A/N: Holy cow I finally finished a multi-chapter story! I am sorry this is so ridiculously long. Believe it or not, I actually edited out almost 1,000 words when I finished it. I didn't mean to leave out Shannon quite as much, but I got carried away with Kelly and Gibbs. Like Ziva's chapter, this varies from cannon considerably, and Gibbs character, while still Gibbs, is much softer in his scenes with Kelly. Anyway, I won't drag this out since the chapter is already so long, so without further ado, the final chapter of this story.
Father and Grandfather
Gibbs stared at the photo in his hands, tears forming in his eyes. She was so beautiful and perfect and so tiny. His baby girl Kelly had been born 2 weeks ago and he hadn't been there. Jethro Gibbs was a full red-blooded American who loved his country and was proud to serve, but for the first time ever, he wondered if he could keep giving what was being asked. He was a United States Marine through and through, and yet suddenly, that wasn't his entire life anymore. He continued to stare longingly at the picture in his hands. His precious little girl was only two weeks old today, and it would be another six months before he would get to meet her, hold her, and kiss her.
NCIS * NCIS * NCIS
His heart constricted in fear as he read his wife's letter. Two whole minutes; that was how long it took for the lifeguards to get his baby breathing on her own again. Gibbs scrubbed his hand over his face wiping away the tears he hadn't even realized had formed. He wasn't any stranger to sacrifice; he understood it and he embraced it. He lived this life so other fathers wouldn't have to. He missed ballet recitals, bedtime stories, Christmas mornings, and birthdays so that other fathers could be home for their children. It was a sacrifice he had made as a father for nearly five years, and a sacrifice he had made as a husband and a man for years before that but it was a sacrifice that he couldn't make anymore. Over the last year he had been toying with the idea of getting out when his contract was up at the end of this year, but this last letter had solidified that decision.
Shannon had taken four year old Kelly to the beach just outside of Pendleton for the day and had been playing in the water with her when a strong wave caught them off guard knocking them down and separating them. By the time Shannon had stood back up the water had pulled an unconscious Kelly back into the ocean with it, her floaters doing little more than keeping her from staying under the water. Shannon's frantic cries had drawn the attention of lifeguards who had jumped into action. The lifeguards had brought her back to shore and it took two minutes of CPR to get her breathing again. Kelly had spent the night at the base hospital to make sure she was really all right, and was now home again just as bubbly and free-spirited as if it had never happened. Gibbs didn't even try to stop the tears that were now rolling down his face. It had taken this letter 3 weeks to reach him. His whole world had nearly died 3 weeks ago while he'd been playing football in the basecamp with the boys, and he hadn't even known. He couldn't even imagine the terror his wife must have gone through, and she'd had to go through it alone. His gentle, beautiful wife had to be strong all by herself because he hadn't been there to be strong for her. He hadn't been there for her to cling to while they'd worked to resuscitate Kelly, and he hadn't been there that night for her to lean against while she'd sat next to Kelly's bedside. He still wasn't there now, to soothe the nightmares he was sure she was still having when she closed her eyes at night.
He couldn't do this any longer. As a Marine it was his duty to protect his country and protect the men and women he served with. That was a duty he had been fulfilling faithfully for the last twelve years. As a husband and father he had a duty to protect his girls and he had almost failed them without even knowing it. For twelve years he had focused his protection duties on his country, now it was time focus on his girls.
NCIS * NCIS * NCIS
Gibbs swore. One month until he would be joining his girls back home in Virginia. He should have known something like this would happen, and should have known it would have to do with Watson. The kid was a loose cannon. He would make an excellent Marine and deadly sniper one day, but the kid still needed a couple years to grow up. In a moment of uncharacteristic frustration, Gibbs leaned forward and banged his head on his desk a couple of times. Had any of his trainees walked in and seen him at that moment, they wouldn't have believed it was him, but Gibbs was tired, frustrated, and hadn't seen his girls in two weeks. Watson had been U.A. for the second day in a row now and he'd just gotten off the phone with his CO informing him that some yahoo named Franks from NIS wanted to talk to him. He was hoping the two things were unrelated, but he didn't believe in coincidences. If he was completely honest, he was a little worried. He'd never admit it to anyone, but Watson reminded him a bit of himself twelve years ago. The kid had a desire to prove himself that would either make or break his career. He was loyal to fault and lived to be a Marine and the truth is, Watson would not go U.A. without a good reason. He still had his head down on his desk when an amused voice interrupted his thoughts.
"Am I interrupting gunny? Or are you gunna bang your head a couple more times for good measure?" Slightly embarrassed at being caught in his private moment of frustration Gibbs shot out of his seat and tried not to glare at the man in his doorway.
"Special Agent Franks, I presume," Gibbs responded shortly. "How can I help you?"
"Well, you've got a missing Marine. Seems to me I'm the one that's helpin' you." Franks responded in that same half amused, half bored tone.
"Watson's been UA two days. He could just be nursing a bad hangover," Gibbs challenged.
"Except in your gut you know that ain't true." Franks fired back. "He's hot headed which some perceive as challenging authority except you know better. He likes to show off an' that gets him in trouble more often then not. He's quick to help his fellow Marines. He's loyal, dedicated, and hard working. Give him a few more years to mature and he's got all the earmarks of a great Marine and a strong leader. He ain't the type to throw his entire career away on a bender."
"You didn't get all that from a file." Gibbs stated, not quite ready to give in.
"Some of it yes, but no, not all of it." Franks stepped forward and removed his baseball cap, and for the first time in the conversation, allowed a little emotion to show on his face. "I know those things because that is the same exact profile of the last four Marines to go missing this last year from different bases throughout the States. I'm tired of telling folks their child, or their husband ain't comin' home 'cause I couldn't find him in time." The two men stared at each other for several seconds.
"Watson is my man. I'm responsible for him so you tell me everything I need to know and I'll follow your lead, but I'm with you every step of the way. We're bringing him home Franks." The next three days saw both eating lots of take out and sleeping fairly little. Franks normal teammate, as well as the TAD that had been assigned specifically these cases were astonished to see their boss work so cohesively with Gibbs. The end of the three days, however, saw the serial killer staring down the guns of two angry Marines who were itching to pull their triggers and a third Marine, who was exhausted and a little beat up, returned to his little sister who couldn't run into his embrace fast enough.
"So I hear you're quittin' at the end of the month, Franks said as they sat at a bar together after wrapping up the case.
"Not quitting," Gibbs responded. "Just prioritizing." Franks raised an eyebrow and grunted, but didn't respond. "I've got a wife and daughter. Six months ago I was overseas and my daughter almost drowned. It took them two minutes to get her breathing again and I didn't find out until three weeks later when my wife's letter arrived. My wife still wakes up from nightmares about that day crying." Gibbs took a breath pushing back the emotions that talking about that day brought forward. "I've already missed so much of my daughter's life, I don't want to miss anymore." The two men sat in companionable silence for the next several minutes.
"So where are you going from here?" Mike finally asked.
"Well, I've got two more weeks, then I'm headed home to Virginia to focus on just being a dad and husband for a little while. We've got savings built up and Shannon's starting a tposition at a preschool next month. I've got time to work things out."
Franks nodded before finishing off his drink. "Well, I've got an early morning flight back to D.C., but once you're ready, look me up. NIS is desperate, they just might take you."
NCIS * NCIS * NCIS
"Are you excited sweetheart?" Jethro asked his little girl, watching her sit at the table in her pajamas. Today was her fifth birthday and they were starting the day by enjoying what had quickly become a typical morning for them in the two months since Jethro had left the Corp. Next month Gibbs would go to FLETC and then his new career at NCIS would begin, but for now he enjoyed being able to focus on his girls.
"Yes!" she replied enthusiastically, her brownish blonde curls bouncing as she shook her head.
"What present are you hoping for the most?" Jethro asked.
"I already got that." Kelly responded smiling at her dad.
"Oh yeah?" He asked her as knelt down next to her. "And what would that be?" he asked tugging at one of her curls.
"You daddy!" she responded as if it were the most obvious thing in the world. "I just wanted you home for my birthday." She elaborated looking directly into her father's eyes with a big smile. Jethro just stared at his baby, not able to find his voice or any words to respond. He glanced at Shannon who now stood watching them, with tears in her eyes. Still not able to find his voice, he just wrapped Kelly in his arms, and stood up, holding her as close to him as he could. Kelly, happy to be in her daddy's arms, just snuggled in and kissed him on the cheek before whispering, "I love you daddy."
NCIS * NCIS * NCIS
"I can't believe you're really leaving Boss." Gibbs said with a frown on his face.
"I ain't your boss anymore Probie." Franks grunted.
"You're quitting." Gibbs responded, completely disregarding Mike's comment. Mike fixed Gibbs with a glare, not happy with his protégé's comment.
"Teams yours now Probie." Mike said while Gibbs responded with a glare of his own.
"What about the Kelly? Her birthday is in 3 months." Gibbs challenged his boss. "Whether you like to admit it or not, you have a family here now. You've been 'Uncle Mike' to Kelly since she was five. You know she's going to be heartbroken when I tell her." Gibbs said, still glaring at his mentor. "And what's worse is you're making me the bad guy because you're too much of a coward to tell her yourself," Gibbs said, not holding back his anger.
"Watch it Probie," Mike said with a warning growl.
"Tell me it's not true," Gibbs challenged once more. "Look me in the eyes and tell me that her reaction has nothing to do with why you are leaving work and going straight to the airport," Gibbs added.
Mike took a deep breath, knowing Gibbs was right. "I just need a little time," Mike said, looking Gibbs in the eye for the first time since their conversation started. "I warned them Jethro, and nobody did anything. Nineteen airmen lost their lives needlessly. Hundreds more were injured. I just need time to get my head together. Just give me a couple months to get my head back on straight and I'll come back to DC. I promise I'll be home before Kelly turns twelve." Mike paused before smiling wryly. "Besides, once I get back I'll be a retired old man so I can spend more time with her."
"You take care of yourself," Gibbs said finally accepting that his boss wouldn't change his mind. "You know Shannon will kick you ten ways to Sunday if you come back in worse shape than you left. And you better not go drown your sorrows in alcohol and cigarettes," Gibbs threatened. "If you come back smoking like a chimney you wont be going anywhere near Kelly until you quit," Gibbs warned knowing that threatening to keep his little girl from his boss was the only threat that would make sure Mike took halfway decent care of himself.
NCIS * NCIS * NCIS
Gibbs heard sniffling coming from the top of the stairs and paused in his sanding to look up. Sitting at the top of the stairs looking like she was desperately trying to hold back tears was his little girl. "Kelly?" He asked walking around his current project to stand at the bottom of the stairs and look up at her. "Baby what's wrong? I thought you and Maddie were going to the movies and then out for a little while"
Kelly glanced down at him with watery blue eyes. "We were." Kelly said sniffling again. "Maddie and I walked into the theater and John was there," Kelly paused as a couple of tears finally escaped. Gibbs squeezed the handle of the tool he was holding very tightly, but otherwise showed no outward signs of the anger flowing through his veins. He had a feeling he knew where this was going. "He and Lydia were in the back of the theater making out." Kelly finished, still desperately trying to keep the tears at bay.
Gibbs sighed internally wishing Shannon were home. She had gone to help her parents move into a smaller house and wouldn't be back for two more days. Gibbs was on call this weekend, and Kelly had soccer practice, so they had stayed home. Gibbs wasn't quite sure what to do. This was Kelly's first broken heart and he had no idea what to say. He might have been promising all kinds of threats in his head (did the kid have a death wish?), but one look at Kelly and he knew that wasn't what she wanted. Not sure what else to do, he opened his arms wide and before he could even blink he had his arms full with a sobbing 15 year old. He maneuvered both of them around so he was sitting on the bottom step holding her in his lap, just like when she was four years old with a skinned knee. It was several minutes before her tears began to slow. Pressing a kiss into her forehead with his arms still wrapped tightly around her, he quietly asked, "What can I do?" He felt her shake her head against his chest before she responded.
"Just keep holding me Daddy." She responded.
"That's something I'll always be here to do," Gibbs responded stroking her hair and pressing another kiss into the top of her head.
NCIS * NCIS * NCIS
"I don't know Mike, the kid is good, he's one of the best I've ever worked with, but he's going to put me in my grave." Gibbs complained to his mentor, the two of them enjoying a quiet Saturday afternoon in Gibbs basement. Shannon was upstairs cooking while Kelly was out with Maddie.
Franks snorted. "I recall saying the same thing about you years ago," he said taking a sip of bourbon. Gibbs simply glared at him. "Look, he's like all newbies; anxious, eager to prove himself. You wouldn't have recommended him if you didn't see something in him, and you wouldn't have kept him around this long if you didn't still see it in him, and you certainly wouldn't be this easily riled up by him if you didn't care about him," Franks knew he hit a nerve with the last part when Gibbs paused in his sanding.
"He's unique," Gibbs said quietly. "He's been on the job for over six years and still believes he can save everyone. He found out his partner was dirty and still believes in the system. Most cops and law enforcement either loose that outlook or just become complacent after the first couple years. Its only the really good ones that still give it their all." Gibbs paused for a moment, like he was trying to find the right words. "But he's reckless. He takes risks, risks that are going to get him killed."
Franks studied Gibbs for a moment, before taking another sip. "You know, I knew this agent once. He was good, impressed the hell out of me, and you know that's not easy. He was a lot like your DiNozzo, took risks that I told him were going to get him killed. Didn't faze him though. If he thought he could take down the dirt bag or save an innocent, he'd do whatever it took. Then one day he got himself shot, ended up in the hospital and it scared the hell out of me."
"Look Probie, that day you got shot, the first thought that ran through my mind wasn't that an agent went down, it was that my friend went down. Its clear as day you like this kid; he's gotten under your skin and you don't have to admit it to me, or anyone else, but you do have to admit it to yourself. Take it from experience, the sooner you admit it and accept it, the easier it will be for you. There ain't nothin' wrong with caring for your agents, it makes you work better and harder for each other, makes you a better leader."
Gibbs sighed, knowing his former boss was right, but not wanting to admit it out loud. They sat in peace for a little while longer before Shannon called down that dinner was ready. Gibbs bounded up the steps only to stop short as he entered the kitchen. Standing there looking out of place and more than a little uncomfortable holding a large casserole dish while Shannon added something to it was Gibbs newest agent.
"Umm, hi boss?" he offered with a huge smile.
"Jethro!" Shannon scolded turning to her husband, "you should have told me Tony was coming over! Fortunately I prepared enough for everyone and Tony was kind enough to offer his help. He wanted to leave but I wouldn't hear of it." Gibbs looked from his wife to DiNozzo trying to look properly chastised while trying not to laugh at the shades of red Tony was quickly turning.
"Sorry to intrude," Tony mumbled. "I just wanted to drop off the Carlton files…"
"You're not intruding, Tony!" Shannon said. "Tony here is extremely handy in the kitchen. He chopped the onions for me so my eyes wouldn't burn, and he helped me get the jars open that I couldn't open," she added turning to her husband.
"Just how long have you been here?" Gibbs asked, clearly enjoying his agent's discomfort.
"Umm…" Tony began, looking at his watch and gaping at the time. He was spared from answering as the front door flew open.
"I got in!" Kelly shrieked as she burst into the house interrupting the conversation and startling everyone. They turned to face Kelly who was standing in the doorway with a letter in one hand and a shredded envelope in the other. "Cornell accepted me. I got in!" She squealed breathlessly, her auburn hair wildly framing her face.
"Congratulations honey, that's fantastic!" Shannon said, moving to embrace her daughter with a huge smile on her face.
"Well done, Bitsy!" Mike said, as he too moved in to give Kelly a hug.
"Daddy?" Kelly questioned after some of the excitement had died down and Gibbs still hadn't said anything.
"Cornell… That's, that's in New York, isn't it?" Gibbs asked gruffly. Kelly nodded hesitantly. Another moment passed before Gibbs opened his arms and smiled. As Kelly rushed to them he kissed her hair whispering how proud he was.
Meanwhile, Tony discreetly set the casserole down and began to leave, not wanting to intrude on the family moment. "Where you going DiNozzo?" Gibbs called out. "We've got to celebrate!"
Kelly turned around, but remained in her father's arms. "DiNozzo?" She asked looking to her father. "As in Tony DiNozzo?" When she received confirmation, her grin got even bigger. "I'm so glad I finally get to meet you," she said warmly, extending her hand to shake his. "Daddy's told me so much about you." It remained a debate for many years afterward between Mike and Shannon as to who got redder at that comment; Tony or Jethro.
NCIS * NCIS * NCIS
Kelly took another drink of her coffee and sighed as she finished glancing through college pamphlets She'd graduated Cornell last year, and was currently working at an animal hospital. Now, Kelly wanted to continue her education in grad school, but choosing a program wasn't easy. Glancing at her watch, she realized that it was now almost 9:00, much later than she thought. It was a short walk to the apartment she shared with Maddie, but she still knew that her father would ream her out if he knew she was walking home alone this late. Halfway home, Kelly became aware of presence behind her. Picking up her pace a little, Kelly noticed with some trepidation that there didn't seem to be anyone out and about.
"Hey pretty lady," came a gruff voice behind her. Ignoring it, she continued walking. Reaching into her purse she grasped tightly to the tazer her father had given her when she left for college. As she passed an alley 3 blocks from her apartment the guy made his move and Kelly made hers. As he attempted to grab her and pull her into the alley Kelly screamed while simultaneously throwing her head back and slamming it into his nose. The moment he released her arm she swung around pulling her tazer out of her purse and shoving it into her attacker's neck. Taking a couple of steps back and breathing heavily Kelly released her grip on the tazer, it's charged now used up. Suddenly aware of another presence behind her, Kelly reached for the only other weapon available to her. Before they had a chance to attack, she turned and let loose the pepper spray in his face while simultaneously swinging her bag at his head.
"Kelly, wait!" came a familiar voice from behind the now groaning man.
"Tim?" Kelly asked in shock as he ran by her and immediately secured her attacker who was still dazed. Turning, she realized that the man she thought had been another attacker was actually Tony. "Tony?" she whispered in horror.
"He'll be fine," came Tim's voice. Turning to face him she saw that he now had her attacker handcuffed. She started to respond but was cut off by the arrival of a Metro Patrol car.
"I'm Agent McGee," Tim informed the approaching officers while showing his badge. "I'm the one that called it in. This is your suspect," he indicated as he roughly handed the man over to the Metro cops. "He assaulted this young woman. I suspect he'll think twice before he tries again," Tim added winking at Kelly and placing a reassuring arm around her. "She head butted him and tazered him when he attacked. My partner and I were walking back to our car when we heard her scream. We rushed to her aid, however she had the situation pretty much under control." At this moment Tony let out another groan causing the officers to turn to him questioningly. Fighting to keep a straight face, Tim continued. "My partner startled her a bit," he added, failing to keep the humor out of his voice as he glanced over at his partner. He knew that if Tony could have glared at him he would have, and he was 90% sure he heard a muttered "screw you" as he turned away. Reaching into his pocket, he pulled out his business card. "I know that you will need to take a statement from Miss Gibbs and us, however I would like to request that you wait until tomorrow. You can reach me at either of those numbers and I assure you we will all come to your station tomorrow, but right now I'd like to get her home." The officers nodded in agreement and Tim and Kelly watched as they escorted the suspect back to their patrol car and none to gently put him in the back seat. As the car drove away, Kelly let out a deep breath and momentarily sagged into McGee.
"Thank you," she whispered as she took a moment to recompose herself. As she did however, she immediately turned to Tony and began fretting over him. "Tony, I'm so sorry. Are you ok? I had no idea it was you. I thought he had a partner or something. I…"
"It's ok," he cut in, interrupting her apologies. "I'll be fine," he started, but broke off coughing once more.
"Tony, you're lungs!" Kelly gasped, horrified.
"I'll be fine," Tony wheezed unconvincingly in between breaths.
In spite of his humor at the situation, Tim still wanted to make sure his partner would be all right. "Come on Tony," Tim said gently grabbing his arm and guiding him back to their car. Kelly followed quietly along next to Tony. Leading Tony to the passenger side, he put him in and then opened the back door for Kelly. Once he was sitting in the drivers seat, he turned to face Kelly. "Call your dad, let him know we're going to the hospital, and ask him to meet us there please."
"No hospital!" Tony tried to argue.
"I'm driving, no arguments. I want to make sure the next time we are in the field you shoot the suspect and not me because you can't see clearly," Tim said laughing at his partner's indignant reaction. Glancing in the rearview mirror, he was relieved to see a small smile grace Kelly's face as she held the phone to her ear, waiting for her father to pick up.
"Hi Daddy?" Kelly asked with a bit of hesitation. "Something happened. I'm fine, I promise," she added quickly knowing her dad would be worried, "but I'm with Tim and Tony and we are on our way to St. David's Hospital." She paused for a moment, as Gibbs asked what happened. "I promise no one is dying, but can I explain it to you when you get there? It would be a lot easier." Kelly once more paused before ending the conversation, "ok Daddy, we'll see you in a bit. I love you too." She hung up the phone just as they were pulling into the parking lot.
The three made their way into the emergency room, with Tony in the middle. Kelly and Tony sat down while Tim quickly explained the situation to the nurse, adding that Tony had contracted the pneumonic plague the year prior and asking if they could please make sure to check his lungs as well. When the nurse paused in her writing to look at him skeptically, he simply told her that they were federal agents and it was a long story. She didn't look completely convinced, but at least she took down the rest of Tony's information. A couple of minutes later Tony's name was called and Kelly and Tim were left to sit in the waiting room. It didn't take long before the stress of the day caught up to Kelly and she was asleep on Tim's shoulder within minutes.
Fifteen minutes later, the emergency room doors whooshed open and Gibbs rushed in, followed closely by Shannon. Tim gently woke Kelly and the moment she laid eyes on her father, she flew into his arms while reaching for her mom at the same time. Wanting to give the family a moment of privacy, Tim stood up and approached them at a much slower pace. Once Kelly calmed down a bit and pulled away, Gibbs asked what happened.
"I was walking home from the coffee shop near my apartment when I noticed someone following me." McGee instantly noticed Gibbs's jaw clench and saw his eyes dart from Kelly to Tim and take in that Tony wasn't in sight. "When we passed by an alley he tried to pull me in but I got him in the neck with the tazer you gave me when I started college. I think I might have broken his nose too," she added a bit shyly.
Taking over for her, Tim continued the story. "Tony and I were walking back to our car after dinner. We heard her scream and called Metro as we ran over. We didn't realize it was Kelly until we got there, but she already had things under control. I cuffed the guy and we turned him over to Metro. I gave them my card and asked them to wait until tomorrow to take a statement and to contact me first." At this point both Kelly and Tim fell silent.
Looking at both of them, Gibbs realized he was going to have to prod further to get anything else out of them. "If that is all that happened, why are we at a hospital? And where is DiNozzo?" Gibbs finally questioned him. Kelly and Tim looked at each other for a moment, and Gibbs could have sworn he saw Tim's lip twitch into a smirk for a split second.
"Well you know how that tazer only has one jolt and has to charge for a little bit after it is used?" Kelly asked biting her lip. Gibbs nodded and she continued. "I didn't really hear Tony and Tim coming until Tony was right behind me. I thought it was another attacker and I sort of… Well, I sort of maced Tony and hit him with my bag." Kelly finished, her cheeks tinting red. This time, Tim couldn't keep the snort of laughter from escaping. When Gibbs raised an eyebrow at him, Tim stopped laughing, but he couldn't keep the smile off of his face.
"He's fine Boss. We just wanted make sure. He was well enough to argue with me about coming here." Upon hearing that, Gibbs couldn't resist the proud smile that crossed his face.
"That's my little girl," he said proudly, pulling Kelly to his side once more.
NCIS * NCIS * NCIS
Gibbs stood in the doorway looking as stoic as ever. The last couple of years it felt like the blows had just kept coming. First Jenny died, and then on the heels of that, Leon had split up the team. Things never really had a chance to get back to normal before the whole fiasco with Ziva, Tony, and Rivken had happened and then Gibbs was returning from Israel without a child. It had been a year now since they'd brought her home and his family was whole once more, but now he was about to face the most difficult day of his life. As he watched Kelly chatting excitedly with Maddie, Ziva, and Abby, Gibbs caught his wife's eyes and could see the unshed tears in them that he knew were reflected in his own eyes as well. Behind him, someone cleared his throat.
"Everyone's ready to start," Mike said in an unusually soft voice.
"Do you remember the first time you two met?" Gibbs asked without taking his eyes off Kelly. "She hid behind my legs for all of a minute before marching up to you and deciding you would be Uncle Mike. I've never seen you melt so fast, not even in all the years since."
"She's something special." Mike said gruffly, remembering that day. "She always has been and always will be."
Finally Gibbs turned to face his mentor. "My baby is getting married," he said. "I've stared down the barrels of hundreds of guns, I've helped disarm bombs, I've come face to face with terrorists and murders and I have never been as terrified as I am today." Gibbs confessed. "I look at her and still see her in pigtails and bows."
"From the first breath every little girl takes, this is the moment her father dreads. At least you have comfort in knowing Jake is a good man and will love her and protect her. Hell, if he managed to survive everything you and I and the rest of your team put him through, and still asked her to marry him, you know that is true love." Both men smirked slightly and Franks clapped Gibbs on the shoulder. "Now we really do need to get started before they think you took Kelly and locked her in a tower." Franks said doing his best to keep the mood light.
Take a deep breath, Gibbs turned and watched as Shannon and Maddie help carefully work Kelly's veil into place. The sight took his breath away. "Ladies," he said gruffly, garnering their attention. "It's time," he said quietly, not able to take his eyes off his daughter. He watched as Shannon hugged Kelly, kissed her cheek, and then came toward him. Neither were able to say anything to each other, too over come with emotion. Gibbs simply grasped his wife's hand in comfort and kissed her temple.
"Come on Shannon, I'll escort you out," Mike said, offering his arm.
"Thank you, Mike," she whispered, catching a few rebellious tears with her free hand. Glancing back one last time at her husband, Shannon and Mike made their way toward the ceremony.
"Can I have a moment?" Gibbs asked quietly, nodding gratefully as his daughter's bridesmaids moved to leave the room. As Abby and Ziva passed him, they each squeezed his hand briefly in comfort. Ziva also offered him a quick kiss on the cheek and whispered something in Hebrew. He didn't know what she said, but it still offered him some comfort, and he caught her eye gratefully as she disappeared around the corner.
Now it was just Kelly and suddenly his words were caught in his throat. Clearing his throat again, he walked toward her. "I always knew this day would come," he told her, reaching out to brush her cheek. "You're beautiful," he said softly, using his thumb to brush away a stray tear. "You are just as beautiful as your mother on our wedding day," he said with a soft smile.
"Thank you daddy," she whispered, moving in for a hug. As Gibbs held his daughter, he wanted nothing more than to hold on forever, and never let her go. It was with superhuman effort that he placed a kiss on her forehead and released her.
"Are you ready?" he asked. When Kelly nodded with a bright smile, he gently lowered the front part of her veil and offered his arm.
NCIS * NCIS * NCIS
"Hi princess," Gibbs whispered softly, as he watched his daughter slowly wake up with the first rays of morning light.
"Hi Daddy," she whispered back, blinking sleepily at him. She smiled softly at the feeling of her hand in her fathers.
"How are you feeling?" he asked, still keeping his voice soft. He rubbed his thumb gently over her hand, mindful not to disturb the IV that was protruding from the top of her hand.
"Still drained," she answered. "But I am getting my strength back," she reassured him. "Where is everyone?" she asked. Smirking, Gibbs nodded to one corner of the room where Tim, Ziva, and Tony had all nodded off, with Ziva and Tim both using Tony as a pillow. Kelly bit the inside of her cheek to keep from bursting out with laughter. "Oh please tell you got a picture Daddy."
"Do you not know me at all?" Gibbs responded in a hurt voice. "I will have you know, that I have several pictures and the camera is now in your mother's safe possession." This time Kelly couldn't stop the giggle that escaped. Pleased with himself, Gibbs continued answering his daughter's first question. "They refused to leave until they knew you were feeling better." Kelly felt her heart burst with warmth, feeling loved and protected by her friends. "Breena called about two hours ago. She's been having really bad morning sickness so Jimmy went home to take care of Thomas so she could sleep peacefully for a few hours. I forced Ducky go home with Jimmy so he could get some sleep too. Uncle Mike went to go pick up Amira so Leyla could go to work. And Jake, Mom, and Abby are at the nursery. I promised I'd call them as soon as you woke up, but first, want to have some fun?" Kelly looked at him questionably. Turning to the room's 3 sleeping occupants he took a deep breath before barking loudly, "Grab your gear!"
Kelly couldn't help but laugh loudly as she watched her three friends bolt awake and smack into each other several times while searching for non-existent backpacks and weapons. It took a few moments for them to become completely alert. "Boss…" Tony groaned clearly not as amused as he rubbed his side where Ziva had accidently elbowed him in their frenzy. To his left Tim was rubbing his eye where Tony's shoulder had impacted sharply.
"Not your boss anymore," Gibbs responded with a grin.
"You know," Tony grumbled, "you have gotten a whole lot crueler with your sense of humor since you retired."
Kelly snorted in silent agreement, drawing the attention of the others. All at once they rushed to her bedside, eager to see how she was doing. Gibbs used the moment to call his wife. As he hung up and waited for those three to return, he watched happily as his kids chatted with smiles on their faces. He had worried that he wouldn't see them as much once he retired, but he needn't have worried. He found the team at his house, along with Kelly and Jake almost every weekend. He was brought out of his musings by the arrival of Abby.
"Kelly!" she squealed, barreling into the room. Slowing down as she reached her friend, Abby was very gentle to deliver her hug. Abby started to say more, but was interrupted by the arrival of Shannon and Jake, each carrying a small bundle. The whole group moved back to give them room, and Kelly's entire face lit up. Gentley, Shannon handed her bundle to Kelly. Kelly looked down at her little girl and then to her little boy in her husband's arms. Suddenly Kelly looked back at Shannon.
"I'm a little scared, Mommy" she whispered. "What if I'm not as good of a mom as you were?"
"Oh baby," Shannon said, pushing her daughter's hair back. "When you were born, I was so scared too. Your dad was deployed and I didn't think I could do it all on my own. The moment I brought you home though, I knew everything would be ok. It was still a little scary, and it definitely wasn't easy, but I just loved you so much. I made mistakes and I learned as I went, and then your dad came home and he made mistakes and he learned as he went, and we both learned things together. Just like you and Jake will," Shannon said smiling at her son-in-law. "You are going to be an amazing mother, sweetheart" Shannon finished, placing a kiss on her daughter's temple.
Gibbs watched the scene with tears in his eyes. When Kelly and Jake had come to them and told them Kelly was pregnant, he and Shannon had been thrilled. The timing couldn't have been better. Gibbs was two months away from retirement, and had spent the remaining months of Kelly's pregnancy building custom wooden furniture for her nursery. His task had doubled shortly after it began when Kelly came over beaming one day after her appointment and announced she was expecting twins. Around the time Kelly hit her seven-month mark, however, she began having some difficulties. By her eighth month she was confined to bed rest. Then, two weeks before her due date, she was admitted to the hospital. Those two weeks were tense and stressful for Shannon, Gibbs, and Jake, and by extent the MCRT. Tony immediately asked for his team to be taken off rotation and work just cold cases so they could spend all their free time either with Shannon and Gibbs, or Jake, or Kelly. The stress had reached it's peak however when Kelly's body began trying to shut down the previous morning. After several other routes had failed to improve her health, the doctors had had to perform an emergency C-section to save both her life, and the lives of her children. There had been complications, which had required 4 additional hours of surgery. By the time Kelly had been wheeled back into her room, everyone had been at the hospital and awake for 21 hours.
"Have you decided on names yet?" Tony asked softly, torn between keeping a protective eye over the woman he had come to love as a little sister and his desire "ooh and ahh" over the new babies like Ziva, Tim, and Abby were currently doing. None of them would bring it up now that she was out of danger, but they had all been terrified when Gibbs had called them at 3am the previous day.
Kelly bit her lip and glanced at Jake. "Well we wanted Uncle Mike to be here when we told you, but we won't keep you waiting." Nodding to Jake, he stepped forward proudly.
"Everyone, meet Liam Adam Scott and Caitlyn Grace Scott." For a split second, the team didn't react, overcome with emotion.
"Those are beautiful names," Ziva said moving forward to squeeze Kelly's shoulder.
"You don't think Uncle Mike will mind, do you?" Kelly asked, suddenly unsure. Gibbs started to respond, but Ziva beat him to an answer.
"No Kelly," she responded with tears in her eyes. "He'll be honored to have his son remembered in such a way."
"And I can't think of a better way to keep Kate alive in our memories and hearts," Tim said added, speaking up for the first time.
"Plus," Abby said, her eyes watery as well. "It assures that your children will have two very special guardians."
Smiling at her family, Kelly felt her heart burst with love. Looking between her newborn children, Kelly couldn't help feel like the most blessed person in the entire world. Glancing at her father, she knew without a doubt in that moment, he was feeling the exact same way. Their eyes met and they shared a smile.
"Would you like to hold your new granddaughter, grandpa?" Kelly asked, her eyes shining.
A/N: On a side note, I started this chapter long before the premise for "Life Before His Eyes" was even released. That being said, that episode did nothing to change the direction of this chapter. It completely broke my heart that "happily ever after" was never in the cards for the Gibbs's. I chose not to let that semi AU episode alter this chapter because the point of this story was to give the characters the lives that, in canon and even the shows version of AU, were just out of their reach no matter what. Anyway, please let me know what you think. I have really enjoyed writing this; I hope you have enjoyed reading it. ^_^