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PostPosted: Sat Feb 13, 2010 8:23 pm 
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Something Fishy
by channelD




written for: taylorgibbs, as a Haiti Relief ficlet than ran over ficlet size by a bit. This is the first of two ficlets she ordered. Thanks for your donation, TG!
rating: FR7
characters: Gibbs, Shannon and Kelly
genre: family/humor/drama/pre-NCIS
prompt: none given, so I borrowed an idea from 7.15, Jack Knife. Minor spoilers, more like references, about something in Gibbs’ life currently.

- - - - -

Leroy Jethro Gibbs, happily married man and father to the cutest child on the planet, was satisfied. He’d just finished several weekends of work on the old Rococo side table: mending a broken leg, refinishing the table, replacing the glass top. It looked beautiful, and now was in place in the living room. He already had plans for what would go on it: an ornate circular curio case of similar style that he had designed himself and had been making for Shannon, in secret. He would have it finished for her within two weeks, by the time of her birthday. In his mind, he could see her delight as she saw it…and agreed with him that the table was the perfect place for it.

A fresh cup of celebratory coffee in hand, he gazed at the charming little table, still smiling, when his wife and five-year-old daughter came home.

“Daddy! Daddy!” His auburn-haired daughter launched herself at him with the speed of a torpedo. “I gots a fishy! Look! Look, daddy!” In her fist in a small plastic container filled with water, a little orange creature swam laps.

“She won it in the school fair,” Shannon smiled.

Gibbs had never had a pet fish, but he knew a dad’s responsibilities. “That’s great, honey. What’s his name?”

“It’s a girl fishy, I’ve decided,” Kelly said stoutly. “And her name is ‘Something’.”

“Something? What?”

“Something Fishy!” Kelly said in a silly daddy tone. “I’ve heard you and mommy say that before, and it’s a nice name for a fishy.” With a flourish, she deposited the container on the Rococo table and ran out of the room.

“Your timing’s good with the table, Marine,” Shannon said, silkily, her hands upon his chest. “I’ve got to go out and buy an aquarium, but, yes; that’s a good spot for the goldfish.”

“Aw, now, Red; maybe it could go over by the window instead…”

“I like it here. It won’t get hurt by the sunlight. And that’s the spot Kelly chose.” She kissed him. “Be back soon. Start thinking about what you’d like for dinner.”

“Fish,” he muttered as she went out.

- - - - -

Shannon wound up managing the fish care, although Kelly was allowed to help with the feeding (with supervision. Given her way, Kelly would have fed her new best friend hamburgers and jelly beans.). Shannon changed the water, monitored the ammonia and nitrate levels, and chose the gravel and decorations for the aquarium. When Gibbs finished the curio cabinet a week later, Shannon gushed over it but relegated it to a corner of their bedroom with rather poor lighting. It stood there, on a dresser with other things, unfilled for a long time.

Gibbs found himself jealous of a stupid goldfish.

How long can it live, anyway? he told himself. It’ll probably die within six months. Kelly will cry, but then she’ll forget about it.

Little did he know, then, that goldfish live for years.

- - - - -

Something the goldfish thrived in the aquarium, and grew. There was room in the tank for one more goldfish, and so on her birthday, Kelly was rewarded with a companion for Something, a black and white panda moor goldfish. “Do you have a name picked out for her, Kelly?” Gibbs asked, hoping fervently that if Something was a girl, so was this fish.

“I’m gonna call him…Tevye.”

“She’s been listening to my Fiddler on the Roof album,” Shannon shrugged.

Tevye and his wife, Golde. It did make sense.

- - - - -

Tevye and Something failed to produce any offspring, for which Gibbs was glad. They also seemed to be in excellent health, with no signs of being willing to shuffle off this mortal coil any time soon.

“How long do those things live?” he asked Shannon one night as they were getting ready for bed.

“Five to ten years, usually, according to the pet shop. Maybe as long as 25 years. Why, Marine?”

“That does it. When Kelly goes off to college; they’re going with her.”

- - - - -

Secretly, though, the two fish started to grow on Gibbs. He joined in on their care and feeding. When the Gibbs family was away, Mrs. Blocker from next door (busy mother of six, including three teens, but if you want something done, ask a busy person) came in and tended to the fish.

When Gibbs went away to Desert Storm, the wallet photos that went with him included one of Kelly and the fish. Letters from Shannon and Kelly often mentioned the fish. The fish even sometimes wrote to Gibbs (in handwriting a lot like Kelly’s). The Gibbses had become a family of five.

- - - - -

Many events happened to Gibbs after that, as you already know. With Shannon and Kelly gone, another man might have rid himself of the pets that he hadn’t wanted. Not Gibbs.

In 2005, Tevye died. It happened on an unremarkable day. Gibbs came home and found him floating, belly up. He didn’t try to fight the tears as he scooped the small fish out. It was one less tie that he had now to the two people who’d meant the most to him.

- - - - -

Now, here in 2010, Something Fishy was over 20 years old, and her scales didn’t have the luster they’d had in her youth. Mrs. Blocker still lived next door. Although she was gray and arthritic now, and a widow, with her kids grown and living out-of-state, she still was a fish caregiver when Gibbs was away. The tank still sat on the Rococo table...and Gibbs wouldn't think of having it anywhere else.

Gibbs shrugged off commenting on the fish with his team. They didn’t know the history, and he didn’t feel like bringing it up. Sometimes he thought about getting a new fish friend for Something, but it didn’t seem like the best idea.

You and I are old, girl. We have our memories to sustain us.

The age of the goldfish bothered him. She wouldn’t last forever, he knew. Despite all the care he gave her, one day she would wear out, and…go. He thought he remembered (though he wasn’t sure) Kelly and her best friend, Maddie, once asking if pets went to heaven, too, when they died.

I sure hope so, Kelly.

It was a sobering thought, losing the goldfish. But every night that he came home and found Something placidly swimming in her tank, he smiled.


-END-

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 13, 2010 8:38 pm 
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Ah, sweet. I like it...and that is totally the kind of name a kid would name a pet. ;D

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 13, 2010 8:41 pm 
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;D Yes. The name came to me before the story. :)

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 13, 2010 8:51 pm 
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Loved it. Warm and fuzzy (the story, not the fish), but I am amazed at how long she has lasted. It's a great story and TG will love it.

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 13, 2010 8:58 pm 
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Adorable! :smitten: I had wondered about the fish in Jack Knife--they kind of seemed out of character for Gibbs. This was a sweet explanation for their presence in Gibbs home.

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 13, 2010 9:00 pm 
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Heh! I like the idea of a warm and fuzzy fish! ;D

I've never had pet fish myself, so I had to do research for this story. I was surprised to learn that goldfish can live for 25 years or so (although on average, it's 5 to 10 years).

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 13, 2010 9:04 pm 
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Thanks, Andi! The fish in that ep just jumped out at me...well, not literally. I wondered why they were there.

Although my brother and his wife fell in love with owning tropical fish indirectly: they liked the idea of home (indoor) waterfalls and decorations that went along with running water, and liked the look of light in fish tanks, so adding fish just seemed to be a natural progression. :)

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 13, 2010 10:16 pm 
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Wow. This was a sweet story! You've got the tears prickling in my eyes. I was sort of wondering about the fish, too. It seemed sort of...contrary that Gibbs, the man who could call and summon dogs and cats, would have fish and fish food. So, thank you for penning the explanation.

Thank you for writing and sharing this moving story. And thank you, taylorgibbs, for having sponsored it. :)

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 13, 2010 10:38 pm 
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Glad you liked it, Ursula! That thing with the fish mention in Jack Knife--it was begging for an explanation. I don't know if my version is any good, but it's an explanation. :)

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 13, 2010 11:09 pm 
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You don't know if it is any good??? Bite your tongue, ma'am! Of course it is good! Imvho it's much, much more than merely "good." :) I really, really liked this (even if you did make me tear up).

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 13, 2010 11:18 pm 
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:blush: You are, as they say, much too kind.

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 14, 2010 5:56 am 
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There are not many people who can make me cry over goldfish, but you did it.

The name was perfect, I love it!

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 14, 2010 11:37 am 
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Thanks, Tamara! :)

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 14, 2010 12:02 pm 
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A beautifully touching story Pam, I’m always amazed at the wonderful variety of your fics!! I haven’t seen Jack Knife yet, but I’m guessing Gibbs has a goldfish!! ;D

Loved the family memories, really super ficlet!!! :hug2col:

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 14, 2010 12:21 pm 
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Thanks, Mad! It's just a very small mention in the episode; it's not like the fish turns out to be a serial killer or other imprtant plot point. ;D

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 14, 2010 3:39 pm 
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Oh,what a beautiful story. Moving and heartwarming and bittersweet all in one. I'm humbled by this... It completely fits Gibbs. Thank you for showing us this side of him!

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 14, 2010 3:52 pm 
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I'm so glad you liked it, TG! :D

Working on your next story now. :)

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 14, 2010 4:12 pm 
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That was a truly beautiful story! I loved it. Fantastic Job!

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 14, 2010 5:23 pm 
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Thank you, Beth! I enjoyed writing it. :)

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 15, 2010 1:16 pm 
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Oh, that was lovely! I think it's a good explanation of why Gibbs has fish :yes: Makes me hope he still has the fish every time we see his house now!

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 15, 2010 1:26 pm 
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Thanks! I'll be looking for his fish, too. ;D

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 15, 2010 1:50 pm 
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Oh Pam that was delightful, I really did like the names. I thought for a moment you were going to say that when one of the fish died it was replaced and Gibbs never knew.

Still I must go and clear the mess in the kitchen.no the workmen are good. I just love eating out.

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 15, 2010 2:10 pm 
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Thanks, Pat! Hmmm. I think Gibbs would know if someone replaced a goldfish. Maybe that's under the category of Gibbs knowing everything. :D

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 26, 2010 2:13 pm 
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I’m impressed that you took that one little line from Jack Knife and created this whole backstory for it. I loved Kelly thinking “something fishy” was referring to an actual fish. Hah! That's so... kid-like. (I can't think of a better word for it!)

Then when he couldn’t get rid of them even though he didn’t want them in the first place, because they were the only thing left of his family… *sniff* :'(

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 26, 2010 2:23 pm 
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I think a number of us wondered about the presence of fish at Gibbs' house. I don't know why the writers put that in...but I'm glad they did. :D And leave it to Gibbs to have his sentimental moments...which he would only do in private, I'm sure. :)

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 21, 2010 2:21 pm 
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This is such a beautiful story. I really enjoyed reading it :)

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 21, 2010 2:35 pm 
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Thanks, Dannica! It's become a sentimental favorite of mine. :)

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