Leroy Jethro Gibbs woke just as the December dawn was breaking. It took several attempts before he convinced himself to get up. As he stepped onto the bare floor he instantly knew it was going to be another cold one. He had once again spent too long the night before down in his basement sanding his boat and had forgotten to set the timer for his central heating when he eventually did hit the hay. As a result his bedroom was arctic. He quickly jumped into the shower and stood there allowing the scorching jets of hot water to flow over his head, down his neck and back appreciating the warmth it offered. With reluctance he eventually stepped out of the shower, towelled and dressed as quickly as he could. He jogged down the stairs and peered out his front window. It had snowed pretty heavily during the night so he would have to clear the snow from his car before he started out for the Navy Yard. He hated the snow. It ground the city to a halt and made his job a whole lot harder. He threw on his jacket and went out and started his car to thaw it out.

Eventually he got his daily commute underway. As expected the traffic was a nightmare, even at that early hour. It seemed as though everyone in Washington had left home extra early to get to work and with the roads slushy and freezing once again there were several minor accidents along the route. One traffic jam seemed to merge with another. Gibbs felt his blood pressure rising steadily as he crawled along his usual route to work. After what seemed like an eternity, he drove though the gates of the Navy Yard in a somewhat agitated state. He parked his car and grabbed his overcoat as he stepped into the freezing air. He desperately needed his habitual coffee fix that morning. He turned up the collar of his coat, stuffed his hands deep into his pockets and walked head down towards the coffee shop. As he entered the shop, the assistant greeted him.

"Good morning, Agent Gibbs. The usual?" she asked cheerfully, having gotten to know the NCIS agent's tastes over the years.

"Yea, Jess, thanks," he smiled in reply. She's a nice kid, he thought. If only I was twenty years younger!

"Sure is cold out there," she commented as she made his coffee. "How was the traffic?"

"A pain in the ass," Gibbs replied bluntly.

"I bet," Jess laughed. She handed Gibbs his coffee. "Have a nice day."

Gibbs thanked her again and prepared himself for his short walk though the slush to the NCIS building. He stepped out onto the sidewalk and gingerly tiptoed towards the building trying his best not to slip as he did so. As he walked in the morning gloom he had a strange feeling. His infamous gut was acting up. He felt like he was being watched. He straightened his body and paused and quickly glanced around him. There was nothing out of the ordinary. There were very few people up and about as yet. The parking lot was almost empty. Staff were only starting to arrive. It seemed like any other morning. He looked across the Anacostia River and could only see the headlights of the morning commuter traffic crawling slowly on the other side. He still couldn't shake the feeling of unease. Always one to trust his gut, he hastened his pace and continued on to NCIS headquarters.

He was about to round the corner near the coffee shop and cut across the snow covered lawn of NCIS when he felt it. There was no sound, just an impact. Something slammed violently into his chest and immediately sent him hurtling backwards onto the virgin blanket of snow. It felt like he had been hit with a sledge hammer. He was stunned and in his dwindling moments of consciousness attempted to make sense of what was happening. An inferno of pain radiated throughout his chest making each breath torture. Finally he put the pieces together and he realised had been shot. He stared up towards the sky and silently cursed. As he fought to stay conscious he noticed that it had started to snow again. He watched as the snowflakes fell in apparent slow motion. He felt the chill of the flakes as they landed on his face. Beneath where he laid the moisture of the snow soaked into him. He felt cold, unimaginably cold. Then a face interrupted his wintry vision. He didn't recognise the face but he could see he was talking to him then shouting at someone. Gibbs tried to talk but could only manage a blood spattering cough for his efforts. He was tired and was losing the battle to stay conscious. He closed his eyes and allowed the warm darkness envelop him.

As Jess was serving another customer, a man burst into the coffee house and shouted to her that someone had been shot outside and needed an ambulance. Jess shouted to her co-worker to dial 911 while she grabbed some coats and napkins and ran to offer her assistance. In front of her she could see just one man leaning over the injured man about twenty metres away. He looked awkward and unsure of what to do. As Jess got closer she saw the spilled coffee cup in the snow and realised who was lying there.

"Oh my God!" she exclaimed. "It's Agent Gibbs."

She dropped to her knees in the blood soaked snow beside him and felt for a pulse. It was there, barely.

"Agent Gibbs!" she called, trying to wake him. She ran her eyes down his body trying to see where all the blood was coming from. She moved his heavy overcoat and exposed the bullet hole through his bloodied shirt. She took the napkins and pressed down hard on the wound in an attempt to stem the blood flow. She asked the onlooker to use the coats she had dropped on the ground to put over him. He did as she asked. She looked at Gibbs' blood spattered face and willed him to live.

"Come on Agent Gibbs," she pleaded. "You can't die on me, you're my best customer!" she joked nervously. No one was ever so relieved as when she heard the sound of sirens in the distance. She just hoped that they weren't too late.

"Did you see what happened?" Jess asked the man standing next to her.

"No," he replied. "I was just getting out of my car and I saw him fall. I didn't realise he had been shot," he explained.

Jess looked down the road and could now see the blue flashing lights of the approaching ambulance. She continued to press on his wound. She was freezing kneeling there wearing only her black cotton work shirt and pants. The only part of her that didn't feel cold was her hands which were being warmed by the blood that oozed through her fingers.

By the time the ambulance pulled up a small crowd of onlookers had gathered. A paramedic ran to the wounded agent and began his examination. He enquired about the man's identity and Jess confirmed who he was and explained what had happened to the best of her knowledge. NCIS security staff also arrived on scene as Gibbs was being examined.

A taxi cab pulled up outside the coffee house and out stepped an aptly attired Goth wrapped up in a heavy coat, gloves, scarf and ear muffs. She paid the cabbie and stepped out confidently in her Doc Martin boots. As she emerged the first thing she noticed was the commotion further up the street. She asked Charlie, another coffee shop barista who was watching the goings on, what had happened.

"Abby!" he said, sounding shocked.

"What happened, Charlie? Did someone fall on the ice?" she enquired gleefully. She loved the snow. It made people do silly things.

"Eh, no," he stammered.

"Well what?" Abby asked puzzled by his apparent evasiveness.

"As far as I know, he was shot," Charlie told her.

"Oh my God! Who Charlie?" Abby asked feeling an instant chill down her spine.

"You know him, I think. Agent Gibbs?" he said with dread.

"Gibbs? Did you say, Gibbs?" Abby asked in disbelief. Charlie nodded.

Abby said nothing. Her eyes fixed on the daunting scene in front of her. Her feet were rooted to the spot in shock. She felt like she couldn't breathe. It couldn't be Gibbs. But Charlie said it was. That meant Gibbs needed her. Somehow she summoned the strength to battle through her paralysing fear and started to jog towards the group of people. She pushed past the few people who had gathered and she was just in time to see the paramedic slam the doors of the ambulance. He quickly jumped in and they drove away as fast as they could risk in the conditions. She stood aghast unable to believe she had missed him. She watched appalled as the ambulance disappeared out of sight. Then she turned forlornly and noticed Jess picking up blood soaked coats from the snow. From the blood stains on her hands, Abby deduced that she had been trying to help Gibbs as he lay wounded.

"Jess?" Abby sobbed and walked slowly towards her.

"Abby!" Jess replied looking with pity at the usually chipper Goth. Abby's tear filled eyes pleaded with her to tell her it was going to be okay. She didn't know what to say. Abby turned and stared at the blood stained patch of melting snow. It was horrifying, leading her to assume the worst. Her assumptions weren't far from the truth.

"Tell me he's alive, Jess," she implored.

"He is, Abby," Jess told her solemnly. "The paramedics said they had to get him to the E.R. straight away. They didn't want to waste any time," she explained to the obviously shocked young woman. Abby held her hand over her mouth. She allowed the welling tears to finally overflow.

"Which hospital?" Abby managed to ask through the tears.

"Mercy, they said. Is there someone I can call for you?" Jess asked.

"What?" Abby asked her attention miles away. "Oh, no, that's okay. I have to let the other's know," she replied, fiddling in her handbag to try and find her cell phone. Then she grasped Jess by the forearm and intensely looked her in the eye.

"Thank you," she said gratefully. "Thank you for helping him."

"Of course," Jess replied. "Let me know how he's doing."

Abby nodded and then turned her attention to her cell phone. The first person she called was Tony.

"Yeah, what time is it? Am I late?" Tony said groggily, obviously only having woken.

"Get up, Tony! Something terrible has happened," Abby shouted down the phone, frustrated that he could be sleeping while Gibbs was fighting for his life.

"Abs? What's going on?" Tony asked confused.

"Someone shot Gibbs," Abby told him bluntly.

"What?! Is he alright?" Tony asked sitting up straight away.

"I don't know. He's just been taken by ambulance to Mercy hospital. I'm on my way there now," she told him as she rushed to the main road and tried to hail a cab.

"Okay. I'll meet you there," Tony said before hanging up. He jumped out of bed and grabbed his clothes. A shower could wait. He had to get to the hospital.

A/N - any comments yet? As usual, reviews are always appreciated.