Disclaimer: Honestly, I think you get it, right?
A/N: Thanks to CheerChickx for help on the icky sappy side of stuff. Not that most of this isn't icky and sappy.
Jennifer Sheppard has written many letters in her life. In her dying moments, she remembers two. The first is sitting in a locked drawer, in a cabinet, in the basement of Leroy Jethro Gibbs. But she doesn't know that. She didn't want to remember it. She didn't want to know every word, to be able to picture every flourish of the pen. She didn't want to. But she could, and she did.
This is the hardest thing I've ever had to do. I'm watching you sleep as I write this, and you look so serene. You're smiling, and I never want this moment to end. You're breaking my heart. I could watch you sleep forever, you know that? But you'll wake up soon, and I'll hide this letter to finish later, and smile at you. And you'll smile back, I hope, and break my heart some more. Because this time with you has been the best of my life, however clichéd that sounds. It's passed like in a different world – home is so far away, and here it's just you and me, and I wouldn't have it any other way.
You woke up, Jethro, and you grinned, and your eyes sparkled, and I wondered how I could even think of leaving you. I wonder if when you read this, you will think back on these days and see signs of what was coming, or maybe you see them now. I hope not, though. I hope you'll see our last days together as what they are – happy. You and I, as I wish we could be forever.
But I have plans, Jethro, and I've had them for a very long time. Ambitions, and if I didn't strive for them, I wouldn't be me. Sometimes a desire is with you so long, is so ingrained, that it becomes a part of who you are. We're not going to be in Europe forever, in this bubble, and in the States, things are so much more complicated, you and I, we're so much more complicated.
And what if we don't last forever? If nothing else, I'll be honest. It's not outside the realm of possibility. And then I'll know I gave up an extraordinary career opportunity. Jethro, you know I couldn't. You know me.
I've been writing this letter for days now, just trying to get it right. One painful sentence at a time. I've been writing it for days now, and it still seems so short. How could I explain everything I'm feeling in one letter?
Well, we're leaving Paris tomorrow, Jethro, and I'm leaving you. And sometimes I try to pretend to myself that I don't know how much it will hurt you. But I do. Because I know you love me, I can see it, and I wonder if this is a decision I'm going to regret for the rest of my life.
I know I should do this face to face, trust me, I know, but I can't stand to. How could I say this to you? How could I leave you, if I had to do it in person? I couldn't. I'm not that strong.
For what it's worth, I love you. I can imagine that might be hard to believe, but I want you to know. I love you more than I knew was possible, so much that sometimes I'm physically aware of the weight in my chest, and it makes me want to cry, and that sometimes when you do something as small as smiling at me, I'm overwhelmed by joy and adoration. And it scares me so much.
J'adore tu, Jethro.
I'll miss you.
The second is sitting on her desk, in her office, in her house. She was going to work on it like the first. Slowly. It needed to be perfect. But there it sat, it was never sent, never finished. Never would be. She wonders if it will ever be read, no, she wonders if he will ever read it. And she wonders if he'll understand if he does. That letter was meant to say so much. It was never finished. It never would be. She remembers it with regret, her last chance to explain, her last chance to tell him she was still in love with him. But it sat, and even if he did ever see it, all it said was two words.
And she's just going to have to hope it's enough. But that's okay, 'cause he's always known what she's thinking anyway. The thought makes her laugh a little, and she dies smiling.