Leroy Jethro Gibbs woke with a start, marine senses on high alert. He glanced at the clock on the bedside table; the bright numbers illuminating the clock face 3am.
BANG, BANG, BANG - he definitely heard that, someone was thumping on his front door.
Gibbs jumped out of bed, grabbed his sig and headed towards the door; pausing briefly as the wails of a small child could be heard coming from the front of his house.
Approaching the door slowly he opened it (Clearing the porch area as he did so), before looking down.
"What the hell…"
Sitting at his feet was a baby seat, which currently held a screaming child, which couldn't be more than a year old; tears streaming down its face.
Gibbs cautiously checked the street; whoever had left the child had taken off - and quickly. Bending down, Gibbs scooped up the child seat complete with crying baby and went back into the house, placing the seat and child on the kitchen table. Once the lights had been turned on Gibbs quickly took in the child's condition. The little boy, Gibbs deducted by the blue sleeping suit, was filthy - covered in dirt and what looked like streaks of blood.
"Hey buddy," Gibbs softened his voice so as to try calming the child who was still sobbing. He quickly undid the straps, holding the child and lifted him gently into his arms murmuring soft comfort, "Shhh… It's okay now… Shhh. Everything will be alright now…" Gibbs continued talking and rocking the child in his arms as he found his house phone. It was early, but he knew he needed to call Ducky to come and take a look at the child.
After about the fifth ring Dr Donald Mallard answered his phone,
"Hello." A tired voice came from the other end.
"Duck, its Gibbs."
"My, My Jethro do you know what time it is?"
Gibbs quickly cut him off, "Listen Duck, sorry, but I need you to come over and bring your medical bag. Someone has left a baby on my doorstep, and by the looks of things, he's a little banged up."
"Heavens! Of course Jethro - I'll be there straight away." And with that Gibbs snapped his phone shut.
Gibbs looked down at the child in his arms; the little boy still had silent tears falling down his cheeks,
"Ah buddy" Gibbs sighed, "What is going on with you, huh?" Gibbs walked back into the kitchen area and looked towards the baby seat. There was a bag attached to the back of it and it looked like some kind of baby bag.
I guess someone planned this late night drop off, Gibbs thought to himself, but before he could open the bag he heard his front door open and the familiar Scottish brogue of Dr (Ducky) Mallard calling out
"In here Duck." Gibbs replied turning around to face the good Dr.
"Oh my goodness Jethro, what do we have here?" Ducky crossed the floor and collected the baby from Gibbs' arms,
"Let me take a look at you my boy," Ducky crooned, "Jethro if you could be so kind as to get a blanket, a towel, washcloth and some warm water. Let's get this little fellow cleaned up, shall we?"
Gibbs grabbed the items Ducky requested and brought them out to the older gentleman, who was rocking the baby in his arms. The baby had again started to sniffle and sob.
"If you could be so kind Jethro, as to place the blanket down on the table, we will have a look at this poor boy."
Gibbs did as directed and placed the blanket on the table folding it a couple of times so as to give the boy a little padding from the hard table. Ducky then lay the baby down and with quick gentle hands removed the baby's filthy sleep suit and started to wipe down the little body with the warm water. "Geez Duck!" Jethro exclaimed his voice getting louder and angrier by the second, "Look at the bruises and cuts, looks like someone beat the poor kid!" His voice was now booming
"Jethro please calm down - you're frightening the poor boy." The child was whimpering softly,
"Calm down, calm down…" Gibbs whispered, before saying, "Look at him Duck."
"Yes Jethro I can see, but you are upsetting him and from the looks of what he has been through, that is the last thing the poor boy needs. Now, I don't suppose whoever left him here left any clothes or anything with him did they?"
Gibbs just grunted and moved around the table to grab the baby bag, which was still attached to the baby seat, before moving back to Ducky's side.
Opening the bag he quietly asked, "What have we got Duck?"
"Well Jethro," Ducky said, his eyes darkening, "It looks like your initial assessment of the child was correct. It looks as though someone did beat him, and I would hazard a guess that it has been going on for a while."
"Anything broken, Duck?" Gibbs asked
"Fortunately for the lad no, just the cuts and bruises. The best thing now is to get him fed and try putting him to sleep. Do you have any idea why someone would drop a baby at your door in the middle of the night, especially one so young?"
"None at all duck, but I intend to find out."
Gibbs rummaged around in the baby's bag and pulled out a bottle, diaper, and another sleep suit. As he did so a white envelope fell out on to the table. Gibbs picked up the envelope and turned it over; eyes wide at the name printed on the front - 'Leroy Jethro Gibbs'. He opened the letter, whilst Ducky changed the baby and got a bottle ready.
My Dearest L.J,
I am so sorry to have to do this, especially after these years of no contact, but I have no other choice as we are in grave danger if we stay. Please take care of my precious little Anthony. You are his only hope of life and love, and the only person I can trust. Taped to the bottom of the baby seat is a DVD and a USB drive. These should provide you with all the information you need to take down my husband and explain what is going on. I am not proud of the part I have played in this, but I need to make it right.
Please take care of my son, I know after watching you with Kelly for all those years that you will give him the love and protection he needs.
Isabella DiNozzo (Paddington)
Gibbs was lost in his thoughts of the past when Ducky brought him back to the present,
"Jethro are you alright?" He asked, walking over to where Gibbs stood. Ducky was gently holding young Anthony; the boy almost asleep. Gibbs gently took the baby from his arms, cuddling him softly, being mindful of the bruises, and handed the letter to Ducky. After a few moments Ducky spoke,
"So I take it you know who Isabella Dinozzo is - and that little Anthony is not here by accident…" Gibbs took a deep breath, sighed, and proceeded to tell Ducky all about Isabella, the lovely woman his wife Shannon and he met all those years ago.
"Mr. & Mrs. Gibbs, welcome to the Georgetown University Hospital maternity wing, I'm Isabella," A young woman with blonde hair, sparkling eyes and a friendly manner greeted them, "Let's get you settled in, if you would care to follow me."
Jethro pushed the wheelchair, which held his heavily pregnant wife, down the corridor of the hospital following the young Isabella, into a comfortable looking room,
"So tomorrow is the big day when you will finally get to meet your little one! Do you know if it's a boy or a girl?" Isabella asked.
"We are having a girl, my latest ultrasound showed clearly. At least I hope it was clear, because we went a little overboard with the pink in the nursery," Shannon and Jethro chuckled remembering the nursery back home, "I'm so excited, but I can't help but be nervous at the same time."
"Don't worry Mrs. Gibbs, I'm sure your husband will be with you every step of the way and I'll be here to answer any questions you have and look after you. You just settle in get comfortable, rest up and look forward to meeting your daughter tomorrow morning. I'll be back to check on you later on." "Thank you," Shannon spoke, "And please call me Shannon."
With that Isabella walked out of the room giving them both a bright smile.
"So," Ducky interrupted, "You met Isabella back when Kelly was born?" Gibbs nodded slowly and glanced at the bundle in his arms - tears shining in his eyes. Kelly and Shannon were a sensitive subject with the ex-marine.
"Kelly was born the next day, 3 days later we took her home. Isabella and Shannon really hit it off in those first few days at the hospital, Isabella was such a great help to us with all the new parent stuff. When we were home she used to come over a few times a week, or whenever Shannon called her just to help us out. We all became great friends, so much so that we named Isabella Kelly's Godmother," Gibbs stopped and took a shaky breath and started speaking again; emotion thick in his voice, "When Shannon and Kelly died, Isabella would come over and bring me food, she would sit with me, and talk to me. We remained good friends and she helped me through my grief." A tear slid down Gibbs' cheek as he remembered his beautiful wife and his vibrant little girl who had left him 9 years ago,
"I owe Isabella a lot. She was the one who stopped me sliding permanently into the big black hole I was in. We kept in touch catching up for dinner, until about 5 years ago. Isabella met a man in Long Island moved over there and they got married. I would get letters occasionally - maybe three or so a year, then about 2 years ago the letters stopped/ I haven't heard from her at all…'till now." Gibbs struggled to get his emotions in control; he wasn't used to showing his feelings so openly, even to Ducky, who was still the only member of his team who knew about Shannon and Kelly. That was about to change, Gibbs thought with a heavy heart, this was going to bring up a lot of memories and he wasn't sure he wanted to, or was ready to share with anyone except Ducky.
"This is Isabella's boy Duck, I owe it to her to look after him till we can find her and figure this thing out." Ducky looked over to Gibbs with concern etched across his features,
"Certainly Jethro, but she may be in a world of trouble. What did she mean by bringing down her husband?"
"I haven't got a clue Duck, all I know is she married Anthony Dinozzo Senior around 5 years ago. Whatever is on this DVD and memory stick will hopefully shed some light on the situation, what she has gotten into, and what happened to her little guy here," Gibbs looked down fondly at the sleeping bundle in his arms, "We should get started straight away!"
Sighing Ducky spoke, "I understand your urgency Jethro, I do. But it's 4.30 in the morning and little Anthony has been through a lot. Let's let him sleep for an hour or so - you freshen up and get ready. We can call the team on the way back to the office."
"Alright Duck." Gibbs replied; slowly walking over to the couch in the lounge room. He placed the little bundle down and gently wrapped a blanket around him.
"Can you watch him a minute while I get ready?" He asked,
"Of course, my boy." Ducky said, crossing the room to take a seat next to little Anthony on the couch, and watched him sleep as Gibbs made his way upstairs.
After about 30 minutes Gibbs appeared back down stairs after having showered and changed, and took in the sight before him. Ducky had fallen asleep on the couch next to the little boy and was snoring softly. Gibbs sighed to himself,
"I guess I'll let them sleep for a little longer before we go." He then went back over to the table and picked up the baby bag. Looking inside, he started to pull things out. There were a few spare diapers, a blue pacifier, and a couple of bottles. There was also a cute blue and aqua stuffed animal, which looked like a dragon with big eyes and silver wings. There were two more sleeping suits, a tiny pair of jeans, a tiny blue hooded zip up jumper and two tiny long sleeved tops, one with the words, 'Lock up your daughters' written on it, and the other read, 'Too Cute'. Gibbs smiled softly, his eyes shining with unshed tears - this was typical Isabella.
It was a wonderful time for a BBQ, the day was warm and the sun was shining. Kelly, who was now close to a year old, was lying out in the sun on a blanket - kicking her little legs about enjoying the warmth, whilst Jethro and Shannon were watching fondly. Jethro was preparing the BBQ watching proudly over his beautiful wife and daughter, and Shannon was sitting on the ground in reach of Kelly smiling softly.
"Hello. Shan, L.J I have arrived!" Isabella called out, her bubbly voice echoing from inside,
"Out here Bella" Shannon called to the young woman who had become her best friend and closest confidant, even with the 7year age gap between the two. Isabella walked out into the sunshine; her blonde hair glistening in the sunlight, a bright grin on her face,
"Hello L.J," She said, giving him a kiss on the cheek, "I hope you haven't burnt our lunch," She teased cheekily, before; "Shan, my dearest!" She exclaimed, giving Shannon a kiss and a big hug, "Do I have gossip for you!"
Both women laughed at the greeting.
"And look who it is, my beautiful niece! You look more and more gorgeous like your mum every day," Isabella crooned, "I have a present for you."
Shannon laughed, "It's your birthday Bella, yet Kells gets a present!"
"Hey I'm 22, I'll have plenty of time for presents!" Isabella laughed, "Besides, it is my duty to spoil my favorite little girl!" And with that Isabella brought out a large pink box covered with ribbon.
"Shan, you may need to help our Kells out, the box is pretty big. I got a little carried away…"
"I can see that Bella." Gibbs chuckled from where he was cooking,
"Don't worry L.J, I have something in there you will appreciate!" Isabella smiled, her green eyes sparkling brightly. With that Shannon took the box and begun to open it. Inside was a cute little pink and purple stuffed dragon, with big eyes and shiny silver wings, and two little pink t-shirts with 'My Mummy's a fox' and 'Daddy's girl' written on them respectively.
"Oh Bella, they are so cute, thank you!" Shannon cried her smile wide as she picked Kelly up to sit on her lap.
" See L.J - 'Daddy's girl'! Told you there was something you would approve of. I love those little slogan shirts, they're so cute! I'm going to make my kids wear them all the time!" Bella and Shannon both laughed, their conversation soon turning into their usual girlie talk, as Jethro smiled looking over at his family, and their extended member, Isabella.
Small whimpering interrupted his thoughts, so he crossed the room and picked the baby up, slowly rocking him in his arms and running his hand through the soft hair,
"Shhh, buddy, its okay. Go back to sleep - Shhh…" The baby stopped his fussing and looked up to Gibbs, tears stuck to his little eyelashes.
"Oh dear, Jethro," Ducky muttered, awaking from his slumber, "I am sorry; I must have drifted off to sleep."
"It's fine Duck. Besides little Tony here just woke up. Didn't you buddy?" "Tony…?" Ducky enquired a look of amusement on his face.
"Yeah well… Anthony is too big of a name for a baby," Gibbs replied shrugging his shoulders, "Anyway; do you need anything before we head to the office?" Gibbs asked, handing Tony over to Ducky and stuffing the baby's things back into the bag - with the exception of the pacifier and the toy dragon, which, Gibbs decided, might come in handy with the trip to the office.
"No, No Jethro, I packed a bag when I got your phone call; I figured I might need it. It was just luck my mother is away with her seniors group for the week… In fact this whole situation reminds me of a story; it was in '67…or perhaps '65. No, no it was '67…"
"Duck come on - let's go." Gibbs instructed, before Ducky could get too involved in one of his long winded stories. As much as Gibbs loved the elderly M.E and respected him, sometimes his stories could… well, come at an inconvenient time.
"I'll grab his baby seat and things, Duck, if you can carry Tony out to my car. You might as well leave yours here," The men walked out to the car, Gibbs unlocking the door as best he could with one hand, "I don't have one of those connections to bolt in his baby seat, so you may have to hold him till we can get one put in."
With that Gibbs jumped into the car and started it, calling his team and informing them they had a case and to meet at the Navy yard ASAP. Ducky slid into the passenger side, clutching young Tony who was, again, asleep.