As soon as the Gulfstream landed, DiNozzo sent a text to Lizzie and Katie to inform them of their arrival on the tarmac. A surprise party had been planned for Jenny's return to D.C., and the team was impatiently waiting. Abby squealed and jumped up and down as she read the text over Katie's shoulder.
"She's almost here," the forensics mastermind wailed with delight. She'd missed Director Shepard. NCIS was not the same without her.
"And Grandma's with them," Katie glanced to her sister.
"Maybe it won't be so bad," Lizzie tried optimistically. The sisters left to put the finishing touches on the party.
In the back of the Lincoln TownCar, Jethro watched his wife remove a small mirror and her black make-up bag from her purse. He silently admired her. She removed the compact and made a few touch ups to her foundation. He would never put into words how much he had missed having her by his side. His blue eyes watched as she twisted open the Chanel lipstick tube and expertly applied his favorite color. He didn't know the name of the color, but he knew it enhanced the natural rose hue of her lips. He observed the lipstick glide over her lips. Her pinky lightly wiped at the corner of her mouth then she did that adorable smile like she always did before she closed the mirror. Within moments, Jethro leaned over and grabbed her fiercely, pulling her into a deep, slow kiss.
She pulled away, breathlessly. "Jethro," she murmured. "What got into you?"
"That damned lipstick," he returned, locking his lips with hers a second time. She melted and moaned softly into his mouth. Her arms went around his neck, and he swiftly took advantage of being in the backseat of a car until Jenny remembered where they were. She placed her palms on her husband's strong chest and nipped at his bottom lip.
"Jethro," she said urgently as he was kissing his way down her cleavage. Her breath hitched when she felt his tongue circling delicately on her exposed skin.
"Never could pace yourself," he mumbled.
She rolled her eyes and gently swatted the back of his head. He glanced up at her face, annoyance plainly visible on his. "What?"
"Look around," she told him slowly.
He listened to her, turning his head right and left. They were stopped at a traffic light, but the windows were darkly tinted. "I don't care."
"Well, I do," Jenny returned, sitting up and sliding herself out from under her husband.
He groaned. "Jen, you're killing me."
"You started it."
"No, ma'am. If you hadn't pulled out that damn lipstick, I'd been fine." All he wanted to do was carry her across the threshold and dash upstairs to ravage her in the bedroom, but no…a surprise party was waiting for them.
"Poor baby," she cooed. "A little lipstick got him all worked up." She leaned over, kissing the lobe of his ear causing him to shiver. "I'll put the lipstick on before bed, Jethro."
"Just the lipstick?"
She playfully smirked, green eyes flashing mischievously. "Whatever you want, Jethro."
A satisfied smile graced his features, and he moved back into the leather seat. A promise of her in nothing but lipstick would hold him over. She buttoned her dress shirt and adjusted the cardigan, smirking at him and taking a hold of his hand.
Soon, the car stopped in front of the house. Inside, Katie and Lizzie whispered to everyone to take to their hiding places. Katie opened the door before her parents could open it. "Welcome home," she shouted to her mother.
Her mother smiled widely at her oldest daughter. Before she could greet her, Cooper bounded out of the house and ran to his mistress, barking and jumping excitedly. Jenny knelt down and greeted her four-legged best friend. The German Shepherd followed her into the house. She hugged her daughters and kissed them. "I'm so glad to be home. Where is everyone?"
"Oh, they decided you needed to rest, and they'd see you Monday at the office," Katie answered.
Jenny nodded her head, not believing it. "Uh huh."
Ziva, McGee, and Abby slowly appeared from their hiding places. Abby was the first to launch herself at Director Shepard with a tight squeeze of a hug. Jenny returned the hug just as tightly. From the doorstep, Helen watched the team greet her daughter. She smiled proudly, and Ducky touched her shoulder.
Everyone gathered into the dining room for dinner and drinks. No one asked about what happened at the diner months ago. They simply enjoyed each other's company. In hours, Jenny had learned everything that she had missed during her absence at headquarters. The party moved into the den. Jenny, Gibbs, and Ducky told stories from the France days. McGee finally learned of how Director Shepard had commandeered a boat.
"I still can't believe you stole a boat, Director." McGee said to her.
Jenny laughed and sipped from her bourbon filled tumbler. "Commandeered. You're in my home, so Jenny, please." She smiled and felt her husband's arm come around her.
"Timothy, as I told you before, she wasn't Director of NCIS at the time," Ducky said, exasperated.
Jethro laughed, remembering the debacle. He also knew McGee wouldn't call Jen anything but Director Shepard, Director, or ma'am. He leaned in, kissing the side of Jen's head and lingered. "Remember that stakeout in Marseilles? August. Stuck in that attic with no air. Photographing everyone who boarded that Lebanese trawler. That second night…"
She blushed at the images flashing back into her mind and clamped her hand over her husband's mouth. "Okay. Shut up," she whispered.
Katie nudged her sister and tilted her head over to her parents. Lizzie smiled as she looked over. She'd missed the dynamic duo. Tony glanced at his Rolex. "Liz, it's almost 11."
"We need to go. Graduation tomorrow," she said, looking at her sister.
"I guess so," Katie answered.
The group started to disband, saying goodbyes and figuring out car arrangements. McGee offered to drop Helen off at her hotel and take Ducky home.
"Hey Ziva, you mind dropping me off?" Katie asked the Israeli.
"Of course, I do not mind."
Tony took Lizzie's keys from her and waited for her to say her goodbyes to her parents. McGee came to stand next to him. "You two are good together."
"Thanks, McGee," Tony answered, smiling at his future wife. "Hey Tim?"
"Wanna be my best man when the day comes?"
McGee nodded his head, smiling. "I'll be your best man."
"Alright. See you tomorrow, McGeek." DiNozzo was proud of his choice. He could have asked one of his fraternity brothers, but he decided on Timothy McGee. Yes, the friendship was dysfunctional between the two, but McGee had his back more than his fraternity brothers ever had.
"That was sweet," Lizzie spoke as she snuck up behind Tony.
"Have you chosen your maid of honor?" he asked.
Katie heard him and smacked him sharply on the back of his head. "Me, idiot," she answered, pushing by him to go down the steps.
DiNozzo rubbed the back of his head and glared at the female. He heard Gibbs' laughter from the foyer. "Boss!"
"It was a dumb question, Tony," Gibbs told him.
"You deserved it," Ziva chimed in as she pushed by him also.
He looked at Lizzie, and she agreed. "I take it back. It was a dumb thing to ask." He turned and waved to Jenny and Jethro before leaving.
Gibbs watched everyone leave and closed the door. He noticed his wife had disappeared from the foyer. He made sure every door was secure and set the code for the alarm before jogging up the stairs. Cooper followed him, and he gently grabbed a hold of the animal's collar.
"No, no, Coop…you're sitting this one out." He snapped his fingers, directing the dog downstairs. The obedient German Shepherd headed down the stairs and to the den. He flopped onto his dog bed and whimpered while Jethro waltzed into the master bedroom. In the doorway, he stood with an ear-to-ear grin as Jenny greeted him, wearing nothing but a pair of heels and the Chanel lipstick.
She crooked her finger at him, motioning him to come to her. He closed the door and slowly walked to her, drinking in the sight of her. The world could end tomorrow, but he wouldn't care considering the night he was about to have. She gazed at her husband as he came towards her. Tonight, she would push the last months away and all the thoughts of how she could have never been with him in their home again; she hoped he could do the same. When Jethro firmly took her by the hips and pushed her back onto the bed, Jenny knew he had.
The next day was filled with graduation activities and finally the ceremony. The Gibbs family was officially exhausted by the end of the day.
My face hurts," Katharine mumbled, rubbing her cheeks.
"From what?" Jenny questioned.
Her mother shook her head with a laugh and eased her arm around her daughter's waist as they walked along side each other. "I'm proud of you."
"I mean it."
Katie smiled at her. "I know you do," she replied. She'd majored in government at the college and graduated with honors, obtaining a Bachelor of Arts in Government. The oldest Gibbs wasn't artsy like her sister. With her two minors in Arabic and French, Jenny had an idea of her daughter's career path, but it could change tomorrow. During the summer, Katie was going to take a much-deserved academic break and travel Europe.
Jethro watched his wife and daughter. He couldn't believe he had one daughter attending Georgetown Law and another attending the Maryland Institute College of Art in the fall. Where did the time go? Just yesterday, he was holding them for the first time. He sighed and caught up with Jenny and Katie.
"Proud of you, kiddo," he whispered. He still wasn't sure how he felt about one of his daughters becoming a lawyer, but he was damn proud.
"Thanks, daddy," Katie answered with a smile. "Aren't you glad grandma has better things to do than torture you?"
Jethro laughed and looked ahead to his mother-in-law. She was busy talking to Elizabeth and Tony about the future wedding plans. He smirked when he heard his little girl inform Helen that it would be a long engagement. He passed a knowing look to Jenny, and she went to rescue her daughter. Jenny skillfully changed the topic of conversation to what restaurant the group would be dining at later on.
"I'll need a large drink if she keeps going," Lizzie whispered to her mother.
"Me too, honey," Jenny replied. Still, she was looking forward to the rest of the evening.
"I heard that," Helen announced.
"Good," mother and daughter chimed in unison. Helen glared at Tony when he chuckled.
The rest of the evening was tame. Jenny was chomping at the bit to get back into the office, but Sunday passed slowly. She called Cynthia and found out what her first Monday would be like. Cynthia had filtered and shifted her schedule around, so it would be a light day. It didn't please Jenny, but it did please Jethro. He didn't want her to take on too much too soon.
The alarms started buzzing at 0400, and the morning routine hadn't change. Gibbs was the first out of bed, and he sleepily toddled downstairs to make coffee. He brought Jenny her cup while she was starting the shower.
"Thanks," she told him, draining half the cup before stepping into the shower. She smirked when the shower door opened moments later. Jethro kissed her shoulder and mumbled something about not making him smell girly. "Beggars can't be choosers," she retorted, letting her hands roam his body. Gibbs loved a dirty shower. After shower time, Jethro left her to get ready. Her process was much more complicated than his. She listened to him fumble around in his closet while she chose her outfit for the day.
"Gonna take Coop out for a walk," Gibbs informed her.
"He's in here," Jenny told him. The dog was lying in the middle of her closet, watching her every move. Jethro whistled to the dog, and the pair left.
By the time the two returned, Jenny had made an outfit choice, put on her face, and was putting the final touches on a simple up do. The couple shared a quick breakfast and left for NCIS headquarters separately. She received good luck text messages from her daughters and smiled. It felt good to clear security and be in the elevator on the way to her office. However, she wasn't thrilled as she thought about how many toothpicks might be cluttering her space.
Cynthia greeted her in the outer office, and Jenny opened the door of her office. Vance was inside, packing up his belongings. He had a flight back to San Diego in a few hours.
"Leon, I hope you're not rushing out on my account."
"Morning, Jenny," Leon greeted and moved from behind the desk.
She put her bag on her desk and started getting settled in for the day. "It was never my intention to burden you with this responsibility."
"Oh, I don't mind," he lied to her. He had not agreed with her actions at the diner even though he understood. "My wife, however, is not so forgiving," Leon continued. His wife, Jackie, hadn't enjoyed his absence from their home.
Jenny was about to sit down when she noticed a toothpick and wrapper on her desk. Who left chewed toothpicks lying around? It was gross. She associated it with leaving dirty underwear around. She pointed to it accusingly. "This yours, Leon?"
He glanced to the toothpick and looked to Jenny. "Keep it," he told her sarcastically. The Assistant Director of NCIS smirked when she flicked the toothpick and wrapper off the desk. "Time to head back to San Diego."
"Have a safe flight," she told him as Jethro entered the office.
Gibbs stood by the door and watched Leon. "Nice working with you, Leon," Gibbs said.
Vance nodded. "Always, Gibbs."
Both men smirked at each other, and Leon Vance left.
Jenny shook her head and sat down in her desk chair. She took out the framed photo of her father and placed it on the desk. Jethro came to stand in front of her desk.
"Fairytale ending," he said.
"The jesters have been kicked out of the kingdom."
"The queen is back on her throne."
Jenny smiled at him. She was back in her rightful place as Director of NCIS.