Rising Knights—Chapter 39

slight tissue warning ahead...possibly...with a smile or two at the end

Gibbs sits back and watches as the kids, his family and team start filtering in. Naturally Tony DiNozzo and Sarah McGee are the first ones to arrive. As Sarah so eloquently put it, Tony needed to fill his boss in regarding their newly engaged status. Abby is next, pulling Jimmy Palmer along behind her. Tim and Ziva with several trays consisting of vegetables and fruits along with Ziva's famous brownies show up next along with Tim and Sarah's parents. John and Maggie McGee also have trays in hand. But these are empty.

Gibbs looks at John who shrugs and says, "You need something to put the burgers and brats on."

Gibbs just nods and puts the trays just inside the kitchen door. The last ones to arrive are Leon and Jackie Vance. Vance explains that the other team was called back to LA and Jordan Hampton had decided to accompany them.

"She did hand me a letter for Mr. Palmer."

Jimmy opens the letter and smiles. It's obvious that Jimmy's keeping the contents to himself at least for the moment.

Gibbs by now has the grill warming up and turns to Maggie McGee.

"I don't suppose you know how to make a homemade mayonnaise?"

"I'd smack you but in honesty, John and Tim were always the cooks in our household. If you ask him, Tim might be able to remember one."

Gibbs smiles at yet another piece of information he didn't know about his youngest agent. Then he understands something else: this is Maggie's way of triggering yet another memory in her son. He nods at her subtle method of getting Tim's mind to open yet another gateway in that particular young man's brain.

"He's always been fascinated with combining science with technology. Food is just another way to combine the two."

"Why tell me this Maggie?"

"Tim will stay here, with this new family Jethro. Of that I have no doubt. Much as he's missed us, he'll miss you a lot more if he transferred elsewhere."

Gibbs knows that Maggie's referring to John's retirement. Yet the senior McGees have been in the area for almost ten years, why leave now?

"John's health demands a warmer climate. We've put it off for the past year; we were hoping to finally find the kids before we actually did anything as drastic as moving."

"Did you know that the Kopfs actually put the house in Ohio up for sale?"

Maggie gets an almost feral gleam in her eyes and Gibbs can see that Tim gets part of his intensity from the woman in front of him.

"We anticipated as much and as soon as the house went on the market arranged for a private firm to buy it for us. Don't worry Gibbs, they'll still have a refuge...a place to run to if they need it. "

Gibbs shakes his head in slight awe of this family Tim comes from. They're all thinkers of a sort; small wonder that OSAKI had wanted them.

Maggie wanders outside and yells for Tim who turns and jogs over, with the dog Jethro at his heels. Maggie smiles at Gibbs.

"He always loved animals. He could stand cats for a while until he got caught in a room full of them when he was nine. We never forgave his aunt for that one."

"What happened?"

"Sarah had a doctor's appointment. Our normal sitter had the flu so my sister said she'd watch over Tim only we had to bring him to her house. It's the one time I almost took a human life…"

Gibbs nods and Maggie sighs at the compassion she sees reflected there.

When Tim finally reaches the porch, he looks at his mother in question. Gibbs however is the one who asks,

"Do you think you could make a homemade mayonnaise?"

Tim blinks and then a small grin starts spreading over his face. He nods and tells Gibbs that he'll be raiding his fridge and pantry for the ingredients he'll need. The rest of the team had followed and they watch as Tim quickly finds a food processor that Gibbs had forgotten about over the years and then puts some oil and lemon and an egg as well as salt and other ingredients into it.

Abby pipes up, "You know, if Ducky were here he'd be right beside him, asking him what he's doing and why he's using a food processor. He was always curious about things like that. Why I used Major Mass Spec for this or how we knew which computer program to isolate that."

Tim finishes with the mayonnaise and puts it into a bowl. Covering the concoction, he places it into the refrigerator until they are ready for it. He then turns to those gathered around Gibbs table. (Almost like the Knights of the Round Table there Ducky, thinks Tim.)

"Actually, he'd be berating me for not whisking it up like they did in the old days. Ducky was a fantastic cook and we often traded recipes on our days off. He was old-fashioned though and not real enthused about a lot of today's cooking methods."

Ziva's nodding her head even as Tim's voice trails off, "Yes, especially when it came to making tea and his tea ceremony. 'You can do it the easy way, or you can do it the proper way…especially if you are making it as a comfort food.'"

Jimmy looks up from the letter Jordan had left for him, "Jordan writes that we need to make sure that we get a good gardener in to take care of Ducky's roses. He always took care of them personally, pruning them back, mulching around them. I always looked forward to his stories; they always had a meaning in them, or a lesson behind them."

Tony clears his throat, "You know the one thing that Ducky always insisted on was calling us by our first names while at the same time being equally emphatic that he was to be called Ducky. I never understood why…until the day he had to bring Mrs. Mallard in."

Several chuckles from those who had been there on the occasion and after a quick explanation to Tim's parents, Tony continues, "Sarah and I…well, Ducky gave me some sound advice and I finally took him up on it. Sarah's agreed to be my wife on the one condition that we name our first child after Ducky."

Sarah chimes in, "We've decided on Donald or Donny if it's a boy and Mallory if it's a girl."

Jackson Gibbs and Mike Franks sit down, and Jack hands his son a small leather bound book. Gibbs looks through a few pages, smiling as he does so. He then stands up and asks for silence. He looks around the table, at the family gathered around it and smiles at his them; especially at Tony, Tim, Ziva, Abby and Jimmy…his own special group of Knights.

He hesitates a moment, then looks at Jonathon McGee. The other man nods his approval and Gibbs takes a deep breath. He'd asked John's opinion about what he is going to do as soon as Jack and Mike had found the book now in Gibbs hands. Gibbs puts a hand on Tim's shoulder as he places the journal in front of the younger man.

"A true writer never stops writing Tim. Ducky never did and he wouldn't want you to either. These are his stories and one day, I'd like you to edit and publish them. If you notice we're all in there; from the day he joined us at NCIS to the day Vance finally beat him at checkers…"

Vance cuts in with, "The old man cheated…I know he did; I just couldn't prove it."

Gibbs grins and continues, "He played a mean game of chess too. Put that in there Tim and when the time is right to pick up a pen or start typing again you'll know it. In the meantime people the grill is hot and I've got burgers and brats to cook. John, can you and Tim come up with a brine to keep the finished product in?"

"You got it Jethro."

As the team gathers round and general chatter ensues no one sees the shadow of an old man walk out of the house, smiling contentedly at leaving his family behind him. His NCIS Knights are healing quite nicely and he rambles into the backyard, satisfied that his loved ones will be okay and eventually be able to move past their grief; today's gathering is proof of that. A soft meow makes him look up and he greets the black cat with a smile.

"Well, hello and you must be Samson. I've heard quite a bit about you; what a life you have led to have stayed with Jethro this long. Are you here to take me to them?"

"Meow."

"And what life are you on? Six or seven by now isn't it…well, you have been taking good care of yourself. And what a handsome fellow you are."

The green eyed cat purrs contentedly in the old Scot's arms as he continues on his journey; by the time Ducky arrives at his destination the cat is nowhere to be seen and he's standing in front of a doorway similar to the one he's just left.

Before he can even knock on the door from far across the clouds a female voice calls out, "Donald…did you die wearing clean underwear?"

"Yes Mother!"

He knocks quickly before she can get too much closer. The door opens and Shannon Gibbs smiles at her husband's best friend. "Welcome Dr. Mallard."

"Oh please my dear, won't you call me Ducky?"

A/N: That is where the Rising Knights tale is going to end. I will be taking a short break to work on other stories but the team will return soon in Letters to Ducky…a Five chapter fic in which Tim and even the team tells Ducky about the years between Rising Knights and the Knights of the NCIS Table. Thank you to my faithful readers/reviewers who've stayed with me and this storyline for so long. HUGS to all of you.

Tigyr