Chapter 4: Gibbs

Disclaimer: "You own NCIS?" "No." "But." "No." "Your honor." "F*ck no! You damn lawyer, I don't care what your Harvard law degree says, I don't own NCIS!"

His youngest daughter's name had been Kelly. Born to him years before he'd even thought about becoming an NCIS Agent, years before he'd met young men named Tony or Tim, or young women named Abby, Ziva or Kate. Kelly had been his little girl, his angel, with the eyes, smile and hair of her mother, with her father's strength and courage.

He'd lost his little girl, and his wife, and he'd never ever lose the whole in his heart that came from that loss. But there's a funny thing about love, you can always make room for more. Just because you lose a person, doesn't mean that their place in your heart get's smaller or disappears. The heart is a curious thing, because no matter what, it can always make more room without even slightly taking over the space for previous loves.

It took a young woman named Abby Scuito to get Leroy Jethro Gibbs on the track of that particular lesson. She had been everything he'd ever hoped Kelly would turn out to be: smart, sweet, strong, loving. He felt for this lovely young scientist who no one would take seriously.

He showed her that he cared on her second day, with a Caff-Pow, and from then on she was the older sister to his long past baby girl.

Then there had been Kate Todd. Smart, strong, brilliant and unwilling to go down without a fight. Sure, they hadn't started out on the best foot, but they got through it. And it hurt just as bad as when he lost Kelly, when Kate earned her own blood halo.

Timothy McGee. The young computer tech from Norfolk that had quaked in his shoes just from a glance. Tim had grown though into both a competent agent, and a surrogate son. He had a ways to go yet, seeing as his new found attitude could use some checking from time to time, but did that mean that Gibbs loved him any less? No. You love your children, for their faults and their high points.

Ziva David. She had crept her way into his heart without him really knowing, and apparently he had crept into hers without his own knowledge as well. Ziver, more like the step-daughter or foster child, but no less loved than the others. She had his back, and the rest of the team's back in every situation.

And finally, there was Tony DiNozzo. Quirky, sarcastic, brilliant, funny and dangerous. Dangerous because while Gibbs had grown on the idea of letting people into his heart by the time he met Tony, he didn't really know what to do with the street-smart Baltimore cop. Even after a firm punch to the jaw, DiNozzo kept on going, pulling out a gun, cuffing him, the kid had skills and Gibbs had to admire it, even grudgingly.

Tony was a character, even years after being at NCIS. He fit like the perfect puzzle piece in Gibbs' heart. He knew from looking at the younger man that there was more there than a cocky grin and frat boy personality. There was a wall there. A wall to keep people out, and it was easily recognizable by Gibbs because he too, had put up a similar block around his heart.

Tony, Gibbs realized, was a mirror image of his younger self. It took Ducky mentioning it in passing to finally see it, but after that it was never far from his mind. The day he heard his Agent yelling at an agent his senior outside the forensics lab, Gibbs had hung back, hiding around the corner and listening to this kid from Baltimore tear the senior agent a new one for, evidently, groping and or insulting Abby Scuito.

It wasn't Gibbs' style, of course, he would have sent the out of line agent a glare of death and been done with it, but Tony was hot-headed and more loyal than a St. Bernard, and he wasn't content with just letting someone get away with a glare to a firm talking to. No, Tony had to go all the way and start berating the agent like he was the SFA.

Gibbs didn't bother hiding his smile when Tony held his own against the other agent's threats, fighting back with his own threats of a sexual harassment suit via the Goth who Gibbs now noticed, was standing in the door to her lab, tugging on one pigtail endlessly.

Once the senior agent gave up-well, Tony practically threw him into the elevator, using his superior height and strength to his advantage- Abby had leapt into Tony's arms, crying and clutching at the Italian's jacket in a death grip.

Tony froze and Gibbs waited to see what the ex-detective would do. When Tony carefully wrapped his arms around Abby he grinned, when Tony tightened his hold on the young woman and began whispering soft words into her ear, his smile was the widest it had been since he'd last held Kelly and Shannon.

Tony, Gibbs finally saw, was what he and Shannon had wanted for Kelly: a big brother. A protector. Someone who could care and love her should something happen to them. Gibbs knew without knowing that Shannon would have loved the young man his heart had already dubbed as his son. Kelly would have been all over him, begging to watch movies and play hide-and-seek, and without a doubt, Tony would have obliged. He would tickled Kelly mercilessly, tucked her into bed, read her stories when she was sick, everything an older brother was supposed to do.

Tony was an only child by blood, by heart he had a huge family and multiple younger siblings to care for. And he did, he protected them when his own health was at risk. He defended them even when he knew they could take care of themselves. He led them on through the dark when dad was too lost to do so.

Gibbs saw Tony's strength, and he loved him for it. His heart had always had an empty space open, waiting for Anthony DiNozzo. It sat right next to Kelly, next to Abby and Tim and soothed the aching part left by Kate.

He had lost his youngest daughter, but the world had granted him a son.


A/N: Last chapter of this story.