Author's Note: Good morning, lovely readers! I'm taking the Tuesday update again this week because it works better with my schedule at university now; I think next week - for the last update - I'll have Tuesday too, but I'm not sure. Anyway, this ficlet is the longest yet, and my favourite so far. I enjoyed writing it, and I hope you'll enjoy reading it, even though it may sound terribly out of character at times. I apologise for that.
Thanks again to everyone who reviewed, favourited or put the story on alert. I appreciate it! Also many thanks to Psycho Maddy for helping me out with this when I was stuck. She's the best!
"Any instrument when dropped will roll into the least accessible corner."
Friday nights were never a big deal, where he and Jenny were concerned. That's what Jethro Gibbs thought about, as he parked the car and unlocked the front door a little after nine o'clock. It wasn't surprising to find the townhouse dark and eerily silent; Noemi had left already, of course, and when he'd left the office, Jenny was in MTAC butting heads with the director of the FBI over jurisdiction. And he wasn't the cause of it, for a change.
Walking inside the house, Gibbs let the door fall shut behind his back and hung his coat on the rack, dropping the car keys inside a glass bowl Jenny insisted on keeping on a small table in the hall. He briefly remembered arguing with her about it - refusing to oblige her request to keep things in order, even - and then the whole thing had sneaked up on him and become a habit of sorts. Sometimes he wondered what would happen if the bowl suddenly disappeared; where would he automatically drop his keys every night?
Rolling his eyes at his own thoughts, he shook his head and let his feet lead him into the kitchen. Noemi's note - reminding them that dinner was in the oven and they just needed to heat it - was on the counter, like every night, and the entire thing spoke volumes about how much had changed in the past year and a half.
Leroy Jethro Gibbs had become a man of routine, a man used to living with his partner, sharing his vital space as he hadn't in years. In some ways, it was different from what it had felt like sharing his house with his ex-wives. He didn't know if it was the fact that this wasn't the same house, and it didn't hold the same memories his did, but he thought it was mostly a subtle difference about the way he and Jenny acted around each other.
They left room enough for the other to breathe, and only a few times he had found himself craving for space, when both were most stressed out and work had forced its way into their normally rather blissful private life.
It was a huge accomplishment for both of them, one that he intended to acknowledge.
Instinctively, his hand reached into the pocket of his trousers, pulling out a small, blue, velvet box and lifting the top of it to admire his purchase. Despite his usually impulsive nature, Gibbs had taken his time picking out the ring currently nestled within the box. He didn't want it to be too formal, nor too informal, for that matter. He just wanted it to be special, something that would have a meaning for them without making promises that both weren't sure they could keep.
He had found the perfect ring after he searched for a while: five small diamonds on a thin white gold band. It didn't look like an engagement ring, really, because that wasn't what he was going for at all, but it was meaningful enough.
Closing the box again, Gibbs allowed a self-satisfied smile on his face as he jogged up the stairs to his and Jenny's bedroom. He was going to put the box on her bedside table and just let her find it on her own before she went to sleep. No big deal, no extremely romantic gestures that would ring untrue to her coming from him.
He placed the box on the bedside table on top of Jenny's book, and stepped back to see how it looked. He narrowed his eyes.
'No box. The less formal the better', he thought, and stepped closer to the bedside table again to take the ring out of its container, which he slipped back into his pocket. Then he placed the ring on the book again and moved back.
Now, that was much better.
Another self-satisfied smile spread on his face, and Gibbs started to undress, to change into his sweats. The trousers were the first to go, ending in a messy heap on the bed, and he started to unbutton his shirt as he walked towards the closet to retrieve a pair of sweat pants. Then, as he so often did, he threw the shirt on the bed from his position in front of the closet.
The soft thump of the item landing on the comforter was immediately followed by a clinking sound that made Gibbs' head snap around, his eyes focusing on the bedside table.
The ring was gone.
The cause of its apparent disappearance was the right sleeve of his shirt, which had seemingly decided to go rogue and knock the ring off the table.
Putting on his sweat pants as fast as possible, and not bothering with a T-shirt, Gibbs all but ran to Jenny's side of the bed, frantically looking for the misplaced object. When he didn't find it anywhere in sight, he returned to his side, grabbing a small flashlight from the drawer of his bedside table.
Flashlight in hand, he knelt on the bed and pointed the small yet bright light down to illuminate the thin space between the headboard and the wall. When the light reflected on the diamonds and gold of the ring, glimmering faintly in the darkness, he jumped off the bed and set to move it just enough to grab the ring and put it back where it was supposed to be.
Before he could even place his hands on the headboard, the front door slammed and the sound of Jenny's voice made him freeze.
"Jethro? Are you upstairs?"
Gibbs muttered a curse under his breath and almost jumped off the bed, switching off the flashlight and throwing it back into his drawer, and then he turned to the doorway to find a smiling Jenny.
"Hey…" She walked up to him and placed her hands on his chest as she leant in for a soft kiss. "Sorry it took me so long."
Gibbs made an unintelligible sound and pressed another kiss to her lips, his hands sneaking to her hips to pull her closer.
"Did Noemi leave dinner?" Jenny asked, pulling back slightly and looking up at him.
"Yeah, in the oven. We have to heat it up." He mumbled, kissing the side of her head.
She nodded and caressed his bare chest, "Then why don't you do that while I get changed? I really need to take off these heels."
"Sure." Gibbs gave a brief nod, his mind already racing, trying to figure out a way of getting the ring out without her noticing, while he grabbed a T-shirt and put it on.
"Thank you." Jenny kissed his chin and smiled, watching him leave the room as she started to take off her work clothes.
The curse left Jenny's lips in a soft tone, and she grimaced as she saw the earring disappear behind the headboard. How it got there she didn't even know, it just seemingly flew from her hands.
That's what working too hard and too late did to her, her body took on a mind of its own and did things it wasn't supposed to. Like throwing earrings behind the bed.
With a loud, exasperated sigh, she pushed the bedside table slightly aside and pulled on the headboard to move the bed; there was no chance she was leaving her earring there and forgetting about it. And there was no doubt that she would forget about it.
As soon as the bed was out of the way, the soft light of the room brightened the usually dark space between the headboard and the wall, and she immediately saw her earring.
Along with something else.
Frowning, Jenny bent down to pick up her misplaced piece of jewelry, as well as another piece of jewelry she definitely hadn't misplaced. She didn't even know it existed.
The shiny ring looked brand new and the five little diamonds on it sparkled insistently, catching the light like only new stones do.
She felt a grin spread on her face as the implications of why and how that ring was in the room dawned on her. And there she thought Jethro couldn't be romantic if he tried!
With the precious ring clutched in her hand, wearing her sweat pants and an old NCIS T-shirt, her hair haphazardly held up by a half-broken pin, Jenny Shepard made her way down the stairs to where she could hear her partner making clumsy noises in the kitchen.
When he turned around, Gibbs found himself face to face with Jenny, her shit-eating grin, and the shiny new ring held in the palm of her open hand.
"Anything you want to tell me Jethro?" Was all she said, her grin still firmly in place and her eyes sparkling with amusement and sheer joy.
Right then, that's when he knew that the moment he thought ruined had just become accidentally perfect.