The Ex Wives Club by DD Agent
I do not own NCIS or any of its characters, or its settings - all belongs to the lovely folks at CBS.
So...this came from an episode of Frasier where he is confronted by all his exes. Took me a while to get it edited, but its all done now. Hope you enjoy!
The door to her office was forced open, and Jenny Shepard looked up from the file she was reading to see Leroy Jethro Gibbs fuming in front of her. She slowly closed the file and turned to her former lover, turned colleague, turned friend, turned adversary. Since her return from the grave almost three months ago, they had never recovered the relationship they had once had. But it was a small price to pay to have her life back.
At least, that was what Jenny kept telling herself.
"Sensitivity Training? You're putting us in Sensitivity Training?" Gibbs growled.
Jenny leaned back in her office chair. "No. Agent DiNozzo put your team in Sensitivity Training. One of the younger agents made a claim about sexual harassment."
Gibbs planted his hands on her desk and glared at her. It was a pity his glare only worked about two years in Paris and a faked death ago. "DiNozzo just broke up with his girlfriend. He's trying to move on, like any healthy male."
Jenny stood up and fixed her hands to the wooden desk too, matching his position and glare. "Well if he had just obeyed your stupid Rule Twelve in the first place, then DiNozzo wouldn't have to be flirting with poor junior agents to get over Agent Barrett."
Gibbs shifted off the desk with such force that it started to shake. "My rules aren't stupid. They're a damn good warning. Although, you've got a point, Director. Maybe I should add a rule about flirting with junior agents. They're nothing but trouble."
Jenny pushed back off the desk and slammed into her chair, burning holes into Jethro's face. She hadn't wanted to come back. She had wanted to spend the rest of her life quietly ruminating on her mistakes and reading. She had returned because of him, although he was so pig headed that he couldn't realise that she was unable to live without him. Not that her feelings were still the same as when she had returned - she was growing to hate him more every day.
"You'll attend the training. It sounds like you're in need of some sensitivity, Special Agent Gibbs."
The vein in his neck kept bulging. They had never fought like this before - there was no hint of flirting or the emotions they had lived by. They were just trying to hurt each other.
"Then I'll hope you be joining us, Director. May help melt that block of ice the Doctors replaced your heart with."
He slammed the door behind him, and Jenny threw her glass of water at it as he left. It was becoming intolerable to work with him. She had known it wouldn't be easy, but she had hoped that he would have been happy she wasn't dead. Turns out she was now worse than Ari Haswari in his mind. Other than keep apologising for faking her death, Jenny didn't know what else she could do.
Jenny looked up to see Cynthia poking her head around the door. She was the only one happy to see her back, and happy to resume her previous job as gatekeeper to her office. Jenny was happy to have her. "Yes, Cynthia?"
"I'll get you a new glass of water."
She sighed, wondering if she was just going to keep making mistakes until she actually died. "Thank you Cynthia."
Jethro decided, after sanding a hole through the new frame of his boat, that working on it may not be such a good idea when he was so angry. He wiped a hand over his forehead, removing the sweat clinging to his scalp. He threw the sander down on the floor, and kicked the dust from his shoes.
"Calm down, Jethro. It won't do you any good to get so worked up."
He looked up from the floor and saw Shannon by his work bench. She was sitting there, her red hair and bright smile warming his heart. She was toying with a bottle of water, and she tossed it to him. He took it, sipping it slowly to calm himself down. He knew she was just a mirage, a piece of his subconscious to help him through troubled times. But he didn't care, he was just glad she was there.
"It's Jenny, she keeps pissing me off."
Shannon started walking over to him, and put her hands on his shoulder, resting them there. She toyed with his chin, before smiling brightly at him. "She's always been able to piss you off, Jethro; she was always good at pushing your buttons. But you always managed to come through it without being harsh. Today was…not like you."
He rubbed a hand through his hair, sticking sawdust in it. "I don't know, Shannon. Ever since she's come back, I haven't been able to…she's not the Jenny I knew, she's someone else."
"You're mad at her."
Jethro pulled away from Shannon and stalked across the basement, pacing heavily. "Of course I'm mad at her! She faked her own death. I grieved for her. Like I grieved for you."
"And there we have it, Jethro, the reason why you can't see what's right in front of you."
Sitting on his steps, doing her nails with an emery board was his first wife Rebecca Huber. Beautiful, deadly, the human equivalent of a Venus Fly Trap. Unlike Shannon she wasn't dead; although Jethro had wished her that way a few times. It seemed it wasn't just ghosts invading his mind that night. How much bourbon had he drunk?
"What's that supposed to mean?" Shannon asked solemnly. She was now sitting at the workbench again, wearing the clothes she had worn the last day he had seen her. It was the image he carried around of her in his head. Her hands were resting on his toolbox he kept on his workbench.
Rebecca rolled her eyes and stood up from the steps. She put the emery board in the top pocket of her suit jacket and pressed both hands on Jethro's chest, pressing him against the boat. "It means, sweetie, that Jethro never got over your death. He kept marrying, kept trying to find your replacement but he never did."
"That's not fair," Jethro and Shannon both stated. He reached over for the glass of bourbon he had poured and swallowed it. This evening was going to be a long one.
Suddenly his glass was taken by another ex wife. Diane. "Of course it's fair. I wanted children, Jethro, but you didn't. Every time I brought the subject up, you came down here and worked on the damn boat, thinking about herand your daughter."
Jethro had to put a hand out to stop Shannon from going over to Diane and smacking her. Shannon had never been the violent type, she hated his wars. But no one dared say anything bad about their Kelly. Shannon was like a mother bear, protecting her cub from the world. But she couldn't, not at the end. He turned around to face his boat, his eyes stinging with tears as he thought about his lost daughter.
He felt hands go around his back, but it wasn't Shannon. It definitely wasn't Diane or Rebecca. Instead, it was Stephanie who stroked his face with the sympathy he knew her for. Eventually he got control of himself and slid down to the basement floor, watching as his four wives stood around and debated his failings in love.
"You can't blame Shannon for everything," Stephanie stated, and his first love smiled at that. Stephanie shook her curls and turned to the others in his ex wives club. "Jenny was the reason why our marriage didn't work."
Jethro shook his head, but it seemed that his other wives were agreeing with her. He stood up and faced Stephanie, not wanting Jenny to get the blame for his third divorce. "That's not true; our divorce had nothing to do with Jenny. We divorced because you didn't like the job, because you didn't like having to share me with my work!"
Stephanie sighed. "Partly, that was the reason. But like Diane, I wanted kids and you didn't want them. Well, you didn't want mine. You wanted Jenny. We got together barely a few months after you two broke up. You wanted her. You wanted her as your wife, you wanted her kids. I tried to accept that, but I couldn't. You wanted Jenny. I can see that, why can't you?"
Jethro kicked at the boat. "Jenny was never the problem. My job was the problem. My job was always the problem! With all four of you actually, you always hated what I did and hated when I didn't come home." He looked up to see his four wives and knew that had struck a nerve. He had always loved his work, maybe more than his wives. That was the reason things had never ended well for him.
Then there was the sound of someone else coming down the stairs and Jethro didn't know who else it could be. He'd gone through his four wives, and he couldn't think of any other serious relationships he had had bar Jenny Shepard.
"What about me, Jethro?"
Hollis. He had forgotten about Hollis.
Stephanie regarded the ex Army Colonel, who was wearing her uniform for today's re-enactment of Jethro's day in hell, with a cool detachment. Shannon retreated back to the work table, while Diane and Rebecca stood either side of her, looking at the new addition with disdain. Of course they'd look down their noses at her; she could actually match him when it came to work.
"There we go," Shannon whispered from her side of the room. "You both worked long hours, you both loved your jobs. Why didn't it work with Hollis?"
Rebecca snorted from her wall and turned to Shannon "Because he was still in love with you. That's why things never work."
Jethro banged his head against his boat before he turned to five of his six serious relationships. Hollis was looking at him sadly, and Jethro couldn't blame her. He hadn't ended things very well with her.
"That was the excuse you used. With the tape, the boat," Hollis stated. "But was that really it? You looked for every chance to escape out of that relationship. You liked being with me, and I liked being with you. But you always felt forced to commit to me."
"Well marriage certainly isn't my strong suit!" Jethro yelled, gesturing to the three ex wives who were glaring daggers at Hollis. "Can you blame me for wanting to take things slow?"
"Or were you just waiting for things to work out with Jenny?"
Jethro turned around to face Shannon. She was looking at him, resting her hands on the toolbox again. For some reason she was smiling. He missed that smile. He sighed, hating that things kept coming around to his redhead ex partner. He didn't want to think about her. "Things would never have worked out with Jenny. There is no way I was waiting around for her."
"Why wouldn't it have worked out?" Shannon asked calmly. The calm centre in the storm of wives.
"You cared for her, she cares about the job the same way you do. If you knew things would have never worked out with Jenny, why did you start a similar relationship with Hollis?"
"Ooh, good question," Rebecca said gleefully from her position now by the steps. She had moved away to get a better glare on all the other women in the room. "Why did you start dating the fashion challenged Colonel if you knew a woman of her type wouldn't work?"
Jethro was stumped. He ran another hand through his hair, and flung it down to his side. "Hollis was retiring. There. She wouldn't have the job anymore - that made our relationship different. She'd understand the job but she wouldn't be held hostage by it."
"When we first met, when we first spent the night together, I wasn't retiring then. I only decided that later," Hollis chastised, and his wives looked to him for a rebuttal. He had none. "Jethro, be honest with yourself. If a relationship with a workaholic was what you were after but you knew it wouldn't work, why did you start dating me?"
"Because!" Jethro shouted. "I thought it was just Jenny. I thought things might be different with someone else."
Shannon joined him by the boat, resting her hand over his. "You're mad at Jenny, Jethro. That's why you're here, talking to us. Ignore them, just focus on her. Why are you mad at her?"
He looked down at the floor, thinking it all over. "Because I care about her, but I can't fall for her again. Because I loved her, and I lost her, and it was like you all over again. And then I see her in that hotel room and she's alive and it kills me because I know that whatever happens, she'll just hurt me. That's why I'm angry. I can't be anything else with her."
She rested her head on his shoulder. "Oh Jethro. You can't keep doing this to yourself. You can't keep putting barriers in the way of your happiness. You can't keep using me and Kelly as an excuse to break things off every time you're worried about getting hurt. Because you're missing something wonderful by not risking your heart."
Jethro nodded. He looked up to see that Hollis and Stephanie and Diane and Rebecca were all gone. The only person left was Shannon. He looked to her, and smiled as she stroked his face.
"You love her, Jethro. You love her just as much as you love me. It's why you were so angry when she came back, because you grieved for her like you grieved for me. Trying to move on as quick as you could, not letting your grief show because otherwise it'll hurt too much."
He looked down at his feet and then turned to see where Shannon was. She was by his toolbox, only this time she had it open. "You've got your wedding ring in here. The one I put on your finger. You've also got the engagement ring you were going to give Jenny. You're clinging to her, just as much as you're clinging to me."
"It's not the same."
She moved over to him and they both sat down on the floor. "You married Rebecca to get over me. You married Diane to try life again, but you couldn't quite forget me. Jenny…you didn't get together with her with a purpose in mind. You fell in love with her because you fell in love with her. No agenda, no secret desire. She was smart and funny and pretty and you fell head over heels."
"I never forgot you."
Shannon bumped heads with him gently. "You did. There were moments when you forgot all about me and our life, and that's okay. You're still alive, Jethro. You need to start living, and fall in love with someone who you actually want to love. Who isn't a replacement. Who isn't someone you force yourself to want to be happy with."
"I don't know what to do, Shannon."
She pried open his hand and dropped the engagement ring into it. "You've always known. I know you're scared of her leaving again, but Jethro you both have to realise that you're scared of the same thing. Of loving someone so much that they leave." Shannon kissed the top of his head. "I can spout out some dead spouse clichés, Jethro, but you've thought of them all in trying to justify falling in love with her."
Jethro hit his fist against the basement floor. "I can't watch her leave again. I can't watch her run away from us again."
She stroked his cheek. "Then buy a pair of sneakers, Jethro. Because I think it's time you ran after her instead of letting her just walk away."
It was late when an urgent banging on her door disturbed her. Jenny slipped on her dressing gown as she walked down the staircase to the front door. The place was bigger than her childhood home, but she liked the emptiness. It gave her a chance to think over everything in the quiet. Jenny opened the door, adjusting the sash on her towel robe. She'd got out of the habit of lingerie when she had stopped wanting to sleep next to someone.
To her surprise, she found Jethro waiting on her doorstep. She didn't know why he was there, but she didn't want another argument when she was trying to wash away the day.
"Here for round two?"
"Round three, actually." Jethro dumped a box in front of her. Jenny looked at it with a sceptical eye.
She knelt down, and pried the top of the box off, wondering what the hell Jethro was playing at now. She was even more confused when she opened the box to find a pair of new trainers, still in their packaging. They weren't her size, they were Jethro's. She had no idea what he meant with these.
"You going to explain?" Jenny asked, turning to him with a curious expression.
Jethro nodded and stood back, his hands on his hips. "You run, I'm going to run after you."
She couldn't believe he said those words. She looked up at him under tired eyes, and immediately wanted to fall into his arms. Jenny looked up into his face and for the first time since she had returned to the land of the living, she saw love in them. She bit her lip, and turned to him.
"That's probably a good thing. Because I keep running away from how I feel about you." She stumbled forward and pressed a hand to his chest. "You scare me so much. You hurt me so much and I keep doing it to you."
He smiled and leaned down to brush his lips against the corner of her mouth. She shivered. "I've had a very strange evening, and I could really do with a glass of bourbon. How about we start with that?"
Jenny nodded, and held the door out for him. He stepped into the house, and she quietly closed the door behind him. She rested her hands on the wooden panels, and looked up at the small window pane. She felt Jethro behind her, his mouth resting against the curve of her neck. His hands went around her waist, and she melted against his touch. He reached out with one hand and turned the latch, locking them both inside, together.