It had been one of those cases. One of the few that got to him so badly nothing could ease the anger and pain that he felt when he looked at the victims or the ones left behind. One of the cases that left his team reeling in the wake of anger that trailed after him. One of the cases where even Abby hid from him.
The wood beneath his hands was getting a beating, even the back and forth of the sanding block couldn't calm the raging storm of anger that rolled off him in waves. Anger for the poor Marine who had been forced to watch as his family was slaughtered in front of his eyes.
He shook his head, trying to clear images of his own slaughtered family members.
He threw the block across the room, closing his eyes at the satisfying tinkle of broken glass when it collided with one of the jars on the work bench. When working on the boat, his hands following the smooth lines, his eyes tracing the intricate patterns in the grain, when that couldn't even sooth him, he was in trouble.
"Jethro." Her quiet, gentle voice admonished from halfway down the stairs. He looked up almost guiltily, ashamed of his show of weakness.
"You wanna talk about it?" She asked, knowing what his answer would be but feeling that she had to ask anyway.
"No." He answered simply with a small shake of his head. His voice was low and husky, and the defeat colouring it and his body language had her walking down the remaining steps before she even realised what she was doing.
She ran a hand down his face, her fingers curling under his chin, the soft skin catching on his stubble. He flinched at the touch, stepping away and breaking eye contact. She sighed as he poured more bourbon in the mug sitting on the sideboard. And she knew he'd had more than his fair share, considering she had bought over the bottle two nights ago and they hadn't opened it, sitting on his back porch in companionable silence with coffee instead. It was now sitting on the side, over half of the bottle gone.
She looked at him, studied his body language that was screaming anger, confusion, and what worried her most of all, despair.
She placed a hand on his shoulder, ignoring the way his muscles stiffened under her hand. He didn't want comfort tonight, and if he did, he wasn't going to ask for it. He wanted to be left alone, but she was damned if she was going to break the habit of a lifetime and give Jethro what he wanted.
She forcibly spun him round, not giving him the chance to pull away before her hands were framing his face, her eyes searching his.
"You can't save everyone." She said gently. She readied herself for the attack that she knew was going erupt from him, whether verbal or from his eyes. She recognised the signs, knew that nothing short of loosing himself in her, or arguing until they were both blue in the face would calm the storm. Possibly both.
"Why not?" She would have sworn that he had spoken, but it was quiet, almost as if he was asking himself. He stepped away from her, throwing up the carefully constructed walls she was so familiar with.
"Because you're not infallible, Jethro. You're human."
"Jen..." The warning was left hanging in the air between them and Jen held her hands up.
"I know, you don't wanna talk about it." She tried to coax a smile out of him, and failed.
"I'm fine Jen." The defeat in his tone nearly broke her heart. The unsaid, leave me alone, she ignored.
"No, Jethro…you're not." She took a step towards him and curled her fingers into his t-shirt, tugging sharply until he had no choice but to move towards her. She stood on tiptoes and kissed him.
He stiffened, still trying to cling to the lie that he was fine and didn't need her to offer herself up to him. But she held fast, her fingers digging into his chest until he broke and pulled away, resting his forehead against hers.
He straightened up, staring at her with unreadable eyes until roughly pulling her towards him, his expression turning determined as desperate, savage need bled into his eyes, and he hitched her up on the side board, his mouth covering hers, his frustration pouring into the kiss that was almost brutal.
It had been like this with him, before, when the nightmares became too much, seeking to forget everything by burying himself in her, drawing strength from her silence, her arms and the feel of her surrounding him. She knew better than to push him away, push him for answers. She had seen him snapping at the team, the way his shoulders slumped slightly, the tired look on his face, the broken haunted look in his eyes which he tried so hard to mask. Jen was one of the few people who could see through it, however hard he tried to hide it, however much he protested that he was fine.
One hand was buried in her hair, the other curling around the back of her neck, his thumb dragging along her jaw, forcing her chin upwards. His mouth left hers and practically attacked her throat, feeling her swallow against his lips, his tongue flicking out to taste her skin.
He didn't seem to want to let her go, he clung onto her as she pushed herself off the sideboard and released him of his belt, pushing his pants down his legs. The feel of her hands against his skin drop kicked him into action and he pulled her skirt up and her panties down, planting her firmly back on the sideboard as he drove almost ruthlessly into her.
It was fast, furious, a release of emotions and she knew that it wasn't going to take long for him. She let him take the lead, knowing that he needed it. That's why she didn't mind when he dug his fingers into her hips, even though she knew there would be bruises. It was almost as if having her to hold on to was enough to get him through.
His breath was hot against her shoulder, his fingers still dug in, and she ran a hand down his spine. He arched under her touch and bite down on her shoulder, dragging a string of muttered curses from her lips. She loved him like this; as much as it pained her to see, but she loved the basic need he had for her, to loose himself in the sounds, smells, and feeling of sex with her. It was something he could cling to when the world was crashing down around him.
She wrapped her legs around him and drew him closer, her fingers digging into the hard muscles of his back that rippled every time he thrust with abandon into her. Wanting to make him feel.
She felt the pressure building up low in her stomach and shifted, wanting him to have all the fulfillment tonight. Her shifting had his hips faltering and his breath caught in his throat. His fingers dug in even harder.
"Jen..." This time her name was dragged out, questioning.
"Its ok, Jethro...let go." She breathed in his ear, holding him close as he shuddered against her. This time hadn't been about her, it had been about him, offering him the most basic form of comfort, one of the only forms that he would accept.
She held him for a long time, running a hand up and down his spine as he buried his head in her shoulder, and she knew he was afraid of lifting it up and showing her exactly what he was trying to hide in his expression.
When he did finally move, he didn't look at her as he rearranged his clothes, his body language shutting her out once again. She sighed and slipped off the side board, tugging at her skirt. She managed to get in between him and the sideboard again.
"Its ok, you know?" She stared up at him, trying to catch his eyes.
He gave up the struggle and stared back at her, his eyes held a little less pain than they had before and Jen felt a little bit more at ease.
She turned and picked up the mug of bourbon, extracting herself from the heat of his body and the sideboard digging into her back and walked over to the boat. She leant back against it and slid down, settling herself on the floor, tipping her head back and swallowing a mouthful of the burning amber liquid.
He looked at her, an eyebrow raised. They danced the same steps every time this happened. She came and wrapped herself around him. He could count on her being there, he knew she was going to come when he stalked out of the bullpen, feeling her eyes on him from the catwalk.
She patted the space in between her legs and he sighed. She hooked a finger at him with an easy smile. He sighed again and sat down, letting her wrap her arms around him. She placed a kiss on his neck and his head dropped back against his shoulder.
She ran a hand through his hair, the other splayed across his stomach, pressing kisses to his shoulder, just silently reminding him that she was there until she heard his breathing slow.
"Remember when I had to come and rescue you, and I commandeered that boat?" She asked, her voice quiet against his ear. She felt him nod.
She continued to regale him with the story that he knew almost by heart. The way she told it, weaving it in the air in front of him, her soothing voice lulling him to sleep as he leant back against her. Her soft voice chasing away, or at least hiding for the time being, the demons that haunted his life.
She felt his breathing even out as sleep pulled him under, her hand still in his hair. She pressed a kiss to him temple and leant her head back against the boat. She tightened her grip on him as he shifted against her. She knew she was going to wake in a few hours with cramp, and cold seeping into her bones from the cold floor, but his reassuring weight was as comforting to her as her hands were to him. She knew this time had been particularly hard, for some reason, and the next time would be worse, but she was always going to find him, bring him back to her, because as strong as he was, someone needed to catch him every now and then.
Thank you M E Wofford for checking this through (I have stubbornly kept my English spelling though!).