He knew she often took her lunch in the park, accompanied, at a discreet distance of course, by her ever present security detail. Needing to talk to her and not inclined to wait for her return he made his way across to the park. He was still some distance from her when he saw her head shoot up and her body tense. She stood and began a slow scan of the area. About 180 degrees through her search she stopped, and he followed her gaze to see a tall dark haired man in a long black leather coat striding towards her. The stranger held up both hands as if to indicate he was unarmed, then held them out to her. Unexpectedly, to the watcher at least, after one frozen moment she took off at a run and threw herself into his arms. The dark man lifted her and spun her several times as her laughter rang out. Arms wrapped around each other, she led him back to the bench where she had been sitting.
"My Guinevere, you are looking well."
"My Duncan, it is truly you!"
"Aye, caraid, 'tis I."
"What are you doing in Washington, Duncan?"
The watcher heard only the murmur of conversation, the soft cadence of her lilting voice, saw only the closeness as she curled into the dark man as if she belonged there. He couldn't remember the last time he had seen her looking so free, so relaxed.
The ferocity of the emotion that tore through him surprised him. He had considered them old history now, an episode to be mourned but not revived.
He turned abruptly and strode away, forcing himself to remain calm, his original question forgotten and no longer important. He did not see the sad eyes that watched his departure, or the comforting shoulder she was given as he disappeared from sight.
It was the end of the day and she was finishing up a meeting with Gibbs and Ducky, when suddenly they noticed her body stiffen and her eyes lose focus. Ducky was rushing to her side to check up on her when her phone rang and she focussed again, reaching for the receiver, while waving Ducky away.
As Cynthia spoke, the tension left her body and she smiled.
"Give me five minutes and then show him in."
She turned back to the two men in front of her.
"So where were we?"
Exactly five minutes later, there was a knock on the door, and Cynthia poked her head around, announcing.
"Mr Duncan MacLeod to see you ma'am."
"Thank you Cynthia. Duncan this is a surprise, forgotten how to use a telephone?"
He grinned at her teasing.
"Figured I'd have more luck dragging you out of the office if I came in person, than over the telephone."
Her eyebrows shot up, but before she queried his comment, she caught Jethro's look.
"Ah, Duncan, I would like to introduce you to Special Agent Jethro Gibbs and Dr Mallard. This is Duncan MacLeod, an old friend of mine."
Duncan shook hands with each of them.
"Agent Gibbs, Dr Mallard."
"Please call me Ducky. I hope you don't mind my query, but you are Scottish, aren't you?"
"I was born in the Highlands."
"I am from the Borders myself. It is great to meet a fellow Scot. From your accent though, you have been away for a long time, haven't you?"
"It has been many years since I left the Highlands." His eyes met Jen's, amusement and sadness in equal parts at the careful phrasing.
"So you and Jen ….?" Gibbs' queried.
"I have known Jen for many years, it feels like forever. Isn't that right, Tempest?"
She glared at him, and retorted.
"Yes, sometimes it feels like centuries!"
"Tempest? …" She knew there was no getting out of it now, they had raised Gibbs' curiosity. She rolled her eyes.
"One little temper tantrum … 'in a hundred years' … and he's never going to let me forget it."
"It was pretty impressive though, you have to admit, the kind of spectacle that campfire songs and legends are made of." His eyes were teasing her. "The light of the fire turned your hair into leaping flames and your dress to liquid gold. Grown men cowered at your wrath. For myself, I couldn't decide if you were an angel or an avenging fury."
"You weren't cowering."
"For which you called me a stupid Scot, who didn't have the brains to know when he should be scared."
"I was angry. And you smirking at me was not helping."
"But I knew that you wouldn't make good on those particular threats." He turned slightly towards the other two men, "She was going through an Alice in Wonderland phase, 'Off with their heads!' and all that."
"I was sorely tempted that night!" she huffed. She smiled reminiscently, "There have only been two people who could weather the storm when I really lost my temper."
Duncan's quick glance at Gibbs' showed that he at least realised who the other one had been. Curious as he was to know the circumstances of that particular encounter, he figured it was best left alone for now.
"Anyway, my lady, I have come to take you to dinner as soon as you are finished."
"Caraid, I am not sure, I am busy."
Ducky's eyebrows went up at the endearment that fell so easily from her lips. She noticed and grimaced to herself. Being with Duncan, she was falling into old patterns that did not fit with Director Jennifer Sheppard, she was going to have to be more careful. Duncan, however, distracted her with his next statement.
"I believe you will find that you have nothing further in your calendar for tonight, and nothing on your desk that can't wait till tomorrow."
She glared at him, her eyes flashing.
"You …" she groaned. "Five minutes, and you charmed Cynthia. What am I going to do with you?"
"Take me to dinner."
"Gentlemen, I believe we were finished, so I will see you tomorrow, as I apparently have a dinner engagement."
The rhythmic sound of metal on metal died away.
"Tell me, what is the story with you and Jethro?"
"What do you mean?"
"Don't play dumb, Guinevere. I know you, you give your heart for a lifetime and you love forever. You love him, and yet you are not with him. So, what happened?"
"We were partnered together, we made a good team and he taught me so much. We fell in love and it was a wonderful, intense, carefree time. We were assigned to the Paris office, and worked all over Europe. I loved it, I loved him, but I should have known better than to spend too much time in Paris. You know what it is like, might as well rename it Grand Central Station. We were nearing the end of our posting there which just made it all the more frustrating. For the most part, I had been able to keep a low profile, avoiding any confrontations, but finally this guy caught up with me and wouldn't take no for an answer. I tried everything I could, but nothing worked. Finally, he threatened that if I didn't meet, he would go after Jethro. Obviously Jethro realised something was up, he saw my tension, but …"
"You hadn't told him."
"No, and it wasn't the right time to do it, but he wanted to know. And when I wouldn't tell him, he … he was angry, and hurt, he said if I couldn't let him in then maybe we should call it quits. I've regretted it many times since then, but my temper got the better of me and I stormed out. I met the guy, he was good, it took everything I had to survive that night. And as I was lying there and felt another approach, I actually, for just one moment, welcomed the thought that it was over. I was too worn down to fight and I had just lost Jethro. Fortunately for me, it was Amanda, and she took me back to her place to recover, in more ways than one. I asked for reassignment and was placed in the Middle East for a few years. It was only two years ago, when I was posted back to the States and to HQ that I met up with Jethro again."
"And now what? It is over. He has moved on. Besides, what would I be offering? His life is dangerous enough as it is. The Game is something I don't like, but it has been part of my life for longer than law enforcement has, it's something I try to avoid, but it will catch up with me, and he wouldn't understand. I can't give him children and he is a man who should have them. So, the way I look at it is, I have a few more years here, maybe longer with some creativity, and then … well, the Director of NCIS is a high value target – sooner or later, it will be goodbye Jennifer Sheppard."
"Once, when I was ready to give up on life, on living, a wise woman told me that it is never a mistake to love, only to refuse to love."
"I wouldn't trade a minute of what I have had with him, but I will not ask for more than he is prepared to give."
A/N: This was an experiment. Not sure if it worked, would like some feedback.