A Past Full of Promise
Genre: Family, Romance, Friendship, AU, Angsty tones
Summary: Many years after their deaths, Jen and Gibbs' granddaughter comes across some old memories. Written for the There It Sat Challenge on NFA. Set by EmyPink.
Notes: Written from the POV of Jen and Gibb's granddaughter, many years after their deaths, obviously I took some creative licence and Jen and Gibbs married and JD never happened.
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There it sat, it didn't look like much, but inside it contained more than one could imagine, you couldn't put a price on what was inside it, or the box itself. To two people, it had meant more than anything else. It contained a lifetime of memories; memories from a time long passed. I sat there, looking at it; admiring it; wondering about it; how it came to be; how it came to mean so much to its previous owners. It was quite an ordinary object to look at, to any other person, it didn't look like much. But the simplest things often mean the most with things like this. I picked it up; held it for a while and then lifted its lid and its contents were revealed to me.
Inside, sat a bundle of photographs, held together with a rubber band which looked like it had lost its elasticity many years ago, but it still did the trick. I picked up the bundle, and carefully removed the rubber band, being careful not to break it - after all, it had survived this long, it wouldn't be right if I had caused its end now. I placed the oddly proportioned band on the table in front of me, and turned my attention to the photographs. The first was of my grandmother, she was beautiful all her life, but in this photo there was something different about her that made her even more beautiful, it was her smile. She always had a great smile. Standing behind her was my grandfather, he had a similar look on his face as my grandmother, amused and playful. There was something special about this photo, something which I hadn't seen much of in my grandparents for a long time.
I hadn't known them long, they died when I was quite young. But I have since heard about their lives from my parents. They were both NCIS agents, grandma was the Director for many years, my mum told me she loved it, she retired quite late in her life, I guess no one could get her away from NCIS. It was the same with grandpa, he was dedicated to his work. Over the years he had been offered promotions but he refused them all, he liked what he did, he didn't want to stop doing it either.
Before grandma was the Director, she and granddad had worked all over the world together, in Serbia, London, Marseille and even Paris. Mum tells me it was in Marseille where everything changed, where they had crossed the line between partners and lovers. Their romance had been short lived. They took separate paths, and were reunited a few years later, when grandma became the Director of NCIS. They worked together for about a year before they realised they still loved each other. It happened after grandpa had been put in a coma from an explosion. He was in hospital for a while and grandma stood by his side all that time. She realised then that she didn't want to lose him again. She had fallen back in love with him.
He had too, but not on the outside, he wasn't willing to scream it out loud at that stage. He quit NCIS not long after he was released from the hospital. He moved to Mexico and stayed on the beach with his old boss, Mike Franks. Eventually, after some reflection, my grandma decided she wasn't going to let him get away, so she flew to Mexico to talk some sense into him. It worked. Not long after that they resumed their romance.
A year or so later, grandma was pregnant with my mum.
I smiled, as I recalled the stories mum had told me. I sometimes wish I could have known grandma and grandpa back when they were young. I flipped through more of the old photos, there were a few mixed in from their later years of life, both of them had aged gracefully. Grandma's red hair had faded a bit over the years and grandpa's hair just got whiter.
As I flipped through more photos I saw a folded piece of paper stuck in between two of the photos, I carefully separated it, being careful not to tear either the paper or the photo. I successfully took them apart and opened the piece of paper. It was a letter.
It couldn't have been any other way, I made my choice and it's me who has to live with those consequences. I need you to understand that. I have to leave Paris. I have to leave you. I have to let go of what happened here, it's not fair for our relationship to screw our relationship as partners. I hope you understand my reasons, Jethro, you don't have to like it, but this is how it has to be.
If it makes you feel better, I'll never forget.
I still love you, I always will.
Stay safe, Jethro,
The letter was dated October 1999. That was the end of their work in Paris. I re-read the letter, even though she was leaving him, grandma's love for grandpa was there. I imagine that would have been the hardest letter she ever wrote.
As I folded the letter back, I saw another sheet stuck to the back of it. It was another letter. The tone was different in this one.
The memories we made, I will never forget. This is a day I didn't think I'd see coming, but it's inevitable, I guess. And we've been living with my ill-health for a long time, it has to end sometime. I'm too old to fight anymore. I want to tell you how much you mean to me, in a way that it will be immortalised. Through this letter.
I love you. Thankyou for being there for me, Jethro.
P.S Remember, we'll always have Paris.
She wrote that a few days before she died. I don't remember her death, I was only four years old.
I folded the letter up, and placed it back in the box. She was right, it was being immortalised, through the images stored in this box which carry their memories. Memories which two more generations know of and can learn from. I looked through the remaining photos, some of them had messages scribbled on the back. Mostly of where the picture was taken, when and who was in it. The very last photo in the pile was one which probably meant the most to grandpa. It was quite worn around the edges and had a large crease down the middle from where it had been folded many years ago and left like that. It was a picture of his first daughter, Kelly. She and her mother, Shannon had been murdered when Kelly was only very young. Mum told me it really shook grandpa up, and it took him along time to recover from that loss, mum says grandma helped him through it and that because of her he was able to move on and love again. And he did that. I'm sure they would have been really proud of him. He deserved the chance to love again. And he got it.
I put the photos back into a nice pile and carefully put the old rubber band around them, still managing to stay whole and not snap. I placed the photos and letters back into the box.
There it sat, an ordinary box, filled with extraordinary memories. Memories that won't fade, not if grandma and grandpa have anything to do with it. Mum has always said that they always did things on their terms, and no one else's. She was right.