AN: Thank you all for the lovely reviews and support with this story. Thanks goes out to (NCISSVU ) for being my cheerleader and soundboard .
I'd like to dedicate this chapter to my Dad. Daddy, I love and miss you but I know you are looking down. I love you!
Sitting in the chair by her bedside, Gibbs continued to talk to Jenny, hoping that she could hear him. "The only way they would let me in here to see you is if I told them I was related to you—so I told them we were married. I know, I know, you can kill me later", he chuckled—dimples creasing his face.
Grabbing her hand, Gibbs ran his fingers along the creases of Jenny's palm. "You always hated when I babied you. I remember in Serbia, you had the flu for a week. With a fever of 103.4 and you was still thinking you could do everything on your own—until I found you asleep in the bathtub. After that, there was no argument that you needed help and rest. There will be no argument this time either. I'm going to love you through this, Jen. Whatever happens."
Looking deeply into her eyes, Gibbs wondered if she was dreaming and hoped that if she was, the dream was a pleasant one. She looked so peaceful laying there. Brushing a strand of hair from away from her face, Gibbs had no idea that what Jenny was seeing was anything but pleasant—it was her own personal hell.
Opening the door to her childhood home, Jenny shifted the bag of groceries she was carrying to one hand as she walked in the door "Daddy! I'm here! I brought dinner! We're having meatloaf, corn, and a salad. " Jenny sat the food on the table before beginning the search for her father. It was weird that he wasn't answering. Maybe he had taken a walk or stepped out?" she reasoned. The clock in the hall read 4:30. No, he was usually home from his golf game by that time then an idea hit her to check the den.
Jasper Shepard being the military man that he was meant that he ran his life by a very specific schedule. Everything aspect of his day was meticulously planned out. Everything had a time frame to eat. Bath at 16:00 shot of tequila at 16:30. Dinner anywhere 18:00 and 19:00 , his favorite crime drama at 22:00 and bed no later than 23:00
Walking into the den, she heard one of her father's favorite jazz albums playing in the background. The blinds were open and Jenny was relieved that the sun was still shining brightly enough to make out her father's figure in his favorite chair. Breathing a sigh of relief, she turned the music down so she didn't to strain her vocal cords to be heard. "I figured I'd find you down here. I'm going to start cooking dinner. It will be ready in about an hour. Just wanted to come check on you—make sure you're okay."
Jasper's chair was turned around make it appear as if he was staring out the window, totally engulfed in his own thoughts. Jenny had seen that look before and inched closer to tap her father out of his daze and back to reality. "Hey you... you with me? Daddy? Daddy can you hear me?" He didn't respond, didn't move. Something wasn't right turning the chair around, Jenny shrieked in horror at what she saw.
Propped up in the arm chair sat Jasper Thomas Shepard, a bottle of brandy in his left hand and a gun in his right, aimed at his head. It looked as if it had been recently fired. Blood was everywhere, dripping down onto the chair. Jenny felt for a pulse but it was too late—her beloved father was gone.
"No Daddy! No! Please come back! Don't leave me, not yet! Not- yet..." Jenny's voice broke, her body erupting in sobs. From the looks of things, her father had committed suicide, but her father could not do that—her father could not do that. Something just did not add up,
Jenny knew the steps she needed to take next, but she could tear herself away from her dad Tears streamed down her cheeks as she began mentally chastising herself. She should have gotten home sooner; she could have stopped this from happen—if only she had gotten here sooner…
"I'm sorry, Daddy... I'm so, so, so sorry".
Beep. Beep. Beep. The hospital monitors beat in a rhythm of their own, If you listened to it carefully enough or long enough, it was almost like a song. Jasper Shepard sat on the edge of his daughter's bed, unbeknownst to Gibbs who was leaned back the chair next to his daughter's bed, eyes closed . Jasper cleared his throat and looked over at the grey haired agent.
"Go to sleep ,Son, I've got her six".
Gibbs mumbled stifling a yawn, "Jen.. got her six..'
Jasper smiled, knowing now that on some level the younger man could hear him. "That's right. We've both got her six. She's going to okay Son, just give her time." Gibbs drifted into an exhausted , peaceful sleep.
Turning his attention back to his daughter, Jasper lightly kissed her cheek. "My death wasn't your fault, Angel. That's a pain that you're going to have to work though and let go, but you have angels all around you, watching you and supporting you. You have people here that love you—like Agent Gibbs. You're going to get through this and I'll be here to help you",.
Turning around to the sound of a young woman's voice, Jasper smiled when he saw the young redhead, holding the hand of a young child. "Hi Shannon, Kelly. What are you doing here?"
"We've come to take you, Home , Grandpa Jasper", Kelly said with a smile.
" I don't want to leave her.. not yet."
Shannon came over to Jasper, placing her hand on the elderly man's shoulder and giving it a squeeze. "I know you don't want to leave her." , she said casting a glance over at the young woman in the hospital bed. "But like you said, she's in good hands. You can always come back".
Jasper nodded. "I have to go now, Princess", he said taking Jenny's hand. "I love you".
"Mommy? ", Kelly said. "Why is the lady sleeping Is she taking a nap".
"Kind of sweetie", Shannon said, running her fingers through her daughter's long brown hair. "She's in a coma."
"What's a coma?"
"It's like a big long nap"
"Like Sleeping Beauty?", Kelly reasoned
Shannon smiled, "Yes, like Sleeping Beauty"
"Maybe if Daddy kisses her, she'll wake up!" the little girl smiled brightly
"It's not that simple. This is a sleep a doctor has to wake you from."
"Will they wake her up soon?"
"Yes sweetie. She has to heal first"
"What's her name?"
Kelly nodded and held onto Jenny's hand. "I'm gonna watch over you now , kay, Miss Jenny".
Jasper smiled. "I'm sure she'd like that".
Looking at her Mommy, Kelly said, "Can we say goodbye to Daddy before we leave?"
Shannon nodded, knowing that Kelly would be upset if she didn't get to say goodbye to her Daddy.
"Careful not to wake him up, Kell."
Kelly nodded and carefully made her way to her father's lap. Climbing up, she traced the outline of his face, kissing his cheek. She sat there for a moment, missing the way her Daddy's strong arms felt in a bear hug.
"I love you, Daddy", she whispered , knowing full well he could hear her This wasn't her first visit. She had learned the ins and outs—the dos and don'ts of appearing and disappearing rather well.
Gibbs responded by outstretching his arms and giving her the hug she desired so desperately , mumbling, "I love ya, Kell-bell" Satisfied , Kelly climbed down. She hated what she knew was coming. As soon as he felt her climb down, Gibbs reached for her.
"Stay with Daddy, Princess. Please, stay with Daddy."
"I'm always with you, Daddy. I have to go now. I'll be back to watch over Miss Jenny. I love you.."
Kelly stepped next to Jasper as Shannon stepped forward. Carefully, she cupped Gibbs face, pressing his lips to his. "I love you, Gunny.", . she said.
"Shan", Gibbs mumbled ..
"I'm here. I'm proud of you Jethro. It's time to move on now… it's okay to move on. Jenny's a good woman.."
"You're not mad?", he mumbled.
"No.. I'm not mad. I knew it would happen eventually and I'm glad it has."
"Love you… forever."
"And I you, darling."
With one final kiss, Shannon pulled away.
" Stay, Shan."
"You know I can't. I love you."
"I love you too."
With that, Jasper, Shannon and Kelly disappeared
Mike and Fornell walked Jenny's hospital room to find Gibbs sleeping in a rocking chair by Jenny's bed.
"I wonder how long he's been like that", Fornell said in reference to the way Gibb's was positioned.
He had his arms outstretched as if he were reaching for something just beyond his grasp. It was a scene Mike had witnessed many times over the years. Gently, Mike placed Gibb's hands back at his side and shook his friend's shoulder.
"Probie... wake up! Come on Jethro..."
It took Gibbs a moment to come out of his haze.
The elder agent's instincts were right. He knew the look on Gibb's face when he was dreaming about family.
"Afraid not, Probie. You'll have to settle for me and Fornell.
Gibbs opened his eyes fully, remembering his surroundings . "Jenny.. is Jenny alright?"
"That's what the doctor wants to talk to us about. The test results came back.. He wants us to meet him in his office in five minutes.". Fornell said.
Gibbs took a breath. Afraid of what the tests would say but knowing that he had to know. He rose from the chair.
"I'll be back, Jen", he said as he kissed her cheek.
Before leaving the room, Gibbs cast a glance Heaven-ward.
"Watch over her guys," he whispered