A/N: As always, thanks to aserene. Here's the next installment; I hope we get off to a good start.
*Note: I am an American. I know roughly the time difference between London and D.C. simply because I have a friend in Liverpool at the moment. I do research and try my best to get facts right and cultural differences right, but feel free to let me know if something's off.
Special Agent Jennifer Shepard was watching her boss as he reached up to put her bag in the overhead compartment above their seats. Most would find the sight uninteresting; Jenny Shepard begged to differ. She happened to enjoy running her eyes over one Leroy Jethro Gibbs' abdomen and chest as he stretched, even if he was wearing clothes.
"What the hell is in this thing?" his demanding growl broke into her thoughts and she blushed slightly.
"Stuff," she responded mysteriously, as he slammed the compartment shut and gave her a look that clearly informed her he thought she was just another crazy woman who had too much stuff.
"You're the one who offered to help with my bags!"
"This is what I get for being a gentleman,"
"HA!" Jenny snorted, raising both eyebrows at him.
He smirked at her, dropping into his seat and slouching down slightly, which was kind of surprisining, actually. Gibbs had incredible posture, probably from all those years of standing at attention.
"I let you have the window seat," he pointed out, sounding defensive.
"Only because I hit you," she answered smugly.
He glared. Having been faced with this glare for six months now, she no longer found it even slightly disconcerting. She gave him an indulgent look, like she would an unruly child. She then pretended to lose interest in him completely and looked out the window, watching other civilians slowly board the plane and baggage be tracked to the cargo areas.
"Jethro," she said seriously, turning to him, "I left my book in my carry-on. Can you get it?"
He stared at her, his blue eyes narrowing darkly.
"I'm kidding," she soothed.
He rolled his eyes at her and turned his attention elsewhere, presumably to give everyone else on the plane a good 'I'm-scary-don't-mess-with-me' stare or something macho like that. Jenny laughed inwardly at the thought.
They were on a flight to London from Dulles International. It had barely been a week since Director Morrow had given them this assignment, and Jenny was still reeling from the fact that she'd been given this opportunity with her relatively little time at NCIS.
She was thrilled, yes; but the stress that came with it all had her a little on edge. Special Ops assignments like this provided many more ways to screw up but that was the least of her worries, in all honesty. The biggest issue was sitting right next to her.
Jenny glanced at Jethro casually, watching him watch everyone else. He was causing her all kinds of stress and internal struggle without even batting an eye.
He was just so damn sexy.
Jenny blinked, startled by his question.
"What?" she asked in response to him. He gave her a funny look.
"Quit giving me that look," he ordered. She vaguely wondered what look had been on her face when he caught her staring, and decided she probably didn't want to know. From the tone of his voice, thought, she guessed it must have been annoyed or accusatory. That was a good thing.
"What are we going to do for seven hours?" she asked, leaning back in her chair and rolling her head towards him on the headrest.
"Sleep," Gibbs answered promptly.
"No!" Jenny protested, shaking her head and straightening to look at him. "You can't go to sleep you old man, I'll be bored out of my mind!"
"Not my problem," he answered unsympathetically.
Jenny glared at him. There was no way she was going to let him sleep peacefully while she sat restless and was slowly driven crazy by everyone else on the plane.
"I will sit in your lap the entire flight and keep you awake," she threatened bluntly.
He raised an eyebrow.
"Is that supposed to be a threat?" he queried sarcastically.
Jenny was impressed he played along. He usually just glared menacingly or muttered incoherently.
"Do you think I'm bluffing, Boss?" she asked lightly, tilting her head at him in amusement.
"I never know with you, Shepard," he muttered in response.
She gave him a calculating look, seriously considering getting in his lap just to freak him out. She could tell he didn't think she'd actually do it, and she didn't like being blown off.
While she was thinking about the potential benefits for her of throwing herself in his lap, the stewardess came over the intercom and started babbling about safety. The next thing she knew Gibbs had leaned across her and was pulling something across her lap, causing her to jump a mile, her eyes wide at the contact.
He looked up at her in surprise and she heard a click. Looking down to his hand, she figured out that it was her seatbelt he'd pulled across her lap and not just his hand.
"If you do that again, I'll make you eat your hand," she threatened darkly, her breath catching in her throat.
He pulled the offending hand back with a smirk and rested it on his knee, unfazed by the decidedly menacing look she fixed him with. The plane shuddered as its engines flew to life and the pilot came on, giving weather conditions and estimated arrival time.
At approximately seven London time they'd land, where they would stay for two nights before traveling to Marseille, France to relieve Decker and his new partner, both of whom had gone a few days before Jenny and Gibbs. Their assignment files were secured at the London outpost, their quarters in the city taken care of.
The plane took off with Jenny still running over the orders and strict guidelines for their operations in her mind, among other things, managing to stress herself out all over again. These days if she wasn't analyzing every way she could possibly screw up, she was picturing Gibbs naked.
That in and of itself posed a potential problem.
Jenny turned to Gibbs' slightly, questions on her lips even though she knew they would just annoy him. It took her a minute to realize his face was turned away because he'd actually been serious about the sleeping.
They'd barely been in the air five minutes.
Annoyed, not to mention jealous that he could sleep on a plane when they made her a little uneasy, she leaned over until she was right in his face and blew in his ear.
His shoulders twitched and he opened his eyes, scowling at her. She leaned back smugly and raised her eyebrow, making it clear she really had no intention of letting him sleep. Jethro straightened back up and ran a hand over his face, groaning in annoyance.
"Don't make me get in your lap," she warned playfully.
He glared simply out of habit.
"What if I get in yours?" he asked immaturely.
Jenny gave him an amused look, pretending to look thoughtful.
"I've never really done it that way before…" she mused innocently.
He widened his blue eyes a bit at her little insinuation and then tried not to think about it too much.
She leaned across him swiftly and pushed the button on his seatbelt, brushing her hand over his leg as she pulled back and snapped the belt into its original place. Swallowing hard, he bristled, fixing her with a glare.
"What the hell?" he asked bluntly.
"Payback," she answered smugly, turning and facing forward with a wicked smile.
He felt curiously triumphant that she fell asleep five hours into the flight. Not to mention a little relieved. When she was awake he was constantly watching his back, trying to anticipate what stunt she was going to pull next. She'd already threatened him with her gun when he refused to get her some crackers—meaning she actually inconspicuously pressed the barrel into his side.
He'd never admit it but he liked to watch her sleep. Then he could admire her uninterrupted or harassed by her sharp, knowing eyes. Considering she was currently using his shoulder as a pillow, her hair all over his neck and chest, he was more than happy she was asleep.
Now if only she'd start talking. That would make his day. She vehemently denied sleep-talking, blushing lightly every time he goaded her about it, but she did it and he'd known about it since the stakeout when she'd randomly mumbled the rules in her slumber.
Relaxing back into the seat, he tilted his head back and closed his eyes, relishing the peace of not being poked or punching in the arm for trying to get some sleep.
The timing of this re-assignment was surreal. The nature of it was almost unbelievable. The simple fact that Morrow had decided to send Jenny and him to Europe, alone, to carry out undocumented Ops right after his divorce seemed…too good to be true, if you asked him.
It wasn't just trouble they could get into.
If he could tell anything from the looks on both Pacci and Ducky's faces when they'd heard about the assignment, he wasn't the only one who foresaw a potentially cliché, potentially disastrous ending.
It wasn't that he was planning on seducing Jenny; but without the hindrance of adultery looming over him; it was a hell of a lot easier to forget sleeping with his partner was a bad idea. Really, did he honestly think he could just work with her and ignore the hair, the incredible legs and the wicked eyes? Don't even get me started on that sultry voice of hers…He must've been kidding himself.
Jethro reached up and ran a hand over his face, glaring slightly at himself behind his eyelids.
This really had to stop before he damaged their ability to work together.
"Coffee," Jenny muttered darkly, and Jethro smirked.
He decided to tell her she looked innocent when she slept just to piss her off.
She sighed and mumbled something unintelligible, then shifted her head, tilting it back and nestling into his shoulder. Her forehead pressed into his neck, her lips inches from her skin. He could feel her breath on his neck, and he froze, swallowing.
He realized in less than five seconds that he needed to get her off of him.
He did the first thing that came to mind without thinking about the consequences and squeezed her kneecap right at the nerve. She jolted awake with a squeal and blinked rapidly like she didn't know where she was.
"LEROY JETHRO GIBBS!" she snapped loudly, turning ferocious eyes on him.
A couple across the aisle from them leaned forward to look, eyes wide.
In retrospect, Jethro concluded the knee-squeezing hadn't been such a brilliant idea. He should have just yelled or pushed her off of him. He adamantly told himself he hadn't chosen that way to wake her up out of some irresistible urge to touch her leg.
"That was just stupid. You are a stupid man," she growled, narrowing her emerald eyes dangerously.
He opted for a careless smirk.
"I thought it was funny," he commented, shrugging slightly.
She grabbed his wrist and flipped it over, reading the time on his watch. Jenny dropped his hand on the armrest disdainfully and turned her narrow eyes on him, her glare showing him just how displeased she was.
He kept his mouth shut. He wasn't about to tell her he'd woken her up to prevent himself from dragging her into the back of the plane and having his way with her.
"For the next two hours," she said slowly and menacingly, pointing sharply to his watch, "your life is going to suck."
He didn't doubt her for a second.
"Got your passport?"
"No. I decided I didn't need it and chucked it off the plane."
Well. That scathing response answered the 'are you still made at me?' question he was considering asking.
Jenny gave him a dirty look, obviously still irked at him. It wasn't like she hadn't exacted revenge in every possible way. The damn woman hadn't been kidding when she'd vowed to make him miserable the rest of the flight. She'd told the stewardesses he was a recovering alcoholic, resulting in a ban on coffee and alcohol for him. She'd spent ten minutes digging her heel into his foot and then pretended she hadn't noticed. She'd loudly accused him of staring at a stewardess's ass, spilled a glass of lemonade on him and, to top it all off, asked him if he'd fixed his impotency problem and if not, would it help if she rented him some gay porn?
He'd never before considered hitting a woman. Until then.
They were hustled through customs quickly, and managed to escape from the metal detectors by flashing badges. Jenny still refused to look at him with anything but a hostile stare, even though he was pretty sure he'd recompensed her for the knee-squeeze by enduring her endless torture. He was currently carrying his carry-on and both of hers.
"I'll get the luggage," he said, interrupting her death glare non-chalantly. "You call headquarters and check in, and it might be a good idea to get something to drink from…over there," he gestured when he found the appropriate concessions place and waited for a response.
She nodded and started to walk off, turning and calling back to him:
"You'll want a green tea with lemon?" she asked sweetly, turning away before he had time to answer.
Jenny took pity on Jethro when she got to the concessions, ordering him a black coffee and herself lemonade to replace the one she'd dumped in his lap on the plane. She smirked while she leaned against the counter and waited, quite proud of herself for the torture she'd inflicted on him.
The gay porn comment had been her favorite. He'd actually turned red.
Jenny took their drinks and sat down at a table, watching him drag their luggage off of the conveyor belt and put it on one of the roll carts. She'd managed to keep her stuff to a minimum, two suitcases even though they were technically here for an undetermined amount of time. She planned on doing a massive amount of shopping in Europe to offset the lack of clothes and shoes she'd brought.
Pulling out her cell phone, she hit the speed dial button for Washington NCIS and checked in with the Director before she moved on to alerting the London outpost in order to make sure their Mission Briefs were waiting for them at the inn they were staying at.
Or she thought it was an inn of some sort. Jethro wouldn't tell her; he seemed to think she was going to get girly and complain or something.
The thought made her frown at him as he started to walk back, and sip her lemonade watchfully.
"You get a hold of anyone?" he asked, picking up his coffee cup and giving it a wary look.
"Our briefs will be waiting at our secret hideout, Mr. Bond," she responded in a low voice, grinning slightly.
He gave her a look.
"Jethro, please tell me you know who James Bond is."
"You know you're not the kind of man who fares very well when you say 'I do","
Jethro glared at her and she just smiled around the rim of her glass, pleased with herself. When she noticed he was still avoiding his coffee, she gave him a break.
"It's your kinda coffee," she said, nodding to it. He looked like he didn't trust her as far as he could throw her but drank it anyway. He looked slightly happier with the coffee in his system.
Apparently deciding she was safe to be around at the moment, he pulled out the chair across from her and sat down, resting his arm over the back of the chair.
"We need to check as soon as possible. We have to…"
Jenny stopped listening to him as went on about procedure: sweeping the room, contacting Decker; she knew all that had to be done. All he was doing was drilling it into her because he was Gibbs and he did that. She had started to think too much about his mouth when suddenly something he said panicked her.
"We're what? I don't—we're," she paused, swallowing and fixing him with a glare. "We're sharing a room?" she managed to get out without stuttering.
He had the good sense to look perturbed.
"Why didn't you tell me that?" she demanded, meeting his eyes.
"I found out yesterday—I didn't think it was important," he answered slightly defensively, almost bewildered at her near hysterical reaction.
"You—JETHRO!" she yelled, giving him a look that said clearly she thought he was a moron. "If I'd known we were sharing a room I would have brought PAJAMAS!"
He blinked. He didn't see her meaning for a second and then it dawned on him. Exercising supreme power of control, he managed to not smirk at her. She looked mortified; he wanted badly to laugh, but at the same time his mouth had gone dry at the thought of her only an arm's length away all night with no pajamas to speak of…
"We're on assignment for an indefinite period. Why didn't you bring pajamas?" he asked calmly, aware that he was doing a terrible job of holding back the smirk.
"I thought I had my own room!" she fumed, her glare heating up a bit. "Wipe that smile of your face you bastard!" she snapped, catching the look in his eye.
"So," he said slowly, pretending he was trying to put the pieces together, "you didn't bring anything to sleep in." he paused. "What do you usually sleep in, Jen?"
She scowled threateningly.
"I did bring someth—I just," she stopped and seemed to think better of completing the sentence. "Nevermind." She muttered darkly.
She glared accusingly for a minute before leaning back and taking on an unconcerned look.
"Well," she sighed matter-of-factly, "I guess you just get to sleep blindfolded."
Like that would solve the problem. He did have an imagination.
She seemed to pretty much forgive him when she discovered the hotel they were staying at for the two nights before taking over in Marseille was rather high-end and well-to-do. She assumed that meant it afforded better privacy than a one room, cramped little inn.
Jenny was still a little miffed that the NCIS budget couldn't afford to get her her own damn room. Apparently Sensitivity to Women in the Workplace went out the window when it came to undocumented European missions. She concluded that she'd have to accuse Jethro of sexual harassment in order to convince the agency she needed her own room—even if in reality she wouldn't care if Jethro sexually harassed the hell out of her.
She did care, however, if Jethro slept in the same room with her and he was not sexually harassing her. She'd have to stay awake all night, pretending to sleep, in order to avoid talking in her sleep the way he liked to tease her she did.
Jenny shivered at the things that could come out of her mouth while she was unconscious of it.
"You know," Jethro's slightly annoyed voice broke into her reverie, "when I was a junior agent, I was the one who did all the schlepping."
She turned and looked at him. He was leaning in the taxi and giving her a look, a few of their bags on the sidewalk next to him. She hadn't even realized the car had arrived at the hotel. Pushing him back gently and getting out of the car, she gave him a wide-eyed, mocking look.
"You were a junior agent once? You, master? I always thought you just fell from heaven knowing everything…"
He snorted at her comment and she followed him around to the trunk, taking one of her bags from him and setting it on the pavement next to the rest of hers. When everything was out, Jenny slammed the trunk shut, giving a nod and a smile to the driver while Jethro paid him his due.
"Go get a cart thing," he told her as the cab drove off.
"You get one," she retorted.
"Mature," he mocked, rolling his eyes.
Jenny lifted and eyebrow and decided to go get the cart thing he'd requested. Being mean and antagonistic to him lost its charm after a while, and she was bored with it now. Besides, she had a feeling she needed to save the worst of her tongue for later.
Their room was on the third floor, and what Jethro had so eloquently dubbed the 'cart thing' made it possible for them to only take one trip. Jenny barely gave the room a good look as Jethro shut the door behind them before she yanked her smallest bag off of the cart, knocking everything else off.
She glanced at the late hour and decided crossing five time zones made her dirty.
"I'm going to shower," she informed Jethro, walking toward the bathroom without a second glance.
She could feel him watching her, and she liked it.
The hot water and cleanliness made her feel a lot less stress and a little more cooperative than she'd been feeling since Jethro immaturely pinched her awake on the flight. If she had known at that time that she'd spend the next two nights terrified of falling asleep lest she say something awkward in his presence, she would have gone back to sleep instead of torturing him the rest of the trip.
Jethro wasn't even there when she came out of the shower, scrunching the ends of her hair in a towel and dressed in the most casual attire she could find without shamelessly exposing wearing her silk nightie was out of the question. It was kind of annoying that he'd just leave without telling her his whereabouts, considering he was her partner and they were in a foreign country, but she wasn't surprised.
She left her hair alone and rummaged through her bag for a book, settling herself on the bed with her legs stretched out in front of her to read it. Jethro walked in within five minutes carrying a bag of food, for which Jenny realized she was grateful, considering she'd sort of forgotten to eat today.
Other than the crackers Jethro got her on the plane.
"Lo Mein and Kung Pow Chicken," he commented, glancing at her.
Jethro paused and looked at her for a moment, taking in the dark red wet hair, blue t-shirt and shorts that were…short.
"What are you reading?" he asked, to cover himself. He went back to unloading the food with rapt attention.
"101 Sex Positions," she answered, deadpan.
His eyes widened slightly and three seconds too late he realized she was messing with him. She burst out laughing, closing the book that was obviously not about sex and setting it next to her.
"God, if I'd had a picture of that face," she giggled, changing positions and scooting closer to wear he was so she could get her food from him.
"Loosen up, Gibbs," she said, leaning back again and clicking chopsticks at him as she picked around in her chicken, eating all the peanuts out first.
"You're loose enough for the both of us," he muttered under his breath, and Jenny raised an eyebrow, feigning outrage.
"I believe you just called me easy, Agent Gibbs. I take offense to that."
"You are not easy, Jen. You're difficult," he responded cleverly.
"Maybe you should be nicer to me, Grumpy."
He gave her a withering look and leaned against the desk in the rather spacey suite, eating his own food with his characteristic brooding glare. She stuck her tongue out at him and smiled, eating her noodles contentedly.
At least she tried to make the conversation fun instead of sitting around in moody awkward silence. He was going to have to get used to her if he was going to spend two nights in this hotel room with her. She knew he had the ability to be a wise-ass, but she'd also seen him be teasing and playful and she'd prefer if he stopped pretending he was so above it all.
"I was reading Crime and Punishment," she offered.
"Raskolnikov did it," Jethro informed her.
She was glad she'd already read the book, then.
"I know—you've read it?" she changed directions mid sentence, tilting her head in interest.
"Surprised?" he asked with a snort.
"Er. No." she responded, even though she clearly was.
He shrugged, eating his soup.
"Friend recommended it," he said.
Jenny widened her eyes.
"You have friends?" she asked sweetly, her eyes smirking at him. "Did one of your wives make you read it?" Jenny asked with a snicker, imagining either Diane or the first woman with the murdering axe from the novel, wielding it over Jethro.
For a minute, his eyes darkened and a flicker of pain flashed through them, but it was gone so fast she was left wondering if she hadn't just hallucinated. She bit the inside of her cheek, wondering if it had been the mention of the divorce. For some reason she doubted it; he hadn't seemed to be that upset about it.
Now he was giving her a look like he wasn't quite seeing her, like he was thinking about something completely different. It started to freak her out.
"Sleeping arrangements," she said lightly, drawing his attention back to the real world.
He blinked and the distant look was gone instantly.
"You can have the bed."
"Don't be a martyr, Jethro," she said with an eye-roll.
He gave her a look.
"You want me to sleep with you?" he asked almost threateningly.
Jenny nearly laughed at the sheer irony of the question.
"Sleeping on the floor will cramp your muscles and you have to be in good shape for whatever we're doing in Marseille," she said logically. Then, as if the subject was closed, she moved on, starting to at the chicken out of her food now.
"Where are our briefs anyway?"
Jethro produced them out of nowhere and tossed them into the middle of the bed. Jenny scooted up and sat cross-legged, pulling one towards her and opening it up. She scanned the first paragraph, reading over the bold letters, and made a face, looking up at Jethro. He raised an eyebrow at her, having sat down and leaned against the headboard, mimicking her earlier stance.
"Photographing a Lebanese trawlerr? In some…dusty, cramped attic in Marseille?" she was less than impressed with their super-secret undocumented and technically illegal mission.
She could only imagine the mind-numbing boredom that would result from sitting with a camera for forty-eight hours.
"What are we going to do for two days?" she moaned.
"Photograph a Lebanese trawler," he responded smartly.
She looked up at him, giving him a slightly pouty look. He responded with a what-do-you-want-me-to-do-about it glare.
"I'm going to end up hating you guts after this, aren't I?" she asked, arching an eyebrow.
Jenny was tired an hour later. She hated flying because it messed up her sleep schedule, which she crafted carefully to her needs. At the moment, she felt like she'd missed half a day and should be awake, but she wanted to sleep. She stole Jethro's phone and called Decker to check in while she shut herself in the bathroom to brush her teeth and everything else.
Shutting the phone and giving it a glare for good measure, hoping Decker felt her wrath at his lewd comments; she brushed her teeth, brushed her hair, took out her earrings, and washed her hands. The one thing she did not do was take off her make-up.
Jethro was sitting in the same place, looking over a file. So much for her seeing how he entertained himself when not at work. She shot the file a glance and gave him an identical one that he either pretended not to notice or actually didn't.
Jenny flipped off a lamp and finally received a look from him.
"You going to bed?" he asked.
"Why would you think that?" she asked, rolling her eyes.
He narrowed his eyes at her and scooted over farther as she pulled the covers back. Curling under the sheets, Jenny realized the hopelessness of this act. There was no way she was sleeping with him lying right next to her.
"You have fifteen minutes to turn your light off before I get annoyed," she informed him, half speaking into a pillow.
Three minutes later, the light went off. She was slightly impressed that he was nice enough to do that. Except she stopped being impressed ten minutes later when he had moved at least twelve times and was in the middle of turning again.
He stopped for about thirty seconds.
"You wouldn't be so uncomfortable if you got under the covers," she sighed exasperatedly, turning slightly on her side to squint at him in the dark.
He glared at her.
"No," Jethro responded shortly.
"Aren't you a saint," she muttered sarcastically, dropping her head back down and rolling back over.
She closed her eyes lightly, biting her bottom lip. Jenny didn't know which was the better idea, him staying on top of the covers or getting under them. She certainly knew which one she preferred. Sleep pulled at her eyes but she fought against it. He was stressing her out.
Jethro finally stopped moving, and for a while she listened to his breathing calm and even out slightly.
She doubted he was sleeping, but then again, he probably knew she wasn't either.