Series: - No Series - #1
Chapters: 001 Word Count: 1604
Character(s): Jethro Gibbs, Tony DiNozzo, Other Female Character
Category(ies): Alternate Universe
Summary: What if Gibbs had never lost his first wife and daughter?
Author Notes: When this was written, it was unclear whether Gibbs's late wife was named Shannon or Kelly.
I decided to call her Kelly because it seemed more appropriate to a woman of her generation, as Shannon seemed more appropriate to a child born in the 80s.
We've since learned that the names are reversed in canon. I've left them the way they were when the story was written because I think that, if TBTB had thought about it a little harder and looked at naming trends, they would have realized that almost nobody was named Shannon before the 1980s and many people were named Kelly in the 50s and 60s. So there. *grin*
"Wipe your feet, Tony." Gibbs tossed his keys on the hall table and headed into the den. Loud music drifted from upstairs. He wasn't surprised that he didn't recognize the song. He unlocked the gun safe and put his weapon inside, then closed and locked it, giving the handle a yank just to be sure.
He gestured for DiNozzo to follow him into the kitchen. The radio was tuned to NPR and turned down low, and something bubbling in the crock pot smelled really good. A strawberry-blond woman was curled up in one corner of an overstuffed sofa by the fireplace. She'd fallen asleep, the papers she'd been grading strewn beside her on the couch and floor. Gibbs bent and kissed her forehead lightly. "Hey, Kel."
"Hey..." She blinked sleepily and tilted her face up for a proper kiss. She looked past her husband and flushed a little when she saw the tall man leaning against the kitchen counter, his head turned discreetly away from the domestic scene by the couch. "You didn't tell me we were having company!"
"Sorry, Kelly." DiNozzo smiled. "You know how he gets."
She pushed the papers from her lap and let Gibbs pull her to her feet. "Believe me, Tony. I know." She brushed a hand over Gibbs's cheek, then headed for the fridge. "You'd think you were the same age as Shan, the way he carried on when you were sick."
"I caught him eating Raisinets for lunch!" Gibbs protested.
"They have fruit in them, Gibbs," Tony pointed out helpfully.
Tony winced as a small hand smacked the back of his head and then reached up to ruffle his hair. "Here." Kelly handed him a beer. "This stuff's got barley in it."
"What smells so good?" Gibbs lifted the lid off the crock pot.
"And bread!" A light voice chimed in. "I baked bread, Dad! You gotta-—" Shannon skidded to a stop at the kitchen doorway. The blush creeping to her cheeks emphasized her resemblance to her mother. "H-hi, Tony." She looked down and touched her hair self-consciously with a half-hidden smile.
"Hey! It's Sha-Na-Na!"
She rolled her eyes at him, forgetting her newfound shyness. "God, Tony. You called me that when I was a child. I'm almost fourteen, you know."
"How's your jump shot?" DiNozzo asked.
"Getting there." She sighed and flopped down theatrically on the couch. "But my lay-up still sucks."
"You wanna shoot a few before dinner?"
"Can we, Mom?" Shannon sprang to her feet.
"Yeah," Tony echoed, "can we, Mom?"
Kelly laughed as she set the table. "Fifteen minutes, guys. I'm starving!"
Gibbs watched his senior field agent roll up his sleeves and heard him bet his daughter a nickel a point as they raced for the driveway. He took a plate out of Kelly's hand and slipped his arms around her waist, smoothing his hands over her hips. Her curves had gotten softer over the years. She'd never been thin, and now she was lush. He loved it. "And how was your day, Mrs. Gibbs?"
She smiled and ran her hands over his shoulders. "Just fair, Special Agent Gibbs. I broke up a fight in the cafeteria and ended up with blueberry smoothie all over my new tweed skirt." She leaned in, burying her nose in Gibbs's shirt, and inhaled deeply. "How about you?"
"Oh, you know," Gibbs brushed her short curls away from her face. "Just the usual."
Kelly eyed him sharply. "Uh-huh."
She sighed, resting her head on his shoulder. "Never mind. You don't want to tell me and it's probably better if I don't know."
"So then"--Tony took another bite of stew--"Ducky had Palmer opening every drawer and cupboard in Autopsy looking for the jar of elbow grease."
Shannon laughed and passed the breadbasket to her father. "Jimmy's such a dork! He reminds me of Garth Dargan." At Gibbs's questioning look, she added, "You know, Dad--the dweeb I got stuck with for a lab partner this year?"
"I like Jimmy," Kelly said with a wicked twinkle in her eye. "Abby tells me he gives a mean shiatsu massage."
Two heads swiveled around to look at her. "Abby never--" Gibbs said.
"Yes, she did, and a couple of times, too," DiNozzo assured him, winking at Kelly. "Nothing too hinky, though. He doesn't want to end up on one of Ducky's slabs."
"Hey, Dad, did Abby bring that book she was telling me about?" Shannon asked, oblivious to the adult byplay.
"It's in the car. She also sent you some back issues of Police Chief."
Kelly pointed to her daughter's untouched glass of milk. "This isn't that gory crime scene book, is it?"
"Nope." Shannon polished off half the glass in a single gulp. "Well, it's got some kinda gross pictures in it, but it's really a textbook."
Tony smiled. "Practical Homicide Investigation?"
She clinked her glass with Tony's. "Of course."
"Kel, this stew is amazing." Tony used a slice of bread to mop his plate. "And the bread--when I'm old and toothless I'll still be having dreams about this bread."
Shannon beamed. "I'll bake a loaf for you, Tony. Dad can bring it in to work for you."
"Dad is not your personal courier service, kid." Gibbs observed mildly.
"Do you really think it's okay for her to be reading about sex crimes, hon?" Kelly took off her reading glasses and packed the graded papers into her satchel.
"Well, it didn't do Abby any harm." Gibbs stacked the last of the plates in the dishwasher and turned it on. "Besides, last month it was marine biology, and before that she was going to be that Anderson Cooper guy when she grew up."
"No, she was going to marry Anderson Cooper...until she found out she wasn't his type." She held her hand out to Gibbs and they headed up the stairs.
Gibbs poked his head in the open door of his daughter's room. "You all squared away for homework?"
Shannon looked up from the floor where she had positioned a hoodie and some sweatpants and was sketching the scene with a measuring tape in one hand. "Yup." She held up the sketchbook.
"Not bad." Gibbs looked at the scene she'd staged and examined it against the sketch. "You might want to note the fact that the vic is right under an open window. Depending on the ambient temperature, that could affect TOD."
"Hop into bed now." Gibbs rubbed a hand over her shoulder and pressed a kiss to her forehead. "Love you, kid."
She smiled back at her father, her eyes crinkling at the corners just like his own. "Love you too, Daddy. 'Night."
He paused in the doorway of his own bedroom and just looked. Kelly had her back to him as she examined her damaged skirt. She wore an old USMC t-shirt of his and a pair of baggy plaid shorts. Sexy lingerie had its place, but he wouldn't trade his wife in her unglamorous nightwear for all the Victoria's Secret models in the world. He stepped up behind her and kissed the back of her neck, nuzzling her hair. "So what's the verdict?"
She tossed the skirt into the corner and closed her eyes, pressing back against Gibbs as she felt his arms tighten around her. "Probably a goner, but I'll see what the dry cleaner can do."
Gibbs closed his eyes, too. He had never expected this out of life. He'd been solitary as a kid. His buddies in the Corps had been important to him, but he never really felt like they knew him. This woman knew him inside and out. She knew his moods, she knew the things that scared him, and she knew how to make him feel safe. "I really let McGee down."
"You never doubted him, hon." She reached a hand up behind his neck to pull his face closer to her own. "That's what he's gonna remember about this."
Tony sat in his Mustang for a moment and looked up at the house. The hallway went dark and, a few seconds later, a warm yellow light spilled out from a room on the second floor. He tried to push the images out of his mind.
Gibbs brushing his teeth and climbing into bed. Gibbs curling up next to a warm, welcoming body.
He had to stop this. It wasn't healthy. But he remembered the way Gibbs had looked at him when the HazMat team marched him off to Bethesda. He remembered how just hearing Gibbs's voice had been enough to make him keep fighting when all he really wanted was to go to sleep and stop struggling for every breath.
And then Kate was gone and they were all broken inside. And again, Gibbs had looked at him that way. Even last month when he'd been stuck in Fornell's holding cell, there'd been a moment when he could have sworn... But Tony knew there was nothing in it. Not really. And even if there was a spark between them, he hated himself for thinking about it. Kelly treated him like family. Better than family. And the kid was the greatest.
Maybe, in some alternate universe where they never existed, it would be Tony that Gibbs was curling up with at night. But in this lifetime, it just wasn't going to happen.
He looked at his watch. He had the day off tomorrow. And he could make Baltimore in under an hour if he pushed it. He flipped open his cell phone and hit the speed dial. "Hey, Detective. It's me. You up for some company tonight?"