Tony DiNozzo refused to say that things were quiet – at NCIS that was like hanging a big sign round your neck saying 'come and get us'. But, without wishing to tempt fate, it was certainly true that the last couple of weeks had passed without actual edge of the seat terror. The cases had been challenging – but nothing that exposed painful memories or complicated relationships. If Gibbs hadn't still been giving out head-slaps and arguing with the Director when she strayed too close to his investigations, Tony might have worried that he had stumbled into an alternate universe. He knew he ought to enjoy the relative peace for as long as it lasted. Only he wasn't a peaceful person.
So, with not enough to think about he had turned his attention to his team. Teasing the probie, baiting Ziva, and then scurrying off to Abby to hide out when things got too dangerous. When that had no longer been enough entertainment he had started watching Gibbs – and the Director. It might be his imagination – but all his instincts told him that something had changed between them. He just couldn't tell what.
The outward signs were slight – but then he wasn't quite sure what he was looking for. It could be that after the undercover case with Colonel Mann he had been expecting some sort of resolution – and was disappointed that there seemed to be nothing. The case itself had been handed over to Army CID – and generally hushed up. Carla Baker had been locked up somewhere very secure and though no one was saying so out loud, it was pretty clear that the Director had quietly overseen the wrapping up of the Boudoir.
On the surface nothing had changed and they'd escaped from a case that could have been unbelievably damaging with barely a scratch. The rest of the team thought he was imagining things but, most days Gibbs found his way to the Director's office - with a spare cup of coffee - and she'd been seen leaving the building at a reasonable time at least one day a week. He was trained investigator after all, and he knew that changes in patterns of behaviour, however slight, meant something. What he was seeing in them was more than enough to rouse his curiosity.
Which went some way to explaining why he was hanging around, talking to Cynthia, while pretending that he was waiting for Gibbs – who was in the Director's office, of course. Even though he was running the risk of a serious head slap if he got caught.
He was running out of things to talk to Cynthia about when a small, colourful piece of card caught his eye. It was on the floor, looking as though it had slipped from the pile of post Cynthia was sorting through. He had reached for it before she realised, examining it with all the care and attention he'd use with a piece of evidence at a crime scene. He whistled softly to himself – taking in the beach at sunset scene pictured on the front and then flipping the postcard over to confirm that it had indeed been sent to the Director of NCIS.
But it was the message scrawled across the remaining space that made his mouth drop open in shock.
"Beach amazing, cocktails plentiful – wish you were here already? There's an umbrella with your name on it. I'll see you soon."
It was signed Hollis followed by a single x.
"I think that belongs to me," a quiet voice said into his ear.
He looked up into a pair of green eyes that were distinctly amused. Jen Shepard plucked the postcard out of his grasp and scanned the message that had so interested him. Her smile became mysterious and then she glanced back over her shoulder to where Gibbs was standing.
"What do you want DiNozzo?" He snapped, his eyes never leaving Shepard as she read the postcard.
"Nothing boss – I was just…"
But Gibbs wasn't really paying attention to his struggles; his attention was still on the Director as she wove her way back to her office. Tony would be prepared to swear that her hips were swaying just a little more than usual, though if Gibbs thought he was even looking he'd likely kill him. He probably shouldn't have noticed that she almost touched the boss as she brushed past him – not if he wanted to live anyway.
"Jethro," she paused in the doorway, looking back to both of them, her gaze flicking towards Tony and Cynthia who were watching the scene unfold. "Hollis says hello," and without waiting for a response she strolled back into her office, closing the door behind her.
Tony knew his eyes were bulging – she hadn't, really, had she? They hadn't had any coverage in the bedroom, but they'd have known if the two woman had… wouldn't they? If something had happened on one of those nights? Unless – it had been in the weeks since the case had ended.
He looked at Gibbs, who gave the impression he was about to go back in there and ask the same question. And the expression on his face was definitely that of a man who thought he had the right to ask that question.
Gibbs as well?
Reluctantly he admired her style and then decided that it was a good thing if she wasn't allowed out of her office for a while – months, years maybe. It was one of the rare moments when he looked at Gibbs and knew they'd pretty much had the same idea. He was just glad he wasn't the one who had to find a way to make it happen.
Just a very quick note to thank you all for the lively discussion, the wonderful reviews, and all the support. It's almost funny looking back and remembering that we almost didn't write this story because we thought we'd get lynched by the Jibbsunity. But it took off in so many unexpected directions that we can only say we're very happy that we took the plunge. And very proud that we garnered a few more fans for Hollis - who we always did like very much, and now love. Dearly.