Something Fishy

by channelD

written : as an NFA Haiti Relief auction ficlet than ran over ficlet size by a bit.

rating: K plus

characters: Gibbs, Shannon and Kelly

genre: family/drama/humor/pre-NCIS

prompt and spoiler warning: no prompt given, so I borrowed an idea from 7.15, Jack Knife. Minor spoilers, more like references from that episode, about something in Gibbs' life currently.

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disclaimer: I still own nothing of NCIS.

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Leroy Jethro Gibbs, happily married man and father to the cutest child on the planet, was satisfied. He'd just finished several weekends of work on the old Rococo side table: mending a broken leg, refinishing the table, replacing the glass top. It looked beautiful, and now was in place in the living room. He already had plans for what would go on it: an ornate circular curio case of similar style that he had designed himself and had been making for Shannon, in secret. He would have it finished for her within two weeks, by the time of her birthday. In his mind, he could see her delight as she saw it…and agreed with him that the table was the perfect place for it.

A fresh cup of celebratory coffee in hand, he gazed at the charming little table, still smiling, when his wife and five-year-old daughter came home.

"Daddy! Daddy!" His auburn-haired daughter launched herself at him with the speed of a torpedo. "I gots a fishy! Look! Look, daddy!" In her fist in a small plastic container filled with water, a little orange creature swam laps.

"She won it in the school fair," Shannon smiled.

Gibbs had never had a pet fish, but he knew a dad's responsibilities. "That's great, honey. What's his name?"

"It's a girl fishy, I've decided," Kelly said stoutly. "And her name is 'Something'."

"Something? What?"

"Something Fishy!" Kelly said in a silly daddy tone. "I've heard you and mommy say that before, and it's a nice name for a fishy." With a flourish, she deposited the container on the Rococo table and ran out of the room.

"Your timing's good with the table, Marine," Shannon said, silkily, her hands upon his chest. "I've got to go out and buy an aquarium, but, yes; that's a good spot for the goldfish."

"Aw, now, Red; maybe it could go over by the window instead…"

"I like it here. It won't get hurt by the sunlight. And that's the spot Kelly chose." She kissed him. "Be back soon. Start thinking about what you'd like for dinner."

"Fish," he muttered as she went out.

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Shannon wound up managing the fish care, although Kelly was allowed to help with the feeding (with supervision. Given her way, Kelly would have fed her new best friend hamburgers and jelly beans.). Shannon changed the water, monitored the ammonia and nitrate levels, and chose the gravel and decorations for the aquarium. When Gibbs finished the curio cabinet a week later, Shannon gushed over it but relegated it to a corner of their bedroom with rather poor lighting. It stood there, on a dresser with other things, unfilled for a long time.

Gibbs found himself jealous of a stupid goldfish.

How long can it live, anyway? He told himself. It'll probably die within six months. Kelly will cry, but then she'll forget about it.

Little did he know, then, that goldfish live for years.

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Something the goldfish thrived in the aquarium, and grew. There was room in the tank for one more goldfish, and so on her birthday, Kelly was rewarded with a companion for Something, a black and white panda moor goldfish. "Do you have a name picked out for her, Kelly?" Gibbs asked, hoping fervently that if Something was a girl, so was this fish.

"I'm gonna call him…Tevye."

"She's been listening to my Fiddler on the Roof album," Shannon shrugged.

Tevye and his wife, Golde, It did make sense.

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Tevye and Something failed to produce any offspring, for which Gibbs was glad. They also seemed to be in excellent health, with no signs of being willing to shuffle off this mortal coil any time soon.

"How long do those things live?" he asked Shannon one night as they were getting ready for bed.

"Five to ten years, usually, according to the pet shop. Maybe as long as 25 years. Why, Marine?"

"That does it. When Kelly goes off to college; they're going with her."

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Secretly, though, the two fish started to grow on Gibbs. He joined in on their care and feeding. When the Gibbs family was away, Mrs. Blocker from next door (busy mother of six, including three teens, but if you want something done, ask a busy person) came in and tended to the fish.

When Gibbs went away to Desert Storm, the wallet photos that went with him included one of Kelly and the fish. Letters from Shannon and Kelly often mentioned the fish. The fish even sometimes wrote to Gibbs (in handwriting a lot like Kelly's). The Gibbses had become a family of five.

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Many events happened to Gibbs after that, as you already know. With Shannon and Kelly gone, another man might have rid himself of the pets that he hadn't wanted. Not Gibbs.

In 2005, Tevye died. It happened on an unremarkable day. Gibbs came home and found him floating, belly up. He didn't try to fight the tears as he scooped the small fish out. It was one less tie that he had now to the two people who'd meant the most to him.

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Now, here in 2010, Something Fishy was over 20 years old, and her scales didn't have the luster they'd had in her youth. Mrs. Blocker still lived next door. Although she was gray and arthritic now, and a widow, with her kids grown and living out-of-state, she still was a fish caregiver when Gibbs was away.

Gibbs shrugged off commenting on the fish with his team. They didn't know the history, and he didn't feel like bringing it up. Sometimes he thought about getting a new fish friend for Something, but it didn't seem like the best idea.

You and I are old, girl. We have our memories to sustain us.

The age of the goldfish bothered him. She wouldn't last forever, he knew. Despite all the care he gave her, one day she would wear out, and … go. He thought he remembered (though he wasn't sure) Kelly and her best friend, Maddie, once asking if pets went to heaven, too, when they died.

I sure hope so, Kelly.

It was a sobering thought, losing the goldfish. But every night that he came home and found Something placidly swimming in her tank, he smiled.