by the stylus

A/N: Lions, and tigers, and pigeons-- and Gibbs and a redhead. An AU Jibbs, from a prompt from and for an exchange with elflordsmistress.

Féré found that the application of a mustard plaster to the skin, or an icebag, or a hot-water bottle, or even a light touch with a painter's brush, all exerted a powerful effect in increasing muscular work with the ergograph. "The tonic effect of cutaneous excitation," he remarks, "throws light on the psychology of the caress. It is always the most sensitive parts of the body which seek to give or to receive caresses. Many animals rub or lick each other. The mucous surfaces share in this irritability of the skin. The kiss is not only an expression of feeling; it is a means of provoking it. Cataglottism is by no means confined to pigeons. The tonic value of cutaneous stimulation is indeed a commonly accepted idea. Wrestlers rub their hands or limbs, and the hand-shake also is not without its physiological basis.
Havelock Ellis, Studies in the Psychology of Sex, vol. 4

"You rang?"

"Gibbs! I can't believe I had to call. How did you not know that I'd found something?"

"I was out, Abs. Getting this." The Caff-Pow was snatched from his hand and Abby jammed the straw in her mouth. He waited patiently as she sucked up the brightly colored liquid, her eyes closed in what he thought could be identified as joy. Finally, he cleared his throat to break her intense concentration on the drinking process. "Abs? The case."

"Right." She placed the drink on the lab table next to the bagged evidence and lifted one of the bags. "Tada!"

He squinted at the thin object in the translucent bag. "A feather?"

She nodded brightly, her pigtails swinging. "A pigeon feather!"

"You called me because you found a pigeon feather?" He was beginning to reconsider having brought her more caffeine.

"Gibbs," she chastised. "Would I have called you if it was just any ol' pigeon feather?" It seemed to be a rhetorical question because she was already moving toward her computer and tapping away on the keyboard. "This is a feather from the Wonga pigeon, which is native to Australia but rarely found in the United States."

"Are you telling me that our dead Petty Officer was murdered by an Australian?"

She gave him a withering look, which was mitigated slightly by the brightly colored straw in her mouth. "I'm telling you that your dead Petty Officer was near a bird that's not found often in this country. Which is interesting. But it becomes more interesting when you see what else I found. This," she held up another evidence bag, "is, according to Major Mass Spec, a piece of tiger penis."

He was glad he wasn't taking a drink of his coffee. "Tiger penis?" he repeated.

"Yup. And this substance we found on his clothes is powdered ox penis," she said, pointing at yet another bag.

"Huh." He studied the neat line of evidence bags, trying to make sense of the array. "So... what? The zoo?"

"Smuggling, Gibbs!"


"Tiger and ox penis are both prized in some cultures for their medicinal properties. And Wonga pigeons are really, really expensive-- I looked around on the internet. I think our Petty Officer was involved in smuggling exotic animals."

He kissed her on the cheek. "That's good work, Abs."

She beamed back at him. "I also know who to call!"


"She gave a paper at a conference I went to last year about forensic mapping of the spread of non-indigenous species. She'd be perfect."

"Perfect for what? Who are you talking about?"

"Gibbs, I've only identified the contents of three of these bags so far. If this is a ring of exotic animal smugglers, we're going to need some help with the identification of the rest. And I know just the person to do it."

It was Tony's silence that first alerted him that their guest had arrived, coming as it did in the middle of a sentence. He glanced up to find his Senior Field Agent starting from his chair in the direction of the elevator.

In response to Tony's query, a female voice that sounded as though it was suppressing laughter said, "I'm here to see Special Agent Gibbs."

"Right this way, ma'am."

Gibbs could see the red hair, pulled back into a businesslike ponytail, over the partition; and while he wasn't exactly ignoring it, he also wasn't prepared for the force of the green eyes that hit him as the slim woman came around the corner. He absently took in the khaki cargo pants and button-down white shirt while attempting to ignore the long legs and narrow waist that they covered. She came to a stop in front of his desk and stuck out her hand. "Jenny Shepard, US Fish and Wildlife Service."

"Leroy Jethro Gibbs."

She grinned. "Really?"

"Really," he ground out, dropping her hand. Her bright smile was not helping with his studious ignoring.

"Well, it's nice to meet you, Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs. I heard you found some powdered penises." Tony coughed but she didn't blush or even flinch. "Shall we go see what other exotics your investigation may have turned up?"

He turned to head to Abby's lab, slightly disconcerted when she fell into step beside him instead of trailing behind as his team was wont to do. "Tell me about the case."

"Dead Petty Officer. Found some of your stuff on and in his clothes."

She considered his words for all of five seconds as they entered the elevator. "I'm going to need more."

"To figure out if there are other penises?"

"To figure out if your dead Petty Officer was involved in a smuggling ring. And, if so, to try and find the bastards."

It was to his credit, Gibbs decided, that although he stole a long glance at her ass as they exited the elevator, it was only a glance. As they approached Abby's lab, he reminded himself that the Goth was too perceptive for her own good-- or his-- and dragged his eyes upward.

"Jenny!" Abby was a blur of black as she hurled herself at their visitor. "It's so good to see you again!"

The expression on the redhead's face as she she was swept up into the Goth's crushing grip was priceless.

"Looser, Abs. Before her eyes pop out of the sockets."

Sheepishly, she loosened her grip. "Sorry. It's just that you gave such an amazing presentation and then we had this case with the exotic animals parts and it was so cool because I knew exactly who we needed to call for help..."

Shepard shot Gibbs an amused glance of inquiry over Abby's head and he shrugged. "She's had a lot of caffeine."

"Ah." He found himself unaccountably pleased at the warmth in her eyes as she regarded their forensic scientist.

"How about showing our guest the evidence, since she's come all the way here?"

"Oh, right! It's all over here." Abby continued to voice her excitement as she led Shepard over to the work table. The two were quickly engrossed in a conversation peppered with polysyllabic scientific terms. He watched for a moment before concluding that he had become superfluous.

"I'll just... come back."

"Okay, Leroy," Shepard threw over her shoulder. With one last look, he ducked out, the door sliding shut behind him. Because he didn't turn back, he didn't see that Shepard followed her words with an appraising glance of her own. Abby, however, did.

"Explain to me again how a tiger penis will tell you who killed my Petty Officer." He leaned against the evidence table and she stepped up beside him.

"The trade in illegal animals-- both live and dead-- is a multi-billion-dollar industry," Shepard told him. "Behind drugs and guns, it's the most profitable illegal trade in the United States every year. If your Petty Officer was involved with smuggling-- and all of the evidence makes it look like he was-- then this is big business. Plenty of motive for murder. The other samples your team collected are bear gall, pygmy marmoset hair, and powdered ivory. But this," she held up an evidence bag, "is what's going to help us find his killer."

"A feather?"

"A feather from the Australian Wonga pigeon. Leucosarcia melanoleuca. Elusive, distinctive, and monogamous." The Latin rolled easily off her tongue and he found himself drawn to the movement of her full mouth.

"Monogamous?" he repeated dumbly, when he realized that she had fallen silent. He was all too aware of the warmth emanating from her body.

"Mmm hmm." This time, when she flicked her eyes down his body, he couldn't help but notice. "Monogamous. And rare-- at least in this country. I only know of one place they can be found in the DC area. My people are already on their way there."

He started. "Relax, Agent Gibbs. While you were in a meeting with your director, your Senior Field Agent volunteered himself and a certain 'McGook' to accompany my people." She smirked. "I assume you trust your team to do a good job."

He started to protest. It was his team, after all, and it should have been his call who to send. But the scent of her, something dry and warm as evergreen, invaded his nostrils and the protest died on his lips. As she reached out to replace the evidence bag on the table, the back of her hand brushed his, and the connection lept between them.

A sharp sound startled them both. They reached for their belts in tandem, each flipping open a ringing phone.


"Hello?" Gibbs listened to DiNozzo's recitation of the events of the arrest-- "textbook, Boss,"-- while he studied the curve where Shepard's neck flowed into her shoulder. He was amused to see that she talked with her hands, pinning the cell with her ear as she praised her people's work. He reluctantly turned his attention back to his agent, who was discussing the surprisingly mature way in which he and the Interior Department had agreed to cooperate on processing the evidence.

"That's good work, DiNozzo. Drop everything back here and then head out for the weekend."

"You bet, Boss!" The enthusiasm was infectious and he knew he was smiling as he turned back to find Shepard watching him, her hip cocked against the evidence table.

"Looks like my work here is done," she said with a grin.

He was suddenly aware that it was Friday and that he felt no pull toward the boat in his basement. "Buy you a drink?"

"Special Agent Gibbs, are you suggesting fraternization?"

"Only if you accept."

"I do." She punctuated the statement with a nod. "Where shall I meet you?"

The drive over was just long enough for him to begin to have second thoughts. It was a long time since he'd done anything this impulsive in his personal life-- and the last time it had ended in a particularly bitter alimony battle. What if he'd read the signals wrong? On the other hand, she'd agreed to meet him, so it was possible that he wasn't entirely off base to think that his interest was reciprocated. He ruthlessly tamped down the uncertainty as he whipped his car into a parking spot. It was Friday night; he was going to enjoy it.

"Uh oh," was her unusual choice of opening line as she slid into the booth across from him.


"I don't know. You just have that look."

"What look?"

She cocked her head to the side and studied him. "The one my father used to have. It often preceded the statement: 'This is going to be fun-- or else.'"

He laughed. "Was he a Marine?"

"Army Ranger. Roughly the same idea of a good time." But they were both grinning now. He watched her cast her gaze around the room. The bar was oak and brass-- all of it worn, all of it warm. The sort of place where you could drink in peace and no one would ever ask to know your name. The sort of place that did not employ waitresses.

"What can I get you?"

"What do you drink?"


She made a face and studied the array of drinks at the bar. "It's too early in the evening to be that serious about anything. I'll have a Warsteiner."

When he returned with the drinks, she was furiously tapping away at her phone. "Sorry," she said without looking up. "Just have to finish this email so my guys are clear to head home." He took the opportunity to further study her, noting particularly the curves that her stridently practical clothing couldn't conceal. He wasn't sure whether it was the bourbon or the woman that made something inside of him ease just a little and decided he didn't really care. She looked up at him from under her lashes as she slid the phone onto the table with finality. "All right. No more work." She settled back in the booth. "So, what do you do when you're not chasing down bad guys?"

"I build boats."

"What?" she spluttered, and he grinned. He liked it when that line landed. "That was cruel," she said, stealing the napkin from under his glass to dab the beer off of her shirt. "You build boats? Plural?"

"In my basement."

"Whatever for?"

"Well, they're supposed to be for sailing."


"Haven't gotten that far yet."

"Ah. Haven't finished one?"

"Nope." He took a sip. "Finished three. Burned 'em."

"Leroy Jethro Gibbs, you are a strange man."

"Mmmhmm. And you?"

"I don't think I'm strange." There was a teasing glint in her very green eyes.

"Do you think you have fun?"

"I like to think I'm a good time." Which wasn't exactly an answer to the question he had asked. "I became a biologist because I like the outdoors. Hiking, mountain biking, sailing, scuba diving."

Scuba diving. He had a sudden image of her long fingers dragging down the zipper of a wetsuit to reveal a swathe of the pale, freckled skin he could see at her throat. His mouth went dry and he shifted his hips in an effort to find a more comfortable position. He dragged his eyes upward only to catch sight of her tongue darting out to moisten her lips. Sitting became even less comfortable. She leaned across the table, which gave him an even better view of the strip of skin her shirt revealed, and her voice dropped half an octave. "Another drink?"

He swallowed with effort. "The bourbon's better at my house."

They ended up, predictably, in his basement-- because the bourbon was there, and because she had insisted on seeing the boat. He'd made what he considered a valiant effort at casual conversation as she circled the frame, trailing a hand thoughtfully over the wood, but had eventually fallen silent. He'd been half-hard before she'd started her slow lap but the extra sway she was putting into her deliberate steps had him stiffening. She completed the circuit and came to stand before him, ignoring the bourbon he'd poured into his cleanest mug and instead swiping the mason jar from his hand. She took a long drink and shuddered slightly as the liquor hit home. An answering shiver coursed down him, and everything below his hips tightened.

He reached for her, hooking his fingers into the waistband of her pants and pulling her sharply towards him. She craned her neck upward, brushing her lips briefly across his before she kissed him squarely, prying his lips apart with her tongue and grazing her teeth over the sensitive skin inside his mouth. But although she arched her body into his, she kept her hands to herself. He flexed his fingers, cupping her hips, and ground them together.

She pulled away slightly to trail hot, open-mouthed kisses along his jaw as he worked her shirt free and slid his hands beneath it. Her tongue reached out and flicked his earlobe, making him draw a sharp breath. But it was her voice, low and rasping in his ear, that acted like a jolt of electricity. "You know, Jethro, in biology circles, pigeons are famous for the way that they kiss."

"How's that?" he managed to grind out.

"It's called cataglottism." She drew out the syllables, nipping at the skin of his neck. "It refers to the fact that they kiss using their tongues." When she followed this pronouncement by licking his lips, he couldn't help but yield under the touch. His tongue came out to meet hers and they dueled gently before she finally leaned in to cover his mouth with hers. He felt her hips lurch as she sought the friction of their bodies, though her hands were still curiously disengaged. The absence of that touch was nearly as arousing as the heat where their bodies met.

When he pulled away to breathe, she sat the jar of bourbon on his the boat frame and reached both hands up-- though they landed only on his shirt. She began undoing the buttons, the rasp of the material over his chest maddening as she kept her touch light. He skimmed the underside of a breast and saw her eyes darken, but her hands didn't cease their steady work. His shirt was soon open, and she scratched a set of nails lightly across his chest.

"Most organisms react positively to touch," she murmured and her voice skipped his ears and went straight to his groin. She must have felt him twitch against her thigh, because her smile widened. "You like it when I touch you, but you like it even more when I talk to you, don't you, Jethro?" In answer, he tangled a hand in her hair and pulled her head back to scrape his teeth along her jugular vein. He could see the pulse leap beneath the thin skin of her neck.

She shucked off his shirt and he returned the favor. All the while, she kept up a low running commentary on the importance of touch, as well as narrating the progress of her own inquisitive hands. He was so hard he couldn't even think. When her hands finally settled on the button of his pants, he bucked into her and nearly sobbed with relief as she eased his zipper down. Her functional clothes yielded easily to him, as did the surprisingly impractical silk he found beneath. By the time he hitched her up onto the workbench, they were both naked and it took all of his willpower to keep from slamming himself into her. Instead, he summoned every last scrap of his self-control and teased, probing at her slick warm opening with tiny movements of his hips.

She reached down between them and ran a blunt nail along his length. He bit back a moan as he watched her watch the effect her touch had on him. She flicked a teasing glance up and hummed before resuming her lecture. "'The tonic effect of cutaneous excitation throws light on the psychology of the caress. It is always the most sensitive parts of the body which seek to give or to receive caresses.' What the psychologists forgot is that the caress of the tongue can be verbal as well as physical."

The sound of her voice washed over him and broke the thin thread holding him back. "Christ, Jen," he groaned, pounding into her so hard that her head hit the wall.

She hissed encouragement as his mouth descended to her breast and suckled, drawing the nipple into his mouth and laving it with his tongue. One of her hands gripped his ass and the other roamed over his shoulders. They moved together and apart slowly, and he reached down to pull her closer to him. She braced herself with her hands behind her as he began to drive more deeply into her. The angle opened up her body so that he could reach between them and run the pads of his fingers over her. The touch changed her breathing and her voice broke off. For the brief moment of quiet, he missed the sound. But then he felt fine tremors begin to course through her body and her words were replaced by an entirely new set of sounds that came from deep in her throat.

He hadn't thought he could be any harder without something breaking, but the combination of the contractions as she came and the noises she was making proved him wrong. He gave up on any pretense of rhythm, gripping her hips hard enough that the fair skin was certain to be marked. She raised up and anchored herself on his shoulders, grinding against his pelvis as he drove into her. "Let go, Jethro," she whispered in his ear before trapping his answering moan with a bruising, open-mouthed kiss. He complied, his body surging into hers as his field of vision went white.

He came down quivering, while she skimmed a hand lightly up and down his back and rested her forehead on his shoulder. They were both sweat-slicked and breathing hard, and he could feel the front of the table digging into his thighs. He shuddered with residual feeling as she shifted her hips and brought his mouth down to lap at the dampness pooling in the hollow of her clavicle. "God, Jethro," she muttered as he felt an aftershock course through her. He grinned against her skin. "For a man of few words, you certainly do have an eloquent way of communicating." He responded by sinking his teeth into her freckled shoulder. She laughed, and without looking he knew she was giving him that self-satisfied smile that he couldn't resist. "You really don't say much, do you?"

He pulled back to meet her grin with one of his own. "You. Bed. Now."