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New Beginnings

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As soon as the truck stopped outside the entrance to the warehouse on the base, Ethan and Oliver were anxious to get out and explore. Gibbs opened the door and jumped down, helping the twins down as Sean passed them to him. They immediately started looking around curiously, only half-heartedly paying attention to Sean's admonishment to stay where he could see them. He passed Joshua to Gibbs, confident that the other man knew how to hold him after the way he'd handled him in the hospital. Then he jumped down from the cab himself and immediately dropped to his knees, kissing the ground and making the others laugh.

"Ah, you let Gibbs drive home," the Admiral said as he came over with AJ and John to help unload. And you've picked up some strays, I see." He smiled broadly at Oliver and crouched down. "What did you do to yourself, young man?"

"I broked my leg falling of my bike," he told him solemnly.

"He cried lots," Ethan added. "I never cry."

"Well, I'm sure you would have if you'd broken your leg," the Admiral told him.

"Nu-huh," Ethan insisted.

"Well, let's not have to find out," the Admiral said.

"Admiral, this is Sean Hanson, an EMT we found at the hospital," Gibbs told him. "We've left Ducky and Lucas there with another doctor we found. I'm going to take the truck back and get someone else to drive a second. With more doctors it's worth loading up on some of the bigger medical equipment as well as the things we were supposed to be taking. Not to mention we can raid somewhere else for more baby supplies," he added with a smile at Joshua. "I think Joe and I can make a cradle though. It will be a nice change from all the other things we're working on.""

"Admiral?" Sean said, holding his hand out.

"Call me Chris," he said with a warm smile. "The military types here all insist in sticking to Admiral but the few civilians we have all call me Chris. I hope you'll feel at home here."

"I'm sure I will," Sean said with a smile. "It's nice to meet you all. Could one of you find me somewhere I can change Joshua before he starts crying?"

Gibbs pulled a bag out of the truck and tossed it to AJ. "Go and find the man somewhere private." He saw Sean cast a worried look at the boys. "Don't worry, I'm sure we can keep an eye on two six year olds between the three of us."

"Sorry. Carson and I have been alone with them since the virus hit and I guess I'm a little over protective," he admitted.

"Don't worry, Sean," the Admiral reassured him. "I have grandchildren their age. I'm sure I can remember how to manage them." He turned to the twins. "Now boys, would you like to come and see the cows with me?"

"Cows?" Gibbs interrupted. "We don't have any cows."

"We do now," AJ said, turning back from where he'd been leading Sean into the warehouse. "Scared the hell out of me when I came round the corner of the building and found two of them just standing there. They must have escaped from a local farm. We're going to go out tomorrow and see what else we can find. I fancy some fresh from the hen eggs myself."

"Fresh milk," John said with a smile. "And cheese and butter if anyone here knows how to make it."

"Steak," Gibbs added, pausing when AJ and Sean looked at the twins and then glared at him. "What? They're going to have to learn where food comes from some time; it won't kill them."

The Admiral just smiled. "Since you're so keen on keeping them informed, we'll be sure to direct all their questions to you in the future, Gunny."

He ducked his head but refused to back down. "If they're going to be living here, they'll learn a lot about the animals. I'm not going to lie to them."

The Admiral kept smiling and nodded. "You're not so wrong, Gunny. Now let's get that truck unloaded. Joe, Mac, and Elliot are due back soon and we need to sort out rooms for our new arrivals as well. Mac can take the second truck back with you when it's empty"

He turned his back on Gibbs and John, confident they would be following his orders, and held out his hands to the two boys. "Are you going to be all right with just a crutch or do you need to be carried?" he asked Ethan. The little boy looked up at him cautiously and then clearly decided to trust him, holding his arms up.

"I need carried, please," he asked.

With Ethan balanced on his hip and Oliver holding his hand, the Admiral walked slowly down to the small shed, which had hurriedly been converted to hold the cows this afternoon.

After a long time looking at the cows and Oliver getting up the nerve to pat one on the nose after his brother had done it, the Admiral took them down to the water. He put Ethan down and sat down on the grass.

"Now this is very important, boys," he started in what he considered to be his grandfather voice. "If you're good, you can swim in the lake but only if there is a grown up with you. You must never come down here alone, do you understand me? The lake is out of bounds unless you're with someone."

"Yes, Admiral," they both chorused.

"What's an Admiral?" Ethan asked, curiously.

He laughed. "Well it means I used to be in the Navy. It tells people how important I was."

"Are you important?" Oliver asked seriously.

"I was." He paused. "Have you seen pictures of the big ships we have in the Navy?" When they both nodded eagerly he carried on. "Well, a Captain is in charge of one of those and an Admiral is in charge of the Captains."

"Does that mean everyone else here is a Captain?" Oliver asked.

"Because you're in charge of all of them," Ethan added.

The Admiral grinned. "No they're not captains but several of them are Navy or Air Force, so they just feel comfortable calling me Admiral. It's a nickname."

"Like when Sean calls Joshua 'Josh'," Oliver said.

"Exactly right," he said. "Well done. Now I think they've finished unpacking for now, so let's see if we can find you some dinner."