Ch. 3

Tony poked his head out of the elevator looking for any sign of his boss in the squad room. Not seeing him he strode out stealthily in case he popped out from nowhere as he was prone to do. Tim looked up and gave a subtle shake of his head to let him know he hadn't seen their boss since he'd left.

Tony took a deep breath and began, "I thought for sure Gibbs would have caught me," he stopped seeing his boss making his way to the stairs. He quickly altered his conversation as he went to sit behind his desk, "And that McGee is why we have to get caught up on all this paper work." He looked up to smile as Gibbs turned in front of his desk.

Gibbs smirked, "That right DiNozzo? How much of that paperwork did you finish while out of the office?"

Tony glared at McGee who shrugged his shoulders and shook his head.

"Well, you see Boss," Tony began not really wanting to share where he had gone, but knowing he had no choice.

Gibbs sat at his desk and looked up raising his eyebrows in anticipation of what his senior field agent had to say. He wasn't prepared for what he offered.

Tony cleared his throat and handed the envelope to Gibbs. "I think this will explain everything."

He grimaced slightly as Gibbs cut open the envelope not taking his eyes off of Tony. Once he removed the letter he slid his glasses on and read it over, as Tony glanced back at Tim. They both saw Gibbs face show first signs of anger but something else they couldn't quite describe. Regret, perhaps.

Gibbs took his glasses off and rubbed his forehead with his hand before sliding it down his face. He grabbed his jacket and belongings knowing that he had to get to Jakob and take care of the matter.

"Don't be too hard on the little guy," Tony said. Seeing Gibbs incredulous look he added, "Not that you're too hard on him, but you know, considering…"

Gibbs rolled his head to loosen the tension in his neck. He patted Tony on the shoulder as he passed, "I got this."

Tony smiled knowing Gibbs was sure to do right by Jakob.

"So what happened?" Tim asked after Gibbs left.

"A new kid at school was teasing Jake about Ziva dying," Tony said sadly. "Poor kid felt he had to reach out and punch him."

"Still can't believe Jake started a fight, but I guess I can understand why," Tim glanced at the elevator their boss had left in. "Sure hope Gibbs does."

"Of course he will, McDoubtful," Tony turned his gaze to the same location, "He's got more experience in that regard than either of us."

"True," Tim returned to his paperwork, keeping thoughts of Jake on the outskirts of his mind.

Tony returned to his desk to catch up on what he'd been working on before his earlier departure.

Gibbs mind was on his son as he drove. He wondered if this was something that had been brewing for a while, or if it was just a one time thing. He hoped that if it had been going on his son would've reached out to him, or someone.

Gibbs had managed single parenting like he did most things in his life. As a Marine he had learned to care of business. Though caring for his young sons with a gentler touch than other aspects of his life, he had still managed to teach them about acceptable behaviors. They were genuinely good kids and he had his team, his family to thank.

Despite having the responsibility of his boys he'd managed to allot himself time to grieve the loss of his wife, something he'd denied himself after Shannon and Kelly. Ziva had been everything he needed and he had felt her death to his core. It was being a father that gave him strength to go on. The love and support of his father and extended family had helped him heal emotionally.

The past three years had its share of hard times. His first born had missed his mother dearly. He had cried every day for weeks and following that had occasional night terrors. Those nights he'd only calm when he was snuggled up next to his father. Gibbs didn't mind since the closeness gave him solace too.

Thankfully those had dwindled down after he started school. He made some good friends that expanded his interests and shared his free time on the weekends.

His friends' mothers were overly kind to him having a soft spot for the easy going lad. He was quick to smile and always polite. They never failed to praise him when Gibbs or another came to pick him up.

Gibbs had given Ziva all the credit for teaching Jakob his manners. Fortunately she had such a good job that the big brother was quick to pass along all he learned to his little brother with the grateful support of his father.

Micah was a strong willed youngster and Gibbs took full credit or blame as the case may be. It came in handy when he learned to walk and take care of his things, but the battle of wills when he had to do things he didn't want had led to many unhappy lessons learned that what dad wanted always superseded what Micah wanted with little room for compromise.

Now he wondered if he'd missed something. One thing was for certain he was going to have a good talk with his son about what had happened at school.

He pulled into the DiNozzo driveway both hands on the wheel as he stared at the front door. He gathered all his thoughts and made his way to the house. He knocked lightly before opening the door. Kate was in the living room supervising Angela doing her homework. She pointed toward the backroom where he could hear the boys talking.

He moved steadily in that direction listening to Jakob giving directions to the younger boys on how to play the game he'd set up for them. He saw his father and tried to smile, but couldn't quite pull it off. Instead he offered a quiet, "Hi Dad." That had gotten Micah moving and running to greet his father.

Gibbs smiled and scooped him up into a big hug. He snuggled with him for a few minutes then gently set him down instructing him to go help clean up the game because they were going home. Mikey sighed not happy about missing out on the game, but dutifully went to do what his dad asked.

Gibbs crooked his finger for Jakob to come to him. He hung his head as he walked toward him only looking up once he got in front of him.

"You've had quite a day," Gibbs commented.

Jakob could only nod. He wasn't sure how his dad had taken the news, for surely he knew. He was only glad for the moment that he didn't seem too angry.

"Get your things and say good-bye," Gibbs instructed and watched as Jakob went to get his backpack.

Having finished cleaning up Micah was back at his father's feet. Gibbs smiled again lifting him to bid his good-byes. Kate accepted a kiss as the little boy leaned from his father's arms. She brushed his hair back and wrinkled her nose at him causing him to laugh at her silliness.

Her eyes saddened as she watched Jakob approach to give her a hug and kiss. "Thanks for watching us," he told her.

"My pleasure," she told him bending down to hug him. Before she released her hug, she whispered in his ear, "It's going to be alright."

He nodded and hitched his backpack up on his shoulders.

"Ready?" Gibbs asked.

When he nodded Gibbs put his hand on his shoulder to turn him toward the door. "Thanks Kate," he gave her a kiss on the cheek. He spoke softly so Micah wouldn't hear, "Of course it'll be alright."

She smiled not surprised he knew what she had told his son. She watched the three of them go out the door returning a wave that they gave. Knowing Little T was going to want a playmate she told Angie to keep on with her work as she went to entertain him until she was done.

When they arrived home Gibbs instructed Jakob to get started on the work he missed at school. He reviewed the letter, "Looks like they were finishing up chapter four in Spelling. Why don't you work on that while Mikey and I get dinner ready?"

Jakob nodded as he sat down by the living room table and pulled his books from his backpack. He sighed as he watched his father and brother enter the kitchen before he opened his book. Resting his head on his arm he began to fill in the answers.

Gibbs had learned a thing or two from Ziva when it came to cooking and had a stew almost ready in the crock pot. He started a pot of water on the stove to make some rice and then helped Mikey set the table.

The rice didn't take long to finish, so soon the three were sitting at the table eating. Throughout dinner Gibbs contemplated what he would say to his son and how best to handle the issue of the fight at school. He knew how his father would've reacted, but looking at his son already contrite he didn't perceive he'd make a habit of it.

Meanwhile Jake pushed his food around on his plate as he watched his father lost in thought. He knew he messed up, but hoped he could get his dad to talk about his mom. They hadn't mentioned her in a long time and he found he was missing her more and more.

Micah was quiet wondering why his brother looked sad. He tried his best to make him laugh, but got little more than a superficial smile.

All three helped with dinner clean up. Afterwards Gibbs had Jake return to work on more of his missed assignments while he gave Mikey a bath and dressed for bed.

He brought the three year old back down for a little more play time before bed. He split his time between playing on the floor and helping with the schoolwork.

He was almost relieved when it was time to put Mikey to bed. He read him a story that he didn't finish before he heard the soft snoring of his son. He kissed him gently on the forehead before leaving the room.

Taking a deep breath he descended the stairs and asked Jakob to put away his things so they could talk.

Jakob carefully arranged his papers and put them in his backpack. He joined his father on the sofa. He sat staring at his hands on his lap and waited for his father to start chastising him.

Gibbs pulled his son to his side. "Hey," he waited for Jake to look up at him. He saw the sadness that had been residing there all day and decided he had to find a way to help him release it. "What happened today?"

Jake shrugged. It was obvious what had happened; he'd lost his temper and started a fight. Knowing his dad wanted an answer he said, "Rob said Mom died because she didn't want to be with me any more."

Gibbs grimaced knowing how much those words would hurt. "Do you think that's true?" he asked.

"No," Jake shook his head.

"Then why?" Gibbs asked.

Jake wiped at a tear that fell down his cheek. "I miss her. We hardly ever talk about her and I don't remember her voice," he cried.

Gibbs slid Jake onto his lap and held him close letting him cry. How could he have forgotten what it was like to lose a mother and never speak about her?

He decided to share some of his past with his son. "Do you know my mother died when I was a boy? I was twelve, but I missed her very much. I was angry because she died. I couldn't be angry with her, so I blamed grandpa for letting her die."

"Was it his fault?" Jakob asked wondering how his Papa Jack could be responsible.

"No," Gibbs shook his head. "But I was mad and he was there for me to take it out on. He'd never talk about her after she died and I think I felt the same as you do now. Only I was more angry than sad."

Jake nodded, "I was pretty angry at Rob."

Gibbs held back a laugh, "Yes, I imagine you were. But I think some of that is my fault."

Jakes eyes widened. The last thing he expected was his dad to take the blame for his actions.

Gibbs shook his head knowing what Jake was thinking, "Not for the fight, but your feelings that led to the fight. I think we should spend some time talking about your mom. We even have some home videos we can watch so we can hear her voice and never have to forget it."

"Micah should get to know her too. He never got to know how great a mom she was," Jakob added.

"You're right. How about on Sundays, after dinner, we take time to share our memories?" Gibbs suggested.

Jakob agreed. H was looking forward to Sunday night. He looked at a picture on the mantle of his mom smiling. He couldn't wait to hear her voice again.

"Now about the fight," Gibbs regained the boy's attention.

"I'm really sorry about that Daddy," he responded. "It won't happen again," he promised.

"You still broke the rules, both mine and the school's," the father regarded his son.

Jakob's shoulders sagged waiting for the hammer to fall. Gibbs looked up to the ceiling trying to find the right reprimand. "No television or video games, plus you get kitchen duty for the next week," he directed.

The young boy knew he'd gotten off lightly so didn't complain. His father lifted his chin with his finger to make eye contact. "If it happens again, I won't be so lenient." He pulled his son against his chest and hugged him.

"Now it's time for you to get ready for bed," he patted Jake's leg and released him.

After his bath his father joined him in his room to read him a story. Much like his brother he was asleep before the story finished. Gibbs watched him sleep for a short time glad to finally see him at peace. He brushed his hand over Jakob's head, whispered a good night and left to relax before he went to bed himself.

Sunday evening…

The dinner dishes done Jakob joined his father and brother in the living room where they had already set out a photo album and a home video. Before they opened the album Gibbs sat his boys on his lap. He opened his wallet and took out a photo he had tucked inside.

Jakob had a good idea who the pretty woman in the picture was but asked, "Is that your mom?"

Gibbs smiled, lightly tracing his finger over her face. "Yes. I thought it would be nice if one day I shared some things about your grandma with you. Today it'll just be this picture," he let each of them hold it and take their time looking at her image.

Jakob turned to his dad while Micah took his turn. "It's perfect for I Remember Mama Night," he smiled.

Gibbs smirked thinking that his son was picking up too much from his Godfather. For it was definitely a DiNozzo influence if he'd ever heard one and he'd heard plenty.

As he put the photo back in his wallet there was a knock at the door that preceded the man himself walking into the house. "Anybody home?" Tony greeted with a smile.

They boys ran to greet their uncle who was followed by the rest of his family. Angela gave Jakob a hug and tickled Mikey's belly as Kate carried in Little T who twisted in her arms to be put down to join his cousins.

Gibbs greeted Tony with a handshake and gave Kate a kiss on the cheek. "To what do we owe the pleasure?"

Tony gave a glance toward his nephew before rubbing his hands together and responding, "Well I heard that you were having a night to remember Ziva and thought we could all enjoy it."

Gibbs gave a lopsided smile. "Sure why not. Pull up a seat."

Before they got settled another knock came announcing Tim and Abby who held their newest edition in her arms. All the kids ran to greet them. Abby knelt down on one knee to let each of them have access.

"Abby?" Gibbs questioned.

"What Gibbs? We couldn't leave him alone by himself tonight. He's just a puppy."

Having a soft spot not only for his forensic scientist, but also for animals he let it go. Silently he hoped there'd be no accidents to clean up.

Soon they were all joined by Jimmy and Breena who had brought along Ducky.

"Looks like we're all here," Jimmy stated the obvious.

"Well let's get started," Tony already had his spot by the living room table.

The night went well with more laughter than tears as they shared some of the earlier memories of a wife, friend, coworker and mother. As they watched the video there was silence as Gibbs had caught some footage of Ziva rocking Jakob to sleep singing the lullaby he had enjoyed so much.

Jakob had tears in his eyes, but a smile that belied any hint of the sadness. He looked at his dad before leaning into him. "I remember it now, Daddy."

Gibbs choked back his own tears. This is what they all needed.

As the night came to an end they all shared goodbyes and promises to get together again the following week. Gibbs got the boys to bed glad to see Jakob smile. He knew Micah would have questions, especially as he got older, but felt confident that they'd be able to talk about anything he'd want to know.

He returned to the living room to put things away. He looked on the mantle where family pictures were displayed. He regarded the one taken at Christmas time showing everyone around the tree, including Jack. He pulled out his phone and dialed his dad's number.

"Hello," Jack answered.

"Hi Dad," Gibbs greeted not at all surprised the man was still awake despite being an earlier riser.

"How'd the night go?" he asked.

"Jakob talked to you, too."

"He was really excited about it," the older man said.

"It went well, Dad. I was calling to see if you'd like to join us next week," Gibbs invited.

"I'd love to. I'm sure I can get away for a few days even. I'd love to spend some time with my grandsons. And my son."

"I'd like that too, Dad," Gibbs paused.

Sensing his son had something else to say Jackson prodded, "What is it son?"

"I was wondering if you could bring some of the pictures of Mom with you. I'd like to show them to everyone," he answered.

"I'd like that. I even have some home video I had transferred to DVD I could bring along."

Gibbs shouldn't have been surprised that his father was farther ahead of him technologically but he was stunned over the news. "I'd like that. Thanks."

"It's been too long," Jack admitted. "I'll see you Friday night, if that's alright?"

"It's perfect Dad. See you then," Gibbs hung up lightly chuckling to himself. He was greatly anticipating the following week.

He looked once again at the picture on the mantle. He took out his wallet and removed the photo inside and gently leaned it against the frame. He smiled as he turned out the lights and made his way up to bed.