Author's Note: I started working on this series in the early summer, just got sidetracked. This series is not in chronological order, just one shots as they come to me, though I'll try to fill in any blanks anyone has through flashbacks from time to time.
She stood frozen in place in the middle of the kitchen, a bag of dark Columbian blend clutched in her hand. He was calling her from the bedroom upstairs. Should she answer him or just pretend she hadn't heard him? It would be a hard sell as she thought maybe they could hear him at the White House.
"Honey? Are you in the house?" Oh. Hey, she could still make a run for it if he thought she was outside gardening. Go? Stay? Run? "Hon?" Too late. She could hear him pounding down the stairs. Just as well, she thought. There was no out-running Leroy Jethro Gibbs when he was intent on finding you. No stone unturned, never leave a man behind, and all that.
"In the kitchen, Jethro!" she called back casually.
"Why the hell didn't you answer me? I've been yelling for five minutes!"
"Yes. You have."
He took the bag of coffee from her, not waiting for an explanation and started his morning pot. "Did you pick up my suits from the cleaners?" he asked, without turning around.
Oh God. She just KNEW that's why he was calling her. He couldn't find it. He didn't know it yet, but she was in deep trouble with him. Big, Lucy Ricardo-style trouble. She gulped, then hoped he hadn't seen her do it. "Uh...yes, I did, a couple of days ago. I put them all away."
"Then where's my brown and yellow plaid sports coat, you KNOW the one I'm talking about."
Oh yes. She did, unfortunately. It was the ugliest suit coat she'd ever laid eyes on. She called it 'the brown atrocity'. But not to his face. Never to his face. But he knew she hated it. And kept wearing it anyways.
"Yes, of course I do, it's my favorite." She winked slyly at him.
"Ummff" he grunted back, and dumped water into the coffee machine. "We both know you hate the damned thing, what'd you do with it?"
"Why do you think I DID something with it?"
"Sunny..." he answered in a low, warning voice.
She sighed loudly, knowing she was hopelessly caught in the clutches of her husband in interrogation- mode.
"Well...I was going through the closet trying to make more space cause it's sort of -crowded now that we have my clothes to fit in there and -"
He was in her space now. Her eyes followed his index finger to her lips and she promptly shut her mouth.
"Where. Is. It?" he asked her coolly, calmly, efficiently. Her mind flashed to an interrogation room, and she suddenly felt a pang of sympathy for the unlucky suspects that had crossed her husband's path. She knew exactly why some of them wet themselves.
"I donated it?"
"You - donated it?" his voice was strangled. "Who'd you donate it to, Glenna?"
The Smithsonian, as the ugliest sports coat in history! she wanted to blurt, but thought better of it.
"The city mission on Carlyle!" Broken, like all his other suspects. "I took it along with a couple of bags of MY stuff."
He took a moment to digest this piece of information.
"City mission. So right now some homeless drunk is sleeping in and puking on my lucky sports coat."
"Well, now, not every homeless person is a drunk, Jethro." she defended. "Everyone has their story."
"The only story I want to hear right now is how you're going to get my suit coat back!"
"I can't get it BACK, how in the world would I know who HAD it? Dozens of people get clothes from that mission!"
He turned away from her to his coffee so that she couldn't see his face. She knew that was SO not good. He only did that when he was truly infuriated with her. It didn't happen very often, there were actually few things she did that pushed his buttons, but this, THIS! What had she been thinking? Suddenly she felt worse for him than she did herself. If he was this upset over the thing, it must have some intrinsic or even sentimental value to him. She struggled to find her voice and started by clearing the tears from her throat.
"I'm sorry. I was wrong. It wasn't mine to give."
"You SHOULD be!" The harshness in his voice made her flinch. "You were, and it WASN'T!" He took a slug of coffee, as if it would calm his nerves.
"How- how can I fix it?"
"You CAN'T. Like you said, it could be anywhere in the city by now."
"I'm really, really sorry."
"I don't understand you sometimes!" he rounded on her again. "I mean, correct me if I'm wrong, but have I ever taken anything of yours and 'donated' it 'cause I thought it was ugly?"
"Did you donate those old sweatpants I hate you in? Or that hideous flowery skirt that looks like a potato sack on ya? How 'bout that dorky gray wool sweater you look like Marion the Librarian in?"
"Gone. All but the sweater. It was a - gift."
His voice was hard and sarcastic as he gave her a look over his coffee mug. "From CHARLES, no doubt."
Okay, that was below the belt, even HE realized it once it was out of his mouth. He heard her try to suppress a small gasp and then swallow hard. She never threw his past-wives or ex-girlfriends in his face for any reason. Ever. She had her own rules too, and that was one of them. Too bad he couldn't try to live by hers like she tried to work with his. But it was too late; he'd said it, no taking it back now.
"No, not from Charles." she answered him quietly, her voice conveying weariness and defeat. "What - what do you want from me, Jethro? What do you want me to do?"
He could have apologized for what he'd just said, but he was still feeling righteous and pissed.
"I WANT you to stop DIGGING through my stuff and getting RID of whatever you DON'T LIKE!"
What the HELL did he mean by THAT? Did he think she was trying to dig into his past, or trying to change him?
"You want to elaborate on that, Mr. Gibbs?"
"Nope." he stated flatly, blowing by her. "Want my suit coat back. Goin' to work. See you later."
"Just like that. You throw that at me, throw Charles in my face, and then head off to work."
There was silence as he left her standing in the exact spot she had been in before he came downstairs and the suit blew up in her face. Maybe she'd been wrong about things. And not just the suit coat.
. . . . .
Outside the house, Gibbs sat in his truck staring at his garage door. What the hell WAS this all about?
Blaming her for his ex-wife's transgressions? In all the time they'd dated and the few months they'd been married, she'd never ONCE used any of his exes as ammo in an argument, though she'd had plenty of motive and opportunity to call him up short using something about them against him. Yet she never had. So why had he? Over an idiotic sports jacket!
Was he really willing to jeopardize the best thing he had since Shannon over a ridiculous piece of clothing? It had to stop, and now. Hell, he was going to be late for work, but he couldn't just go and leave with what he'd done to her. He got back out of the truck, and with a single determination, strode back to the house. Opening the door, he could hear her voice from the kitchen. Muffled. She was on the phone.
Not good, he thought to himself. She's probably calling a divorce lawyer. Seriously. Why wouldn't she be? Haven't even gotten through three months. Jesus. This was a record, even for him. Don't just stand there, Jethro, do something! Do what? Don't know how to fix this stuff, never did. The harder I try, the worse I make it. Say the wrong thing, do the wrong thing, give the wrong look...Well, nothing for it now, face the music, bonehead.He took a deep breath. He didn't want this. He really, really didn't want this. But so many of things that he'd lost in the past he'd lost because he'd run away instead of facing the challenge head-on. The very opposite of Marine Corp values. Just didn't want to own his own shit. Well, if he didn't own it now, he was going to lose everything. Again. It shouldn't be so hard, this woman was forgiving, even of his most arrogant and wrong-headed moves. He was just about to take that next step when she came barreling out of the kitchen, purse in hand.
"Jethro, I thought you were gone to work! You're going to be late!"
"Goin' somewhere, Glen?" Lord help him, he couldn't keep the snark out of his voice.
"Appointment with a lawyer?"
"A- lawyer? Why would I - " He watched her as her face blanched."Do you - WANT me to have -an appointment -oh, God, Jethro, I'm losing you over a sports coat?"
"You didn't call an attorney?"
"Because you're mad at me for donating something of yours I shouldn't have?"
"I was an ass about it." There. He'd admitted it. He DID feel better. A little.
"Yeah, you were, but you're an ass about a lot of things, I knew that when I married you. But you're learning, so there's still hope."
"You came back here to apologize, didn't you?"
"Yeah. Couldn't go to work thinkin' about what I'd said to ya. Hadn't had enough coffee in me yet before we got into it. I - I was wrong to bring Charles up. I know he was just a friend, but - I know you still talk to him and I'm just so far out of his league when it comes to some things. I get -"
"No. More like...insecure."
"He helped me through some tough times, Jethro, you know that. And he's a good man, and one of the few good senators Washington's ever had. I owe him a lot. He was one of the few people in my corner when I was on the ropes."
"I know, Glenn. Look, let's meet after work and have dinner somewhere, I'll make reservations and call you, things are slow for now, I should be able to be right on time."
"Sure, sounds great, hon. I'm going to do some grocery shopping and pick up some books from the library. I'll be home by early afternoon."
He pulled her into a tender hug and kissed her gently. "You know I don't mean to hurt you. I just don't always think before I run my mouth."
"I know. And I don't always think before I clean out closets. Go on, you're going to be late and have to answer embarrassing questions from your team about still being on your honeymoon."
"We could BE if I ever get around to taking you on one!" he chortled on their way out the door. He gave her another quick kiss before getting back into his truck. "Be safe, babe. And keep yer little mitts off my suit coats!"
Stay tuned for the next chapter, "A Brown Sportscoat and a Plaid Frustration"