Author's Note: English isn't my mother language and this is not beta'd, so please bear with me and my mistakes.
This is part of a bigger project that involves the same characters, but it can stand alone. I apologize if the characters come off as OOC to you, I tried to be as true to them as I could.
It was raining.
Large, cold drops of water hit him as soon as he stepped out of the cab on the quiet Parisian street. A stray ray of afternoon sunlight peeking through the clouds from time to time made the pavement shine as the rain washed away what little rubbish was littering the sidewalk.
Despite the rain, the street looked just the same as it had over six months ago, and so did the colourful, modern apartment building across the avenue.
Trying to avoid getting soaked, he ran across the deserted street and reached the white, wooden gate. He spotted the tag with her name easily amidst the many French names, and pressed the button next to the nametag.
She answered in French and he couldn't help but smile slightly at how her voice sounded even softer whenever she spoke a foreign language.
A short pause gave away her surprise, but he could hear a smile in her voice when she spoke again, "Come on up."
"Hey…I wasn't expecting you so early."
Her smile was the first thing Jethro saw once the door was pulled open, but soon his breath was stuck in his throat as his eyes drank in the sight of her.
Her crimson hair was longer now, slightly curled, and the practical cargo pants and tank top she was wearing did nothing to diminish the beauty of her body.
As a few seconds passed, and a knowing smirk appeared on her face, he realized that he was blatantly staring, but he firmly refused to be embarrassed by it as his eyes slowly moved up her body to stare into hers.
"You gonna come in or you want to stand there much longer, Jethro?" Jenny Shepard gave her former lover an amused smile and stepped aside to let him in, waiting for him to walk past her before she quietly shut the door.
"Where is she?" Jethro took off his wet coat and hung it on the rack himself, looking around.
"Living room, quite busy right now." Jenny chuckled slightly and watched Jethro walk slowly into the adjacent room, following him as she saw him stop and stare in awe at the subject of their conversation.
"She's gotten big." He murmured hoarsely, his voice and the look in his eyes betraying the deep emotion he wasn't going to show any other way.
"Yeah, she grows so fast." Jen's words died into silence as Jethro crouched down a little far from the playing toddler, on one side of the living room, and she watched him interact with their daughter with curiosity.
"Mama?" The red-haired toddler turned her wide, blue eyes from Jethro to Jenny, seeking the comfort of a familiar face when she found herself looking at a man who was pretty much a stranger to her.
"I'm here, Lizzie." Pushing back the bubble of guilt rising in her chest, Jenny walked over to the little girl and knelt down next to her. "It's daddy, Liz. Il est ton pére."
The little girl named Elizabeth looked up at Jenny with even wider eyes and crawled closer to her, snuggling into her side, "Papa?" She asked, peeking at Jethro with one intense blue eye as she hid her face in her mother's chest.
"Oui, chérie. Il est ton papa." Jenny nodded and kissed the top of Elizabeth's head, smiling tentatively at Jethro as she caught him observing the exchange with undisguised interest and just a hint of concern.
"She understand French already?" He asked suddenly, noticing her look.
"Yeah…that's what she hears all day long, she picked up on it easily." Jen answered, biting her lip as the concern on his face became more evident, "But she understands English too. She's just too shy right now."
"Yeah, I get it." Jethro nodded and got up again. He needed to give the girl some time to get used to him all over again, it was just normal since he only saw her once in a while. But no matter how rational the thoughts in his mind were being, he couldn't help but feel hurt rising inside of him at the shy, unfamiliar greeting his own daughter had offered him.
His eyes scanned the room for lack of anything else to do other than dwell on his sorrow and disappointment, and he immediately noticed a voluminous package propped up against an empty wall.
"New bookcase. Need to find the time to put it together." Jenny explained, catching his look.
Jethro nodded absently, his hands itching at the opportunity of manual labour, eager to actually do something other than standing there, waiting.
"You need help with that?" He asked, already working over to the package.
"Oh, no. I'll be just fine as soon as I get some time off and Liz is busy with something else." Jenny answered half-heartedly. She actually could do with some help, but he was not supposed to spend his time at her place setting up stuff for her.
"You keep Liz busy, it won't take long." Jethro just said, already opening up the brown package and sliding the wooden boards out; his eyes lighting up as the distinctive smell of wood permeated the air around him.
The scent wafted over to her, and Jenny couldn't help but smile as she was reminded of his own characteristic scent, a mixture of sawdust and coffee that she still remembered ever so often in her dreams. Nodding her head slightly, she got to her feet with Elizabeth in her arms and walked down the hallway to a small storeroom to get her toolbox.
When she entered the living room again, Jethro was aligning the boards on the floor, his movements betraying an eagerness to get to work that she remembered all too well.
"Got everything in here." She smiled, handing him the toolbox, and he took it from her with a tight nod. "You don't really have to do it, Jethro."
His piercing ice blue eyes fixated on her green ones as he raised his head, and he shot her an intimidating glare that wasn't really as intimidating to her as he probably would have wished. "I want to do it, Jen." He then added, just in case his look wasn't clear enough.
Jenny rolled her eyes and smiled slightly, "Thanks." She mumbled, holding his gaze for a few seconds longer before she dropped to the floor with Elizabeth, sitting Indian-style on the soft carpet as the girl waddled away to grab her favorite doll and ran back to curl up on her lap.
A low growl was the only response she received from Jethro, but it was enough for her, and both she and Elizabeth kept quiet as they watched Jethro work silently, his movements rapid, almost captivating, as he put together the pieces with practiced ease.
As she squeezed her doll into a hug, Lizzie stared wide-eyed at her father, observing every movement and gaping as she watched the pieces of wood morph into something huge in her perspective. She barely registered the soft brush of her mother's lips against her temple as her entire being was focused on the smooth movements of her father's arms.
"Dada?" Her small voice sounded much louder than it actually was, as it rose high-pitched yet tentative in the silence that surrounded the three of them.
Jethro stopped working abruptly, the hand holding the hammer hanging mid-air for just a few seconds as he turned to look at Elizabeth.
"Yeah, Liz?" He asked gruffly, but his voice was once again proof of how he deeply cared about his daughter, despite the dysfunctional situation they were living in, in spite of how he had only gotten to see her for the first time barely a year before, when she was celebrating her first birthday.
As he turned to look at her, the toddler didn't say anything at all, she just gave him a bright, wide grin and hugged her doll tighter.
And to him, that was more than enough for now.