A/N: This was inspired by two things...a friend's plot bunny that she didn't have time for, and a challenge on another site.
This is my friend's original plot bunny... One day, I realized that both Shannon and Kelly are names that can be used for either gender. What if Shannon had been a man? What if, when Gibbs woke up after the explosion, he had asked "Where's my husband?" instead of "Where's my wife?" Can you imagine how different life would have been for Gibbs, trying to make such a relationship work while also serving as a Marine?
My husband and I sat around one day in a restaurant, eating lunch and brainstorming about how this would have affected the "Gibbs timeline" in the series. One major change - since the relationship could never be officially acknowledged, Shannon wouldn't have been a Navy dependent, and thus NCIS would never have been involved in the drug case that led to Shannon getting killed. Would it have been the FBI instead? Would Gibbs have joined the FBI after leaving the Marines, maybe even had Fornell to teach him instead of Franks?
My plot bunnies accepted the first part and threw the rest out the window...
They Don't Ask:
Ducky and Jenny look at their friend in astonishment. Despite being in a coma for the past few days, they were expecting him to ask about the team or maybe even the informant he had been with at the time of the explosion, but they never expect him to ask in such a broken voice, "Where's Shannon? Where's my husband?"
It is all Jenny Shepherd can do to keep from gaping at her former lover. He's been married before; that much she knows as she's kept track of the three ex-wives. But she's never heard the name Shannon pass Gibbs lips prior to today. As for Ducky, he's looking like someone punched him in the gut.
"He never told you either?" Jenny asks quietly and the elderly man shakes his head. He's not quite sure what to make of Gibbs' questions. He asks Jenny if she wants to stay or go back to NCIS with him and she softly says that she'll stay.
"I shall come back in a few hours, my dear. Hopefully our team can supply a few answers for us."
Jenny nods and Ducky picks up his trench coat and fedora as he exits the hospital room. He carefully drives back to NCIS and the anxiously awaiting team. The three young agents, all under the guidance of Leroy Jethro Gibbs look up at him.
"Ducky, what is it? Is Gibbs awake yet?"
"Yes Timothy, he's awake." The subdued tone of their friend alerts them that something is wrong.
"Ducky?" Ziva places a hand on his arm.
"Forgive me, my dear. Anthony, you've worked with Jethro the longest. Has he ever mentioned being married to anyone named Shannon?"
"Not that I remember Ducky. Tim, can you access—?"
"Working on it, um, no this can't be right. I…let me go to MTAC and verify this." Tim is pale as he reads his screen.
"Please Timothy, put it up on the plasma." Ducky's request brings Tim's green eyes to the elderly man who nods silently. Tim gulps audibly as he brings the information on his computer up on the plasma screen.
A handsome red-haired young man is smiling at them from his driver's license. Next to him in a newspaper photograph is a photograph of a red-haired boy. The newspaper caption reads NIS employee and son killed while in protective custody. Tim swallows as he continues typing the information he's learning into the computer. Tony turns his head towards the younger man trying to figure out just what is troubling his friend.
"McGee? Are you all right?"
Ziva's question is met with a shake of Tim's head. He stands up and darts for the men's room. Tony and Ziva exchange glances while Ducky continues to stare at the information that Tim has discovered. Ziva stands up and Tony nods quietly for her to follow Tim as he moves towards Ducky.
"What's up Ducky?"
"Jethro woke up asking for Shannon…for his husband."
Tony turns towards him shock in his hazel green eyes. Ducky nods in agreement, "Yes we were a bit surprised too. Director Shepherd is still there, trying to find out more information."
"Jenny can search all she wants, my Probie ain't gonna tell her shit til he's good and ready too."
"Michael…good to see you again my friend."
"I'll be the judge of that Ducky. What happened to my probie?"
Tony looks at Ducky who nods his approval. Tony quickly brings Mike Franks up to speed on their current case and how Gibbs had been in an explosion and consequently ended up in a coma.
"He just now woke up and is asking for his husband…Shannon."
"Don't ask and Probie won't tell. He may not ever tell anyone the entire story, but he was married once to Shannon Fielding. Marine corps wouldn't acknowledge the marriage so they kept it to themselves."
"How do you know about it?" Tony asks curiously.
"I can't tell you that. Your jobs aren't worth it." Mike chews on his cigar, wondering just how to get out of this one.
"Bullshit. That's our boss in a hospital bed. We deserve to know what the hell is going on."
"Not my story to tell kid. Sounds like your probie might know something though." Mike says as he wanders over to the elevator.