A/N: So, finally, here's the sequel to Lost in the Mail, as many of you requested in your reviews. Sorry it's taken me so long to write, but it took a while until I was satisfied enough to post it, and it's quite long. So, this is for aserene, who bribed me, and for everyone else requesting this sequel. Please review!
Lost and Found
I sigh exasperatedly, close my eyes and lean back in my chair. Breathe. I reprimand myself. Come on, Shepard, just a few more reports. I crack one eye; see the pile of reports I still need to go over; there are more than a few. Glasses perched back on my nose, I straighten up again. Sometimes this job really sucks.
I don't look as I reach out my hand toward the glass of bourbon I have sitting on my desk, as my tired eyes are fixed upon the open file I have in front of me. I find the glass, my hands are fumbling, and I knock it over.
"Damn it!" I curse, quickly sweeping the file aside, and in the process knocking over the pile of already finished reports perched on the edge of the desk. They tumble to the floor, sheets of papers flying everywhere.
"You gotta be kidding me." I stare at the papers spread all over the floor. I close my tired eyes with a deep sigh, I really just want to go to bed and get some sleep, just want to leave my mess behind me. But I need these files tomorrow. Going to bed and leave it like this would mean I would have to clean this up tomorrow before I head in to work, and I already know I'll be having way too much on my mind then, be in a rush, like I always am. Sometimes I wish I could slow down just a bit, but I can't. I have work to do.
I throw myself backwards in my chair, really not in the mood to sort papers and put the right reports into the right file. Did someone up there have it in for me? Because I would have thought this day couldn't possibly get any worse.
It had taken until ten am this morning that I had finally had my first cup of coffee, and by then I had pissed off more people than I had in a month. We got an alert of a potential terrorist attack on American soil, so I spent the better part of my day in MTAC arguing with various other important people. Then a certain Leroy Jethro Gibbs had showed up on the door to my office just as I had vacated MTAC, and our little discussion had all too soon escalated into a full-blown argument – a little too personal and a lot less professional. He slammed my own door in my face when he stormed out, his last words lingering behind "What has become of you?"
I'm being brought back from my memories of earlier today by the faint knocking on the doorframe to my study. I look up and see Noemi standing there, her brown coat put on over her maid's dress.
"I'm sorry to disturb, señora. I'm leaving for tonight." She says in her Spanish accent, and I nod slowly, trying to take my mind off all thoughts of Leroy Jethro Gibbs' final words to me.
"Of course, Noemi. I'll see you tomorrow." I reply and force a smile. I must look terribly strained, because she surveys me worriedly, but knowing it's not her place to ask, she smiles a genuine smile and bids me good night.
"Good night, Noemi." I say back before watching her retreat out the front door. It shuts behind her, and the sound echoes through my lonely house. The only sound I hear now is my own sigh that escapes me and it seems ridiculously loud to my own ears. I lean forward against the desk, place my chin against my palm and stare sadly at the framed photo of my father. I wonder if he's proud of me, for having gotten so far. I wonder if he's disappointed in me for putting my career before everything else. He always wanted me to make something of myself; he also wanted me to be happy. I glance to the photo in the other frame – the one of Jethro. I think my father would have liked him. Unfortunately, I have neither of those two fantastic men in my life anymore. Well, I have Jethro, just not the way I want to have him.
I shake my head to get rid of all too painful memories, and reluctantly decide to clean up the mess of papers. I brace my hands on the table, ready to push myself off the chair, when an envelope having lain under the stack of files catches my attention. I recognize the handwriting immediately. The letter from Gibbs! I still have my hands bracing against the desk as I stare accusingly at the small white envelope, frozen in my position. My mind winds back to that night two weeks ago, when I had gotten that letter in the mail. It had completely thrown me off, for more than one reason, but the main ones being that it had been written and sent eight years ago – a month after our break-up in Paris, and its content – I would never have thought Leroy Jethro Gibbs could express feelings like that, hadn't even been sure he felt them. Back to that night, in my inner eye I can see myself in this very room, sitting on the floor in front of the fire, letter in one hand, cell phone in the other, finger itching to press speed dial 7. But I hadn't done it, what should I have said? 'Hi Jethro, got the letter you wrote me in Paris…' and then what? Did he even remember writing that? He'd obviously been drunk, that wasn't so hard to figure out, considering the uncharacteristic pouring of emotions and the strong scent of bourbon lingering on the paper. Our relationship was already strained enough, that had been proven today, we had too many unresolved issues boiling under the surface to be able to have an honest conversation with each other about our past.
"What has become of you?" His earlier words come unbidden to my mind, and I bite my lower lip, wondering what he meant by it. I think back to the conversation we had had, it had been way too personal to be comfortable, and while I hadn't realized I have changed since I became director, I must have changed somehow – if he said so, it must be true. I have never doubted his ability to observe. There was just something in the way he said it that had me feeling like he is disappointed in me. Sure, I would admit I am no longer the woman I was in Paris, but I merely thought it was a matter of growing up, I'm no longer so…carefree and funny I used to be. No longer so happy. Maybe it's those parts of me he misses. When was the last time we laughed together? Or the last time I did something spontaneous, not just around Gibbs, but at all? I honestly can't remember. Maybe I have changed, maybe I'm not who I used to be. But I never thought anyone would miss me…
I snap up from my deep thoughts when I hear the monotone sound of my cell phone ringing. I check the called id before answering, just to see that it isn't someone I'm not in the mood of talking too, and when I see the name Jethro on the small screen, I contemplate if I should take the call or not. My curiosity as to why he's calling me at this hour overwhelms me, and I press the yes button.
"You calling to apologize?" I say.
"Didn't realize I have anything to apologize for." Leroy Jethro Gibbs' voice answers me. I detect an icy undertone in it.
"Then what's your reason for calling me at this hour?" I snap, a little sharper than I had intended, I felt a brief tinge of guilt at my tone of voice, but I ignore it, in this moment I just want to disappear of the surface of the earth, wanting to leave behind the mess of files and the unresolved issues with Jethro.
I listen to his silence on the other side of the line. My gaze drifts to the envelope on my desk. I swallow the lump that has begun to form in my throat. I say nothing. He sighs; I can picture him rushing a hand hastily through his hair. I can see the silvery hair in a mess from a memory, and a tingling feeling erupts from the area of my stomach. I shake away the feeling.
"You know, it's late. It's nothing that can't wait until the morning." He says in a rush, and before I can reply, I hear a click and then the dial tone rings in my ear. I turn off my own phone, and by accident, I let my gaze sweep over the deserted hallway. I frown as I see a shadow move outside behind the sheer curtain covering the window next to the door. The figure disappears, and I instantly realize who it is.
I fumble with my phone again and manage to press speed dial 7.
"Jethro, what the hell is going on?" I snap, cutting him off as he answers with his standard "Yeah, Gibbs?"
"I'm not following, director." He shoots back, spitting out my title. I resist the urge to tell him this approach doesn't work on me.
"Cut the crap, Jethro. Is that you lurking outside on my doorstep?" I say, squinting my eyes as the shadow reappear outside the window.
He doesn't answer, the shadow ducks out of view again, and then pops back up. The lock clicks, and I instantly knows it's him; he's the only one who knows were I hide the spare key. I hang up the phone as a familiar silhouette enters my hallway, dark against the streetlights outside. I wait in my chair as he strides toward my study, stopping in the doorway and leans against the doorframe.
I regard him carefully over the brim of my glasses, before reaching up and removing them.
"So, what's on your mind? You didn't linger outside my house for no reason." I inquire, arching one eyebrow as he advances a little further into the room.
He looks everywhere but at me, gaze trailing along the spines of the books, the glowing fire in the fireplace, lingering for a few long seconds on the papers spread over the floor, before settling on the liquor cabinet. He begins to move toward it.
"Don't." I warn, and my voice freezes him in his tracks. He looks at me incredulously. "You didn't come here to rob me off my bourbon, now tell me what you came here for or I'll kick your sorry ass out of here before you know it." My voice doesn't rise a notch as I speak, keeping it low, with a hint of threat in it. His fixes his icy blue eyes on me, and changes his direction to approach me.
"You wanna talk? Fine, let's continue what we started earlier today in your office." He places his palms on my desk, leaning heavily on them as his eyes level with mine. I have dealt enough times with Leroy Jethro Gibbs to have become immune to his ice cold stare.
"I thought that was concluded when you slammed the door in my face." I shoot back. I meet his stare, knowing I have the same chances of intimidating him as he has of intimidating me. Zero.
He searches my eyes and then shakes his head.
"What the hell has happened to you?" He asks, voice dripping with contempt. I narrow my eyes at him.
"What's that supposed to mean?" I reply acidly, though knowing all too well what he's indicating, as I had been thinking about it myself just minutes ago. But I want to hear his version. In my mind I kick myself for willing him to say that he's missed me. The old me.
He doesn't reply, just looks at me so coolly and with an expression that throws me off slightly more than a lot. I suppress a shiver under his gaze, determined to not let him know just how much he's affecting me.
I see in his eyes he isn't going to answer me, and as he begins to pull back again, his gaze slips from mine and drags across the table. He does a double take at the envelope. I shut my eyes momentarily, and when I open them again, his hand has already reached out towards it.
"Don't – "I begin, but too late, as he's already caught hold of it. He flips it in his hands, looking at it incredulously. His eyes scanning the address written on it, I see a hint of recognition in them as he realizes it's his handwriting.
"What's this?" He asks, flashing the envelope in my face. I bite my lip.
"A letter." I answer dumbly. He looks irritated.
"Yeah I figured. But, that's my handwriting on it. I've never written you a letter." He states and opens the envelope.
"Don't do that." I hiss through clenched teeth, he raises his eyebrows and ignores me, withdrawing the letter. I watch him as he reads, his eyes widen as they flick further down the page. His gaze finally freezes at the end. I have to press my lips tightly together to keep myself from saying anything. After what feels like an eternity in silence, he looks up at me, confusion mixed with shock written on his face. I raise my eyebrows inquiringly.
"What the hell is this?" He demands, waving the letter in my face.
"You don't remember writing that?" I keep my cool as I struggle to not look disappointed.
"No, I don't remember…" He stops himself, one eye twitch and realization seems to dawn on him.
"You were pretty wasted, weren't you?" I say, fixing my gaze on his face, keeping my composure.
"I wrote this after you left me in Paris." He stares at the date, and then lifts his gaze to meet mine. "You never called." He stares deeply into my eyes, his voice carrying an undertone of hurt.
"I just got that letter two weeks ago." I state. He looks at me as though thinking I'm lying, but seeing no tell, he seems to believe me.
"Must have gotten… lost in the mail." He mumbles and read it through once more, cringing slightly at his choice of words, I strongly suspect he's reached the part where he basically proposed to me.
"I think so too." I say in lack of anything else to say. I realize my hands have started shaking, and quickly place them in my lap, trying to hide their shaking. I unconsciously start to twist the hem of my shirt.
He lifts his gaze to mine again, this time his gaze is softer, inquiring, as he asks, "If you would have gotten this eight years ago, would you – would you have –"
"Would I have called?" I finish for him, and he nods a bit reluctantly. I avoid his eyes. "Probably not." I answer truthfully, and, knowing he's about to give me a snappy reply, I quickly continue. "I would have wanted to, but I don't think I would have done it. It was hard enough leaving you the way I had, but I had made my decision, as hard as it was to make. That was the hardest decision in my life." I look back up at him, his mouth still slightly open, confirming my suspicions he'd been about to speak. "I wouldn't have made this harder on myself, or you, than it already was." My eyes capture his, willing him to see the honesty in them. Willing him to see that I had to do what I had to do, but just because he sees it doesn't mean he understands it.
"I never understood why you left, Jen." He throws the letter and envelope down on the desk in front of me. I sigh deeply, trying to decide if I'm up for having this conversation. I feel his eyes on me. "Help me understand. Please." I look up as he speaks that last word, knowing he's desperate to know, if he uses that word. I nod shortly. I finger on the envelope as I think about what to say.
"It was a decision I simply had to make, it wasn't simple or fair, I knew that, but it was the best thing to do for me." I look up and meet his ice blue gaze; I can see in them he appreciates my honesty. I decide to continue. "I had a plan; I was going to make something of myself." Like my father always wanted me to do. I add to myself, but choose to not say that out loud. "Falling in love with my mentor wasn't part of the plan though." I say quietly. I fix my gaze upon an invisible spot on my desk. I can feel his eyes burning me with their intensity. He sighs, rushes a hand down his face; I don't see it, but I can hear him doing it. He paces the length of floor in front of my desk.
"Don't blame me, I can't help it that women always fall in love with me." I hear the joke in his tone and sharply return my gaze to him. He's stopped pacing and is standing against the leather armchair, one arm resting on the back of it. He has a small smile playing on his lips. I suddenly feel the corner of my lips curl upwards, I try to fight it, but I can't, and before I know it, a bubble of laughter escapes my mouth. He flinches at the sudden joyous sound, as though not quite used to hearing it, and frankly, my laugh sounds foreign even to my own ears. I realize it's been so long since last time I laughed – and I mean a genuine, happy laugh. He chuckles lightly and I see an old spark returning to his eye, one I haven't seen there in a long time.
"Well, it's not hard to fall in love with you." I feel my cheeks heat up, unable to believe I just said what I said. He chuckles lightly.
"Well, apparently it's not so hard to fall 'out of love' with me too." He says, voice suddenly not sounding so amused. I look up at him, surprised at the sudden change of tone. His gaze is fixed on mine, holding it and freezes me on the spot. I shake my head, trying to break free from his accusing glare.
"I never fell 'out of love' with you." I say quietly, scratching my nail against an invisible spot on my desk, anything to avoid looking at him, who has just gone very quiet. Very quiet.
I hear footsteps on the carpet, certain he's going for the door, when two hands slam down on the desk in front of me. Startled, I look up, the one thing I had told myself I could not do. Despite the dim light in the study, his eyes are unusually bright and blue. I can only hope my nervousness isn't showing, but I highly doubt my luck, my heart is beating so loud, it must be heard a mile away, my sweaty palms leave wet marks on the wooden surface.
"Then why did you leave?" He asks, voice low, his breath hitting my face and my skin tingles, feels heated where the air that he exhales touches me. I don't dare tear my eyes off of his, afraid to miss out even a second of seeing the raw emotion in his blue pools. It doesn't even occur to me what those emotions are.
"I have already explained that." I reply quietly, though aware that my explanation had excluded any feelings.
"You chose your work, over me. Over us." He says incredulously, and I can't tell if he means it as a question or a statement.
I rub my hand to my forehead, at a complete loss of words. I admit, he's right in one way, I did leave him for work, but it wasn't because I cared more about my career that I cared for him.
I remain silent, still not sure about what to say. His eyes hold mine captivated and for a long time we stay like that, unspoken words and emotions traveling between our eyes, the air sizzling with tension.
I push from the table, rise gingerly on shaking legs; circle the desk until I stand in front of him. He straightens up and turns to face me.
I glance pointedly at the letter.
"Had you told me those things in person, before I left, things might have been different." I say, and he steps closer. A shiver reverberates through my body; all the old feelings and impressions wash over me, wave after wave. Heat radiates off his body, his scent envelopes me, coffee-scented breath hits my face.
"Would it really have made a difference?" He sounds doubtful.
I contemplate my answer for a short moment, before I realize, there's nothing to contemplate, and I answer confidently, "Yes, it would have made a huge difference." I silently challenge him as I take one more step closer, so that I am almost pressed against him. He pulls his head back a little, looking down at me.
"Why?" He wonders, taking a step back. I won't relent, though, and step forward again. I can tell by the look on his face he's slightly unnerved by my intentions. Frankly, I haven't a clue as to why I'm doing this. And I'm not sure I wanna now.
I search his eyes before answering.
"Because I doubted your feelings." I say, short and simple. Though it is anything but simple.
He raises one eyebrow.
"I thought I was being perfectly clear."
It's my turn to raise one eyebrow.
"Well, you weren't." I say, a little harder than intended. He glares at me, and abruptly turns to leave, his way of escaping from a situation where he's feeling a little too uncomfortable. But this time, I'm not about to let him slip from me again, as I quickly decide we have to solve these issues between us, once and for all. I move quickly, standing in front of him and blocking his path. He looks slightly aggravated, and more than a little annoyed, when I press my body up against his once again.
"You want something?" He growls through clenched teeth. I'm surprised when the first thought to enter my mind is that I want him. Much as I try to shake the feeling away, I can't. Not when he's so close, and every cell in my body is responding to memory. Still, I do not back off even though I'm aware it would surely be the wisest thing to do.
I gesture toward the letter on the desk behind him.
"If you had told me those things, it would have been clear enough. And thanks to this letter, I now know you did feel exactly how I felt. And while I admitted those feelings, you didn't have the guts to do it." I say accusingly, pushing myself harder against his chest. He doesn't yield an inch. Nor does he answer me. His eyes don't give away any emotion, and I'm running out of ideas of how to make him respond to me. I try my last exit.
Grabbing him by his collar, I don't even have the chance to see the surprise on his face, before I crash my lips against his. My blood rush at the familiar, yet new and exciting, feeling of his lips on mine. I relent slightly, rubbing my nose against this cheek, again pecking lightly on his lips. A hand slips around my neck, pulling me down harder, crushing my lips under his. Finally.
With desperation and need coursing through my veins, I try to pry his lips apart with my tongue. But he doesn't grant my access; instead he pulls away, drawing a low moan of disagreement from my throat. Though he doesn't move far, maybe mainly because I have my arms tightly wrapped around his neck. He suddenly leans forward again; I close my eyes, expecting to feel his lips on mine again. I jump slightly as his breath tickles my ear.
"You know," he whispers in my ear, causing me to involuntarily shiver, his voice is huskier than I had expected. "I prefer showing my feelings, rather than talking about them. You of all people should know that."
I bite down on my lip, every cell in my body recalling just how he used to show me. I know he loved me, I had been able to sense it in every way he used to touch me, kiss me; he was gentle, at the same time passionate. I hadn't missed out that he loved me, I had just needed to hear him say that he loved me, the way I said it to him. It was just so damn complicated. I'm complicated. And a lot more sensitive than I admit to. I had left him, left him for a promotion and maybe, possibly, because I loved him a little too much, one day, it would get us in trouble. And I had to protect him from my mistakes.
Coherent thoughts are blown from my mind, when his mouth makes contact with the skin just below my ear. I hear myself groan, tilt my head to the side to give him better access. He threads his fingers through my hair, pulling at it slightly. He works his mouth toward the crook of my neck as the same time as his other hand, which is not entangled in my hair, slips down along my spine. I shiver violently, unable to hold back a gasp. He is well aware what this is doing to me, he used to tease me like this before, knowing he would get me anywhere.
I gather up the little composure left in me, place my palms to his chest, and push him off me, before I start to beg him to take me right here and now. He catches my eyes, glaring at me, thinking I'm playing games on him. I don't need to look into his eyes to know he's pissed at me, wondering what the hell I'm doing.
He opens his mouth to speak; I press my finger to his lips to silence him. He speaks anyway.
"Jen…" He growls, he doesn't get further before I replace my finger with my mouth, leaving the softest kiss on his lips.
"Not here." I whisper, my voice strangely hoarse, letting my hands having rested on his shoulder and chest brush down his body, removing them as they reach the buckle on his belt.
I don't look at him before I turn away, instead let my gaze drift over the spilled bourbon and scattered files. I ignore them and head toward the hallway. I stop at the foot of the staircase, hand resting on the banister; I shoot a glance backwards at Gibbs, who hasn't moved an inch. I suppress a smile upon seeing his hair slightly out of order, clothes ruffled and lipstick traces on his cheek.
I send him a seductive glance and then nod my head up the stairs, toward my bedroom. He smiles slightly, getting my hint and moves to follow me silently.
With my breathing getting heavier for every step, my heartbeats increasing to match the elevated intake of air, and as result of that, my blood pressure rushing to heights, I ascend the stairs, never looking over my shoulder, but hearing all too well the steps creak somewhere behind me. It's way too late to turn back now.
I enter my bedroom, stopping abruptly in front of the chest of drawers. I hear the door close, sense his presence. My chest heaves with every deep breath I draw, my nostrils filling up with his scent that immediately starts to spread all around my room. His scent has a nasty habit of sneaking in everywhere, and lingering there for what feels like forever. It hadn't mattered how many times I washed my clothes after Europe, they still carried the distinctive scent of Leroy Jethro Gibbs. I had been forced to get rid of a particular lilac jumper because that was the one with the strongest scent that also seemed to rub off on every garment it came in contact with.
Still not looking over my shoulder, I slowly start to unbutton my blouse, my fingers shaking slightly. I shrug a little, causing the thin and expensive material to slip down my arms and land in a heap on the floor. I had expected the air to be cooler, but it's not, or maybe it's just my body temperature that is escalating. I can hear him shift somewhere behind me.
He doesn't say anything and neither do I.
My hands move down my side, finding the zipper of my skirt. I slowly drag it downwards, releasing the skirt and it flows down my legs to join the discarded blouse. I hold my breath, as I'm left only in my underwear. I only just now realize this may have been a mistake. Am I making a fool out myself? Has he all of a sudden changed his mind? Why isn't he doing anything? Just as I think that, I hear the unmistakable rustling of clothing being removed penetrate the silence. Soft footsteps on the carpet, I feel him approach me.
My breath hitches when cool, callused fingers touch my already close to over-heated body. He entices a shiver from me when he drags them down my spine, all the way down to the hem of my panties. He hooks a finger underneath them, and then withdraws, leaving me with a slightly more elevated pulse. His hands are placed on either side of me, agonizingly slowly drifting upwards, brushing my skin in feather-light touches. I bite my lip to hold back the moan wanting to escape me. It's not the time yet.
His hands brush against my breasts through my bra, it's getting harder for me to hold back the sounds I want to make. I close my eyes when he nuzzles into my hair, before moving down to breathe on the skin in my neck. He hasn't even touched me there yet; still I start to pant hard, anticipation rising within me. I tilt my head forward, giving him access to my bared skin. My hand shoots backwards to touch his hips, in the hope of urging him on. He presses up closer to me, and I can feel his arousal through his pants. A hand slips around me and holds me firmly around my waist, then he dips his head, and his lips make contact with my heated skin. The moan that is impossible to hold back escapes my lips when his tongue flicks over my skin. I feel his lips curl up in a satisfied smirk.
He continues his assault on my neck, the ferocity building up as he goes on. Soon, he's pushing his face forcefully into the crook of my neck, my hands are restless, I have no idea where to place them, so they trail over every part of him I can reach while still keeping my back to him. I quickly realize I need to feel more of him, and just as I'm about to turn around, he sinks his teeth into my shoulder, and I release a sound between a whimper and a moan, as I'm rendered immobile by him sucking on my shoulder. I have no choice but to stay in my position, for the moment, until he relents somewhat, and I quickly spin around in his arms, seeing nothing but pure desire in his darkened blue pools.
My fingers find his cheek, lingering there gingerly, my eyes locking with his; I let myself draw as much pleasure out of this moment as possible. I stare into his face, remembering every pore, every crease. His face a little bit more lined now that it had been eight years ago, his hair exactly the same shade of gray. Since my return into his life, I hadn't been close enough to notice this before. But his eyes still have the same depth and intensity, his mouth still as appealing. I can say, without exaggerating, he's the most handsome man I'd ever had the fortune of meeting.
His gaze flicks over my face, and I wonder if he's doing what I had just done, taking in my appearance, registering what had changed and what had not. Then he smiles his usual slightly crooked grin, I feel a similar smile on my own face. His thumb gently caresses my cheek, his hand slipping under my chin, titling my head up and bringing it forward, I instinctively part my lips slightly, so when they crash to his, I catch his lower lip between mine, suck on it for a moment before darting out my tongue to run it across it, demanding access, he grants it almost immediately.
While I'm too focused on him and lost in his taste – I had forgotten just how good it feels to kiss him – and I refuse to miss a second of enjoying this, meaning I am unaware of where his hands are heading, until I feel my bra being unhooked, and he relents just a little to tear it off me. I gasp slightly, and before I can understand what's happening, he's thrust his tongue back into my mouth.
Realizing I'm almost completely naked, and he's fully dressed, I decide we need to change that, and fast, because I don't know for how much longer I'll be able to hold off, as my whole body is aching for him, to feel his skin to mine, his body laying on mine.
Still forcing my tongue to go deeper into his mouth, I let my hand trail down his hard chest, though he's older now, his body is still firm and muscular. I let my other hand join it, and pull his shirt from his pants, slipping them up underneath it to feel his skin. He moans into me as I gather up his shirt in my hands, pushing it up his body and release his mouth for the few seconds it take me to tear it over his head and toss it to someplace behind him.
He launches back at me before I can, tightening his strong arms around my body, quickly reclaiming my lips with his. I can swear my mouth is set on fire when he kisses it – I can taste his desire burning, along with my own.
The kiss intensifies by a thousand fold – or at least that's what it feels like – his hands roam all over my body, stroking, touching, burning. I shudder against him, my legs suddenly turning into jelly, and I collapse, dragging him with me.
We miss the bed by a mile, and just as I prepare myself for a painful connection with the bedroom floor, I realize it's not to come, because his hand has reached behind me, bracing against the floor, his other is holding me securely around the waist, slowly lowering me down onto the carpet, his body sliding onto mine.
His jeans are harsh against my skin as he slips a leg between mine, his erection poking me in the thigh and I can't stop my impatience and before I know it, my hands have found their way down to the top of his pants, to the buckle on his belt.
He bucks his hips slightly when my hands brush against him, removing his mouth merely an inch from mine, panting hard against me.
Both his arms are on either side of my head, resting against the floor, holding him up above me. His head moves a little further away from mine, and I feel myself get frustrated and far too heated to go back now, as I'm aching in the lack of contact. The smug smile on his face tells me he is just taunting me – and he knows it damn well.
My hands curve around his arms, stopping him before he can drift too far away. I look up into his blue eyes that are dark and shining dangerously with lust. I know he's just as desperate as I am, I can all too easily see it on his face. It scares me a little how well I still know him.
I slip my leg around his, pressing my hips harder into his and he groans quietly. I slip my arms around his back and try to hug him back down to me, but as his hands are still braced against the floor, his strong arms holding him up, it results in me lifting slightly off the floor, determined to regain contact with his bare skin, reminding him I hate it when he teases me by lack of contact. I just want him to know what he's missing out.
It certainly seems to do the trick, because the next second he's lowered down onto me again, claiming my throat with his mouth, and kissing me with a ferocity that makes my pulse quicken and when he finds that spot in my neck, I think I momentarily forget to breathe.
I haven't even been aware of that I have somehow managed to undo his pants and that they are already pushed halfway down his legs. Or that he has somehow removed my panties. The moment his hips collide with mine, I can no longer think clear.
Somehow, I don't care trying to remember how, we did manage to get into bed. I think he may have scooped me up into his arms after the encounter on the floor, and placed me on the soft sheets that cooled down the heated skin on my back somewhat. But as he joined me, the sheets didn't really seem so cool any longer.
We did it two more times. It literally felt like neither of us could get enough of the other, at least I know I couldn't have enough of him. Or perhaps it was my subconscious reminding me we can never do this again.
I swallow hard, try to carefully disentangle myself from him, it's harder than I had thought, his limbs are everywhere, holding me firmly to his naked chest. I manage to slip under his arm and pull my leg out from underneath his. I bend his fingers from around my hand. Finally free, I silently slip out of bed. I have to bite down on my lip to hold back a wince of pain that erupts from the area around my hips.
Sitting on the edge of the bed, I feel a shiver of cold up my spine, as the air is much cooler than the sheets and Jethro's body that I have been wrapped up in for hours now. At least I think it's been hours. Glancing at the glowing digits of my alarm clock, it informs me it's 2.47am.
After having let my eyes adjust to the darkness, I reach out trying to find something to put on. The closest thing I can find is Jethro's shirt. Hugging it to my chest for a moment, I cast a glance at the sleeping figure in the bed behind me, before I slip the cloth over my head and let it fall down over my tender breasts and down to touch the tops of my thighs.
My legs are stiff and a little sore due to having been wrapped around Jethro's waist for the better part of the night, so the first thing I do when I get up is to stumble on my own feet, and it's more due to speed than luck that I manage to get hold of the headboard before I have the chance to fall, and wake Jethro.
Holding onto the headboard until I feel my legs having stopped shaking enough that I trust them not to collapse under me, I start making my way toward the window. I curl up in the chair beneath the window, my legs pressed to my chest and my arms encircling them, I lean my head back against the cool glass and watch him sleep.
A sliver of moonlight seeks him out, setting across his features and illuminates his silver hair. My satin sheets pool around his waist, leaving his upper body exposed to my eyes.
A low sigh escapes me as I close my eyes, trying to convince my heart to return to beating normally. Somehow that seems to be close to impossible when around Jethro.
I let my mind drift back to last night, my body bucks slightly in memory response. I had started it. I had kissed him first. I had taken him to my bedroom and begun to undress.
I run my hand through my hair, I realize it's messy from his hands, and I immediately stop. I have no idea what to feel, what to think.
Breathe. I reprimand myself again. Come on, Shepard, get a grip!
Much as I try to deny it, I cannot say his letter means nothing to me; it means the world to know he felt for me like I felt for him. And evidently, he still does. I can call myself a liar if I say I don't have feelings for him anymore. All of that has been proven tonight. But I don't know what it means. And it's killing me. I'm so used to having control over my life, that when something like this happens, and I'm not saying it happens often, that's why I'm so new to this situation, I don't know what to do, how to react. I remember a time from a lifetime ago, the first time the young Jenny Shepard had woken up next to Jethro Gibbs, both equally naked and his hot, safe body wrapped around hers. She hadn't slipped out of bed to go contemplate whether it had been right or wrong, she hadn't had any doubts. The young lady had been in love. She hadn't had anything to lose; she was a probie, inexperienced and unaware of the dangers of being too attached to her partner. But she had fallen hard and fast for this man, and she had never gotten back up on her feet, brushed off her clothes and moved on.
I realize I'm thinking about myself in the third person, like the woman I'm remembering was someone else than me, and that's exactly how I feel. I may have been her, but I'm not anymore. I don't know if I can ever find her again. Too much has happened over these eight years. I never found love again, not since Jethro. No one could really take his place in my life. I simply never felt the same connection, the same gravity towards other men, like I had with Jethro. I'm not so carefree any longer; one could blame age on that, but I know there're more factors involved. Like being the first female director of an armed federal agency. I try so hard to hold onto my tough façade, to let the other persons know I'm serious, that I'm not weak. Sometimes these peoples prejudice against women are scary.
I brush aside the curtain, and there on the window sill lays the photo album I had left there a few nights ago. Ever since I got that letter two weeks ago, any thoughts of Jethro just wouldn't leave my mind, and one night it had simply been too much for me, my own blurry memories of the past weren't enough, so I had decided to dig out my old photo albums that I had sworn I'd never look through again. I never should have looked. The memories it conjured up were slightly too vivid than what I could handle. It must have been on that night I finally dared admit to myself that what I am still in love with Leroy Jethro Gibbs. I have known since my first day as director, I am still head over heels in love with him; I just never had the courage to admit it to myself. And now I hadn't just admitted it to myself, but to him as well. I am so screwed.
A small groan coming from the bed makes me instantly release the curtain still in my hand, as I had been staring at the leather bound photo album, but never dared to touch it. I see the sheets move around a bit, see his arm lazily shooting out to grasp at my empty side of the bed. I wind my arms around my knees again, holding them close to my chest, waiting – knowing he's gonna wake up the moment he realizes I'm not there.
In the mere time of a couple of seconds, I am proven right when a sleepy Gibbs pushes himself up onto his elbow to search for me. The room is consumed in darkness, but he quickly makes out my silhouette against the street lights shining in behind me.
"Hey." He says in a sleepy voice, runs a hand up his face and through his hair that is standing up in every possible and impossible angle. I hide a smile at the slightly confused and somewhat disoriented expression on his face. Then he smiles a lazy version of his classic crooked grin, and I know all too well what he is thinking about.
"Hey." I return his greeting, my voice hoarser than I had thought. I clear my throat slightly. I blink a few times as he reaches out to turn on a lamp; a dim light sets over the room.
I struggle to keep my eyes fixed upon my knees, aware of his gaze on me.
"What are you doing up there?" His voice drifts through the bedroom, breaking the silence.
I refuse to look at him.
"I needed to clear my head a little." I reply, fidgeting with my cuticles and keeping my gaze stubbornly away from him.
"Uh-oh." He sighs and the bed creaks a little, giving away that he's moving. I dare cast a quick glance over to him, he's sitting up, the sheet having slipped down a little too low and I quickly avert my eyes. My mouth is suddenly going very dry.
"Don't tell me." His voice has dropped a few degrees, and I feel the icy touch in it.
"Tell you what?" I act innocent for as long as I can.
"That it was a mistake." His voice is barely audible, so quiet is he speaking. But I know what he said, and it's just what I had expected him to say. I silently draw a deep breath, before lifting my head and look at him.
He's sitting almost in the center of my bed, one leg stretched out before him and the other tucked under it. He's pulled the sheet up a little higher, thank god, and he's pulling slightly at the edge, looking a bit restless, and when he meets my gaze, I can tell he's agitated as well.
"Was it? A mistake?" He asks, looking ready to bounce off the bed and get the hell out of here if I give the wrong answer. Unable to stand his piercing gaze any longer, I lower my head.
Last night had been…truly magical, and I had felt more loved and free than I had in years. Though every professional aspect suggested it is wrong, anything that made me feel so alive couldn't be more right. It would be so easy to play cold, tell him this had never happened, and can never happen again – but what good will that do? I want – need – him to stay. I'm sick of being alone, of never be able to find real love again. No, I can't say it was a mistake, because it wasn't.
"No, it wasn't a mistake." I whisper, though loud enough that I know he hears me. Having been too consumed in my thoughts, I hadn't noticed he'd gotten off the bed and started putting on his boxers, obviously interpreting my silence as it had been a mistake.
I look back up at him, frozen with his hand stretched out toward his pants. He looks back at me, waiting.
"It's just…" I struggle trying to find the right word. "…complicated."
He closes his eyes momentarily. "Of course, complicated." He says, a slight hint of sarcasm in his voice. I choose to ignore it.
"Jethro…" I say his name in an exhale, I'm not sure if I'm struggling against tears or not. This whole damn situation is killing me. I'm Director, damn it. It wouldn't be right to sleep with my agent. But I feel the woman in me take over my reasoning, and she needs this.
"Work…" I begin, not sure what I'm trying to say, but this word is all I can get out. Frustrated for my own vulnerability, I rush a hand through my hair, and close my eyes.
Next second I feel someone pull me into a hug. I bury my face in his bare chest, grab him around his waist. I do not cry, but my eyes aren't dry either. Tears are building up, but don't fall.
I try to pull away from him, his scent and warmth reminding me of last night, a night that I'm not sure should have happened at all. And I can't deal with these memories and feelings right now.
He loosens his hold on me slightly, but still keeps a hand on my back, rubbing it in circles between my shoulder blades.
I lift my gaze to look out the window, surprised to find water splats on it, it has started to rain. My eyes are drawn to the leather bound photo album resting on the window sill.
"What's that?" I hear him ask, I cast him a quick glance, see his eyes have found the photo album as well. I catch his eyes, smiling as I shake my head.
"Nothing." I say, my voice low. Glancing back to the photo album and then back to me, he raises an eyebrow incredulously.
I pull the curtain forward to shield it from view. They were just memories. Memories caught on film. And I doubt we need to look at those to remember what this – we, us – means. The emotions are better described in reality than on film.
"Come back to bed, Jenny." He says in a gravelly voice. "We don't have to decide anything now." He whispers against my hair, placing a soft kiss to it. I nod into his chest, his arms winds around my waist, pulling me up off the chair. Standing pressed up against his bare chest, I finally lift my gaze up to meet his. He's smiling slightly, reaches out a hand to tussle my hair, before leaning his head down to kiss me.
With a hand on my back, he leads me back to bed, throwing the covers back and slipping in before me. I remain standing, catching my lower lip between my teeth and looking down at his body stretched out on the bed before me. He tucks an arm under his head and looks up at me quizzically, as though wondering why the hell I'm not joining him. Feeling arousal grow within me at the sight of him like this, in only his boxers and my marks all over him, I shoot him a loving glance, and then I lean forward, placing my palms on either side of his head on the mattress. He smiles up at me; his lips are slightly parted and interpreting my actions that I'm about to kiss him. I hide a smile, suddenly straightening up again, and swing my leg over his body so that I am straddling his chest. Surprise flashes briefly in his eyes, before replaced with desire. His fingers trail up my thighs, so softly it tickles me. Eager fingers tug at the hem of the shirt I'm wearing.
"Jen… that's my shirt you're wearing." He says in a low, rough voice that is somewhere between aroused and curious. I smirk, tilt my head to the side and look at him suggestively.
"Want it back?" I keep my voice low as I speak, trying to match the tone he just used with me. He grins and begins to slip his hands up underneath the shirt, slowly gripping at my skin, causing tendrils of heat to run up my spine. His fingertips trail random patters over my lower back; I have to close my eyes in attempt to regain control over my breathing, as it gets so much harder to keep it calm when he's doing this to me.
He doesn't answer my question, just bunches the cloth into his hands and drag it up my body, exposing inch after inch of my skin to his avid gaze.
A thought suddenly enters my mind, and I swiftly place my hand over his. Though I can't help but to wince internally that I'm stopping him, there's one thing I need to know.
He looks at me questioningly. There is also a tinge of annoyance in his eyes, telling me to hurry up with whatever is on my mind. I swallow.
"You will get your shirt back," I begin, pause before I continue. I feel his fingers twitching a little as they are apparently itching to continue their path upwards. "If you tell me why you were lurking outside my house earlier."
I tilt my head to the other side, watching him curiously, still with one hand stilling his at my back, the other braced against the mattress to hold myself up above him.
He keeps his expression unreadable, I know he hasn't forgotten how much it ticks me off when there's something he's keeping from me, and makes sure that I know there's something he's not telling me. He smiles that secretive smile, and I try my hardest to push down the wave of annoyance that begins to rise inside me. I tell myself I can't surrender to him. I tell myself that over and over again, but the self-satisfied glimmer in his eyes isn't so easy to ignore.
I hold up my finger in a warning.
"If you don't tell me, I will…" I begin, my voice shriller than I had thought. His laugh cuts me off, his chest vibrating underneath me.
"You'll what?" He inquires with a smug grin.
Wondering briefly how I ended up in bed with the bastard in the first place, I furiously open my mouth to argue. But my words remain unspoken, as I suddenly find myself lying flat on my back, coherence knocked from my body as I wonder how we ended up like this. I look up into the bastard's smug face.
"I was looking for something, something I had lost." He mumbles into the crook of my neck, his breath hot on my skin and making my whole body quiver underneath him.
"Did you find it?" I breathe, trying to force my eyes to stay open, but it gets harder with every second that pass. I wondered briefly what he could possibly have lost outside my house.
"Uh-huh." He replies and I take it as a positive answer. Though I'm not quite sure what he found.
"And…what – what did you - - find?" I stutter out while panting, as his ridiculously skillful mouth had located my weak spot and is indeed taking full advantage of it. I grab a fistful of his silvery hair, and pull slightly to get him to stop. Not that I don't want to, but I'm not intending on letting him get away without answering my question.
He pulls back a little, looking down into my face and I place a hand on his chest to hold him at his distance. His first attempt at distracting me off the question had almost worked, and I'm not going to give him the chance to try again, my control's already fragile as it is.
I stare at him with my most intense gaze, inquiring that he answers me.
He meets my gaze, holds it for a long time. I think he's searching for something, but I haven't a clue what. He doesn't show any emotion in his eyes.
Then, suddenly, he smiles, and his eyes are filled with a warmth only few have seen in Jethro's eyes – I'm one of the few lucky, but it has been years since last I saw it. The look increases my pulse and turns my limbs into jelly, causing the hand pressed to his chest to give in. When he realizes I'm no longer resisting, he grabs my wrists and bring them over my head, pinning them to the mattress above my head.
Certain he's going to have his wicked way with me for what will be the fourth time this night; I make a mental note to not forget the question I'm still looking for the answer too. He slips his free hand down to my waist, where the shirt I'm wearing is still bundled up, and swiftly throws it off my body.
He leans down, and I lift my head up, until our lips crash against each other. I can taste the familiar mixture of bourbon and coffee on his mouth, and perhaps something else that I have never been able to place just what it is, just that it is there and it's Jethro.
To my frank surprise, he cuts the kiss short, rolls off me and instead lands on his back and pulls me to his side, enveloping me in his arms.
I shift next to him, wind my arms around him and place my head on his chest.
"You still haven't answered my question." I remind him, and lift my head off his chest to look into his face. He studies me carefully.
"You." He says, and at first I don't understand.
"What?" I asked, confused.
"You." He says again. I raise an eyebrow incredulously. He looks back at me, quite serious.
"I found you." He whispers softly and cups my cheek in his hand but I'm still not sure I understand what he means. I place my hand over his on my cheek.
"You found me?" I ask just as soft. "Why would you look for me?"
He just smiles at me, picks up my hand and kisses it softly.
"Because I lost you." He says it was though it is the most logical and certain explanation in the world. And I guess, maybe it is. What is lost can always be found, though sometimes you just have to look a little harder.
I look at him inquiringly, willing him to elaborate.
"Today at the office," he starts; I push myself up slightly, leaning on my elbow so that my face is above his. I meet his gaze. "When we fought, I realized this has gone too far; you weren't the woman you used to be."
I look away. He places two fingers under my chin and lifts my head to regain eye contact.
"I came to talk to you, trying to get back the part of you that was lost."
"Did it work?" I ask quietly, not sure if he found what he had been looking for, what he had expected to find. He smiles.
"You tell me." He slips the hand around my neck, pulling me into a soft kiss.
"Yes, it worked."
Later I stand at the mantelpiece, clutching the envelope and letter in my hand. I sigh, and breathe in through my nose. The lingering scents of leather, bourbon, wood and the faint traces of coffee and sawdust fill up my nostrils. I catch my father's eyes in the photograph on the mantelpiece, I smile at him. Dragging my eyes back to the letter, I read it through, one more time – one last time – before folding it and pushing it back into its envelope, where it belongs.
Crouching down in front of the fire, I hold the envelope out in front of me, staring at it in the reddish light from the fire. I remember being in the same situation as I was little more than two weeks ago, sitting here, contemplating whether to throw it onto the fire or not. Though this time, there's nothing to contemplate. I watch the flames quickly catch in the paper, watch as it curls and writhes, until eventually falling down in a heap of ashes.
I push myself off the floor, turn around and smile. Leroy Jethro Gibbs returns the smile, leaning back in the leather armchair. I sip my bourbon, place the empty tumbler back on the mantelpiece, as his smile grows even wider. I don't cast a glance back at the small heap of ashes that was once the letter containing the confirmation I had longed for so long to hear. The confirmation he did love me, and much more than I would have thought. Two weeks ago, I had wanted to hold onto that letter, just to have the most honest words he'd ever said to me with me, at all time, until when, or if, I one day decided to confront him. Now, I think, as I approach him and his smug grin, I don't need to hold on to that letter, to those words he wrote me, not now, when I get to hear them directly from his mouth, and his heart.
He grabs me around the waist and pulls me eagerly onto his lap. I turn my upper body so that I can face him. His eyes lock with mine, the electrifying blue mesmerizes me, as always, they hold a depth that I always feel I could drown in. The emotions I see in them make tendrils of heat rush through my body, and I know he can see the same emotions in my eyes.
I lace my fingers with his, and as he pulls me into a soft kiss, I place our intertwined hands above his heart, where I belong.