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Bittersweet Symphony

by: silverfoxfiles (Send Feedback)

Series: Firestorm Universe #5
Chapters: 001 Word Count: 4234
Rating: YTEEN
Character(s): Jethro Gibbs
Category(ies): Alternate Universe, Angst/Drama, Established Relationship
Pairing(s): Gibbs/?
Summary: Story #5 in the Firestorm Universe. Jethro's miscommunication threatens to destroy them all. Crossover with CSINY/NCIS.

Author Notes: his is the fifth story in the Firestorm Universe. We decided to do a 'choose your own adventure' type of storyline following New Year, New Promise. At the end of that story, Mac had left Jethro, believing he was planning to marry Shannon and hadn't been honest. We figured that there were three options.

Option A) Mac left for good, permanently.

Option B) Mac and Jethro broke up, at least temporarily.

Option C) Mac and Jethro's

relationship survived.

This story takes Option B and goes with it. Options A and C will have their own stories told sooner rather than later. In fact, if you're into HEA instead of angst, look for Beginning Again, which is Option C. This will be posted very soon.

As always, we hope you enjoy our universe!

Thanks for reading :)

Chapters: 1

Bittersweet Symphony

“This is the happiest day of my life, Mom!” Shannon Kendall squeezed her adopted mother’s hand and tried not to fidget. She looked up at the smiling face in the mirror, the woman’s smile very happy but her green eyes a little sad.

“You wish Mac was getting married, right? He’ll find the right woman someday, Mom. You’ll see. And Jethro will stand up with him. And we’ll all be really happy. When Mac and Jethro get out of the service, they’re going to open up a business together. He’ll be right there as the best uncle of our little girl or boy. You’ll see, Mom!”

“I hope so dear. I look forward to seeing him as happy as you and Jethro are. But he’s just coming out of a very serious relationship, so I’m not sure that I see it happening soon.” It was hard not to like Shannon, but knowing how miserable her son was made this day bittersweet. “Until then, I’ll have a grandchild to spoil all the same. Will make waiting for MacKai that much easier.”

Shannon frowned. “Why didn’t I know that? I hope she didn’t hurt him. Sometimes Mac looks really sad. I just want to give him a big hug. He makes a woman want to look after him. He’s going to find someone. The ladies at the diner are going to help me find the perfect girl.”

“My son is a private man. He wouldn’t want what’s going on in his life to overshadow your big day darling girl.” Emily could only imagine the sorts of women that the ladies at the diner would find for her son. “Let him have some time to heal before you try to find him a girlfriend. He’s pretty raw after this last experience, and still not fully healed from his wounds. When he’s ready, he’ll let us know.”

“And if he doesn’t let Jethro and I know, you’ll let me help? Mac is a dream, really cute and sweet and an officer. I’m glad they let him back in, Mom. He looked so sad when he thought his career was over.”

Shannon giggled. “Mrs. Cora isn’t Mac’s type, but there are a lot of cute girls near base.”

“I’ll let you know if he needs help. But right now, I want you to concentrate on you and the baby. We have time for Mac to find someone just as special as you are.” No girl that Shannon placed in front of her son would interest him, at least not right now. Maybe some day, but everything was just too raw right now. “Give him some time to heal, and get back to his job. Mac will be on desk duty for quite a while, and I know how much he’ll hate that. I’m just happy he’s here to be miserable.”

“Me too, Mom. He’s a good guy and he deserves to be happy. I reckon the bombing must have changed him. He looks haunted and Jethro says that isn’t the man he remembers. I guess because the boys came close to death, Mom, that it changed things.” She rubbed her stomach. “We better talk about happier things for baby!”

Emily hovered over the young woman.“Are you feeling okay? You haven’t been too sick have you? When I was pregnant with MacKai, I was sick for eight months. It was that last month where I could finally keep something down. It was as if he wanted me to be able to get a little sleep before he came out screaming like there was no end.” Emily smiled at the memory of her little brown haired baby, and how quiet he’d ended up being after such a fussy beginning. “He ended up being a wonderful baby, but I was miserable the whole time I was pregnant.”

“I threw up the first week all the time, but it all went away. Jethro called it baby growing pains. And now I’m past the sleeping all the time thing and all I want to do is eat. And eat! I’m going to be so fat. Mom, I think I’m going to have a little girl. I had a dream of a little girl in a pink hat. She was my bunny!”

Shannon giggled. “Mac screamed? He’s so quiet. I never would have known. Some days he and Jethro just sit there and it’s like they’re talkin’ with their eyes alone. It is a little creepy.”

Emily knew exactly what Shannon meant. The boys communicated without words all the time, "He screamed from the moment he slid out. Didn't stop until the nurse brought him back to me and placed him on my chest. Apparently he recognized my heartbeat and quieted right down. For the first couple of months, if I wasn't holding him or he wasn't sleeping he was screaming."

Emily had run herself ragged trying to do everything while carting around a newborn who didn't want to be anywhere besides his mother’s chest. "Pretty sure he screamed enough for a lifetime, which made him grow up so quiet. He'll talk, but only when he wants too."

A pretty little girl with Shannon's red hair and Jethro's eyes, she could almost imagine her future granddaughter. "You're supposed to get fat, it's the only time your man won't be angry about it. A visible sign you're his and of the market. You eat as much as you can to make sure that you and that baby of yours is healthy. That's the only thing you need to worry about."

“Yes, Mom.” Shannon chuckled. “I can’t quite wrap my mind ‘round Mac squalling. Like I said, there’s days where the only sound is them opening the cans of beer and them making happy sounds cause I brought one of my pies home. I’d be bored out of my mind, but they seem to like bein’ so quiet.”

“Apparently beer is enough of a sound. I’ve never understood it, but Mac and Dad are the same way. You may be right when you say they talk with their eyes.” Her boys, neither of them were overly chatty and add Jethro to the mix, trying to get any of them to talk was like drawing blood from a turnip. “It will be nice to have another woman in the family, just to have someone to talk to at holiday dinners. Not to mention your cooking, Shannon! And if your baby does end up being a little girl, we even things up.”

“It is a girl, Mom. I just know it. Did you know with Mac, that he was a boy? That he was the one?” She didn’t know how to ask if Mom had known that this was the pregnancy that would last.

“I’d like to tell you that I knew. Maybe I did, I was more comfortable with Mackai then before. I may have subconsciously known, but what I knew and what I believed were two totally seperate things. I was just as cautious as I was before. Maybe more so, because of what had happened before. Even if I knew or had a feeling, I would have been nervous. But don’t take my history and worry about it. You are young and healthy, you’ll be fine darling.”

Shannon hugged the stuffing out of Mom. “You’re the greatest mom ever. I’m so glad God knew it and sent you a baby finally.”

Keith Taylor watched Jethro and Mackai standing so close together as Mac adjusted Jethro’s belt. Both men were so adult and handsome, seriously, tenderly affectionate with each other. He watched as Jethro’s hand smoothed over Mac’s hair and Mac tugged the collar of Jethro’s uniform up.

It was only when he got close enough to see the tears swimming in Mac’s eyes and the combination of love, happiness, and pain in Jethro’s that Keith knew what the boys were going through. There wasn’t any other conclusion or option. Jethro loved Shannon, differently from his love for Mac, but he did love the delightful young woman and their unborn child.

And Emily and he had come to adore her as well. Even Mac…noble Mac had a soft spot for Shannon.

“Come indulge your father, boys,” he said in a husky tone, pulling the two soldiers into his arms. “I’m so proud of both of you.”

“Anything you want, sir.” Jet wrapped an arm around Keith’s shoulders, thankful that the man was being as supportive as he was. Just a few months ago, he’d promised to love and take care of Mac, and here he was marrying someone else. Someone else who Keith would soon be walking down the aisle, going above and beyond the call of duty. “I want to thank you for today. You’ve been wonderful to Shannon and it means a lot to me. This isn’t how anyone thought it would go, but you and Emily have been wonderful.”

“No thanks needed my boy. You’re our son too, remember? And you Mackai. You’re so brave, son.”

Mac cleared his throat. “Love sometimes means sacrifice, Dad.” Keith knew his boy wanted to say more but didn’t dare.

“I’m going to check on Shannon, boys. You say your peace. A father was never prouder of both of his boys.”

He gave them each a gentle smile and nodded, closing the door and leaving the boys to their words. Even though Jethro was genuinely happy about being a father, there was still a tight bond between the boys, threaded and woven with heartbreak and what could have beens. Jethro had helped Mac successfully fight the threat of medical discharge, and he and Shannon had rallied around their son as depression and drinking had nearly consumed him.

“You know, this wasn’t how it was supposed to happen right? Never meant it to, never thought it would. Pretty stupid huh?” Jethro said softly.

Mac took Jet’s face in his hands. “Don’t apologize, beautiful boy. I know. I understand, I can’t wait for you to be a father. If I can’t…if we can’t…being the best damn uncle I can be will just have to do, eh? And your brother. We can do this, Jet. We have to. And loving you from afar. I will not encourage you or tempt you to break your vows. Our lives brought us here and as a man of honor, I expect you to be a great husband and father. Just like as a man of honor I had to step aside.”

He couldn’t stop the emotion pouring off him as he toyed with his bracelet. “Semper fi, sweet boy. You keep that bracelet with you and I’ll always be here. I could no more leave you than I could cut off my arm. Things have changed, but I still have the Corps and I still have you. As long as I don’t lose either of you, I’ll be okay.”

“I’m not going anywhere, you’re my best friend, Mac. Above and beyond anything else, you’re that. I couldn’t ask for a better man to stand up with me. I know you’re going to be a great uncle, because there isn’t anything you don’t do well.”

Jet could only hope that Mac was being honest and that he’d always be there. Losing that support would kill him, and now he had so much to live for. A baby, something he never thought he’d have. It was the only thing that would cause him to give up his relationship with Mac.

One drunken night when he’d though Mac was lost to him forever had led them all here. Jethro hated hurting Mac, but Mac was more capable of shouldering the burden than Shannon. And there was a baby involved now.“You always have a place in my home and in my heart. I need you to know that. For as much as things are going to change, that will always stay the same.”

“I know, Jethro. I know, Jet.” Mac wrapped the other man in a tight hug. “And you always have a place with me, no matter where life and the Corps take us. You’re the other half of me and you always will be. Always and forever, beautiful boy. Now…we have to stop this. Don’t cry, babe. Don’t break both of us even more on Shan’s day.”

He leaned in, unable to resist, and brushed a gentle kiss over Jethro’s mouth. “You’ll always be in my soul, sweet boy.”

Jet stood up, trying to get control of his emotions. “You’re right. This is Shannon’s day, and I need to pull it together. You know how I feel about you, and I know you return the feelings. It’s going to have to hold us. Just don’t leave me, don’t give up our friendship. I couldn’t stand it.”

“I couldn’t.” He laced his fingers with Jet’s. “We’re bonded. It isn’t legal, but we’re just as tightly bonded and you and Shannon will be and this isn’t a bond that can be broken.”

~*~

Keith knocked on the door. “Emily? Shannon? Am I allowed to see the beautiful bride?”

“Come on in, Dad.” Shannon was starting to get nervous, she was getting closer to becoming Mrs. Leroy Jethro Gibbs, something she’d wanted sine she was just a little girl, but it was so unbelievable. And having these people—Mac’s parents—in her life was amazing. Since New Year’ Eve, they’d become her family. They’d all bonded over trying to find Mac that terrible night. “Is Jethro okay? He’s not running off on me now, is he?”

“He and Mac are chatting, whatever marines do before they get married. He’s fine, he’s so proud and happy to be getting married.” He crossed the room and tugged Shannon to her feet. “You look so beautiful, my darling. Are you ready to become a married woman? And you, Emily, you look as beautiful as you did on our wedding day and I love you so much more deeply.”

He paused, pulling his wife close. “Some day, Shannon, we’ll be standing here when your child is getting married and you and Jethro will be just as deeply in love as Emily and I are, you have a love that grows with time and deepens like a fine wine.”

Shannon blushed, still amazed at how kind Mac’s parents were being to her. They had insisted she call them Mom and Dad, and had taken her shopping for a dress for the wedding. She was just going to wear something from her closet, but they had insisted that she have a special dress for her special day. The boys, they were going to be in full dress uniform, and she was glad that she had something fancy to wear.

“I’m ready, I’ve known since I was young that I was going to marry Jethro. His mom and my mom said that’s what they wanted. When he brought me with him, I just knew we’d end up here some day. Just wish our moms were here. Having you with us though, makes it very special.”

“Oh, they are darling. They’re here in spirit. Perhaps they brought you to us,” Emily said. She could feel Keith’s sadness and worry about Makai. “You two talk. Let me give Jethro the pep talk.”

She kissed her husband’s cheek, whispering how much she loved him into his ear and knocked gently on the door of the room Jethro and Mac were using. “Boys? It’s just Mom.”

“Come on in ma’am.” Jet pulled back from Mac, with a gentle smile. They knew how the other felt, ant it was going to have to do for now. “We were just doing the man thing, weren’t sharing our feelings or anything like that.”

“It is perfectly acceptable if you were.” She took in the boys, Jethro darker haired and taller, Mac a little slighter but ever bit the officer. “Tell Mom how you’re both coping. Do I see tears in those eyes, Jethro?”

"Maybe, but they're good tears. How's that for female influence in my life. Never thought I'd admit to crying or saying something as stupid at good tears. I think my hormonal fiancee is rubbing off on me."

Emily regarded Jethro, touching his face tenderly. “Things are complicated, aren’t they, honey? Have you both made your peace? I’m so proud of my men of honor.”

She looked at Mac, then, unable to bear the pain in his eyes, turned her attention to Jethro. “Are you ready to be a married man, darling?”

“I’m as ready as I’m ever going to be. Trying not to throw up. Mac’s been keeping my nerves at a minimum.” They’d made their peace, which made Jet feel better about this. He’d done the crime and now he was going to do the time. It hurt though, knowing how bad he’d treated Mac in this whole thing. It had been a misunderstanding, but he’d compounded it by getting Shannon pregnant. “I’m pretty sure I can get through this without running.”

“I’m going to…” Mac gave both Jet and his mother the bravest smile he could and left the room. He’d already reached the limit of what he could handle emotionally.

Emily watched Mac leave for a second before pulling herself together. “Jethro, you look so incredibly handsome today. I’ve never seen you in your dress uniform before. I can see why you always took Shannon’s breath away.”

She paused while she gathered her thoughts. “You’re doing right by them both, darling. I know it hurts terribly for both you and Mac, but I’m so proud that you boys haven’t placed any burden on Shannon. She’s just a child having a child. I know this isn’t the way you or Mac wanted things to happen, but you’ve handled things like such gentlemen. I’m proud to be your mom.”

“I’ve done so much wrong to Shannon, I couldn’t leave her hanging. She deserves more then I can give her. But this seems to be what she wants all the same.” Jethro kissed Emily on the cheek, glad that both he and Shannon had people like her and Keith in their lives. “If I couldn’t have my own mom here, I’m thrilled to have you here. After everything that has happened, you’re still here. Don’t really deserve it, but I’ll take what I can get.”

“And I’m honored to be here, Leroy Jethro Gibbs. It is an honor for me to be in your life and in Shannon’s life. And Mac, it helps him to know you’re being looked after and loved by us as well. Your father said something when we first met, about us welcoming you in the family for life. We meant it. We are here for you both and we understand the situation with Mac, as does Mac himself.”

“He shouldn’t understand. That he does blows my mind. For as much as I’ve done to Shannon, I hurt Mac just as bad.” This was not his shining day, but he knew that Emily was right. Mac understood although he didn’t like it. “I promise, I won’t hurt him any more. Didn’t mean to, but I can make it so it doesn’t happen again.”

“Darling just try not to hurt him. We do understand as does Mac.”

~*~

Keith pulled Shannon close and danced her around the room. “You are as beautiful a bride as mine was.”

“You’re so sweet, thank you so much, Dad.” Shannon kissed his cheek, thankful that she had acquired this new family. “I really am glad you said you’d walk me down the aisle. It wouldn’t be the same without you and mom here. Jethro and I are very grateful to be part of your family.”

“I am honored, my dear. Not having a natural daughter, it is something I always thought would pass me by. Never could have imagined such a beautiful redhead would want an old man like me on her arm.”

"Don't let Mom hear you talking like that. Wouldn't want her or Jethro to think you were going to whisk me away." This was what having a daddy was like, it had to be. It was so different then what she was used to from her own father. "If you were single, might consider it. You're like the perfect man and you know how to spoil a woman, or at least convince them that they aren't looking like a beached whale in white."

“Shannon, you look absolutely wonderful. You are beautiful. You are radiant. You are not even beginning to show, darling. Right now, you’re peaches and cream skin and radiance and the hint of a few curves to come. Enjoy your feminine power, darling. My Emily was never more stunning as she was in the first bloom of pregnancy, and when she first held Mac, she was never more gorgeous, my sweet beautiful wife.”

He held her close. “You should enjoy this time, Shannon. You will hold Jethro’s soul in the palm of your hand. You’re at your most beautiful on the most special day of your life thus far.”

“I’m enjoying it. This is the only time I plan on doing this, so I want it to be perfect.” Shannon could hear the music in the little chapel starting, and knew that she would soon be married and all her childhood dreams would be coming true. “I think that’s our song, Dad. Or at least it will be in a few minutes. You being here, it’s making this so much more special. Even if you are full of it about pregnant women looking beautiful. Not feeling it, but you can keep telling it to me.”

He offered her his arm. “Are you ready, my dear.” The wedding was an intimate affair, with only the Taylors and Shannon’s friend from the diner standing up with her, but they had secured a beautiful chapel. It would be beautiful in its simplicity.

“Mom? Jet? It’s time.” Mac poked his head inside the room. He was going to offer his mother his arm but Jethro did instead and Mac stepped aside. Seemed like he’d be doing that a lot today. He went ahead, standing at the side of the aisle, nodding at the older woman across the aisle. She was one of Shan’s friends from the diner and they both watched as Jet escorted their mother to the first row of seats.

When Jet came to stand beside him, he was trembling and Mac allowed himself to touch Jet’s arm. “You’re good, Jet. Real good. It’ll be great. You’ll see.”

“I hope so. Knew this would be happening, but I’m pretty sure I want to throw up again.” Jet never thought this would happen, he’d already in the short time he and Mac had been together, given up the though of marriage and a family, and now he was getting just that. But he couldn’t have Mac. “If it looks like I’m going to puke on Shannon, give me a push so I don’t get her dress. It will be bad enough I ruined her wedding, I would hate to ruin her dress too.”

For one brief second, Mac slipped his hand into Jet’s and squeezed it. “You’ll be okay, sweet boy. I…” He blinked his tears away, then angled his head so he was looking at Jet. “I love you with everything I have and everything I am. Know it in your soul. Know that if you need anything at all, I am here, now….and always.”

They both stood even taller as the organ started with the familiar strains and their father and Shannon appeared in the doorway. She looked really beautiful—Mac had to admit that. He nudged Jet over when she came closer, feeling like a complete outsider in his own family, and tried to concentrate on breathing evenly.

When the minister told Jet to kiss the bride and pronounced them husband and wife, something inside Mac died. They were over. Forever. Let the pretending begin. He’d pretend for them all. He’d pretend that his heart wasn’t broken. He’d pretend to be okay. He had to, for everyone else’s sake. He wouldn’t ruin this, even if it killed more than his soul.

Chapters: 1

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