A/N: If you haven't read "A New Life" yet – STOP! Please read that story first or this sequel will not make any sense. For those who have – welcome to the first chapter of "A Life Reclaimed" – thank you for coming back for more. Please bear with me. This is more of a housekeeping chapter (the next one might be too), needing to tie up loose ends from the previous story. Things should get more interesting reasonably soon.
Ryan's eyes went wide. "Then who are you?"
"Jenny Shepard, Director of NCIS."
Mary started laughing. When she saw the glares she was getting from both Jenny and Gibbs, it made her laugh even harder. "They're Navy cops, Ryan."
Gibbs tried to untie the ropes around Missy's hands, but it wasn't working so he took out a knife. Missy's eyes went wide and she started whimpering and crying. He quickly put the knife away. "I was just going to use it to cut the rope," he said in a gentle voice.
Gibbs shot a worried glance at Ryan, who immediately tried to calm his daughter down. "Take a deep breath, sweetie. You know Gibbs. He wouldn't hurt you. He just wants to free your hands."
Jenny walked over slowly to Missy. "Do you want me to untie you?" The young girl took one look at Jenny, shook her head and backed up into the couch, looking scared. Jenny was hurt until Gibbs motioned for her to look at herself. She was covered in the blood of the men she'd killed.
A flash of worry crossed Gibbs' face. "Any of that yours?"
"No," she assured him. Jenny quickly went to the closet and put on a jacket, hoping that would help. She then turned her back to Missy so the girl couldn't see her using the knife to remove the ropes binding both Ryan and Mary.
Once free, Ryan worked at helping Missy. "Look at me, sweetie. Are you okay? Did you keep your eyes closed like Mary asked?"
"Most of the time, but then I heard the gunshot. It scared me so I opened my eyes and saw Catherine hurt. And then I saw her kill that man."
Jenny was horrified that she'd traumatized her young friend. Gibbs saw her anguish and squeezed her hand.
Ryan sighed. He saw the pained expression his friends had, but his daughter was his only priority. He brushed his hand over Missy's hair and leaned down to kiss her on the head while he worked on the knot in the rope around her hands. "It's okay, sweetie. I know a lot just happened but we'll talk about it when we get home, I promise." Missy saw the same love and care in her father's eyes that was always there and it made her feel like everything would be okay. She nodded slightly.
Jenny was relieved to see Missy a bit calmer. "Ry, you may want to put a blanket around her. I'm afraid you guys will need to stay a little longer because the FBI will want to get your statements. But I have a feeling we'll have plenty of EMTs here momentarily, and they can check her out. I can't begin to tell you how sorry I am that you both got mixed up in my mess."
Ryan finished removing the rope around his daughter's hands and gave her a comforting hug. He glanced at Jenny. "I'm confused about a lot of things."
"I'll answer any questions you have, but first I need to go check on Geep and get Julia. Jenny started to head for the door when Gibbs caught her.
"Are you crazy? Sit down." He leaned in and whispered. "You've been shot."
She snorted. "Please, I was grazed."
"You're bleeding. Sit!" He looked at Mary, who nodded and headed out the door. He turned back to his wife. "Put pressure on it."
Jenny was giving him a dirty look, clearly annoyed at his babying her but she did put her hand on the wound and pressed down. "Toss me my phone. Please."
He looked at her last placed call. "Why don't you let me call them?" She gave up and nodded.
Tony recognized the number. "It's Jenny." He answered the phone. "Are you okay?" All eyes at MTAC were on him, awaiting the answer anxiously.
"Everyone's safe." Gibbs smiled when he heard reactions from those around Tony.
"That's great news, Boss. We were worried. Do you need anything from us?"
Gibbs held the phone against his chest. "He wants to know if there's anything we need from them?"
Jenny sighed. "Someone has to process this scene. Do we want to fly in NCIS from San Diego or do you want your team to come out with Ducky? If so, they can catch a ride on SecNav's plane. He was sending it out to us anyways to help us move. For political reasons, maybe ask Leon what he thinks?"
"I'll take care of it. Just keep pressure on your leg." Gibbs walked into the kitchen to give instructions to Tony.
Ryan looked at Jenny. "SecNav?"
"The Secretary of the Navy."
He furrowed his brow. "Of course. I suppose Air Force One was busy?"
Gibbs closed the phone and went to Jenny. He bent down next to her, putting his hand on top of hers to add pressure, making her wince. "The team's going to head out here and take over whatever the FBI hasn't completed. They're excited to have a New Year's Eve party on the plane. I hope it's okay, but I said Abby could come too. She didn't want to be left behind." Jenny smiled and shook her head, knowing nothing short of a ball and chain would've kept the Goth away from them today. Plus, Gibbs never could say no to her. Her eyes drifted across the room, and he noticed the way Jenny was looking at Missy. "Is she worse?"
"No, but if there's any permanent damage…"
"Don't go there, Jen. She'll be okay." Gibbs rubbed her arm, trying to comfort her.
The door flew open and Mary walked in, carrying a crying Julia in her infant seat. Immediately Jenny tried to get up but Gibbs held her down, knowing Mary would bring their daughter over.
Both thanked the U.S. Marshal profusely as Jenny reached in and picked up the baby, holding her to her shoulder. "Oh sweet girl, I'm so sorry you're upset." She kissed Julia's cheek several times and looked at Jethro. "She's hungry. Do you want me to feed her or do you want to give her the bottle I expressed earlier?"
He looked at Julia, caressing her little head, relief flooding over him at seeing his daughter safe in her mother's arms. "I want to but I think she could really use the comfort of connecting with you."
Jenny was relieved because she felt the same way. She saw how overwhelmed her husband was and pulled him to her for a kiss. She then turned her attention back to her friend. "Mary, how's Geep?"
"The medics just arrived. He was shot in the shoulder and has lost a lot of blood but he should be okay. I saw his wife, and she was grateful to hear everyone is okay. She's riding to the hospital with him, and she'll call after he gets out of surgery to let us know how he's doing."
Relief spread throughout Jenny's entire body. "Thank God he's going to be all right." She turned her attention back to her daughter, completely overwhelmed with gratitude at the way things turned out.
There was a knock on the door. Mary let the FBI in and showed them around. She pointed the medics to her charge.
Jenny tried to comfort her daughter, who was still crying. "Please check Missy out first. I think she's in shock," she said, pointing them to the young girl. One medic went to see each of them.
The EMT knelt by Jenny's chair to check out her leg, ripping her jeans more so he could examine the wound in her thigh.
"You were very lucky, ma'am. Looks like the bullet just grazed you. Let me clean this, wrap it up and you should be fine."
"Thank you." Jenny looked knowingly at her husband.
Jethro let out a sigh of relief, leaning his head down on her shoulder. "I've never been so happy to say you were right."
The other medic was with Missy. He was concerned that she seemed afraid of him. "I think she is suffering a bit from shock. I want to get an IV started and give her some oxygen sir." Ryan nodded.
The medic showed the bag of liquid to Missy. "My name is Jason. Would you like to feel this? In order for it to be able to help you, I'm going to put this rubber band thing around your arm so I can see the tubes your blood flows through. It might pinch but it won't hurt. Is that okay?" She nodded. "While you look at that, let me slip this oxygen mask over your face to help you breathe. I need you to take slow, deep breaths." Jason continued to talk with Missy as he set up the IV.
After the medic bandaged her leg, Jenny stood up. Gibbs looked at her, concerned. "Where are you going?"
She glanced around, seeing the sea of agents bagging and tagging, taking pictures and sketching the scene. "I'm going to the guest room, so I can have some peace and quiet while I feed her. Can you grab the nursing pillow and meet me in there?"
"Be there in a sec," he said, leaning down to kiss her briefly. Gibbs walked over to Mary and pointed to a door. "Jenny and I will be in that room. She's going to be nursing. Can you make sure no one disturbs us?"
Gibbs headed upstairs, passing the bodies of the men Jenny killed, surveying the damage. He wasn't sure why it stunned him, he'd certainly seen hundreds of crime scenes, but it did. He grabbed a clean blouse, a pair of black yoga pants, the pillow, a diaper, baby wipes, cream and anything else he could think of and then headed back downstairs to join Jenny.
He slipped quietly into the room, locking the door behind him. The room was dimly lit, and Jenny was sitting on the bed, already unbuttoning her bloody blouse.
"Brought you down your yoga pants and another blouse so just toss those on the bed and we'll bag them for evidence. Here, let me hold Jules while you get situated."
Jenny watched Jethro with their daughter as she changed. She saw the way he was holding her, completely protective. She knew he'd been scared out of his wits for them.
He held her trembling body; she was screaming her little lungs out because she wanted to eat, but Gibbs still wished he could comfort her. He kissed her gently on the head. "I was so scared for you, baby girl. If anything had happened…"
Jenny cut him off. "Jethro, she's okay. Join us," she said, reaching for Julia. "I need to lean back against something."
He got on the bed and slipped his legs around her, thrilled to be included in the process. Jenny got the baby situated, and her screams finally stopped once she located her food. Mommy then leaned back gratefully against Daddy's chest.
"Jen, I was so –"
"Don't," Jenny said quickly. "I have to hold it together until she finishes feeding. I need to think happy thoughts. I don't want to be sad or frightened or anything else that's negative while I'm feeding her, okay?"
Gibbs saw her pleading eyes, so he tried to smile for her. She appreciated his effort and returned the gesture with one of her own. They stared down at their daughter, hoping she was oblivious to the chaos around her.
"Can I tell you how much I love you then? Is that allowed?" Gibbs genuinely wanted to know; he wasn't sure what would make her cry or set her off.
"Not only is it allowed, it's encouraged."
Gibbs was thankful. He leaned down, nuzzling her ear and neck while he said over and over again how much he loved her and Julia.
The little family sat there for the next 20 minutes holding each other, fully feeling the immense gratitude that they were alive, together and madly in love.
After Julia was done eating, burped and had her diaper changed, she was placed back in her infant seat. It wasn't long before she was asleep.
Jethro put his arms around Jenny while they stood looking at their baby. "Now can I say it?"
Jenny slipped her arms around his neck, holding him close. "Yes."
"I've never been so scared in my life. If anything had happened to you or Julia... Oh God, Jenny..." He held her against him, burying his face in her hair as he ran his hands up and down her back – touching her, needing to prove to himself that she was really there with him and that she was okay.
She felt his heart rate increase as he did his best to hold back tears. Leaning back to look into his eyes, she saw fear there. Suddenly the enormity of what happened that day finally hit Jenny like a ton of bricks and the adrenaline that had kept her going nonstop for the last hour dissipated. She thought about how one misstep could have destroyed the precious family they had created. Her body gave way, sinking to the ground with Jethro catching her, holding her close as she broke down crying in his arms.