Bonfire 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 I wanted to do a Fireworks Night fic, and this is the end result! Its not too bad - gotta love Will Decker and the wonderful Jonathon Shepard [or 'Grandpa']. Editing this was a pain though - had to cut Leroy the Hedgehog out *le sigh* To those in the UK heading out to a display, enjoy!
And for those reading - enjoy! : )
Well I wanted to do a Fireworks Night fic, and this is the end result! Its not too bad - gotta love Will Decker and the wonderful Jonathon Shepard [or 'Grandpa']. Editing this was a pain though - had to cut Leroy the Hedgehog out *le sigh* To those in the UK heading out to a display, enjoy!
"How's your Tudor History, Jethro?"
Leroy Jethro Gibbs looked over at his friend, Doctor Donald Mallard, with a face of confusion. "My what?"
"It would be Stuart history, anyway, Ducky," Will Decker announced from across the bar.
Jethro still looked confused. But then that was the perfect description of his head anyway.
It was the fifth of November, the year 2000. And it had nearly been a year since Jethro's partner, and lover, Jenny Shepard had left him. It had been eight months since Will, a man Jethro trusted more than most, had left NCIS to figure out what he really wanted to do with his life. It was three months since Jethro had proposed to his girlfriend Stephanie. A woman he liked, but did not love. It was fast becoming a pattern with all his wives.
They were marrying in two weeks, and his best man Will and his best friend Ducky had taken him on a bachelor's weekend. It was more a weekend designed to get to the bottom of what was wrong with their friend rather than a weekend getting drunk and watching strippers. Thus they had chosen to take him to London. Not to Vegas or Reno, in accordance with Stephanie's wishes. Not to any of the big European places, in accordance with Gibbs' ghosts. But to London. A place where he and Jenny had only spent a very uneventful week in.
The barman brought over their new drinks, and Gibbs necked his as quickly as he could. Bourbon was good. Especially as Will and Ducky were discussing British Royal History.
"The reason I bring it up, Jethro, is tonight is Guy Fawkes Night in Britain," Ducky announced, smiling. "There will be fireworks and bonfires…a wonderful occasion. As a small boy, I used to burrow underneath the bonfire to check for hedgehogs!"
Will laughed and took a sip of his own beer. He'd opted for Boddingtons, as the name made him smile. Wasn't half bad. "Guy Fawkes was a Stuart rebel who tried to blow up James I in Parliament. They caught him before he did so, of course. But it's still celebrated up and down the country. Probably a few people who wouldn't mind having another go," Will coughed, drinking some more of his beer.
Jethro didn't care about the history of the little occasion they had crashed. He didn't really care that they were in London and were intending to drink their way through the capitals pubs. He should have stayed in DC and maybe gone out for a drink with Stan [when he got back from Norfolk] or with the newest addition to their little family. Abby Sciuto was a curious little thing, bright and bubbly too. Going to see her was often the highlight of his day. He was overprotective of her, and she was fast becoming the replacement for the daughter he had lost. Just like he was becoming a replacement for her father.
"You know, I got an invite to a fireworks display," Will said as he finished his beer, putting his pint glass down on the table. "A friend of mine is having a large one at his house for all the locals. What say we?"
Ducky nodded enthusiastically, and then both men turned to Jethro. It was supposed to be his bachelor weekend. But, if he was honest, the idea of Ducky and Will being busy watching fireworks while he was left to his own thoughts sounded much better to him than more bourbon.
"Sure, why not?"
Jenny Shepard looked out of the window of her grandfather's library and watched as the local children gathered leaves together to make the bonfire for the night ahead. A white van came through the gates to bring in the fireworks, and she could see some of her grandfather's friends helping to put up a gazebo to keep the food and drinks sheltered from the night sky.
"Cup of tea, poppet?"
Jenny smiled as her grandfather handed her a large mug of tea. She licked her lips as the warmth spread down her body and down to her legs where it was needed most. Where her right shin was still wrapped in a bandage from the undercover mission that had ended last week. Thank goodness her grandfather now worked for British Intelligence or she probably would have still been out there.
Jonathon Shepard, former Navy Admiral turned spook, rested his chin on his granddaughter's shoulder. He didn't have a lot of family left, Jenny being one of the few. When she called, he would come to her side as quickly as humanly possible. But he doubted that if he hadn't been in Athens at the same time as her, she would now be dead. He sighed and kissed her cheek. Jonathon needed to remind himself that she was alive, that she was here at his estate healing rather than at some godforsaken Greek hospital.
"You know, I remember a time long ago when it was you out there. A little redhead in green wellington boots, searching for hedgehogs and throwing leaves in the air," Jonathon smirked, but saw that Jenny wasn't really smiling. "You miss him, don't you?"
Jenny looked away from the window and stumbled to the fainting couch. She winced as her leg hit the furniture. Once, whilst she was working in Europe, she had had to call for her grandfather. It was there that the former Admiral had met the former marine that was her friend, partner and lover. He had given Gibbs his blessing once he left them to carry on their mission, and she had kept him informed of their relationship until its end.
Her grandfather had picked her up from Heathrow airport after she had left Jethro in Paris.
"Will called me a few days ago, first time he's been able to get through," Jenny bowed her head, trying to block out the long and tiring mission she had just completed. "Jethro is getting married. She's a friend of Ducky's; we've all gone out to a dinner as a group a couple of times. They're getting married in two weeks."
Her grandfather walked over and put an arm around Jenny's shoulders. "I know I shouldn't, but I do miss him, Grandpa. And to think he could so easily replace me…" She pushed her hair away from her face, wiping away a few lingering tears in the process. "Is there anything I can do for tonight, Grandpa?"
He kissed her on the forehead and pushed her back to the fainting couch. "Rest, Jenny. Just rest."
Jonathon left his granddaughter alone, hoping against hope that tonight went as planned.
They had got a taxi from London to the estate in Suffolk where Will's friend was having a big fireworks display. Will was constantly watching out the window as the sun set and fireworks sprung up against the sky. Ducky was reading a magazine, leaving Jethro alone with his thoughts. Everyone expected him to be excited about marrying Stephanie, but in his heart he knew he was marrying her simply to prove to himself that he didn't love Jenny as much as he thought.
As much as he still did.
"We're here!" Will shouted as they parked up on the gravel drive of a big country house.
Ducky paid the driver and waved him away. They looked up at the huge place, a large sprawling country home. The three Americans then joined the British locals in heading to the back of the property. A few pumpkins left over from Halloween decorated the path, and Jethro watched with a smile as kids ran up and down with sparklers. Will tipped his hat back as they entered the garden of the manor.
A huge lit bonfire highlighted the night's sky. People danced around it, some roasted marshmallows. The kids ran around in huge circles, playing tag whilst everyone was illuminated by the light. At the back of the property, a few men chased the kids away from the large pile of fireworks. On the right of the garden, a huge gazebo sheltered what looked like a spit roast and a barbecue heating up sausage rolls and some garlic bread. Two huge boilers produced tea and coffee, and there were a few bottles standing next to plastic cups.
"Not bad, eh, Jethro?" Will suggested.
Jethro looked up into the bonfire and smiled. There was an uplifting energy in the air that was contagious, and he actually felt like things would be okay. "Not bad at all."
The three men went over to the gazebo and got a cup of coffee each. One of the Brits started talking to Ducky about the actual legend behind Guy Fawkes and the ME joined the man in putting some brandy in his tea. Will went over with some of the local children to get a plate and he piled it high with hot food. He then sat with them whilst they stared at the bonfire and they talked about all the places he had been, and all the fireworks he had seen. Jethro grinned at his friends enjoying the celebrations.
It was cold outside, and his coat wasn't quite keeping him warm. The noise melted around him as he kept his hands close to the bonfire, trying to feel some heat. He had been cold since Paris. Looking up into the bonfire, he thought about Jenny. He was always thinking about her. He wanted to share this with her: the joy, the energy. He wanted to kiss her while the fireworks went off.
A plate of food appeared, and Jethro ate the hog roast sandwich produced for him with gusto. He was starving. He gave his thanks to Ducky, whilst both men looked up at the bonfire. It was quite something.
"Good god," Ducky hissed next to him.
Jethro was trying to work out exactly who they had pinned to the top of the bonfire when his friend grabbed his wrist. "What is it, Ducky?"
Jethro's eyes snapped open in the direction Ducky was looking. He couldn't believe it; obviously the medical examiner had seen some other redhead. But it wasn't. Jenny, his Jenny, was standing in front of the bonfire wrapped up warm with a heavy coat and the silver scarf he had bought her the year before in Paris. Her grandfather joined her, carrying a hot mug for both of them. She looked beautiful, if a little pale. He couldn't believe it was her.
"It must be fate, Jethro!" Ducky exclaimed. "All your doubts about your wedding, and now here Jenny is!"
Looking back, he saw that Decker was still telling stories and was avoiding his gaze as best he could. He remembered all too well how Jenny's grandfather had got along with Will Decker. "No, it's Will. He set this up. This is Jenny's grandfather's house."
He knew he should be furious, should just walk away like she had done to him. But he couldn't. Jethro still loved her. If he could just reason with her, try and see why she had left and if he could fix it, then they could be happy. Because he realised looking at Jenny's face lit up by the crackling bonfire that as much as he liked Stephanie, he would never be truly happy with her.
Ducky patted his friend on the shoulder. "Talk to her."
Whilst Ducky went off to tell off or congratulate Will, Jethro gathered his bottle. He was never much of a planner, so his greeting to Jenny after eleven months of being without her would probably be a kiss.
As he started the slow walk over to Jenny, he noticed her eyes shift in his direction. Her mouth fell open at the sight of him, her lips fumbling in questions as to how he was there in the first place. Jonathon saw him and disappeared from sight. Jenny's balanced faltered as he came closer.
He caught her. Like he always would.
So far the evening had been okay. The bonfire was high and bright, the neighbourhood children had rescued three little hedgehogs from underneath it. The fireworks seemed impressive from their boxes and her grandfather's cook was determined for her to put on the weight she had lost in her mission abroad. But her grandfather had seemed distracted all evening, and it was only after spotting a man she never thought she would see again that Jenny knew why.
"What are you doing here?" Jenny whispered as she moved her hands to his chest, still needing him to cling onto. Her leg made her unsteady. Seeing him made her feel unsteady.
Jethro brushed some of the red hair off her face, before moving apart to give them a little space. She was glad for it; she needed the space to work out what the hell was going on. "Will brought us. He knows how miserable I've been trying to move on from you."
Jenny snorted, crossing over her arms. "Will told me you're getting married," she stated. "Do you love her?" she asked, truly not wanting to know the answer. How could he be here, talking to her if he was getting married in two weeks?
But then he shook his head, looking at her with all the love he could muster. "I like Stephanie, but she's not you." He rested his forehead against hers, clasping her face. "I want her to be, but she's not."
Jenny pulled away again, and cursed as her fabric shifted on her leg. She needed to have this conversation sitting down or she was going to pass out from the pain. She just needed support in general. "Jethro could we do this sitting down, please?"
She had never expected to see him again, not after walking out on him in Paris. She had maybe hoped they would run into each other again, that maybe after she had reached her goal of Director they could reconnect if he would take her back. But thoughts like that made her feel guilty, that she only wanted Jethro on her schedule. It wasn't true, of course. She wanted him all the time.
They sat down on two of the plastic chairs that had been put out for people to watch the fireworks. Jenny pulled her trouser leg up slowly to reveal the bandage sticking to her skin. Jethro looked down in alarm, wondering what on earth had happened to her.
"Undercover assignment in Athens went a little wrong," Jenny explained, gripping his hand.
Jethro smirked and stroked her cheek. It was so easy how they could sink into old patterns. "It's because you didn't have me as your partner. Don't deny it, we always worked best together. We fit together."
She knew he was trying to make light of their situation, trying to ignore the images of her leaving him sleeping in their bed. She hadn't been with anyone since, and the smell and feel of him was awakening senses that she had tried so desperately to ignore since she had left.
"Jethro…" Jenny said, scalding him. She had left for a reason; she needed to remember that reason.
He stroked her hair. "Do you still love me, Jenny?"
She nodded, falling into those icy blue eyes that made her shiver. "It doesn't matter what I feel, Jethro. I left because I have a job to do. I left because we would have never worked back in DC. I left because we want very different things."
He leaned forward and brushed his lips against hers. "What do you want, Jenny? Because I know what I want."
He kissed her softly, his hands warming her chilled face. The kiss was delicate, reminding both of them that it had never been sexual tension masquerading as something else. It was love, true and pure. Something that Jethro had only ever experienced once, and was damned lucky he had found it again.
As they broke the kiss, red and green fireworks burst overheard. The children began screaming in delight. The adults watched in wonder as gold bursts shimmered across the night's sky. Jethro watched Jenny as she became hypnotised by the fireworks. He could see the light dance over her face. He could see her smile bright and bold.
"When I was injured, I hoped you'd come. I wanted you so badly," Jenny revealed, moving her head away from the lights crackling in the sky above them. "You're getting married in two weeks, Jethro. We've had our moment; we can never get it back."
His face set and determined, a marine to the bone, Jethro reached for her hand. He dragged her up to the bonfire, watching the flames lick high, high towards the gold, green and purple stars in the sky. The night shook with the sound of them overhead. Jethro grasped at her face, pressing his lips to the corner of her mouth. They were both shaking.
"Our moment is never gone."
He leaned into kiss her again, slanting his mouth over hers like he should have done when he first saw her, both today and four years ago. It took barely a second for Jenny's arms to wrap around his neck, pushing herself closer to him. Tongues touched, eyes closed and the bright lights of the fireworks nothing but a simple distraction. Jenny bit his lip, clinging on to him closer than she had ever had. He would break things off with Stephanie, she would transfer to DC. But really all that mattered was that moment, kissing in front of the bonfire.
They had both lived without the other, and both had hated it.
Now they had a second chance to make it all right.
A second moment.