"You've been looking at me all week like you want to ask me something."
"Any health issues?"
"Are you sick?"
"My health is fine. Yours, however, could take a turn for the worse if you don't wrap up this investigation."
Jen sits in the dimly lit room that she calls her study, looking over a few completed case reports that, to be honest, were quite dull. She loves her job as director, and she worked hard to get to where she was, but on nights like this, she wishes that the job didn't come home as much as it did. With the numbered days that she had left, she wishes she could be doing things that she'd deprived herself of throughout her lifetime. There are plenty of things that she wants to do, but can't bring herself to do them because crossing things off that list meant that she had to accept that the end is coming.
He walks through the front door unannounced as usual and goes straight into her study, coming to a stop in the middle of the room.
"Thank you for sparing my door, Jethro," Jen says nonchalantly, not even bothering to look up from her papers.
"You're not fine," he throws back at her with a hint of aggression.
She removes her glittery red-rimmed glasses to look up at him. "Excuse me?" she asks with a raised eyebrow, wondering where he had the nerve to just burst into her own home and start insinuating things. Then again, she had to remember that it was Leroy Jethro Gibbs standing in front of her.
Gibbs starts to make his way toward her desk, "Earlier today, I asked you if you had any health issues and you said you were fine. You're not fine." His voice is confident and definitive, which causes her to fear that Ducky had let something slip. He reaches the front of her desk and places his palms flat on either side of the report she'd set down, leaning over so that they were eye to eye.
She lets out an exaggerated scoff before asserting, "There's nothing wrong with me, Jethro."
"When you lie, your right eye twitches. It always has," he says, lifting a finger up indicatively to her green eyes that sparkled against the harsh light of the lamp.
The faint traces of a smile that were on her lips fade away when she finally realizes that it is over. The cat was out of the proverbial bag, and he'd figured her out. There's no use trying to hide it from him any longer.
Staring into his eyes, Jen struggles to find the words, nearly backing out because it's just too hard to admit it to herself, let alone anyone else. He calls her name in the tenderest tone she'd heard from him in a while, and if she listened hard enough, a silent 'please' followed it. She breaks their eye contact and looks down into her lap before pushing herself up from her chair.
Walking over to the red mahogany cabinet display case she says, "I'm not well, Jethro." She takes the bottle of bourbon they'd shared dozens of times and pours two glasses.
"Wh—What is it that you have?" he asks reluctantly. Although he had already come to believe that she was ill, it was another thing entirely to see her admit it. With her shoulders slightly slumped and the way she moved, Jen looked so defeated.
"Does it really matter what I have?" she turns and walks back to Gibbs, handing him his glass. She takes a sip of the warm liquid and says, "I'm dying…a slow, agonizing death."
He shakes his head and presses his fingers of his free hand to her lips, "Don't say that." His eyes look pained as he stares down at her. He lets his fingers slip down and inquires further, "What are the doctors doing?"
"It's inoperable, incurable. All I can do is slow down the process with medication."
Gibbs throws back his glass of bourbon, letting it slip down his throat. He lets out a breath and puts the glass down onto her desk. He isn't a man of many words to begin with, but he couldn't think of a single one to say to her in this moment. She had just told him that she was dying and that there wasn't a single thing anyone could do about it. His former partner, his current boss, the woman he hadn't stopped missing since the night she let him go is living the final chapter of her life.
The silence starts to get to her and she tries to call out his name, but he cuts her off, fusing his lips with hers as his hands cups her cheeks. Jen is stunned by this sudden move, but it doesn't take her more than a moment to respond and kiss him back softly. Blindly, she sets her glass down next to his before wrapping her arms around his neck, parting her lips slightly to allow his tongue access to the cavern of her mouth.
What they are doing finally dawns on Jen and she gently pushes him away, "Jethro, we can't…We can't go down this road again."
"Why not? You can't tell me that you've never thought about what would have happened if you hadn't taken that job in Europe and came back with me."
Jen answers with the same reply she'd given him since the night she wrote it in her letter; "I did what I had to do."
"Then what is it that you have to do now?" Gibbs asks, his brows wrinkled as he stares at her wishing that she'd just concede to him and what he knew she really felt.
"Walk away," she takes a step back from him, creating distance between them.
"Why?" he raises his voice.
"Why? Why, Jethro?1 Because either way I have to leave you in the end," Jen yells back at him. "I can't do this knowing that it isn't going to last. I can't be with you when with each passing day I'm one day closer to dying and leaving you behind to grieve. I can't let myself hurt you that way."
By the end of her speech, her voice trails off and she's no longer yelling, just wishing that he would understand.
He stares at her and slightly shakes his head, "Have you ever thought that it might hurt me more to not be with you in these last days than to spend what time we have left together? I'm not about to let you face this alone, Jen, and I'm not letting you walk away this time."
A few tears trickle down her cheeks and Gibbs steps closer to her again to wipe them away with the back of his hand. "Jethro…" she calls softly before he leans in to kiss each of her cheeks, tasting the saltiness of her tears on his lips.
His strong arms wrap around her waist causing her to finally let herself be completely vulnerable in front of him and she cries softly into his shoulder. Jen clings onto him, letting herself go and allowing all of the emotions to crash over her. Gibbs was here consoling her and ready to walk hand in hand with her down this road as she approaches the end, and the biggest regret of her life—leaving him back in Paris—had the chance to be redone at last.
"I love you," Jen says quietly when the tears finally stop falling.
Smiling with his cheek against her forehead, he repeats the sentiment, "I love you too." He pulls away slightly and runs his fingers through her hair, pushing her head back so that he can capture her lips again. The kiss is much tenderer this time as he takes his time to suckle the soft tissue of her lips.
She lets out an audible sigh and presses her lips harder against his. Pulling him closer, her body rests flushed against his. They break the contact between their lips as he bends his head down to trail kisses across her jaw and down her neck.
"Upstairs?" she whispers breathily, and without any reluctance, he sweeps her off her feet and into his arms, kissing her lips once again.
Gibbs maneuvers them up the staircase and locates the master bedroom, depositing her gently on the bed. He relieves himself of his shirt before he climbs onto the bed to lie next to her. Looking down into her eyes, his hand comes to rest on her abdomen, caressing her body through the fabric of her clothing. His hand roams down to her hips as he leans in to press a fleeting kiss to her lips. He travels farther down her leg, going along the outside of her thigh until he reaches the end of her skirt and begins the ascent up her inner thigh, feeling the heat radiating from the convergence of her legs.
She lets out a small whimper and squirms slightly, causing a smirk to form on his lips. Sending him a quick glare, Jen leans up and takes his bottom lip between hers before grazing her teeth against it for a little bit of payback.
"Feeling feisty tonight?" Gibbs asks playfully, pulling back slightly to look down into her face.
Jen shrugs, "Let's just say I have a renewed outlook on life."
Grinning, he slides his hand further up her inner thigh and presses his fingers against her panties, feeling the dampness of her arousal. He begins to rub her in earnest, eliciting soft moans from her lips. All he can think is that she's absolutely beautiful.
Their clothing is peeled off one by one, strewn about on the floor as they toss each article over the edge of the bed. Their bodies join and move in harmonious synchrony, fingers laced, skin upon skin, lips fusing together. It feels better than any other time that they had been together intimately like this. Neither had ever let themselves succumb to the feelings that they'd admitted to tonight, and it allowed them to be strongly connected.
When it ends and they've both reached their euphoric climaxes, Jen curls up against his side and wraps her arm around his waist. Her head rests atop his chest and she can hear and feel the beating of his heart. She mulls over the fact that this, having told Gibbs and righting what happened all those years ago, was virtually crossing something off of the list of things she wanted to do before she died. Jennifer Shepard was finally accepting the fact that the end was coming, but now that she has Gibbs by her side, it was going to be a much more beautiful ending. She hadn't just crossed something off that list; she also erased her biggest regret in life, and that might just be her happy ending.