Abby twisted her fingers nervously as she waited for Gibbs, Shannon and Kelly to arrive at the bowling alley.
"They'll be here." Sister Rosita sat beside her. "All three, right?"
"Yes, and I know, Kelly really enjoyed bowling last time and even though he won't admit it, Gibbs enjoys it too. It's just that it's the first time I'm seeing Shannon and Kelly since Gibbs and I…" Abby trailed off.
"I understand," Rosita gave her a knowing look and patted her knee. "Oh! I see Jethro over at the shoe rental counter."
Abby turned in her chair to look. Gibbs was paying for shoe rental and Abby couldn't help but think that they looked like the picture perfect family. No, Abby. She told herself. He wants you.
Rosita waved the trio over and took hold of Gibbs' arm before he could move to Abby. "Oh Jethro, so wonderful to have you bowling with us again. You'll be on my team and we'll put the three lovely ladies with Sister Margaret.
Abby leaned closer to Shannon and Kelly."If you have anything to say to him, now would be the time. Once Rosita gets a hold of him, he's hers until bowling is over." Abby smiled at Gibbs, who almost looked defeated as the nun clung tightly to his arm.
"Well, if I saw him more often," Rosita gave his a pointed look, "I might not feel the need to hog his attention when I do see him."
Abby held up her hands in mock surrender. "Hey, fair is fair, I'm not complaining."
"So you must be Shannon. Wonderful to meet you." Rosita let go long enough to shake Shannon's hand before grabbing hold of his arm again.
"Likewise." Shannon smiled.
As soon as Gibbs was pulled away, Sister Margaret swooped in. "How lovely you all are this evening. If we can't win tonight, at least we know we could win a beauty contest."
Abby tried not to laugh when she noticed that Margaret's dentures were slightly crooked. She loved Margaret. She was a plump old woman, older than the rest of the nuns, but she was still able to bowl (quite well) and her mind was sharp as ever.
Bowling got started rather quickly after a few practice rounds, three teams of four competing in a mini-tournament.
Abby smiled when Shannon bowled a strike and then high-fived Kelly before sitting beside Abby. "Great job! The winning team doesn't have to pay for the celebratory sundaes afterward."
Shannon grinned. "I hope Sister Rosita isn't let down when they don't win. Jethro is good, but not that good."
"I don't think she'll mind all that much," Abby laughed. "He usually pays for her sundae anyway."
"Purchasing his freedom, eh?"
"Something like that."
They were silent a moment until Shannon cleared her throat. "Look, Abby…. I want you to know that I've started looking for a place to live. I won't be stay with Jethro much longer."
"Oh, um, don't feel like you need to hurry or something. I mean…."
"Well, it can't be comfortable having an ex-wife-"
Abby stopped her. "Don't call yourself and ex-wife. Don't lump yourself in with those women. You're not… one of them. You're family."
"Well, in any case. I understand you and Jethro are trying to… I just don't want to be in the way. I'm happy for you, both of you, and I don't want you to think you need to stay away from the house while I'm there."
"Oh I don't, it's not…"
"Abby! You're up!"
Abby was glad for the interruption.
In the end, it was the third team that won.
"I guess it doesn't matter that we didn't win. We still get ice cream." Kelly sat beside her father, setting her ice cream bowl and a pile of napkins down on the table.
"That's my girl," Shannon shook her head. "Always in it for the ice cream."
"Could be worse," Gibbs added. "Could be drugs."
They all laughed and then turned their attention to their ice cream. As they finished up their ice cream, Kelly spoke up. "So Abby, I was thinking. Want to do dinner tonight?"
"I've got steaks in the freezer I could pull out." Gibbs offered.
"I, uh, was thinking just Abby and I."
Abby bit her lip to keep from laughing at the expression on Gibbs' face.
"Sorry dad." Kelly shrugged.
"I want to go home and change, but then I'll pick you up and we can go grab a bite somewhere. That okay?"
Abby wiped the corners of her mouth with a napkin. "Alright, I'm going to head out. By the time I get home, change and get back to your house, it'll probably be an hour or so."
"I'll be ready." Kelly smiled.
When Abby stood to leave, Gibbs excused himself to walk her to her car and ignored Kelly's whisper of 'aww, that's so cute' as he grabbed her hand. They walked hand-in-hand to Abby's car and as soon as they were beside it, Gibbs spun her around and had her pressed firmly against it. "I was going to kiss you earlier, but then Rosita…"
"As much as I love you, I'm not getting between the two of you. She's pretty tough."
Gibbs grinned at her. "Your care and concern for my safety is overwhelming."
"You're safest with her, really. She won't let anyone near enough to hurt you."
"Mmmhmm." Gibbs leaned forward to kiss her. He nipped at her lower lip and then pulled away when she tried to press into his kiss. "I'm coming home with you tonight when you drop Kelly off, okay?"
"Oh you are, are you?" They'd spent the past two nights apart since Shannon had come back and Gibbs had been busy helping to unload the truck of her and Kelly's stuff. "I might have room for you in my bed."
"I've always got room for you in my bed, you know that." Abby pressed up on her toes to kiss him one last time. "I'm off. See you later."
Kelly and Abby sat in Abby's care in Gibbs' driveway, the engine idling. "I had a great time, we should do it again sometime," Abby smiled.
"Agreed. And uh," Kelly shifted in her seat. "I know my mom is find a new place, but I'm not quite ready to leave my dad yet. I hope that's okay. I'm really glad you guys are together and I'll stay out of your way, I just…."
"Hey, it's fine." Abby reached out and put her hand on Kelly's arm. "I don't want you to feel like you need to move out for my sake, okay?"
Kelly looked visibly relieved at Abby's words. "And please, just come over whenever, like you usually would And if you want to spend the night," Kelly grinned, "don't feel like you can't. I just ask that you give me a head start at falling asleep if you guys are gonna-"
"Kelly!" Abby gasped.
"What? I'm not ten. And remember our first conversation at the coffee shop? I know how much you want that silver fox of yours." Kelly batted her eyelashes.
"Get out of my car," Abby laughed.
They both laughed loudly as they made their way up the front step. Kelly was just reaching for the door handle when the door opened and Gibbs was standing there with a quizzical expression on his face. "Thought you two were gonna spend the night in the driveway."
"She was giving me the 'hurt my dad and I'll hurt you' speech." Abby managed to keep from smiling.
"What?" Kelly paled. "I did not. Abby!"
Abby cracked a silly grin and Gibbs chuckled. "A word of advice, Kel. Don't ever play poker with Abby. You'll never win."
Kelly tired to pout but she only ended up laughing. "You two are mean and deserve each other. Where's mom?"
"She should be home before too long. She's having dinner with Tom. Want us to wait until she's back?"
"No, no. You guys don't need to stay. I'm not ten," she gave Abby a sideways glance. "I'll be fine alone."
(several months later)
Gibbs looked around his dining room and realized how right everything felt. He was sitting at the head of the table, his father at the opposite end. He looked to right where Abby, Shannon, Tom, McGee and Palmer were seated. To his left sat Kelly, Tony, Ziva, Joann and Ducky.
There were one or two people at the table he could have done without, but like all families there were bound to be family member you didn't always agree with. He could live with that.
It had been years since his first family Thanksgiving with Shannon and Kelly. Kelly had been a chubby baby at the time, passed around from family member to family member while he and Shannon had shared loving glances.
But Kelly was no longer a chubby baby and Shannon was sharing glanced with someone else. Things were different for him too. He had Abby, her hand resting warmly over his. They made eye contact and she smiled at him, giving his hand a gentle squeeze before letting go to take the wine Shannon was passing her.
Gibbs loved the way his two families blended together. His NCIS family had stepped up to carry extra work so he could get out of the office at a decent hour, especially the first few weeks. And Shannon and Kelly had been beyond understanding when it came to his NCIS family. They had been the only constant in his life the past ten years, and it had been semi-obvious that they needed reassurance that he wasn't abandoning them. He hadn't been surprised that Tony had needed the most reassurance after everything he'd gone through with his father and Gibbs was well aware that Tony looked to him for guidance.
The rest of his team had been weary at first, eager to pick up extra paper work hoping that their extra effort would keep him around. But soon McGee and Ziva had become comfortable with the more relaxed Gibbs.
Ducky had been the least worried. After getting to know both Shannon and Kelly he'd had no fear that Jethro would leave NCIS and if he did, he wouldn't be running to Mexico.
Abby had been the person he had been most concerned about, but he hadn't expected that she and Kelly would become such good friends so quickly. But that was Abby. She liked almost everyone. The first few weeks had been tough, scary almost, as he worried he'd left their relationship up in the air too long, but once things has settled down, Abby had welcomed both Shannon and Kelly into her life and things remained tension free – though he assumed it was helped along by the fact that Shannon and Tom had been seeing more and more of each other.
He had to admit, it had been harder than he expected to see Shannon with Tom. But it got easier the better he got to know Tom, and when he saw that Shannon was just as happy as he was.
He was snapped out of his thoughts when Abby grabbed his hand again. "You look happy. Really, truly happy."
Full circle, he decided. He had loved, lost and finally loved again. His life had come full circle.
Okay, not as long as I had thought, but I hope you all enjoyed it none-the-less. I swore I'd never write Shannon alive, but this bunny just wouldn't leave me alone.
I've got another fic (that I started before this one) dealing with the end of season seven. I really hope to get the first chapter or two up before the new season begins, but we'll see. I just don't want the new season to influence me, so hopefully I'll get lots of writing done in the next week.
But enough of my blabbering. I sincerely hope you've enjoyed this fic. Much love!