Tim was humiliated to find that when he next woke with a start and a snort from his exhausted sleep to find someone in his room, he had been drooling. Yech. Wiping his mouth and attempting to sit up straighter in his hospital bed he blearily blinked his eyes. And suddenly really wished he hadn't been drooling. Jenny.
Jenny smiled at him as she watched the flush rising up his neck.
"Agent McGee" Her voice was soft but the choice of his title rather than his name instantly re established their relationship. Their working relationship. It was almost a relief to be able to fall back into their accustomed positions after the emotional overload of the last moments they had spent together.
A lingering touch, a searing kiss, a gentle caress.
And a goodbye.
"Director Shepard" Tim returned the greeting gratefully, relieved that as least for now there would be no awkwardness between them.
"I just wanted to let you know that Operation Big Boy is officially over. It ended when the woman you knew as Ellie was killed."
"That wasn't her real name?" Tim didn't even know why he was surprised. He should have realized he didn't know her the instant she took the gun that had been held to her head and turned it on him instead.
Jenny shook her head "Her real name was Julie Markom. She really was a deep cover CIA agent although it seems she lost track of her true purpose some time ago. Her fiancé was killed by friendly fire in Iraq early in the war and although devastated she insisted on continuing with her cover. It would seem that isolated by her own position and with little contact with any real family or friends she developed deep seated resentment towards her own Government and the war in Iraq. She was feeding back false information on her own activities to the CIA and we believe she may have developed a dependence on sleeping pills and other drugs. She was delusional and wanted to cause chaos with the Government and the Agencies she saw as protecting it."
Tim just nodded knowing the investigative machine rolled on whether he was awake or not. Autopsies had been done, reports filed, meetings held, jurisdictions allocated and teams prepped.
Ellie…. No Julie would be in one of Ducky's cold metal drawers by now her blonde hair spilling across the silver. Would her blue eyes be open, staring forever at blackness? Or would Ducky have closed them so she looked like she was sleeping? Tim plucked at the thin white covers on the bed. It was a sort of weave… what was it made of? Would it be wool? What if patients were allergic to wool? How would they know? Synthetic perhaps? A cotton blend?
"Tim?'" Jenny smiled softly and interrupted his distracted mind.
Tim looked up but his eyes insisted on darting around the room rather than settling on her face.
"Tim. Please look at me. You needed to kill her. If you hadn't I would be dead. And I for one am very grateful." Jenny smiled and reaching forward squeezed his hand before sitting back in her chair.
Tim nodded. He knew it was true but it didn't make it rest any easier with him. Ellie was a nice person once. A woman who had loved. A person who had been a Federal Agent like he was, who had once wanted to do good things. And now she was dead. And he had been the one to kill her.
Jenny patted his hand and stood to leave.
"I have read your written statements and we have already been able to put together what happened to you during the night. You don't need to worry about anything more. Rest up McGee. Your team is eager to have you back."
"Jenny, I mean Director Shepard. Please just one thing before you go?"
"Gibbs came to see me and …. He saw us. He saw us kiss. By the ambulance."
Jenny's hand clenched around the edge of the chair but she stayed silent waiting for Tim to continue.
"I told him that… that that was all there had ever been. A single kiss. That we never even started."
"You told him it was nothing?" Jenny felt surprisingly affronted. Angry. They hadn't had much together but emotionally she felt like she had crossed mountains to be able to stand in his embrace.
"No! No I told him we never got started" Tim was leaning trying to see her face as she stood half turned away towards the door. He desperately didn't want her to misunderstand what he was trying to say. She meant too much to him still.
Jenny was silent for a moment as she digested what he had said and all that he meant layered underneath it. Then she turned and came over to the bed before placing a gentle kiss on his cheek.
"Thank you Tim. You didn't need to do that"
Tim smiled and reached out and held her hand for an instant.
"Gibbs may not say it but he cares for you, you know."
Jenny smiled and ducked her head a little from his gaze, almost blushing.
Tim smiled softly "Thank you…….. for coming to see me ………Director Shepard"
And as suddenly as she arrived she was gone again.
Three weeks later
"Boss, do you mind if Tony and I take an extended lunch break today"
Gibbs looked across at his young agent in surprise. It was good to have him back, even if he hadn't been cleared to go back into the field yet. Currently Tony was delighted that McGee was saddled with desk duty as six months of over due reports had started to migrate across from his desk onto McGee's.
It was a slow day and his team certainly put in the overtime when he needed them to so Gibbs nodded "Sure, take your time. It would be nice to have DiNozzo out of the office for a while"
Tony pouted but perked up when Tim clapped him on the shoulder.
"Come on DiNozzo lunch, my treat whatever you want."
"Really? Whatever I want McMoneybags?"
"Sure. It's a nice day to get out of the office. I know why don't you drive?" Tim grinned and threw the keys to his Porsche to Tony who promptly snatched them out of the air greedily.
"The Porsche? Really? You're going to let me drive the Porsche?"
"Sure why not. Just don't scratch it"
Tony grinned delighted and threw an arm around Tim's shoulders. "You know I think this is going to be the start of a beautiful friendship, McGee"
Tim just rolled his eyes as the two of them stepped into the lift.
"So McGee, now it's just the two of us…. Man to man… did you and the Director ever… you know?"
"Ever do what Tony?" Tim played innocent although he knew exactly what he was asking.
"You know…any of those late night secret rendezvous ever lead to any Director/Probie hanky panky?"
"Tony! Get your mind out of the gutter. Besides you know I'm not one of those guys that kiss and tell!"
"Come ON McGee! I promise I won't tell a soul. Not even Abby."
The elevator doors closed with Tony's pleadings falling on deaf ears.
Two weeks later
Ziva frowned as she watched the knife bounce off the target butt first and disappear off into the secluded darkness of the evidence garage. Again. She huffed and turned an appraising eye on her worst pupil.
"McGee, I don't understand it. You seem to be getting worse instead of better!"
Tim shrugged apologetically "I'm sorry Ziva. I am trying. Thank you for taking the time to show me one on one though. I'm thought that maybe without Tony around I might relax a bit more and that would make it easier."
Ziva smiled. "That is all right McGee. Now let me just feel how you are standing when you actually release the blade"
Ziva stood directly behind McGee, one arm curved around resting lightly on his chest to check his balance and ran her hand up his throwing arm, mirroring his stance.
"Now pull your arm back, gently, don't tense ……"
Tim could feel Ziva's warm body moving with his as he leaned slightly back and then extended his arm and released the knife he was holding. Tim could hear Ziva's muttering behind him and tried to hide his smile.
"You are too tall! I can't see what you are doing wrong. I will try standing in front of you. I want you to put your arms down around me and copy what I do…"
Tim leaned down slightly to hear Ziva more clearly as she leaned her small body into his and smelled the fruity rich scent of her shampoo.
"….and then release!"
Ziva turned to look at McGee as her imaginary knife hit the target and his bounced off the edge of the dartboard they were using as a target. Again.
"McGee? Are you listening to me?"
"Sorry Ziva" Tim smiled and shuffled his feet a little, distracting himself from pulling her further into his arms.
"That is ok. I think we have both had enough for today. We will try again next week. After work. Yes?"
Tim nodded smiling "That would be great Ziva. Thanks."
Ziva patted his arm comfortingly and went to collect up her collection of blades now scattered around the garage.
"Are you going to come up with me?"
"Ahhh no thanks Ziva. My knife is around here somewhere and I want to find it before I go home. I need the practice."
Ziva laughed and with a waive of her hand she disappeared into the waiting elevator.
Tim waited an instant and then with a smirk he whipped out the concealed knife he had strapped to his other wrist and whipped it through the air following it with his eyes to where it landed, quivering in the dead center of the target.
"She doesn't realize you can do that, does she?" Jenny stepped out of the shadows from where she had exited the elevator a moment earlier.
Tim smirked, unsurprised by his new guest as he went and pulled the knife out and slipped it back into its slim sheath.
"No. What would be the point of private lessons if she did?"
Jenny smiled and inclined her head slightly "True. She might be a bit cross with you when she finds out though?"
Tim smiled softly to himself as he remembered the way it felt when Ziva wrapped her arms around him and stood up on tip toe to give instructions into his ear.
"It's worth it. Besides it might teach her not to underestimate me."
Jenny laughed "Oh yes that's a lesson I have already learnt. So you and Ziva…?"
Tim shrugged "I would like it to be me and Ziva …. But it's complicated"
Jenny sighed "Ah yes that I also know well.."
Tim smiled and came across and sat down next to Jenny on the edge of the table.
"So you and Gibbs?"
Jenny looked up at him in surprise and Tim quirked a smile.
"Gibbs and I have a … history ….which makes it hard to … and then I'm his Boss…. Buts he's so……..It's…….." Jenny struggled to describe the longest relationship she had ever not really had.
"Complicated?" Tim finished off
"Well since you're my Boss's Boss…. Do you think it would be alright if I asked Ziva to a Fancy Dress Ball for the Washington Writers Guild…. as my date?"
"As your Boss's Boss?"
"Well you know Rule Twelve and all"
Jenny smiled "Ah yes. Well Agent McGee I think you're a sensible person and as long as your relationship doesn't interfere with your work then I think it would be fine."
Tim grinned "Why thank you Director. I think I will. So are you going to take some of your own advice then?"
Jenny looked at him confused "What advice?"
"As long as it doesn't interfere with your working relationship then dating a co worker could be considered acceptable. I mean it's not like you and Gibbs have a standard working relationship to begin with… your past together already influences everything you guys do …….and you know he cares for you…. And I think you care for him…..The way I figure it you might as well order around a happy Gibbs than try and direct a cranky Gibbs.""
"Have you ever considered a career in politics Agent McGee?" Jenny smiled at him and Tim laughed.
Gibbs sat in the cool silence of the very early dawn on his front step and watched as the world slowly came awake around him. He was wearing his favorite blue woolen sweater, the one with the holes precisely in the right spot in the elbows and the jagged stretched hem trailing threads. He leaned forward resting his elbows onto his knees and nursed his large cup of freshly brewed hot coffee and listened to the birds.
This was his favorite part of the morning. The part before the phone started ringing, the neighbors teenagers decided to turn their music on or he had to go to the hardware for more sandpaper. Nope it was just him. Alone in the gentle chill of the morning.
Gibbs was lonely. He didn't like to admit it to himself. Generally he enjoyed his solitude and sometimes after a week of DiNozzo, Ziva and McGee arguing and bickering he just craved it. But this morning instead of feeling peacefully alone he just felt alone.
"Hey" A familiar voice called out softly to him.
Gibbs looked up in surprise at Jenny walking down his front path.
"Hey yourself? It's a bit early for a morning visit isn't it?"
"Actually it's late for me. I haven't been to sleep yet. And I knew you'd be up. Do you mind if I keep you company for a while?"
Underneath the confident façade Jenny actually looked a little nervous, as if she wasn't sure if Gibbs would say yes or no.
Gibbs just smiled and shook his head.
"No I don't mind Jen"
He took a sip of his coffee and shifted across on the step to give room for Jenny to sit beside him.
"Do you want a coffee?" Gibbs asked after a moment's companionable silence that Jenny seemed reluctant to break.
"Yes actually. Don't worry I'll get it myself. I know where you keep the good stuff remember?" And with a bright smile that made his heart ache Jenny patted him on the knee and was up and through his screen door leaving him alone again on his porch step. But he wasn't alone.
"How would you feel about going somewhere for a nice breakfast? You know pancakes and fresh cream, crispy bacon, poached eggs, croissants, fresh fruit?"
Jenny's voice drifted out of his kitchen as she made herself some coffee.
Gibbs leaned back and smiled "Yeah that would be nice"
"And maybe afterwards we could go for a drive somewhere? Just get out of the city for a few hours?"
Gibbs smiled and felt happier than he had in a very long time. No it wouldn't be easy and no it would never be perfect but he was more than willing to meet her in the middle if she was.
"That's sounds great Jen"
Tony whistled as Tim walked past his desk dressed in an immaculate 1940's style dark blue pin stripe suit complete with silk tie, precisely folded white handkerchief, starched shirt and a very fetching fedora hat tilted at just the right angle to highlight his cheeky grin.
"Looking sharp Probilicious. What's with the suit?"
"I'm attending the Washington Writers Guild Fancy Dress Ball tonight. Since I write detective stories I thought I would go as Sam Spade"
"Now why do I know that name??"
"Sam Spade was the detective in The Maltese Falcon?"
"Oh, oh Humphrey Bogart. Great movie!
"No Tony great book"
Tony's eyes suddenly popped open as Ziva stepped off the elevator.
"Holy Smokes Ziva! Now that is a hell of a dress you're wearing tonight! Where are you off to and who is the lucky man?"
Ziva swept off the elevator in a fitted floor length fire engine red dress with a plunging neckline that left little to the imagination. As she stepped forward her toned, tanned leg was exposed where the dress was slashed up to the thigh with tiny red sequins and delicate embroidery curling its way along one edge. The smoldering look was completed with her long dark hair brushed smooth into thick waves down around her shoulders and bright red lipstick and nail polish to match her dress.
"I am McGee's date to the ball. I am a Gangsters Moll? A Dame? A Broad? Is that the word? You know his Mistress."
Tony was dumbstruck as Ziva looped her arm through Tim's, smiling up at him while Tim's eyes practically glazed over. Realizing he was grinning like an idiot and yet not able to stop himself, Tim reached up and tipped his hat to Ziva.
"You look stunning Ziva. As Sam Spade would say you look so good you could give a good man nightmares for a month. Thank you for going to so much effort."
Ziva smiled saucily and secretly admired the rakish tilt of Tim's hat. And the glint in his eye.
"You're going as McGee's date?" Tony suddenly pointed frantically at Ziva.
Tim shook himself out of his daze and turned frowning to Tony.
"You have a problem with that DiNozzo?"
"Ah yes McGee! Rule Twelve? Hello?"
Tim smirked "Yes well why don't you ring Gibbs and tell him all about it. I believe he is spending the weekend with Director Sheppard. But you should be able to catch him on his cell"
Tony's protest died on his lips "Really? Director Sheppard? Huh. Way to go Gibbs"
"Well shall we go Ziva? The chaffered Rolls Royce awaits. I think this is going to be a fantastic night"
"Yes Tim. I think I shall enjoy being your 'Mistress' for the evening"
Tony sat back and watched as McGee and Ziva, their eager eyes never leaving the other disappeared into the elevator.
"Well the Elf Lord and his Mistress.. who would have thought it?"
(Well thats the end of this story. I hope it was a satisfying ending for everyone and that you enjoyed the story. Please let me know if you did! Thank you very much to my reviewers who kept me going when the going got tough. And I hope some more of you consider writing a McGee/ Jenny sometime as I think I have fallen for them myself.)