A/N: Hi, guys! Sorry about the delay on this. I've just moved to Ireland and it took a lot of planning and stuff.
There's a little nod towards the wonderful Alan Rickman, who sadly passed away today, in here. If you know it, you'll see it. It just felt right.
Jenny lay in bed, mentally kicking herself as she stared at Gibbs. How stupid she had been, to believe in him and his ability to understand her. Had he ever been able to understand her, or was everything she thought she knew of him a lie? After all, he had lied to her for years about his first marriage and his daughter. In the aftermath of that, she had allowed herself to believe that he had learned enough from fatherhood to be able to understand her actions.
Had she just been kidding herself?
"I'm the same person I've always been. I'm still Jenny."
Gibbs snorted slightly. "Jenny or Jocelyn? Joyce? Seriously? Because I don't know anymore!"
Jenny remained silent for a moment. She herself had been almost emotionally blackmailed into this situation by her sister. Joyce believed this to be the solution to both their problems, just as their mother would have done before her, but Jenny had been less sure. In many ways, she blamed Gibbs for what happened next.
Her many years with him had taught her that she could never claim to be her sister in the presence of those who had loved Joyce – no matter what name they called her – and she had realised this the moment Joyce had gotten onto the train and left for the last time. Gibbs had taught her that she was not that person, and that she could never even go through the torment of attempting to live that lie, with those people, for the rest of her life.
That was why she had gone into hiding. She could not be the other sister, who was so similar in her mannerisms, but so different at heart. Gibbs had taught her that a long time ago, and he didn't even know it.
"And why drag Ducky into all of this?" an angry Gibbs demanded. "Couldn't you leave him out of it?"
"No," Jenny stated truthfully. "He needed to know in advance that he wasn't going to have me on his steel slab, so he didn't pursue the matter further. I needed him to dissuade Abby if she tried to dig into it, too." Jenny stared at her hands, wondering what Gibbs was thinking. She had always prided herself on her ability to read him, but she was beginning to doubt that ability. "You know, in all honesty, and for my own selfish reasons, I wish I had been the one killed in LA."
"Don't you dare say that," snarled Gibbs. "Don't you dare."
She startled slightly at his aggression, alarmed that she had inadvertently pushed a button. "Jethro, I've watched this disease destroy my mother and sister. Do you really think I wanted to let it do the same to me? I wish I had gone back home that day, and I wish I had gone to LA instead of letting Joyce do it. It would have been easy for me to go on a suicide mission."
Gibbs didn't speak immediately. He stared at her, and she stared back. For the first time since that night in her office, having just been cleared of murder, she looked him straight in the eyes. And it was now that she realised what she had done. What she had overlooked. What she had subconsciously chosen to ignore.
Just as Jenny still loved him, Jethro still loved her. Just like her, he had never stopped.
After all this time.
Gibbs sat down in the chair beside her bed and eyed her with a storm of different emotions. He was angry, and Jenny could understand why, and he looked hurt. His eyes glowed with fury, hatred, love, pain, shock and confusion. "Do you realise what you put everyone through, Jen?"
"Really? You know that Tony blamed himself? That Ziva was sent back to her father for weeks? That I cried myself to sleep every night for a month?"
Jenny looked at him, stunned. Since when did Leroy Jethro Gibbs admit to such things? When did his guard take the blow that created that particular crack? Who struck that blow?
She couldn't convince herself otherwise.
And, for the first time, she felt a huge amount of remorse for what she had done. Until now she had outrun her guilt, telling herself she had done it for her twin, and so that nobody she loved had to watch her get more ill with time. But most of all, she had been hiding from the few people on this Earth who actually loved her. In doing so, she had hurt them. Now that she could see just how badly she had hurt them, she felt incomparable guilt and pain.
Her hands trembling, she reached out and touched Gibbs' hand. To her surprise he didn't pull away from her; she had expected him to, and she suspected his instinct told him to, but he remained still. "I'm sorry," she murmured.
"This is the exception," she cut across his stupid macho line about apologies being a display of weakness. "Every rule has its exception."
"Now's not the time for your smart ass comments," Gibbs snapped. "Do you even understand the trouble you could be in? The police can charge you with whatever the hell they want, and they'd have every right to! They're holding you on immigration charges! What about fraud, for a start? You've been living under someone else's name. Claiming welfare. And what about that life insurance policy your sister had?"
"Haven't claimed it yet. I have a plan for that, for when the British government wants its money back for a dead woman's welfare benefits," she ruthlessly retorted, almost snarling. "Besides, you don't think I have no savings to repay them, do you?" she snorted. "A whole life on my own, with no family to support. Trust me, there's plenty, in an account in a joint account with my sister. I'm not an idiot, Jethro. I did sort these things out, years ago."
"Could've fooled me!" grumbled Jethro.
"I got this far," shrugged Jenny. Though she did care about his opinion of her – she always would – she was beyond the point of arguing with him over it. "I don't care what they charge me with, Jethro. If they put me in prison, I don't really give a damn. It's about the worst they can do, and there's not much else I can do these days, anyway," she added, gesturing to her increasingly unreliable body. "I can do the same in prison as I can as a free woman: almost nothing."
She had managed it. She had brought the famous glare back to the surface of Gibbs' startlingly blue eyes, as he silently berated her for the defeatist attitude she was well aware she had developed. Joyce had informed her of her mental health issues many times in the two years leading up to her death, and every time Jenny had ignored her. However, she could no longer deny that her vendettas, actions, sacrifices and attitudes in these past few years were not healthy. Only now, after having it explained by her twin sister, did she recognise it as a part of her illness.
"It's up to Sandra and DAC Strickland what they tell the CPS," Gibbs told her, his voice a low rumble. "Sandra has her own way of working; I'm not sure that she wants to charge you with any crime." There was a certain kind of relief that fell over Jenny at this news, but she would not take it for granted, and she fixed her gaze upon the white sheets covering her. "I don't know what you'll do when we get you home."
Jenny's head snapped up. "What?"
"You think I'm leaving you here?" asked Gibbs, and there was a hint of annoyed disbelief in his tone.
"But you hate me," she reminded him, recalling that glint in the hurricane of his stare she had seen earlier.
"No, I'm mad at you," he corrected her. "Hell, I'm damn well furious with you. I don't know how long it'll take me to forgive you. But I don't hate you."
It took Jenny a moment to translate that into what she knew he wanted to say: the part of him that did hate her, or hated what she had done, was tiny compared to the part of him that loved her. She gripped his hand tightly; she desperately wanted to know what was going on in his head, but she knew better than to ask right now.
The door opened, and in walked Sandra Pullman. Gibbs looked up at the blonde woman with a certain softness, care, fondness, irritation and gratitude in his normally stony face. A hot flash of jealousy surged through Jenny as she remembered the days Jethro had looked at her like that. There was the woman who was to decide what information she would pass on to the prosecution service, and Jenny didn't know what to make of her, or her relationship with Jethro. What had he told her? How much did he trust her? What did he feel about this woman?
She had no right to be jealous of this woman, but as she watched two sets of piercing blue eyes meet, she felt like she ought not to have been in the room, and she wondered if Gibbs had acknowledged that he was attracted to Sandra, as Sandra was to Gibbs. On that level, Jethro was still an open book, sitting there for Jenny to read.
They seemed to share a connection, like each could understand how the other was feeling. Maybe they could.
And maybe, Jenny reminded herself bitterly, it was none of her business.
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