Author's Notes: Written for tibbs_yuletide. Late Day 06 for the fic and Day 12 for the art.
Warnings: Slash; Sex
Spoilers: Set in Season 8; However, no overt spoilers for the season.
Characters / Pairings: Gibbs/DiNozzo; past Gibbs/Shannon
Genre / Category: Slash; Angst; Romance
Word Count: 1,640 (part 1) / TBA (total)
Disclaimer: I'm not Bellesario or CBS, so I don't claim to own them.
Summary: Gibbs spends a night with three visitors to find the Christmas spirit buried deep within him.
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Part 01 | Part 02 | Part 03 | Epilogue
Gibbs came awake suddenly, feeling all the twinges throughout his body that told him he had recently had a round of good sex. A little smile graced his lips because he knew the only person he had been going to for sex lately had been DiNozzo. He cracked his eyes and saw that it was half past eleven and groaned. If only he had been able to sleep through the night.
Rolling over, Gibbs froze when he came in contact with another body, a male body.
"What the hell you still doing here, DiNozzo?" he all but barked as he shoved the unmoving form next to him.
Trying not to look at the naked flesh starting to stir next to him, Gibbs made a grab for a pair of discarded sweats and tossed DiNozzo his own.
Not wanting to face DiNozzo, Gibbs stalked off to the bathroom, tossing back, "Don't forget your socks this time."
"On it, Boss," came the usual response. But this time it was followed up with a very low and mumbled, "Would it kill him to let me enjoy the afterglow just once?"
Gibbs waited until he heard the shuffle of feet head down the stairs and out the door before he exited the bathroom. He ran a hand over his face and glanced at the digital readout on the clock again.
He knew that sleep wouldn't come, not for him, not on Christmas Eve. It had been why he had dragged DiNozzo home with him from their late evening at the office.
Every year was the same. He watched as everyone celebrated with their families. There were presents, hugs, kisses, and it was all too much for him. It something he had lost and could never have again.
With a heavy sigh, he headed for the basement. If he couldn't find sleep, he would take solace in his woodworking and bourbon.
He was well into his third glass when he heard the sound of the floorboards creaking above him.
Reaching for the handgun he kept in the basement, he called up the stairs, "Told you not forget those damn socks, DiNozzo."
There was no response and Gibbs clicked the safety off, prepared to greet the intruder. He listened intently as the footsteps stopped at the entrance to the basement.
Bracing himself, he watched as the intruder made their way down the stairs.
"Stop. Place your hands on the wall or I will shoot you," he said in greeting.
"You won't shoot me, Jethro," came a voice that he never thought he would hear again.
"Shannon?" he voice cracked as he dropped the gun.
"Jethro," she said matter-of-factly as she rounded the corner of the stairs to face him. "Is that how you greet everyone that comes to visit? No wonder you're usually alone these days."
"Shannon," he said again, trying to convince himself she was real. "What? How?"
"You're asking the wrong questions, Jethro."
"And what should I be asking?"
"Why? But you'll figure that out sometime tonight or you'll make a liar out of me to some very important people."
"Are you real?" he asked as he reached his hand out, not quite touching her.
"More or less. But just for tonight. I came to show you something, Jethro. And hopefully knock some sense into that thick head of yours."
"Why?" he questioned as he let his hand lay along her cheek.
"Now you're asking the right question," she answered and covered his hand with her own. "Hang on," she added teasingly.
Gibbs felt a tug deep within him and suddenly the basement blurred around him. He closed his eyes and when he reopened them, he couldn't believe it.
"The store?" he said incredulously. "Am I dreaming this Shannon?"
"More like sleep walking," she said with a smile. "I always loved this place."
He heard the bell above the door ring and he turned to watch in disbelief as his eight-year-old self ran inside calling for his dad.
"Slow down, Leroy," the booming voice of his namesake LJ called out. "Your dad's not here."
Gibbs drew in a sharp breath. "Why'd you pick this day to show me, Shan?"
"Because, it needed to be seen, remembered," she said quietly.
"Why not?" his younger self asked. "I got picked to be Joseph in the school play, see," he said as he held up the piece of paper for LJ to see it.
"Good for you, Leroy," and the older man pulled him in for a hug. "Your dad had to take your momma someplace special today. So you're gonna come stay with me and Naomi for a few days."
"But it's Christmas."
"Don't you worry, boy. Santa'll know where to find you. Now how about you help get the store ready to close up for the night. Naomi said she was gonna make you your favorite tonight."
"Okay," Leroy said with false enthusiasm.
Gibbs found himself standing outside the store with Shannon and he rounded on her.
"Why didn't dad tell me? I've always wondered and he never told me, never let me say goodbye. He kept her all to himself. And it was Christmas damn it!"
There was a sudden change of scenery and Gibbs found himself standing outside of a hospital room with nurses bustling around him as if he weren't there.
"Where-" he started to ask, and then he saw his dad walking down the hallway toward the room.
"God, let her get through this," his father whispered before he pushed open the door. Gibbs followed him inside.
He stopped short when he saw his mother lying on the bed under the mound of blankets looking so frail. He remembered her as a vibrant woman who didn't take no for an answer and could stand up to anyone, the men included. What he saw in the bed did not fit his memory.
"Jack," her soft voice carried through the room. "Did Leroy get squared away with LJ and Naomi?"
"Yeah. LJ said he wasn't happy about it. We should have at least told him, or brought him."
"I don't want him seeing me like this, honey. Don't want his last memories of me to be me hurting."
"But-" Gibbs' dad was cut off as she grabbed his hand and her face contorted in pain.
"Jack-" she managed to whisper, "Keep our boy safe. Raise him right."
Gibbs watched in horror as her eyes closed and the heart monitor sounded off, bringing in the nurses and doctors. He felt tears well up in his eyes and he tried to blink them back.
"Mom," he bit out in a broken voice. And then the world flashed again.
"Shannon!" he called out when he got his bearings.
"I'm here, Jethro," she said. "It wasn't your dad that kept you away. She wanted to protect you."
"But why couldn't I stay. I wanted to see, to know."
"There's more for you to see tonight, Jethro. Lots more."
Only then did Gibbs look around the room he was in. It was his house, only now it looked more like a home. There was a brightly lit tree and stockings hanging over the fireplace. He saw two people curled up on the couch and he couldn't help but smile.
"Can I give you a present early, Jethro?" he heard Shannon's voice come from the couch.
"I'm all for presents," he heard his own voice respond.
Shannon left the couch and reached under the tree to grab a small box that she presented to Jethro.
"Here you go," she said with excitement. "Been wanting to give this to you for a few weeks now and couldn't wait anymore."
Gibbs moved around the couch so he could face the younger couple. He felt a pang in his chest as he recalled what was about to happen.
Jethro open the box to reveal a cigar and piece of paper. "I don't smoke," he heard himself saying.
"Just read the paper," Shannon urged. And he did.
Then the largest smile appeared on Jethro's face. "Really?"
"Really!" and then they were kissing.
"That was one of the happiest nights of my life," the ghost of Shannon said softly as she walked up behind Gibbs.
"Mine too," he said just as softly. "Why are you showing me this?"
"So you remember and learn," she answered without answering. "And there's just one more thing for me to show you."
Gibbs was used to the flash this time and quickly looked around. The room was the same and wasn't. Gone were the decorations and the fire. Gone was Shannon on the couch next to him. Instead, he was sitting on the couch with a bottle of alcohol, a gun and a picture of his girls.
Gibbs watched as his finger twitched back and forth on the trigger of the weapon. He remembered the pain that had him so close to the edge, the edge he'd been on since their deaths.
"I'd just gotten back from Mexico," he said to the room. "Almost did it there and was still wanting to do it when I got back."
"I know," Shannon said sadly. "But you didn't. Do you remember why?"
"Mike. He offered me something. It wasn't much at the time, but it was something."
"And you were able to take your anger out on the bad guys."
"Yeah," Gibbs said as he sank down to the floor. "Why couldn't it always be like that last Christmas? Why?"
"Not everything can be perfect," Shannon said wisely. "But, you could find that again."
"You'll see. And now it's time for something different.”
The flash came and Gibbs found himself back in his basement with no Shannon in sight. Sighing, he turned off the light and headed up the stairs. It had to have been some dream, right?
Merry Christmas Everyone!