Warning: Use of strong language mostly from Mike Franks
Spoilers: Although this is an AU from season 4 onwards, it does carry some spoilers for the season 8 finale.
Disclaimer: I do not own NCIS or any of its characters, or its settings. The Semper Fi team is of my creation, but the rest belongs to the lovely folks at CBS.
I would once again like to apologise for the bad French translations, as a linguist I know internet translators are often wrong but I was never very good at French. Too busy writing fanfic in the lessons, me thinks. I drew the line at translating the Russian. Sorry this chapter is so late, but hopefully my head is moving back in the game and there will be regular awesome coming. Lets hope so, anyway! And Doctor Who had a huge part on why this wasn't up four hours ago. But enjoy!
The Frog was dead. The jesters were out of the kingdom. The queen was standing by his boat, sipping a mason jar of bourbon and staring at him with eyes that he couldn't deny, even if he tried.
"You know it was almost like being back at NCIS, the whole team crowded in my basement. Didn't really get them far, but I think they miss me."
Jenny smiled. "They're not the only ones."
Jethro reached the end of the stairs and started his walk over to Jenny by the boat. He reached up and pulled the band out of her hair, loosening the auburn strands down onto her shoulders. She seemed a little drunk, but then he had come down here in the first place to drink the contents of his bourbon bottles. He had had to stand there while his former team examined the evidence, trying to prove Tony not guilty while he knew all along Jenny had shot the Frog. It had taken every breath in his body not to implicate Jenny as he knew it wasn't her fault. She had been pushed way too far.
"Everyone in the clear?"
She nodded. "Tony's a little upset that his ex girlfriend tried to frame him for murder. But apart from that, everyone is intact. Of course, they're a little upset that Vance is taking over as director of NCIS."
Jethro looked up from the floor and into her eyes. He pressed a hand either side of her shoulders, moving against the boat. She smiled as he leaned in to her, wanting to trace his smirk with her finger tips.
"You quit." It was a statement with the hint of hope. "I thought that being the Director was part of your five point plan. I thought you were happy."
She didn't answer, just pushed her mouth onto his. His hands moved from the boat to grip around her waist. He pushed her hard against the boat, her own hands digging into his hair. They broke the kiss, and she looked at him, her thumbs stroking his cheeks.
"I'm happy now."
The car ride had been quiet. Deathly quiet. Jamie had never experienced such silence in his life. She was driving, her fingers tapping out a rhythm less tune on the wheel. The fact that Jamie hadn't said anything implicated him deeper into the events that hadn't transpired over the weekend. He hadn't known that anyone at NCIS even knew. Doctor Mallard probably did, and he had mentioned it to Abby when they had gone out for lunch last Friday.
Abby. He would have to have words with the adorable Goth girl. Ever since he had joined Semper Fi, he and Abby had been close. She called them adopted step siblings, and they often went out for lunch to discuss their mutual taste in music, his desire to jump off buildings and her love of bowling with nuns. However, he hadn't realised that letting her in on the engagement plan had no doubt resulted in both NCIS teams they dealt with knowing what was going on, and of course the Director himself.
They pulled up outside Semper Fi, Jenny turning off the engine. She turned to look at Jamie, who was trying to focus on how he could dig himself out of the hole he had found himself in.
"Don't say anything to Gibbs about this, okay? Promise me, Jamie, you won't say anything."
She reached over for his hand, tightening it in his grasp. He would do anything for her, she knew that. Jamie gave a small nod, before moving to open her car door. Three years ago he had made a promise to keep her safe, as she had a tendency to get herself in trouble. Over the three years he had extended that promise to not just her body, but her heart too. If Gibbs hurt her, he would put a bullet in him.
"Let's go see what else can go wrong today."
"Angelique will have been arrested by NCIS again, Mike will have been involved in a bar fight and Katie will have started a preschool smuggling ring." Jenny turned to him at the last suggestion, and broke out in the first honest smile he had seen all morning.
Gibbs was sitting in a doctor's office, flicking through a magazine. He was tailing the wife of a naval officer who had written to them via his sister, asking them to make sure his wife was faithful. They regularly got involved in cases like that, mostly because they were nothing that NCIS could deal with and Semper Fi was always discreet. Of course, if they did find out that one of the wives was cheating, they passed the names onto McGee to put in a database he had created to flag up any potential crimes of passion that could occur.
He had a bigger problem than watching the wife fiddle with an out of date woman's magazine - his own woman, Jenny. He kept thinking back to Mike's words, and his own reasons for wanting to move forward with her. He was tired of waking up without her, tired of not feeling her against him when he had nightmares. Using his key to climb into bed with her when he woke up shaking was not a good substitute for a relationship. He couldn't - wouldn't - give her up, not when she had nearly been taken from him.
"So, Angelique told me you didn't propose to Jenny."
Gibbs looked up from his magazine and turned to Daniel. The young man cocked a smile and brushed his brown hair off his face. Daniel put down his crossword puzzle and turned to his boss, keeping the corner of his eye reserved for the short skirted wife of their client.
"You didn't propose to Jenny. I get it, I do. I'm just…I thought you were ready to move on with her. I mean, if you-"
He stopped Daniel's words with a clip to the back of the head; he had a bigger issue to deal with than Daniel's crisis over his date. "How did you know I was going to propose to Jenny? I told Mike about it when I had the initial idea, I took Angelique with me as a decoy when she needed a new computer. I asked Ducky for ideas on where to propose." Gibbs slammed down his magazine. "How do you know?"
Daniel realised his mistake in trying to have a conversation with his boss about his personal life. They had talks occasionally, but usually only to do with past loves and the grieving process. Gibbs had never confided in Daniel about his relationship with Jenny, and he had never asked - he had worked under Jenny Shepard and didn't want to get involved in their relationship at all.
"Emily told me when she came over for dinner on Friday night." Daniel gulped, realising he had just implicated Emily in the vast network of navy investigator gossip. He decided, because he was tired of the glare his boss was giving him, that he was going to explain what he knew. "Angelique told Emily and Jamie, and Emily told me. And Jamie went out with Abby this weekend when she wasn't running lab samples on serial killing psychopaths, so she probably knows too. Jamie can't keep his mouth shut."
Jethro ran his hands over his face. This was bad. If word got back to Jenny that he had been thinking about proposing and hadn't - it would be dreadful. He'd had similar incidents with girlfriends and ex wives before, most notably when things to do with their relationship had blown up in his face. He wanted to make sure the next time he saw Jenny there was no sporting equipment in the vicinity.
"I wouldn't worry, boss. Abby wouldn't - well she would probably tell Ziva, maybe McGee. Palmer, possibly. Ziva would tell DiNozzo, and DiNozzo…well DiNozzo would probably send out an email. So Vance, SecNav and probably all of Jenny's old political associates know that you were planning to propose."
"She went for a breakfast meeting with Vance. She knows."
The wife they were tailing picked out a magazine detailing sex tips, before she was called up to go see one of the doctors - tall, handsome, too chiselled to be a normal medical professional. Daniel noted which doctor's office she was heading to, and made a groan.
"Hey boss, be back in a moment."
Angelique had managed to get the building plans for the particular doctor's surgery, and Daniel knew that there was a very thin wall between the men's bathroom and the office that the wife had gone in to. Dropping his crossword puzzle down on the seat, he headed off to listen in. Very unethical of course, but unless she was there for STD treatment, pregnancy tests or was having an affair with the doctor, nothing would go down on the file.
Gibbs watched Daniel walk away, before turning back to the crossword puzzle. He found a magazine being brought back down on the back of his head, and he turned to the elderly woman sitting next to him, the now uncurled sewing magazine in her lap.
"What was that for?"
"For not proposing to your young lady and letting everyone know first. Everyone today wants to share their business, no secrets or surprises anymore."
He sighed. He was getting grief everywhere. "Not that it's any business of yours, but things with me and Jenny are complicated. Lots of things and lots of history to contend with."
The woman sniffed, and turned to the first page of her magazine. "She's a pretty young thing. You both look happy on your phone."
Gibbs looked at her for a moment, before realising he had spent about ten minutes trying to switch off the fancy phone he had been bought the previous Christmas. The background for the screen was a shot of him and Jenny from the previous year, when the pair of them and Mike had ended up tracking down an arms dealer with a bounty on Jamie's head in Rome. He stared at the picture, amazed at how happy they both looked, especially Jenny. He hadn't been this happy in a long, long time, and neither had she.
By the time Daniel had come back from the bathroom, claiming he felt much better and didn't really want to see a doctor, Jethro Gibbs was determined to see Jenny tonight and talk to her about what she wanted. An evening spent with Katie, before listening to music with a glass of bourbon would be perfect. With that sorted out in his head, he turned to help Daniel with his problems.
"You nervous about your date?" Gibbs asked Daniel as he waited by his car, ready to tail the wife some more.
Daniel took his keys out of his pocket and tossed them to his boss. "A little. I just…I don't want to spend the rest of my life alone, Gibbs. I have Katie, but eventually she'll grow up. Mike will be in Mexico, you and Jenny will be in Paris. Jamie will no doubt have been killed by someone, and Emily…" Daniel smiled briefly. "Emily will just do what she needs to get by. You know she's already got Semper Fi tattooed on her."
"She got it finished then?"
"Oh yeah. Our girl has completely rejected those who be the best that they can be."
They shared a smile as they went to tail the wife.
"I mean, why her. Why some preschool teacher?"
Mike looked up from the pack of cigarettes he was tending to and gazed over his protégé. She was taking pictures of Hector, trying to catch him breaching his parole like they had done three times before. Her blonde hair was falling into her eyes, and she was trying to contain her anger but was failing hard at doing so. For once though, it wasn't anger at the rapist walking around: this was something else.
"I mean, I get that she'd probably be good for Katie and that's fine. But you can't bring a preschool teacher into this mess. Come on! We track down cheating wives and husbands and get the odd sailor into rehab between hunting arms dealers and assisting NCIS catch serial killers. You can't bring a teacher into that."
He had met the kid in Mexico, downing a bottle of tequila and cursing her former employers, the United States Army. She'd been bitter, broken and ready to fall into the cracks. He had pulled her out of that, finding another person who needed Semper Fi more than they needed her. Mike Franks had watched Emily Granger push back into society, helping those in a way that she had never been helped herself. He didn't want her to fall back down, especially when he wouldn't be around to keep an eye on her all the time. Mike had to nip this in the bud now.
"So how long have you been in love with Daniel, huh Em?"
She pulled the camera away from their target for a brief moment, looking at her mentor. She fiddled with the buttons on the machine before pulling away out of his eye line. "I don't love him. We're friends, colleagues, that's it."
"Like hell that's it."
Emily glared at him in a way that would make Gibbs proud. "You know something I don't, Mike?"
"I may be your boss some of the time, but most of the time Gibbs works you. You know his rules, hell even Katie knows his rules. Rule number twelve; let me hear it, Emily."
"Never date a co worker." Emily sighed. "But it worked for DiNozzo and Ziva! They're happily married."
"Not on the same team anymore. You and Daniel are, and unless one of you is willing to get a new job, then you're going to have to stay on the same team."
Mike reached over and took the camera from her, zooming in to see if Hector was getting drugs. That's what they had caught him out for the last three times, getting cocaine. He didn't know what to say to Emily - he felt like he was crushing everyone's hearts today. He was quite happy to live in Mexico with his family, flirting with the occasional barmaid. He didn't feel the need that Jethro and Daniel had to try and be happy. He was happy. Didn't need anything more than he had - and if his co workers decided to give into their romantic entanglements and it didn't work out then he would have to spend even more time in Mexico.
"You love Katie, don't you?" Emily sighed, but still nodded. She adored the little girl, and she was a big reason why she had fallen for Daniel in the first place. Mike gave her the camera. "You and him both have a ton of personal baggage. You try this, you fuck up and it's not only your professional lives that go to hell. There's a little girl involved too, Emily."
Hector walked out of their eye line, so they scrambled back to the car to tail him. Mike needed Emily's head in the game, not out there on Daniel's date. She knew the Hector case better than anyone; it affected her closer than anyone. Which was why he wasn't going to let her out of his sight for the rest of the day - someone would surely end up dead.
"Why does it have to be so hard, Mike?" Emily sighed as they moved into the car, her snapping a picture of Hector's licence plate. "Why couldn't I have met Daniel before he met his wife, and Jenny before Gibbs met his? Wouldn't it be easier?"
Mike didn't know what to say as he drove away from the park and tailed Hector at a safe distance. He probably knew they were tailing him, but a lot of people hated Hector for what he did and he probably didn't guess who had hired them. On the road, with Emily's feet up on the dashboard and the windows rolled down so they could both smoke, something finally came to him.
"Grief made both Gibbs and Daniel. They'd be very different men if they hadn't lost as much as they had. Same for both you and Jenny, even Jamie and Angelique. You can wish away the bad parts of your lives, but you may have a worse life than you do now."
Emily nodded. "You know Jamie told me something once: Sometimes you can't control the outcome. Sometimes you have to look at the reality in front of you and accept it."
"Wise words," Mike muttered as he parked the car and got out, hoping they moved on from this topic soon. He really didn't want to discuss it anymore; he had no more practical advice to give.
Emily smirked as she stubbed out her cigarette with her shoes. "Semper Fi was built to change that, Mike. Change outcomes decided, put the balls back into play. You think Alison Leape would get her justice if NCIS or Army CID still covered this case? Our life is about wild cards, Mike; we never accept the reality in front of us."
They started following Hector down the street, Mike taking a moment to light up another cigarette. "Probie, you need to spend less time with the fucking Shepard's."
Jamie was helping Noemi in the kitchen prepare dinner. He had never had a chance to do something so domestic before - food had never been a routine to him, just something that if it was there he would eat. He was peeling potatoes in the sink while Noemi prepared a salad. He watched as Jenny played with Katie in the garden.
His boss and friend had kept to her office most of the day, catching up on the day's events and the weekend's paperwork before they left to pick up Katie from school. As soon as the child had caught sight of Jamie and Jenny she had switched to her ever growing French. He smiled as they played with JJ and the other collection of dolls that Jenny kept in the house.
Jenny's mobile rang, and Jamie immediately went over to answer it. He noticed the name calling, and grinned.
"Jenny Shepard's phone."
"Jamie, put Jen on."
Jamie looked out of the window again to see Katie drawing on Jenny's face with face paint, turning the former NCIS director into a butterfly. "She can't come to the phone right now; she's busy being seduced by the hot son of a governor."
He could almost hear the phone crunching before Gibbs' curt reply. "Then just tell her I won't be able to come over tonight to help with Katie."
"Something come up with the case, boss?" Jamie asked, hoping he hadn't made a tenuous situation worse between the two of them. As it was, he was truly interested by the case. He liked the cheating wives and husbands and children who tried to kill their parents. It was a different line of work than his usual and he was fascinated by it. He would have wanted to tackle this case himself, but they all had their own particular interests. He and Jenny dealt with the political cases, and ones that involved arms dealers. Everyone had to have a hobby, and taking down arms dealers was one that he and Jenny both shared.
"Wouldn't want to say anything to incriminate the company when we have a governor's son over, do we?"
Gibbs rang off just as Jenny came in with Katie through the door. He looked up at Jenny with a timid expression as he put her mobile down on the table. She sighed before turning to Katie. "How bout we wash up before dinner. Same to you Jamie. It smells lovely, Noemi."
The smell of blood hit his nostrils first, then the smell of gun powder. He pushed the dead man off his chest, and looked at the bodies littering the pleasant Los Angeles house. Four men as far as he could see, and a dead young woman with a square bullet hole in her head. As he shifted his head, he could see the bullet hole just three inches away from his own.
She had saved his life yet again. One of their bullets had ripped through her shoulder, but she didn't seem to worry about it. She just pulled him up from the ground and looked at the bodies.
"You would have missed them if you hadn't have saved me," Jamie stated. They had finished up with the girl and were all preparing to leave when the truck had pulled up on the driveway and bullets had started flying through the air.
"Then I'd be on my own, and probably dead right now."
He watched the woman walk around the place, get the things they needed. She held onto the doorframe, looking at the dead men and the poor dead girl. Jamie didn't know what he had become involved in, but judging by what had happened she was in a serious amount of trouble.
"Do you know why they're after you?" Jamie asked, noticing how she wiped the few fingerprints they had left away.
The woman put her gun back in her holster and hid it under the jacket. "A long time ago I screwed up, and didn't kill someone I was supposed to. Now she's coming back after me, and the men who helped kill her fiancé."
"I don't understand why she's after you. You spared her life; surely she would just want to go after the person who put a bullet in her fiancé."
The woman's phone went off, and she looked at the screen before closing it down. Someone was trying to get in contact with her but she was having none of it. She took the SIM card out of her phone and crushed it underneath her shoes. She turned to him, smiling.
"If someone killed the man I love, then I would stop at nothing to hurt those responsible. As it is, I'm trying to protect him from what's going on."
Jamie looked out of the window, as if to see if any other assassins were on their way. "We should head to that diner. I don't know if they're the only men after you, but I don't think we should wait any longer. It's Jamie, by the way."
They had been involved in two incidents, already witnessed the other kill. Jamie reached out for her hand and she took it solidly. He was in this thing to the end; he didn't want to leave her by herself. The woman had saved his life twice now, and he was determined to repay that debt.
He looked over the DC landscape, night creeping over the capital. He couldn't believe he was there, hell he couldn't believe he was still alive. Back when he had met the formidable Jenny Shepard, there had been a bounty on his head and he was on a layover in Los Angeles before flying out to the first place he could. He had never expected to find Jenny, never expected to find a family. He had been the last piece in the Semper Fi puzzle.
Jamie turned around to see Abby running down the road to join him, platform boots stomping on the pavement. He swung an arm around to catch the scientist, pulling her into half a hug. They walked along the street for awhile before they stopped at a place to get take out drinks. Eventually they stopped to admire the twinkly lights of the city, Abby slurping on Caf-Pow and Jamie taking sips of his orange juice.
"You okay, Abby?"
"Been a bad weekend. We had some people injured, an agent died; I can't remember the last time I was that scared." Jamie nodded, resting a hand over Abby's.
He couldn't remember the last time he had been scared - probably the time one of the minor arms dealers they had been chasing had decided to kidnap Jenny. She had put a bullet in his knee cap, but the head shot had been reserved for the man who had been the most determined of them all to recover her.
They moved along the streets, the air getting a little warmer than it had been. Jamie needed to talk to Abby about what was no doubt going to blow up in his face, although he didn't know how to. Thankfully she brought it up first.
"So, when's the engagement party?"
"Probably after Gibbs proposes."
Abby yanked his arm, jogging his orange juice onto the pavement. She glared daggers at him. "Gibbs didn't propose! I bet Mike head slapped him so hard."
"And probably Jenny will too after Vance told her about it."
Abby's eyes went up in alarm as she realised that her blabbing had probably messed everything up. "I knew you said I shouldn't tell anyone but the weekend was so dark that I wanted to say something to cheer everyone up and a marriage proposal seemed a nice way to do it."
Jamie kissed her on the cheek as they continued to walk down together. He doubted things would be sorted out tomorrow; in fact it could be even worse if the boss wasn't going to see Jenny tonight. He knew he shouldn't interfere, but he couldn't help but look at two people who were completely in love with each other and kept using every obstacle possible to stop themselves from being happy. At least Jenny and Gibbs had got further than Abby and McGee had.
"So what's the new Director like?" Jamie asked, looking around for somewhere where they could eat. He hadn't eaten with Jenny and Katie, just had an orange juice and stole carrots off of Katie's plate when she wasn't looking.
Abby rolled her eyes. "Total sleaze. Well, not sleaze, just so up himself. He wasn't even an NCIS agent like Jenny and Vance was: just some political guy. Knows like everyone on the hill."
"Better ask Jenny to go talk to him then. Not a good idea to let Gibbs anywhere near him."
"You think, Jamie?"
The two laughed as they continued down the streets, enjoying each other's company. They had plans next Friday to go see Orchids of Eternal Dust, a band that Jamie had discovered after hunting a sailor skipping out on rehab. Hopefully soon they would all be celebrating at an engagement party, but knowing his friends and colleagues the way he did, no doubt it would be Katie's.
She had texted Jethro to confirm he was out for the evening, and she tried not to expect a message back. She wasn't sure if he could message back. It had been Daniel who had told her about Gibbs watching the wife at a motel when he had called to say goodnight to his daughter. Jamie had finally confessed to what he had said on the phone, and after a smack to the head, Jenny had become worried. Their relationship was fragile and while she was calmer than most women would be if she found out her lover had chosen not to propose, she still couldn't lose him.
Disappointed there was no message after the hundredth time she checked, Jenny went to work clearing up the kitchen. After she was done, she tried to find Katie for bed time. Her goddaughter wasn't in the small guest room allocated as her home away from home; nor was she in the master bedroom that Jenny had taken over after her father had died.
Instead, Katie had wandered into her old bedroom, now a haven of memories and old posters. Jenny hadn't been in there for a while, it mostly held old photographs and study notes from when she had gone to college. Katie was sitting on the floor, swamped in Jenny's dressing gown, looking at old photographs. Jenny sat down on the floor and brought the little girl into her lap and stared at memories of a lifetime ago.
"Is that you?" Katie pointed to a lovely picture of a young Jenny in Marseille, her red hair flicking in front of her eyes. One of her friends had taken that photograph after they had gone down for a couple of weeks to play in the sun.
"Who's that?" Katie asked, finding another photograph. It was of an older redhead, stunning, reading a book in front of a beach house. A white hat lingered at her feet.
"That's my mother, Danielle. I think that was the summer I turned thirteen, we went to Marseille for a while. My father was in Calais, but it was a lovely time."
The doorbell rang, and Katie immediately jumped out of Jen's arms to go answer it. Jenny put down the photograph with a soft smile, before joining Katie in running down the stairs, remembering what happened the last time someone uninvited came to her door.
As she ran down the stairs, she saw with some upset that Katie had already managed to undo the latch. She'd have to talk to Jethro about child proofing the house. A man stood at the door as Katie ran back to Jenny to be swallowed in her arms. He was tall, bald, but carried an air that Jenny found familiar.
"Jenny?" He immediately burst into a smile. "Jenny Shepard, it has been way too long."
Long summers on Marseille beaches, and short nights in Parisian hotel rooms flooded back to her. "Henry Pryce. My god, it is good to see you."
Still carrying Katie, she reached over and enveloped Henry in a hug. Katie clung onto Jenny tighter, still nervous around people she didn't know. With a little jogging, Katie reached out a hand to the tall man standing in the doorway.
"Je m'appelle Katie."
Henry smiled and turned Katie's hand over to kiss it. "Je m'appelle Henry, Katie. Parlez vous français?"
Henry smiled at the small child, and Jenny gazed at her goddaughter with delight. She invited Henry to make himself comfortable in the study while she put Katie to bed. She was up way too late as it was, but she had wanted to see Jethro before she went to sleep. Sad to be disappointing her, Jenny sang their lullaby as Katie drifted off to sleep.
Happy, Jenny walked down the stairs and into the study, enjoying seeing Henry sitting there. He hadn't been there in over sixteen years. He passed her a glass with alcohol swishing inside it. She took a sip, noticing it was scotch. She went over to the small drinks cabinet in the corner and poured herself a glass of bourbon.
"Since when did you start drinking bourbon?"
"Since someone made me."
Henry laughed and smiled as Jenny sat beside him. It was a little awkward - the last time they had seen each other had been at her father's funeral, and the morning after when he had left for Tel Aviv. But Jenny had known Henry all her life, their fathers had been friends and she was glad to see someone from before she had joined NCIS.
"So what brings you to DC, Henry? Last I heard you were being considered for an ambassador's position," Jenny started. She had kept a small eye on Henry over the years, wanting to see what her old friend would become.
Henry grinned, taking a small sip of scotch. "I got the job, but I got a call late yesterday evening offering me something better." He leant back on the sofa and patted Jenny's knee. "I'm the new Director of NCIS."
"You're kidding?" Jenny laughed, reaching over to hug Henry. "That's wonderful, Henry! I'm so happy for you."
He nodded, and put the scotch down on the small table to the side. "Which is one of the reasons why I'm here. Other than to catch up with charming and beautiful old friends, I was hoping you had some tips for me. Today was very hard - they lost an agent and a director so I wasn't expecting miracles."
Jenny thought about her time at NCIS. The immediate things that filled her mind were how to deal with Jethro, but Henry didn't have that problem while Jenny still had that pleasure. She smiled and turned to Henry, eager for her response.
"Just be natural, and let them do what they do best. Trust them to get the job done. I interfered too much my first year. You're the Director, but you've only been there one day. Tony DiNozzo has nearly been there ten years. He's your main guy; trust him with everything but your wife." Henry snorted, but Jenny patted his leg in jest. "I'm just kidding, Tony's changed a lot since I've known him and I can't think of a better active agent. His team and Agent Corduroy's team are the best there are. You'll be fine."
Henry wiped invisible beads of sweat off his forehead, and Jenny continued to laugh. The last time she had seen Henry there had been no laughing, just the sound of her grief. He picked up his scotch again.
"Well even if DiNozzo wasn't such a stand up guy, I have no wife to trust to him." Henry's eyes suddenly turned hot on her, and Jenny resisted the urge to make comparisons between men. His eyes were bright blue, rich - she had grown up with that colour and turned to those many years ago when she had needed help. Jethro's were paler, but still haunting, like the colour of the sky after a storm. She found herself wanting to see those, just for a second.
"I hear you're doing alright for yourself, Jen. Moved into the private sector. You finally take that step and get married?"
Jenny shook her head, trying to put aside fantasies of what could have happened the past weekend in Paris with the knowledge she now knew. Nothing good would come of daydreaming.
Both of them heard a creak from upstairs, and Jenny had to resist the urge to go grab her sidearm and head up there. It was probably Katie just trying to eavesdrop, but she hated leaving things unknown. Henry also noticed the creak, and too felt the urge to go investigate. Both he and Jenny understood the curiosity that overcame them with strange noises - but in Jenny's case curiosity never ended well for her.
"She's beautiful. And I'm glad you're teaching her French, it's so hard to have a decent conversation in that language anymore. Reminds me of the summers we'd go to Calais or Marseille and your mother would be so happy for us to sit and talk for hours in French." He grinned, resting his hand again on her knee. "So, just to get the damn question out of the way so we can move on, are you seeing anyone Jenny?"
Jenny was about to reply, when she could hear a key in the lock. Henry turned around to see who it could be, but Jenny already knew by the way her goddaughter hurtled herself down the stairs.
The sound of a four year old colliding with her boyfriend was loud, as was the laughter of both of them. Jenny stood up and looked to see Katie enveloped in his arms. He caught her eye and started to walk into the study, a carrier bag swinging from his arm. His grin faltered when he saw the now standing Henry.
Henry, to his credit, took the newly arrived man in his stride and thrust out his hand for Jethro to shake. Still holding a sleepy Katie, Jethro shook his hand.
"Jethro, this is Henry Pryce, Henry this is Leroy Jethro Gibbs." She looked towards the two men and wished she was doing anything else. "Henry is an old friend of mine and he is now the Director of NCIS. Jethro is also an old friend of mine and we're…dating." The 'sort of' tag of that sentence went unsaid, and it was only Jethro who noticed it.
"Ils s'aiment!" Katie cried out from Jethro's shoulder. Jenny laughed, Jethro smiled as he understood her words through his limited French. Henry's smile was weak.
Wanting this nightmare to end, Jenny put a hand on the middle of Henry's back. "We better see if we can get Katie to bed. It was lovely of you to stop by Henry, and if you have any questions about NCIS just call. We'll have to do lunch sometime."
Henry got the hint. "Sounds wonderful. Great to meet you, Jethro. As lovely as ever, Jenny. Au revoir Katie!"
Jenny moved Henry out of the door as fast as she could. Jethro didn't miss the kiss that Henry placed on her cheek. Once she had closed the door, she turned to a scowling Jethro and a smiling Katie. She didn't miss the hushed Russian under Jethro's breath, but started to blush as she realised what he had said, having heard the words many a time back when they had been partners.
"Katie needs to get to bed," Jenny whispered, kissing the small brunette on the head.
"Can Jethro read me a story? And do all the voices? And tuck me in?"
Jenny turned to the legendary former NCIS agent who melted under the gaze of the small four year old. "Course I can, Katie." He passed Jenny the carrier bag. "Something for us. Pour me a glass, will you?"
Katie got off to sleep fairly easily, about halfway through the story once her giggles had subsided. Moving down the stairs, he leant in the doorway of the study for a moment and watched Jenny cross legged on the floor, eating the chocolate cake he had bought from a twenty four hour bakery as a somewhat apology for the evening's mess. He joined her on the floor, dragging Jenny over by her knees so they touched. He started on his own cake.
"How's the cheating wife case coming?" Jenny asked with a mouthful of cake.
Jethro shrugged. "Got a couple of leads. Doctor's was a bust, motel room was a bust too - friend staying there. Daniel went on his date and I got tired of watching the wife sleep. I wanted to see you. I missed you." Jenny smiled, knowing that the question was just around the corner. "Who's Henry, and why in all the years I've known you have you never mentioned him?"
Jenny smirked, and ate another piece of cake. "Probably the reason why you told everyone you were going to propose this weekend and didn't. We have our reasons."
He was speechless. He waited for the yelling, the speeches. He waited for anything else but didn't expect the warmth of Jenny's lips against his. She tasted like bourbon and chocolate cake, and as his hands gripped her waist to pull her down over him, he realised he couldn't get enough of her. His hands trailed up her shirt, planting themselves against her flushed skin. The cake and alcohol were forgotten, and as Jethro spun her under him, a glass toppled and spilled its contents.
"Damn," he muttered as he reached to put the glass right. But his hands were taken over by Jenny's own, who held him in place over her. He smiled faintly and kissed her, wondering what was on her mind. "You going to say something, Jen?"
"You've been married four times Jethro. And while I'm sure you thought that you were doing the right thing, the thing that you wanted, the fact you didn't propose tells me you aren't ready to be with someone for the rest of your life. I'm not leaving you Jethro; you aren't going to find a note in my coat. If this is all we ever have, then I'm okay with that. I've lived with you, I've lived without you. I know which I prefer."
She pushed him upwards and kissed him again, pressing her mouth hungrily on his. When they broke apart, Jethro was very glad that she could still surprise him. "You're mine, too, Jethro. You want to talk, about anything, I'm here. If you don't want to talk, I could think of something else we could do."
Jenny put the glasses and plates on the desk, used a few tissues to mop up the bourbon spilt on the floor. She wasn't worried about leaving a stain, if Noemi had managed to get her father's blood out of the floor, she could remove the spilled alcohol. Taking Jethro's hand, she led him upstairs to her bedroom.
"I love you, Jen. With everything I've got."
They kissed on the landing before they walked into her bedroom. She would take it all in her stride; make several well placed jokes in front of Jethro to make him suffer. She had never been the type to get angry over the lack of an engagement ring, and the fact that Jethro considered it made her grin like a teenager. Any more thoughts went out the window as soon as she felt his hands on her.
Later, as he pretended to sleep next to her, wondering if Jenny was lying and truly upset, Jenny traced the woodwork of her bed. She had more important things on her mind than Jethro's non-proposal. Like the arrival of Henry Pryce and their shared past that would lead to more questions about a man she really wanted to stay buried.
They hadn't spent time arguing about the sort of service they wanted, and there would be none of Ziva's relatives to insist on a proper Jewish ceremony. So they had got married by a Judge Tony was friends with. As for the reception, it was only friends who were invited, friends who were like family - Tony hadn't invited his father and both of them were quite happy with the short guest list they had. Abby and McGee had been their witnesses at the court, and they were currently having a party in Gibbs' back garden.
"You know, it's so lovely to have a team wedding," Ducky stated as he sat next to Jenny on garden furniture, looking at the DJ system Abby had hooked up and the newly married couple dancing in front of it.
"Well you've been to how many of Jethro's weddings now, Ducky?" Jenny teased as her partner came and sat by them. Jethro immediately slung an arm around Jenny's shoulders and drew her into a kiss, taking his time with his now official lover.
Ducky could not be happier to see the couples littered around the garden, enjoying the music and the small buffet that had been produced. It wasn't a glamorous, fairy tale wedding reception, but Ducky noted that Ziva and Tony could care less about their surroundings and just about each other. They weren't the only ones. Leon and his wife were dancing too, their children playing with Emira and Katie at the bottom of the garden. McGee had talked Emily into dancing, but their eyes were more focussed on others. And then there was Jenny and Jethro, who could barely keep their hands off each other.
"Now, when we going to be cutting this cake?" Mike growled from the other table, impatient for the wedding rituals to be finished so he could go on the street to smoke. He had been banned from smoking and been forced into a tie, but despite his uncomfortable state, he was happy to see those he cared about so happy.
Ignored and deciding to entertain himself, Mike got up from the plastic seat and went over to his friends. He put out his arm for Jenny to take. "Fancy a dance?"
Jethro reluctantly let Mike lead Jenny onto the dance floor, but had to glare at his old partner when his hands found themselves over Jenny's ass. Ziva and Tony laughed as everyone heard the smack of Jenny's hands over Mike's.
"You look different, Jethro," Ducky exclaimed. "Have you done something with your hair?" The medical examiner asked, noticing a change in his friend.
Gibbs looked over the party. His friends, family, all enjoying themselves. He couldn't remember the last time they had been so happy, he couldn't even remember the last time they had all been together like this. As the partners on the floor swapped and the married couple split apart to dance with Jenny and Mike, Jethro caught Jenny's eye.
"I'm smiling, Duck."
The phone ringing woke Jethro up from his dream. He kissed Jenny on the shoulder as he moved over to pick up the phone that was disturbing their peaceful rest. She shifted against him in a haze, and he let out a sigh as he watched her wake up. She grinned at him before he answered the phone.
Jenny moved up to the headboard, pulling the sheets around her. Gibbs lay next to her, trying to comprehend the rambling on the other end of the phone.
"Who is it?" Jenny asked, rubbing sleep out of her eyes.
"Its Daniel, he's a mess. Daniel, I'm putting you on speakerphone. Talk slowly."
Jenny took the cordless phone from Jethro's hands and pressed the speakerphone button, not wanting to wait to see why Daniel was so upset. His date had probably not gone well.
"Gibbs, Jenny. I'm covered in blood and there's a body lying next to me."
She exchanged a worried look with Jethro as he turned the phone to its original setting and started gathering his clothes to get dressed. "Daniel, you at your place? I'm coming over." He paused for a moment. "Daniel, is it the teacher you went on a date with last night?"
"No. It's the man who killed my wife."