Sleep Tight

Leroy Jethro Gibbs pulled off his polo shirt and dropped it to the floor. He pinched the bridge of his nose - it had been a very long day. He then undid his belt and dropped his trousers to the floor. He found a clean pair of boxers and slipped those on, before putting a NCIS t-shirt over his head. The cotton felt good against his skin.

Yawning, Jethro walked over to where his boat stood. He wasn't going to get any sanding done tonight, but that was okay. He had other things to occupy him in his basement that night.

"We gonna see if it works today?" Jethro asked the figure lying on the mattress.

The redhead looked up from her spot on the floor and nodded. "Let's give it a go."

Jethro joined Jenny Shepard on the mattress. She liked it in his basement, liked the smell of sawdust and bourbon. It reminded her of him, and it seemed to lull her in a way that could make her sleep properly.

He joined Jenny under the thick duvet they had brought down so they could sleep in the basement. She was looking better, healthier. Her hair had grown back out, the blonde having been outgrown and replaced by that fiery red. Long nights with Abby and Tony had helped Jenny put the weight back on. But she still hadn't slept since that night.

Jethro moved behind Jenny's back, pressing up against his cold lover. She sighed at his warmth, and Jethro shuffled closer. One hand reached over and held hers on the expanse of mattress next to her head. He ran his fingers over her skin, stroked over her palm, wrote words in the inside of her wrist. He could feel her calm, could feel her breathing become more languid.

Most nights they tried to fall asleep together but Jenny couldn't. They made love on the mattress, before Jethro fell asleep in Jenny's arms, lulled by her soothing presence. But he wanted tonight to be different. He wanted tonight to be something different.

"We could count sheep," Jethro whispered. "Or head slaps. Little cups of coffee."

He felt Jenny snort next to him. "That's to help you sleep. Not me."

Jethro couldn't help but grin at that. He pressed a kiss to her cheek, moving in even closer to her. He could feel her relax against him; Jethro could see that she was trying to keep her eyes closed. In the quiet of the basement, he heard her whisper: "Tell me again."

Same words, every night. "I love you, Jenny. And I will be here to wake you up. I will always be here to wake you up."

Even after saying those words night on night, Jenny had never fallen asleep. Sighing, Jethro pinched the bridge of his nose again. They were finally together, they were finally happy. They had finally both put the past behind them and were even focussing on a future. As he relaxed, thinking about the plans they had in store, he noticed that he could hear soft breathing on the other side of the mattress.

Jenny had fallen asleep. Soft, soft breathing against the pillows. Her eyelids were calm, her face serene, even happy. She looked beautiful.

Jethro kissed her on the temple before nuzzling her gently. She was asleep. Finally.

He looked up to the ceiling before turning to his own arm. Taking two of his fingers, he pinched himself gently to make sure he was awake. Every morning, every night before he went to bed. He wanted to be sure that he wasn't dreaming, that he still wasn't lost in Jenny's perfect world. Not that it made any difference now. He couldn't care less what world this was.

The room was often too cold to feel anything from his fingers.

Jethro moved over to Jenny, holding her close. He watched the rise and fall of her chest, smiled at the soft exhale of her breath. She seemed so peaceful, so beautiful. He had always loved watching her sleep; it was a guilty pleasure of his. Now it seemed like he was going to get his chance for the first time in a long while. He was finally getting to be with Jenny after so much fighting, so much heartache.

He should sleep himself, though. Had a tough case, would no doubt get woken up by Jenny trying to steal the covers. Jethro pressed his mouth to Jenny's neck before turning to his pillow, trying to calm his own mind.

"One coffee cup," Jethro whispered. "Two coffee cups…"

Then Jenny elbowed him in the ribs.

He felt that.

"Shut up I'm trying to sleep."

Jethro pinched Jenny's arm in revenge, and she turned back to pinch one of his nipples. They kept going back in forth, until their laughter tired them both out and they laid together against their pillows, both of them no longer afraid of their nightmares.

Both of them no longer afraid of waking up.