Disclaimer: I own none of the NCIS characters.
Around 1, after they had had fried eggs for lunch (Gibbs could just about manage that) they made their way to the store. He had rung Abby and told her to meet them there. There had been a more few run in's with James' attitude this morning, resulting in a threat from Gibbs of an entirely pink wardrobe, but now they were fine. Gibbs made out that he hadn't wanted to do anything in the morning – he knew James would try but he really wasn't up for much after Gibbs had helped him downstairs. He was heading for one of those stores that sell everything and anything as he was planning on making the food shopping, clothes shopping and paint shopping one round trip. And, if they could manage it, hopefully in less than 2 hours.
James was true to form and not showing his emotions, but Gibbs could see he was excited to be here. He was completely enthralled by the idea of having more than one pair of jeans. Gibbs picked up an age 9 pair of trousers, knowing James was small for his age, and told him to go and try them on. Gibbs and Abby waited just outside the fitting rooms.
'Gibbs, you have to let him choose for himself what he wants to wear. This stuff is all the same. Let's go to the mall.'
'No. He's fine. Thrilled, in fact. If those jeans fit he can get a few pairs in different colours – how about that?' Gibbs countermanded. Abby looked disgruntled.
'Now Abs, I never said this trip would be fun.'
James came out of the fitting room. Gibbs and Abby both laughed.
'Hey!' he protested, but grinning all the same. The jeans were too big. James was holding them at the waist so they didn't fall down and they were so long that he was shuffling so he didn't trip over. Wordlessly Gibbs handed him the age 8 pair. Gibbs' phone rang as James re-entered the changing rooms.
'Boss - it's me. You might not like this, but I got a call from metro today to meet them at Harper's house. I'm here now. I tried to call to tell you but…'
'It's ok DiNozzo. What else?'
'They want me to confirm it can be handed over to the housing authorities. I thought I'd get James stuff whilst I was here. It's in my car.'
'He has nothing. I got his clothes – most of them are completely worn or wrecked. I got everything except the furniture though.'
'I'll come by and get it later.'
'Great. See you in a bit.' DiNozzo replied and the call ended.
James couldn't stop stuttering his thanks. He'd got two normal pairs of jeans and one black pair. He'd also got some corduroys, one in blue and one in beige. They'd got 10 t-shirts, three sweatshirts and two hoodies. Gibbs wouldn't usually have gone overboard like this (he let James know that) but the kid literally had nothing. Abby had gone elsewhere to get James some 'smart' shirts (under strict orders from Gibbs not to get anything too outlandish).
Just as they were leaving, Gibbs realized the kid had one pair of shoes. Whoops. They made their way back to the shoe department. It turned out James was fussy about trainers. He didn't want black, but they didn't have blue or white ones in his size. Gibbs managed to get James to get some shoes he thought were suitable for school though. Just as James was debating about a pair of grey ones, Gibbs was getting frustrated.
'James. If you want trainers, it's those or nothing.' He stated. James nodded and once again stammered his thanks. He sounded like McGee.
The rest of the errands got done. James picked out a blue paint for his room and Abby returned with two shirts, one grey with black stripes and the other one a navy blue. She'd also got James a t-shirt with a skull and cross bones on it. James tried to look pleased with her present, but said, 'Ah. Thanks Abby. It's … nice.' Luckily, Gibbs came to his rescue.
'You're going to have to return that Abby. He's only 10.' Abby begrudgingly complied.
In the super market, James had more fun than Gibbs.
As they went round the store, the trolley got more and more full. James made comments like, 'Yeah we need both types of flour.' And 'No, that's soft cheese; we need a hard cheese, like Suisse or Cheddar.'
Finally, they made their way back to the car and said goodbye to Abby. Gibbs could see James flagging, so he told him to take some more painkillers.
'No way Gibbs. I'm fine. I've had enough of those pills.'
'I'm fed up of arguing about this James. Take. Them. Now.'
James crossed his arms and stared straight ahead. 'Fine, you just chose the hard way to do this.' In a softer voice he added, 'I know you're in pain – why fight me?'
Gibbs rummaged around in the back for a minute and drew out a t-shirt. It had been the first one they had bought.
Holding it in his hand he said, 'Last chance. I'm going to return this if you don't take them.'
Finally, James obliged as Gibbs stared him down with yet another 'Gunny' stare.
Gibbs was happy with their trip – they had managed everything in just over two hours. He pulled up outside DiNozzo's house and looked at James.
'This is where DiNozzo lives. He's got your stuff. I thought we could go and sort through it if you are up to it?'
'Ok.' James answered, staring straight ahead. Gibbs really did have difficulty reading James, he appeared fine but he sensed he was also nervous. He hoped they could get this done quickly; James really shouldn't have been out and about this long as he needed his rest.
After ringing the doorbell twice, DiNozzo let them in. 'It's in here. Good day?' he asked.
Gibbs made to reply, but James got there first. 'Yeah it was awesome! I got these really cool t-shirts.'
'That's good kid. You want anything?'
Gibbs shook his head and made his way to the pile of James' stuff. DiNozzo was right, all the clothes were wrecked. James made to remove them.
'Just keep the stuff you want. Put the stuff you don't need here. And don't bother asking, yes, I am sure.' Gibbs told him. With that, James placed most his clothing on the discard pile. He kept a few things, such as a marine issue t-shirt. Gibbs didn't ask why, he didn't want James to think he was intruding. He could, however, guess that it was Johnson's. Out of the corner of his eye, he could see DiNozzo was itching to tell him something. After telling James he was going to talk to DiNozzo, he left the room.
'It's about Johnson boss. His funeral is in two days. I'd just thought I'd let you know.'
Gibbs thought for a bit. He knew from the once he had opened up to Gibbs that James' hadn't been allowed to go to his mother's funeral – he didn't agree with that. But this was Johnson and James was only a kid – should he be exposed to that? The voice in his head told him that James needed to go – and Ducky would say it was part of the healing process.
After discussing some more issues, Gibbs went back in to find James with two piles – a 'discard' pile and a 'keep' pile. James had his back to him. As Gibbs moved around James, he saw James was holding a small silver box that looked remarkably like a present. Gibbs was surprised, and it must have showed on his face, because James quickly put the box on the keep pile. Gibbs was confused, but didn't say anything– perhaps an unopened present from Johnson? Had Johnson even known it was James' birthday?
'Yep.' James answered, recovering quickly.
Gibbs made no comment as he helped James put his stuff in a box so they could easily take it to the car. He had a few items of clothing, a photo of Max, some reading books (another surprise for Gibbs), school accessories and a few other small things like plain paper, a baseball and a pair of shoelaces.
Gibbs slowly processed all this – it was a strange collection for a 10 year old. He decided to bite the bullet, 'Don't you have any stuff from England?'
'The social worker wouldn't let me take much. She practically packed for me.'
'Uh huh. So where is it? I'm sure we can get it if it's somewhere else in the house.'
'It's not. Jack hated anything that reminded him of my mother. He went through my stuff took it away.' James said this in a completely emotionless voice. Gibbs' blood was boiling. What man takes away a kids stuff like that?
James then said very quietly, 'He let me keep the silver box though. I told him it was a present from the social worker.' Gibbs was astounded – what was in it?
Gibbs didn't know what to say, he didn't trust himself to speak, so he kept silent.
After finishing the packing, Gibbs said, 'I have to talk to you about Johnston.'
James merely nodded.
'It's his funeral in two days' time. Do you want to go?'
There was a pause. 'Yes.'
Gibbs expected that. James added, 'Will Max be there?'
'His mother doesn't want him to go.'
'What the hell? It's his dad – he has every right to go! Oh my god Gibbs, please make her change her mind, he needs to be there!'
'Language.' Gibbs warned. 'It's her decision what Max does, James.'
'But he should be there! Gibbs!'
Gibbs couldn't deny it – he agreed with James.
James went serious. 'Gibbs, please can you talk to her? I really think he should go.'
'I'll talk to her tonight. I'm not promising anything. And DiNozzo got a number for Max's house; you can ring him and talk to him when you want.'
James' face lit up. He almost ran to thank DiNozzo.
A shattered duo made their way back home. Gibbs could see that James was absolutely exhausted. He told James to sit down while he unloaded the car.
He gave James the phone. 'Call for Chinese. Ask for the normal items – but for two.'
'Sure Gibbs. But, what's the number?'
James made no comment that Gibbs knew the number off by heart. He keyed it in.
As Gibbs finished unloading the car, James said. 'It'll be here in 20.'
Gibbs nodded and scribbled a number down from his cell to a piece of paper.
'This is Max's mother's number. Call it, I told her to expect you.'
Gibbs watched as James eagerly complied. 'Hello, Ms Johnson. It's James.'
'Oh Mrs Haywire now? My mistake. Could I speak to Max please?'
Gibbs was proud of James. He spoke to her well and she hadn't been an easy person to get along with. And James was being very polite.
Gibbs guessed the phone had been passed to Max, because James broke into a huge smile.
'Hey Max.' James said. Gibbs grinned at the one-way conversation.
'Oh really?... Where does she live?...'
'Oh Jesse's a he? My mistake…'
Oh yes, Gibbs thought, this will work.
Author's Note: My apologies for the sudden end, but I am going to make this into a series, so there will be more. Any thoughts and advice would be much appreciated so please review!