The chill seemed to permeate his bones. And yet he knew that it was nothing in comparison to the dank earth she was currently lying on, her body shielded by foliage.
He second-guessed himself again for a moment.
When she'd walked out of Abby's lab without a backward glance he'd needed something to channel his frustration and his anger into. It had seemed logical to call Fornell and have him get the information. He hadn't spared much thought to what he'd do with it once he had it. He'd just wanted to know where the man was. Who he was. When he knew he'd stored it away because there had been other things to think about. When she'd walked away the second time he hadn't hesitated. He'd given the information to her because he felt that she too deserved to know what he knew. But the moment he had he'd feared for her. Feared that she'd do exactly what she was about to.
He wasn't sure why he felt like this.
He had done it.
But perhaps that was the point – she wasn't him. His revenge had been swift. She'd been living with this for years. It had occurred to him that she had the same clearance as Fornell. Maybe more. If she'd really wanted the information she would have found it, one way or the other. And he had to ask himself why she hadn't. If he'd put her in a position where, faced with the location, she could no longer hide.
It had taken her two days - and for all of those two days he'd watched her from a distance. Determined not to let her do this alone if she chose to act. And now here she was. Rifle in front of her. Less than seventy-five feet and one retaining wall between her and the man who had robbed her of her family.
Gibbs suppressed another shiver and inched forwards.
It wasn't a question, and as he sidled up next to her his eyes asked her how she knew.
"You've been following me for two days" she said with a small smile, her eyes boring into his.
Gibbs gave a tight nod and said nothing. Merely took the binoculars she was offering and raised them to his eyes.
He felt pressure on his arm and turned to look at her.
"Thank you" she said gently.
And he didn't need to ask what for – because it was all in her eyes.
As the minutes stretched and stretched Jen snuck a look at Gibbs. She closed her eyes against the sense of security that his presence had brought with it and let it wash over her and give her strength. It was the day, the hour, quite possibly almost the minute – and she was grateful that he was there. That she didn't have to do this alone as she'd had to do so many other things in her life. It wasn't a time for talking, and yet too many things were threatening to bubble to the surface and she felt she needed control over at least one of them.
She touched him gently on the arm again and leaned over and kissed him on the shoulder before he could turn around. Gibbs touched his jaw against her head in response for a brief moment, and then raised the binoculars to his eyes again.
A few seconds later he passed them over without a word.
Jen looked through them.
And there he was. Her quarry. Walking by the pool. Talking on the phone. A cup of something warm in his hand.
She raised the rifle and looked through the scope.
And then she faltered.
Gibbs raised the binoculars once again and understood immediately that it just wasn't going to happen.
A tiny body wrapped itself around the man's waist as he sat down on a chaise longue. And then clambered onto his lap. He ruffled the child's hair and together they followed the sound of another voice coming from their left. A very pregnant woman entered Jen's sights, and she watched as the man rubbed the belly and kissed it when his partner stopped next to him and dropped a hand on his shoulder.
Jen lowered the rifle to the ground with hands that had a slight shake to them, and bowed her head over it.
"I can't do this" she murmured.
"You don't have to."
Gibbs laid his hand on her hair, his heart aching for her, and there was silence for a long while before he spoke again.
"Put the past to rest, Jenny" he said.
She looked at him long and hard.
"Does it ever really rest, Jethro?" she asked gently.
He thought for a moment before answering.
"No. But some people need someone to hate."
They shared an intense look – and Jen felt as if he was trying to look into her soul.
"Then let it go" he said.
He waited for a moment longer and then expressed the opinion that they needed to make a move.
She acquiesced without a word.
The drive back to her house was silent and fraught with sadness. He'd debated letting her drive, but knew she needed the sense of control. Had been surprised when she'd asked him to take the wheel. And now they were standing on her front doorstep and she surprised him again.
"Can I offer you a drink?" she asked. "I don't think I should drink alone. I might not stop."
He searched her face for a moment and then stepped in after her. The bags that lined the hallway brought him up short. A reminder that she was leaving that left him feeling unsettled.
"When are you leaving?" he asked, indicating them with his head.
"Tomorrow" she said quietly as she turned to face him. "Jethro ..."
"Yeah?" he asked, his eyes still on the bags.
"Not necessa-" he said, almost abruptly.
Her fingers against his lips silenced him.
"It is necessary. You've done more for me that anyone has in a long time. And your heart was in the right place – even if you don't think it was."
Gibbs looked at her – not sure if it was her words or the sensation of her fingers against his mouth that were having an impact on him. He reached for her other hand and raised it against his cheek; leaning into it but not speaking.
"How's Abby?" she asked after a moment.
"Abby's a survivor. Like you are."
"Like you are too" she said, running her thumb across his skin.
He pulled her hand to his mouth and kissed it gently – communicating what he wanted that way. Knowing that she'd pick up on it. Putting the ball in her court.
Jen's eyes cut to his and she weighed what she wanted to say for a long while before she said it.
"I've never wanted to ask anyone to wait for me" she began slowly. "But I ..."
The brush of his lips against hers elicited the tiniest of gasps – but she had her answer. Gibbs looked at her for a moment, and then his hand slowly drifted up and down her back. Jen released a breath she hadn't realised she'd been holding as she felt him nuzzle his nose into the crook of her neck. The sensation of his lips against her throat made her mouth fall open, and she pulled away to look into his eyes.
The desire in them blew her away.
She cupped his face and drew his mouth to hers, and the kiss lingered for as long as the air in their lungs would let them. When they finally broke apart he pulled her against him, running his hand under collar of her t-shirt and stretching it as far as it would go. He dabbed the tip of his tongue against what he could reach of her shoulder and then drew it slowly up the side of her neck. Not stopping till he reached her ear. Teasing her earlobe.
Making her moan.
Jen's hips arched forwards, and it was his turn to moan as they collided into his own. The sound of her heavy breathing in his ear was more of a turn on than he'd been expecting, and when she reached for his belt and brushed him unexpectedly, his instinctive reaction was to pull her hand back and buck against it. The feeling intensified as her hand pressed harder, and when he felt her ankles curl round the back of his, he pulled her face to his and pulled it open with his fingers. Their tongues collided and writhed together just as surely as their bodies did – grinding against one another with an abandon that neither one of them had experienced in years.
Jen smiled against his mouth.
"God, Jethro ..." she whispered.
The sense of abandon took Gibbs by surprise. He hadn't intended anything like this; not a dry rub against her front door, and certainly not a dry rub against her front door when she was leaving in less than twelve hours. But the sexual energy radiating off both of them was hard to ignore - and even harder to resist. He couldn't help himself, and if he was reading her correctly, neither could she. He placed a finger under her chin and tilted her head up to look in her eyes.
What he saw told him it wouldn't be long.
She angled her hand, the heel pressing him in just the right place, and in just the right way to drag a moan from his lips as his eyes dropped closed. He slid a thigh in between hers and she rolled herself against it, her breath catching in her throat before long. He felt the tightening of muscles in his stomach and before he knew it he was shuddering his release and holding onto her like a life line, as her fingers dug into his arms - his name nothing more than a whisper against his cheek.
Gibbs felt Jen exhale against him, and for a moment he wondered whether there was going to be awkwardness. But one look later he knew that there wasn't going to be any. He kissed her forehead and stroked her back before she settled against his chest – sure that he wasn't the only one smiling.
"Hey" she said after a while, her fingers curling in his hooded top, "want to take a shower?"
"Upstairs" she said. "Last door on the right."
"Jethro ..." she called as he started up the stairs.
He turned to face her, and found her right behind him. She kissed him lightly.
"I'll fix us a drink" she said, her fingers lingering on his face for a moment.
Gibbs watched her walk into the study and then trotted up the stairs.
When he came downstairs again she was sitting at her desk, sifting through papers.
"Hi" she said as she got to her feet. "Bourbon?"
He took the glass she was holding out, but his eyes were only for her. They sipped it in silence, standing close. Very aware of one another, but neither one of them sure what to say or do next.
"There's a leak in your bathroom" he said after a while.
"I know" she said with a shrug. "Contractor came in, brought all the stuff, did two hours or work and then never came back. I've been trying to find someone to come in and fix it today – but what are the odds of that, huh?"
"I'll take care of it" he said, looking at his watch – gauging how much time he needed to do the job.
"Is there anything you can't do?" she asked, surprise in her tone.
He grinned, draining his glass.
"See you in a few" he said, kissing her soundly on the mouth and disappearing back into the hallway.
There was something oddly reassuring, she decided, in the feeling that she was downstairs making her final preparations and he upstairs dealing with the domestic issues so that she didn't have to.
She turned back to her papers with a smile on her face.
When he came downstairs again it was evening and she was packing a briefcase.
She looked up when she saw him leaning against the door.
Her hand flew to her mouth.
"Oh my God ..." she said, looking at the clock. "What time is it? I never even offered you lunch."
"No distractions" he said with a knowing smile "means a job gets done faster. May I?"
He indicated the drinks cabinet and she nodded.
"Fix me one too?" she asked. "I have just one phonecall left to make and then I think I'm done."
Gibbs nodded and poured out the drinks - watching as she dialled the number and waited on the line until the person answered. She ran a hand over the back of her neck and rotated it a little bit. And perhaps it was that which drew him to her. He pushed her hair aside as she finalised arrangements for pick up in the morning, and ran his lips up her neck.
"Mmmmm" she said, covering the mouthpiece and turning her face towards him.
He covered her mouth with his own.
"Yes, I'm here" she said after a long moment, tearing her mouth reluctantly away from his and returning her attention to the caller.
Gibbs ran a hand down her shoulder. He pressed her hand in his for a moment and then moved his own against her midriff. Jen leaned back into him as his fingers slipped under the clothes and splayed across her abdomen. And when his hand travelled upwards and cupped one of her breasts she had to focus that much harder on the conversation.
"That's perfectly fine. Briefing is expected to begin at 0900, with an eye to leaving at 1300. Right. No, not that I've been told. Mmmmhmmm. That works for me. Have Peterson alert the ... no ... that's not the way I want it done. Right ... have Peterson alert them just as we're coming in to land. That's fine. I'll see you in the morning."
She put the receiver down and dropped her head back onto Gibbs' shoulder as he insinuated a hand between her bra and her skin and made a nipple pebble.
"Are you staying?" she whispered in his ear as she turned in his arms and wound her arms around his neck.
"If you want me to" he said, raising one of her legs to his waist and rubbing against her core gently.
"Bed's upstairs" she said softly, as she took his hand and led him out of the study.
They perched on her bed silently watching each other undress - the air heavy with the chemistry between them.
"I should really admire your handiwork first" she said, nodding in the direction of the bathroom.
"Later" he said as he pulled his hoodie and his t-shirt over his head and divested himself of what remained of his clothes.
Jen rested back on the pillows for a moment – and then she reached for him. Gibbs moaned as she flipped him onto his back and climbed on top of him, her tongue rasping against his neck. But what started as long gentle swipes morphed into a frenzy of nips against his skin moments later, and before he knew it things had escalated. For both of them.
"Easy Jen ..." he said gently, hoisting her off him a little to make sure they didn't get a repeat performance of the hallway a few hours earlier.
She felt the blood rush to her cheeks in embarassment, but he pulled her deeply into his embrace and as she lifted her head to meet his gaze he reached up to kiss her. They kissed deeply, slowly, with great longing, and as she bit his lower lip and sucked it into her mouth she felt him rise and press urgently against her.
She wasn't surprised to find herself pinned underneath him a few seconds later, and she shuddered when he returned the compliment – licking her neck and nibbling her earlobes. When the wetness moved downwards she sucked in a breath. He licked each nipple in turn while caressing her breasts with his fingers. Slowly his tongue travelled to her navel, and the knowledge of where he would go next had her aching her back and pushing herself into him. She thought she might actually scream her frustration out loud as his hands explored her thighs – but when they made their way under her buttocks and lifted them to allow him better access, her fingers bunched the sheets.
It was a testament to his skill, she decided hazily, that within moments of him starting his hungry assault heat built up and spreads outwards. She was vaguely aware that she was holding his head in a death grip, and that his strong hands were anchoring her in place - but none of that mattered to either of them as he teased and traced her edges.
"Jethro please .." she begged when she couldn't take it anymore.
The need in her voice only triggered his own, and as much as he'd planned to make her fall apart on her own first, the way she said his name quickly put an end to all of that.
He crawled agonisingly slowly up her body, placing gentle kisses along his way. Her breath hitched in her throat again when he reached her breast bone and she breathed his name out again. Even more pleadingly, if that was possible.
He kissed along her jaw, before covering her mouth with his. She lifted her hips and wrapped her long legs around him, and they groaned together when he sank into her. With her heat surrounding him, he caught her hand as it made its way to him; trapping it above her head, linking their fingers together. Her eyes grew wider and darker as they moved together in the stillness.
"Jenny .. Jenny" he murmured as he climaxed in her arms just a few seconds shy of her.
Gibbs lowered his head to the pillow for a long moment – the intimacy and the nearness keeping all other dark thoughts at bay. But it only lasted until she pulled his face towards her and he saw tears glistening in her eyes.
"Don't .." he said as he placed gentle kisses there.
He didn't feel ready to admit – to himself or to her – that she'd got so far under his skin that he was going to have a hard time being away from her.
As she succumbed to the tug of sleep she was aware of his arms wrapped around her. The thought of disengaging herself never even crossed her mind.
Jen awoke a few hours later and immediately became aware that he was no longer in bed. A look around the room revealed that he was standing at her bedroom window looking out onto the street. She slipped out of bed and padded over to him. She wrapped her arms around his waist and was gratified when he raised his arm and pulled her into his side.
They stood there in silence for a while.
"Any idea when you're coming back?" he asked.
He was careful to keep his voice neutral, but the look in her eyes told him she could see right through him. Could see that she'd breached his defences.
"Missing me already?" she replied – her attempt at humour eliciting a small smile from him.
He turned to face her, tracing the contours of her face with his fingertips with a tenderness he didn't believe himself capable of of any longer. He lowered his mouth to hers as she drew him to her, and allowed her to lead him back to bed.
As they held each other in the darkness she kissed him again and then placed her head on his chest – finding solace in the steady heartbeat.
"I'll be home as soon as I can."
Wanted to give a call out to Morgan and Verity at the end of this fic. Thanks to both of you for lending an ear and a hand where necessary.
Now .. I know this is going to come as a shock to many ... but my next story is going to be babyfic. ME Wofford believes that the reason for this is that I am broody – which may well be the case. But ... ahem ... be that as it may, the next story will be about Gibbs and a baby. There will be a bit of angst – because a newborn can hardly just drop into his lap - but I think the awww moments will more than make up for that.
Thanks to all the people that followed this. I love all the PMs and the emails and the general sense or camaraderie. It makes me happy that I decided to take up writing again.