Murder at Cheltenham by DD Agent

I do not own NCIS or any of its characters, or its settings - all belongs to the lovely folks at CBS.

Well people seemed to love the "Thank God Its Friday" and "Be Cool" fics and the universe, now titled the '97 Series so I'm going to write more. I plan to write fics between Jenny and Jethro's first meeting, and their first goodbye. This is my take on how Jenny first met Gibbs, and I hope you enjoy it as much as the others! I also am in the process of writing some oneshots where there is Decker and Burley. So lots of pre series goodness!

As always, I hope you enjoy!

[And Chap Two will be up tomorrow ; )]

Chapter One

"You know, I really can't wait to finish damn training and get into NCIS, you know? I hate how long they keep us waiting."

Jenny Shepard didn't even look up from her notes as her sort of boyfriend Jack Chrysler talked to their fellow trainees. Every lunch break they shared went along similar lines - speeches about how training was too easy for him, how he couldn't wait to be working out of the DC office. Jenny knew his plans also included a woman of some description - wife and kids although that would be after he got his own team at NCIS. Jenny was pretty damn sure that she wouldn't be asked to play that role, or at least she hoped not. She had her own plans at NCIS, and they didn't involve Jack Chrysler.

"Jenny'll tell you, she saw me on the shooting range yesterday." Jack knocked her shoulder, wanting her to eagerly explain how brilliant he was both off the range and on.

"I need to go check something," Jenny muttered, pressing a kiss to Jack's cheek and hurrying away from 'their' group of friends as quick as she could. He looked a little put out, but she didn't care. There were no real feelings involved, she wasn't sure if she still could feel.

Once out in the fresh air, away from the mindless talk of Jack and 'their' friends, Jenny could think properly about what the future held. She had applied for NCIS a few months ago when she had realised that it had nearly been a year since her father had passed away, and she had done nothing with her time apart from bury him. She had applied with the hope that she could clear her father's name - and maybe even find the man who murdered him. But, at the same time, it was just something that could stop her spending every day at her father's grave.

"Hey Jenny!"

Jenny waved at someone walking across from her; she didn't even recognise the face. Maybe it was one of the recruits from another training centre - her whole class from Glynco had come to Cheltenham for the last couple of weeks of their course. But Jenny knew the real reason she didn't recognise the face. Being a Navy brat, Jenny had learned quickly how to fit in without becoming part of the crowd.

At FLETC, she had a boyfriend, socialised with the group but she wasn't one of them. Still grieving her father, she wanted to keep herself bottled up for a while longer. She'd even stayed in a motel room with Jack rather than drive from Maryland to DC to stay in her actual home. She wanted to keep things separate, so when graduation came she could get the fresh start she needed, hopefully in an outpost in Europe, away from anything that reminded her of her father.

"Afternoon Sarah."

She nodded at the fellow agent slumped in her seat, looking over notes. All of them were pretty burned out, Sarah especially. Jenny decided to fire off a few rounds in the shooting range, blowing off some steam. She was still off target for one of them, missing the headshot by an inch. The heart was fine, but the head was still giving her trouble. She needed to spend less time listening to Jack ramble and more time on the range.

"Should have just gone to law school like Mom wanted," Jenny muttered as she put back the equipment and headed out of the booth.

Sarah was gone when she walked back through. Just as she was about to head out the front doors, Jenny saw Jack and 'their' friends move to enter the shooting range. Not wanting to get caught up in whatever Jack was trying to prove, Jenny decided to go out the back way.

That was when she found Sarah hanging from a tree.

X

Leroy Jethro Gibbs was debating how best to spend his time. He had no open cases. He had no paperwork to do. He had no partner to shoot the breeze with. He didn't even have a wife to argue with.

The last open case had been a drug bust of two petty officers. The paperwork had been done in a matter of hours, and he'd even left work early. Mike had left a month ago for retirement in Mexico, and he'd been helping other teams until he could settle on a new partner. As for Diane, the divorce papers had been finalised after a lengthy negotiation nearly the length of his damn marriage. So he decided to do the only thing he could do - and put coins in a glass of water.

"Special Agent Gibbs?"

Jethro looked up to see the Director's assistant waiting on the catwalk. The Director obviously wanted to see him - perhaps he was finally getting his new partner? He stopped putting coins in his glass and headed up the stairs to go see Morrow. He'd been declared the new Director just as Mike had left. While everyone thought the Director's exit was to do with the bombings, Director Hamilton had left because of a sex scandal with the previous autopsy assistant. Ducky hadn't been too happy to find them doing it on a mortuary slab.

He hadn't been too happy about it either. He slept on those slabs.

"Director?"

"Take a seat please, Special Agent Gibbs."

Gibbs took a seat opposite Morrow. He so far seemed a good guy. At least his assistant and the mortuary slabs seemed to think so. Morrow took out a file and passed it to Gibbs.

"A body was found at FLETC in Cheltenham twenty minutes ago. The victim, Sarah Dane, was training to be a NCIS agent. We've kept it quiet so far, the trainers managed to gather everyone inside before they discovered her body."

He nodded. "I see. So you want me to find out who killed her."

"It appears to be a suicide, but the young woman who found the body claims that not twenty minutes before she was found she was in the shooting range." Morrow shifted forward. "Gibbs, I want you to work with the NCIS Training Agents on this. You have no partner, and this will give you a perfect opportunity to pick your next one. Because it will be coming out of that group."

Gibbs groaned. He had to investigate a murder with a bunch of probies? Even worse than that, one of them would become his next partner? Suddenly, life married to Diane didn't seem so bad.

"Sir, it's likely that one of those Agents is a killer."

"Don't pick that one as your partner."

Morrow stood up, making it clear that their conversation was over. Gibbs resisted the urge to growl - he was liking Morrow less and less. He reached over and offered Gibbs his hand, which he reluctantly took. Despite giving him a probie, Morrow had no apparent dark side and would probably stick around for a while. Wouldn't be a good idea to piss him off so quickly.

"Good luck, Agent Gibbs. Wrap this up quickly, if you can."

Jethro rubbed a hand over his face as he headed out to grab his gear and then be on his way to Maryland. Ducky would soon be on his way too. He hoped the medical examiner would stick around for a while, he didn't fancy his chances with a bunch of probies. He wanted to keep his job, and he didn't think brutally head slapping the new generation would go down well.

X

Jethro met Ducky and Robbie as they arrived at the training complex, having been briefed by one of the trainers at the entrance. All the trainers were inside keeping the trainees calm and unaware, the crime scene was all his. Robbie got the gurney automatically, and Ducky watched as his new assistant took the initiative and immediately went to the crime scene. Robbie had replaced the previous Director's plaything, and was so far proving to be much more effective. A previous EMT, he knew the body and knew how to be fast on his feet. He also had just as many stories to tell as Ducky.

"Well this should certainly be entertaining, shouldn't it, Jethro?" Ducky said as they walked across to where Robbie was going with the gurney.

"Yeah, Duck. Should be a damn riot," Jethro sighed, taking a sip of the coffee he had picked up on the way. "Morrow wants me to pick one of these idiots to be my new partner."

"Well you never know, Jethro, one of them may surprise you." Ducky rested a hand on his friend's shoulder. "I know it's been a rough year for you. You've gone from being married and partnered with Mike Franks to being on your own. You know the invitation to dinner still stands, Jethro."

Jethro shrugged his shoulders and they continued forward to the crime scene. "I know, Duck. I guess I just want to find my partner the right way, rather than having to decide from a pool of probies."

They eventually came to the crime scene, which was under a big oak tree. There were several bags of evidence and a notepad at the base of the tree, and the young woman who had supposedly hung herself was on the grass. Everything seemed to be in order. However, Robbie was looking up at the tree with interest rather than down at the body.

"Something the matter, Robbie?" Ducky asked as they met him with the gurney.

Robbie nodded. "There's someone up in the tree."

Gibbs growled - this was not going to be his day. Stepping forward, he looked up into the tree. "FEDERAL AGENT!" He shouted.

"Give me a week and I'll be one too!"

Gibbs turned to Robbie to see if he could explain what was going on. The assistant rubbed the back of his neck. "Her name is Jenny, and she's one of the trainees here."

The federal agent sighed as he turned towards the tree again. This was why he hated probies - so desperate to prove themselves. This 'Jenny' had probably damaged all their evidence, had disturbed the crime scene and would make finding the killer damn near impossible.

"Your future as a federal agent is debatable at the moment. Did you really think it was a good idea to go climbing in a tree filled with evidence?"

The voice called down to him, this time with attitude. "Wouldn't have had to if you had showed up earlier! The trainers cut her down, kept everyone inside." A couple of leaves fell to the floor. "There should be evidence down on the ground - some crime scene photographs, sketches and I marked on the tree where the killer must have climbed to hang her."

Ducky was checking the liver temperature. "She died about six hours ago, Jethro."

"I KNEW IT!" came the voice from the tree. Ducky started to chuckle at the situation, Robbie was also smirking. Gibbs didn't share their enjoyment - he was getting angry.

"Knew what?"

The voice from the tree came again. "I was the one who found the body. I saw her about twenty minutes before that at the shooting range. I knew she didn't hang herself!"

"Any other evidence of that?" He knew it was a murder - hanging from a tree was usually an execution rather than a suicide. But he wanted to see if this probie had thought things through.

He could almost hear the eye roll from the girl in the tree. If she didn't soon come down, he was going to have to go up there and drag her down. "Well mister federal agent, how does one hang oneself from a tree?"

Gibbs growled. "With great difficulty! Can you come down now?"

"Sure thing."

Ducky kept smiling as the rustling in the tree increased, signalling she was about to come down. Gibbs moved forward and looked at where the probie had marked where someone could have got up to put the body on display. That was when he heard a curse; a branch break and a future special agent topple out of a tree and straight down on top of him.

When Gibbs looked up next, seeing a few stars after hitting his head on the hard ground, he got his first look at the woman giving him so much trouble. She had large green eyes, and a mess of red hair tied back in a ponytail. Her blouse was white with a huge beige stain over the front, which was no doubt caused by his coffee that she had spilt. She was sort of straddling him, and while she was disorientated from her fall, Gibbs reached for her hips and spun her onto the ground and off of him.

"Duck, instead of laughing, do you mind giving us a hand?" Jethro growled.

The medical examiner did stop laughing and went over to give his hand to the young woman who had fallen out of the tree. Gibbs had to pick himself up, briefly resting on Robbie's arm. His shirt was also stained with his coffee, although at least it didn't look as bad as the young woman's blouse.

"My dear, are you alright? You had quite a fall."

The future agent nodded, brushing a couple of leaves out of her hair. "It's okay. I don't think anything is broken."

"That's because I was there to break your fall."

The woman finally turned her attention to him and smiled. She held out a hand to him, which he reluctantly took when Ducky glared at him. She grinned at all three men at the crime scene.

"Jenny Shepard, it's a pleasure."