Ch. 1

Disclaimer: I don't own NCIS

Author's Note: I am currently stuck on where exactly I want to go with A Hard Time for Tony, but will eventually finish it. I got struck by the plot bunny for this story and decided to start it.

Gunnery Sargent Leroy Jethro Gibbsis standing outside his tent in the hot desert air. It has been a long tour with his sniper unit and he can't wait to get home to his girls. He's been away for nearly a year now and he has missed them terribly. He sees his CO, Colonel Mark Reynolds walking towards him with a grim look on his face. This worries Jethro a bit. He can't think of a disciplinary reason for the look and so he knows there must be bad news from home. He knows that Shannon and Kelly are currently in protective custody because Shannon had witnessed a murder. He just hopes they're all right.

"Gunny, I'm afraid I have some bad news for you. There was a car accident involving your wife and daughter. The driver was shot by a sniper. Shannon was killed in the ensuing collision. Kelly is alive and hanging in there," Daniel tells him.

Jethro falls to his knees almost immediately. He can't believe it. He had been granted permission to leave to go back to the States in three days in order to take care of his girls and now Shannon is dead. "How could this have happened?" he says out loud. "I'm scheduled to go home in a few days."

"I know Gunny. I'm working to get you out of here on the next available flight. That little girl needs her daddy," Daniel says. He can't imagine what's going through Jethro's mind at the moment, but he knows that he needs to be at home. Fortunately, his enlistment is nearly up, so he won't have to come back over here.

"Thanks, Sir," Jethro says but soon he is crying for the wife he has lost. Even though he is not ordinarily one to cry, under the circumstances, it is more than understandable. Anyone in his situation would be.

About ten minutes later, Jethro has calmed down enough to go back to his tent. Daniel informs a few of Jethro's buddies about the situation and heads to his command tent to make the final arrangements for Jethro to head home. Sargent Matthew Lennox, Sargent Alex Brandon and Lieutenant Christopher Riley head to his tent to be with him for a bit. They don't want Jethro doing anything rash at this point. He has a little girl back in the States that needs him.

Jethro in the meantime is laying on his cot crying. All of the worries of the last few days have pretty much come true, minus the fact that Kelly is still alive. He knows that he has to get home for her.

"Gibbs, we're here," Matt said knowing that the gunny probably wouldn't have noticed their presence for a while if he didn't say something.

Jethro turns his head to see his comrades. He appreciates the fact that they're here for him, but all he wants is to get home to Kelly.

"i can't believe she's gone," Jethro cries. As tough as he ordinarily is, this has hit him like a ton of bricks.

Jethro arrives back in Washington a few days later. Kelly had been taken to Bethesda Naval Hospital after the accident and she is doing well.

Dr. Jessica Robertson is checking over Kelly when she gets a page telling her that Jethro has finally arrived. She doesn't say a word about it to Kelly, wanting her to be surprised when her father comes into the room. Besides, she needs to fill him in on Kelly's condition before he comes upstairs to see her. She understands that he'll be very anxious to see her, but feels that some information would be helpful for him not to be totally shocked when he sees her.

"Mr. Gibbs, I am Dr. Jessica Robertson. I have been taking care of Kelly pretty much since her arrival here," she says in introduction.

"Hello. How's Kelly doing?"Jethro asks knowing that's why he's being delayed a while.

"She's doing as well as can be expected. She has a broken arm, two cracked ribs, a lacerated spleen, which we were able to repair and a concussion. It could have been much worse. One of the ribs had been very close to breaking and could have punctured one of her lungs. Also, we could have had to remove her spleen. Her concussion isn't that bad for an accident victim," Dr. Robertson informed him.

Jethro is relieved to hear that Kelly is doing well. He has been worried about her since he got the news of what happened. He know he has to be strong for her now. She needs him more than ever. Thankfully, he won't be in the Marines for much longer. He has two months left in his enlistment and they have agreed to let him stay in the States for the remainder of that time. He knows he has to look for another job, but he and Shannon had saved up enough money that he could afford to take some time off if it became necessary.

"You can go on up to see her now, Mr. Gibbs. She's been very anxious to see you," Dr. Robertson says. She has seen the little girl many times over the last few days and knows that Kelly would be anticipating her father's arrival with excitement even though she didn't know when it would happen. Kelly was missing her Mom very much, but she wants her Dad.

Jethro heads up to the pediatric floor. He knows Kelly has a roommate named Laura Peterson, a girl who was in the hospital after having her appendix removed. Laura is eight years old but goes to a different school than Kelly.

Jethro is outside the door of room 437, Kelly's room He can hear her laughter. He smiles slightly at this, glad his little girl is happy even if it's just for a few moments. She deserves to be happy and he will do everything in his power to make that happen. It may be a while before things calm down, but it will work out fine in the end.

Kelly could hear footsteps outside her room, but paid no attention to them, not knowing when her Dad was due to arrive. The doctors had refused to tell her in case he was delayed for some reason. She's just praying he makes it home to her safe and sound. She didn't want to lose another parent. That would be even more horrible than losing her Mom.

She looks up to see Jethro standing in the doorway. "Daddy!" she squeals excitedly.

Laura smiles at the reunion. Her mother, Commander Madelaine Peterson is currently deployed to Kuwait. She knows how it feels to have a parent gone for long periods of time. It has been this way all of her life.

Jethro goes to his daughter's bedside and reaches over to give her a big hug, careful not to hurt her ribs though. He knows they'll be fragile for a bit. The doctor had told him to be careful about them. Kelly just held onto him for dear life. She is thrilled to have him home. She had been worried that something would happen to him too and leave her an orphan. Now, she had him in her arms and she just doesn't want to let go.

After about ten minutes, the two of them finally broke apart. To the both of them, this is the start of something new. They would have to live without their beloved wife and mother. It would be rough, but at least they would have each other.