NCIS Director Jenny Shepard looked up from the report she was reading when her office door opened and Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs walked in carrying a bag of takeout.
"Don't you ever knock?" She asked, annoyance creeping into her voice.
"I can take my food and leave." He retorted, shooting her a look before settling on her couch.
Jenny sighed before closing her file and moving over to sit beside him, "what did you get?"
"Chinese." He replied making a plate up and handing it to her.
"My ass and thighs hate you but my stomach thanks you."
"Your ass is fine Jen." He commented around a bite of chicken.
Jenny just rolled her eyes before going back to her dinner, when she had first started working at the Navy Yard they had occasionally talked outside of the office or when they ran into each other but since Gibbs had come back from his Margarita Safari in Mexico as they were calling it, they regularly had dinner together when they had to stay late.
"So what's the occasion tonight?" Jenny asked.
"Do I need an occasion?" Gibbs questioned with a raised eyebrow.
"Nope but there normally is one."
"Need to take off for an hour tomorrow morning, D'Arcy called and needs me to come in to sign something. Probably has to do with the last case we had, there might be something for you to sign too."
"And there's the occasion." Jenny muttered, "what time is it at?"
"Just pick me up at my place, I'll go in with you," Jenny replied, wiping her lips with her napkin.
"You don't have to I'll just bring you the papers."
"That's okay, to be honest, I wouldn't mind sleeping in past 0530," Jenny said with a smirk.
Gibbs chuckled, "alright I'll pick you up at 0830."
She looked around the beige room with curious blue eyes, she had been called out of school an hour earlier to meet with her social worker, who had yet to show up. The volunteer driver from child welfare had dropped her off over half an hour ago and she had been waiting in the dull room ever since, there was a basket full of toys in one corner and a desk against one wall and two overly stuffed chairs, one of which she was occupying. She looked back to the book in her lap, Advanced Calculus was killing her this year and between watching her younger foster siblings, her other classes and her chores she was quickly falling behind.
She looked up when the door opened to see her social worker Melody walk in and take a seat in the chair opposite her.
"How're you doing Kelly?" Melody asked, folding her hands on her lap in front of her.
"I'm fine, would be better if I wasn't missing Calculus." She replied, shrugging her shoulders.
"Sorry about that, how is school going?"
"It's fine, you wouldn't have called me out of school just to talk Mel, what's going on?" Kelly asked suspiciously.
"You know we've been looking for your father," when Kelly nodded she continued, "we've found him, Kelly."
"You found him?" Kelly asked incredulously, she had hoped but never really believed that they would find him. "Where is he?"
“He’s meeting with a worker, they’re filling him in on everything as we speak.” Melody replied, pulling out a brief file on the man in question, “we put together a bit of information about him for you, all public record so no rules were broken.” Melody promised, knowing Kelly was a stickler for rules.
Kelly reached for the file and stared at the cover, taking a deep breath before opening it.
"Now Special Agent Gibbs, we're aware this is a lot to take in, however, we would like you to take some time an consider your options here," D'Arcy said, eyeing the silver-haired man before her. "You do not have to do anything, we can schedule visits if you wish to be in contact with Kelly or we can just leave things as they are."
"Is there any way that I can get her back?" Gibbs asked without hesitating.
"Well you never signed away your parental rights and since you are in fact her father you certainly have a legal claim to her, my concern would be that you work unpredictable hours and you are a single man, those things don't tend to sit well with a judge especially when you consider making sure Kelly has a stable home life." D'Arcy replied honestly, “I know you Gibbs and I’d trust you with my own children, you have a good track record as a guardian but that was always temporary.”
"What if he had someone to help him?"
D'Arcy and Gibbs both looked to the woman who sat beside him.
"That would help his case, it would also be beneficial for Kelly to have a woman present in her life and in her home," D'Arcy replied.
"What would I have to do to be considered a fit foster parent?" She asked.
"I would have to look over your file but you don't have a criminal record and you have a steady job, the only issue I can see a judge having is once again your working hours and possibly living arrangements."
"I could cut back on my office hours and work more from home." She replied.
"Could we have a few minutes to talk alone?" Gibbs asked, cutting Jenny off.
"Of course, take your time," D'Arcy replied excusing herself.
"What're you doing Jen?" He asked incredulously.
She looked at the man who sat beside her, his face relatively void of emotion but she could see the confusion and anguish behind his eyes at the thought of his daughter.
"I'm helping you, Jethro." She replied softly.
"You don't have to do this."
"I know I don't, don't ask me why I'm doing it just let me do it."
"I want my daughter back, but I don't want you to resent me for that, don't want you to feel trapped, can’t ask you to do this, Jen.”
“Jethro, you’re not asking, I’m telling you I’m doing it. I was with you after your accident I saw how devastated you were when you realized they weren't coming back, Shannon isn't coming back but Kelly, by some miracle, she's here Jethro, she's here, she's alive and she's healthy. I couldn't help you after your accident but I can help you now and I'm not taking no for an answer." Jenny replied firmly.
Gibbs had known the woman in front of him for almost ten years, he knew that when she was determined to do something she would do it and there was no stopping her, and right now she had a look of sheer determination in her eyes.
"Not gonna try and stop you, I know there's no point. What about living arrangements? We're probably going to have to live together to make this work, what happens if one of us starts seeing someone or we want some space?" Gibbs asked practically.
"Jethro I don't have time to date and last time I check neither do you but if you think it's going to be an issue I'll go back to my house for the night if you want to have someone over," Jenny replied rolling her eyes. "That is if you want to stay at your place."
“I don’t know, my house probably isn’t big enough for three of us, especially if the team wants to spend the night.” Gibbs reasoned.
“Are you saying you want to move?” Jenny questioned
“It’s an option.” He responded with a shrug, “just need a minute to think, what do you want to do?”
"I'm okay with whatever you want to do… I need to get out of my house, it's time to move on."
Gibbs nodded, he understood that for her that house was a constant reminder of her father’s death, a reminder that she hadn’t been able to save him like he hadn’t been able to save his wife and daughter, or so he had thought. There was a quick knock on the door before D’Arcy poked her head in.
“Sorry to interrupt, I just wanted to give you this,” she stated, handing them each a paper. “If you decide you want to get custody this is a list of things you’ll need to figure out before you go before a judge. Basics such as living arrangements, financial situations and scheduling all need to be taken into consideration.”
“When can I see her?” Gibbs asked, ignoring the paper in his hands.
“We’ve informed Kelly that we found you, at this point in time she wants to meet you but she’s not ready to do it just yet, she’s feeling a bit overwhelmed, we’ll give you a call either later today or tomorrow to set something up. As far as getting custody of her the sooner you have a plan of action the sooner we can petition the judge for a custody transfer.”
“We need some time to talk, is there any way we can meet with you later today or tomorrow when we have a clearer plan?” Jenny asked, knowing Gibbs needed a few minutes to process everything.
“I can meet with you both at seven o’clock tonight if that’ll work for you.” D’Arcy offered.
“That’s perfect.” Jenny replied, standing up and placing a hand on Gibbs’ shoulder, “we’ll talk about our options today and have a better idea of what we’re doing tonight.”