Tim saunters out onto the back porch, smiling at his lover as Gibbs tosses an old tennis ball and Jethro runs after it. He puts an arm around Gibbs' waist and the older man pulls him in for an early morning kiss.
"I like this." Tim whispers when they come up for air. Gibbs smiles as he gently tugs the tennis ball out of Jethro's mouth. Throwing it across the yard, he turns to Tim and asks,
"What do you like?"
"This…the early morning stillness. There's no rushing around, no hurrying to get anything done. Just you, me and our dog."
Jethro drops the ball at Tim's feet and Tim obligingly picks it up, slinging it towards the back fence. Jethro scampers after the ball then sniffs at the rose bushes. Two little bunnies come hopping out, but surprisingly the dog doesn't chase them. It's as if he knows they're just babies and he lays down, ball still in his mouth as he watches the bunnies hopping around the yard.
"So those are my mysterious visitors. I wondered if there was a warren nearby. I haven't had rabbits in the yard in years." Gibbs muses softly as he and Tim sit on the step and watch the bunnies to see what will happen next.
"Is there a Momma rabbit?" Tim wonders, and Gibbs stands up. He puts a hand on Tim's shoulder.
"Stay there, I'll be right back."
Minutes later he's back and nods thoughtfully as he hands the scope from his rifle to Tim. Peering through it, Tim can see the mother rabbit as she gently noses another little one, trying to coax it to move around. The baby bunny however isn't moving and no matter how hard she tries, the mother rabbit can't waken it.
Tim hands Gibbs the scope, wiping his eyes at the mother trying valiantly to make her baby live. Gibbs motions for Jethro to come to them and Tim watches as Gibbs whispers something in the dog's ear. Padding slowly back to the rose bush, Jethro gently reaches in and picks up the mother rabbit and picking her up by the scruff of her neck takes her over to her other two babies before heading back for the one that's not moving.
The mother rabbit squeals and squawks but the dog continues on his quest, gently picking up the smaller bundle of fur and bringing it back to Gibbs. Tim is already on the phone asking Jimmy to come over to the house and to bring a small animal cage.
Jimmy tells Tim that he and Abby are already on their way over as Abby has something she needs to show Gibbs.
"Just be prepared, Jimmy. She's going to need some cuddles tonight."
Tim shuts his phone and Gibbs nods his approval. He's already trying to massage the small chest but the little bunny isn't moving. Jimmy and Abby arrive and Abby starts crying when she sees the small bundle in Gibbs hands.
"What happened?" she asks, sniffling into her hanky.
"Life happened Abbs. The other two made it, this one didn't. I just want Jimmy here to make sure that it wasn't rabid or anything."
Jimmy nods and tenderly places the small body in the cage. He looks at Gibbs and Tim both of whom are watching the family of rabbits as they bounce around the yard nibbling on this flower or that grass. The mother rabbit nudges her other two children back towards their den and the relative safety of the rose bush. Jimmy sighs when he sees a particular plant and motions for Gibbs to follow him.
"This might actually be your killer. While it's not normally toxic for humans, they can be deadly for rabbits."
Gibbs looks at the onions growing in his garden and frowns. "Really? That's a simple enough fix, we can... hmm maybe build a greenhouse as Tim was suggesting a greenhouse earlier."
Jimmy nods, "It really can be that simple a solution. For now, I'd just put up a better rabbit fence round the garden. Something with a bit tighter weave or mesh so that they can't get in."
"Thanks Jimmy, appreciate the heads-up."
Jimmy smiles and tells Gibbs that he'll do an autopsy just to be certain but he's fairly sure it's the onion leaves that caused it. "When they first get weaned, they'll try almost anything. The other two don't seem to have been interested in the garden but this one might have wandered a bit further and as onions tend to spread a bit, he might have nibbled on a leaf. As the others aren't or don't seem affected, I'd say momma didn't eat any so the other two didn't either. That's just first appearances though."
Gibbs is checking out the onions in his garden and there are only one or two plants that have been touched. He sighs at the loss of life but smiles when he sees the two little bunnies cuddled under the rose bush next to their mother.
Both little noses are twitching as they sniff at the air, waiting for their mother to tell them they can go out into the world again. Gibbs motions for the others to come closer and when they do, tells them what he wants to do for the time being. Tim steadily walks towards the shed and pulls out a bundle of wire mesh. Carrying it back to Gibbs, they run the mesh the opposite direction from how Gibbs had run it the first time as well as a bit off center from the first time around and soon the garden is temporarily rabbit proofed.
Looking at the weave of the mesh, Jimmy nods in approval and the team is soon quietly and slowly moving back across the yard, putting their tools away as they wait to see if their efforts have been worth it.
Gibbs gives Jimmy a high sign and the young man turns Abby to face the rosebush. Three sets of elongated ears are the first indicators that the rabbits are returning and she silently ooh's as the babies and their mother emerge from the safety of the rose bush. Taking that as their cue to leave, Jimmy gently guides her to the front door, making sure to grab the small cage as he does so. Due to the situation, none of them remember just why Abby had been having Jimmy come over in the first place and no one thinks to bring it up.
Gibbs, Tim and Jethro continue to watch the small family of rabbits as they hop around the yard, content for now to leave the garden alone. Gibbs loops an arm around Tim's waist, and the younger man leans his head against Gibbs shoulder saying, "Hmm, I should be sad I think, but watching them, I'm happy. We saved them today. Jethro here did a good job retrieving them."
"I admit I wasn't sure he'd be able to, but he continually surprises me. He has a really soft mouth."
"Wurf!" Jethro looks at his masters who laugh at the indignant expression on the dog's face.
"So, while he's out here protecting his new charges…" Tim leans closer and nibbles on Gibbs' neck drawing a small moan from the older man, "You wanna go back inside and come back to bed? I can see if I can make you bounce like a bunny…"