The Fourth Times the Charm by patricia51

(Can LtCol. Hollis Mann succeed where three other women have failed? Can she build and keep a relationship with Leroy Jethro Gibbs? Begins at the end of the episode "Ex-File".)

I stand there and look up at Jethro sitting on the basement steps. He's looking back at me but he doesn't see me. Well, now I know what I'm up against. And it's a lot more than I had ever dreamed it could be.

I have always known that Jethro has been holding back something. I assumed that it was his bad experiences with his previous three wives. I told myself that I am different. I'm a damn strong woman and that I could handle whatever caused those other women to fail.

I'm well aware that Ziva dubbed me "Gibb's future ex-wife Number 4" and that description has been a running joke throughout NCIS and CID as well. When I first heard what she had said I was infuriated. How dare someone so breezily dismiss the relationship Jethro and I were building? I know, I know, it was just a quip she made one time when Jethro and I first met at a crime scene. And butted heads. Something we're rather good at. Neither of us takes a back-seat to anyone else.

I had thought that, hey, I've got an advantage that those others didn't. At bottom Jethro is still a Marine Gunnery Sergeant. We're both military, we understand the concept of duty, honor, country. Combined with our shared experiences in Federal Law enforcement and military investigations I was sure we would have a lot more in common than just a smoldering attraction to each other. I was right about that, but I didn't figure on this.

In some ways this entire mutual courtship has been an unbelievable roller-coaster from the day we met. The attraction was immediate and sparks flew but not just from the attraction. They flew because we were a head-on collision just waiting to happen. We managed to keep that collision from escalating past just butting heads until we settled accounts with Sharif. Then the collision really took place in my apartment and it was worth every second of the wait.

Things were going so well after that. That alone should have made me suspicious. People like Jethro and I NEVER find things easy. Not that we always did. I nearly wince aloud when I think of how I chewed him out when I thought he was ending our relationship.

"I'm aware there are three billion men in the world, and not all of them have to want me, but you should want me, and the fact that you don't makes me wonder why I ever wanted you."

Then I had to demand that he answer me. His showing me the mess in my bathroom and his words reply "Bigger job than I thought." and when I asked him how long it would take and he said "A while" nearly floored me as I realized that he wasn't just talking about my bathroom plumbing. He was talking about us

So here I am standing here, my mind in a whirl such as I never thought it could be. I know that I'm considered cold sometimes, domineering, and a bitch that has to have it her own way. There are times I can't, won't, argue with that description. But right now I'm lost. What do you say? What do you do?

I have always thought since I first enlisted in the Army that one day I would meet the right man and that would be the end of my military career. Then I got my commission and began to work my way up the ranks that thought seemed to recede. Now I HAVE found him and what the hell do I do now to keep him?

If I stand here then it's all over. A lot of people might, hell, WILL think that's a good thing. And not just Jenny, although she'll be first in line. Maybe it IS over. Maybe this gulf I stand on the edge of is too wide to cross. But I have to know.

I walk over to the stairs. One step at a time I climb them, feeling like each one is half way up Everest. Then I'm beside him and I sit down. I don't touch him. Not yet. I've come to him and I'm going to try my damndest but he'll have to reach out to me as well.

"I know Kelly was your daughter. What was your wife's name?"


"Lovely names." I wave towards the workbench and the tape player. "They sound lovely too. And very much in love with you."

Jethro doesn't answer. I didn't expect him to.

"Jethro, I know that regardless of what you say that you are NOT over them. And you shouldn't be. Not ever."

That surprised him. He looks at me and for the first time in a while he's seeing me. He has a quizzical look on his face."

"If you ever got 'over them' it would mean that you didn't love them anymore. That's never going to stop. I know that they will always have a piece of your heart. And Jethro, I don't want to take that piece. Just because you will always love them doesn't frighten me."


I struggled to find the words I needed. "Kelly and Shannon aren't competition. Not in the way I believe you're thinking. Your ex's yes. Jenny for sure." I want to touch him so badly right now but it's not the time to do that. I have to make him understand. "A competition implies a winner and a loser. With anyone else I could wrestle, pull hair, bite, gouge, and even use the martial arts that you know I can. But I can't compete with Kelly and Shannon. And I don't want to."

"You don't?"

"Leroy Jethro Gibbs. The man I love would never stop loving anyone just because they died. It's not a question of whether or not you will always love and miss them. The question is simply this. Do you have room in your heart for me as well as them?"

He sits there. He doesn't speak and neither do I. I've said my piece. If it's over, well, I gave it my best shot. I really love this man and I've tried my best now to let him know that I do love him and would never try to replace Kelly and Shannon in his heart. I just want to be there along with them.

He never does speak. But his hand moves and covers mine and his fingers interlace with mine. I don't need to speak either. I know. I know that we won't sail off into the sunset, happy and giddy forever. There will be hard times and rough passages. No one guarantees success. But he loves me. And we'll try. One day at a time.

(The End)

(I know a lot of people did not like Holly, to be a bit mild about it. A lot of people really disliked her. They thought she was overbearing, bossy and determined to always be on top. Could well be. But I think she loved Jethro and nobody ever said love was easy. Or lovers. You think Kelly and Shannon were the only reason Gibb's other marriages fell apart? I adore Gibbs but golly, look at him too. LOL.)