This is the fifth story in the Firestorm Universe. We decided to do a 'choose your own adventure' type of storyline following New Year, New Promise. At the end of that story, Mac had left Jethro, believing he was planning to marry Shannon and hadn't been
honest. We figured that there were three options.
Option A) Mac left for good, permanently.
Option B) Mac and Jethro broke up, at least temporarily.
Option C) Mac and Jethro's relationship survived.
This story takes Option B and goes with it. Options A and C will have their own stories told sooner rather than later. In fact, if you're into HEA instead of angst, look for Beginning Again, which is Option C. This will be posted very soon.
As always, we hope you enjoy our universe!
Thanks for reading :)
"This is the happiest day of my life, Mom!" Shannon Kendall squeezed her adopted mother's hand and tried not to fidget. She looked up at the smiling face in the mirror, the woman's smile very happy but her green eyes a little sad.
"You wish Mac was getting married, right? He'll find the right woman someday, Mom. You'll see. And Jethro will stand up with him. And we'll all be really happy. When Mac and Jethro get out of the service, they're going to open up a business together. He'll be right there as the best uncle of our little girl or boy. You'll see, Mom!"
"I hope so dear. I look forward to seeing him as happy as you and Jethro are. But he's just coming out of a very serious relationship, so I'm not sure that I see it happening soon." It was hard not to like Shannon, but knowing how miserable her son was made this day bittersweet. "Until then, I'll have a grandchild to spoil all the same. Will make waiting for MacKai that much easier."
Shannon frowned. "Why didn't I know that? I hope she didn't hurt him. Sometimes Mac looks really sad. I just want to give him a big hug. He makes a woman want to look after him. He's going to find someone. The ladies at the diner are going to help me find the perfect girl."
"My son is a private man. He wouldn't want what's going on in his life to overshadow your big day darling girl." Emily could only imagine the sorts of women that the ladies at the diner would find for her son. "Let him have some time to heal before you try to find him a girlfriend. He's pretty raw after this last experience, and still not fully healed from his wounds. When he's ready, he'll let us know."
"And if he doesn't let Jethro and I know, you'll let me help? Mac is a dream, really cute and sweet and an officer. I'm glad they let him back in, Mom. He looked so sad when he thought his career was over."
Shannon giggled. "Mrs. Cora isn't Mac's type, but there are a lot of cute girls near base."
"I'll let you know if he needs help. But right now, I want you to concentrate on you and the baby. We have time for Mac to find someone just as special as you are." No girl that Shannon placed in front of her son would interest him, at least not right now. Maybe some day, but everything was just too raw right now. "Give him some time to heal, and get back to his job. Mac will be on desk duty for quite a while, and I know how much he'll hate that. I'm just happy he's here to be miserable."
"Me too, Mom. He's a good guy and he deserves to be happy. I reckon the bombing must have changed him. He looks haunted and Jethro says that isn't the man he remembers. I guess because the boys came close to death, Mom, that it changed things." She rubbed her stomach. "We better talk about happier things for baby!"
Emily hovered over the young woman."Are you feeling okay? You haven't been too sick have you? When I was pregnant with MacKai, I was sick for eight months. It was that last month where I could finally keep something down. It was as if he wanted me to be able to get a little sleep before he came out screaming like there was no end." Emily smiled at the memory of her little brown haired baby, and how quiet he'd ended up being after such a fussy beginning. "He ended up being a wonderful baby, but I was miserable the whole time I was pregnant."
"I threw up the first week all the time, but it all went away. Jethro called it baby growing pains. And now I'm past the sleeping all the time thing and all I want to do is eat. And eat! I'm going to be so fat. Mom, I think I'm going to have a little girl. I had a dream of a little girl in a pink hat. She was my bunny!"
Shannon giggled. "Mac screamed? He's so quiet. I never would have known. Some days he and Jethro just sit there and it's like they're talkin' with their eyes alone. It is a little creepy."
Emily knew exactly what Shannon meant. The boys communicated without words all the time, "He screamed from the moment he slid out. Didn't stop until the nurse brought him back to me and placed him on my chest. Apparently he recognized my heartbeat and quieted right down. For the first couple of months, if I wasn't holding him or he wasn't sleeping he was screaming."
Emily had run herself ragged trying to do everything while carting around a newborn who didn't want to be anywhere besides his mother's chest. "Pretty sure he screamed enough for a lifetime, which made him grow up so quiet. He'll talk, but only when he wants too."
A pretty little girl with Shannon's red hair and Jethro's eyes, she could almost imagine her future granddaughter. "You're supposed to get fat, it's the only time your man won't be angry about it. A visible sign you're his and of the market. You eat as much as you can to make sure that you and that baby of yours is healthy. That's the only thing you need to worry about."
"Yes, Mom." Shannon chuckled. "I can't quite wrap my mind 'round Mac squalling. Like I said, there's days where the only sound is them opening the cans of beer and them making happy sounds cause I brought one of my pies home. I'd be bored out of my mind, but they seem to like bein' so quiet."
"Apparently beer is enough of a sound. I've never understood it, but Mac and Dad are the same way. You may be right when you say they talk with their eyes." Her boys, neither of them were overly chatty and add Jethro to the mix, trying to get any of them to talk was like drawing blood from a turnip. "It will be nice to have another woman in the family, just to have someone to talk to at holiday dinners. Not to mention your cooking, Shannon! And if your baby does end up being a little girl, we even things up."
"It is a girl, Mom. I just know it. Did you know with Mac, that he was a boy? That he was the one?" She didn't know how to ask if Mom had known that this was the pregnancy that would last.
"I'd like to tell you that I knew. Maybe I did, I was more comfortable with Mackai then before. I may have subconsciously known, but what I knew and what I believed were two totally seperate things. I was just as cautious as I was before. Maybe more so, because of what had happened before. Even if I knew or had a feeling, I would have been nervous. But don't take my history and worry about it. You are young and healthy, you'll be fine darling."
Shannon hugged the stuffing out of Mom. "You're the greatest mom ever. I'm so glad God knew it and sent you a baby finally."
Keith Taylor watched Jethro and Mackai standing so close together as Mac adjusted Jethro's belt. Both men were so adult and handsome, seriously, tenderly affectionate with each other. He watched as Jethro's hand smoothed over Mac's hair and Mac tugged the collar of Jethro's uniform up.
It was only when he got close enough to see the tears swimming in Mac's eyes and the combination of love, happiness, and pain in Jethro's that Keith knew what the boys were going through. There wasn't any other conclusion or option. Jethro loved Shannon, differently from his love for Mac, but he did love the delightful young woman and their unborn child.
And Emily and he had come to adore her as well. Even Mac ... noble Mac had a soft spot for Shannon.
"Come indulge your father, boys," he said in a husky tone, pulling the two soldiers into his arms. "I'm so proud of both of you."
"Anything you want, sir." Jet wrapped an arm around Keith's shoulders, thankful that the man was being as supportive as he was. Just a few months ago, he'd promised to love and take care of Mac, and here he was marrying someone else. Someone else who Keith would soon be walking down the aisle, going above and beyond the call of duty. "I want to thank you for today. You've been wonderful to Shannon and it means a lot to me. This isn't how anyone thought it would go, but you and Emily have been wonderful."
"No thanks needed my boy. You're our son too, remember? And you Mackai. You're so brave, son."
Mac cleared his throat. "Love sometimes means sacrifice, Dad." Keith knew his boy wanted to say more but didn't dare.
"I'm going to check on Shannon, boys. You say your peace. A father was never prouder of both of his boys."
He gave them each a gentle smile and nodded, closing the door and leaving the boys to their words. Even though Jethro was genuinely happy about being a father, there was still a tight bond between the boys, threaded and woven with heartbreak and what could have beens. Jethro had helped Mac successfully fight the threat of medical discharge, and he and Shannon had rallied around their son as depression and drinking had nearly consumed him.
"You know, this wasn't how it was supposed to happen right? Never meant it to, never thought it would. Pretty stupid huh?" Jethro said softly.
Mac took Jet's face in his hands. "Don't apologize, beautiful boy. I know. I understand, I can't wait for you to be a father. If I can't ... if we can't ... being the best damn uncle I can be will just have to do, eh? And your brother. We can do this, Jet. We have to. And loving you from afar. I will not encourage you or tempt you to break your vows. Our lives brought us here and as a man of honor, I expect you to be a great husband and father. Just like as a man of honor I had to step aside."
He couldn't stop the emotion pouring off him as he toyed with his bracelet. "Semper fi, sweet boy. You keep that bracelet with you and I'll always be here. I could no more leave you than I could cut off my arm. Things have changed, but I still have the Corps and I still have you. As long as I don't lose either of you, I'll be okay."
"I'm not going anywhere, you're my best friend, Mac. Above and beyond anything else, you're that. I couldn't ask for a better man to stand up with me. I know you're going to be a great uncle, because there isn't anything you don't do well."
Jet could only hope that Mac was being honest and that he'd always be there. Losing that support would kill him, and now he had so much to live for. A baby, something he never thought he'd have. It was the only thing that would cause him to give up his relationship with Mac.
One drunken night when he'd though Mac was lost to him forever had led them all here. Jethro hated hurting Mac, but Mac was more capable of shouldering the burden than Shannon. And there was a baby involved now."You always have a place in my home and in my heart. I need you to know that. For as much as things are going to change, that will always stay the same."
"I know, Jethro. I know, Jet." Mac wrapped the other man in a tight hug. "And you always have a place with me, no matter where life and the Corps take us. You're the other half of me and you always will be. Always and forever, beautiful boy. Now ... we have to stop this. Don't cry, babe. Don't break both of us even more on Shan's day."
He leaned in, unable to resist, and brushed a gentle kiss over Jethro's mouth. "You'll always be in my soul, sweet boy."
Jet stood up, trying to get control of his emotions. "You're right. This is Shannon's day, and I need to pull it together. You know how I feel about you, and I know you return the feelings. It's going to have to hold us. Just don't leave me, don't give up our friendship. I couldn't stand it."
"I couldn't." He laced his fingers with Jet's. "We're bonded. It isn't legal, but we're just as tightly bonded and you and Shannon will be and this isn't a bond that can be broken."
Keith knocked on the door. "Emily? Shannon? Am I allowed to see the beautiful bride?"
"Come on in, Dad." Shannon was starting to get nervous, she was getting closer to becoming Mrs. Leroy Jethro Gibbs, something she'd wanted sine she was just a little girl, but it was so unbelievable. And having these people—Mac's parents—in her life was amazing. Since New Year' Eve, they'd become her family. They'd all bonded over trying to find Mac that terrible night. "Is Jethro okay? He's not running off on me now, is he?"
"He and Mac are chatting, whatever marines do before they get married. He's fine, he's so proud and happy to be getting married." He crossed the room and tugged Shannon to her feet. "You look so beautiful, my darling. Are you ready to become a married woman? And you, Emily, you look as beautiful as you did on our wedding day and I love you so much more deeply."