A/N: This is one part absurd fun and two parts cutesy fluff. I think I've said before that my real delight is writing Shannon/Gibbs. They're just completely precious and it's wonderful fun.
So here's a little glimpse into their early life-pre marriage, even!-and a time when poor Gibbs got sick. A little bit of the idea came from the fact that my father had the Chicken Pox when he was 30 years old, right after I was born. And I personally have never had them.
in Sickness and in Health
Leroy Jethro Gibbs dragged his feet as he trudged up the apartment stairs, for once wishing fervently that his fiancée lived on the first floor. He scuffed his feet down the hall and tried her doorknob hopefully, swearing half-heartedly when he found it locked and realized she wasn't home yet.
He reached up and scratched at his neck as he knelt down to fish the spare key out from under the rug. He unlocked the door, throwing the key on a table just inside for later, and shut it behind him loudly, scratching at his neck again. Instead of turning any lights on, he headed straight for her bedroom and kicked off his heavy ACU boots onto the floor, throwing himself onto the bed with a relieved groan.
It was a damn good thing he was on leave for the next month; he had been off his game for the past few days and he was sick of ignoring it and acting like a bad ass for his commanding officers and the other Marines. He rolled over lazily and unbuttoned the shirt of his uniform, throwing it off onto the floor and leaving him in the pants, his white undershirt, and his dog tags.
Where was she, anyway? She didn't have classes on Fridays.
Gibbs looked at the clock forlornly, resenting whatever was keeping her out of her apartment and thus away from him. He chucked her throw pillows off the bed, pulled back the sheets, and buried himself down in it.
He fell asleep like he owned the place—vaguely wondering why he was so damn itchy all of the sudden.
Shannon Fielding spent ten minutes trying to figure out what was wrong with the lock on her apartment door—it appeared she had locked it when trying to unlock it—before sheepishly deciding she must have left it unlocked and finally getting inside. She spit her library card out of her mouth into her hand and stumbled to the kitchen, sighing in satisfaction when she managed to throw textbooks and groceries onto the counter without dropping any of them and without spilling her smoothie.
She smiled proudly, took her sunglasses off, and then abandoned everything in favor of her living room couch. She was tired and she was in the mood to enjoy some peaceful alone time and watch TV—peaceful alone time was a necessity this afternoon, as she had to meet her fiancé at her parents' for dinner tonight.
She always needed to be alone, for some mental preparation, before Gibbs and Joanne got in the same room together. Particularly now since Gibbs, secure in his position, did things just to annoy Shannon's mother. His current favorite obnoxious action was feeding the dog under the table, to the horror of Joanne.
Shannon laughed to herself and picked up the remote, flipping on her television. She lazily started to flick through channels and slouched down on the couch, sipping on her smoothie. She was about to settle on a rerun of Happy Days when she heard a banging noise from her bedroom.
She froze, eyes wide, and immediately muted the television.
She'd seen enough horror movies to refrain from yelling to see if anyone was in there, but she sat anchored the spot for a good thirty seconds panicking—maybe she hadn't accidentally left the apartment open, maybe someone had broken in and she was about to get murdered—
Shannon got up and darted into the laundry room and crouched down, grabbing a baseball bat from the shelf. Gibbs had given it to her when she moved into the apartment alone, mostly because he was paranoid. Now, she was grateful she had it. At least she could go down with a fight.
She left her smoothie on the living room table when she walked back through and slowly approached the bedroom, listening for more threatening banging sounds. She heard nothing, but she wasn't fooled—she had no doubt the villain was lying in wait for her. She poked at her bedroom door until it slowly swung open and then reached in, flipping on the light and leaping in with the bat raised over her head—
There was no intruder in her bedroom. At least, he wasn't a threatening intruder, unless the fact that she nearly broke her neck stumbling over his boots was a threat. Instead, there was just some stupid Marine sprawled in her bed pulling a pillow over his face to cringe away from the light—
"What the hell are you doin' with that bat, Shannon?" he demanded, his hoarse voice muffled by her pillow.
"Gibbs?!" she asked, lowering the bat. She dropped the weapon to the floor and sidestepped his stuff, inching up to the bed—what had he done, her sheets and pillows were a complete tangled mess. "Jethro, what are you doing here?"
She was used to him hanging around her apartment when he wasn't on base or at work, but she hadn't expected to see him until tonight—and, on top of that, it was highly unusual for Gibbs of all men to be laying around in bed in the early afternoon.
"Looking for you," he retorted, still covered with a pillow. "You were s'pose to be here," he accused.
"I was out buying food for you," she retorted indignantly. "I assumed you'd stay with me during leave rather than on base, even if my mother will positively die at the idea," Shannon paused and sat down on the edge of the bed, reaching for the pillow. "What's wrong with you?" she asked curiously, tilting her head and snatching the pillow away.
His head fell into the mattress and he grumbled incoherently into the sheets. She smiled and stretched out towards him, slipping her hand into his cropped hair and starting to pull his eyes up to hers.
"Hey, before we go to Mom and Dad's, you want to have—" she paused, her hand sliding down to his neck.
He felt warm, and she frowned.
"Jethro?" she asked seriously. "Are you okay?"
He muttered incomprehensibly again.
"Are you sick?"
"Don't get sick," he retorted, lifting his head a little.
Shannon crawled onto the bed and knelt, sliding her hand under his shirt and feeling his skin. She wrinkled her nose apprehensively—he definitely had a fever. She took her hand back and squeezed his shoulder.
"Roll over, Jethro," she coaxed. "You're hot."
He snorted, amused, and she rolled her eyes. He made an annoyed noise and made a big deal of rolling over, as if he were just patronizing her—and she gasped, he hand flying to her lips.
"Oh, no—oh, no, Jethro!" she murmured, wincing. "Your face!"
He glared at her.
"Hey," he growled, affronted. "I want my ring back," he told her, giving her a mock insulted look at her reaction to seeing him.
"It's my ring now," she answered protectively, pressing her lips to the diamond. Her momentary smile faded, though, and she bit her lip, shaking her head and pressing her palm to his forehead uncertainly. "You have—you are sick," she said dejectedly.
"'M not," he mumbled indignantly, and rolled over closer to her. He scratched the back of his neck, and then his shoulder, and then rubbed his nose against her leg, probably scratching that, too. She winced and scooted away, panicking a little.
"You have chicken pox!" she cried, getting off the bed and pushing her hair back. She looked at him, stressed, and paced to the other side of the bed, looking down at him as if it were his fault. "You have chicken pox, how can you have chicken pox?" she demanded.
He glared at her.
"Calm down, Shan, s'just a headache, poison ivy or somethin'," he tried to placate.
She shook her head.
"Calm down?—it's chicken pox, you idiot!"
"Idiot? What'd I do?!" he demanded, his head throbbing.
He reached up to scratch his neck and she lunged forward, nearly throwing herself into his lap in order to grab his hand and hold it away from his face. Her distressed blue eyes met his and she shook her head.
"We're getting married in two weeks!" she moaned. "Don't scratch, don't touch your face, don't touch anything!"
He glared at her and tugged at his hand, wrinkling his face to try and ease the itchiness.
"I'll be fine by then," he tried to blow off. "Let go of me."
"No," she said fiercely. "No, you can't scratch, if you scratch, you'll scar, and you have to heal fast—two weeks, Jethro, I can't believe you did this!"
"It isn't my fault I caught it!"
"You never get sick—I've never even seen you sneeze!"
He glared at her dubiously.
"Fine. I caught it just to ruin the wedding," he retorted.
She pushed her hair back again, colour spreading over her cheeks. She looked worried and anxious, and he was starting to feel worse—he'd been sleeping all day, and he'd been fine while he slept, but now he was hot and his head hurt and he was kind of nauseous and she wasn't making it any better.
"Shannon," he whined. "Stop yelling at me."
She bit her lip.
"I'm sorry," she burst out. "I'm just so stressed anyway, and you being on leave was supposed to help me out and I don't want you to be sick, and you broke into my apartment—"
"I used the key!"
"—and you scared me, and I can't even laugh about it because your face has red spots all over it and, and—" she lifted his shirt suddenly, yanking it over his head, throwing it off the bed. Her hands ran over his dog tags and she let out a little yelp of stress, shaking her head.
"Hey, Shannon, at least buy me dinner first," he quipped, swatting her hands away—she was making him itch, and he went to scratch it. She slapped his hands away frantically.
She examined his chest, shaking her head forlornly.
"How dare you," she muttered, shooting him a glare. "The spots are all over," she moaned.
He pinched her leg petulantly and gave her an injured look.
"Hey, I'm sick," he said childishly. "Don't you care about me?"
"I care about my wedding pictures!" she retorted, her eyes back on his face. She put her hand to his forehead again.
He glared at her balefully, his eyes dull and feverish. He was a little miffed that she wasn't fawning all over him and nurturing him and cuddling with him and stuff. He had been looking forward to holing up with her while he was on leave, and he thought him being sick should make her more caring and snuggly—and instead she was yelling at him.
Annoyed, he turned away and rolled onto his side, yanking the covers and pillows around him and ignoring her. She leaned over him, feeling his skin again, and then her hands curled around his dog tags and she pulled gently. She knelt at his back, and pulled harder until he grudgingly flipped onto his back and glared up at her. She bit her lip and smiled apologetically.
"I'm sorry," she apologized tightly. "I'm just worried—kids get chicken pox, Jethro, not adults. It's more dangerous for adults—how have you never had chicken pox?"
He shrugged tiredly and closed his eyes, satisfied that she was being more sympathetic. He tried to scratch, she stopped him again, and he kicked his foot in frustration, well aware he looked pathetic.
"I'm dying," he whined dramatically.
She laughed quietly and wrinkled her nose.
"You're not dying, you big baby," she placated. She sighed good-naturedly. "I'll take care of you," she told him, pretending it was some imposition.
"You'll get sick," he groused gruffly.
She shook her head.
"I had it when I was seven," she said primly. "No school for a week, but I scarred my face scratching, and the spots didn't go away for months," she explained forlornly. "I got lots of ice cream, though," she said, brightening. "Jethro? Do you want some ice cream?"
He looked at her with puppy dog eyes and she grinned, amused. She stroked his hair and leaned forward, pressing her lips to his hot forehead.
"Let me call Mom and cancel," she soothed. "I'll take your temperature, get you some fever meds," she explained, getting up. She put her hand over his and gave him a stern look. "Don't scratch while I'm gone, Gibbs, so help me god if you've got pock marks in our wedding photos—"
He heard her pacing the hallway, going between the kitchen and the bathroom, talking to her mother on the phone.
"Chicken pox. No, Mother, I'm not lying—why would I lie about such a thing? I swear, he's been out of it all day, his fever's over one-oh-one. Yes. Yes, I'm serious; he's itching and whining and clingy—yes. Yes, he is acting like a child. Well, Mom, I think it's cute."
Gibbs glared feebly at the door, willing her to shut up about him. He didn't want her blabbing about his sick behavior to her mother. Joanne was already enough of a nuisance, he didn't need her thinking he was some sort of pansy. Shannon was the only woman who was allowed to see him whine and moan about these chicken pox.
"Well, obviously we're not coming to dinner. He's contagious. No. No, Mom, no. I'm taking care of him—because he's my fiancé, that's why! You really don't want to see him like this; it's very un-Gibbs-like. Mom, I promise you—look, not to sound harsh, but the last thing he wants is you to come take care of him. I—yes. I'm sure. Yes, frankly I think he'd rather volunteer in a gulag behind the Iron Curtain. No—No, Mom, I wasn't calling you Joseph Stalin, you're twisting my words—I have to go, okay? Yes, right now. Because—because I think Gibbs is having a seizure, I'm sorry Mom, I'll call you later—actual chickens have come to eat Gibbs, I have to go—"
Gibbs snorted, amused, when he heard Shannon slam the phone into something and huff in annoyance. She was a professional when it came to dealing with her mother's whims, but there were times when even she lost her cool about it.
He closed his eyes pitifully. His head hurt and he felt hot and lethargic and if he moved even a little his entire body started itching and he wanted to scratch but he was terrified of what Shannon would do to him if she caught him.
He lay staring up at the ceiling in silent agony.
Shannon banged around in the kitchen, and then she reappeared, her hair pulled up into a messy bun. She handed him a handful of painkillers and a bowl of his favorite ice cream—it was a good thing she'd just bought it—and then began stripping off her clothing.
"Oh, honey, you must be sick," she sighed, walking over to the closet in her underwear. "You aren't even looking at me."
He made a strangled, sad noise.
"Keep your clothes off," he pleaded.
He knew she was half-naked, but if he turned that way, his neck would start itching, and he had just managed to use enough brain power to make his neck stop itching.
She shook her head.
"I turned the air conditioning up high," she explained, picking out warm clothing. "You'll be more comfortable if you're cool. You won't sweat or itch so much," she said considerately.
"Stay naked, and get under the covers," he tried, inching his head towards her some.
He shifted, slowly sitting up. She already had her clothes on, but she looked at him, and laughed, shaking her head good-naturedly.
"You know I get cold too easily for that," she demurred, and pointed to his food. "Eat," she ordered. "I'm going to get some water—ah!" she shouted, pointing at him when he subconsciously reached to touch his face.
She narrowed her eyes, going from sweet to serious in seconds.
"It itches!" he growled.
"No," she snapped.
"Shannon," he whined. "It itches like hell."
"Well, it's chicken pox, get over it," she admonished dryly. "No scratching, that's all I ask, Jethro—you'll get better faster if you don't scratch."
He groaned and stabbed his spoon into his ice cream.
"You're mean," he groused.
"It's because I love you," she answered, flashing him a grin.
Shannon yawned into her textbook, and then reached for the mug of coffee she had sitting on the bedside table. It was hard enough to stay awake under normal circumstances when she was reading psychological studies, much less when she was already tired and she had a sick fiancé tossing and turning fitfully next to her.
He was sweaty and she knew that was making him itchy, but it was also good because it meant his fever was finally coming down. His case of the chicken pox hadn't been so bad for the first twenty-four hours, but on the third day of suffering, it wasn't so pleasant for either of them.
Gibbs was the worst patient. He didn't listen. He alternated between insisting he was fine and ignoring her advice and pitifully whining for attention and demanding she soothe him. She loved him, but she was beginning to dread that one little part of their vows—
He groaned in frustration and scratched at his chest. She sighed, and pulled the covers back.
"Hey, Jethro," she said gently, shaking his shoulder. She pushed her textbook aside, tired of studying for the course anyway. She was getting married and her groom-to-be-was sick; her masters degree could wait. "Jethro," she said again. "Strip down to your boxers."
He growled at her and swatted her away.
"You'll be cooler," she soothed. "The fabric is making you itch," she added.
He growled again and she frowned—she was trying to help.
"Take your clothes off, or you put the gloves back on," she threatened.
She had been making him wear gloves to keep him from itching, and he constantly berated her and gnashed his teeth at her for it. His blue eyes opened wide and he glared at her balefully, kicking violently at the sheets. He looked down, still in the same clothes he'd shown up in the other day—because he hadn't bothered to change—and she wrinkled her nose; she was going to have to deep clean his ACUs.
"I don't want to," he snapped petulantly.
She arched her eyebrows.
"What's this modesty all of a sudden?" she murmured, amused. "Come on, hon, strip."
He glared at her. He didn't move.
"I've seen you naked, Jethro."
He still didn't move.
"I saw your butt when you got that anthrax shot," she reminded him.
He narrowed his eyes, but still refused to take his clothes off.
"No," he said. "'M fine."
"What the hell is your problem? I'm trying to help," Shannon retorted simply. "I know you aren't this shy—I saw you naked skinny dipping in Stillwater, and that time they hazed you and dropped you on my door step after boot camp," she paused, and nudged his shoulder playfully. "Not to mention all those times we've, you know, had sex."
"Didn't have chicken pox then," he retorted moodily.
She stared at him.
"You don't want to strip because you don't think you're pretty?" she asked incredulously, putting two and two together. She puckered her lips in teasing sympathy. "Oh, my poor sick Marine."
He inched away from her, frowning.
"You're the one who said my face was bad," he muttered sheepishly.
She snuffled down next to him and reached for the hem of his shirt, pulling it up slowly. She'd had it off briefly when he first came over, but he'd put it back on. She ran her hand over his skin, looking at him sweetly.
"I didn't mean to hurt your feelings," she patronized, and smiled softly. "Jethro, you'll be more comfortable with your clothes off. I promise."
He scowled at her and sat up, taking off the shirt and maneuvering around to get his pants off as well. Shannon threw them onto the floor with his boots and the other items that were strewn about, and ran her hand over his back, checking his fever again.
"You're better," she said, smiling a little.
"Itches," he complained bitterly, scratching his chest—and then giving her a petrified look, as if he were very afraid of the gloves.
She yawned again and sighed, reaching for them.
"I'm tired," she confessed. "You have to wear them while I sleep," she informed him.
He threw himself backwards dramatically and groaned.
"I'm in hell," he swore.
She glared at him.
"You're such a drama queen."
"You're punishing me," he whined.
"Punishing you would have been letting my mother come take care of you," she returned matter-of-factly. "Put these on. I'll get you something to soothe the itching."
Shannon got up and trudged into her bathroom, looking for some of her lotion. She wanted something with aloe in it, but all she could find was a scented, frilly bottle that advertised itself as having aloe somewhere in the mix. She winced, just imagining the fit he was going to throw when she brought him this.
He was wearing the gloves when she returned, but he was also rubbing them over his legs to sort of half-heartedly scratch, and she glared at him. He stopped meekly, and eyed the lotion in her hands with suspicion.
She held it out.
"It will ease the itching a little," she said.
He squawked in outrage when he looked at it.
"I'll smell like a girl!" he protested indignantly. "I'll smell like you!"
"No one's going to smell you but me, are they?" she retorted primly, climbing over him and snuggling back into bed.
She threw the bottle into his lap and lay down, curling up under the covers. She had it freezing in her apartment just for his comfort and he was going to bitch about some sweet pea scented lotion? She turned up her nose and rolled her eyes. She pouted a little and nudged his ankle with hers.
"You like how I smell," she reminded him.
He grumbled and swore under his breath, picking up the bottle and looking at it distastefully. He seemed to slowly change his mind, and then sank back dejectedly, turning to her and looking at her with wide, puppy-ish blue eyes again. He held out the lotion.
"You put it on me," he said.
She glared at him, burrowed in the covers.
"I want my ring back," he retorted loftily.
"Stop threatening not to marry me—you know what? If you don't start acting like a man, I'll give you the ring back."
He shut his trap pretty quickly. She closed his eyes. He shifted around, and lay down next to her.
"I want you to marry me."
"Don't scratch, then," she answered, opening one eye. "Put the lotion on, go to sleep, let me take care of you."
He touched her arm gently, and groaned pitifully.
"I don't feel good, Shan."
She sighed, opening her eyes all the way and looking into his. He really did look listless, and she felt bad—why couldn't he be a better patient? She wished she had half of this ludicrous behavior on tape for his marine buddies and his commanding officer—he was totally ridiculous about this. Leave it to Jethro to catch a children's disease and have it immediately set him back twenty years in maturity.
Shannon sat up, and put her arm around his shoulders, pulling him into her lap. She put her hand on his forehead gently, and then took the bottle of lotion and opened it, tucking her hair behind her ears before she relented—and started to do it for him.
He closed his eyes—and then, he nudged her arm with his glove-covered one, and she crinkled her nose and giggled, made to laugh by his absurd gesture. He smirked half-heartedly.
"I can't believe you've never had chicken pox," she sighed quietly, lamenting it again. "How did you catch this, anyway?"
He shrugged gruffly, and then answered:
"CO's kid has it."
Shannon nodded, concentrating lightly on putting the lotion on, but not rubbing too hard so as not to make him itchy again.
"Well," she murmured. "You'll never get it again. And this way, when we have babies, you'll know how to take care of them, and we can do it without getting sick."
"Mmm," he muttered, agreeing silently.
He opened his eyes.
"Nose itches," he said pleadingly.
She gave him a patronizing smile and bent over his face, pursing her lips.
She kissed the bridge of his nose, breaking the no scratching rule just a little bit.
He was woken out of the first good sleep he'd had in a while by the loud sound of water running in the bathroom. He opened is eyes and looked around without moving, wary of sitting off his skin's annoying itchy alarms. He wasn't hot anymore and his head had stopped aching; the itchiness, however, was persistent.
"Shannon?" he yelled, his voice half-muffled in the pillow.
She peeked out of the bathroom and sashayed over, perching on the edge of the bed. Her hair was in a long braid down her shoulder, and she had on shorts and a loose t-shirt. She smiled at him and felt his head.
"I bought more ice cream," she bribed—because he'd eaten an entire carton in the past few days.
"You left me?" he asked indignantly, a wounded look on his face.
"Oh, you were asleep," she said, waving her hand. "I took your gloves off last night, and you didn't scratch," she said proudly. "I got one more home remedy, and I think you'll start healing."
He looked at her suspiciously, and then looked at his hands. The movement did make him itch, but it wasn't so maddeningly tempting to scratch this time. He looked back at her uncertainly, wary of what she was about to inflict upon him. He grunted a wordless question.
"I'm running an oatmeal bath," she said proudly.
"What?" he growled.
"It's a common cure," she told him. "It's not what you think—it's not like breakfast oatmeal, it's powder mixed in with the hot water. It really helps the itching."
He glared at her, disliking the idea. He had already been made to wear gloves, covered in scented, frilly lotion, and subjected to hourly temperature taking—what more could Shannon possibly want from him? Couldn't she just sympathize with him and fawn over him, did she have to play nurse, too?
She leaned forward to inspect his skin, running her hands over the red spots, biting her lower lip. Her engagement ring was cool on the troublesome scars, and he watched her, debating the idea. She looked up and met his eyes through her lashes.
"You'll like it, Jethro," she promised. She smiled wider, her eyes sparkling. "I'll get in with you," she coaxed temptingly.
He glanced towards the bathroom, liking that idea a whole lot—but frowned, and looked back at her reluctantly.
"Won't that be gross?" he asked.
He hadn't showered since he came over and threw himself, sick, at her mercy. He knew she said she'd already had it, but still—soaking in a bath with someone covered in chicken pox didn't exactly sound appealing.
She laughed and leaned forward, her lips puckering. She touched his neck, holding his gaze with her hands and with her eyes.
"Gibbs," she said, cocking a brow—all business when she called him Gibbs. "We're getting married in ten days," she told him matter-of-factly. "We—we're going to have babies, right?" he nodded uncertainly, and she laughed again, unfazed. "I promise you, grosser things will happen to us, and you promised me you'd be okay with it when you gave me this."
She pointed to her engagement ring. He thought about it for a moment, considering her wise words, and then relented. She was right. They were going to be together for the rest of their lives, and he was pretty sure in that time, whenever they were ready to have kids, something gross was going to happen.
She took his hand and nodded her head, pulling him towards the bathroom. In the steamy bathroom, she stripped naked—instead of settling against his chest like she usually did, she sat facing him, her legs tangling up in his across the bathtub. The oatmeal almost immediately soothed the itch and he groaned in relief, running his hand over her leg in thanks.
"Good practice," he mumbled.
She lifted her head, the edges of her red hair soaking wet, and shifted comfortably, looking at him with interest.
"For what?" she asked, her foot pressing into his ribs affectionately.
He continued runnin his hand over her shins.
"For better or for worse," he answered gruffly. "Sickness and health," he went on, referring to the vows they were about to take.
"Hmm," she murmured, and then giggled. "I guess not many couples get a trial run," she said wryly.
"Think we're ready?" he asked.
She met his blue eyes with hers.
"Jethro," she said sincerely. "Gibbs, even a case of Marine pox couldn't change my mind now."
I like to think of the Gibbs that belonged to Shannon as being a little bit like Luke Danes. Gruff and unable to deal with feelings but goofy and pretty roughly-sensitive as well.