Episode 200 – Life Before His Eyes

Wow. Just. Wow. But then I spent the next day thinking what if…. Then I heard this song twice on the radio. And this is the result. Takes place during the episode, ignoring the blink-and-you'll-miss-it scene between Tony and Ziva in the interrogation room (though I loved him calling her Tiva – definitely a nod to fans). Side note – Feb 17 issue of Entertainment Weekly has an article about Shipper fans. It mentions Tony/Ziva once as a 'Fan Favorite' (specifically PARIS!) but never covers them in the article, but it's still worth a quick read.

Fair warning : It's dark. Very dark and very violent in places. But then has a sickly sweet ending

And it contains Tony/Ziva, Tim/Abby, Jenny/Gibbs, Shannon/Gibbs and song quotes. So if that's not your cup of coffee, seek entertainment elsewhere.

NCIS belongs to Donald Bellisario and CBS. I'm just borrowing for a minute and promise to put them right back where I found them.

What About Now

Jen S. - jcswriter

What about now?
What about today?
What if you're making me all that I was meant to be?
What if our love never went away?
What if it's lost behind words we could never find?
Baby, before it's too late,
What about now?
(1 – quoted throughout, unless otherwise cited)

Gibbs looked up from Kelly's drawing to see Jenny slide into the booth next to Shannon. "Hello."

"Hello Jethro," she replied.

"You really call him Jethro?" Shannon asked. Kelly giggled. That wonderful sweet giggle.

"On occasion." Jenny smirked.

Gibbs looked from his lover to his wife and back again. Then decided it was safer to look at his daughter and her drawing. But when he looked down, she was gone. He reached over to the empty space.

"Jethro," Jenny's voice was sad.

Shannon was gone too. Gibb's head swiveled on his neck as he searched the diner for his girls.

"They'll be back. But now I have something to show you," Jenny said.

"Jen," Gibbs said. "I…."

"I know. I've heard everything you've said since I was killed. You can't blame yourself for me any more than for Shannon and Kelly. I was dying. I made my choice." She reached over and took his hand. "And this isn't about me. I've had my time here. So has Shannon. This is about you. And there's something you need to see. To understand."

Shadows fill an empty heart
As love is fading,
From all the things that we are
But are not saying.
Can we see beyond the stars
And make it to the dawn?

They were standing in a non-descript hotel hallway. Jenny took a deep breath and led him into a room.

Ziva lay on a bed, curled on her side. Her cheek rested in one hand. The other lay loosely on a handgun. Her eyes drifted closed, then opened wide. Gibbs walked over to stand next to her and reached down to stroke her hair back from her face. But his hand froze just above her skin

A voice caught his attention. "Sleep. I am here."

Ari sat at a table cleaning a gun. Two more lay within reach.

"I am not tired," Ziva replied.

"Hmm." Ari continued cleaning. After a moment he began to sing softly. Gibbs couldn't understand the words, song in Hebrew. But the tune was achingly familiar. He'd sung it countless times to Kelly. And he found himself singing along in a whisper.

"You are my sunshine; my only sunshine, you make me happy, when skies are gray, you'll never know dear, how much I love you, please don't take my sunshine away." (2)

Ziva began to snore.

Ari smiled and rose to go to her. He pulled the spread over to cover her. "Sleep little one." There was such an intense look of love on the killer's face, such depth of emotion, Gibbs had to look away.

"If you had seen him on that rooftop," Jenny explained. "He'd have fled the country with Ziva's help. They'd have met in Paris. Then gone into hiding."

"Hiding? From whom?" Gibbs asked.

The door exploded inward. Ari leapt for the table and his weapons. Ziva awoke instantly and snatched up her own gun.

Bullets flew through the air. Slicing into flesh and bone. Blood spilled. The invading men fell one by one, but more followed close behind.

Then Ari fell. And Ziva took a shot to the shoulder and dropped her gun. Before she could grab it with her other hand, she was tackled to the mattress. Three men piled on top of her as she fought.

"ENOUGH!"

The bellow froze everyone in place. Eli David strode into the chaos.

Ari was gasping on the floor, blood spurting from the wound in his chest. "Father. This was my fault. Take me. Leave her. Please, father."

"You no longer have any right to call me that," Eli replied.

Ari choked. "I am asking you. I have never asked you for anything. Please. Walk away from her."

Eli merely pointed at Ari. One of the others walked over and fired a single shot into Ari's forehead.

"ARI! NOOOOOOOOOOOO!" Ziva screamed.

Gibbs closed his eyes.

Change the colors of the sky.
And open up to
The ways you made me feel alive,
The ways I loved you.
For all the things that never died,
To make it through the night,
Love will find you

He opened his eyes. Ziva was lying on the dirty floor of a small, dim room. Her clothes were torn and bloody. Her face was battered beyond recognition.

Eli strode in to stand over her form. "You dare. You dare to think you could walk away from me? After everything I've done for you?"

"What… What have you done for me? You've killed my mother. My sister. My brother." She could barely make herself be heard. "You tried to turn me into a monster."

"You are the biggest disappointment in my life," Eli shook his head. "Do with her what you wish. Dispose of the body when you are through." He turned and walked away.

Five men entered the room. One was already unzipping his pants.

"I can't watch this," Jenny turned away and was gone.

Gibbs clenched his jaw and closed his eyes again. When he opened them, it was apparent time had passed. The last man walked out of the room.

Ziva was sprawled on her back. Her clothes had been ripped off and tossed into a corner. Blood poured from her mouth and nose, leaked from her ears, and streamed from between her thighs. Every breath sounded heavy and wet.

"Ziver," Gibbs stooped down. "Ziva get up. They left the door open. Get up. Fight. Ziva baby. Run."

"To where," Ari's voice came from behind him. "She does not know of any place to run to. No one to give her sanctuary."

Her breathing became more labored. Gasping. Choking. Then silence. And the light went out of her eyes. She died there. Alone. Beaten. Battered. Destroyed. Betrayed. Alone.

Gibbs clutched at his chest.

Ari stooped down next to her. "My sweet little sister. I taught her to shoot you know."

"No. I didn't." His voice was hoarse. He cleared his throat.

"And I gave her the code name. Archangel. She was my angel. My life. My light. My hope. My reward for some amazingly good deed. My sunshine." Ari reached down as if to stroke her hair. "I'm sorry Gibbs. I'm sorry for Caitlin. But I am not sorry for changing my sister's fate from this."

"So if I'd saved Kate, I'd have sentenced Ziva to this?"

"Yes," Ari nodded. "And Kate's destiny was set."

"What do you mean?"

"Come."

"I don't want to leave her."

Ari sighed, "Nor do I. But she is no longer here."

Gibbs looked down. Ziva's body was gone.

Ari stood up and reached a hand down to Gibbs. Gibbs grimaced but let Ari pull him to his feet.

And they were standing on a grassy hill overlooking a cemetery.

Tony sat staring at a flag draped coffin with a baby on his lap wrapped in a soft blanket. A priest stepped back and walked away from the grave.

The baby began to fuss, and then wail. But Tony didn't react. So Ducky stepped over and lifted the infant from Tony's limp arms.

"Tony," Abby walked over. "Tony we have to go."

Tim took Tony's arm and tried to pull him to his feet. "Come on Tony."

Tony yanked his arm free. "Let me go."

"Tony," Tim reached forward again.

Tony shoved him back. "Don't touch me!"

"Tony," Abby reprimanded.

"Where were you?" Tony snarled. "Huh? Where were you Probie? When my wife was being executed. When my child's mother was bleeding out."

Tim's face clenched in grief, "I…."

Tony's fist connected with Tim's chin.

"TIM!" Abby screamed.

"ANTHONY!" Ducky yelled.

The baby howled.

Tim sat up slowly, rubbing his jaw.

Ari sighed, "McGee will never forgive himself for Kate's death."

Tony stepped away, fisting his hands in his hair. He laid a hand on the flag covered coffin and sobbed out a breath.

"Tony will never forgive him either. He will never speak to Timothy or Abigail again after this day."

Abby covered her mouth with one hand, the other pressed to her abdomen.

"Abigail will miscarry in two weeks. Another blow to try to recover from. She and Timothy will live out their lives together. But there will be no children."

Tony walked over to Ducky who gently rocked the baby. "I'm OK now. Let me have the baby."

"Anthony," Ducky said.

"Ducky. Please give me my child."

Tony gathered the baby into his arms and turned to walk away.

"DiNozzo will raise their child. He will be a good father. But not a great one," Ari watched as the man and baby passed. Then he moved to stand face to face with Gibbs. "He will never get over the loss of his wife. He will never have a close friend. And many years from now, he will die, alone. Still grieving."

Gibbs sighed heavily, staring at the coffin as it was lowered into the grave.

"You care for Ziva," Ari said.

"Yes."

"You love her. As a father should."

"Yes."

"Would you die for her? Would you kill for her?"

"Either way, what bliss," Gibbs quoted. (3) Ari looked confused. Gibbs shook his head. "Yes. I would. I have."

"I have only ever loved two people in this life. I lost Tali because I couldn't stand up to my father. I couldn't lose Ziva. I would have slaughtered thousands to keep that light from being extinguished. I am sorry for Caitlin. But I will never be sorry for getting Ziva out of Israel. For getting her away from our father. For getting her to you. And to Tony. And Abby and Tim. Ducky, Palmer. To Jenny."

Gibbs closed his eyes, lowered his head, and took in a deep shuddering breath. Someone leaned against his arm. He opened his eyes to see he was sitting back in the diner booth, with Kelly leaning against his side.

"Hi Daddy."

"Hi baby."

She smiled gently as he wiped his eyes. "It's not my turn yet."

"Turn for what?"

"You'll see," she replied in a sing song voice.

Shannon and Jenny stood a short distance away chatting. Both women laughed aloud. They glanced over at him. And both laughed again.

"I can't tell you how scary this moment is," Gibbs said.

This time Kelly joined them in the amusement.

Jenny leaned over to whisper in his ear, "I'm sorry. I couldn't watch her die. I love her as much as you do."

"I know," he replied. "Momma Jen."

"Smart ass." She kissed his temple. "See you later Jethro."

Jenny walked over to the door. Ari opened it and gestured for her to precede him. They turned back at the door and looked to him one last time. Then they stepped out into the brightness. They parted ways and disappeared.

Kate Todd was sitting just inside the door. She smiled to him. Then she stood. There was a baby in a car seat in front of her on the table. She tucked a blanket around the baby that would never be. She hefted the seat, gave him a small wave, then she left the diner, turning in the same direction as Jenny. And she too was gone.

Kelly pushed his arm. "Need to get up Daddy."

So he stood and let her out of the booth. Fornell walked over and took her hand. They walked away with Kelly pirouetting under Tobias' arm.

Shannon walked over to stand before him. "Brace yourself Gibbs."

"For what?"

"My turn." She took a deep breath. "I died. Kelly died."

Gibbs flinched back.

"And you started on this path. You've saved countless lives." And she took his face in her hands.

Images cascaded in front of his eyes. Face after face after face. Abby. Tony. Tim. Ziva. Ducky. Palmer. Little Zach. More. Others. Repeating. Fornell. Emily. Vance. Franks. Leyla. Amira. More. Others. Repeating. Blurring. He was dizzy. He jerked back free from her hands.

The sun is breaking in your eyes
To start a new day.
This broken heart can still survive
With a touch of your grace.
Shadows fade into the light.
I am by your side,
Where love will find you.

"So many lives Gibbs," Shannon whispered. "Every life you saved. Every murder you arrested saved future victims. And there are so many more out there. So many who need you. And there's your team. Your KIDS. You saved them. Gave them a father to look up to. To be proud of. To have proud of them. Something several of them would never have otherwise. You are their rock. Their anchor. Their rudder. In this chaos of a world. They still need you."

Gibbs drew in a sob. "I've missed you. So much. But I'm… I'm not ready to go."

"I know," Shannon stretched up and kissed him gently. "Kelly's about to burst if we don't let her have her turn."

"It's my turn?" his daughter squealed in excitement.

Gibbs turned as Kelly leapt to him. He scooped her up and she wrapped her legs around his waist. So he sat against a stool along the counter.

"OK Kelly," Gibbs said. "Your turn."

"I get to show you all the things coming. All the new ones coming."

"New ones?"

"Babies Daddy!" she cupped his face in her hands. "Grandbabies!"

The diner faded from sight.

x

Palmer slid a finger under his tie and pulled. "Is it supposed to be this tight?"

"Yes," Ducky replied. "Stop playing with it."

"I can't breathe." He gasped. "God. I can't do this. What if I faint? Or puke? Or forget what I'm supposed to say?"

Gibbs took him by the shoulders. "Stop. You're fine. Breathe. That's it. Again. Just breathe easy. You are not going to faint. Or puke. You are going to stand there. Stand tall. And wait for Breena. Once she's with you, you'll be fine. You'll remember everything. And what you don't, she will."

"Thanks Agent Gibbs," Palmer sighed as he relaxed.

"Just Gibbs, Palmer," Gibbs patted his cheek. "And that tie is a little tight. Come here."

x

Stepping into the bride's room of the old Catholic church. Abby standing in front of a mirror. Her dress was white, with blood red ribbon accents.

"How do I look?" she asked him.

"Beautiful. The most beautiful thing I've ever seen," he replied. He hugged her gently and kissed her forehead.

Abby's lip quivered. She pressed a hand to her abdomen.

"You OK?"

"Little queasy."

"Nerves," Gibbs soothed.

"Yeah. Or you know…. Morning sickness."

Gibbs scowled.

"Gibbs," she smiled and tilted her head. "You cannot kill my fiancée the day of our wedding. And you certainly cannot kill my baby's daddy. It's not like Tim and I haven't been planning this wedding for three months. We just jumped the gun a little."

"Oh it's a good thing I love you both so much."

"Don't I know it!"

Walking her down the aisle, with the nun watching and crying. Ziva in front in a knee length black dress.

Tim caught his gaze. "He knows," he moaned.

Tony was next to him, looked to Gibbs. "Oh yeah, he knows. Been nice knowing you Probie."

"We are gathered here today…. Who gives this woman to be wed?"

x

"Boss, you got a minute?"

Looking up from his desk to see Tony standing there, shifting nervously.

"Yeah DiNozzo, what's up?"

"Ziva and I want to get married. Like soon. Like this weekend. So I'm going to rent a jet and we're going to Vegas. Eloping. And we want you to come with us. Actually we want everyone to come with us. I'm not sure. Is it eloping if we take everyone with us? Anyway."

Slap.

"Boss? What's that for?"

"Just hoping it would make you take a breath, DiNozzo." Gibbs went to Ziva. "This what you want?"

"More than anything."

"You pregnant?"

"Not yet. But soon we hope.

Tony cracked a grin, "We've kinda started trying. And trying. And trying."

"Don't make me have to kill you before the wedding."

"Sorry boss. So can we?"

"Can we what?" Tim asked as he and Abby walked into the bull pen. Abby's belly was definitely round with child.

"Road trip."

"Where?"

"Vegas."

"Why Vegas now?" Abby whined. "I can't do any of the…. Oh My GOD. REALLY"

Ziva smiled, "Yes Abby, we are eloping and would like our family to be there when we do."

Abby squealed and squeezed Ziva into a hug. Then quickly released her, "Oh sorry. Are you…."

"She's PREGNANT?" Tim cried.

"God how did you guys find out so quick?" Palmer sighed as he and Breena joined them followed by a grinning Ducky.

"I'm not pregnant. Yet. We're are merely eloping to Vegas," Ziva said. "We want everyone to come."

"Oh, OK," Breena smiled. "I'm pregnant. But we can still come to Vegas right?"

"You're pregnant?"

More squeals. More squeezing hugs.

Gibbs caught Palmer in a firm embrace, "Congratulations Daddy. It will be the most amazing thing you ever do."

Palmer gripped him tightly. "You'll be around, right Gibbs? I can check in with you sometimes? Make sure I'm doing things right? I've never even changed a diaper."

"You'll learn. I can teach you. And you know the best part?"

"What?"

"Babies don't remember the first few years of our massive screw-ups. First time I had to change Kelly, I went through seven diapers before I finally got one to stay on using duct tape. I was so proud, for about a minute and a half. Then she loaded the damn thing and I had to start all over again."

"Guys," Tim whistled, "While we're already wound up, we have an announcement too."

Abby smiled warmly, "Remember yesterday when Ducky was listening to the baby's heartbeat and said he heard something strange? Not strange so much as an echo?"

"Abby, what's wrong?"

"Nothing, he was just hearing two overlapping heartbeats."

Tony shrugged, "OK. Yeah. Yours and the baby's right?"

"Following that logic then he was hearing three."

"Yours and two… TWINS!"

More squeals. More hugs.

As Abby leaned against Gibbs' chest, she asked, "You can make a second cradle, right?"

"Of course I can."

x

Back room of a little wedding chapel just off the strip in Vegas. Ziva standing in front of the mirror brushing her own hair. No one to fuss over her.

So he stepped in and took the brush from her hand. Long gentle strokes through hair starting to return to its curly state. Then he gently straightened the plain off white dress that fell in soft waves down to her calves.

He knew she wouldn't ask. "You look gorgeous Ziver."

"Thank you."

He smiled, "For saying you're beautiful?"

"For being here. For being my father. For walking me down the aisle."

"Where else would I be?"

Knock Knock Knock

"Everybody decent?" Tony asked as he slipped into the room. "Whoa. Zee. Wow."

"It is bad luck to see the bride before the wedding," Ziva reprimanded.

"You've been gone for an hour. I was just making sure Gibbs hadn't talked you into abandoning ship."

"Wouldn't do that Tony," Gibbs replied. "Everyone ready outside?"

"Yep." Tony sneaked a quick kiss to Ziva's lips. But when he leaned in for a longer one, Gibbs gave him a firm head slap.

"I knew you were going to find some way to do that today," Tony smoothed his hair back down.

"I knew you were going to do something that made me," Gibbs retorted. "Go on up front, let's get this show on the road."

Walking Ziva down the aisle towards the Rabbi. Breena and Abby ahead of them in pastel colors. Tony standing with Tim and Palmer, looking the happiest he'd ever seen.

"Shalom."

x

"Boss. Her water broke. I think it ruined our bed. She punched me to wake me up when she had a contraction. Then this gush in the bed."

"Tim, slow down," Gibbs rubbed the sleep from his eyes and squinted at his watch. "Do you need me to come get you?"

"No I think I can drive. But can you come? Can you come to the hospital?"

"Be there in twenty. I'll rally the others."

Pacing the floor outside of the labor and delivery ward. Abby's scheduled C Section was another four days down the line. But the twins weren't waiting.

Breena was getting bigger every time he saw her. She was now asleep sitting up against Jimmy's shoulder.

Ziva and Tony sat hand in hand. Hands resting on her stomach. He stared, wondering. Ziva felt his gaze and met it, smiling mysteriously. And he knew. He stooped down in front of her.

"Are you…?"

"We think so Boss," Tony answered. "We took the home test things late last night."

"One test?"

"Five actually," Ziva rolled her eyes.

"Five?"

"Well they come in packs of two. So I bought one then started thinking if one says positive and one says negative, which do we believe. So I went back in and bought one more. But still that leaves the option of two and two. So one more gives us the option of best out of five." Tony paused to take a breath. "I think we need to change pharmacies now."

Gibbs shook his head, "How in the world did you have enough pee for five sticks?"

"I aim very well, Gibbs," Ziva smirked. "And I consumed a large quantity of juice. Which is still working its way through, excuse me."

"Surprised you didn't just use all six."

Tony helped her up, "Oh I peed on the sixth one. You know, as a control? Damn thing came back inconclusive."

Gibbs laughed, "but the other five."

"Unanimous Boss. She be knocked up."

"Boss?"

Gibbs stood as Tim stepped into the doorway.

"Abby's fine. She would like you to….come meet your grandsons."

Gibbs grinned broadly.

x

Abby was reclining back in the bed. Her face pale, eyes shadowed. But she was smiling. "Gibbs." She reached for him.

He leaned over and hugged her gently. "You OK?"

"I'm great. I'm tired. But I'm… I am amazing. Did you see what I did?"

"Not yet," Gibbs turned as Tim advanced holding a baby in his arms. Gibbs stepped back and sat down in the chair. Tim bent down to hand over the baby.

"I would like you to meet Samuel Thomas McGee."

The baby peeked out of one eye, then snorted and settled in to sleep in Gibb's arms.

"And," Tim returned with the other baby. "Brian Jethro."

"Oh you didn't" Gibbs moaned as he took the second baby in his arm. "I am so sorry kid."

Gibbs sat with a baby in each arm as the others filed in to congratulate the new parents and meet the new family members.

x

They were at a crime scene. Tim was yawning broadly.

Palmer was helping Ducky lift the body to the gurney when his cell phone rang. He flipped it open one handed. "Hey Bree. Can you give me a minute we're…. What?"

The body dropped hard to the ground.

"James?"

"I'm coming. I'm coming. I'll be right there. Baby. Baby's coming. Oh God." Palmer sat down hard on the gurney.

"Where is she?" Gibbs snapped into action. "PALMER! Where is she? Is she alone?"

Palmer swallowed hard, "No." He stood up. "Her parents are there with her. Her father will drive her to the hospital. I need to go."

"Jethro will drive you," Ducky said.

Gibbs nodded once. "DiNozzo, scene's yours. Get McGee some coffee. And don't let your wife lift anything heavier than a notebook." He took Palmer's arm. "Let's go son."

x

Breena's parents were standing guard over their weary daughter as Gibbs and Ducky were led in by Palmer. She smiled warmly as she relinquished her newborn son. "Hey guys."

"Dr. Mallard, Gibbs," Palmer walked over with his son. "I would like you to meet my son. Jason Donald Palmer."

Ducky's mouth fell open. "Mr. Palmer?"

"It's OK right?"

"I am honored. Truly. Honored."

x

Ziva shifted in her seat. She rubbed her stomach and sighed. "I love you. But would you please move off of my backbone?" They were in the car driving on the highway.

"Back hurt?" Gibbs asked.

"Yes. A lot. And I am hungry. Again."

Gibbs smiled. "Well I can probably find somewhere for us to eat."

She nodded, "I would like…." She stopped abruptly.

"Like what? Ziva? Ziva!"

"Gibbs. My water is broken."

He glanced over once, then made a sharp lane change, ignoring the irritated horns. Then he drove into the grassy median to change directions.

"OW. OW." Ziva gasped. "Oh Gibbs."

"It's OK," he said. "We're fine. You're fine." He flipped open his phone. "DiNozzo!"

x

Ziva was sweating heavily as Gibbs coached her through another contraction.

"Where is he?" she cried.

"He's coming. They were down passed Norfolk."

"Why?"

"Because you married an idiot," Gibbs replied.

"Oh," she sobbed out and let loose with a barrage of Hebrew.

The doctor who had just entered the room froze mid step. "Never heard it put that exact way before."

The nurse smiled, "She's just about ready to push."

"No! I am not! I want Tony. He promised to be here."

"OK," the doctor nodded. "But you can't really…"

Ziva looked at him and growled. "I will NOT have this baby without my husband."

The doctor looked to Gibbs, "I kinda believe her."

"Ziver," Gibbs kissed her temple. "Sweetie, you need to…"

"I'm here!" Tony shouted.

"YOU ARE LATE!" Ziva snarled.

"But I'm cute which makes up for a whole bunch," Tony said as he went to her side.

Gibbs tried to free his hand, but Ziva held tight, "Please Gibbs. Don't leave me."

Tony met his gaze, "Please Boss. We want you here."

"OK."

"All right, Mrs. DiNozzo," the doctor sat between her feet. "On the next contraction I need you to push."

She screamed as she dropped her chin to her chest.

Gibbs was sweating as his eyes dropped down. He gasped as he watched the baby emerge into the world. First a head of thick dark hair. Then shoulders. Then a tiny body.

"It's a boy," Gibbs whispered.

"I have a son," Tony cried.

"Oh," Ziva whispered. "There you are."

The slippery small form was laid on her chest and began to cry.

Tony's hand shook as he reached to stroke the baby's back. "Hello Benjamin."

"Benjamin?" Gibbs smiled. "I like that. Benjamin DiNozzo. Welcome to the World Benji."

Tony kissed Ziva gently. "Thank you. I love you."

"What's his middle name," the nurse asked.

Ziva and Tony looked at each other. "Gibbs." They said in unison.

Gibbs just groaned.

x

They quickly became known as 'The Quads'. The four Gibbs kids. And usually they were very well behaved. But this day they were wreaking holy terror on the base day care center. Sam, Brian, Jason, and Benji were running around, screaming, when Gibbs walked in.

"HEY!" Gibbs voice snapped through the room. "What do you think you are doing?"

All four boys froze in place. Four sets of eyes went wide. Four thumbs went into four mouths.

Gibbs walked through the room and over to the far corner. Four small boys followed him silently. He stooped down to their level.

"You boys know the rules. It's OK to run and have fun. But when your teacher tells you it's time to calm down. You. Calm. Down. Understood?" Four heads nodded. Gibbs reached over and pulled each one's thumb out of his mouth. "Now. I have a few minutes." Gibbs took a book off a nearby shelf and sat down on the floor and began to read aloud.

All four boys settled on the floor around him. Benji and Sam scooted up next to him.

x

Gibbs carried Jason through the hospital corridor. Into the room where Breena and Jimmy sat holding the newest addition to the family.

"Hi Jason," Breena greeted.

"Hi Mommy. Is that my baby brother?"

Jimmy took him from Gibbs, "Yes. Jason. This is Jonathan Edward Palmer."

"Hi," Jason whispered to the newborn.

Jimmy grinned to Gibbs. Gibbs leaned over and hugged him gently. Then he kissed Breena's temple. "Great work, sweetheart."

x

"Grandpa Gibbs," Benjamin snuggled close to Gibbs' chest. "How come I don't got a brother? Jason's got Johnny. And Sam and Brian are brothers."

Gibbs slipped his glasses off and closed the book he'd been reading to the preschooler. "It's just the way it is, Ben. It might change. It might not. It's not fair really."

"Yeah," Ben sighed deeply.

x

Gibbs, Tony, and Ben walked into the house laughing. All three were muddy. They stripped out of their shoes, jackets, and jeans. Clad only in socks and shirts, they entered the kitchen.

"Zee? We're home," Tony called. "Zee?"

"Mommy?" Ben disappeared further into the house. "DAD!"

Tony ran to his son, Gibbs right on his heels. Ziva was sitting in the bathroom staring at a white plastic rectangle in her hand.

"Ziva?" Tony stooped and took her hands.

"Tony. We are pregnant."

Tony's face brightened into a huge grin.

"YES!" Ben leapt into the air. "YES YES YES - WHOOOP - YES YES." He danced and jumped down the hall fists in the air. Suddenly his feet slipped on the hardwood floor and he fell on his butt. "Whoops." He sat on the ground laughing wildly.

"Ben, you OK?" Gibbs looked down at the little boy.

"I'm great. I'm a BIG BROTHER!"

x

Ziva stood at the window staring out into the rapidly falling snow. She pulled her hair up off the back of her neck. She was eight months pregnant. It was twenty degrees outside. And felt like a hundred and twenty in the office.

Gibbs' image appeared in the window. "Still coming down." He took her hair into his own hands and piled it on her head, then blew a light breath across the back of her neck. "You OK?"

"Just hot," she replied.

"Come on."

Gibbs took her to the elevator. "Abby and Tim called. They've got all five boys home eating mac and cheese."

Autopsy was cool. Ziva moaned in relief.

Then she gasped and clutched her stomach.

"Ziva?" Ducky rushed forward.

Now that we're here,
Now that we've come this far,
Just hold on.
There is nothing to fear,
For I am right beside you.
For all my life,
I am yours.

"Snow's really bad," Jimmy reported. "Emergency services are stretched thin. But they promised to try."

"We don't have much time," Ducky stated as he pulled gloves off. "She is dilated almost eight centimeters."

"You ever deliver a baby Duck?"

"Well yes, but it's been a few decades," Ducky replied.

"I don't think it's changed any," Gibbs said.

Ziva lay on an autopsy table that had been covered in blankets. Palmer was sitting behind her, helping her forward with the contractions. Ducky sat on a stool between her bent knees. Gibbs was at her side, bracing her foot in the crook of his elbow.

"OK Ziva, push," Ducky encouraged.

"Ten, nine, eight, seven," Palmer counted in her ear.

"Oh count faster," Ziva panted as she pushed.

"PUSH!"

"I AM PUSHING," Ziva snapped at Ducky.

Then inch by blessedly small inch, a head appeared.

"Kid's bald," Palmer noticed.

Then shoulders.

Then it went bad.

The baby slipped into Ducky's hands. Small, fragile.

And blue.

Followed by a massive gush of blood.

Ziva's eyes rolled and her head fell back hard onto Palmer's shoulder

"God, help me," Ducky prayed. He quickly tied off and cut the cord. "Jethro, take the baby."

Gibbs looked worriedly at Ziva's pale face and the rapidly growing puddle of blood.

"Jimmy lay her down flat."

"Yes, Doctor."

"JETHRO! TAKE THE BABY NOW!"

Gibbs snapped back. He took the small baby into his hands.

"Cover the mouth and nose with your mouth and give two gentle puffs of air," Ducky commanded. "Very gentle. Make sure you have a good seal." He was working quickly on Ziva.

Gibbs lightly breathed into the baby.

"Press gently onto the chest. Then two more breaths."

Gibbs shifted the baby into one hand and rubbed and pressed the tiny breastbone. Then he breathed again.

And was rewarded with a squawk, then a thin fragile cry.

"OK, OK," Gibbs whispered as he grabbed a blanket and wrapped the baby up tightly.

"Jethro?"

"Getting pinker. Ziva?"

"Think I've… yes, bleeding is slowing," Ducky replied.

Ziva let out a moan.

"I am sorry my dear," Ducky soothed. "Just another minute."

Her eyes opened slowly, "What? Where's the baby?"

"Right here," Gibbs stepped over to her.

"Hello," she whispered. "What…?" she blinked and her head lolled.

"Stay with us, Ziva," Jimmy urged. "Look at your daughter."

Gibbs blinked down at the newborn in his arms, "It's a girl?"

"It sure is," Jimmy laughed, "You didn't look?"

"No," Gibbs shook his head as he and the baby stared at each other.

Ziva sobbed over a laugh, "I have a daughter?"

"You have a daughter."

x

Tony slid into the hospital room. Soaking wet, panting. "Boss?"

Gibbs was sitting in a chair holding the baby, "Hello."

"I missed it," Tony's lip quivered.

Gibbs just stood up and handed over the baby. "Tony DiNozzo, may I present, your daughter."

"I have a daughter?"

"You have a daughter."

x

Gibbs went into the men's room. He leaned against the sink breathing deep. Then a sob ripped through his chest. He crossed his arms, clenching tight, but the weeping escaped. After a few minutes he began to calm. He ran water cold into the sink and ducked his head in.

A toilet was flushed.

And Ducky emerged from a stall. He was pale, sweaty, clammy. "Are you all right Jethro?"

Gibbs shook his head, "You?"

"Well except for the massive amount of vomiting over the last half hour… I'm lousy. She almost died. They both did. In my hands. On my watch. I've never trained for that. To stop a hemorrhaging uterus. To start a newborn breathing."

"But you did stop the bleeding. And you talked me through the CPR. We got them back.

"I have never in my life been so terrified, Jethro. So apprehensive. So unsure."

"Me neither Duck."

"Jennifer. Jennifer Tali DiNozzo." Ducky smiled. "Let us hope that the names pass on the legacy of the women who had them before."

x

"Grandpa Gibbs?"

"Yes Benji."

"It's more special, isn't it? Cause she's a sister?"

"Yes, Benji, I guess it is."

Sigh.

"It's more sponsitility."

"Responsibility. And yes. It is."

"Grandpa?"

"Hmm?"

"What's a sectomy?"

"What?"

"What Daddy's gonna get. A sasectomy."

"Vasectomy," Gibbs corrected. "And it's something men have done. So that you and your sister will be the only kids for you and your mom."

"Oh," Ben nodded. "That's good. Cause I got a lot of spons… responsitility now with a sister."

"Responsibility," Gibbs ran his hand down the side of the boat. "That feels good."

Ben mimicked his motions, "Yeah, real smooth. Can we maybe make something for my sister next? Like the car you made for me?"

"Sure we can."

x

Kids grow fast.

His house was full of laughter and noise. And love. So much love.

His bookshelf held a few books written by Thom E Gemcity. A few more by Timothy McGee. And more still by Sarah McGee. Photos in frames covered every available inch. And toys scattered around.

Thanksgiving was in full prep mode. The boys were all out in the yard, playing football, or rather rolling around in the grass and dirt.

His attention was caught by Amira entering the room with little Jennifer Tali DiNozzo by the hand. Jenny's lower lip poked out slightly and she went to him and lifted her hands. Her curly dark hair was pulled back in a ribbon.

"Mommy says I'm underfeet."

"You are? Well we'll just sit here out of the way," Gibbs replied. He carried her to the sofa and settled in. Jenny sprawled across him with her head under his chin.

"My birthday is soon."

"I know. I remember. I was there."

"Yeah," she was flicking her finger against her chin. "You breathed my life in. Daddy says that's why we're connected."

Gibbs smiled against her hair.

"My birthday. I want a boat."

"A boat?"

"A little boat. For the bathtub. And the pool. But not a plastic one, they're yucky. I want a little wooden boat with a canvas sail. Can you make me one Grandpa?"

"I think I can manage that, little bit."

"Please. And thank you." She said on a yawn. She settled heavier.

Gibbs grimaced slightly. "You're getting big, little bit. Not such a little bit anymore."

Silence.

Heavy silence.

More weight on his chest.

"Grandpa?"

He coughed hard. Feeling it rip through his chest, tear open his throat.

"Gibbs?"

Pressure on his chest. Pain radiating through his entire upper body.

"Agent Gibbs can you open your eyes?"

Blink.

Blink, blink, squint in the bright light.

"Where…."

"You're in the hospital Agent Gibbs. You've been shot."

"My kids. Where are my kids?"

"Jethro?"

"Ducky. Where are my kids?"

Whispers. And he started to fight. They weren't telling him. Where were his kids? Were they hurt? Were they….?

"Jethro, lay still for us," Ducky begged. "We're getting the others."

"Gibbs?"

"Abby!"

Then. "Ziver. Tony. Tim." Blink. Blink. "Where's Jimmy?" Then, "Jimmy." And he could breathe again. Relax a bit. "You're all OK?"

"We are fine Gibbs. We were not with you in the diner," Ziva explained. She stroked his cheek as Abby brushed his hair back.

"Diner. I was in the diner."

"Yeah," Tony slipped up to stand close behind Ziva. "And Stephen Rose shot you. He's in custody Boss. Couple guys tackled him down after the shot. But he didn't resist. Just sat there crying and saying he was sorry."

"You have three cracked ribs," Ducky explained. "They had to surgically remove the bullet from your chest. But you're going to be fine."

"Fine," Gibbs took both women by the hand and lifted them to kiss each one. "You guys are all OK. My girls. My girls are here."

"He's still a little loopy from the drugs," Ducky explained.

"Any chance we could requisition a supply of them for emergency situations?" Tony asked.

It was a weak head-slap. But a head-slap none the less.

"Thanks Boss," Tony's voice cracked slightly.

What about now?
What about today?
What if you're making me all that I was meant to be?
What if our love never went away?
What if it's lost behind words we could never find?
Baby, before it's too late,
Baby, before it's too late,
Baby, before it's too late,
What about now?

He was back after two weeks. Well he was there. Confined to desk duty. Half days only. And Ducky had the authority to send him home at any point in time. That was the deal.

But he didn't resent it too much. He had wood work to do in the basement. Rocking chairs. Three of them. One for each mommy. Cradles. Four of them. Just in case the twins did come to be. Rocking horses, little wooden cars, boats that float in tubs and pools. Preparation is the key to survival. But he was already starting to forget. Forgetting the dates the babies would come. Forgetting the names. But a few things stayed with him. Jimmy's boys with their mother's face and their father's laugh. Tim and Abby's twins, mismatched book ends, one looking like Tim, the other Abby. And the personality of the opposite parent.

Tony's son's grin and his mother's dark eyes. His quiet strength. His love of building boats with his Grandpa.

And Jenny Tali. Sweet littlest Jenny Tali. The smell and feel of her. Breathing the air into her and hearing that first cry. A connection that would last a lifetime.

So he started a notebook. Of what he could remember. Believing that each thing would someday come to pass.

Maybe it was because of that first night in the hospital.

X

Laying there staring at the ceiling. Hearing the steady beep of the heart monitor. Then a soft swish of a skirt against skin. And Shannon. He could smell her, feel her. She leaned down and kissed him gently.

"You're going to be OK Gibbs," she whispered.

"I miss you. Every day."

"I know," she nodded. "But it's time to stop grieving. Start living. Truly living. With no regrets. So we don't have to go through this again when your time really comes."

"You'll still be waiting, right? Waiting for me?"

She nodded, "I will. But Kelly's got a job to do."

Gibbs turned his head and Kelly was on his other side. She leaned in and laid her face against his. "They need to get started Daddy. I'm going to be a guardian angel for her. But she comes last, so I need to wait. So they need to get started. Mr. Ari, Miss Jenny and Tali, they get their charges sooner. But I need to wait for little Jenny Tali to be born. So get them started Daddy, OK?"

"OK."

"Boss?"

Gibbs blinked. He was in the bed staring at the ceiling with the heart monitor beeping faster. "What?"

Tony moved into view. "You said something? You OK?"

"Yeah," he sighed. His girls were gone. "I'm fine. You can go on home."

"Sure," Tony nodded and went back to the chair in the corner.

"Tony. Go home."

"Nope, not gonna happen," Tony replied opening a book and settling in. "Tim will be by in a few hours. Then Ducky will be here in the morning. So deal with it."

X

But his kids needed a little push in the right direction. So he did what he always did. He made a rule. And he wrote it down six times. And sealed it into six envelopes.

Ziva was sitting at her desk. Tony leaned against it. Tim was in his seat, with Abby leaning over the back, arms wrapped around his neck. Ducky sat at Tim's desk. Palmer stood at Gibbs' with Breena sitting in his chair.

"Just a quick thing before we start our day," Gibbs said as he handed out the envelopes.

Sounds of paper being split open. Seven sets of eyes read the index card in front of them. Tony read his then leaned over to see if Ziva's said the same thing. Abby and Tony read both together. As Breena read Jimmy's. Ducky was grinning wildly.

((Rule 72 – Some things, Some people, are worth breaking all the rules for.))

"We've got a dead sailor. Grab your gear."

Tony snapped up. "Palmer, go with Ducky to prep the van. Abby, go warm up your lab babies. McGee go gas up the truck."

They scattered as ordered.

"Boss I'm a bit confused," Tony looked down at the card.

"Rule 12, DiNozzo," Gibbs sighed.

"No I got that part of it. And you know – Thanks. It's just… when did we move into the seventies? I finally had the forties and fifties down pretty good, kinda hit or miss on the sixties but now you're into the seventies?"

"More kids means more rules. We keep adding to the family."

"Are you sure you are feeling well enough, Gibbs," Ziva asked. "You certainly have more leave time available."

He smiled and drew her close for a hug, then a kiss to her forehead. "I am right where I am supposed to be, Ziver. We all are."

He watched as Tony and Ziva left the office together side by side.

Shadows fill an empty heart
As love is fading,
From all the things that we are
But are not saying.
Can we see beyond the stars
And make it to the dawn?

Change the colors of the sky.
And open up to
The ways you made me feel alive,
The ways I loved you.
For all the things that never died,
To make it through the night,
Love will find you.

What about now?
What about today?
What if you're making me all that I was meant to be?
What if our love never went away?
What if it's lost behind words we could never find?
Baby, before it's too late,
What about now?

The sun is breaking in your eyes
To start a new day.
This broken heart can still survive
With a touch of your grace.
Shadows fade into the light.
I am by your side,
Where love will find you.

What about now?
What about today?
What if you're making me all that I was meant to be?
What if our love, it never went away?
What if it's lost behind words we could never find?
Baby, before it's too late,
What about now?

Now that we're here,
Now that we've come this far,
Just hold on.
There is nothing to fear,
For I am right beside you.
For all my life,
I am yours.

What about now?
What about today?
What if you're making me all that I was meant to be?
What if our love never went away?
What if it's lost behind words we could never find?

What about now?
What about today?
What if you're making me all that I was meant to be?
What if our love never went away?
What if it's lost behind words we could never find?
Baby, before it's too late,
Baby, before it's too late,
Baby, before it's too late,
What about now?

(1) What about now – song - Daughtry

(2) You are my sunshine – song – Jimmie Davis 1940

(3) Gomez re Morticia "The Addams Family" movie