Three's a Crowd by patricia51

(Sequel to "Fourth Time's a Charm". Holly's in the hospital and Gibbs is walking the floor. He remembers just how they got to this point as the team assembles.)

It takes exactly seventeen steps to cover the distance from one wall across to the other. The other way needs twenty three paces but he has to shift course to avoid a table and then an armchair. Much better to go right across, turn and march back. He had already barked his shins twice trying it the other way.

Normally if someone important to him was in the hospital he would be not be pacing the floor. He would be out pounding the pavement to find out the responsible party. But in this case there was no need for a hunt. He was well aware of who had caused this and at least for right now thew punishment would be self-inflicted.

A vagrant thought crossed his mind. Many a person who had known him as Gunnery Sergeant Gibbs, one of the Corps' premier snipers would probably be amused if they could see him now. He had been known for his patience; having once lain unmoving except for his eyes in an open field under his gillie suit for over forty-eight hours; which time included a hail storm. But tonight he couldn't keep still.

It had been nearly two years now since he had walked into NCIS headquarters one bright Monday morning with a handful of stiff white envelopes in his hand. Neatly scripted handwriting on each one designated who was the intended recipient.

It seemed a silly way to do things but he had learned long ago with Shannon that there were certain situations that you could reason out with the woman in your life and that were ones that it was best to capitulate immediately. This was one of the latter. So he took a deep breath and started handing out the invitations asking each of his team members as well as a select group of other NCIS personnel to attend the wedding of Leroy Jethro Gibbs and Hollis Stacey Mann.

He paused in his pacing and a smile lifted the corners of his mouth. Tony had been sitting back in his chair with his feet up on the desk before springing up when he spotted Him coming. Upon getting the envelope he had immediately resumed his previous position. When the announcement sank it he had proceeded to choke on his coffee and fall out of his chair. BUt that had been expected, as had the "Boss are you out of your MIND?" comment that he had blurted out before he gave it any thought.

Ziva had taken the news calmly, nothing more than an uplifted eyebrow betraying her surprise. She had nodded and given her little cat's grin as she laced her fingers behind her head and nodded. Tim had been vocal, stammering as always as he tried to make his feelings known and then saying more than he meant to say. Abby had, of course, been the loudest and most exuberant. Not that he thought she was completely enthralled by Holli but she had always rooted for him to be happy.

When he had climbed the steps to the upstairs office he had wondered what the reaction would have been had Jenny still sat behind that desk. But she was gone and Director Vance had simply grunted.

He had even wondered at the time. If Jenny had still be alive would he have ever reached the point that he would have propsed to Holli? He had Jen had shared a lot and meant a lot to each other. He had decided that yes, he would have fallen in love with Holli anyway.

What he and Jenny had back in Paris had been a wildfire, a passion out of control. It had felt wonderful to let go with someone, something he admitted to himself he never had with his three ex-wives. It had been incredible while it lasted. But even though the fire had never gone completely out between them, smoldering and occasionally springing up again, it had not been the kind of relationship that would last a lifetime.

Not that he and Holli were always calm and placid and controlled. Both of them had the capability to explode at times. But underneath that was a solid, deep connection that had sprung up when he had discovered that she was able to do something no one else had; she was not only willing to share him with his memories of Shannon and Kelly but was able to welcome them into their life together.

Ducky had been the one who touched him the most. His old friend had been the one that had told Holli about his lost wife and daughter. Jethro would have been furious perhaps had he found out about that before Holli and he had that long talk sitting on the steps of his basement. But Ducky had been right and so had Holli when she told him about the revelation.

"Jethro I understand why you held back. The loss of Shannon and kelly isn't something that's old to you. I know on some days the hurt is as fresh as if it just happened. But," and she had waggled a finger in front of his face, "when things get serious, as serious as they were growing between you and I, you have to let me know. Don't hide things from me. I can handle them if they're not sprung suddenly on me."

Ducky had tried to hide the bit of moisture that had sprung up in the corners of his eyes when he read the announce,ment. "I'm so glad my dear boy," he had said. "I had hoped that she would be the one who would be strong enough to match you without trying to OVER match you as a certain lawyer ex-wife always tried to do."

The door to the waiting area banged open. "What's the word boss?"

Jethro stopped pacing and raised an eyebrow. That Tony was a bit disheveled at this hour of the morning was nothing unusual. What was surprising was that he entered the waiting room in company with Ziva. Not that Jethro thought there was anything wrong with that, it just wasn't what he expected at three in the morning.

Before he could answer Tony's heartfelt question the door popped open again and Tim ushered Abby in. Apparently this was the night, or early morning, for everyone to arrive two-by-two. Interestingly Tim's claim he had simply stopped by to pick up Abby was, except for the proper name, almost a word-for-word repitition of what Tony had said about appearing with Ziva. Jethro made a mental note to remind Tim he should either wear a tie or scrub better. His open collared shirt showed he hadn't even come close to washing off all of Abby's lipstick around his neck and the front of his chest. At least Tony didn't show any signs of anything. Well, beyond what looked like suspiciously like teeth marks on his left earlobe, teethmarks that might well fit a certain Israeli Mossad agent.

Puling his mind back to the question at hand he responded "Nothing. I have no idea what is going on in there."

"Perhaps I can find out Jethro," Ducky's cultured voice interrupted. "Fellow physician's courtesy and all that." Remembering his manners he turned slightly towards the woman by his side. "My dear you remember my friend Special Agent Jethro Gibbs and our other associates." He went on to point out the rest of the team individually and then addressed them as a whole. "I'm sure you remember meeting Doctor Jordan Hampton."

A smile played around the corner of Jethro's mouth. He did indeed remember the tall and attractive female medical examiner. He remembered when Ducky first met her. Upset that something important had been missed in an autopsy Ducky was prepared to give the man Jordan, as the Scotsman assumed the name was male, a pice of his mind for sloppy work. Not only did it turn out, of course, that Jordan was female and that Ducky found himself drawn to her it had become obvious that she was anything but a sloppy medical examiner. Rather she was a very capable one who was simply buried in an overwhelming case load.

Realizing it had been hours since he had been able to pry any information out of anyone Jethro gratefully accepted Ducky's offer. His old friend and Jordan disappeared through the door leading into the ward. Normally he would have kept his composure better but this situation, while not Completely new to him, was easier to wait out if he paced. So he did.

It was harder now to find a path. Besides the team, the room had been slowly filling up with others who were in the same position he was. He finally sat down in a chair and with the self-control he had always had a bit of pride in he managed not to fidget. But he was out of the chair like a shot the moment the pair of Medical Examiners returned.

"Nothing yet Jethro," Ducky said.

"It's taking forever," Jethro replied.

"I know," soothed Ducky.

"In circumstances like this, especially considering Holli's age and condition it's not too unexpected that things will go on longer than usual," Jordan reassurred him. "She'll be alright."

Jerkily nodding his head Jethro settled back down with his thoughts. Thoughts of Holli. He remembered the day of their simple wedding, the small church seemingly crowded with people. They had invited just their closest friends, which of course meant their coworkers, and the few family memebers they had. No uniforms or formal gowns or tuxes were present, just Jethro wearing his best suit and Holli in a simple white dress.

"I don't think we need anything elaborate," she had said but with a crooked grin had added, "but after all this time waiting I'm darned well going to wear white."

The honeymoon trip had been to Hawaii, a place Holli confessed she had never been to but always wanted to visit. There had been bright days in the sun on the beach and long cool nights in their room. He had enjoyed himself. He had been happier than he had been in many years.

Even when the memories had come back they had worked it out together. He should have known that Holli would do her research. When Kelly's birthday came around she had been ready. Instead of letting him rry either to banish the memories of his daughter or let them overwhelm him she had sat with him, talked with him about her, looked at the pictures he had fnally dug out. The always sad day and been colored with the recalled happiness of previous times. Holli did as she had declared she could do, shared him with Kelly and when the times came for that, with Shannon too.

A nudge brought him back to reality. "Boss!" Tony was saying urgently. "They're calling you!"

He was out of his seat like a shot and nearly running towards the nurse who was repeating his name. The woman led him through the door and down the hallway to a room, ushering him inside. Holli was sitting up in the bed, propped on a pile of pillows. She looked worn, exhausted and was the most beautiful sight he could imagine, especially when she smiled at him. His heart thumped.

There was a squak of indignation from the hallway from the nurse. The reason was immediately clear as, ignoring her protests to the contrary, the team flooded the room. Amid the releaved laughter, smiles and well wishes Jethro sat on the edge of the bed and kissed his wife. Together they lifted the small bundle that had been in her arms.

"Let me inroduce you to the source of all this," said Holli. "Please meet Jackson William Gibbs."

"Named after his grandfathers," Jethro pointed out.

"Well done Holli," approved Ziva as the others chimed in their agreement. "You do good work."

The group marveled at the baby boy until the nurse, reinforced by colleagues, chased everyone but Jethro out of the room. Holding his son in his arms, Jethro kissed his wife again.

"Have I remembered to tell you lately I love you?"

Holli checked the clock. "Not in the last sixteen hours."

"Well I better make up for it then."

"You better. Or I'll not rescind the vow I made a number of times during that time frame when I said you were never, EVER going to touch me again."

"I love you Holli Mann Gibbs," shispered Jethro and he kissed her again and then his son.

(The End)