Title: First Encounter
Disclaimer: 'Scarecrow and Mrs. King' is the property of Warner Brothers and Shoot-the-Moon Productions. 'NCIS' is the property of CBS, Don Bellisario, and a few others. I make no money from the story and no copyright infringement is intended.
Time Frame: post Season 1 SMK, pre-series NCIS
Author Note: This is a cross over piece which is actually part of a longer novella which is still in progress. The only spoilers are for NCIS if you've not followed the show. This is AU for the fact very little in the NCIS'verse lines up with SMK, including the incidents following. However, that's why it's fanfic, right? According to the actual NCIS timeline, Kelly Gibbs is born in 1982.
Early June 1984
Amanda walked up to the bullpen doors, glancing through her purse. Just seconds before she ran into the glass, one of the attending Marines whisked the door open and cast an admonishing eye at his inattentive partner. Looking up gratefully, Amanda smiled, "Good morning, Corporal Johnson. How was your weekend?"
"It was very nice, Ma'am. How did your boys' game turn out?"
"That tip worked very well. Jamie slid into first like a pro, and Philip tried out the curve ball just like you advised. Their coach was impressed," the single mother beamed.
Just as the man was about to respond, their conversation was interrupted by a tall man with an impatient look on his face. "Amanda! I've been looking for you everywhere!"
"Good morning, Lee. Things were a little hectic at home this morning..."
Snagging her elbow, Lee Stetson turned the brunette about and pulled her back down the hall towards the elevator. Corporal Johnson watched them go, shaking his head with amusement as the familiar sound of yet another 'discussion' floated back behind them. He settled back into his post, comfortable in the Monday morning routine. His own partner had a lot to learn about Agency detail.
"Gunny, if you learn no one else while you're here, remember those two. He won't give you the time of day, but he'll watch your six closer than you will. He's Lee Stetson, and a Marine. She's Amanda King, and is quite simply the nicest person who you'd never expect to find mixed up with the Agency. And, if you play your cards right, she'll share-"
"O, Corporal, I almost forgot. I don't know your friend, but I'm sure you wouldn't mind sharing. Chocolate chip today." The woman jogged back, holding a small plate covered in foil. The fluorescent lights highlighted the rich auburn depths in her brunette curls. Pressing the plate into Johnson's hands, she paused momentarily and whispered. "I didn't bring extras and Mr. Stetson already confiscated the other plate, so I'd conceal them quickly unless you want the wolves to descend."
She turned on her heel and hurried back to her impatient escort standing in the Georgetown elevator. Amanda had learned long ago to treat the unseen well. The mailman, the plumber, the dry cleaner, and the guards at the gates often went unappreciated. Being a secretary herself, she knew how important it was to be noticed. The baked goods weren't much, but it always made them smile... which was the point. They knew she saw them.
"- treats." Johnson continued without missing a beat. "Mrs. King isn't like the rest. She sees us, and it won't be long until she gets to know you, too. So, how do you feel about fresh chocolate chip cookies?"
Accepting the sweet solemnly, the new guard tucked it into his pocket and resumed his post. A few hours later, the corporal and gunnery sergeant were relieved and left for the day. Chewing the cookie thoughtfully, the gunny drove home in the busy DC traffic.
Playing security guard wasn't his usual tour, and while the duty didn't exactly sit well with him, the fact he was close to home did. It was very important for him to stay close by, and if babysitting some Feds is what it took, then babysit he would. Of course, bonus cookies did help.
It was a few days before he saw her again.
Several people came and went in the course of the day. It was pretty boring, actually. Most of them were faceless and most never took the time to even acknowledge the Marine guards posted on either side of the glass doors leading into the most secret of the intelligence agencies. So secret, in fact, that he couldn't even tell Shannon where he spent his days. She was under the impression he was guarding NIS over at the Navy Yard.
'Service in Shadows' was the motto for the group which was only known as 'the Agency'; at least it was easier to remember than the rest of the alphabet soup. The work was easy enough, and if he felt it was a waste of his training to put a sniper on babysitter patrol, well, he definitely wasn't stupid enough to say it out loud. It sure beat some of the duty stations he'd pulled.
"Amanda, I don't care if-"
"I am perfectly well aware that you don't care, Lee, but I do! I don't want that woman to think I'm the type of person who-"
"- that woman thinks you're a messy housekeeper. We all know the truth."
"Well, it certainly doesn't look that way. What if I run into her at the grocery store?"
"Amanda King, since when do you grocery shop in Quantico?" Lee's voice was exasperated.
"That's entirely besides the point. I did today, and that was quite frankly enough. I just can't believe you cut in front of that nice pregnant woman. She was 8 months along if she's a day. And to let her think that I-"
"Amanda, you'll never see her again. If she went home thinking you have ants, it's not the end of the world. In case you've not noticed, it's summer. Ants happen."
"Ants aren't the problem, Mr. Stetson." The icy disdain dripped from her normally warm tones. "We also bought mouse traps and poison. Mice! Just the thought of it makes my skin crawl, and you let her think they are in my house! My house!"
"It's called under cover for a reason, Mrs. King."
The couple appeared in front of him. He and Johnson pulled the glass doors open smoothly, and smirked at each other as the quarrel continued without pause. The gunny just shook his head and muttered, "Never mess with a red head. She'll always win."
Johnson looked over, a bit surprised. "Perhaps you need your eyes checked, Gunny. Mrs. King is a brunette."
He just looked wise and kept his mouth shut. He knew all about gingers, and Mrs. King's temper looked to be just as fiery as Shannon's. He definitely recognized a ginger when he saw one. He was rather curious though, why had they been shopping in Quantico?
Later that night, Shannon was full of a tale about a couple who had arrested the bagboy and cashier right in front of her at the grocery store. Scuttlebutt had it that they had been spying on the base. He nodded to himself quietly, that explained it. He held his pregnant wife close, thankful she'd not been hurt, and grateful to the man Johnson had assured him would always have his six. It was all he could do not to laugh when she commiserated about trying to keep field mice outside, even in the height of summer.
"Gunnery Sergeant Gibbs, Ma'am."
"Nice to meet you Gunnery Sergeant. Are you here long? I see that Corporal Johnson isn't here today, so I hope you like banana bread. I try to bring in baked goods every Monday because it's just so hard to get the week going sometimes, and something sweet always brightens people up, don't you think? There are walnuts, you aren't allergic are you? If you are, then I guess I can take this inside with me, but then you won't have a snack for later."
"I like banana bread just fine, Ma'am, and no, nuts aren't a problem." Gibbs didn't think she paused once for a breath. She must have incredible lungs.
"Good, I'm glad to hear that. I never quite know what I'm going to make next. My boys didn't eat all the bananas before they left for camp yesterday, and I knew Mother wouldn't want them either. She never likes them after they've started to go brown. Something about the consistency, but I don't mind. I would rather have them in bread anyway. O! I really should get to work; I'm sure Mr. Stetson hasn't started on his report yet. Why that man can't get his expense report together is beyond me, but he never does. Last month he handed me a shoebox full of receipts. I probably shouldn't have said that, not that it's a secret, but you never quite know when it comes to national security. I just hope this time there's not one from that catalog place."
Gibbs just blinked and opened the door for Mrs. King. Johnson had the day off, and the other man on guard duty just gave a very telling smirk across the space between them. The gunny never knew what hit him. He may be a sniper, but Mrs. King definitely outpaced him in the intricacies of confusion. Just look at the way she was leading that Stetson guy around by the nose.
Three weeks had passed, and Gibbs had shared far more with the sneaky Mrs. King than he had realized. She knew he was from Stillwater, and that he had a rocky relationship with his father. She also knew that his dealings with his in-laws were less than pleasant. She surprised him every few days with touching little gifts for the baby as well. Just the day before, she'd shown up with a loaded diaper bag in tow. Johnson had a good laugh over that one.
Shannon was very curious about their mysterious benefactor, and even wanted to come down to thank her personally. It hadn't been easy to convince her to stay away, either. His wife was just as tricky as Mrs. King, and was currently trying to discover her name. He knew one of these days he'd come home to her knowing he wasn't standing duty over at NIS the way he'd been telling her. He could get his way around almost anyone, and very few were willing to brave the icy cold stare he was more than happy to give. Well, except for a pair of very curious and cunning housewives. He certainly could understand the baffled frustrated fugue Stetson wandered about in so often. Thank God Shannon didn't talk that much though!
It was getting closer to the baby's due date. He would be eternally grateful to the PtB who allowed him to stand duty at the Agency with labor drawing so near. Shannon's previous 2 miscarriages had been difficult on both of them with him stationed over seas. Things had been touch and go for a little bit around the middle of the second trimester, but had evened out quickly. His wife was vibrant and in the pink of health, which greatly relieved his very worried mind. Now if he could just figure out a way to distract her from wanting to meet the very kind Mrs. King...
"Good morning, Gunny. Any news yet?"
"Nothing yet, Ma'- errr... Mrs. King. My Shannon really liked the poppy seed cake you sent home yesterday."
Unbeknownst to the gunnery sergeant, his crystal blue eyes reflected his deep love and devotion to his pregnant wife. Matter of fact, almost everything he prided himself on being well-hidden was laid bare to his intuitive interrogator. She'd been using him for practice in her Level C interrogation techniques, although she'd never reveal his secrets. Just knowing how much he adored his wife was enough for her. First babies were scary, which didn't help matters for the young Marine. Lost in thought for a moment, Amanda didn't notice the squaring of her new friend's jaw.
Gibbs cleared his throat and chose his next words carefully. "About the gifts, Mrs. King. I can't-"
She smiled sweetly and cut across his words, knowing full well what he was about to say. "Gunny, it's never a problem. I always bake more than we need, and the wolves in the bullpen don't need even a third the sweets they devour. I'm more than happy to share. I remember what it was like to try to cook with a watermelon between me and the counter. Your Shannon probably is having the same difficulties I did. So don't you give it another thought, Gunny. What with this heat, I'm sure the last thing your she wants to do is spend more time in the kitchen. Have you decided where you're going to watch the fireworks yet? I usually take the boys to Rock Creek Park, but I've been told the show at the Mall is simply stunning. The display is something no one should miss. That is, of course, providing Shannon hasn't gone into labor by then. I know she's going to be very relieved to have this all over with. You're done with the birthing classes now, aren't you?"
Before the confused man even had a chance to sort out his reply, Lee Stetson came to his unwitting rescue and pulled the intrepid Mrs. King into the bull pen. "Amanda, Billy's looking for you. I sure hope you have those reports typed up from last night. He's been breathing down my neck."
"Of course they're finished, Lee. I do type 80 words a minute, even when trying to read your hieroglyphics! How could you even think... o! Here Gunny, when I was picking up the boys' team shirts yesterday I found the most adorable thing. I just couldn't leave it there." She tucked a tiny package into the dumb-founded Marine's pocket and was through the door and gone before he could even begin to form the words stuttering across his brain.
Stetson glanced over the sputtering brunette's head and just shrugged. He'd done his duty, he'd protected the poor innocent gunny from the meddling housewife. Gibbs just closed his eyes in defeat and hoped the next time around he'd have a chance... although he really didn't think he would. There couldn't be anyone in the world who could out-talk Mrs. Amanda King.
Later that night, Shannon actually wept as she opened the small package. It was an infant sized onesie with an adorable message emblazoned in red, white, & blue. "My daddy is a Marine!"
"Gibbs, I really need to meet this lady."
He just groaned in defeat. He could never say no to a red-head. "I'll see what I can do, honey."
Early in the morning, July 4, 1984
"Huh? I don't have to work today, Shan. Go back to sleep, honey." The man promptly rolled over and drifted back to sleep. For all of about four seconds before his wife jabbed him in the shoulder.
"It's time." Her soft voice was adamant, and she turned away to collect a dry pair of pants.
His sleep muffled voice drifted off the pillow. "No, honey. I have today off. We don't have to be to the picnic 'til 1200. Go back to sleep."
Reaching back, his loving wife tugged the pillow from under his head and landed a solid thwack on the back of her obtuse husband's thick skull. Letting it drop, she then calmly resumed dressing.
An irritated blue eye glared from under the edge of the pillow. He blinked for a moment and then sprang into sudden action. Bedclothes were tossed a hundred different ways as he fought his way free; Shannon merely shook her head and disappeared down the hall. "Hey! Where are you going? You can't leave wi-"
She met him in the doorway, carrying a mug of the most perfect beverage known to man, and burst out laughing. He was half into his dress uniform, with one ankle still tangled in the sheet, and reaching for a pair of blue jeans. His shorts were twisted around his knees. A second after looking up, gravity won and he toppled back onto the bed.
The aroma of coffee wafted across the room, chased by her laughter. A twinge of pain crossed her lovely face while Shannon slid her free hand over her burgeoning belly. It was time. He twisted out of his uniform and managed to find himself tangled tighter in the sheet than he'd been before. His very pregnant wife wisely stayed in the doorway, safely out of the way. He was dragging a green t-shirt over his head mere moments later before reaching for the rich elixir in her hands.
Three minutes later found LeRoy Jethro Gibbs ushering his precious passenger into the truck and tucking her suitcase in behind the seat. He made short work of the trip to Galilee General, leaving a slew of cursing drivers in his wake.
Several hours later, he was standing in front of the big nursery window gazing at the most amazing sight he'd ever seen. A tiny little girl slept peacefully in a small crib with rosebud lips and a long mop of strawberry blonde hair. She was a miracle. A slow tear coursed down his cheek, mindless of the people surrounding him. Kelly Gibbs had her Daddy wrapped around her perfect little pinkie.
July 5, 1984
"Good morning, my name is Amanda King. May I offer you a magazine off the cart?"
Shannon turned from the window and met a warm pair of brown eyes. She smiled back, liking the woman dressed in bright blue immediately.
The women chatted for a few minutes before the nurse brought in the youngest Gibbs. Amanda continued to smile while the young mother again reassured herself of her daughter's perfection. She was starting to get an inkling as to who the patient was. It certainly was a small world. Just then, Kelly opened her eyes and Amanda knew beyond a shadow of a doubt. Mama's hair and Daddy's eyes, there was no mistaking those brilliant blue eyes.
She debated introducing herself for a moment, and then realized something else. She knew Mrs. Gibbs. Last month, Lee had taken Amanda shopping just off the base in Quantico and nabbed a pair of Soviet informants masquerading as grocery store employees. Mrs. Gibbs was the young woman he had so rudely cut off in the check-out lane. Small world indeed!
"There you are, Mrs. King! Your mother said you were volunteering today. Might I see you for a moment?" Billy Melrose stood in the doorway, blocking the entrance. He was smiling and relieved, but Amanda could tell something was wrong.
"Excuse me, it's been lovely talking with you, Mrs. Gibbs. You have a beautiful daughter." She quietly excused herself and followed her boss down the hallway. "Mr. Melrose, Gunnery Sgt Gibbs' wife gave birth to a pretty baby girl yesterday. Do you know Gibbs? He's one of the guards-"
Billy lifted his hand, stemming the flow of words. "Wonderful, congratulations to the happy parents. Amanda, do you have any plans for this afternoon?"
She thought for a moment and discarded her planned shopping agenda. It was only Thursday, after all. Surely she'd have time to explore the sidewalk sales tomorrow. It was a shame though, Phillip seemed to be wearing the same size pants as everyone else this year. Hopefully she could find an overlooked pair in the morning. "What do you need, sir? Is it a drop? I'll need to get home to change."
The dark man drew her hand to his elbow and trapped it there with his left hand, escorting her down the hallway. He looked up and flashed her a bright smile with only the faintest traces of guilt around the edges. She made a fine sacrificial lamb and for some reason put up with Stetson's shenanigans better than anyone else he knew. "No, Amanda, you are dressed just perfectly. This shouldn't take very long, but you are my most qualified person."
He lead her to the elevator quickly, not allowing her a chance to escape. The doors opened, and the pair stepped inside as the previous occupant exited. Amanda's smile was rather crooked but sincere as she extended her good wishes to Gibbs while the doors closed between them. The gunny's surprised face was the last pleasant man Amanda was to encounter today. "What did Lee do this time, Mr. Melrose?"
Billy patted her hand gently as he deposited her in front of his grumpy field agent's room. "It's for your country, Amanda."
She squared her shoulders and pasted a determined smile on her lips before venturing into the lion's den. She passed a harried nurse, looked at her disgruntled patient, and muttered, "I need a raise."
Gibbs returned to duty and smirked as a quarreling couple exited the bullpen. Stetson had a black eye and was limping. His tie was askew and obviously hadn't had much sleep the night before. Her hair was a bit wild and there was a smudge of the same dirt staining her wrinkled trousers on the side of her nose. It was definitely situation normal with the odd couple. Gibbs wondered just how long it would take Stetson to realize his gem of a partner was worth three of the steno pool toys. Johnson was definitely right, Mrs. King was very special.
Pausing the discussion, Amanda reached into her purse and handed the new father a small package. "I'm glad I have a chance to see you before you go. I'm sorry I didn't get a chance to bake some cookies last night. I understand you're rotating out?"
"I don't suppose I'll see you again. You take good care of your pretty Shannon and enjoy Kelly. It doesn't seem like it now, but she'll be grown before you know it. Treasure the memories, Gunny."
Then, the most surprising thing happened. Lee Stetson extended his hand solemnly. "It's an honor to have known you, Gunnery Sergeant Gibbs. You take care of yourself out there and watch your back. Semper Fi."
Later that night...
"You know, Shannon, I'm almost sad to leave that post. I met some interesting people." He wrapped his arms around his girls and settled back into the couch. "And I sure am going to miss the cookies."