A/N: Another foray back into the LB/SF Universe. It is the rumored "Sock One Shot". I had oh-so-much fun writing it. I have one more tag to LB/SF to write up (requested by reviewers, these tags, Made You Laugh included) before I get back to hemming and hawing over a possible sequel and whether I really want to give into that nonsense.
Refresher [the conversation from LBSF that sparked this]:
Levi: "...and then Mommy said you were going to dump Gunny because of the big sock fight..."
Jethro: "You gonna give the ring back before you dump me?"
Jenny: "I distinctly remember being facetious when I told Kelly that."
I bid you enjoy.
Jennifer Shepard yawned and stared dubiously at the mountain of clothes currently surpassing the capacity of her laundry basket. She frowned unhappily in the face of the looming necessity of doing laundry; she hated it, detergents and laundry mechanisms hated her—it was just an all-around ordeal fused with hatred and grudging irritation.
Yet it had to be done.
She could put it off another day, but that might mean forgoing underwear at work tomorrow and she was reluctant to do that for no other reason than that her skirt-chasing second-in-command Anthony DiNozzo always seemed to know when a woman went commando.
So, laundry she was resigned to doing.
A pity, too, that on her first quiet night at home it came to this. She hadn't really taken a breather in her brownstone since last Tuesday and it was Thursday now. Laundry had taken a back seat to the triple homicide they'd caught at NCIS, and on one of the free nights she could have done it…well, she chose sleeping with her boyfriend instead.
Jenny smiled to herself as she thought of Leroy Jethro Gibbs, father of her greenest employee, Kelly. A novice Kelly may be at investigative work, but a novice in bed her father was not, and thoughts of his hands were enough to make laundry bearable.
The redhead pushed her hair back lazily as she trudged forward to deal with the mass of unsorted, wrinkled, inside-out garments. It might do her well to start at least sorting them as she took them off.
But sometimes, clothing was shed in much too much of a hurry to bother about lights and darks.
For example, when a man desperately wanted to see then new print lingerie she was wearing…
Jenny paused in sorting her whites, holding up a sock that did not belong to her. She knew it because for one thing, she only wore socks about once a month, and it also happened to be twice as large as her petite foot.
"He needs his own drawer," she muttered to herself, recognizing the sock as Jethro's after a moment and chucking it aside without a second thought. It must have gotten mixed in with her things a few nights ago—
-she pulled out its mate from the pile and left them together, not thinking more of it. That is, until she found another one, and a few seconds later, another one that was unrelated to the one she was holding.
Jenny frowned and peered closely at her piles of clothing, eyes roaming over the oxfords and silk shirts, lacy panties, pencils skirts and…socks.
Socks. Socks. Socks.
White socks, black socks, beige socks. Mostly white socks with the Nike swish on them.
Jenny glared threateningly at the conglomeration of foot attire.
Jethro's stupid, dumb socks were everywhere. They numbered almost as much as her lingerie sets.
Narrowing her eyes, Jenny dumped out her laundry basket and began filling it with every sock of his she could find, cursing him silently within her mind. She found it irritating that all of his socks ended up in her laundry basket, irritating and suspicious.
She hated doing her own laundry-
Jenny balanced the bag on her hip, slipped on flip-flops, snatched her keys from her bureau, and marched down her stairs purposefully.
-she'd be damned if she was going to do his.
Leroy Jethro Gibbs was sitting on the living room floor playing a pretty damn serious game of tug-o-war with the dog. Pterodactyl, rather large now, growled and whined through a mouthful of rawhide rope and Jethro lazily refused to let him have it.
He paused in tugging, allowing Pterodactyl some leeway, when his grandson suddenly darted into the room in his little blue-and-red towel robe hooded thingy, one arm falling off his shoulder and soap still bubbling in his hair.
"Can't catch me, Mommy!'
Levi Gibbs looked at Jethro and giggled, pretending to zip his lips.
Jethro raised his eyebrows dangerously.
"You got a death wish, punk?" he asked, as Pterodactyl, taking advantage of his master's inattention, yanked his toy triumphantly to himself. He perked up, tilted his head, and barked loudly.
"Levi Michael Gibbs!"
Levi gasped and dashed around to the couch, crouching low to hide.
"Shhh, Gunny!" he hissed playfully, giggling again.
Jethro winced as his daughter came storming out of the hall, a towel in her hand, half-covered in bathwater, dressed in a dirty t-shirt and frayed jeans. She was tired, she'd had a hard week at work, and Levi was being particularly rambunctious.
"Where did that little monster go?" she growled.
Jethro jerked his thumb silently at Levi's hiding place. Kelly narrowed her eyes.
"I swear, Levi," she threatened, approaching him.
"Graaaaaanpaaaaaaa!" whined Levi, stamping his foot impatiently.
"What? You know how terrifying she is." Jethro retorted, earning a nasty glare from Kelly. The doorbell rang and Jethro snatched Pterodactyl's toy back as he stood up, avoiding Kelly and Levi as he went to answer it.
Pterodactyl traipsed alongside him eagerly, leaning into his legs and growling menacingly at the rawhide. Smirking, Jethro rewarded him and allowed him to have it; Pterodactyl immediately began shaking it incessantly.
The retired marine opened the door. He only had the briefest second to register that it was Jenny- and she was standing on his porch with her hand on her hip, her eyes hard and annoyed, dressed very casually, with a laundry basket—before the redhead stormed in, kicked the door shut, and proceeded to matter-of-factly empty the contents of her laundry basket onto his head.
Standing there with socks on his head, shoulders, and feet, he wasn't exactly sure what the proper response was.
"What the hell, Jen?" he asked bluntly.
"Mommy you're MEAN!"
"Son, I am not in the mood...right…now…um, Daddy?" Kelly, in the middle of snapping Levi's head off, had apparently cottoned on to what was going on at the front door.
"Would you care to enlighten me as to why what I'm fairly confident is the entirety of your sock drawer has ended up in my laundry basket?" Jenny demanded shortly, glaring at him with her dark green eyes.
"It's nice to see you too, sweetheart," he retorted sarcastically, plucking a suck off of him gingerly and dropping it into the basket she had unceremoniously dropped at their feet.
Jethro tried to ignore the fact that his daughter was snickering at him.
"Do not attempt to be cute, Jethro," Jenny snapped at him seriously. "I find no humor in this situation. These," she lifted one sock off of him distastefully, "belong to you. I am anxious to hear the damn good reason they were all oh-so-conveniently at my house in my laundry basket."
She flicked her wrist and thrust the sock downward, perfectly arched eyebrows brooking no nonsense.
Jethro blinked slowly and looked around, narrowing his eyes at Kelly menacingly. She looked back innocently, a gleeful glint in her eyes. Levi waved excitedly at Jenny, squirming relentlessly in the iron grip his mother was restraining him in while she watched.
"Go to your room," he ordered.
"No, thanks, I'm fine here," she responded lightly.
"Kelly, dear heart, if you don't want little Levi there to hear the f-word, I suggest you make your retreat now," growled Jenny sweetly.
"Ah," Kelly nodded, lifting her eyebrow at her Dad teasingly and dragging Levi towards his bedroom.
"Mommy, what's the f-word?"
"Frank." Kelly responded, deadpan. Her voice, and Levi's echoing giggles, faded, and Jethro slowly turned back to his livid lover. She blew air out between her lips threateningly, making wisps of loose red hair on her forehead dance.
"What do you have to say for yourself, you misogynistic, sexist, old-fashioned prick?" she demanded.
Jethro bit back a snort of laughter. If he had left his socks at Jenny's house for her to wash because she was a woman, it was definitely on the most subconscious of subconscious levels. He'd never dare make the mistake of associating Jen with housewifery.
"You look good," he blurted, wincing immediately after he said it. He was thinking it, but he knew that it sure as hell didn't bode well for him that he'd said it as an answer to her question.
Jenny stared at him.
"I am going to hang you up by your toes and beat you with a frying pan," she snarled, approaching him in a prowl. He took a slow step back, eyeing her warily. Jenny could come up with the most creative threats.
"Relax, Jenny, it just happened," he said impassively.
"No. No, Cowboy, I do not think it just happened. I think you were mistaken enough in our relationship to believe if you just left your dirty laundry laying around my house, I would do it with a smile on my face," she narrowed her eyes sarcastically. "Perhaps you thought I'd fold it, too, and cook you dinner, after one of your grueling boat-sanding days—"
"Jesus Christ, Jen," he interrupted, rolling his eyes. He gave her an absurd look. "You're overreacting."
"I hate laundry, Jethro."
He gave her a look. Who actually liked laundry?
"Me sleeping with you does not translate into me performing the services of a meek little laundress," Jenny snapped at him, lowering her voice. "Nor does the fact that what you did to me the other night in my shower was fucking incredible make me your personal maid."
There was the aforementioned 'f-word' she warned Kelly about, but she said it so quietly and so close to his ear, he doubt Levi would have heard if he was standing at their feet. Jethro swallowed hard, giving her a tortured look.
"I don't want you to do my laundry, Jen," he growled pointedly.
"Hmmm," she hissed sardonically. "The pile of Nikes surrounding your errant personage speaks to the contrary."
"I did my own damn laundry for sixteen years. Kelly's too," he retorted firmly. He and Kelly had reached an unspoken agreement to each do their own laundry when he'd discovered hot pink lace undergarments in her basket at sixteen and freaked out.
"Colour me impressed," Jenny fired back silkily.
She nudged the laundry basket at her feet flippantly.
"Funny, though, that your explanation for this travesty is still nonexistent."
"Ploy to lure you over here pissed," he offered lazily, catching her wrist and running his thumb gently back and forth of over her pulse. She smirked.
"What a sad indictment of my life, that I date a man who finds laundry and anger a sexual aphrodisiac," she purred. He snorted derisively, narrowing his eyes, and attempted to tug her forward. She hit her foot on the basket, cursed, and lost her balance, falling at his feet. Never one to let just her pride go before a fall; she took him down with her.
Jenny landed in the basket and it tipped her over into Jethro's arms. She shook her head, her eyes wide with surprise, then narrowed them, lifted an eyebrow, and raised herself up on one arm, looking at him suggestively.
"I admire the fact that you substitute amusement for finesse in getting me on top of you," she teased.
He put his hand on her cheek and pulled her mouth to his, glancing with his peripheral vision to make sure Kelly was still nowhere to be found, no doubt struggling to get the hyper Levi to bed.
"I protest this distraction tactic," she snapped, nipping his bottom lip with her teeth.
Jethro stood up unceremoniously, eliciting a squeak of protest from her, and tugged her up with him, kicking the laundry basket out of the way. He wrapped his hand around her wrist tightly and led her down the hall.
She plated her feet outside his bedroom door, twisting out of his grip and leaning against it, with her hand behind her on the doorknob. She gave a secretive look to the closed door of Levi's bedroom and then flicked a sultry look on Jethro.
"You've got a lot of nerve, devil dog, thinking you'll get me naked after the ill-intentioned sock stunt you pulled."
"Damn, Jenny, if it's that big of a deal, I'll do your laundry for you," he growled, trying to wrestle her into his room before Kelly finished putting Levi to bed. Jenny raised pristine eyebrows and bit her bottom lip into a smirk.
"If ever a sentence uttered was destined to spread my legs, that was it," she quipped wryly, and he pushed her back into his bedroom aggressively.
Kelly Gibbs practically had to ninja-roll out of her son's room to avoid awakening him and listening to another forty-five minutes of whining and moping about bed time. She loved her baby, but this sudden aversion to sleep was going to have to be beaten out of him. Or something.
She leaned against his door and sighed, blowing air out of her mouth in relief. Kelly glanced down the hall. There was still an ocean of socks flooding the front doorway, as well as an over turned laundry basket. No Jenny, though, or Dad. And silence.
Kelly furrowed her brow suspiciously. Silence was unacceptable. It could mean someone was dead, probably her father. She moved away from Levi's door, intent on finding the feuding lovebirds, when she noticed her dad's door was closed.
"Blasphemy," she hissed to herself, covering her ears even though it was completely quiet in the house. She was afraid of what she might hear if she listened at all. She dashed away from Dad's bedroom and to the kitchen table, snatching up her cell phone. Hitting speed dial two, she slipped out onto the front porch and shut the door, curling up on the porch swing.
"Tim. It's Kelly."
"Why are we whispering?" he answered, adopting her secretive tone though the phone. Kelly smiled warmly.
"Unspeakable things are going on in my house, Tim."
"Need me to come over?"
"Mercy me, no! I would never expose you to the sacrilege that is being perpetrated at this very moment…because either Jenny and Dad are locked in a bedroom fighting or—"
Kelly was enjoying the early morning, no loud five-year-old, coffee-smelling peace of this particular Friday all alone. She watched her espresso brew, a mug and bottle of creamer ready to go.
Soft footsteps crept into the quiet and she turned her head into the hall. After a moment of listening to near-inaudible thumps, she moseyed over and peeked around the wall. A certain redhead was gracefully replacing the strewn socks back into their basket. She lifted it onto her hip.
Kelly stepped into full view and crossed her arms, raising her eyebrow poignantly.
Jenny glared at her, not startled in the least.
"I take it you and my father have resolved your differences?" she asked slyly.
"Not at all, smart-ass, I'm breaking up with your father. I no longer see a future, but instead a pile of dirty socks," Jenny deadpanned, her eyes flashing mischievously.
Kelly smirked and scoffed under her breath. Jenny gave her a prim, clandestine smile in return and tucked the basket securely under her arm, waltzing off down the hallway. Kelly retreated back to her coffee and her solitary morning, pondering the phrase 'to air one's dirty laundry' with a new perspective.
Correction: I lied. I have two more LB/SF tags to add to the universe. One by reviewer request; one I couldn't get out of my head.
**Another Thing: The two I mentioned on my profile will be up in the next few days. I've been travelling/asleep for the past million hours, so they didn't happen. So, Happy Independence Day (americans) via this, and Happy Birthday, Holly! :)