Author's Note: And at last I'm back. It's been a long time since I last posted anything, but this story proves that I haven't been idly sitting on the sidelines in the meantime. I believe this is my longest story yet, and I had a great time and a lot of fun writing it, so I hope you enjoy it half as much as I did. It could be considered a crossover between NCIS and Stargate SG-1/Atlantis, but it's really more of an NCIS fic guest-starring two Stargate characters. If you have some knowledge of Stargate SG-1/Atlantis, it could be useful information to know that this takes place shortly after season 4 of Stargate Atlantis. If you, on the other hand, are just NCIS fans, know that the fic takes place in season 5, sometime after Ex-File (episode 5.03).

As usual, I have no beta-reader and English still isn't my first language, so you can blame all mistakes and imperfections on me.

Finally, this fanfiction is dedicated to the amazing MatteaAM, who helped me more than I can say, virtually held my hand and kicked my ass when I needed it, and I am grateful to her for this (and many other things). Sadly, the story doesn't have much to do with birthday celebrations, but this is my birthday gift to her. I love you, M!

Chapter 1

The dress shirt he was wearing was itchy.

That's the one thing Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs was acutely aware of, even more so than his partner's sweet perfume permeating the back of the town car they were riding in.

He discreetly scratched at his chest and cast a glance at Jenny.

She had been unnaturally quiet, her lips pursed in an annoyed expression that didn't suit her at all, and if he didn't know how well she reacted to rubber chicken dinners and high-end social gatherings, Gibbs would think she was not enjoying the idea of what was ahead.

He, on the other hand, wasn't slightly excited by the idea of spending the evening in an uncomfortable suit and surrounded by fake smiles and politicians.

Unnecessary shindigs at the White House really weren't his thing.

Nevertheless, he was puzzled by his partner's behaviour.

"You okay, Jen?" He asked quietly, leaning into her and watching her face carefully.

After a moment, Jenny turned to look at him, "Yes, I'm fine." She answered, and her hand reached for his, their fingers brushing against each other briefly as the car stopped and the driver announced their arrival.

"Let's get this show on the road." Gibbs growled under his breath, and Jenny just laughed as she leaned over to place a soft kiss on the corner of his mouth.

One hour and uncountable boring speeches later, Gibbs had had about enough.

Conversation wasn't his forte, he was tired of being polite to people he despised and was even more tired of watching those same people hitting on his girlfriend. Old senators, congressmen and even the odd military guy had all found excuses to talk to Jenny, and Gibbs didn't know what bothered him more: their attention towards the first female director of NCIS or the ease with which said director responded to their advances.

With an exasperated sigh, Gibbs cast a wary look to Jenny, seeing her engrossed in a conversation with some Air Force general from the Pentagon and a couple of senators; nothing he was dying to get involved with.

The open bar on the far side of the hall was alluring, and without a second thought he walked over to it, hoping to escape further socialisation.

Only one of the guests was sitting there, a blonde woman in a dress Air Force uniform. When Gibbs approached the seat next to hers, the woman turned to look at him briefly, and the insignia on the lapels of her coat told him that she was a colonel.

He felt a surge of relief inside as he registered the information: if she had turned out to be another general eager to discuss politics, he would have had to shoot something.

"Hi." She mumbled, crossing her legs as she turned on her stool to face the crowded hall.

Gibbs gave her a curt nod, "Is this taken?" He asked, pointing to the stool next to hers.

The woman shook her head briefly, "Go ahead." She brought her glass to her lips as he sat down next to her, and she took a sip of the amber-coloured liquid inside her tumbler, her eyes fixed on someone in the room and a small smile on her lips.

As the bartender poured him bourbon, Gibbs took the chance to observe the woman.

Her blond hair was tied in a bun, her long bangs and a few stray strands framing her face, giving her an elegant yet not severe look. She wore her blue uniform well, with the ease of who has worn those dress blues for many years, and her rank was an obvious reminder of that.

She looked younger than she really was, he decided, her body was lean and solid, yet softened by curves that showed a physical maturity one wouldn't expect. The way she kept her back straight and her head up, her long legs crossed elegantly as her eyes scanned the hall… everything about her spoke of a woman used to command, a team leader, perhaps. Definitely a figure that Gibbs perceived as his equal.

"Nobody ever tell you that it's rude to stare, Mr…-"

Gibbs didn't let her comment surprise him, "Agent Gibbs." He simply said.

The woman turned her stool back to look at him this time, reaching out her hand, "Colonel Samantha Carter." She offered, and cocked her head to the side as Gibbs shook her hand, watching him intently, "FBI?"

The look Gibbs gave her was a slightly more polite version of his infamous glare, though no less intimidating, "NCIS," he growled.

If the colonel had been surprised by his reaction, she didn't show it, her lips curling with the hint of a smile as she took another drink from her tumbler.

Their little exchange lapsed into a comfortable silence, both of them busy with their own thoughts, nursing their glasses.

"My first evening back in DC in weeks and of course I have to spend it at the White House. Figures."

The words uttered with annoyance by the woman barely reached Gibbs's ears, and he turned to look at her in mild surprise. She was indeed positively glaring at her surroundings and he had to keep from smiling at her expression.

"You here alone, colonel?"

"It's Sam." She glanced at him with a friendly smile before answering his question, "And no, agent Gibbs, I'm here with my husband."

"Jethro." Gibbs offered.

"Jethro." Sam smiled again, "What about you? Is this your idea of fun?" She joked.

"Not any more than it is yours." Gibbs gave her a lopsided grin before he continued, "I'm here with my partner."

"And yet you're hiding here." Sam chuckled and hid a smile in her glass as she drank some more.

"Don't like politicians." Was Gibbs's gruff answer. "I'm assuming neither do you?"

Sam nodded, "Guilty." She gave a bitter, short laugh, "I was one for too long last year, I suppose. And the fact that I'm married to one doesn't help either."

"Tell me about it." Gibbs rolled his eyes and downed his bourbon in one gulp, placing the empty tumbler on the counter.

The conversation faded again into silence and Gibbs took the chance to observe his interlocutor again. Her eyes, he noted, were an astounding shade of blue, but the hard lines around them made the colour less innocent, giving her an air of someone who has seen more tragedy than one could witness in a lifetime; he felt like he could relate to that.

Her smile, on the other hand, was brilliant and sweet, like the wide grin of a child. Even with very little make-up and wearing a uniform, Gibbs had to admit that Samantha Carter was exceptionally pretty; as he turned to look at the people in the hall again, however, his eyes found Jenny in the middle of the room and he felt his heart leap.

Just as before, back at home, she was a vision, clad in a black dress that reached her knees in soft waves of silk, the empire-style waist and halter-neck accentuating the curve of her breasts.

Her hair, that now reached her shoulders again, was loose, the curls moving gently with every turn of her head. For a moment, as a wave of male pride took over him, Gibbs felt his own lips curve in a smile at the realisation that, no matter how many men came on to her, Jenny was going home with him tonight.

Still looking at Jenny, he sensed rather than saw Sam smile at him, and he was just about to excuse himself to reach his partner, when the woman in question started to walk towards the two of them, accompanied by the same man she had been talking to for a while now.

As the two got closer to the bar, Gibbs saw Sam shift in her seat and smile brightly at the man, while he walked over to her and kissed her temple with an affectionate smile, "There you are," he said, taking her hand in his.

Sam smiled, "Just taking a break from all the politics." She chuckled, entwining her fingers with his. She then pointed to Gibbs, "Jack, this is NCIS agent Jethro Gibbs."

The man smiled friendly and shook Gibbs's hand, "Jack O'Neill." There was a brief pause before he turned back to Sam, "This is odd…" He chuckled, "I was just going to introduce you to Director Shepard, of NCIS."

Sam turned towards Jenny with an amused expression on her face, "Colonel Samantha Carter. It's a pleasure to meet you, director." She reached out her hand and gave the other woman one of her brilliant smiles.

Jenny shook her hand briefly and there was an almost imperceptible hesitation in her voice when she said, "Jenny Shepard, nice to meet you."

She looked at the blonde woman, transfixed, yet with a hint of wariness, and there was a slight confusion on Sam's face as she held her eyes. Then Jenny looked away, her eyes meeting Gibbs's for a moment, "And I see you've already met my partner." She said, a frozen look on her face as her attention returned to Sam.

And while the colonel tried to break the ice that had descended upon their little group, Gibbs was still trying to understand why Jenny looked like she had just seen a ghost.

( be continued...)