A.N.: Hi, guys! Wow, it's been awhile, hasn't it? Well, sorry about that. Listen, I wrote this in May, but didn't post it cuz... well, it wasn't Christmastime. But now it is, so I'm posting it.
December 18th, 1990
Kelly was ecstatic. She was going to work with her daddy! He said that if she was good and stayed out of trouble, he'd take her to go get ice cream. It didn't matter that it was almost Christmas; ice cream was delicious no matter what time of year.
As they drove to the base, the radio played Christmas music.
"Daddy, what's your favorite Christmas carol?" she asked. He smiled and turned up the volume.
They listened to it in companionable silence, each enjoying the meaning.
"What's it called?" the little girl asked.
"Peace on Earth," her father told her.
"I like it too."
On the base, thirteen-year-old Tim was also listening to that song. He loved it for its simplicity and beauty. It was all that he loved about Christmas in a nutshell. He was volunteering for Toys for Tots by wrapping donations in the bright, colorful paper that made it so much more magical. He'd been doing this since October, but he never got sick of it. At the moment, he was putting the finishing touches on a teddy bear's packaging before taking it out to the truck along with his fellows. He looked up and grinned at Corporal Mastodon. They'd both been working together on this since long before Halloween.
Kelly followed her dad as he got out of the car. She tried to spin around in order to see everything, but that was unsuccessful. Then, she saw their friend Chris. Chris came over for dinner sometimes, and he was really nice.
"Hey, Chris!" she called, intending to say hi and then go back, but he didn't hear her and continued walking. She went to catch up with him, but he was a lot faster than her, and suddenly, she had no idea where she was. Her heart began racing, and she couldn't think or feel anything except panic.
Tim had finished putting his packages in the truck and turned to see a little girl looking around. No one else was in sight. Was she lost? He went up to her.
"Are you lost?" he asked. She looked up at him with wide, fearful eyes.
"It's okay. I just want to help. Do you need help?"
Her mind race wildly. Her parents always told her not to talk to strangers, but she needed help. Besides, whoever this was couldn't be an adult. Didn't that mean it was okay? Slowly, Kelly nodded.
"Okay. So, I'm Tim. How can I help?"
"I need to find my daddy. I'm Kelly, by the way." Tim grinned.
"Well, Kelly, we shall endeavor to persevere until we reach our goal."
"What?" she tilted her head in incomprehension.
"It means we won't give up until we win. Come on!" He held out his hand, which she took.
"So, how old are you?" Kelly asked.
"I'm thirteen. How about you?"
"I'm seven, but I'll be eight on Christmas Eve!"
"So, you're a Christmas present," Tim said.
"That's what Daddy tells me." Tim smiled.
"My sister is too. She's going to be five."
"What's her name?"
"Her name is Sarah. I bet you'd be good friends, the two of you."
"I love friends! My best friend is Maddy." There was a pause in the conversation.
"Are we friends, Tim?"
Tim looked into the little girl's eyes. For a moment, he saw Sarah, but then he saw Kelly. She was so sweet. He didn't know how her parents didn't spoil her rotten.
"Yeah, Kelly; we're friends." She squeezed his hand.
"DADDY!" she yelled . She let go of Tim and ran to hug her father.
"Kelly, I was so worried," he said."
"I'm sorry, Daddy. I saw Chris and I wanted to say hi, but I got lost. I was so scared, but Tim found me and helped me find you!"
"Is that so?"
"Ah-huh. He's thirteen and has a sister named Sarah and likes to talk funny!"
Tim smiled as he watched the reunion from afar. It was a good feeling to watch love so openly given. He was rather surprised when they walked through the snow back over to him.
"I just wanted to thank you, Tim," the father said. Tim blushed.
"It was no problem, sir, I was just lending a hand."
"Don't call me sir." Tim and the father smiled. Kelly grinned between the two of them and went back to what must have been their car. She came back with a camera.
"Tim, can we take pictures?" she asked. Much like her father, he really couldn't resist her little girl charm.
"Of course we can."
They took a couple of photos and by the time Kelly was finished talking about how her grampy Jackson had gotten it for her, the photos had developed.
December 23rd, 2013
Gibbs shook off his head like a wet dog as he entered the NCIS building. Unlike the rest of the office, he was not in the Christmas spirit. Tomorrow would have been Kelly's thirtieth birthday. He just couldn't imagine what his little girl would be like, and that frustrated him. He entered the bullpen and was about to sit down at his desk when he noticed it: a picture of Kelly. He turned and got a better look at the picture. It was a picture of Kelly and a young boy he'd nearly forgotten. He stared at it. The photo was on McGee's desk. Could it be?
Ziva walked into the bullpen.
"Gibbs, is everything alright?" she asked. There was no response. He was staring at McGee's desk.
"Gibbs!" she called. There was still no response. Suddenly, he turned around.
"Yes, Gibbs," she said, "Is everything alright?"
"Where's McGee?" There was a sense of desperation in his voice.
"I do not know. I just got here."
"I need to talk to him."
She had never seen Gibbs like this, and it scared her. What should she do?
Luckily, McGee entered the bullpen at that moment. It looked like he had been in the head.
"McGee," Gibbs said.
"Boss, is everything okay?"
"We need to talk." McGee followed Gibbs to the elevator, his brain wracking for something that could have angered his boss. He studied Gibbs. He didn't seem angry so much as shaken.
"Boss, what did I do?" he pleaded. At that point, the elevator doors opened and Gibbs walked out. He followed obediently, unsure what was going on. They both walked in silence out into the snow.
"Did I do something wrong?"
"No, McGee, you didn't. Just follow me."
Gibbs smiled as he led his unsure agent out into the world. The snow was blowing all around. Out of nowhere, he heard it. He heard the song that Kelly had told him was her favorite Christmas carol. He turned to see the younger man smiling and singing along.
"Peace on Earth, can it be? Years from now, perhaps we'll see." Tim blushed.
"It's my favorite Christmas song." Gibbs nodded.
"Mine too," he paused for a moment, "Kelly's as well."
Tim didn't know what to say to that. Gibbs never talked about his first wife or daughter with anyone. And what had he wanted to talk to him about? It didn't make sense.
"We were going to visit base just before Christmas. She told me it was her favorite. She got lost, but a kid helped her out. I forgot about it until today."
Why was Gibbs telling him this? Wait, no, it couldn't be.
"That was you?" he managed to say. They both looked at each other. Tim definitely recognized him now.
"I was cleaning out my closet when I found it last night. I wanted to put it up to remember..." he stopped, "She would have been thirty." Gibbs nodded.
"She didn't stop talking about you for weeks. You were her hero." Gibbs smiled.
"Yeah. Mine too." Tim tried to hide how much he was blushing, but it was difficult.
"I was just helping out," he mumbled.
"You did a lot more than that. You always have."
They both stood there and let the music play. Each one was thinking of the Christmases of their pasts.
Every child must be made aware.
Every child must be made to care.
Care enough for his fellow man
To give all the love that he can.
"Boss, I didn't forget either. Every time I heard the name Kelly, or if anyone was ever lost, I thought of that day."
Tim ducked his head down for a moment and chuckled.
"I was listening to this song too, right before I found her." The normally icy blue eyes locked onto the emerald ones, and they both smiled.
"She was the best Christmas present a man could ever get," Gibbs said. Tim nodded in agreement.
"I just met her once, but I can tell that much."
There was a moment of unawkward silence between the two of them. They both shivered a little in the cold December air.
"We should go inside," Tim said.
"Ya think, McGee?" Tim laughed.
Things were going to be a little different now. It wouldn't be obvious, of course. Neither of them really liked big changes. But at that moment, they both realized that they had something linking them together far before they first met in Norfolk. As they reentered the warmth of HQ, the Christmas spirit never seemed stronger than at that moment.
Peace on Earth, can it be?