A/N: Thanks to Aly--there were no shoes destroyed in this chapter (I'm saving that for Russian Twilight!), but you did get your boat conversation:]
Alas, Paris Nights draws to a close with this chapter. This makes me sad. I know the update didn't come quick, but I expect you'll forgive me when you discover the length (and fluffy-ness!) of the chapter. :) It could have been up faster...but I thought it fitting to update on Christmas Eve.
And oh yeah; almost forgot: There's a flashback alluded to from Season3Ep"Jeopardy". I think you all know which one.
Jenny Shepard breathed in deeply, remembering how much she loved the fresh, soothing scent of pine needles. It had been a long time since she'd taken the time to care about Christmas, or even had the heart to, but it was hard not to love it again now.
She had yet to figure out how Jethro had produced a real and particularly beautiful tree and subsequently snuck it by her, but he had, and it had taken up cozy residence in the open area that comprised the second floor.
She and Jethro had been sleeping on the second floor. It was warmer up there, due to the laws of science, and Jenny liked the air, open feel the second floor gave with its many windows and French balcony. Jenny actually just liked the villa in general. She didn't want to leave anytime soon.
She heard Jethro coming back up the stairs and stepped closer to the Christmas tree, rising up on her tip toes a little to place the candy cane she was holding on one of the branches. She nodded approvingly and turned her head as she heard Jethro enter the room, a paper bag in his hands.
She rolled her eyes at him, making it clear she disapproved of him continuously carrying items up the stairs, and he dropped the paper bag loudly to the floor in response, rolling his eyes right back.
Jenny picked up another candy cane from the box at her feet and ran a decorator's eye over the tree. Jethro scooted the bag he'd brought closer to her with his foot and crossed his arms, looking at her work so far.
"Did you bring more candy canes?" Jenny asked skeptically, lifting an eyebrow at him.
He snorted, and looked pointedly at the box of them at her feet. He had gone slightly over board with candy canes. Jenny leaned up and reached for a higher branch this time. Jethro snatched the candy cane from her and placed it higher than she could reach, nudging her shoulder playfully out of the way.
Jenny pushed back, rolling her head against his shoulder with a smile.
"What's in the bag?" she whispered secretively, running a hand up his arm. Jethro crouched down and yanked her with him, causing her to lose her balance and fall on her backside. She squealed in surprise and kicked his foot in retaliation, frowning when he kept his balance effortlessly and reached into the bag with a smug look.
He pulled out a mass of sparkling red garland and lights. He placed the tangle of Christmas lights on the floor and fell back on his heels, throwing the garland at her. Jenny wrinkled her nose as it cascade over her head and shoulders. She reached up to pull it off of her head and inched closer, wrapping her arms loosely around her knees as she looked at the knotted lights.
"Who knew you had such a Christmas spirit," she teased, arching an eyebrow. She had to admit being a little surprised. He grunted at her and shrugged, retrieving the last item from the bottom of the bag. He held the green, felt, elf hat out to her with a smirk.
Jenny looked at it, pursed her lips seductively, and took it, placing it on her head without a fight.
"I have just the…" she pretended to fumble for words, and lowered her voice, "outfit to go with this."
He just raised his eyebrows with a smile on his face.
Jethro stood up with the lights in his hand, starting to disentangle them, and Jenny pulled herself up with him, using his arm for leverage. She shook out the long rope of garland and tilted her head at the tree, contemplating whether to start at the top or the bottom. She bit her lip.
Jethro laughed under his breath next to her and she snapped her gaze to him suspiciously.
"What?" she asked.
He smirked at her, holding a part of the light strand with his teeth while he pulled the last tangle out. He handed her the end of the string and she dropped the garland in favor it, still glaring at him expectantly.
"Nothing," he said gruffly, starting to string lights on the tree. She glared at his bent back darkly.
He glanced up at her as he made his way slowly around the tree, one hand resting on his thigh, and grinned again. She narrowed her eyes.
"Hat's adorable, Jen," he mocked, smirking.
Jenny scowled at him.
"I'll show you adorable," she muttered under her breath threateningly. She waited until he had gotten most of the tree's lower half decorated with lights and was standing at his normal height again, carefully situating strands on the branches.
Jenny dropped the lights she was holding so he paused and looked down at them, frowning. She crept up behind him and reached between his legs, running her hand up the inseam of his pants and cupping him.
Jethro jumped a mile and lost his breath, practically falling back into her.
"Damn, Jen," he barked, clearly caught off guard.
She giggled into the back of his shoulder and let her hand travel over his inseam again, smacking him on the butt playfully. He turned his head and gave her a glare over his shoulder, his blue eyes smoldering.
"That's harassment," he muttered, resuming his light stringing loftily. Jenny started to massage his shoulders, snuggling up to his back while he worked on the tree.
"I don't think its harassment if you like it, Jethro," she mused innocently, kissing him through his old t-shirt.
"This is red light behavior, Jen," he informed her seriously, as Jenny rubbed her sock-clad foot over his calf, pressing her head into the hard muscles of his back. She peeked over his shoulder and watched him string lights lazily, smiling into his t-shirt.
"That mean you want me to stop?" she murmured curiously, pressing her knee into the back of his thigh.
Jethro gave a non-committal grunt and she pressed closer to him, still kneading his shoulders expertly while he worked. This way she got away with making him do the hard part of decorating under the pretense of making him feel good. His shoulders were stiff; he'd put a lot of strain on himself trying not to use his abdominal muscles.
She was suspicious about just how much he'd hurt himself lugging a Christmas tree up the stairs, but she'd let it go. He had been nice the past few days. She wasn't about to break that shocking streak.
Jenny kissed Jethro's shoulder again and let her palms slide down his back, cotton material slipping through her fingers. She gathered the prickly garland into her arms and got on her knees next to the tree, beginning to wrap it around the bottom most branches.
Jethro picked up a few candy canes and started hanging them on the tree, rolling his head back and forth. Jenny paused for a moment to watch as she moved up tree branches, narrowing her eyes at the way he turned his shoulders in, straining to reach because it hurt. She pressed her lips together and bit back a rebuke. It wasn't worth it. Not on Christmas Eve.
She stood up on her tip toes to wrap the last bit of garland, resorting to almost throwing it around the tree. She smiled triumphantly at her fluke of success and stepped back, admiring the tree. Jethro placed another candy cane higher up and she reached up and caught his arm when he brought it back down, slipping in front of him. He lifted an eyebrow at her in mild amusement and she framed his face with both hands, kissing him slowly.
He placed his hands on her waist gently.
"There needs to be something on top," Jenny murmured, placing her palms on his chest and tilting her head up at him. She glanced over her shoulder briefly to the top of the towering tree.
"You?" Jethro suggested smartly, smirking.
Jenny laughed, aware she'd set herself up for that one. She lifted a brow at him and chewed on her bottom lip thoughtfully, twisting a little in his grasp.
"Star?" he grunted.
"Too common," Jenny denied, shaking her head.
"Elf hat?" suggested Jethro, flicking the top of hers. Jenny swatted his hand away and fixed the hat primly, glaring at him teasingly. Jenny frowned slightly and then her eyes lit up. She escaped from Jethro's arms and her eyes sparkled mischievously as she disappeared down the stairs, her bare feet smacking against the stone.
Jethro looked back at the tree, proud of the decorations. Jenny hadn't said anything about celebrating or decorations. She had seemed to be a little shy of Christmas, even avoidant of it. He knew how that felt. He didn't know why the holiday seemed to upset her, but he was acutely aware of why Christmas hurt for him, and he'd decided to attempt to make it happy this year, in light of the fact that he was happier than he had been in a while.
Jenny's footsteps sounded closer and he was broken from his dimmer thoughts, turning to catch her entering the room with a wicked smirk on her lips and an elegant, deep red high-heel looped around her pointer finger.
"Really, Jen?" he asked skeptically, rolling his eyes.
She pouted her lips and held up her beloved shoe to the garland, showing him it matched fairly well.
"We need a tree-topper, Jethro," she insisted, holding up the heel between them as she stepped closer.
"This isn't just a shoe. It's a 1996 Jimmy Choo Elegance Collection."
Jethro cocked an eyebrow.
"Let's see you get it up there," he challenged smartly, fully aware Jenny wasn't tall enough to reach the top of an eight-foot tree. She frowned a little and looked up the tree; completely convinced her crimson heel would look lovely atop the green tree strung with candy canes and red garland.
"Get on one knee," she murmured, looking back at him imperiously.
"Last time I did that I ended up with an alimony check," he retorted, obeying her commend.
Jenny snorted and rested her hand on his shoulder, lifting her foot to brace it on his knee. She took a moment to consider the many ways this could turn out horrifically wrong, for her and him, but her main concern was preventing further injury to his bullet wound, so she wouldn't ask him to lift her up. She frowned a little; aware Jethro's wandering eyes were glued to the leg she was parading right in front of his face.
"Don't let me fall," she told him, using her other leg to push herself up on his knee precariously so she could reach the top. She felt him quickly rap a hand around her ankle, his knee wobbling, and she squeaked as she almost fell, her heart rate speeding up. Jenny managed to loop the ribbon of her heel around the very top of the tree before she lost her footing and her balance.
Jethro lunged to the side to try and break her fall with his arm, and successfully prevented her head from cracking on the floor, but ultimately they both ended up sprawled under the tree, her legs tangled in his and her knee precariously close to his groin.
Jenny gasped; her breath knocked out of her from hitting the ground so hard, and attempted to smack Jethro in the shoulder as hard as possible.
"I said don't let me fall!" she managed hoarsely, still trying to breathe.
"I don't think you're aware of how good your ass looks in those jeans," he responded in a mutter, and received another whack to his head.
Jenny lay back on the floor and giggled, staring up at the pine needles in front of her face. She carefully moved her knee away from Jethro and pushed his legs off of hers, rolling onto her stomach. She blew hair out of her face and supported her upper body on her arms, looking at him in amusement. He lay half on his side, apparently just as content as her to stay sprawled on the floor.
Jenny reached out for the cardboard box of candy canes and pulled it towards her, plucking one casually out of the box. Jethro watched her lethargically. Jenny broke off the curved part and set it aside, picking at the plastic on the other part.
"Any other decorations you want?' Jethro asked, propping his head up on his palm and reaching out with one hand to trace her spine through the button down she was wearing. Jenny rid her candy cane of the plastic and set it aside, looking around the room.
Her eyes alit on the dusty, old fireplace in the corner and she cut her eyes at him through her lashes, crossing her ankles in the air.
"Stockings," she suggested sweetly, biting the edge of the candy cane.
Jethro slipped a hand under her, his hand snaking up to undo the top button of her shirt. She raised an eyebrow at him and he undid the next one, moving slowly with one hand as he watched her.
"Stockings," he repeated gruffly.
Jenny nodded slowly. He slipped his hand inside her shirt, abandoning the buttons, and let his fingers explore the delicate lace of her bra, watching her bite her lip as she paused with the candy cane inches from her mouth.
"You have stockings, Jen?" Jethro asked, his brow going up in interest.
"Or something like them," she murmured, biting down on the candy cane again and crunching the piece between her teeth. The strong mint stung her eyes and she blinked, trying to keep her composure. His hand was warm against her skin…
"You're supposed to suck on those," Jethro said hoarsely, his mouth close to hear ear suddenly, and she smirked deviously, lifting a perfect eyebrow at him suggestively. There were so many things she could say in response, but she chose silence, often a much more powerful weapon with him. Left to imagine what was going through her head and he ended up more than turned on.
He pressed his head into her shoulder and groaned in frustration, perhaps lamenting the trouble he'd been having lately. Jenny pursed her lips in pity and nudged his head with her lips, shifting so she was on her side. She placed her palm on his chest gently and pushed, forcing him onto his back.
Languidly, she settled herself on his hips, her knees planted on either side of his thighs. Jethro unfastened the last two buttons of her shirt and pushed it off her shoulders; Jenny helped him rid her of it with a few shrugs. He took her candy cane from her. She ran her hands over his chest slowly, feeling his muscles beneath his shirt, and leaned forward to kiss his throat, letting him wrap his arms around her and pull her close.
"Do not get that candy cane on this lace," she warned dangerously, teeth grazing his collar bone.
She pulled back, sitting up, and taking it from him as if she didn't trust him. He pulled his legs up behind her and she leaned back against his knees, biting off the next bit of candy cane again and looking down at him. He ran his hands over her stomach and below her navel, just causing enough friction to tease.
"Jen," he whined huskily, his eyes on her mouth. She cocked an eyebrow lasciviously. "God."
Jenny licked her lips slowly and let her hands drift down, ghosting over her own bra and stomach before she rested them at his button, her thumb running over it in mock hesitation. Her lips had a just-bitten tint of red to them now, and he was finding it hard to think. The rush of blood to his groin made his injury throb.
Jenny loosened his button, tilting her head alluringly. She leaned back into his knees so he relaxed and shifted back, pulling his zipper down and shimmying his jeans and boxers down over his hips just enough. Her touch was light and warm as she crawled back up his body, her nose close to his. He reached up between them to cup a breast and she angled her head to kiss him slowly.
"How long this time?" she asked in a sultry tease, her eyes sparkling wickedly.
He suppressed a shiver at the throaty sound of her voice and his eyes flashed with the challenge, his hand slipping further between them to oblige her in unbuttoning her own jeans. She moaned quietly as his hand dipped under her thin excuse for panties.
Her eyes fluttered, and when she focused on him again, the bridge of her nose was flushed pink, her green orbs were bright with desire and arousal. He smirked arrogantly. She'd figured out her benign mocking of his performance could benefit her infinitely, and he didn't mind the subtle jabs; he knew his game was off since he'd been shot.
If she was satisfied when it was over, no matter how fast, he was satisfied.
Jenny pressed her forehead into his, one of her hands threading into his short hair. She whimpered softly, capturing his lips in swift, wet kisses. Jen gripped his shoulder tightly and clenched her teeth; he felt her muscles tightening around his fingers.
She gasped when he drew his hand back, depriving her of his warmth, and tugged on her jeans gently. With enough maneuvering he had them off and under the tree with her panties. She bit her lip when he slipped into her and tilted her head back.
Stone floor made for an uncomfortable bed; Jenny made sure he didn't get too rough. She pushed his shoulder back against the floor with one hand, pressing kisses to his chest as she ground her hips into his. Jethro thrust against her, holding her arm and groaning her name. Jenny gasped and shuddered, sinking her teeth into his shoulder to make for a quieter yell, and he pressed a hand against her hip, pushing her down onto him. He hit the edge fast, with her, and hit his head a little hard for comfort on the floor when he relaxed, Jenny collapsed heavily on top of him.
He closed his eyes and licked his lips, breathing heavily, listening to the quiet, labored breathing of the woman on top of him. Soothingly, he stroked her back, running his finger under the straps of her lace bra. Jenny shifted her head and rested it on his shoulder.
"Mmmm," she murmured, content. She lifted her head and kissed him slowly, her tongue running along his bottom lip. He saw the smirk in her eyes before it expressed itself in her words. "Not bad," she allowed, her fingers running through his hair. "Longer than three minutes," she informed him cattily, kissing him again.
He was tempted to throw her off of him, but he knew it would hurt her. He settled for pinching her ribs like he usually did, a bit harder this time. She smiled, and laughed against his mouth.
"I like you like this, Jethro," she whispered, shrugging her fair shoulders gracefully, "You're so concerned about getting me off…" she trailed off a little, her eyelashes fluttering, "The foreplay is amazing," she murmured, her lips brushing his neck again.
Under any other circumstance, he'd already have her on her back. It frustrated him that he needed a break.
Jenny sighed and moved off of him, resting her hand on his jeans as she settled next to him, tracing patterns on his chest. His shirt was damp in places from the marks her lips had left, but she hadn't been bothered with taking it off.
"I'm fairly sure we're on the naughty list," Jenny mused quietly, and Jethro laughed, the sound of it rumbling through his chest good-naturedly.
He wrapped his arm around her shoulders and pulled her close, turning his head so his mouth was buried in her hair. He breathed in the intoxicating scent of her and closed his eyes, savoring the moment, before he kissed her and murmured:
"About those stockings…"
Jenny smirked lazily and rolled in his grip, returning to her stomach. She dipped her head at him, and all of her red hair cascaded over one shoulder as she looked at him, eyebrow cocked.
"I can put them on now, but you'd have to wait until tomorrow morning to touch what's inside them," she chided solemnly. Jethro smirked. He hoped to god they were talking about her legs.
Jenny smiled and propped her head up on her palm. She reached down for the hem of his shirt and yanked it up, her hand running over the bandage still secured over his waist. He flinched at her touch, no matter how gentle, and she caressed the sensitive, healing skin softly, her fingers peeling the gauze away slowly.
Chills ran up Jethro's spine as the cool air hit the now open wound and he cleared his throat, closing his eyes as her smooth skin brushed against the angry torn bullet hole. His skin was starting to heal, though admittedly not as fast as it could if he'd just take it easy. Jenny's touch was light and he relished it, it soothed the itch that had bothered him under the bandage without causing him to bleed again.
"Jethro," Jenny murmured, her lips barely moving. She looked down at him with a blithe smile, her body relaxed.
"Hmm?" he mumbled, his eyes closed.
"I want Christmas cookies," she began mildly, her hand methodically and lightly massaging his side. He wasn't opposed to the idea, but he kept quiet, waiting for her to finish. "I'm going to put my stockings on," she drawled lazily, prompting to open one eye with interest, "and bake some…"
His eyes flew open. He was looking at her in apprehensive horror.
Jenny laughed, realizing he was thinking back to her disastrous attempt at cooking in Paris.
"I can bake cookies," she placated, rolling her eyes.
She received a skeptical glare.
"I promise," she soothed, leaning down to kiss him, "Nothing will catch fire, burn, and or explode."
She sat up, reaching for her discarded button down shirt and sliding it on quickly. She buttoned two or three buttons and gathered up her jeans and panties, glancing at him. He was looking at her distrustfully. She smiled in amusement and nudged his butt with her foot, standing up and stepping into her panties before she left the room, traipsing down the stairs half dressed.
They may have taken to sleeping up here, but everything was still inconveniently located downstairs.
Jethro flopped over carefully onto his stomach to watch her leave, eyeing her six appreciatively. He remained on the floor for a short moment and then jerked his jeans back over his hips, buttoning them as he stood up.
Jethro lingered, looking at the tree, giving the high-heeled shoe posing as tree-topping star an indulgent look. It had been a while since he'd felt this content with things on Christmas Eve—the last few had inevitably been spent either suffering through a wife's stifling party or alone in his basement with a bottle of bourbon and worn pictures of Shannon and Kelly.
The first without them had been the worst, one of the darkest days of his life. He'd been up the entire night with red eyes, unable to think of anything but the knowledge that Kelly wasn't going to come running into the room to wake him up for presents this year; she wasn't going to pounce on Shannon because neither of them were there anymore.
Jethro rubbed his hands furiously over his face and swallowed hard, forcing the thoughts from his mind. He left the bedroom, determined not to think about them for once, seeking Jenny. She'd take his mind off of it.
Halfway down the stairs he heard a large crash, and took the rest of them at a run, not sure he wanted to know what he would find in the kitchen.
He stormed in, and his Jenny burst out laughing. He narrowed his eyes at her and the metal bowl on the floor, reluctant to ask what had happened. He didn't have to; Jenny was quick to inform him.
"I just wanted to see how bad you'd freak out if I made a noise," she giggled smartly, reaching to pick up the bowl. "You got in here pretty fast," she said, setting it on the counter, "I feel so safe."
He scowled at her and crossed the kitchen, leaning against the counter next to her and surveying the array of cookie baking items that she'd scattered all over the counter.
"There's a fire extinguisher in here, right?" he asked, deadpan.
Jenny pushed his shoulder. He grinned.
Jenny tucked a strand of hair behind her ear and stepped back, frowning attractively and biting her lip as she took inventory of her supplies. Jethro let his eyes wander a little, suddenly realizing she had in fact changed.
His eyes traveled up her legs, now seductively clad in delicate white net stockings that ended high on her thighs. She wore a short-sleeved, onyx black silk rob that hit her right where the stockings ended, shielding anything private from view but leaving oh-so-much to the imagination. He'd seen the robe before, but not the stockings.
"Jethro," murmured Jenny primly, her eye catching his and informing him she knew exactly what had him so speechless.
His only response was a distracted grunt, though he did manage to look at her.
He snaked a hand around her waist and pulled her towards him, getting a mischievous look in his eyes. Jenny grabbed his hands and removed them from her, patting them patronizingly and stepping back slowly.
She sauntered across the kitchen to the cupboard, looking for something else. Jethro leaned against the counter behind him, gripping it with his hands lightly, watching her. She stretched up on her tip toes a little to reach something, the edge of the robe riding up on her legs so he caught just a teasing glimpse of the lingerie underneath.
He was instantly reminded of candy canes.
"Jethro," she murmured, "Can you…" she trailed off, unwilling to outright ask for help, glancing over her shoulder. He strode up behind her and easily lifted down the mixing bowl she was reaching for, handing it to her with a flourish. Jenny pecked him on the cheek and returned to the counter.
Jethro followed her slowly, leaning against the counter again to watch her work. Jenny started with the first ingredients and Jethro watched silently.
"Small talk is acceptable," murmured Jenny, her eyebrow going up a little as she eyeballed the amount of flour in her measuring cup.
"What makes you think you won't set the cookies on fire?" Jethro retaliated smartly. Jenny was quiet, shaking her head in exasperation as she checked her measurements, before she shrugged and answered:
"I used to bake Christmas cookies every Christmas eve," she offered lightly. She went one, a little nostalgically: "Sort of a tradition." Jenny almost mumbled the last part.
He nodded, though he wasn't sure if she saw. He didn't ask any questions about it or push her, it didn't sound like something she wanted to talk about. He knew Jenny; what she was willing to give was what he got, and if she hadn't offered anything else he wouldn't get it by poking at her about it. She was like him. Jenny didn't shut down completely like he did though; she would rebuff him, and if felt cornered, would fight back.
Jethro hated small talk for this reason. There was no such thing as just small talk.
He was content to just watch her.
He liked the way Jenny moved. It wasn't just when she was walking away from him, either; it was the grace and confidence of everything she did. He'd never seen Jenny trip or fall, come to think of it, unless someone had deliberately taken her down. She wasn't clumsy, and she had certain strength in her that he could see just watching her. Not to mention she was mind-numbingly beautiful, even in the less-than-flattering states he'd witnessed, such as covered in blood or sick with the flu.
"If you take a picture," she teased quietly, stirring ingredients methodically, "It will last longer." She smirked at him sideways, with the tip of her tongue caught between her teeth.
"You plannin' on going somewhere?" he asked, mock-glaring at her. She grinned and turned back to her cookie baking, adding eggs and examining the concoction.
"Do you have Christmas traditions, Jethro?" she asked playfully, measuring out something else. "You string lights on the boat and sit around drinking bourbon?" she teased.
She didn't look over at him right away, so she didn't see the quick flash of pain in his eyes. She was picking up the electric mixer as he forced the emotion away, irked by how close her quip was to how his Christmases were spent.
"Santa," he grunted sarcastically, when her eyes met his and she held up the mixer over the bowl.
Jenny rolled her eyes with a small smile.
"You don't want to talk," she murmured, flicking the switch on the mixer and filling the kitchen with electronic buzzing.
She inserted the mixer into her cookie dough and fell silent, finding it useless to speak over the noise and not at all shocked that Jethro was being a less than enthusiastic participant in conversation. It didn't bother her like it might some that he didn't like to talk about things; it meant she didn't have to talk either, if she didn't want to.
She used to bake Christmas cookies with her father on Christmas Eve. Her mother sat around and drank more often than not, but she and the Colonel has looked forward to making a huge mess in the name of Santa's cookies every year. She hadn't done it the Christmas after he'd died; she'd sat in the kitchen floor with a drink and cried her eyes out. She didn't think she'd ever do it again.
She kept getting this feeling that her father would like Jethro. That feeling made her want to pick up the tradition again—one she never should have dropped anyway, if she really wanted to make her father happy. She felt like she had a little more to celebrate this year.
Smiling, though a little nostalgically, Jenny flicked the mixer off and inspected the cookie dough to see if it was the right consistency. She stuck her finger in it and lifted an eyebrow, leaning her hip against the counter as she turned to Jethro.
He was looking at her almost expressionlessly, his eyes guarded.
"Jethro," she murmured softly, and he really looked at her. "Are you okay?" she asked, her brow furrowing a little.
"Fine," he grunted hoarsely. She bit the inside of her lip so as not to ask a question. Anyone not accustomed to his moods would be oblivious to something wrong, but to her he was upset. She knew he was upset.
She presented him her fingertip sample of cookie dough with an expectant clearing of her throat.
Jethro took her wrist and ran his thumb over the pulse point, tugging her a little closer. He smirked at her and accepted her invitation to taste the cookie dough off of her finger. She giggled and tried to take her hand back; he clamped his teeth gently down on her finger. Jenny placed her hand against his chest and pushed, pulling her index finger insistently. He relented and she dried her finger off in mock disdain on his shirt; Jethro knocked her hand on his chest out of the way and stepped forward to close the distance between them, pressing a short kiss to her mouth.
"Good," he mumbled.
Jenny smiled and pushed him away, picking up her bowl deftly and striding over to the table with it.
"I need the metal cookie sheets," she said, glancing over her shoulder. Obediently, Jethro brought them over to her, and watched as she started to pluck off bits of the malleable cookie dough and roll them into small rounds.
Jethro cocked his head at her with interest.
"Shouldn't you make little cutesy shapes?" he asked gruffly, as she placed her third round preliminary cookie onto the cookie sheet.
"There aren't any cookie cutters, smart ass," she responded, giving him a look. She was slightly offended he decided to find something wrong with her cookies.
Jethro reached across her and took some cookie dough from the bowl, playing around with it while he watched her. Jenny looked at him covertly while she worked, suspicious of what he was doing.
"Here's an idea," she offered sarcastically, "You could make a boat!"
Jethro scowled at her and she laughed, pleased with her joke. He started working the dough in his hands in determination and she peeked at him out of the corner of her eye, unsure of what he was doing. She was about to place the last round on cookie sheet number one when he immaturely pushed her hand out of the way and placed his cookie dough in the last spot.
Jenny lifted her eyebrow as she found herself looking at a lopsided heart-shaped cookie.
She burst into laughter, more touched by the gesture than she let on. Jethro looked relatively proud of himself, and crossed his arms across his chest. Jenny moved the first cookie tray and pulled another one towards her, swiftly transferring the bowl of cookie dough to the place between herself and Jethro.
He joined her in making cookies after a few moments, apparently overcoming a manly inward struggle, and doggedly pursued making 'interesting' cookies in the form of squares, triangles, and just odd shapes.
They were all amusing, but the heart was hear favorite.
She was concentrating on attempting to mold a star out of her round of cookie dough when something sticky pressed into her cheek and she flinched away, her eyes widening in surprise. Jethro smirked at her as she smacked his hand away, brushing cookie dough off of her face in outrage.
"JETHRO!" she shouted.
He laughed and attempted to stick more dough on her; she narrowly avoided getting it in on her nose and, to her utter dismay, ended up with it in her hair as she jerked out of the way. The look on his face when he heard her gasp of horror was priceless.
She turned on him, her eyes narrowing.
"Ooops," he muttered, tearing his eyes away from the sugar cookie dough matted in her loose hair now.
"You're dead," she threatened, advancing towards him.
He backed up a little, wary of the glint in her eyes. She crept closer.
"You think that bullet hurt?" she asked ominously, her meaning clear. The backs of his knees hit a kitchen chair and he paused, reluctant to fall backwards over it. He contemplated other escape routes.
Jenny darted her hand into the bowl of cookie dough and chucked a handful of it at him. He put up his hands protectively and ducked down, successfully avoiding the cookie dough. He didn't quite avoid the subsequent chunk she threw, considering it came right after the first.
Jenny laughed triumphantly as he straightened up, glaring at her as he reached up to gingerly touch the cookie dough in his own hair. His eyes fell to the bowl of cookie dough. Jenny narrowed her eyes and moved towards it at the same time as he did, yanking it towards her off the table as he managed to grab hold of it. Jenny shrieked as Jethro stumbled forward, bracing herself in case he fell on her, but he caught his balance and grabbed her shoulder to steady himself.
She reached into the bowl and he followed suit, scuffling with her over it to determine who would get hit with cookie dough next. Jenny managed to scrape a handful and released her hold on the bowl at the same moment Jethro did, resulting in it falling with a crash to the floor and hitting her foot painfully.
She squealed and leapt back, picking up her foot, and Jethro struck a low blow, tossing his handful of cookie dough at her and landing it square at her shoulder.
"Bastard," she muttered, directing her aim right at his groin.
"Jen!" he growled, failing in his attempt to block her throw and glaring as she burst into taunting laughter across from him.
He thrust his foot out to drag the bowl towards him but Jenny blocked his foot with hers, scuffling with him again to kick it out of the way. He grabbed her arm and spun her around, wrapping an arm around her waist to hold her back. His fingers brushed her ribs lightly, tickling her, and she squealed, laughing breathlessly and squirming to get away.
Jethro kicked the bowl violently across the room, still trying to restrain a fighting Jenny, and smiled into her hair, content with her struggling.
"I win," he growled in her ear.
Still laughing and short of breath, she furiously shook her head. Smirking, Jethro reached around to yank the bow tying her robe closed undone and watch the silky fabric loosen. Jenny gasped and reached around behind her to pinch him. Jethro spun her around in his grasp and caught her eye, bursting into laughter when he got a good look at her.
She pushed him away, trying to look angry through a badly suppressed smile, and rounded on him, the strings of the robe's tie coming completely loose and slowly falling away. Jethro lost his breath a little as his lower back hit kitchen counter and Jenny glared at him, the cookie dough sticking in her bangs and the hair next to her face making her much less than scary.
He smirked at her arrogantly and she pounced, hitting him viciously in the shoulder. He held her back while she tried to attack his ribs, loathe for her to find out he was ticklish. Jenny huffed at him and as he fought back.
"You're supposed to let me win!"
"Because you're a girl?"
"Because you won't get laid ever again if I don't get to hit you!" she shouted.
He immediately took his hands off of her and she slammed her fist into his chest, knocking the wind out of him. He sucked in sharply and glowered at her, unprepared for such a hard blow. She started to step back, a prim, evil look in her eyes, but he slung his arm around her waist and held her, looking at her intently while he caught his breath again.
It was hard to do, looking at her.
Her cheeks were flushed, her eyes sparkling, and he had a satisfying view of what was under the black silk robe. The lacy bra and underwear set was almost transparent, delicately thin, and a light, candy-like red with strategically placed white-and red striped bows. She looked damn good.
With his free hand, he shoved the black silk off her shoulders and let it pool on the floor. She twitched her head at him, a little reprimanding, but smiled.
"I said no touching until Christmas morning," she informed him, one stocking-covered leg rubbing against his through his jeans.
"Naughty list," he reminded her in a mutter, pulling her closer with his hands lightly at her waist.
Jenny smiled and let him press a kiss to her collarbone, his lips brushing the tiny bow on one of her bra straps.
The oven made a long beeping sound, signaling it was heated and ready.
"Cookies," she informed him, squeezing his shoulder. He ignored her and nudged her bra strap down a little, kissing the place where it had been. She squirmed against him a little and tilted her head back, meeting his eye and pouting a little.
"Jethro," she whined, "they need to be baked!'
He groaned dramatically and moved her out of his way, stomping over to the finished cookie tray and made a show of taking it over to the oven and putting the cookies in as if it were the most torturous thing in the world. He slammed the oven door shut and began approaching Jenny, glaring at her as she giggled and backed away from him. She started like she was going to try to run away, but her reached out, caught her around the waist, and pushed her back into the counter, eliciting a small squeak.
"Happy?" he asked, arching an eyebrow.
She nodded, a smile playing on her lips. He kissed her smile, cupping her cheek in his palm and tangling the tips of his fingers in her hair. Bracing his abdominal muscles for the strain, he lifted her up quickly and placed her on the counter, smirking as she gasped when the cool surface hit her legs through the stockings.
He ran his hand over the fishnet fabric of the stockings, mesmerized by how good her legs looked in them. He touched the little bow at the top, smirking, and caressed the inside of her thigh. Jenny leaned her forehead into his and took a deep breath, finally calming herself down a little. She reached out and touched his cheek softly.
"You're sticky," she mumbled, her fingers touching his hair gingerly.
He smirked and kissed the corner of her mouth, tracing the letters of his name on her thigh.
"We need a shower," she murmured, kissing him, mostly catching his bottom lip between hers playfully. He grinned, hands travelling up her sides lightly to her breasts. He wrapped his arms around her and pulled her close to him.
"Don't want the cookies to burn."
"Hmm-mmm," she muttered, agreeing. He dipped his head to kiss her below the ear and threaded his fingers into her hair, tilting her head back just a little.
"Timer's set for ten minutes," he informed her huskily, brushing his lips against her neck seductively. She sighed and wrapped one long leg around his waist, her hand falling to his belt teasingly.
"I've noticed you don't hurt as much when you're standing up," she murmured in a silky voice, her fingers dipping below his waistband. She let the suggestion and the innuendo sink and ran her finger down his cheek. She glanced up at him through her eyelashes, setting his pulse racing, and bit her lip, blatantly sexy.
Between them, he let his hand drift up her thigh again, seeking her warmth. Jenny fluttered her eyelashes and caught her breath. She smiled softly. Wickedly.
"I want you to make love to me," she said huskily in his hear, her lips touching him, "on this counter," she kissed his ear, traced the curves of it with her tongue tantalizingly, "You have until that timer goes off," her voice lowered, seductive, dripping with lust, "to make me go off."
He groaned, nipping at her collarbone with his teeth.
In the time it took for Jenny to start moaning his name, he concluded he preferred the naughty list—hands down.
Jenny mounted the stone stairs slowly, two mugs and a few warm cookies in her hands. She paused in the entrance way of the bedroom, admiring the glow of the Christmas tree, and taking a moment to quietly observe Jethro as he stoked the fire he'd started in the hearth. He glared at it for a moment and then sat down on the couch, lounging back with his arm slung across the back.
Jenny smiled softly and pushed off the wall, her feet making a soft thump against the floor through her socks as she crossed it.
Jethro looked up at her blithely, reaching out to take his mug from her as she offered it to him.
"Yours is coffee," she soothed quietly, when he gave the liquid a wary look. Jenny nudged his knee with her leg to urge him to give her room and smirked a little as she sat down on the edge of the couch. "Spiked with a little bourbon," she added knowingly.
Jethro smiled at her and leaned back. Jenny snuggled up to his side, resting her mug of hot chocolate on his thigh and leaning her head against his shoulder. She handed him a cookie and munched happily on her own, pleased with how the few cookies that had managed to be baked ended up.
"A little bourbon?" she heard him mutter gruffly, and smiled, tilting her head back to look up at him.
"It's Christmas," she justified. He smiled at her and wrapped an arm around her shoulder, rubbing his hand up and down her arm absently.
Jenny smiled and relaxed into him, watching the flames in the fire flicker. It crackled and popped softly, giving off a soothing heat that made her a sleepy and was incredibly comfortable. She and Jethro had shared a long, hot shower, and she was now clad in comfortable cotton track pants, a light sweater, and her favorite fluffy socks. Jethro had opted for sweatpants and one of the old t-shirts he loved so much.
She was so warm cuddled up to Jethro with the fire. She found it odd that she felt so at home in a foreign country on Christmas, but she'd realized that lately when thinking of home, she'd unconsciously connected it with Jethro. She laid her head against Jethro's chest and took a sip of her hot chocolate, letting her eyes drift closed as drowsiness pulled at her.
Jethro drew his fingers up and down her arm, listening to her breathe, feeling the movement of her throat as she swallowed her hot chocolate. He took a drink of his spiked coffee, mentally thanking the Gods for Jenny, and glad for the alcohol.
Jenny had eased the pain of the holidays more than he would have thought possible; she'd been a welcome distraction, yet it was hard for him not to think of Shannon and Kelly. Every little thing reminded him of them during the Christmas season; it was ten times worse than any normal day because there were so many more memories.
He stared determinedly at the fire, his mouth getting dry and his throat closing up. He cleared it gruffly and took another drink of the coffee, trying to ignore the pricking sting in his eyes. He missed them.
Jethro squeezed Jenny's shoulder gently, pulling her a little closer, and turned his head, burying his face in her hair. He felt her shift in concern and breathed in her scent, comforting himself in her. He moved his head and rested his cheek on the crown of her head, swallowing hard.
"Jen," he murmured, and he thought he sounded more upset than he meant to, judging by her quick, gentle response.
"What is it, Jethro?"
He stared hard into the fire. He realized he was on the verge of telling her about Shannon, and about Kelly. He didn't understand why; he'd never wanted to tell the others about them because they had been his, memories he wanted untarnished by women who would only try and fail to take their place. He didn't know what to say, he didn't know how to start, but he almost told her in that moment.
And, when he thought about it later, he couldn't quite pinpoint what had held him back. Perhaps it was because he thought telling Jenny about them would mean letting go. He couldn't. He couldn't let them go.
Jethro let out a breath and kissed her hair, shaking his head a little. He took a drink of his coffee, concentrating on the sharp sting of the alcohol. Jenny reached over and rested her hand on his thigh, caressing gently.
"Something is bothering you," she stated quietly, but it wasn't a question. He shook his head again, making sure she felt it, and let his arm fall to her waist, taking another long drink before he set his mug on the floor and turned, stretching out on the couch.
Jenny, her brow furrowed a little as she looked at him, shifted to readjust to his position and curled up to his side again, her legs tangled in his in the scant space on the couch. Jenny leaned over to place her mug on the floor next to his and pulled his arm around her, lacing her fingers through his.
Jethro tilted his head back against the arm rest of the couch, staring up at the ceiling as he methodically combed his fingers through Jenny's hair. He wondered how she would react if she knew. He wondered why he couldn't tell her.
"You ever lost someone you loved more than anything, Jen?" he asked hoarsely, before he realized he was saying it.
He didn't think he'd ever heard her fall so silent. Not even in anger.
"Yes," she answered softly. Her voice shook slightly and he knew she was biting her lip.
He couldn't find the right way to say anymore. He just nodded. Jenny had a way of understanding.
She put her hand on his chest, right over his heart, and pressed her fingertips into his skin through his shirt, probably confused.
Jenny knew he was upset, hurting even, and she wanted to know what was wrong, but she didn't dare ask. He was expressing more emotion right now—probably more than he realized—than he had in her experience with him, and he was drawing it out of her, too.
He'd made her think of her father, and she hadn't all day. It constricted her breath momentarily and she turned her head into Jethro's shirt. She didn't think it fair to cry. She took a deep breath and blinked a few times, closing her eyes.
Jethro wrapped his arm around her tightly.
He didn't know what it was that made her hurt on Christmas, or who she'd lost, but he hadn't meant to bring it to her mind.
He lay there with her for a while, he wasn't sure quite how long, until the fire had subsided a little and the chilly air was starting to pervade the room. Jenny's soft, even breathing told him she was asleep; her hand was curled loosely in his shirt, bunching up the material.
Careful not to wake her, Jethro extricated himself from their tangle and stretched, rolling his neck from side to side and yawning tiredly. He crouched in front of the fire and coaxed it to burn brightly again, reluctant to let Jenny wake up freezing in the early morning. He stood up and looked at Jenny for a minute in the dim light, watching her sleep.
Rubbing his shoulder, he approached the couch and went to pick her up; ignoring the fact that he probably shouldn't put that much strain on his injury. She whimpered in her sleep when he picked her up, wincing at the throbbing that started in his side, and carried her to the bed.
He put her down amidst the covers and she rolled over to her stomach, shifting restlessly.
"Put me down," she muttered. He smiled, pulling the covers back and then over her as he crawled in next to her, wrapping his arm around her waist again. He checked the clock Jenny had insisted be brought up to this room and noted the time, settling down close to Jenny again.
"Merry Christmas, Jen," he mumbled, kissing her behind the ear. Jenny mumbled contentedly and rolled onto her back, her head falling towards him. He put his forehead against her temple and fell asleep.
Jenny was jolted awake Christmas morning as chilly air hit her body. She curled up and turned her face into the pillows, whining, and peeked one eye open. She rolled over, reaching out for the covers lazily, and Jethro pounced on her, his hands reaching for her ribs.
She squealed as she pulled her towards him playfully and started to tickle her, hovering over her on his hands and knees.
"Jen," he drawled, pressing a kiss to her jaw and blowing lightly in her ear. She struggled to get away from him, her laughter muffled in the pillows. "Wake up," he coaxed, giving her no mercy in his tickling.
She rolled onto her back and put her knee up, trying to shove him back, but he just moved it out of the way, grinning arrogantly. Jenny shrieked and kicked with her other foot, hitting his knee. She sat up and scrambled backwards, managing to escape from his hands.
She gave him a half-hearted glare and tossed her hair back out of her face, leaning back against the headboard with bright eyes.
"Morning," he greeted, smirking.
He ran his index finger down the sensitive arch of her foot and she curled it with a shiver, squealing in protest.
"Morning," she breathed, a small smile gracing her features. She blinked a little in the surprisingly bright sunlight. He gave her a look and got off the bed, disappearing into the little alcove off of the room, near the Christmas tree.
Jenny crawled forward, looking after him curiously, and swung her legs off the bed, standing up with a yawn and crossing her arms. Jethro reappeared with a white box and she lifted an eyebrow as she met his eyes, impressed with the neatly tied gold bow on it. He held it out to her and she smiled a little as she approached and took it, turning and setting the box on the bed to open it carefully.
She felt him watching her as she removed the bow and lifted the top off of the box, gingerly pushing aside the tissue paper inside. Her eyes widened slightly when she felt the soft, pliable leather against her hand and she lifted the creamy, off-white coat out of its box, her heart skipping a few beats as she looked at it.
She let it fall slowly back in the box and turned, almost running into Jethro, unaware he'd approached her so closely. She smiled and wrapped her arms around him in a hug; he laughed and hugged back with one arm, kissing her forehead.
"It's beautiful," she said, her eyes settling on his admiringly. She touched his cheek and twisted a little, touching the leather again, completely in love with it. She was amazed Jethro had picked out something so unbelievable gorgeous. Not to mention practical.
"You gonna try it on?" he asked gruffly, as if it wasn't that big of a deal that he'd bought her a patented leather Italian coat.
She bit her lip in excitement and picked up the coat reverently, holding it up and watching the material unfold gracefully. She undid two of the fastened buttons carefully and opened the coat, slipping it on easily. She was amazed at how snugly it fit and how comfortable it was instantly. She touched the collar and the smooth buttons, glancing up at him through her eyelashes.
He looked much too proud of himself.
"Jethro," she started hesitantly, unsure how to tell him how well he'd done. He shook his head, mock stern, and pointed to her hip. Brow furrowing in amusement, she looked down.
"Pocket," he grunted. Pursing her lips, intrigued, Jenny slipped her small hand into the pocket and paused when her fingers brushed an object inside. She lost her breath a little as she pulled the white felt box out of the pocket, holding it a little warily, her eyes wide.
Jethro smirked at the curious look on her face.
"It's not a ring," he assured her, teasing. Jenny laughed, her stance relaxing a little, and looked at the box in her palm for a moment before she glanced at him and reached to open it. She lifted the top of the box open and smiled softly at the jewelry inside.
The earrings were simple, stunning, Princess cut diamonds, sparkling iridescently amidst the white bed of the jewelry box. Jenny touched one of the diamonds gently, looking up at Jethro with a warm smile.
"Merry Christmas," he said solemnly, but she could see the amusement in his blue eyes. She bit her lip and laughed, admiring the earrings again before she gently closed the box and held it to her, stepping up to him to kiss the corner of his mouth.
"You…" she murmured, catching his eye again. "Thank you," she said sincerely, clutching the jewelry box. He grinned triumphantly and she kissed him good and hard this time, slipping the diamond earrings back into their clever hiding place so she had her hands free to touch his chest.
She held onto the lapels of the flannel shirt he'd put on and touched her forehead to his chest, chewing on her lip. She didn't know what exactly she'd been expecting, but it wasn't this. Jethro really wouldn't ever cease to amaze her.
"Hey," she said leaning back and looking up at him. She crinkled her nose with a smirk. "You get a present, too," she informed him matter-of-factly, holding one finger up to indicate he should stay put.
She was still wearing the coat as she made her way swiftly down the stairs to her purse, where she'd been keeping the knife she'd bought Jethro in that shop. She pulled out the rather heavy black box and went back up the stairs, her hand skating lightly on the banister.
She smiled at him a little shyly when she re-entered the room, holding out the smooth black case for him. Jethro took it, lifting the magnetic top and looking at the switchblade inside. His eyebrows went up a little as he picked it up, his thumb running over the silver trim around the edges reverently. His fingertip grazed the engraving of his initial 'J', exploring, and he whistled quietly.
"That mean you approve?" she asked.
Jethro flicked the blade from its handle and held up the knife, looking at it intently. She smirked as he squinted a little, catching sight of the embedded words embossed on the actual blade of the knife: Rule #9.
He smirked, holding the switchblade in his palm.
"I'm just glad it's not a tie," he quipped, muttering through his grin.
Jenny punched his shoulder lightly.
"Gentlemen say thank you, Jethro," she informed him saucily.
He snorted, scoffing at the insinuation. Jenny slipped off her new coat, the room a little too warm for it, as she watched Jethro study his knife, memorizing the feel of it. She held the leather coat in her hands, smiling at it. He tapped it with the blade of the knife.
"You won't be cold anymore," he said gruffly.
She beamed at him.
"I guess I won't need to snuggle up to you anymore," she sighed dramatically, shaking her head.
Jethro narrowed his eyes and set his switchblade carefully in its box, placing it on the desk next to the bed. She smirked and took a step back; Jethro caught her arm and pulled her closer, taking the coat away from her.
He gave it a threatening look.
Jenny laughed and pressed her palm against his heart.
"Don't be jealous of the coat, Jethro," she murmured, sidling closer to him, "It won't ever keep me as warm as you do," she murmured.
"Good girl," he muttered darkly, kissing her forehead.
Jenny turned her face up for a kiss and he obliged her, gently tossing the coat onto the bed behind her.
"It's a damn nice blade, Jen," he complimented sincerely.
"I'm glad you think so," she said seriously, "because if you didn't like it I was going to stab you."
He laughed gruffly. Jenny played with the buttons on his flannel shirt.
"Breakfast?" he asked, watching her hands.
She looked up, arching an eyebrow. He nodded, answering the unasked question. Jenny smiled brightly and nodded, letting her hands slip from his shirt as she went with him towards the stairs. She noticed as they made their way through the open house to the kitchen that the windows were all open and the air was fresh.
It was an odd contrast to snowy, chilly Christmas in Washington, DC. The sun was out, and it was surprisingly warm, judging by the breeze filtering in from the windows Jethro had opened. She fell in love with the sunny Christmas, and was only minutely put off that she wouldn't be able to wear her new coat just yet.
The kitchen smelled like bacon and French toast, and her eyes lit up at the sight of the food on the stove.
"Jethro," she started, swiping a piece of the crisp bacon from the skillet and leaping away from him when he tried to take it back with a glare, "I want to find out which wife succeeded in cultivating this fascinatingly domestic side of you and send her a thank-you card," she smiled and he returned his own small smile as he handed her a plate.
It didn't quite touch his eyes, and he ignored the statement for the most part. She was beginning to realize he didn't respond well when she mentioned his wives. She took her food, gratefully took the coffee he'd made from him, and stood at the counter to eat it, munching as she looked out the window to the gravel path.
"It's so warm," she murmured, taking a sip of her coffee.
Jethro grumbled something in response and turned off the oven, glancing out the window. He came up behind her and pulled his fingers through her hair, resting his chin on her shoulder while he slowly tangled his fingers in and out of it.
She glanced at him, smiling wickedly.
"We could go to the beach," she suggested, suddenly remembering the bathing suit she'd purchased. It wasn't sweltering, and the ocean was sure to be freezing, but she could bear it. She couldn't visit Italy, stay on the beach front, and not go to the beach.
It was sacrilege.
"No suit," he mumbled, and kissed her neck.
Jenny smiled, taking another benign sip of her coffee. It tasted like Jethro had put peppermint in it. Something sweet.
"Wear your jeans," she said with a shrug. She felt him grimace at the thought of water-soaked denim and bit her lip, holding back another smile. "It will be fun," she coaxed lightly; "I bought a suit."
"Hmmm," he murmured, sounding a little interested. "Two part thing?" he asked gruffly.
"Oh, I don't remember," she said airily.
He growled at her and she shied away, his breath tickling her neck lightly. She smirked when he pulled her back insistently.
"Tease," he accused petulantly.
"You might see it if we go to the beach…" she bribed. She had her heart set on the sun and sand now.
"Deal," he said immediately. She smiled into her coffee cup. Oh, Jethro, so malleable. He rested his chin on her shoulder again and reached around her to pick through her food, finding the best piece of bacon and stealing it.
She elbowed him in the ribs and he pushed her back, knocking her hand away from his side gently. She muttered an apology and he rolled his eyes. Jenny leaned back against him comfortably and enjoyed the sunny midmorning in silence.
Jenny passed a few of the day's duller hours on the floor next to the Christmas tree, her back leant against the couch, files and papers detailing their objectives in Russia and Decker's current exploits spread out in front of her. Jethro lay on the couch behind her, eyes closed, contributing information, discussing logistics.
They'd done enough slacking off to realize that, at some point, they needed to know their mission. Jenny knew that, when Decker's Agent Callan was finished with his assignment in Chechnya, she and Jethro were headed to Russia. The cover information she'd been given was intricate, and everything they'd be wrapped up in was clearly dangerous.
But it was exactly where she wanted to be. Smack dab in the midst of the world's arms dealers. She smiled to herself as she read the files, talking in short conversations to Jethro about tactics and the like, mapping out other things in her head.
Jethro would probably knock her head against a wall if he knew the dangerous ideas she was toying with.
The early evening Positano beach was lit in a fiercely orange-yellow glow, cast in lazy light by the setting sun. It had grown steadily hotter all day, abnormally warm for December in Italy, and then cooled off a little a bit before she'd finally gotten to the beach.
She was currently trying to navigate the treacherous terrain of the sandy beach, avoiding holes and caverns made in the sand, because Jethro was chasing her down the beach. She couldn't quite remember why right now, except she needed to not let him catch her.
"JEN!" he barked loudly, closer than she'd thought, and she screamed, narrowly avoiding stumbling into a half-destroyed sand castle.
She scrambled to run faster and pushed the brim of the hat she was wearing up a little—oh, right. She stole his hat, that's why he was chasing her.
He'd worn a Steeler's hat, and refused to take it off when she ordered him to respect the Redskins in her presence. So she stole it, and he was pissed. He claimed it was his favorite hat. It was old, there was a hole in it, and the brim was frayed. Secretly, she thought he looked damn good in it.
But she was a 'skins fan.
"Dammit!" she heard him curse, and giggled, glancing behind her.
This turned out to be a bad idea.
She wasn't prepared for the sudden dip the sand took and lost her footing in the loose grains, squealing in surprise as she tried to stop herself from falling. Jethro pounced forward, grabbed her around the waist, and prevented her from hitting the ground, growling in her ear.
"I'm going to kill you," he threatened, swinging her away from the hole while she kicked her legs in a desperate attempt to get away. His hand grazed her ribs and she dissolved into giggles, cursing him for knowing that her weakness was being tickled.
"How can you like the Steelers?" she shouted, gasping for breath. She managed to escape for a split second before he grabbed her back. "The Steelers suck!"
"I'm from Pennsylvania, Jen!" he shouted trying to snatch the hat off of her head. She smacked his hand hard, preventing his victory.
"They still suck!" she informed him, wriggling so he loosened his arms and she ducked away, backing up with her arms out. He glared and started towards her, looking decidedly frightening.
"Since when are you a football kinda girl?" he snapped irately.
"Since you like the Steelers!" she retorted smartly, running a little backwards. He jumped at her and she shrieked, ducking down even thought it was futile. He tumbled down to the sand with her and she squeezed her eyes shut, reaching up to clamp the hat down on her head so he still wouldn't have access to it.
She'd been raised to love the Redskins. She couldn't just sacrifice that because Jethro liked the Steelers—though she was slightly interested to learn he was from Pennsylvania.
"Give me my hat!"
Jenny yelped loudly, feigning hurt.
"Ouch! Jethro, you're hurting me!" she cried, widening her eyes and putting on one hell of a wounded face.
He stopped harassing her immediately and sat back, looking apologetic and concerned.
"What did I do? Jen?" he asked rapidly, and she smirked, jumping up.
"Sucker!" she mocked triumphantly, dashing away again. Jethro cursed violently and came after her. "That's what you get for being a chauvinist," she teased over her shoulder, headed straight for the ocean.
She hadn't been in yet; she'd avoided Jethro's attempt to push her in by kissing him and then underhandedly pushing him into it, so his jeans were soaked up to his knees. She was still comfortably warm and dry.
She paused at the edge of the crashing waves and smirked, bracing herself for the cold she was going to feel.
"Jenny!" he roared threateningly, and she ran into the water, gasping at how icy it was, shivering, and cursing under her breath. A few waves crashed against her knees and splashed up against her chest and shoulders, drawing a squeal from her.
Intrepidly, she carried on, intent on making Jethro come get her.
She turned around when she was waist deep, shivering slightly, to taunt him, when she realized what exactly her mistake had been.
Jethro wasn't; as hindered by the cold as she. That, and she seemed to have forgotten the little detail that he was a marine. He was barely five feet behind her when she stopped, and she just bit her lips, slapped her hands over her head to protect the hat, and braced her shoulders, opening one of her closed eyes to watch him claim victory.
She let out a scream as a wave hit her in the back, splashing water all over her head and shoulders, effectively soaking her hat and bathing suit. Her only comfort was that it hit Jethro too; leaving him scowling and looking like a disgruntled, wet dog.
"You will not get away with this, woman," he growled, glaring at her.
She pulled her hands slowly from the hat and giggled, arching an eyebrow. Her eyes stung a little from the salt water, and she knew her make-up was probably running a bit.
"Oh I won't, huh?" she provoked.
He shook his head slowly and, before she was ready for it, grabbed her arm roughly and pulled it behind her back like he was arresting her, dragging her towards him in the dense water and locking his other arm around her shoulders tightly.
She struggled, the breath knocked out of her from his maneuver, and finally relaxed against him, hanging her head in mock defeat, and laughing.
"Give?" he growled in her ear.
"Fine," she relented, adding in a petulant mutter, "Bastard."
She felt his grip start to loosen and squirmed to get away when he suddenly yanked her back.
"Hold your breath," he muttered.
Startled, she glanced up and closed her mouth, following his instructions. She ducked her head as the wave he'd seen coming before her crashed over their heads, much bigger than the previous ones had been. The under tow snatched her feet from under her and she felt Jethro's hat come off her head.
She came up spluttering and laughing harder than she had in a long time, trying to breathe, and blinking her eyes in an effort to see. She reached out blindly, groping, until her hands found Jethro's shoulders and she grabbed onto him, opening her eyes to find him on his knees. They were a little further out now.
Her hair plastered to her face, she reached up and shook it back, catching sight of his hat out of the corner of her eye.
"Jethro!" she cried, pointing to it. She dived towards it, not wanting it to become lost at sea, and he grabbed her foot to prevent her from getting it, causing her to turn onto her back and kick at him feebly before she went under.
He snatched the hat and held it up triumphantly as he found his footing, and Jenny grabbed his waist to hoist herself back up, glaring in admitted defeat. He wrung out the hat and tucked it tightly into his back jeans pocket, smirking arrogantly.
She wrapped her arms loosely around his middle and he reached down, caressing her shoulder, one arm of his draped over her other shoulder to toy with the strings of her red bikini.
"Cold, Jen?" he asked mockingly.
Jenny rolled her eyes, giving him a sharp look.
"Thanks for noticing," she said sarcastically, directing his attention from her chest to her eyes.
"My pleasure," he murmured, pushing his thumb into her neck to coax her head up for a kiss.
She pressed her mouth to his and tightened her grip on him so the pushy waves wouldn't drag her into the sea again.
"Mmm," she murmured, pressing her forehead into his and grinning teasingly, "Ocean reminds me of that time you got arrested."
He glared at the top of her head.
"The time you let me get arrested?" he clarified.
She shrugged airily.
"Eh, you deserved it."
"How does this—"
"And I had to commandeer that sailboat just to bust your sorry ass out of the clink," she remembered, smiling proudly. He glared at her and grumbled under his breath a little.
"It wasn't a very nice boat," he insulted under his breath.
"And you would know this…?" she asked, lifting an eyebrow.
He looked at her in disbelief, almost outrage.
"I know a little about boats, Jen," he retorted sarcastically.
"Don't insult my little boat," she told him, poking his chest firmly, "it was cute. It ferried us safely to England."
"I ferried us safely to England," he corrected rudely.
Jenny waved her hand at him.
"You're still bitter that I left you in jail," she informed him, and was met with a baleful look. She glanced up at him through taunting eyelashes. "You were impressed I stole that boat," she stated confidently.
He didn't answer, but she knew he was, even if he'd never admit it.
"You better hope yours is bolted down," she threatened seriously, formulating plans to sabotage his basement boat building.
"Jen, if you go near my boat…" he warned dangerously.
She looked up at him innocently, her lashes fluttering, and grabbed onto his arms tightly when a few waves hit them consecutively. They were starting to build bigger again, and she wasn't too eager to be taken out by another huge one. Jethro smirked and caught her around the waist, making sure she didn't lose her footing.
Jenny shivered in the sudden breeze that blew up and looked towards the beach, where articles of their clothing were laying in a pile some ways off. It was starting to get dark, and it was probably a smart idea to get out of the water and back to the sand.
The waves became a little stronger and crashed more insistently as she and Jethro made their way back to shore, getting considerably more wet in the process due not only to the waves but splashing each other. Jenny succeeded in ducking Jethro's head under water when he wasn't paying attention, and she was still laughing about it when she splashed through the shallow water up to shore with him on her heels.
She stumbled to their pile of belongings and collapsed in the sand, managing to land half on the towels they'd brought out with them. Jethro flopped down next to her on his stomach, while she glanced at him from her back, catching her breath slowly. She closed her eyes and rested a minute, crooking her arm behind her head as a pillow and turning her face towards him. He propped his head up on his palm and drew his fingers lazily from her cleavage in the bikini to the top of its bottoms, his hair dripping seawater down his face.
She looked up at the stars that started to sprinkle out over the quickly darkening sky and sighed, pursing her lips.
"Russia doesn't seem so appealing," she muttered, frowning a little. She didn't want to leave the beach for the freezing temperatures and icy snows of Russia.
"Pretend it's London," he suggested, "That's where we're stationed," he snorted. She smirked, having forgotten that, technically, they were listed as agents abroad at the London headquarters.
"Oh, London wouldn't be pleasant in winter either," she refuted, reaching out to run her palm over his chest lazily. He caught her hand and rubbed his thumb over her knuckles, his gaze travelling over her from head to toe.
"Don't ever wear this suit in public again," he ordered sternly, leaning forward to kiss her shoulder.
She smiled and laced her fingers into his hair, pulling his head away from her body.
"I thought you liked it," she gloated.
"Humph," he huffed, holding up her other hand to kiss her wrist.
She smiled and laid her head back against the sand, her grip loosening in his hair so he could press his kisses to her neck and shoulder again. She thought about the day languidly, grateful to him for making it as good as it was. It had been a good day. Positano had been good for them.
"What are you thinking about?" he asked huskily, his lips grazing the edge of her bikini top.
She tilted her head back into the sand a little.
"Rule fifty-one," she murmured softly.
Jethro shifted and snaked one of his legs over both of hers, pulling her close to him. He pressed a kiss to her jaw and nuzzled his cheek against hers. Jenny smirked and casually slung one arm around his neck, angling her lips towards his ear.
"You've got your stamina back," she said in a low voice. She'd noticed he'd barely lost his breath chasing her around the beach all afternoon. She clicked her tongue teasingly. "I'm sure you missed being on top, didn't you, Jethro?"
"Learned to pace yourself yet, Jen?" he growled in retaliation, his hand sliding down to her thigh.
"That's for me to know, and you to find out."
Jenny giggled as he captured her mouth in a kiss, winding a leg around his seductively. It was dark; no one would see. The beach was essentially deserted—and she might not have another chance to make love on a beach.
Jenny pulled him closer to her firmly, seeking his warmth.
Even with the cold of Russia looming, the New Year looked promising.
Thank you to everyone who has reviewed&read faithfully throughout the story--stick around! Russian Twilight pops up soon!