She awoke the next morning, only to find him missing. This was a common occurrence. He was up at dawn, and in the kitchen. Wrapping an overly large shirt around her, she went downstairs; her senses were assaulted with the strong smell of coffee.

He saw her come into the kitchen and smiled slightly, before returning to his task, she glanced at the stove, and was met with the mouth-watering sight of pancakes. Jethro had to grin at the excited smile on her face. She was so easy to please sometimes.

They sat down to an easy breakfast of pancakes with strawberries and ice-cream.

"You spoil me!" she scolded, but she was happy nonetheless. His blue eyes were almost twinkling,

"But I am good at it," He replied. She had to laugh.

"So… what are your plans for the day?" she asked curiously,

"Mmm, thought we could go to beach." He replied.

"The beach?" she asked

"It's a nice day, the sun is shining, I have a surprise for you, and it'll be fun." He said, her eyes narrowed,

"Another surprise?" she asked suspiciously.

"Didn't you like my last surprise?" He asked.

"Yes but…"

"Well then, no buts." He said with finality in his tone. He scooped a forkful of pancake and lifted it to her open mouth. After she'd swallowed she said,

"I suppose that requires me to get dressed then." Her voice was slightly regretful, she enjoyed the comfortable intimacy they shared in private.

"Well, if you don't want too…" Gibbs replied suggestively, "you could go out the way you are…" her only reply was to smack him. He leaned over and kissed her gently,

"Go, get dressed."

She retreated to the bedroom; she found some of her spare clothes hanging in his wardrobe and put them on.

The room still held the heady musk of sex from the previous night. She opened a couple of windows to let the room air out.

She returned to the kitchen a few minutes later. Jethro was packing a car fridge with food and drink for the day. He noticed her return and smiled slightly. She walked up behind him and rested a hand at the small of his back,

Gibbs heaved the fridge off the bench, and took it out to his car, putting it in his trunk. He slid into the driver's seat and started the engine. He watched her from the rearview mirror as she shook her head in exasperation and went to close his front door. Only then would she get into the car with him.

They drove for a while in silence, comfortable in each other's presence. She rested a hand lightly on his thigh; she rubbed her thumb absent-mindedly in circles until she felt a hand squeeze hers lightly.

They both got out of the car, she began walking to the trunk, but He rested his arm on her shoulder, she looked at him questioningly. He shook his head and made a follow me gesture. They walked hand in hand along the beach until they came to a place he seemed familiar with. His eyes also held sadness as he looked around.

"Jethro, what is it?" she asked. He had to clear his throat a couple of times before speaking.

"This is the place where I used to come with... my daughter, and Shannon." He said, quietly, he laughed bitterly, "It's also the place that almost killed me. I haven't been here... in quite a few years. With you I think I'm finally starting to face up to a few things, not the least of which is the fact that they're gone. They're not coming back. There are days... I wished they would. But no matter how long ago it was, to me..."

She stayed silent, knowing instinctively he would not find the right words if she moved.

"I need you to understand that they'll always be a part of me. For you to accept me, I need to know you can accept them as part of me."

She was touched, that he would share this place with her. She knew how closely he held his wife and child to his heart. She knew the scars he carried and was willing to help him bear that burden. She just wasn't sure he'd allow her. Instead of using words that would be meaningless, she wrapped her arms around his waist and held him close with her head resting on his shoulder. They didn't need words, both understood.

After a short period of time they went back to the car. She was quiet as they walked the length of the marina. He led her out to the furthest end.

"Jethro, what are we doing here?" there was nothing at this end of the marina but a small boat...