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 and/or alerted for Part One! :D Here is Part Two, hope you enjoy it just as much! : )
Will Decker was looking over the Anacostia River after another long day, his hands shoved into his pockets. He didn't know where he was going, didn't know what path he was on. He'd taken over the San Diego office once Leon had moved onto DC, and he had ran it quite happily for three years, even helping him set up the Office of Special Projects in LA. When he had got the call from Jethro that Leon had been found dead, he had got on the first plane to the capital. He'd been put as Director without a second thought, and for three years he had bumbled his way through the job.
Now he was starting to wonder where his life had gone, and whether his career was all that there would be to it.
He'd pushed himself in his job, automatically assuming that a wife and kids would come his way. But now he was older, slightly eccentric and in love with a woman who would never love him back. Cynthia had some affection for him, but she was too smart to fall in love with him. Seeing Jenny and Gibbs dance around each other, wondering if there was something there after denying their own happiness for so long, Will was pondering whether it was time to move on too.
Cowboy Mouth came out of his phone and Will flicked it open to see Jenny's smiling face beaming back at him. "Shepard, what can I do for you?"
"I need you to come over, quickly."
"Is this a code word situation, Jen?" Will asked, turning away from the river and his own depression. "A Bert situation?"
Will sighed, rubbing his temples. "One day I'm going to sit you and Leroy down and have a long discussion about popular culture. I'm on my way, kid."
He signalled to his bodyguards that he was back from his moment of reflection. He gave them Jenny's previous address in Georgetown and let his agents take him to his close friend. Stepping out of the car, he told them to go get some dinner. He could be a while. He had only known Jenny at this address, never visited her at the home she had shared with Lucas. Whenever he had seen his redheaded partner in crime outside of the office, it had always been at Jethro's.
Knocking on the door, Will waited for a full two minutes before Jenny opened the door dressed like she was heading to the gym. "Alright, what is so damn…are we going for a run?"
Her red hair was wet and her skin clammy as she dragged him inside. Will had obviously been called after a shower or to offer immediate after sex counselling. He hoped against hope that it was the former.
Pushing Will onto her stairs, Jenny crossed her arms and looked at him. "Jethro and I are going to dinner tonight. In a restaurant. I…I don't know what to do."
Will pulled at his tie, deciding he could put aside an evening of self pity and help out his friend. "Alright, let's sort you out."
The long legged redhead moved up the stairs of her home. Will looked around, examined a few unopened cardboard boxes in the corner. The path to her father's study was closed off with white polythene sheets, and Will could see the beginnings of her rebuilding the place where Papa Shepard had put a bullet in his head.
Jenny's bedroom was still half packed. Boxes were all over the place. She was currently rummaging through a huge box of clothes trying to decide what to wear on her ill advised date with Jethro. Will wasn't sure what to think about his friends finally trying to get together after so long. He wanted it to work out; he wanted them to be happy. But after hearing Jenny yesterday, he didn't think that their attempts to date would lead to anything other than heartbreak.
"Like your new living arrangement, Jenny, very hobo chic."
The look she threw him had definitely been inherited from Gibbs. "I need your help in deciding what to wear."
Decker clung onto the nearest piece of furniture. "Do I look like a woman to you?"
Jenny threw a pillow at him, one of the few things she had unpacked. "You are the closest friend I have, Will. Apart from Jethro, and I want to…we're…damn it Will you're the only friend I can trust and respect who I haven't fallen in love with."
She leant back against her wall, trying to get a grip on her feelings. She had said it, and it felt good to say it. She lovedJethro, had done for years. She was in love with him. The way he smiled, the way he brought her coffee. The way she was the first person he called if he was in trouble. The fact that she was the only person allowed into his basement. She loved the way he smelt, the way he held her closer than anyone else when she needed it.
And tonight was the night they finally made that jump.
"Please, help me Will. I don't even know where to start."
Will couldn't deny Jenny anything. Although if she asked him to help pick out lingerie he would jump out the window.
Leroy Jethro Gibbs was looking at his boat, and the two ties draped over the side. He had made the dinner reservations at a nice French place that Jenny would surely enjoy. He'd showered, shaved, tried to find a bottle of aftershave that an ex-wife hadn't bought but couldn't. Now he was trying to decide between the grey tie over his black shirt or the deep blue one.
Pulling his phone out of his pocket, he dialled the number without thinking. It was only when Jenny answered that he realised he had done it automatically. "Jethro? Please god tell me you're not cancelling."
"No, I'm not." She sounded so terrified. He was happy about that, it meant that she wanted this date just as much as he did. "I actually needed your help with a tie."
"Which ones? Considering you own three it'll be pretty easy to figure out."
Jethro laughed. Tonight was going to be so easy. They worked so fluidly, they were so entwined in each other's lives that changing that messed up everything. When he had left for Mexico, she had ended up marrying Lucas. They just belonged together. Despite Ducky's worrying, Jethro had no doubts that they would work.
"Well I won't surprise the colour of my shirt…"
"You're wearing black, Jethro. It's your 'date' shirt." He could hear her laughing on the other end of the phone. She fitted with him, she was meant to be by his side. "So I'd go for the grey tie. It'll look sexy. That is…if that's the effect you're going for."
He smirked. "Definitely for you."
Jenny, his Jenny, laughed at the other end of the phone. "I'll see you soon."
"Counting every minute." Now he just sounded pathetic.
Slipping the tie over his neck, Jethro looked in the mirror and tightened the knot. He tried to keep it loose, he wanted to feel loose. But his hands were sweating, his muscles felt tight and his mouth kept going dry. But they would be fine. They'd have dinner like usual, maybe end up making out before the night was finished. Slow and smooth.
They would be fine.
Grabbing his car keys, Jethro headed into the Challenger to pick up Jenny. Traffic was mild; the radio was on blaring something loud in his ears. He just needed something to keep his mind off what he was about to do. Eventually he made it outside the Georgetown house he knew so well. Jethro rested his hands on the steering wheel, debating whether he should go up to the door like a gentleman. The game had changed between them, and he really didn't know the rules.
"You thinking of driving off, Jethro?"
He looked up from the driver's side to see that Jenny was standing next to his car. She stepped back as he opened the door to get a better look at her. She looked beautiful; wearing a simple cut black dress under the black leather jacket she wore for work. Her hair was in loose curls over her shoulders, her makeup brought out her eyes. After examining her curves in great detail, Jethro focussed on those. They anchored him more than anything he had ever discovered.
"Nah, Shepard. Just wondering whether I was underdressed."
Jenny pushed some hair behind her ear, shifting in her skin. "You look very handsome. Told you that tie would go well."
Jethro chuckled and leant back against the car, brushing a hand through his hair. "That you did. We better get going. Dinner awaits."
"Yes it does."
Jethro went around the other side of the Challenger and opened the door for Jenny to slide her body into. He got in the driver's side and squeezed Jenny's hand. Tonight was the first night of the rest of their lives.
"So…" Jenny licked her lips.
Jethro fiddled with his glass. "So."
Neither of them was sure what was wrong. The restaurant was fine, not crowded and their starter had been edible. The wine choice was even drinkable, and Jethro wasn't a big fan of wine unless he was in someplace that demanded it. Over the candlelight Jenny shined, and he looked quite dapper. But the conversation was stilted, their hands gripping the table in an attempt to stop them sliding off the world.
"First date?" asked the waiter as he brought in their main courses.
Jenny looked up from her fork to stare at the smiling waiter. He was grinning, trying to appear sympathetic but it only seemed to make things worse. Jethro just took a sip of his wine, his hand clasping the glass so hard Jenny was afraid it was going to break.
"Yes, it is."
The waiter left them to it and Jenny continued to stare at her fork on the table. She felt so anxious being across from Jethro in this setting. She didn't know why it had to be this way, why they couldn't slip into their old routines. Jethro was resting his hand on the table, looking out into space. Hopefully not at another woman.
They couldn't go on like this. Jenny decided to make the first move and rested her hand over his. He looked down at her hand like he had been burned, but moved his thumb over hers slowly. They exchanged a soft smile.
"How's your steak?" Jethro asked, his tongue stumbling over his lips.
She smiled weakly at him. "It's good. This is a good place, a good choice, Jethro."
"I thought you'd like it." He broke their contact and brushed a hand through his hair. "At least, I hoped you would."
The wine waiter topped up their glasses and they spent the main course in silence. Both of them chewed over their steak, not noticing how peppery the sauce was, or how the steak was just on the wrong side of rare. Jenny's fork kept trembling on the edge of her plate, and Jethro kept raising his glass up to take a sip every thirty seconds.
"Was everything okay?"
Jethro put his napkin down just as the waiter came back to collect the plates. "Fine, thank you. Everything's fine."
He smiled at them, understanding that they were nervous. "Would you like dessert?"
Jenny put her napkin down and turned to the waiter. Sitting through another potential half hour of this butchered silence was not appealing. "No thank you. Just the cheque please."
The waiter frowned and walked off in the opposite direction, a little stunned. Jethro looked over the table and reached for Jenny's hand, but she pulled it back and pulled her body in on itself. She looked so sad, and as Jethro sat back in his seat he realised he was responsible for that.
"Jenny, is everything okay?"
She shook her head, and Jethro resisted the urge to reach over and hold her. He had done so after Lucas' body had been found; after she had found out she was sick. After they had discovered Leon's body. He had always been there to comfort her, but this was one moment where he just couldn't.
"This isn't going to work, is it?"
Jethro thought for a moment and exhaled. "First dates are notoriously rocky. Just give it time."
"Fifteen years?" Jenny looked down to the ground as she felt a tear slip down her cheek. "I wanted tonight to be perfect. I guess I just piled too many expectations on us, expecting us to become this perfect couple once we'd…fifteen years of wondering, and this is what we're left with."
The waiter brought the cheque to their table. Jethro reached over to deal with it, just beating Jenny to the punch. There was no way he was letting her pay for it. He was a gentleman, and she was his date for the evening. Even if it had possibly been the worst first date in history.
"You're my best friend, Jen," Jethro stated as he put his card down on the little wallet. "I don't want to lose you over this."
Jenny pulled back in her chair and he was on his feet in seconds to pull it out properly. He rested his hand on Jenny's arm as she looked over at him. Why couldn't they do this? Why couldn't this be everything he had thought it would be?
"You won't. You're the best thing I have, Jethro, there is no way I'm losing you." She smiled and pressed her lips to his cheek. "I just need some space, work this all out in my head. I'll see you tomorrow, I promise."
He helped her jacket on and squeezed her hand as she left his side. Jethro kicked himself as he watched her walk away.
Jenny was walking away from the restaurant. She wanted to be alone for a while before grabbing a cab back to her place. Her stomach felt so empty, what little food that was in there was churning. Ever since she had met Jethro, she had compared every man to him. Even Lucas had never stood a chance against him. And now to find out that it was never going to work made her want to cry. They had risked everything on something that would now never happen.
She felt like a fool.
A car pulled up beside Jenny and stopped. She turned behind her and smiled when she saw that Jethro had followed her in the Challenger. He stepped out of the driver's side and walked over to her. Every step made Jenny wince. What did they have left to say? Surely it would be better to wait until tomorrow to forget this had ever happened.
But Jethro had never been the most usual of men, and he had never given up on anything. Especially her. He reached down for her hand. "Jen, I can't let you walk away. I've let so many women walk away from me, because in the end I didn't care," Jethro began to stroke her face. He cupped her cheek and moved closer to her. One arm gripped her waist, pulling her to him. "I can't let you walk away too."
She shook her head. "I'm not walking away, Jethro. I just…need to think."
It was his turn to shake his head. "Shepard, that brain of yours gets you into so much trouble. This should be the simplest thing in the world." He rested his forehead against hers, looking into those green eyes that drove him to the brink. "Can I kiss you?"
Jenny didn't know what to say. His lips were so close to hers. She just nodded; a smile quirking at the corner of her mouth. Her stomach continued to churn as Jethro closed his eyes and leaned in close. Jenny kept her eyes open for as long as possible until she felt the need to close them. Jethro's lips grazed hers, slowly brushing her bottom lip. She wanted more, and Jethro responded in kind. He kissed her bottom lip, pushing up her top one to properly kiss her with a force that scared both of them.
Jethro pulled back, pressing his lips to the corner of her mouth before pulling her into him for a hug. He kissed her hair and Jenny dropped her head onto his shoulder. He looked down to her, his lips still tingling from such a simple touch.
"Guess we were both wrong, huh?"
Jenny put her hand on his cheek and reached up to kiss him again. Her lips overlapped his mouth, her tongue slowly traced the outline of his lips until Jethro's hand gripped her body too tightly. Pulling away, Jenny stroked his cheek. The way Jethro was looking at her…no one had ever looked at her like that.
When they broke apart properly, they were both smiling. Holding one of her hands in the other, Jenny grinned at him. "So what do we do now? Go back to my place and finished what we started?"
Her voice was trembling, and as Jethro felt his head move from left to right he realised that neither of them were ready to jump into a sexual relationship just yet. Hell, they weren't exactly ready to jump into a full blown love affair either. They moved over to the Challenger where they sat on the hood of the car and Jethro wrapped an arm around Jenny's shoulders.
"We take it slow. Rome wasn't built in a day…all those clichés…" Jethro brushed his lips against hers again. Jenny kept smiling, and he felt her enthusiasm building in himself. This was best for both of them. "I've waited fifteen years for this. I want to damn well enjoy seducing you."
Jenny raised her eyebrows. "Oh, you think you're going to be the one doing the seducing?"
"Yeah, I do."
Jenny pushed him in the chest, knocking him back onto the hood before trying to run around the car in her heels. Jethro swung back over the car and chased after her. He reached for her hand and pulled her into him, pressing his mouth to her cheek. Both of them were laughing all the while.
Pushing one hand into his hair, Jenny's lips caressed Jethro's, sucking gently on the skin. She bit down gently before her tongue touched his. Running her tongue over the back of his teeth, her hands gripped harder onto his skin. Jenny pulled back a touch, pressing a light kiss over his top lip and then his nose.
Jenny smiled. "I'll see you at work tomorrow, boss."
Being the tease Jethro had always known she was, Jenny pressed another kiss to his lips before walking off in her heels. He would have offered her a ride, but they both knew they needed the time to process their first date. And the possibility of more.
Watching her walk away, Jethro couldn't wait for work tomorrow.