A/N: Off the relative success of "Probie Probed" I chose to do this. An AU piece set around the end of the Frog fiasco. JIBBS…

Disclaimer: I own nothing.


For the readers of PROBIE PROBED.



It was her first time here. She felt almost ashamed that so much time had passed and that she'd never visited once. Her red, near frost-bitten fingers traced the carved lettering in the cold, grey stone that marked her father's grave over and over again. For well over an hour she'd been doing that motion; her fingers turned from soft, supple, smoothed skin to cracked, dry, icy scales as the seconds turned to minutes to hours. Her cheeks stung from the cold winds that mildly breezed around her and from the tears that had fallen and given way to the black streaks of not waterproof makeup down her face. She sniffled slightly and swallowed the ball of tears that choked her voice from being able to come out. She'd wanted to tell him about it; how she'd vindicated him and how she'd done what he hadn't been able to do, but being here and facing the reality that she'd done to Jeanne what Rene Beniot had done to her was too overwhelming for her to speak. She felt his presence behind her and knew better than to acknowledge him; he knew the truth and she'd been waiting for the confrontation about it.

He'd been watching her now for and hour and fourty five minutes. The time kept ticking by and though he was relieved to see a tiny crack in the façade that was Director Jennifer Shepard, he hated seeing the tormented, heartbroken soul that was Jenny; his Jenny… his Jen. He'd been watching her trace the letters while soft whimpers sounded from her as she cried and it was that moment he dismissed her security detail and took over for them. It'd been the driest winter they'd had in years in DC; no snow, no ice, nothing just cold- dry cold, the kind that settled into your bones and stayed there for what felt like days. He felt it in his knee now, had been for an hour, and he was sure she had been feeling it for ever longer. He approached her slowly once the sound of crying had ceased and watched her up close as she followed her ritual. Over… around… down… over… around… down. He felt her tense, knew she sensed his presence and knelt down next to her. He knew she now knew about Shannon and Kelly and now that her skeletons were out of the closet, they had something else in common- the loss of the person that understood them best. He pulled his hand from the warmth of his black leather glove and let his hand close over hers, stopping her movements. He stood and guided her to her feet before turning her and leading her to his car, his warm hand never leaving the frozen hand it clutched gently.

She didn't remember the drive back to his place, or how she got down into the basement either, but she'd never forget the look on his face when he knelt in front of her and captured her hands in his before pressing a gentle kiss to her fingertips and then sliding them into warm water to thaw. She watched him move around the boat and tilted her head, wondering why he'd not left work and gone to Hollis, but rather had followed her and kept watch over her. She read the name on the boat and her eyes immediately watered, something told her that this boat, wouldn't get burned… and it felt good. It felt good knowing that he'd grown up and moved past the pain and torment that had been his previous marriages. She blinked and opened her mouth to speak but coughed instead; her ribcage rattling with an intense cough that tore through her chest and throat raggedly. She'd just settled down from the fit and glanced around to apologize to him, but noticed he'd disappeared. A few minutes later he returned to her, warm mug of tea in his hand and a cough drop in his other.

He slid the drop into her mouth- allowing her hands to continue to thaw, and held the mug to her lips for her to take a slow sip. She began to disengage from the mug and he pulled it back and set it down on the table next to her. He dumped a mason jar over, blew the dust out and poured himself a healthy dose of the liquid before he sat down next to her. "I loved her, more than I'd loved anyone before and more than any of the ex-wives. I would've laid my life down for her… for both of them. She made me the man I am today." He nodded and swirled the alcohol in the jar while nodding to the boat, "She… was 8. Innocent, wide eyed, ready to take the world by storm. I'd never doubted my job as a marine before but when I looked at her and those… those big blue eyes looked up at me, I almost felt like saying to hell with it and staying." He stared at his alcohol and sighed, "The case is still open; the uh… the one for their killer. I check it off and on." He nodded and downed half the jar before speaking in a rough tone, "You can close it." He eyed the boat and grit his jaw.

She'd watched him make the admission that Ducky had already promised was the case. She moved her fingers in the water and winced at the burning sensation of getting feeling back, before removing a hand, drying it on the towel and resting it on his free hand that was covering his knee. She stared at their hands and sighed, "He was my hero. I loved my mother- still do, but her dream was to move to Boca and live her life out in the sun til she died; he wanted to do this. He wanted to protect everything that was sacred about this country and… when he died, I…" she stopped and forced herself to regain control, "I told him at the funeral that I'd make it right." She couldn't stop the tear that slid from her eye, trailed down her cheek and fell to its death on her arm; the perfectly round dot on her shirt evidence to the fall. She watched as his hand turned over under hers and smiled as his fingers slid through hers.

The companionable silence they shared was one he'd never found with anyone else since Shannon; Jen had been the first and only since to give him everything that Shannon had. He finished his drink, drawing strength from the dutch courage it gave him and set the empty jar on the floor. He pulled her other hand from the now room temperature water and set the dish tub on the floor before drying her hand gently and turned to face her, capturing her cheek in one hand, while the other held her two hands tenderly, "Everyone else was competing with her."

One slender hand slid out from his and closed over the one on her cheek, "I didn't know about her; how could I compete?" Her grey eyes skipped over his features slowly as he leaned in and brushed his lips over her forehead while speaking to her quietly, "That's what made it easy to love you…" He kissed her forehead a little more firmly and pulled back, "I miss you Jen."

She nodded and squeezed his hand on her cheek, "No promises Jethro." Her eyes conceded to him the fact that she missed him too, and while there were no guarantees of what tomorrow, next week, or the future held- tonight they'd be there with each other; giving as good as they got and seeking comfort in the one person in the world that understood them fully and completely.


A/N: just a simple little one-shot to tide you over til I get the next story rolling…. Which ep should I do? SOUND OFF IN THE REVIEWS.