard was slightly ajar and he could see Jackson sitting out on the deck, drinking a mug of coffee. Taking the opportunity of a fresh brew, Gibbs poured himself a coffee and went to join his father outside.

"Everything ok Dad?"

Jackson was so deep in thought that he wasn't aware of Gibbs' presence until Gibbs pulled up a deck chair to sit next to him.

As Gibbs sat down, he noticed his father was holding something in his hand, a scrunched up piece of paper. "Shit," It was the list of pros and cons he wrote the night before. He knew he was in deep trouble here but before he could talk himself out of it, Jackson turned to face him, his face red with anger.

"What is the meaning of this?" fumed Jackson, waving the scrap of paper in his hand.

"Dad, it's not what ya think"

"It doesn't matter what I think" interrupted Jackson, "it's obvious you've made up your mind". Jackson looked like he was going to burst a blood vessel "How dare you treat Abby like this? For God sake Leroy, she's pregnant with your child, my grandchild!"

"Dad, calm down" Gibbs started to worry about his father's blood pressure. "You've got it all wrong."

Gibbs took a sip of his coffee, a ploy to gather his thoughts. With his father so angry, he needed to choose his words carefully.

"I started to have doubts about the wedding"

"Doubts? But you're happy with Abby"

"I am but…"

"But what?"

Gibbs got up from his chair and started to pace the deck. "3 short lived marriages and countless failed relationships behind me Dad. Why wouldn't I start having doubts? "

"You can't let your past relationships interfere with what you've got with Abby. You've managed to make it work so far. My God, son, my unborn grandchild is evidence of that"

Gibbs gave a weak laugh "Sometimes Dad I think you're living in a different age, having a child doesn't mean anything nowadays."

"I'm not that stupid, Leroy" retorted Jackson "And for heaven sake, sit back down you're making me giddy"

Gibbs sheepishly sat back down.

"But you wouldn't be having a child with Abby unless you were fully committed to her."

"Dad…"

"Please hear me out" interrupted Jackson. "Abby is the best thing that's happened to you in a long while and I don't want this list screwing everything up."

"It won't Dad. Whatever doubts I had before writing that list soon went when I realised what a fool I'd been. "

"Well if that's the case, there's no point in keeping it" and with that Jackson tore the list into little tiny pieces. "You were lucky Leroy, it could have been Abby that found it and God knows what would have happened then."

Gibbs shivered at the thought "Probably a lengthy stay in hospital and never being able to father a child again."

Jackson laughed heartily "That sounds like our Abby"

"And speaking of our Abby" Gibbs got up from his chair "I better get a move on if I've got any chance of seeing her before work"

"What about breakfast?" asked Jackson, his voice hardly disguising his disappointment.

Gibbs looked at his watch and then back at his father

"Have to be quick Dad"

Jackson pulled himself up on to his feet "French toast and a mug of coffee coming straight up"

As Jackson passed Gibbs on the way back into the kitchen, Gibbs threw an arm around him and pulled him into a tight hug.

"Love you Dad" he whispered into his father's ear.

"Love you too son" replied Jackson

By the time Gibbs had fought his way through the morning traffic, Abby was already in her lab addressing her troops.

"Well my babies" she stroked her hand across the top of Major Mass Spec "This is going to be my last week with you for a while so you better all behave for Ruby." Abby flashed a smile at her temporary replacement who smiled back "Don't worry Abby, they will be safe with me. Auntie Ruby will take good care of them whilst Mummy's away".

"So guys" she continued talking to her machines "I don't want you all to become jealous just because Mummy's having a baby of her own"

"So be good for Ruby otherwise Daddy Gibbs will be very cross"

So preoccupied with her machines, Abby didn't notice the elevator arrive or the person observing her from the doorway.

Ruby almost gave the game away but Gibbs silenced her with a finger on his lips. She gave him a small smile, winked at him cheekily before disappearing into the ballistic lab to give Gibbs and Abby a moment of privacy.

Abby had made the right choice with Ruby. When Abby had recommended Ruby, Gibbs had his reservations but he trusted her decision and was happy to fight her corner when it came to convincing Vance. "Leon, Abby is very territorial when it comes to her lab and I think she has the right to choose her replacement."

Gibbs suppressed a chuckle and moved stealthily towards Abby.

"Daddy Gibbs, Abs?" he whispered into her ear, an arm snaking around her to pull her closer to him.

"Well" explained Abby unfazed by Gibbs' sudden appearance "as you're marrying their mummy that automatically makes you their daddy"

"Abs" he fought hard not to laugh. Abby had turned in his arms and was looking at him seriously. "Don't worry" he bent forward and softly kissed her on the lips "Your babies will be safe with their new daddy keeping an eye on them"

Chuckling to himself at the memory, Gibbs stepped out of the shower and began to dry himself with the large fluffy towel that Ducky had kindly left out. As he was drying himself, he caught his own reflection in the bathroom mirror, "almost human" he thought, and now all that was left for him to do was shave.

Gibbs didn't take too long with shaving and was soon making his way back to Ducky's living room in search of his clothes.

As he entered the room he was surprised to see McGee waiting for him.

"Boss, we've been trying to ring you"

"As you can see I'm still in one piece" answered Gibbs, "and before you start quoting my own rules at me McGee, I can't exactly take my cell into…" Gibbs stopped in mid-sentence as he noticed the expression on McGee's face.

"What is it McGee?"

"Umm, sorry Boss but its Abby"