This is just a quick stand alone story that demanded to be written. Takes place after The Basement and Samson. Should fit in fairly well during Obsidian.
Jackson Gibbs stands in the hallway of his son's house, looking for his son Leroy. He knows that Leroy isn't at work as he'd gone there first. He had stopped by The Knotted C, the restaurant owned by his son's fiancée Laurie and she said that his son was definitely at the house. Considering the bond between the two young people, he knows better than to question her. Yet where is his son? Surely he's not in the basement?
And yet there he is, sitting on the floor, petting his cat Samson. The big black feline glances over at Jack then turns his full attention back to the one human he adores above all others.
Leroy looks up and seeing Jackson offers him a seat on the floor. "I was just telling Samson here about my three favorite memories with Kelly."
Well that explains why his son is in the basement. Whenever Leroy was troubled he'd always head for his carpenter's tools. Admittedly there isn't a boat frame present, but there are a few new wooden toys as well as the makings for a crib. Jack knows that the crib will be heading for Tony and Sarah DiNozzo's new house the moment that the new infant decides to make an appearance.
Jack sits down beside Leroy and Samson's son Obsidian trots over and curls up on his lap. Jack waits for a few moments; sure enough down the stairs tumbles Fleck, Samson's other son and soon to be Jack's newest house guest. The kitten runs over to where Jack is sitting and lies down next to his brother. For some reason, the kittens have decided that Jack's lap is neutral territory and won't fight each other whenever he's holding one or both of them.
"What memories are you thinking of son?"
"The three times she said I love you and I was actually here, in this house or this state to hear her say them."
Jack sits back against the wall, knowing that the story will be a good one and wishing Laurie was here to listen to it. The young woman has been good for Leroy, drawing him out of his shell where no one else has been able to. Then again, considering how close she and his son are, maybe she is listening to it.
"What's the first time you remember Kelly saying that she loved you son?"
Leroy shifts a bit, adjusting the cat in his arms to a more comfortable position. He sighs as he remembers his lost daughter.
"She was just barely two years old. I'd managed to get leave to come home for her birthday and she was…I was a virtual stranger to her. Shannon did everything she could to get Kelly to accept me as her daddy. Two days before I had to leave again, I was reading to her," he points to the book lying between them and Jack smiles when he sees the cover for The Little Mermaid.
"I finished reading the last page and she reached up and hugged me. That was the first time that she said 'I love you, Daddy.'"
Jack reaches over and squeezes his son's hand. He has a feeling that he knows why Leroy Jethro Gibbs is doing this soul exposure but patiently waits for confirmation. Leroy starts speaking again.
"The second time, I almost didn't make it home. It was Christmas and Kelly was five." They'd called him overseas and Kelly had been so excited about performing in the traditional Christmas pageant. Shannon had asked him when he would be coming home. He couldn't tell her, due to receiving orders informing him about the unit's next mission. He'd gone to his C.O. and the man had worked a minor miracle.
"I arrived at the auditorium just as Kelly walked on stage. The smile that lit up her face when she saw me…I'll treasure that one as long as I live Dad. That night, when I tucked her in and she said 'I love you, Daddy,' I think I lit up brighter than the damn Christmas tree."
Jack knows the final time that Gibbs saw Kelly and Shannon. He swallows a lump in his throat as his son nods at the big black cat, currently snoozing in Leroy's lap.
"This loveable old son of a gun was part of the reason she said it the last time." He picks up Samson and holds him close, letting his tears soak into the black fur. The black cat doesn't even protest; just lies there knowing that his human needs this emotional release. Jack unobtrusively wipes away his own tears, knowing his son is finally healing that broken heart.
"Samson here came into our yard just before I deployed for the last time. We had two weeks of laughter while he was here; I'll never forget the way he took out the Turner's dog. He leaped up and mid-air, raked his claws across the dog's nose. I never saw that mutt near this yard again."
"I remember seeing him; I came to visit Shannon and Kelly while you were overseas. Kelly was so proud of the fact that Samson wasn't just a cat, he was a…now how did she phrase that?"
"She called him an attack cat. Yeah I fought tooth and nail against keeping him…but you know the girls."
Jackson gives him a punch in the arm and Leroy stares at him in shock.
"I heard it directly from Shannon, Leroy Jethro Gibbs, so don't you try lying to me. You were the one who let the cat in. Hell from what I understand, he was your best friend during that time period."
Leroy smiles at that thought. "Maybe he still is Dad. But that was the last time I heard Kelly say 'I love you Daddy.' I went overseas that same week and we all know what happened after that."
Both men sigh at the loss of Shannon and Kelly Gibbs. Jack looks at his son and gently asks him, "Why the trip down memory lane son?"
Leroy nods at the black cat. "He's going to be leaving me soon; joining our girls up in heaven. I wanted…I need some positive thoughts for when that time comes."
Jack smiles knowing that a certain blonde had influenced this soul searching. "Positive memories huh? Well, I can always dig up some old photographs if you want me to son."
Leroy nods and wipes his eyes, before clearing his throat. "Care for a cup of coffee, Dad?"
"Don't mind if I do, son, don't mind if I do."
Leroy stands up, keeping gentle hold of Samson and extends a hand to his father. Jack picks up both kittens, draping one over each shoulder before accepting his son's hand. The two men head back upstairs talking amiably about the day to come.
A/N: I was going to submit for the Three Times Three Little Words Challenge on NFA, but…it didn't come to me until after the deadline^_^