Conflagration

by the stylus


A/N: A little, tiny thing for E, who made a pitiful face and puppy-dog eyes and asked for Jibbs smut. Probably not entirely serious, but entirely likely to change ratings. If it took place in a universe we knew, it would probably be in s3.

Disclaimer: All characters are the properties of their creators. The author makes no profit from this work.

Jenny toed off her shoes the minute she stepped through the door. That left her standing flat-footed in the soaked hose that seemed to have wicked muddy water halfway up her calves. She hung up her dripping coat and padded straight into the study, thinking only about bourbon and finally being warm. She ignored the slight squelching sound her stockings made on the hardwood floor.

There had been longer days in her life as a member NCIS. Harder days. Days in the field, waiting for hours in uncomfortable conditions; days she had killed, or nearly been killed; days in MTAC that became nights and then days again while she processed information and coordinated teams and waited, endlessly. But there had never, she would swear to it, been a day as enervating, as thoroughly aggravating and demeaning, as the one she had just finished—14 hours after she had started it. And if she ever had to go back in front of the House Budget Committee—and then to dinner and then to a reception with the House Budget Committee and its staff—she was absolutely going to refuse to do it unarmed.

She wasn't sure what the worst part had been. Objectively, it had probably been the first few hours of the hearing, when a few Republicans from the heartland had decided to attack her as a representative of wasteful government spending while a couple of northeastern Democrats had decided to look tough on national security by finding that NCIS's recent counter-terrorism successes were too few too late. In reality, she'd only half-listened while cursing the extended election season of modern politics. Much worse had come later, when she'd essentially had to prostrate herself in front of the blowhards to get the new machines Abby needed and the money to finally build some proper training facilities. But really, the nadir of the day had been the dinner and after, when those same politicians had unsubtly peered at her ring finger and, finding it bare, had felt free to treat her as proprietarily as they did their budget line-items. Not to mention the drenching a passing sedan had given her as she stepped into the car to come home. She shivered with the memory and absently peeled her clinging skirt away from her leg.

The cut-glass decanter made a satisfactorily solid sound against the lip of the glass as she poured herself a generous measure of bourbon. At least the rain made a nice backdrop for the evening she had planned of a warm bath and some intense self-pity.

She headed up the stairs, shucking off her clothes just inside the bedroom door and making a mental note to have Noemi take the suit to be cleaned tomorrow. Wrapped in a bathrobe and with the sound of the water filling the tub in the background, she could already feel some of the strain of the day easing.

So when the phone rang, she seriously considered ignoring it. Went so far as to put one foot in the tub before realizing, with a sigh, that she couldn't in good conscience not answer. They'd just call her cell next, anyway.

"Hello?"

"Jen?"

"Jethro. Unless you or NCIS headquarters are on fire, I don't want to hear about it tonight."

"Rough day on the Hill?"

"I'm serious. Are you actually being licked by flames?"

"I can think of things I'd rather be licked by."

"Jethro," she protested, but she was laughing now.

"I just called to tell you we wrapped up the Guzman case. Report's on your desk."

"Thanks. Anything else?"

"Nah." He paused. "You running a bath? That always helped you relax."

She smiled a little sadly at the memories. "Yeah."

"Good. Have some bourbon."

"Aye aye, sir."

"Kay. I'll let you go then. G'night, Jenny." If she didn't know better, she'd say he was reluctant to hang up. But she rejected the thought—he wasn't the sentimental sort and they didn't have that sort of relationship anymore.

"Night, Jethro." She put the phone back into its cradle gently and headed back into the steaming bathroom.


End 1