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by: CJ aka WritinginCt (Send Feedback)
Series: - No Series - #1
Chapters: 002 Word Count: 4738
Character(s): Jethro Gibbs, Other Female Character
Category(ies): Angst/Drama, Friendship
Pairing(s): - No Pairing -
Summary: A somber anniversary brings Gibbs to California where he meets a mother carrying a pain worse than his own. Can they help each other find some closure? Genfic
Chapters: 1 | 2
Author: CJ aka WritinginCT
Categories: Angst, Drama, Friendship, Challenge Response
Disclaimer: I don't own the recognizable characters I'm just inspired by them. Hopefully they've had fun playing in my sandbox.
Note: Written for the "There It Sat" Challenge on the NFA
Summary: A somber anniversary brings Gibbs to California where he meets a mother carrying a pain worse than his own. Can they help each other find some closure?
There it sat, another gravestone of a child that was taken far too soon. This one sadder than most, because the headstone next to it was the child's mother's. Too soon. They were both taken too soon. Just like her son had been.
It was late, well after nine, the bullpen dark save for the desk lamps burning on Tony and Gibbs' desks. The last case had been a bear, and Tony was finishing up the paperwork. Gibbs got up and shut off his light, and stepped over to Tony's desk.
"You about done?
"Just about." Tony could see that Gibbs looked tired, more so than usual after a big case.
"You're in charge the next couple of days, I'm taking the rest of the week as personal time, I've got something to take care of."
Gibbs taking time off came as a major surprise to Tony and he asked, "Is there anything I can help with, Boss?"
Gibbs gave him a wane little grin and shook his head, "Nope. That's why they call it personal time, DiNozzo. It's personal." And with that he turned and headed for the elevator.
Tony sighed, and his eyes fell on the desk calendar, and it only took a moment for his detective's brain to place what the day after tomorrow was to Gibbs, the anniversary of the deaths of his wife and daughter. Tony winced, and wished he had realized sooner that the date was approaching, but they had been so wrapped up in back to back cases that he barely had time to think. But it did explain the short fuse Gibbs had had all week with the team.
Gibbs settled back and let the noise of the C-130 wash over him, and he thought to himself that this was definitely better than flying commercial. There was no one to bother him, and he didn't have to talk to anyone. And it gave him time alone with his memories. Since his return to NCIS after his coma and subsequent trip to Mexico, he had been trying to work through his memories and emotions, trying to put them back into the neat little boxes he had them locked in before that damn explosion. In the past he thought he had had closure on it all, but now he wasn't so sure. His grief and anguish were still razor sharp since waking up from the coma, he needed to find a way to dull them. And he prayed that this trip would do that for him.
He smiled to himself as he though about Jenny. When he brought the leave request to her office, she had looked at it oddly, he was known for not taking time off, but then the date had registered in her mind and she had swallowed hard, but hadn't said anything. She had signed the request without hesitation and as she had handed it back to him, had said simply with compassion in her eyes, "Find a flight and I'll authorize it."
His smile turned into a smirk, he doubted she had expected him to strap in in the belly of a C-130.
He checked himself into the hospitality lodging at Camp Pendleton and took a long, hot shower. His body was a little stiff after the long plane ride, but he felt rested. The badge on his belt gave him leave to wander around the base and he took advantage of it. The base had grown and changed since his tenure there as a Marine then as an NCIS agent. He told himself that he wasn't driving anywhere particular, but somehow the car found it's way to park in front of the little row house that had been assigned to them when he was stationed out of Pendleton. The shrubs were new, and the trim and the shutters had been painted a new color, but his mind erased the differences and he all he could see was Shannon and Kelly standing there so clearly.
He eventually drove off and went and found himself something to eat, and a six pack of beer and went back to his room and crashed for the night, mentally trying to prepare himself for the next day.
The next morning, the day broke sunny and clear. And Gibbs was glad for that, he wanted to visit his family with the warm sun softening the somberness of the cemetery.
He swallowed hard as he noticed his hands shaking as he looped the length of his tie up and over. It took four attempts for it to even look like it wasn't his first time with a necktie.
He stopped a florist outside the base and bought two bouquets, one of Shannon's favorite, peach roses, and one of Kelly's favorite, sunflowers.
Gibbs pulled into the cemetery and parked, and walked towards the section he had memorized all those years ago. The cemetery was very well maintained, the grass green and everything neatly trimmed. He noticed flowers planted near some of the grave markers, something that family members added and cared for, and he saw some graves with little mementos and stuffed animals.
The closer he got to his destination, the tighter his throat constricted. And as he made the last turn and he found himself finally looking down on Shannon and Kelly his confusion knew no bounds. For all around the two headstones were thriving bunches of cheerful little flowers. And as he took it all in, he also noticed a little teddy bear wearing a red sweater with pink heart on it for Valentine's Day propped up near Kelly's headstone. He had expected to have to pluck random pieces of tall grass from around the stones that the trimmer had missed, but their graves were meticulously kept. It made no sense to him. Who was doing all this?
He gently lay the two bouquets down and without thought to his suit, sat down on the ground with his knees drawn up in front of him. A sudden flash of Shannon chiding him about plunking down in the grass with Kelly in their church clothes one Sunday almost made him smile, and he relived what he had replied out loud, "It's just a little grass, nothing the cleaners can't fix, Shan."
Gibbs lost track of how long he sat there, communing with them silently and occasionally out loud. He forced himself to only think about happy memories. He knew there was nothing he could do to bring them back. And he also knew that focusing on the pain of losing them would just make him want to do something that would end up with him being lowered into the grave next to Kelly's. The grave site that he had purchased immediately after returning from Iraq all those years ago.
He told them about NCIS and his team, and in halting words he told them about the explosion last year that landed him in a coma and how he had lost fifteen years. And he clenched his teeth and swallowed hard, fighting the tears that had managed to fill his eyes without permission before saying, "I miss you guys. Everyday."
With nothing left to say, he stood and looked down one last time before turning and walking away.
As he walked back towards his car his eyes picked out a couple of other graves with the same carefully tended flowers like Shannon and Kelly. He detoured from his path and stopped at one of them. Reading the headstone he winced, a child. He made his way to another one, and again found it to be a child's resting place. The pattern quickly formed in his mind he headed for the caretaker's office to see if they knew who was responsible.
The manager of the cemetery was a burly and quiet Marine with a rank of Staff Sergeant. When Gibbs asked him about who was tending the children's graves, the Marine's eyes softened and he said with respect bordering on reverence, "That would be Alice Boyd, sir, she takes care of all the children here."
Gibbs wondered who this Alice Boyd was, and why was she doing this? He distractedly replied softly, "Including mine."
The Marine heard him but asked, "Sir?"
Gibbs shook his head, bringing himself back to the conversation, "Never mind. You wouldn't happen to know where I can find this Alice Boyd do you?"
"I'm really not at liberty to say, sir."
"Would it help if I told you I work for NCIS?" The Marine looked a little doubtful and Gibbs flashed his id, "Special Agent Jethro Gibbs, NCIS."
Gibbs could almost see the man flipping through the mental filing cabinet in his head and the Marine asked cautiously, "Shannon and Kelly Gibbs, sir?"
He swallowed hard and lifted his chin a bit before answering, "My wife and daughter. You know their names, Staff Sergeant?"
The big Marine said respectfully and proudly, "I know all the names, sir." Gibbs nodded, and the man continued, "Sir, I can't tell you her address, but Mrs. Boyd attends mass every day at 1900, you could find her there."
Gibbs had the directions to the church and he had time to grab some coffee and a dinner before the mass. His mind kept wondering why exactly would someone voluntarily tend the graves of dead children. And as he pushed his pie that he didn't really want but had ordered anyway around the plate, it hit him. It would have to be someone who had lost a child of their own. And with that piece of the puzzle firmly in mind, he drained the rest of his coffee, paid the check, and headed for the mass.
The church wasn't large, and it wasn't in a particularly affluent neighborhood. He could see that it needed repairs, but the grounds were well kept and he could see the now familiar bunches of flowers that he would forever associate with the mysterious Alice Boyd. The church was welcoming, and judging by the number of people attending evening mass, it was popular. He settled himself on a pew in the back and observed the parishioners with a trained eye.
He tried to figured out who Mrs. Boyd might be, the old woman with a lacy shawl covering her hair adhering to old traditions? Or maybe the woman that looked to be in her late twenties, early thirties who was sitting off to the side in jeans and sweater with a bible open on her lap? Or even the woman about his age that was clutching a rosary entwined with a set of dog tags? He just didn't know.
The priest made his way to the podium and cleared his throat gently to gain everyone's attention. "Good evening everyone. Before we begin tonight's service, our dear friend Alice has asked that we celebrate tonight's mass in memory of two that were lost a long time ago on this day. Please join us in offering a prayer for Shannon and Kelly Gibbs that their souls may find peace in heaven, and for those they left behind so long ago, to give them the strength and hope to know that they will see them again."
Gibbs had stopped breathing. And it was only the spots in front of his eyes and the loud ringing in his ears that made him realize he had. He numbly sat through the rest of service. After it was through, the parishioners filtered out, leaving one or two in the pews. The woman in jeans was tucking the bible into her bag and walked towards the exit where the priest was saying goodnight to everyone. "Thank you, Father Thomas, the service was lovely."
Gibbs practically flew to his feet when he heard the priest reply, "It is wonderful of you to remember them all, as always, Alice. May Shannon and Kelly rest in peace."
Before she could walk away, Gibbs asked, "Alice Boyd?"
Both she and Father Thomas turned towards him and she replied, "Yes?"
"My name is Jethro Gibbs. How do you know my wife and daughter?"
Chapters: 1 | 2
MTAC - NCIS Fic