A/N - well, yes, it is another Jibbs AU. I had the idea ages ago - then it got shelved and after JD when I didn't feel like writing I forgot about it. Then, when someone (i.e. Ellie), reprised Jezebel it got me thinking and some of the original story fitted with another AU idea I had - and this is the result. I hope you enjoy it.
One Good Turn
"Bloody woman!" Gibbs turned away from the hull of the boat for long enough to establish that Fornell was muttering into his drink and not talking to him. His arrival an hour or so ago had been unexpected; though the alcohol he'd brought had ensured that Gibbs wouldn't turn him away. A couple of glasses had certainly taken the sting out of having his Sunday afternoon interrupted.
They hadn't talked much; while Gibbs had carried on working on the boat, Fornell brooded. He'd said enough to establish that the woman in question was, for once, not Diane – but instead Fornell's new boss.
Gibbs knew better than to comment. He gathered that while Tobias had been moonlighting with Homeland Security there had been some sort of re-organisation and now, back at the FBI, he was working for someone else – and it wasn't exactly a picnic.
"Thinks she knows it all, just because she brought down some big time weapon dealer. The suits only promoted her because she looks good on ZNN."
Gibbs wasn't much of a fan of the politics that seemed to go with the job and was relieved not to have much to do with it. But he knew it wasn't out of the question that Tobias was right. Despite having women on his team over the years, not to mention his three divorces, he knew that at heart he was something of a chauvinist – and that Tobias was cut from the same cloth. He was only glad that it was Fornell with the female boss – not him.
"And now she's imagining things, seeing patterns." His snort of derision was cut off when he reached for the bottle, missing it the first time.
"How's Emily?" Gibbs asked; hoping the change of subject might help.
"Diane's going away for a couple of weeks – so Em's going to be staying with me. The evil Queen will probably have me working all hours so I can't spend any time with her."
Gibbs reached over and moved the bottle out of reach.
"How about one weekend we go horse-riding?" He offered, remembering a promise Emily had extracted from him some months ago. He ignored the painful reminders of another girl's childhood and decided that it wouldn't hurt for them both to sober up some. "Let's get some coffee."
She wasn't listening – really.
Jenny Shepard was concentrating on the papers she'd brought with her – because they needed to be finished before she went back to her office on Monday morning and pouring over paperwork wasn't how she wanted to spend her Sunday evening. Though with nothing better on offer she realised it was all too likely that was what she would end up doing.
But she could pretend that there was more to her life than this, pretend that she hadn't had to escape to the little coffee shop in order to have some human contact. Even if that contact consisted of the teenage waitress, the disapproving presence lurking by the door and a group of twenty-somethings whose conversation she was trying hard not to eavesdrop on.
She'd noticed them arrive; largely because one of them was driving a Porsche and the car deserved a second look and a little envy. She was surprised when the driver turned out to be less flashy than his car seemed to indicate. He looked sweet and a little geeky and she'd mentally catalogued him as some kind of IT whizz-kid; a successful one if the car was anything to go by.
When she'd heard one of the others refer to him as a 'Fed' she was so affronted by the thought that her judgement might be wrong, that she'd had her 'shadow' check out who the Porsche was actually registered to.
Maybe she was getting rusty. In the field the constant danger had been enough to keep her skills sharp. But these days she was stuck in meetings or over-seeing cases for days on end. It was a sobering thought – one she didn't need when she was already feeling her age.
When the news came back that that Porsche was indeed registered to a Federal Agent, one Timothy McGee who was part of a frontline investigative team at NCIS, she was decidedly grumpy.
But now that she knew he was in the business she watched him a little more carefully. Recognised that he had chosen a seat that gave him an excellent vantage point and that he used it to his advantage – his eyes sweeping over anyone arriving or leaving. The casual awareness of his surroundings and what was going on in them was familiar, someone had clearly trained him well.
She didn't know much about NCIS – though she thought some of her colleagues had collaborated on a couple of cases with their agents. In fact she remembered something about Fornell being the one with a contact there. She wrinkled her nose – she really didn't want to think about that particular thorn in her side right now.
She should have gone back to her paperwork – but instead her gaze drifted back to Agent McGee. The people he was with definitely weren't Feds and she didn't think they were close friends, at least not anymore. There was too much catching up for this to be a group in regular contact. And there was far too much posturing going on. College friends who had lost touch she decided, relieved when one of them mentioned MIT. Maybe she wasn't losing her touch after all.
She was a little amused to see the two women present flirting with one of the other men. They were clearly very impressed with his bad boy attitude – even if she thought it was contrived. One day they were going to realise that the sweet, intelligent guys were the ones to hold onto. But who was she to criticise them – it was a lesson she'd learnt far too late. Which explained why she was sitting in a café on a Sunday afternoon, with no one waiting at home for her.
Her curiosity satisfied she turned her attention back to her papers – reminding herself sternly that the change of scene had been supposed to help her to concentrate, to make her feel a little better about spending all of Sunday working. And then she heard the teasing.
He took it in good spirits, but as the only person in the immediate vicinity with any idea how dangerous his job was it was frankly as annoying as hell to have a group of people make fun of the career choice they shared.
But it was none of her business. If he didn't mind the subtle digs, the teasing and the outright comparisons of salaries, why should she?
She didn't get really annoyed until they started recounting tales of his disastrous dating history. Or at least until he made two or three valiant attempts to change the subject, which they ignored. Clearly they were used to his not being a great success with women – she suspected they had told these stories about him before.
Her lips twitched at the thought that once upon a time she would have waltzed over there, come up with a pretext to talk to them, got herself invited to join them and generally disrupted things. It was a manoeuvre she had executed dozens of times when undercover – rarely without success.
But she couldn't. She was the Assistant Director of the FBI, her role demanded a certain gravitas and she had to behave accordingly. Even if she was just a little fed up with having to be responsible and serious all the time.
But this wasn't an undercover operation and just for a moment she was unsure of her ability to pull it off without embarrassing herself. She was feeling her age more and more these days – boosts to her ego being few and far between.
She flicked a glance in their direction and found that Agent McGee was looking over at her. She had thought she was pretty much out of his line of sight, tucked away in a corner, but apparently not. Almost unwillingly her lips quirked up into a small smile, one that he returned, adding in a slight eye roll as he glanced back at his companions. He seemed nice.
She sent a sympathetic look his way, before becoming once again aware of the dark shadow watching her from the doorway. She absolutely couldn't do what she was thinking about doing under the eye of her security detail. She really didn't want anyone to hear about this.
A burst of laughter from across the room was the final straw. Decision made, she pulled her hair out of its clip, shaking it out over her shoulders and checked her makeup in the hand mirror from her purse. She gathered up her papers and getting to her feet she slipped towards the doorway, pressing them into Melvin's hands.
"This would be a good time for you to disappear," she told him firmly.
Since she was already by the door it was easy to make it look as though she had just arrived. As she strode purposefully over towards their table she hoped Agent McGee had the wit and the training to follow her lead.
For a moment she wondered just what she thought she was doing – she was far too old for this. But, she rationalised the fear by telling herself that in some way she was defending the honour of a sister agency. And, after all – she'd once been very good undercover.
"There you are!" The group at the table looked up at her entrance and McGee jumped to his feet; startled that a woman he'd made a brief moment of eye contact with was now acting as though she knew him.
"Darling, I'm so sorry I'm late." His eyes went wide for a moment and she could tell that he thought she was crazy. But she stared him down and her glare was effective enough to let her get close to him. "FBI," she said as she pressed a gentle kiss to his cheek. "Play along Agent McGee and we'll get away with this."