Thanks to aserene for beta-reading!

Leroy Jethro Gibbs was not happy with his job at the moment. He hadn't exactly been happy with it since Mike Franks retired a few months ago, but today it was particularly unsatisfactory.

Not only was he soaked from head to toe, he was filling out an incident report by hand. The computers had had some sort of technical melt down, forcing everyone to do their paperwork by hand until the mechanical guy came to fix them, and he had a lengthy explanation ahead of him.

The incompetent idiot they had working with him for the past few days had somehow managed to accidentally fire his SIG at a dog belonging to one of their witnesses, inducing the somewhat jumpy old woman to attack him, and in the process the body Ducky had been checking over had been contaminated.

Then he'd blown a tire driving back to headquarters, hence the being soaked. He'd had to change it in the rain because the incompetent idiot did not know how to change tires.

Gibbs glared at the fidgety young agent as he walked into the bullpen, toweling his hair, looking very nervous. He stood there, gaping like a fish, and Gibbs physically restrained himself from introducing the other agent to Marine Corp discipline.

"You got something to say, Langer?" he growled, glaring at the other man.

Agent Langer shook his head, his Adam's apple moving as he swallowed edgily. He took a report from under his arm and held it out, saying bravely:

"Incident report, Gibbs—I, er…sir."

"Do not call me 'sir'." Gibbs responded.

Agent Langer continued to hold out the folder until he realized Gibbs was not going to take it.

He set it down carefully at the top of Gibbs' desk and stepped back a little, holding the towel in his hands and looking like he had something else to say. Gibbs ignored him, and went back to his own report. After a few seconds, he realized Langer was going to stand there until he worked up the courage to try and apologize.

"Go home, Langer," Gibbs ordered without looking up, saving him the trouble.

"The case—"


Langer hesitated, and then went to the desk he was using temporarily—until Gibbs was assigned his new partner—picked up his things, and left without a word, probably beating himself up.

Gibbs sighed and dropped his pen, rubbing his temples with his thumb and forefinger. He was used to efficiency and results. He hadn't counted on being alternately stuck with idiots and arrogant smart-asses. Morrow insisted on pairing him with different agents fresh out of FLET-C, some greener than others.

He ended collaborating with Chris Pacci and his probie; they could between them at least get a decent job done on a case.

He momentarily wished he'd thrown in his badge and joined Franks, wherever the hell he was.

But Jethro Gibbs wasn't a quitter. And Mike Franks hadn't retired, no matter how much he growled and insisted he had.


He turned around at the sound of his name and faced the raised eyebrow of Pacci as the other agent leaned over the bullpen, holding out a cup of steaming coffee.

"Your agent shot someone's dog?"

Gibbs scowled as he accepted the coffee with a thankful nod, leaning back in his chair. He took a draught of it and closed his eyes, enjoying the bitter brew as it burned his throat.

Pacci whistled and gave a lopsided smile, jerking his thumb over his shoulder, where his probie was bent over a report, deep in concentration.

"Interrogated his first today," he announced.

Gibbs raised an eyebrow.

"Who cried first?" he asked. Pacci snorted.

"Well, suspect was a woman. He tried to be chivalrous,"

"How'd that work for him?" Gibbs asked, familiar with the caliber of women their suspects usually where.

"I think his ears are still red from the language that lady used."

They shared knowing looks and Pacci shook his head, looking out the window at the darkening sky.

"You gonna go dry off, Gibbs?" he asked, looking over Gibbs' damp jacket.

"I'd have to go home," he responded, holding out the coffee cup in a sort of toast and turning away from Pacci's knowing look. As he picked up his pen again, his phone buzzed loudly next to him, and continued to do so. Checking the caller ID screen, his mood darkened considerably more.

"Speak of the devil," he muttered, reading her name. He held the phone in his hand a moment, considering his options, then opened his desk drawer and chucked it inside.

He wasn't in the mood to deal with Diane; he'd just say something to make her either cry or throw something at him when (if) he went home.

He ignored the desk drawer when it started to buzz again. He could answer and get an earful, or suffer the constant buzzing. Too bad he'd forgotten how to turn the damn thing on silent.

He continued with the ridiculous report Langer had gotten him into, trying to draw it out so he wouldn't have to make the decision to either go home or mope around headquarters… or maybe harass Ducky.

This time, it wasn't buzzing that interrupted the finalization of the report; it was the sharp ringing of his extension.

"Gibbs," he barked into the phone as he picked it up, a little rougher than he'd originally intended. After he picked up, he cursed mentally, hoping it wasn't Diane having given up the cell and rooted out his work number from somewhere at the house.

"Tough day, Agent Gibbs?"

"Not the best, Director," Gibbs replied, immediately retracting the hostility in his tone. Tom Morrow chuckled good-naturedly on the line, and Gibbs continued signing off on the report, remembering just why he got along with Morrow.

"Yes, I heard about your run in with Mrs. Stark," Morrow sounded a little more amused than the Director of a federal agency should be, since he was talking about a little old woman attacking one of his agents viciously because of an injured Cocker spaniel.

"Won't happen again," Gibbs said darkly.

"Need to see you in my office," Morrow said, slipping back into a business-like tone and pausing slightly, "Got someone you might be interested in meeting."

"Yes sir," Gibbs said, setting the phone back in its cradle. He added the last remaining required data to the report, slipped it in its folder, and stacked it with Langer's, tucking them under his arm and taking his coffee with him as he headed for Morrow's office.

The last person Morrow had said he'd be 'interested in meeting' had spilled his morning coffee, and two days later been transferred to the Norfolk field office. Gibbs approached Morrow's office distastefully; positive he was being assigned another temp for the next few weeks.

"Charlene," he greeted shortly to the Director's secretary. She smiled brightly and pointed at Morrow's half-open office door.

"Go right in, Agent Gibbs," she said.

He heard the rumble of Morrow's voice and feminine laughter as he entered.

"Jethro," Morrow said, coming around his desk as Gibbs entered and clapping him on the shoulder, a small smile on his face.

"Sir," Gibbs greeted, his eyes flicking over the Director's shoulder, half-shielding his view, to the chairs by the opposite wall.

"Someone I want you to meet," Morrow said, stepping back and gesturing to the chairs.

The source of the feminine laughter stood gracefully and stepped forward, meeting his eyes without batting an eyelash. Gibbs glanced at her and back at Morrow, waiting for an explanation.

"Your new partner. Permanent partner, Gibbs," he said sternly, nodding to the woman, "I think she can handle you."

Gibbs lifted one eyebrow slightly and turned back to the woman; this time he didn't give her such a dismissive glance.

She was looking at him with guarded eyes, as if she'd been warned, but there was no fear detectable. She wasn't tense, clearly got along with Morrow if her stance was this relaxed in his office. His eyes fell against his will to her legs; long, smooth, her feet encased in impressive heels. He gave her a once over, sizing her up, and settled his gaze on the crimson hair that hit her just below the shoulders.

She didn't flinch under his scrutiny.

She stepped forward, and he thought he caught her throw a quick, amused glance at Morrow before she extended her hand.

"Jenny Shepard," she said, her voice clear and sharp.

"Gibbs," he said, taking her hand after a moment.

Her grip was firm, and he was surprised. Not many women had confidence in a handshake, but the ones that did were the ones who could hold their own—and he had no doubt this Jenny could.

As he dropped her hand, he flexed his fingers absently, questioning Morrow's choice to attach him to a female partner. Female field agents were few and far between; Franks had absolutely scorned the entire idea, and while Gibbs wasn't quite as archaic as his boss had been, he wasn't sure he wanted to be saddled with training a woman in the field.

"She'll start tomorrow, officially," Morrow said, returning to his desk and sliding his glasses on.

He held out his hand for the files Gibbs had and Gibbs handed them over, turning his back to Jenny Shepard abruptly, still wrapping his head around the woman and the idea.

Morrow straightened up and folded his arms, looking from Gibbs to her.

"I think you to will work well together," he said. Gibbs swore the older man was having fun with this.

"Agent Shepard," he said, picking up a newly printed ID badge from his desk and holding it out gingerly, "your credentials. Welcome to NCIS," he said, as she took them.

"Director," she said, nodding warmly. She picked up a purse from beside the chair she'd been sitting in and turned back to them.

"Gibbs," she said, nodding as well.

"Report to Agent Gibbs tomorrow at oh-seven-hundred. He'll show you the ropes,"

"Goodnight, Sir," she said, slipping her badge into the purse at her shoulder. Gibbs turned slightly to watch her leave the room, taking in the brisk walk, straight shoulders—confidence in every movement.

He turned back to Morrow, who had returned to his seat and was leaning back, looking at him neutrally.

"Sir," Gibbs began, and stopped. He looked down at the files he'd just turned in, and thought back to the phone in his desk drawer, and the wife he was currently avoiding.

Jenny Shepard's firm handshake occurred to him and he sighed, half-heartedly glaring at the Director in the dim lights of the office. He turned and left without a word, determined not to show Morrow that he'd thrown him for a loop with this one.

He swore he heard Morrow laughing as the door clicked shut behind him.

He glanced over the emptying bullpen as he came down the stairs, catching a glimpse of Jenny Shepard at the elevator just as it opened and she stepped on. She turned around and met his eyes, leaning back against the wall of the elevator. The doors closed, and he shook his head.

Somehow, he doubted Morrow would stick him with a woman if she wasn't highly capable of doing this job; he knew better than that. At the same time, women were women, and Gibbs was wary of having to look out for one in the middle of a firefight.

Pacci came around the corner as Gibbs stopped at his desk, jerking open the desk drawer with the, surprisingly, silent phone inside.

"Morrow's gone off the deep end," he commented, as Gibbs slipped his SIG into its holster and flipped off the desk lamp.

Gibbs glared at him, waiting for him to elaborate. Pacci smirked slightly and sighed.

"Who in their right mind would stick you with some leggy red head?" he asked, laughing at the glare he received and calling it a night as he headed for the elevator himself.

Gibbs looked down at his phone as it buzzed again, the same ID running across the small screen.

He opened it, snapped it back shut, put it in his pocket, and steeled himself to deal with the storm he was going to face when he got home for hanging up on her.

Pacci held the elevator for him, and shook his head with a smirk, not saying a word. Gibbs stared straight ahead, half-dreading tomorrow. New agent meant another day lost to explaining procedure, touring headquarters, answering self-explanatory questions.

Then again, if some higher power decided to cut him some slack, Jenny Shepard could turn out to be different than the others.

Well, different in ways other than the fact that she was a leggy, red-headed female.

Well, it's a start.

This, I suppose, is my summer project.