Chapter 8

Disclaimer: I own none of the NCIS characters.

Author's Note: This is the final chapter - the whole story was a bit longer than I thought it would be! I really enjoyed writing it so thank you so much for all your reviews and support.

Gibbs and the team were busy writing up their reports. It wasn't late - only around four pm - but his mind was elsewhere. He knew he should really make a call to social services in order to get James back into the system as quickly as possible. Gibbs' unease was evident in the room and the whole team felt the tension. Everyone knew James had got on with the team - he'd just fitted in.

Ziva, still being the newest to the team, decided to breach the subject.

'I shall call social services for you Gibbs - yes?' She said in her blunt way.

The glare she received in return made her want to disappear into her chair. McGee and DiNozzo both felt it too and sent her sympathetic looks.

'I want your reports on my desk in 20.' Gibbs ordered as he left the room.

'Smo-ooth Ziva. You just pissed him off.' DiNozzo commented. Ziva glared at him.

'20 minutes!' McGee exclaimed, 'There's no way I'm gonna get that done!'

The team lapsed into silence and continued to type their reports. This time McGee brought up the question they all wanted an answer to. 'What do you think Gibbs is going to do?' This led the team to have a quick and quiet discussion (you never knew if Gibbs was listening in) in which theories snow-balled, with each one becoming more far-fetched than the last. They came to no conclusion.

...

'Got a minute Duck?' Gibbs asked as he entered autopsy.

'Of course Jethro.' Ducky replied, giving Gibbs a piercing look.

After informing Gibbs of James' whereabouts, Ducky said, 'Sit Jethro. It's not often I get the pleasure of your company as a social call.'

'How do you know it's a social call Duck?' Gibbs asked as he took a seat.

Ducky replied with a smile, 'Jethro, you are not always completely unreadable.'

Gibbs huffed. Ducky, not wanting Gibbs to feel pressured, busied himself making tea.

'It's James, Duck. There's something...' Gibbs paused. He wasn't used to this 'sharing his feelings' business. Nevertheless, he really needed his friend's advice right now.

'Ah yes. He's a bright boy.'

'Yeah.' Gibbs stood up and paced. 'I don't want him to go back into care. It'll never work - he wont respond to it.' Gibbs paused a bit more - but he wanted to say what he was really thinking - that he wouldn't grow up in a steady environment, he would be constantly changing schools, areas, houses, friends... The list went on.

'Yes.' Ducky commented, 'I know what you mean Jethro.' Gibbs decided he had to say it - they both knew it anyway.

'He's too old. There's not many people who want to adopt a boy of 10 - or maybe even foster. He'll have to go into a home.'

'Ummmm.' Ducky sat down with his tea and locked eyes with Gibbs.

'I don't know what to do Duck.'

'Oh I think you do Jethro.' Ducky told him.

'It's been a long time.' Gibbs admitted.

'It doesn't matter.' Ducky said firmly.

Finally, Gibbs nodded and gave a comfortable smile. He felt better as he turned to leave. Before he did, he turned around once more, 'Thank you Duck.'

'Anytime Jethro. Anytime'

...

Gibbs practically flew into the Director's office.

'I need a favour Jen.'

The Director didn't stop typing but said, 'Oh I don't know Jethro. I give you a lot of favours. I mean, the leeway I give you and your team...'

'Please Jen.'

Jenny looked up in shock. She could count on one hand the number of times she could recall Gibbs saying please.

'Um. Ok.' She stuttered, she was still completely awestruck.

'I need to you to make a few calls. I want,' He paused and took a deep breath, 'to adopt James.'

She began to say something, but the genuine look on Gibbs' face stopped her.

'Of course Gibbs. I'll get straight to it.'

Gibbs nodded, 'Jenny?'

'Jethro?'

'Thanks.' Jenny nodded her acknowledgement. She was completely surprised by the turn of events. Bemusedly, she picked up her phone and began to call.

...

Back in the bullpen, Gibbs took in the scene before him. All his agents were at their desks, with their completed reports deposited in his in-tray. He walked into the middle of the room. Still being Gibbs, he got straight to the point.

'All of you, good job.' The team looked up to acknowledge the compliment. 'I thought I should say I'm adopting James.'

They all sat there in a stunned silence. Finally McGee said, 'That's great Boss. Really great!' The other two nodded and said similar things. However, Gibbs continued to talk and let them know his thoughts about what would happen next.

...

Just a bit later, Gibbs was once again leading James to a conference room. He would have spoken to him in Abby's lab, but he knew she wouldn't have been able to keep the news to herself (she would have undoubtedly been updated by McGee).

After they had entered, James sat and waited for Gibbs to talk. Gibbs smiled at the intuition. James remained completely indifferent when Gibbs gently told him the outcome of the case. There was silence as he digested the information.

'I have to go into care again, don't I?' James asked gloomily.

'Well, there is an alternative.'

'Alternative?'

'Yes. There's someone who's willing to adopt you.'

'Today?'

'Yes. If you're happy with that. You're not being forced.' Gibbs wanted to make that very clear.

James thought for a bit. Quite a long time actually.

'I never wanted to go back into care Gibbs. That's why I put up with... you know.' James said quietly.

'I know. Just think about it.'

Another another long pause, James finally said, 'I guess I could go meet them? Or is it just one person?'

'Just one person.'

'Ok.'

Gibbs and James exchanged looks - neither of them being good at expressing their emotions. As they walked back to the squad room, Gibbs added, 'He's already here if you want to see him. In a different conference room. I have something to do but DiNozzo will take you.'

'Right. And Gibbs, I want to say...'

'I know. Don't mention it.' Gibbs left James with the team, and with one final nod left via the elevator. Gibbs was annoyed in the elevator, he had wanted to tell James there and then - but the Director had needed to confirm some details first.

After a bit of light hearted chatting, DiNozzo led James back towards the conference rooms.

'DiNozzo?'

'Call me Tony.'

'Tony?'

'Yeah?'

'How come you speak Italian?'

'My family is Italian. DiNozzo is an Italian name.'

As James nodded, Tony wanted to ask him the same question, but didn't want to change the mood.

'See ya James. Keep at it.' Tony said when they reached the door. James wasn't keen to go in.

'Bye. Um - say bye to everyone for me.' DiNozzo nodded and gestured for James to enter the room. He watched as James took a deep breath before he entered the conference room.

At first, James couldn't see anyone. As he fully entered the room, he spotted Gibbs leaning against the far wall.

'Gibbs?' He asked, completely oblivious, 'Is he not here yet?'

'Just wait.'

James decided to do just that and took a seat. After a while, he got bored and walked around the conference table. He also looked out the window. Just as he started to examine the coffee machine, he suddenly spun around to face Gibbs. Gibbs had been watching in amusement during this process. Gibbs saw the spark of understanding appear in his face - it had obviously clicked.

'Wait? What? Gibbs? You?'

'Yes,' Gibbs said, glad James had finally worked it out. 'If you want.' Gibbs couldn't get over how happy he felt - he couldn't stop smiling. James grinned - it was infectious- but suddenly it was replaced by a frown.

'You don't want me Gibbs. I'm too screwed up.'

Gibbs smile vanished. Instead, he went over to James and knelt in front of him. 'You listen to me Matthew. You're not screwed up. You're a great kid.'

'Are you sure?' James asked, still uncertain.

'Absolutely. I don't say things I don't mean.'

James thought for a bit longer. Gibbs smiled as his face finally lit up.

'That... that would be great Gibbs. It's amazing.'

...

The grinning due made their way back to the squad room. James asked, 'Is it ok if I call you Gibbs? Jethro's a funny name!'

'That's fine.' Gibbs replied, sharing a look with James.

Back at the bullpen, it was obvious by the guilty faces that they had only just stopped talking about them seconds before.

'You guys are mean!' James joked at them. The team grinned at him.

'Am I interrupting something?' the Director said, smiling, as she approached them from behind.

As half the team jumped, Gibbs answered, 'I just told James the news.'

The Director smiled at James and said, 'Hello James. I've heard a lot about you.'

James looked mischievous and replied, 'Oh. I don't know much about you.'

The Director and the team all laughed at that (except Gibbs who gave James a half-exasperated look).

'This is the Director of NCIS James. She made some phone calls for me.'

'Oh.' said James, suddenly serious. 'Thank you Director.'

'You're very welcome James. I'm sure I'll see you again.' The Director told him as she walked away from the group. Gibbs nodded another thanks in her direction as she went up the stairs.

'Come on James. Let's get you home.'

'Yeah,' James said, 'Home.'