The Stray

 

 

Home, Gibbs thought he had found the perfect home. Not only did he have one, his basement, but the second one was a real home. It was where his heart was, in Reston. However, after his coma, he wasn't so sure anymore where home was, and got lost.

He lost his memory.
He lost his sense of direction.
He lost track of time.
He lost his love... or didn't he?

"I've learned my lesson... I'm through with your leftovers."
                                       ~ F.B.I. Agent T.C. Fornell ~

It was actually funny that Fornell came to see him that morning. For one thing, he hadn't told anyone that he was back to pack up his things and start selling his house. Using Gibbs' real estate agent to come in was a nice touch, Gibbs wouldn't have let his old friend in. Mostly because he really didn't want to see Fornell, or talk to him. Tobias would only be queuing up in the long line of people who wanted the former Marine back. Gibbs didn't want to return, everybody seemed to be doing just fine without him, and of top of that, he wouldn't make a difference. He couldn't make a difference, even if he wanted to, mostly because of the damn politics.
He was ready to dismiss his old friend, because it was too obvious that Tobias needed Gibbs' help. Why did people only come to him when they needed help? Gibbs wasn't a magical fairy that could wave his little wand around and fix things. Instead, he could walk right into an ambush and get blown up. His eye-sight was getting poorer and his famous gut was too unreliable.
In Mexico he had learned to live with Shannon and Kelly's deaths. He had accepted it, and had finally given them a place in his life. It made him realize that life was too short, and that he had ruined his own by working so much. It was time to do what he wanted, and that wasn't chasing scum bags to avenge the tragic deaths of his family and to make the world a goddamn better place.
But why did Tobias use Emily on him? Emily, who reminded Gibbs so much of his own daughter. Emily, the daughter Tobias had with one of Gibbs' 'leftovers', as Tobias called ex-wife #2. Maybe Tobias knew that at this moment, Gibbs could easily be emotionally blackmailed.
He always had a soft spot for a case where children were involved with. The case with the blind little girl, Sandy, quickly came to mind. Her father had turned out to be a real bastard, by setting up his own family to steal money, and Gibbs had wondered afterwards why had been trying to help the man in the first place. 

Just one reason;
Anyone who put a kid in harms way, should be shot.

Staying at Fornell's had been awkward. Not only because he stayed in Emily's room, since she wanted 'Uncle' Jethro to sleep in a real bed, but also because he hadn't slept in some friend's house for ages. Sleeping at Ducky's was different. They were lovers, or had been. Gibbs wasn't sure about him and Ducky right now. Termites or not, staying at Ducky's wasn't an option right now.
Tobias had made him think, or actually, he was right.
Because, in his long time friend's words; 

                                                      Anyone who's willing to quit his job, isn't doing it right.


"Just as I was used to my door being treated as  a door."
                                      ~  NCIS Director Jennifer Shepard ~

For some reason, she knew exactly how to push the retired man's buttons. Didn't she know by now that swinging doors are much more efficient? Countless of times he had to fight the urge to burn down that door.
Serbia? Christ no, he was trying to forget that. Same thing with Paris. He hated himself for letting himself get used by her, every single time. It was hard to fill up the holes in his memory, and little, not important things like his affair with Jenny, always seemed to get in the way of things he should remember.
And after all these years, she was still playing with him. And Gibbs let her, because she was his boss. Or used to be, or was now. He got confused by thinking what she was exactly, probably the devil incarnate. He knew that she enjoyed the power she had. And he enjoyed the fact that he could tease her like that. She might know how to push his buttons, but he knew exactly how to play her without her noticing it.
"Afraid I don't pass my psych evaluation?"
He was, in fact, afraid himself for that. He knew he wasn't quite alright yet, and still coming to terms with things. Jen's face, however, didn't show any sign of fear.
"Or my fire arms proficiency exam?"
Even with his worsening eye-sight, he still had an excellent shot. He knew that, and he was planning on finding his glasses or buy a new pair to use at work, just to try to put a stop to the straying eyes.
Jen was afraid that he wouldn't survive a third coma. He wasn't too sure either, but he wasn't planning on getting in to that kind of trouble anymore. In case he would return to NCIS, he'd take it easy... easier.
But he was glad that she hadn't filed his retirement forms yet.

                                                      "When you're as good as you are, making a difference, you just don't quit."


"Maybe he lost his memory again and forgot he quit his job."
                                       ~ Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo ~

Tony might not know this, but Gibbs had heard those words. Returning to NCIS would be awkward, mostly because Tony had taken up the role of team leader quite well, but he wasn't Tony. Tony tried to be Gibbs and that was highly annoying.
And the 'campfires' were just very entertaining, because the only person who really enjoyed it was Anthony DiNozzo himself.
The senior agent had to toughen up. Sure, Ducky's way to put the bones of Nash in the right way was a little onorthodox. Ducky was angry, Gibbs knew that, and Tony was needlessly one of the persons on the receiving end of Ducky's anger.

Tony had a lot to learn, still. But the most important thing he had to learn was to be himself, since everyone else was already taken.


"Temporary re-instated Special Agent Gibbs."
                                       ~ Forensic Specialist Abigail Sciuto ~

The first time he walked in to the laboratory of his some-what surrogate daughter, he felt really uncomfortable. Mostly because she was the only one of the team who wasn't hiding the fact that she missed Gibbs. She had his picture up on every monitor in her laboratory. She had hugged him enthusiastically, and was really excited that he was wearing his badge. She wasn't too happy when he told her that it was only temporary.

It almost felt as if she was disappointed in him, and that hurt him the most.

He had to stiffle a laugh when he overheard Abby defending him towards the probie Lee, who was so short that in his mind, he called her squirt.
His girl surprised him when she cuffed him. He knew she wanted him to stay, and he was close to actually staying and leave Mexico up to the holidays, but it didn't feel right. His friends wanted him to stay, the termites in his house - he wouldn't be surprised if Abby put them there - were an obvious sign.
But if he wanted to stay, it should be for the right reasons, and not because of his girl, Tony the lost boy or the joy in teasing Jen.

                                                      "Sorry, you're a flight risk."



"I was wondering when you'd come down and see me."
("I've been busy.")
"Or avoiding me?"
                                       ~ Medical Examiner Donald Mallard ~

He didn't know what hit him harder, Abby's reaction to him or Ducky being so ice cold to him. He thought that he and his lover were fine. At least it was fine after he returned from Mexico to help Ziva out. He'd gone to Ducky before he had stepped on the plane to say goodbye. They had made love, slowly but passionate. Ducky had even brought him to the airport... again.
Maybe Ducky was angry for not calling him when Gibbs returned to pack up his house and get a real estate agent to sell it. Gibbs had a reason for that, he didn't want to be a pain in the neck. He didn't want Ducky to needlessly get worried, as Gibbs still had gaps in his memory. He hadn't told Tobias either, but then again, Tobias had probably had flagged the Marine's name at the airport and got notified when Gibbs was back in the country.
Or maybe Ducky was angry with him for other reasons, but Gibbs really didn't know why.
And the M.E. had been right. Gibbs had been avoiding the other man, to protect him, to make sure that Gibbs wouldn't screw up. To make sure that Ducky wouldn't be disappointed in him.

There had been absolutely no contact between him and the older man at work. Gibbs still considered Ducky to be his lover, and saw this as a normal lovers fight, but Gibbs just didn't know what he had done wrong this time.
Ducky didn't look at him when he handed over the bullet to the former Marine in Autopsy, there was no touch of the fingers, nothing. Ducky didn't even call him Jethro.
He had observed the Brit when he put the bones of that Nash person back in their place. Ducky was angry, and probably decided to release his anger on to the body. Gibbs rather wanted Ducky to release his anger on him, physically, because Ducky's words hit him hard too. But Gibbs knew that Ducky didn't want to hurt him. Ducky wasn't the kind of person to hurt another human. Gibbs did teach Ducky how to use a gun, but he wasn't afraid of that either.

After Jen's visit in Gibbs' basement, GIbbs got into the rented car and drove to Reston.
"What are you doing here?" Ducky said cooly. No "Hello dear", no kiss. Just a lot of anger in the blue eyes.
"Look, Duck..." Gibbs sighed. "I'm not sure what I've done wrong this time, besides going to Mexico for a long time." he paused to see Ducky's reaction, but his face and eyes didn't change. "But I'm determined to find that out. Why? Because I love you. So I'm staying. I'm not leaving you again. Jen already made it official and I've started to unpack."
"You do need to shave." Ducky deadpanned.
"I will."
"I'll see you in the morning, then." Ducky closed the door, and Gibbs went home, to his own home, his basement and his boat, feeling a little more at ease, because not all hope was lost.

                                               "I am aware that when Leroy Jethro Gibbs makes up his mind, his mind's made up."

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