Title: Not All Was As It Seemed
Rating: T - It's all pretty tame
Disclaimer: To my constant disappointment I own none of the characters you recognise, if I did I'd be a lot richer.
Summary:It all started as a perfectly normal day for Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs, but it doesn't stay normal for long. After all it isn't every day someone comes back from the dead...
Author's Note: This story was written for the "From Eternity to NCIS" challenge on the NFA Forums. It's been a long time since I've really had time to write anything other than Psychology papers for university but I saw this challenge and it played into a lot of what if thoughts I'd been having for a while so I decided I just had to write it.
The story was beta-ed by Zivacentric and her words of wisdom and insights, as well as encouragement, were invaluable. I have however hidden the final draft from her so any mistakes that remain are mine and mine alone.
Not All Was As It Seemed
If your life was about to be turned upside down, if you were about to discover that everything you thought you knew was a lie. That all the justifications for living your life the way you had were untrue perhaps you would expect a little warning; some sort of indication that that day was not going to be an average day. Maybe you would smash your favourite coffee cup. Maybe your car wouldn't start. Perhaps you'd get caught in a surprisingly heavy downpour in the middle of a heat wave. Or perhaps you'd break a mirror. But for Leroy Jethro Gibbs on the day twenty years of his life were ripped away he had none of this. No warning whatsoever. For him it began as just another average day.
It was a warm July day in Washington DC. The sky was a bright blue and fluffy white clouds floated idly across the sky. Three agents from the major case response team had taken advantage of their lack of an active case and were currently making their way back to the Navy Yard after heading to a nearby coffee shop for something better than the coloured lukewarm water that passed for coffee in the break room. Special Agent Tony DiNozzo was busy berating his fellow agent Timothy McGee for his choice in coffee as the third agent Ziva David followed behind them smiling slightly as she sipped on her Red Berry Frappuccino. The sound of their playful bickering never ceased to make her smile. For Ziva the sound had become one she associated with family, not the one of her birth but of the one she had chosen to become a part of in the United States of America.
Flashing their badges at the entrance, they passed security and entered the yard. They moved almost as one into the elevator, Ziva moving to lean against the side as Tony hit the button for their floor. Stepping out onto the floor the first thing the three agents noticed was the lack of noise. The bullpen tended to be quiet most days, but this level of near silence was abnormal and their first sign that perhaps something was not quite right. The next sign that something was not right was the wide berth the agents were giving the area containing their desks. Rounding her desk, Ziva's eyes fixed upon the one member of their team that hadn't followed them to the coffee shop. Both Tony and Tim became silent as they looked on the figure of their boss sitting at his desk and staring resolutely at a rather official looking letter sitting on the desktop.
Tim looked at Ziva, "You don't think something's happened to Jackson do you?"
Ziva shrugged, "I spoke to him a couple of days ago. He was fine…"
Tony looked back to their boss before gently nudging Ziva with his elbow, "Go find out…"
Tony rolled his eyes, "Because he's your husband…"
Ziva conceded his point and placed her drink down on her desk. Walking slowly to the far desk, she placed the coffee she had brought him down onto it. Gibbs looked up as her shadow crossed his desk, concern was evident in her eyes as her hand rested on her swollen abdomen, "Jethro are you going to tell me what has you so concerned?" Seeing he was making no effort to respond she rounded the desk and held her hand out to him, "Come…"
Taking his hand, she gathered the letter with her free hand and gently led Gibbs back towards the elevator. The fact he had acquiesced so easily made her all the more apprehensive, although he had changed in some ways since their relationship and subsequent marriage had become public knowledge he had remained determined that whilst at work they maintained their professional boundaries. Director Vance had negotiated the red tape; the rules forbidding couples working on the same team by switching Ziva to another department. Before placing her on a permanent secondment back with the MCRT. Both Ziva and Jethro had been determined to not give him any reason to question or regret his decision and the fact he was allowing her to lead him by the hand through the bullpen showed just how much the contents of the letter had troubled him.
She waited in silence as the elevator doors closed and then the cart began to move downwards, before pressing the emergency stop button. Reaching up she gently stroked his cheek, "Jethro what's wrong? Has something happened to you father?"
Jethro shook his head and took the letter from her, "It's from the Department of Justice…"
Ziva looked surprised, "What does the Justice Department want?"
Gibbs looked down at the letter, staring blankly at it just as he had done in the bullpen, "Shannon is alive…"
Ziva felt as though her whole world had collapsed out from beneath her, "Your first wife Shannon?"
Even as the question left her mouth she knew it sounded stupid but she still needed to know for certain, she raised her eyes to him as he nodded, "How?"
He gestured to the letter, "Witness protection…" He paused rereading the text before elaborating, "Justice Department and the US Marshalls arranged for the accident to be staged. According to this Shannon and Kelly have been living as Samantha and Kaylee St John ever since…"
Ziva nodded unsure how to respond, "What happens now?"
Jethro looked up, his face revealing nothing of his thoughts which were rushing through his head at breakneck pace. He moved swiftly from disbelief, to overwhelming joy, he had his baby back! Before moving onto intense anger at the fact she had been taken away from him, and then concern for Ziva. Before careening back to the beginning all over again. "Not sure. Apparently they've been wanting to re-establish contact for a while and Justice has decided it is safe for them to do so without the threat of repercussions. That's why they sent the letter, they're moving back to the area…"
"What does it mean for us Jethro?"
Ziva's voice was small and vulnerable, causing Jethro to pull his eyes from the piece of paper in his hands and his thoughts from the whirlwind tearing through him. A part of him was still caught between two worlds and he couldn't deny an initial bittersweet tug at the thought that Shannon was alive, but the woman in front of him needed him in the present and he loved her more than he could really say. Truly concentrating on his wife, seeing the concern clearly written in her eyes he stepped forward and rested his hands on her bump. "I love our girls and I love you. You are my wife Ziva Gibbs, and nothing changes that."
Ziva snuggled against him as he wrapped his arms around her. She wasn't proud of the way she was responding, she never wanted to be considered needy but she was six months into her first pregnancy, carrying twins and had just found out the love of her husband's life, the woman it had taken him the best part of 15 years to move on from wasn't actually dead and was considering moving back to the area. Ziva clung to his shirt as she considered the implications. Not just for herself, but for the new family they had created. Did Shannon expect to restart her relationship with Jethro, where would she and her daughters stand if she did, "Am I even your wife? You and Shannon never divorced and if she never really died maybe you are still legally married to her…"
Holding her tighter he gently kissed the top of her head, burying his face in the gentle waves of her hair "No, according to this for all legal purposes Shannon Gibbs died… You are my wife and this changes nothing. You and the babies are my future. I love you."
Leaving her face buried in his shoulder she murmured, "What about Kelly?"
Jethro tightened his hold on her, "She'll be 27 now Zee. I've missed everything. She took my daughter from me."
Ziva sighed and reached behind her for his hand. Taking it in hers she used her thumb to gently stroke the back of it. His emotions were becoming easier to read; she could tell he was swiftly moving from shock at discovering his first family were still alive to anger at the way his wife had decided to take his daughter from him, "We are going to go upstairs and grab your jacket and then we are going to go home. It is a quiet day; the boys can finish paperwork without us."
Jethro kissed her forehand once again, "Okay…"
Ziva lifted her head from its resting place on his shoulder. His easy agreement surprised her but she moved from his embrace and hit the button to restart the elevator. As the doors reopened on their floor Jethro quickly made his way over to his desk and grabbed his jacket.
Tony looked up from his desk, "We got a case boss?"
Gibbs shook his head and walked away, bypassing the elevator and heading towards the stairs down to the ground floor. Seeing the shock on Tony's face and the concern on Tim's, Ziva crossed to the guys, "I'm taking him home," Ziva paused unsure exactly how much she should share before sighing and deciding to tell them, "Shannon and Kelly were never in an accident. It was staged so Shannon could take her into witness protection."
Tim's eyes widened in surprise, "Without telling the boss?"
Ziva nodded, "All those responsible have decided the threat has passed now and Shannon decided it was time to tell him…" She looked back towards where Jethro was waiting at the top of the stairs, "I have to go, I will talk to you soon, let you know how he is doing…"
Both men nodded and watched as she moved towards her husband, taking her hand in his Jethro led her down the stairs to the parking lot. Their ride home was quiet and benefitted from the lack of traffic that usually accompanied them home. Pulling into the driveway Ziva paused to look at the house that had become her home. She had moved in with Jethro a little over four years ago, almost a year before she had become Mrs Ziva Gibbs. A lot of things had changed in that time; outwardly the house remained largely the same as it ever had. A second car in the driveway, a few planters containing some more exotic plants were the only noticeable additions. It was inside where the changes could really be seen. When Ziva had first moved in she had been reluctant to truly impose her presence on the home that Jethro had made few changes to. Jethro on the other hand had been keen to move into the future with her and room by room they had worked on the property. Jethro had begun with the kitchen knowing how Ziva loved to cook, piece by piece he had handcrafted counters and cabinets, and even a new kitchen table and chairs before taking a long weekend to rip out the old kitchen and install the new one. He had called in a few favours and had a number of friends help install granite work surfaces and switch out the stove and refrigerator that hadn't been touched in over twenty years. Next the dining room had been updated and new sofas had made the living room much more comfortable. Finishing the work downstairs Jethro had built the two of them a new bed, Ziva had redecorated, giving the room a relaxing combination of blues and chocolate brown. For the first time in many years Jethro found himself happy to sleep in the master bedroom once more. Following the news of a few months previously they had begun work once again, this time changing one of the guest bedrooms into a nursery in preparation for their daughters.
Entering the house Ziva ushered her husband into the living room. She led him over to the sofa and pushed him down onto the soft cushions. She crossed quickly to the large cabinet that stood in the corner of the room. Crouching down she removed a crystal tumbler from the cupboard, mason jars were fine for the basement but she was determined to make use of their wedding presents. She set the tumbler on the side and filled it with the amber coloured liquid that was her husband's choice of drink. Moving back to him she carefully lowered herself onto the cushion beside him and pressed the glass into his hand. She watched as he briefly swirled the liquid around in the glass before bringing it to his mouth and swallowing the liquid in one go. Taking back the now empty tumbler she placed it on the table. Carefully manoeuvring herself to face him she took both of his hands in hers. "Would you like to talk about it?"
Jethro shook his head. Lifting their joint hands he gently kissed her knuckles, "I just need some time Zee." Placing a hand on her stomach he smiled slightly as he felt one of the babies move. "Think I'm gonna work on the crib for a bit..."
Ziva smiled and watched her husband leave the room knowing he was not trying to push her away. He just needed some time to come to terms with everything he had just learnt.
For the next couple of hours Ziva allowed him his space; heading down into the basement only to take him a cup of coffee and a sandwich. As the movie she was watching finished she Ziva rose from her position on the couch and was crossing to the stairway down to the basement when she heard a knock at the door. Figuring it was probably one of the team coming to check on the boss and deciding that Jethro would be fine for another few minutes she changed direction and went to answer the door. Pulling it open she came face to face with two women, one was clearly older than the other, but both were extremely beautiful. The older of the two was beginning to grey but her hair was mainly a striking red. It did not take Ziva long to realise that the woman in front of her was an older version of a woman whose picture she had seen many times before. She was face to face with Shannon Gibbs. The second woman was a little harder to place, in the pictures she had seen Kelly was nothing more than a child but before her stood a young woman; probably not much younger than herself if Ziva was to be completely honest. Logic told her that that must be Kelly and as she moved into the light Ziva knew for certain, looking the woman in the eye was like seeing her husband staring back at her, there was no doubt that that was Jethro's daughter standing a few feet from her.
The older woman spoke first, sounding a little awkward, apologetic even, "sorry to disturb you, we're looking for someone, this is the last address we have for him. Perhaps you know where he moved to, or he left a forwarding address, his name is Leroy Jethro Gibbs, he's a marine."
Ziva nodded, "wait here a moment..."
After seeing the woman's acknowledgment Ziva turned and made her way back into the house. Gently closing the door she carefully moved down the steps to the basement. She paused for a couple of seconds and watched as he worked on the crib. She smiled as she saw the strong muscles of his back flex as he moved the plane along the timber, "Jethro..."
At the sound of his name he put the tool down and brushed his hands against his jeans, curls of sawdust falling to the floor as he did so. He crossed to his wife and gently kissed her, "Everything okay?"
Ziva nodded, "Jethro there are two women at the door looking for you. I did not say anything. I think they think I am looking for a forwarding address... Jethro I think that it is them. I am almost certain that it is Shannon and Kelly standing on the porch..." Ziva took her husband's silence as evidence he needed further convincing. "The Justice department must have told them they had delivered the letter. The older woman has red hair although she is greying, but she is how I would imagine the photo to look if it aged 20 years. The younger I do not know, children change a lot as they age, but her eyes... Her eyes are just like yours..."
Jethro's eyes widened in shock as he processed what Ziva was telling him. Then he nodded and squeezed Ziva's arm before heading up the stairs. Slowly he made his way to the front of the house. Reaching for the handle of the front door he paused as his hand gripped the cool metal. Taking a deep breath he twisted the handle and pulled the door open.
The red head turned as she heard the door begin to open, "I was beginning to think you might have forgotten about us, did you..." Shannon trailed off as her eyes met her ex-husband's. "Gibbs?"
Jethro looked between the two women, his gaze falling back to Shannon, "Shannon... Or should I call you Samantha?"
Shannon's face fell at his flat tone, "Gibbs please..."
Ziva appeared behind him, "Jethro let them in, you do not want to do this out on the porch."
Gibbs turned and walked into the sitting room, Ziva gestured for Shannon to follow him before turning to the second female. She smiled at the young woman with the familiar eyes, "Kelly, or do you prefer Kaylee?"
"Kelly, I am Kelly Gibbs, Kaylee St John has never truly existed. Dad called you Zee...?"
"Ziva" She smiled and then winced slightly as she heard Jethro's voice raise from the living room. "Why don't you come downstairs with me, your father is still quite shocked about everything. I know that you are more than old enough to hear whatever they may say but your father has not yet had time to get used to the fact you are not the eight year old girl he said goodbye to yet. You are still his baby girl and I am sure he would not want you to hear him argue with your mother."
As Ziva led Kelly down to the basement Gibbs turned to his former wife, "How could you do that?"
Shannon sighed as she lowered herself to the sofa, "I thought it was for the best Gibbs, I needed to keep Kelly safe."
"Not from me! You took my baby girl from me. You let me think the most important things in my life were gone. That you were dead. I buried you!"
"Gibbs I never meant to hurt you, you know I loved you, I always have..."
"You let me think that you and Kelly were dead, and you didn't stop to think that that might affect me in some way? I could have come with you! And now? It's been nearly twenty years, why now? Why have you come back now?"
Shannon looked up from the floor, "Gibbs I am sorry. There is truly no excuse. I don't know why I did it. You were a marine, your job was so important to you."
Gibbs interrupted her, "Not more important than the two of you! You were everything to me. My family!"
Shannon sighed, "I know, I made the wrong call; and then once you had been told I didn't know how to go back. I didn't know how to arrange for you to be told, and the longer I left it the harder it became. I thought you would have moved past us." She held her hand up to halt the interruption she knew was coming. "I didn't say you would forget us Gibbs, just that you would have moved on. I loved you Gibbs, I've always wanted you to be happy. I've come back now for Kelly. Kelly never forgot about you, for years she has wanted to come home to you. She hated being Kaylee St John, she just wanted her daddy. She just got offered a job in Maryland. She said it was a sign, that it was time. She was the one that spoke with the Marshalls and found out that the drug dealer, Hernandez…" She paused, before seeing the confirmation from her former husband, "She was told he had died, that we were safe to go back to being Shannon and Kelly."
Downstairs Kelly turned to Ziva, "So you and dad..."
Ziva lowered herself onto the sofa Jethro had placed in the corner of the room, kicking off her shoes she tucked her feet under one of the cushions, "After you died, well your father believed you were dead he left the marines and joined NCIS. I met him when I came to act as a liaison office for Mossad. I was placed in your father's team. You and your mother were not something he talked about, I was the only one who knew. It was not that he was ashamed of you. It was just too painful for him to talk about, even a decade after it had happened. Slowly we became friends and one thing led to another. I love your father Kelly, I am sure that people talk and have their own opinions on our relationship, the age difference, but it works for us. We have been married for just over three years now..."
Kelly smiled, there had been a small part of her that would have liked her family back together, but the realist in her knew that in the twenty years that had passed it was likely that her father would have met someone else and she was pleased that he was happy. "I'm finally going to be a big sister then..."
Ziva chuckled and ran her hand across her abdomen, "yes, twice over, we are expecting twin girls in a few months..."
Kelly settled onto the sofa beside her, sitting silently she listened to the sounds of her father's muffled shouts through the floor, "He sounds really angry. Do you think he'll forgive her?"
Ziva sighed, "I think he will, but I think it will take time, your father loved the pair of you so completely it destroyed him when he was told you had been killed. I do not know, it is not my story to tell it is your father's."
Kelly reached out to her, "Please Ziva, you're right it will take him time to adjust to the fact I am 27 now and not 8... I need to know Ziva; I need to know so I can make it right."
Ziva looked deep into Kelly's familiar eyes and found them to be full of regret for the pain her absence had caused her father, "Kelly it is not your fault, you were nine, you have nothing to make right." Ziva paused to collect her thoughts and decide just what she should tell the woman who was only a few years younger than her, but was her step daughter. "You father was caught in an explosion in Kuwait not long after the news of the accident... Only your father could tell you exactly what happened, whether or not he intended to be caught by the blast, but it nearly killed him. He was in a coma for quite some time. He was caught in another explosion not long after I came to America. He fell into another coma and when he came round he was suffering from amnesia, he had to live through being told you had died all over again."
Ziva reached out and gently squeezed Kelly's leg as she saw the tears in her eyes threatening to overflow. Kelly had processed nothing after hearing the possibility that her father had allowed him to be intentionally caught in an explosion, "Why would he do that? He wanted to die?"
"Only he could tell you that Kelly, but at that moment in time he had just lost both of his reasons for living..." Ziva paused for a moment before deciding to share something of her life. "I have experienced losing a close family member unexpectedly. My sister was caught in a bombing when we were little. But to lose two at the same time... I cannot begin to imagine what your father was feeling." Here Ziva paused; she knew there was one other factor that would be having a huge impact on her husband's state of mind. Although it still wasn't common knowledge, she was aware of the fact that Jethro had gone to Mexico and killed the man he believed was responsible for their deaths. She knew that for nearly twenty years had justified taking his life as repayment for him taking his family. And she knew that with that reasoning gone he was finding it hard to come to terms with the fact he had in effect killed another man in cold blood. She knew he had killed before, as had she, but as an assassin, or a sniper in his case they had always had justification, and with his wife and child seemingly rising from the dead and appearing on their doorstep she knew he had lost that justification. Ziva knew he had been a drug dealer. By all accounts he was not a nice man; she knew he was the prime suspect in a murder investigation at the time, that the world was probably a better place without him in it. But she also knew he was still a father and that it would take Jethro some time to come to terms with what he had done. Deciding it was not her place to tell that part of the story and that Jethro would if and when he decided Kelly needed to know Ziva looked up and saw the tears now flowing freely from Kelly's eyes. Her heart broke at seeing such sadness swirling in their familiar blue. Tentatively she reached her hand out and wiped the tears from her cheek, "Kelly I am sorry, I did not tell you all of this to make you sad..."
Kelly sniffed, "I know, but I'm glad you did, it's important."
Kelly leaned across and pulled Ziva into a hug, feeling her stiffen she begun to pull away but Ziva reached around her and held onto her. Gradually relaxing as she grew used to the contact she began to rub comforting circles on her back. It was this scene that Jethro walked down to, "Zee, Kelly, is everything okay?"
Kelly moved away from Ziva and nodded folding her hands on her lap as she looked up at the father she had spent nearly two decades missing. Jethro looked down at her for a moment before opening his arms. Within seconds Kelly had left the couch and flown into her father's arms. Her face burrowing into his neck as his arms wrapped tightly around her. "Missed you daddy."
Ducking his head slightly he kissed the top of her head, "missed you too princess."
"She's gone back to the hotel for now. We'll talk again but right now I need a little time to process it all…" For a moment he held her tightly to him and then he stepped away and held her at arm's length, "I can't believe you're all grown up..."
Ziva smiled at the reunion as she leant back against the cushions. She knew how much this meant to her husband, and she could see in Kelly's eyes what it meant to have her daddy back. She had to admit she had had her concerns about what having Jethro's original family in their lives would mean but meeting Kelly had certainly put her mind at ease. She couldn't imagine her girls growing up without Jethro's influence and she wouldn't dream of trying to come between Kelly and Jethro now that they had each other back.
Jethro joined Ziva on the sofa, slipping his arm around her shoulder before holding his hand out to his daughter. Smiling she slid her hand into his and joined them on the couch. He gently kissed her forehead as she snuggled into his side and the three of them began to catch up on the years that they had missed. All three of them still had issues to work through, but one thing was clear to Gibbs, with Kelly and Ziva beside him he felt whole once more and he sure as hell wasn't gonna let anything get in the way of that again. In fact he would say his life was pretty much perfect at that point and the only thing that could possibly improve upon it was his family's expansion in a couple of months. He smiled as his kissed the foreheads of both his girls; yup right about now everything was pretty damn fine.