Title: Cabin Fever

Author: MindyH

Chapter: 16 Home

See part one for disclaimer and spoilers etc.

Gibbs dropped me off at my apartment about two hours ago. We didn't stage any grand romantic farewell. He helped me with my bags, gave me a quick peck and told me he'd see me tomorrow. I'd closed the door, foolishly thinking that I was ready and in need of some alone time.

I have unpacked my bags, thrown all my laundry in the basket and put everything else back in its correct place. I've listened to my messages but decided it's too late to call anyone back. And besides, something inside me doesn't want people to know I'm back, doesn't want the outside world to encroach just yet.

I wander aimlessly between the coffeepot in the kitchen, the couch strewn with photos and my desk covered in sketches. There's one of the cabin that I'm particularly proud of. I think I might have it framed and hung over my desk.

I slop back to the couch, throwing myself into the cushions and sorting through all our vacation photos for the fourth time. I slurp at my coffee, and glare at a particularly devastating one of Gibbs with his frank, blue eyes and his crisp, cream turtleneck.

How could he do this to me?

How could he give me the vacation I've always wanted and then expect me to go back to being the perfect little NCIS poster girl? How could he hand me, one by one, my every fantasy and then insist I continue on with my mundane reality?

I get up and put some more sweetener in my coffee. I'm being overdramatic. I love my job and I love my friends and the people I work with, even Tony -- most of the time. I don't resent going to work for Gibbs and I'm not really angry with him for giving me the best two weeks of my life.

I just feel a little lost. Wandering around my apartment, I feel displaced. I don't know what to do with myself. Somehow our little vacation seems to have changed everything. My old life doesn't fit me anymore. It doesn't seem complete.

I stand indecisively in the middle of the kitchen attempting to drown the lump in my throat, as tears spring to my eyes. Then I make a snap decision. I rush to the bedroom to grab a few things and stuff them in my overnight bag, then snatch up my keys, as I leave.

It's going to be nearly midnight by the time I reach his place but all can think of is seeing him again, being in his presence. I have no awareness, as I negotiate the roads and the traffic and the dark night, of what I might say when I see him or how it might appear to him, showing up like this.

We'd said we should spend the night apart and arrive at work separately. Maybe we should -- it would be the smart thing to do -- but I don't know if I could. Clearly, I'm not possessed of very good impulse-control, especially when it comes to a certain blue-eyed, silver-haired man of mine.

I feel a bit strange knocking on his door – I never knocked at the cabin. I wait restlessly, shifting from one foot to the other and biting my lip. He takes some time to answer and it occurs to me that maybe he's already gone to bed. I start to reconsider just as the heavy, wooden door swings open and Gibbs' surprised expression greets me.

I squirm uncomfortably for a moment then manage to say unimaginatively: "Hi."

"Hi," he returns questioningly, then steps to the side in silent invitation.

I enter slowly and, as he leans in to shut the door behind me, I allow my eyes to drift shut briefly. The heady, male smell of him still disrupts my thought processes. I wonder vaguely whether it's possible to miss someone in just three hours.

"You okay?" he asks quietly after several long minutes of me staring at him.

God, his voice is sexy. I decide it is possible, but I don't voice the thought, it might give him ideas. I just nod mutely in reply, helpless against the large lump rising up in my throat once more. I drop my gaze to the floor and Gibbs reaches out, taking my wrist and drawing me into his arms.

His embrace is so gentle, so caring, and years ago, when this man first held me, I never would have guessed that it could be possible for me to find such comfort in that hard, distant, arrogant bastard I was first introduced to. But I did, back then in that cramped bathroom and I'm not afraid to ask for that comfort again now.

I sniff back tears, squeezing my eyes shut to stop them tumbling and clutching him tightly in my arms.

"Miss me that much, huh?" he murmurs softly and I swat him lightly for being smug. "You okay?" he asks again, peering at my partially obscured face, a little concerned.

I nod again, my cheek chafing against the material of his shirt. I am now. I breathe in deeply, reveling in his well-known scent; he still smells like the cabin. He holds me tighter, drawing patterns over my spine through my clothes as I dig my fingertips into his back. I love the feel of him -- the big, strong, lean, familiar suppleness of him.

"Everything will be okay," he tells me evenly, one hand holding my head to his chest. I can hear his heart beating as I feel his lips graze my hair. And when I pull back and look at him, it's the first time I've seen no sign of doubt in his eyes.

Ever since the day he cornered me and demanded I belong to him, there's nearly always been a scrap of something holding him back. Whether it was the age difference, our work and careers, or three failed marriages and a life full of heartache. I realize suddenly that I have won Gibbs over, completely and utterly, and now I understand why I had to come tonight.

My life is here now, with him. Always.

"I love you," I smile brightly, sighing with relief and letting the tears fall where they must. I raise a hand to his jaw and whisper: "I love you so much."

"I love you," he murmurs, still bewildered by my behavior. But he swipes at my happy tears and leans in to kiss me anyway, ducking his head from one side to the other, dropping short, teasing kisses over my mouth, as I seek to draw him deeper. When he refuses to give me what I want, I capture his face and pull him close, rising onto my toes and tugging at his lips with my own.

Gibbs' familiar arms wrap around me, welcoming me home and to my surprise, I realize as I kiss him that we didn't leave anything behind at the cabin. Nothing is lost. All that we were up there, we still are, and will be, wherever we go from here.


A/N: Once again, the full version of this story (rated NC17) is at the NCIS FAnfiction Archive which you can find by Googling it. Thanks to all who have responded to both versions.