Changes to the Rules by DD Agent
I do not own NCIS or any of its characters, or its settings - all belongs to the lovely folks at CBS
Thank you to everyone who reviewed part one of this story! Many hugs to Mrs Elizabeth Gibbs, MatteaAM, BritMonkey, dimplesgirl, hopesmom, Pixie-Galaxy-Dust, xxhiphuggersxx, HuddyJibbsAddict and left my heart in Paris. You are all *beyond* awesome! :D
This is the last of the chronological series I have planned - I have some ideas set before "Puppet Strings". If you have any ideas or suggestions of what you'd like to see in the series, drop me a line! :D Anyway, hope you enjoy!
He had gone out to get fresh coffee, leaving Jenny and Ducky on his sofa while she filled him in on the last three years. While out he'd got something for lunch, suspecting that Ducky would want to stay with Jenny for as long as possible. When he came home, the house was quiet. However, he stepped into his back garden and for the first time in so long, there was laughter.
Ducky had taken off his jacket and rolled up his sleeves, and Jenny was wearing one of her summer dresses. Marseille was in the middle of them, loving the attention of someone new. He left the food in the kitchen and came out with the takeaway cups - two coffees and one tea.
He realised he was and sat down next to Jenny, passing them their drinks. He then took the moment to kiss his lover, resting one hand on the curve of her neck. When they broke apart, they saw Ducky smiling at them.
"Now that is lovely to see."
All three of them sat awkwardly for a moment, taking time to drink their beverages. Marseille decided to go investigate her new landscape and headed deeper into the garden. Jenny rolled her eyes and went after her dog. Ducky turned towards Jethro, smiling at the sight in front of both of them.
"I'm sorry, Duck. For not telling you sooner."
Ducky nodded and smiled. "I understand, Jethro. From what Jenny has told me, you've been worried about her safety. She mentioned your fear about McCallister. You think she may still be in danger?"
"I think we declare that the former Director of NCIS is actually alive and we put a bounty on her head. She pissed a lot of people off, and not just the bad guys. Was the best thing to ever happen to the CIA, Jenny dying." He sighed. "I hate lying to them, Ducky; I hated lying to all of you."
"I understand, Jethro, and I do appreciate being let in the loop now. Of course, you realise that you can't tell any of the others about Jenny being alive, don't you?"
Jethro looked over at the medical examiner in alarm. He had planned to tell them in a couple more years, once he knew for sure that Jenny Shepard was forgotten. Maybe once he had retired permanently from NCIS. But looking at Ducky, finally able to talk to someone about the situation, he knew his old friend was right.
"Abigail's reaction last night proves that your team still miss Jenny, Jethro. The fact that you have kept her from them won't go down well. Tony blamed himself for Jenny's death for a very long time. Ziva lost more than her boss, she lost her friend. Timothy will consider it a breach of trust and Abigail…I don't think she would ever forgive you. Jethro, if you tell them you'll lose them forever. They may be happy Jenny is alive, but they will hate you for it."
Jethro watched as Jenny managed to grab hold of the puppy and set it on a right trail back to her boys. Ducky took another sip of his tea. "I know it hurts, Jethro. I know you want your family back in one piece and believe me I want that too. Maybe if you'd told us after a few months or even a year but not three."
"I know, Ducky. Maybe if I hadn't been down nearly every weekend to see her and having another life with her in California it would be okay. Every lie kills me Ducky, but I can't risk her safety. I can't lose someone else I care about."
Jenny joined them, and felt herself immediately swept up into Jethro's arms. She snuggled into him, and Ducky smiled at both of them. Sensing an immediate end to their conversation, Jethro kissed Jenny on the head and turned to his friend. "I'm going to get stuff for lunch. You staying, Duck?"
Once Jethro had gone inside, Jenny reached over and hugged Ducky again. He squeezed her back, happy to see her. "Ducky, I really appreciate you not being angry over this. Jethro and I have gone back and forth about telling people, we really have. This hasn't been easy on either of us. I've missed you all so much, Ducky."
"I know, Jenny, I know."
She brightened for a moment. "Maybe you could come out and see me? I know it's a lot to ask and I know Jethro feels guilty every time he does but I'd love you to see the house, and hopefully soon the stairs will be finished down into the garden."
"I would love to," Ducky said, smiling. Jenny reached over and hugged him again, and he felt himself clinging to her. Perhaps if they took it slow telling people, they would understand Jethro's point of view. With every hug, Ducky felt like he was gaining and losing her all over again. Turning to his friends retreating form, he knew that was how he felt too.
"Wonderful!" She paused for a moment. "I was wondering if you could do something for me, Ducky, just a favour for Jethro. I'm worried about him."
Ducky nodded, and listened to his old friend, clutching her hand tight within his own.
They had lunch, and afterward Ducky decided to head home. He realised that Jethro needed to spend time with Jenny, and he knew he could spend his own time with her in California once they set a visiting date. On the doorstep, he said goodbye to Marseille and was barrelled over by the slight redhead. She and Abigail were far more alike than anyone realised.
"I'm going to miss you, Ducky," she whispered in his ear.
Pulling her away to see her face, Ducky found himself once again wiping her tears away. "Don't cry, my dear. We'll see each other very soon. Call as soon as you get back to California, promise me?"
Jethro waved Ducky farewell, keeping an arm around Jenny's waist. Ducky waved goodbye too, a smile blooming on his face as he watched the two of them, more in love than he had seen before. It warmed his heart.
It wasn't his idea. In fact, his idea had been spending the rest of the day in bed, talking and catching up in much more intimate ways. But Jethro was not the only one who was grieving, and she wanted to see Mike's grave. He knew it was difficult, potentially dangerous and he knew a lot could go wrong. But he didn't want to deprive Jenny of her last goodbye, especially to a man who had made sure Jethro could still have his with the woman he loved.
When she had said she would go in disguise, he had expected a short black wig, huge sunglasses and a business suit. But instead the woman coming down the stairs would easily have been an old friend of Mike's from Mexico. She was a picture in his old NIS t-shirt on battered jeans, flat shoes and hair scraped back into a ponytail with his USMC sweatshirt tied around her waist. Sunglasses completed the outfit.
"You're wearing half my wardrobe."
"It looks good on me."
They left Marseille in the kitchen, where she was happy with her food and drink. Jenny wasn't too happy to leave her, but they couldn't take a dog to the cemetery. In the car, Jenny kept her head down, leaning on Jethro's shoulder as he took the back ways to their destination. Once parked, he took Jenny's hand and they made their way to Mike's grave.
It was quiet in the cemetery, and there was no one near where Mike was buried. The earth was still fresh, and he felt a tear spring up before he could no longer look. It didn't seem right that Mike Franks was lying dead under so many feet of dirt. It didn't seem like him at all.
Jenny knelt down by the grave, having a hard time thinking that this was Mike Franks. She could see that Jethro was struggling with it too. She didn't know what to say, what words she could give to put her feelings at rest over Mike. She picked up a handful of the earth and let it slip back onto the grave.
"Thank you for bringing him back to me."
Having said goodbye, Jenny looked up to see that Jethro was gone. She searched around, trying to find him. Eventually she caught sight of him at another grave underneath a tree. She started to walk over, but stopped when she realised what area of the cemetery he was in. She knew the area well; having for a few months a long time ago spent every day there.
"You're at my father's grave."
"No. I'm not."
Jenny looked confused before she walked around to see what Jethro was staring at. It was her grave, three years of grass covering and encroaching on the marble slab. There were fresh black roses on the ground - a gift from Abby. Jenny stopped breathing as she examined the gravestone, the lettering declaring her death.
"Is there even a body in there?"
"I don't know, Mike dealt with all that," Jethro admitted. He wrapped an arm around Jenny as they looked at her own grave. He pressed a kiss to her forehead, knowing this was hard for her to see. It was hard for him to see, and the physical proof of her life was standing right next to him. "We should go before someone thinks the dead are rising."
Jethro took Jenny's hand and tried to lead her away, but she wouldn't move. After a moment of hesitation, she took one of Abby's roses and placed it delicately on her father's grave. "Shalom, Father."
Back home, Gibbs took Jenny upstairs and undressed her. They held each other for a long time, neither one of them letting their tears fall.
He had left Jenny sleeping. He knew by the time he got home from work she would be gone, and that was okay. There was a part of him that would rush home and check every room in his house before he gave up his distant hope and rang her phone, wanting to hear her voice. Her visit to him had been risky, dangerous, but it was what he truly needed to get his head on the right tracks.
He looked up from where he came in to see Abby waiting at his desk. She looked nervous and sad, and all he wanted to do was hold her. He took Ziva's chair and moved it round to sit opposite her. He needed to sort things out with Abby. But she got there first.
"Gibbs, I want to say how sorry I am that I went all Fatal Attraction on you on Friday. And I know I'm not supposed to apologise, but I think that I really need to. I was just so upset about Mike and thinking about Jenny and how she would have hugged me if she had been there, and then McGee said you had a girlfriend and that would normally have been okay but everyone seems to be forgetting Jenny and I didn't want you to be rushing off with some woman named after a Thunderbird and forgetting her too." She exhaled.
He tried to cut in but she kept talking. "I know you cared about Jenny and you still think about her and I just don't want people to forget about her. I miss her, Gibbs. I miss her coming down into the lab in those expensive heels and just sitting down and talking with me. She was really interested in Forensics. And me. I just don't want her to be a NCIS footnote, I want people to remember."
"Oh Abby." He moved from his chair and brought her into a hug, clinging onto her tight. She smiled at his embrace, and he kissed her on the cheek as they broke apart.
"Do you forgive me?"
He smiled at her. "Nothing to forgive, Abby. I suppose I should have told you about Penelope, but I was confused about how I felt about her, and how I felt about Jenny." He clutched her hand, swallowing bile. "Jenny will always be a part of NCIS. No matter who I date, or how many other Directors we get, she'll always be part of our family. I'll always care for Jenny, Abby. Always."
The forensic scientist smiled, happy that things were sorted out between them. With that hurdle jumped, Gibbs realised that he was going to get interrogated again. "So, who is Penelope and when can I meet her?"
Gibbs chuckled. "She's a friend who lives in California. Known her a long time, only recently started to talk again."
"Cool. Well, next time she's in DC, bring her here. I'd like to meet her, Gibbs, honestly. I promise I won't start yelling and talking all crazy."
He laughed again. "Okay, I will."
Abby nodded, and got up from Gibbs' chair. She threw her arms around him and buried herself in his chest. He could still feel some tension in her. "Are you sure we're okay, Gibbs?"
"I'm sure, Abs." They broke apart and he kissed her on the forehead. "Rule three, Abby. Family is everything."
She looked at him, confused. "Are you changing the rules again? Because I'm pretty sure that isn't rule three."
Gibbs shook his head, feeling for the photograph in the corner of his pocket. It had been waiting next to his badge that morning. "It's Jenny's rule, Abs."
"Jenny had rules?"
As the rest of the team started to come in, Abby kissed Gibbs on the cheek and headed back down to her lab. They all seemed calmer than they had on Friday, and he was grateful for that - he didn't need any more questions about his love life. Things were well again with Abby, though, and that was all that mattered.
Looking down onto his desk, he saw a brand new phone to replace the one he had crushed on Friday. Gibbs switched it on and scrolled through the numbers - all his team were there. When he reached down the middle of the list, something caught his eye.
It was her home number, and her new mobile number. It was a risk, but he was beginning to think that he couldn't keep his lives apart any longer. As he looked across the bullpen to Ducky, he smiled and nodded to his friend. The medical examiner waved back and headed into the elevator. The knowledge that someone else knew, and someone else was missing her in the same way made Gibbs feel less isolated. Maybe soon things would finally fall into place and he could put his family back the way it was supposed to be.
Abby wiped away her tears as she headed back inside her lab. Checking her machines, it took a few moments to realise that there was something attached to her computer monitor. Abby saw it was a picture she had taken from one of the NCIS Christmas parties a long time ago. She was in the middle of the picture, having dragged Gibbs and Jenny into shot, clinging onto both of them in a hug. She had a similar picture, where both her bosses kept looking at each other rather than the camera. This was like a family portrait.
"I miss you, Jenny."
She took the photograph off of her monitor and looked at the back. Grinning, she thanked whoever had given her Leroy Jethro Gibbs, and put the photograph back on the monitor. He knew exactly what to do to make her smile.
Written on the back of the photograph were three words that eased the ache in her heart, and slowed the tears a little.
Always, Abby. Always.