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How to get away with love

Chapter Text

I know the feeling
Of finding yourself stuck out on the ledge
And there ain't no healing
From cuttin' yourself with the jagged edge
I'm tellin' you that it's never that bad
And take it from someone who's been where your at
You're laid out on the floor and you're not sure
You can take this anymore
So just give it one more try
With a lullaby
And turn this up on the radio
If you can hear me now
I'm reachin' out to let you know
That you're not alone
(Lullaby, Nickelback)

It had started out as the perfect girl’s day out. Ellie and Jack had planned to do something together which developed in a full-time trip. They started out in a cafe outside of Washington, afterwards they had a nice walk through the still wintery park since it had been snowing the night before. Midday they ate at a chinese take-away which had the best spring rolls Ellie had ever tasted, and at four Jack steered her mini into the city-mall’s car park.
Ellie adored Jack more than ever, they had crossed the line from being good working colleages to friends weeks ago, but that was the first time they were actually doing something together apart from talking about fears or anxieties from work.
It happened all of a sudden, to fast for anyone to react. It was around five – thirdy, they had just finished buying some clothes in Ellie‘s favorite shop, when it happened. All of a sudden they heard someone scream.
„Nobody moves!“ It was a man – no, a young man, still almost a teenager. He was standing in the middle of the shop’s center, holding a gun and screaming. Shaking and with tears in his eyes. The young agent frowned. She didn’t dare move.
„Down! On the ground!“
Jack grabbed her arm and carefully pulled her on the ground. Her eyes were moving around, trying to take everything in.
„We need to do something“, Ellie wispered to her while seeing out of the corner of her eye how the young man was forcing the other customers to slough together. Jack just shot her a glare and put her finger on her lips. Ellie closed her mouth, trusting the older woman in her experience. After all she had experience in being held hostage …
And then Jack slowly lifted her hand. Ellie stared at her, confused. The guy turned over, pointing the gun at her.
„I said don’t move!“, he screamed, his hands shaking.
„I’m sorry“, Jack said. She sounded calm – more calm than anyone of them, calm and not scared, Ellie was sure about that. „I just … I want to know why you’re doing this.“
He squinted, then stared at her in disbelieve. „Don’t make me shoot you, lady!“ He stepped closer, but his voice was trembeling. As afraid as Ellie was, she saw the tears in his eyes.
This was definitaly the first time he had done this. He was unexperienced, he probably didn’t even know what – or why excactly – he was doing this.
„What’s your name?“, Jack asked in her softest voice. Now, Ellie understood what she was doing. Of course she as a psychologist had made out his emotional state way earlier.
„I doesn’t concern you!“, he barked back – but somehow not sounding aggressive anymore. More like … stubborn.
„I’m Jacqueline“, Jack continued in this calming voice. Ellie bit her lip, wondering what would happen next.
It was silent. The other customers just stared back and forth between their predator and this woman who, Ellie was sure, most of them thought was crazy. She probably would have thought the same.
„I’m Corey.“ Ellies heart jumped. Wow. That was easy.
A smile was spreading on Jack’s lips as she was clearly taking this as a step forward. „Okay, Corey. Hi. I’m not forcing you into telling me your motives, but if you wanna talk, about anything, just talk, okay?“
Ellie watched him react. He seemed taken aback, also unsure what this strange woman was doing.
„No one here is going to judge you. And if you don’t want anyone else to know, you can whisper.“
His hand was shaking. Ellie saw Jack’s eyes lingering on the weapon, staring at it like a hawk at his prey.
„Don’t you wanna put that gun down?“ She nodded towards it. „I promise, no one is gonna move.“
He looked at her as if he were trying to figure out what game she was playing, or if she was lying. „How can I be sure about that?“
Jack shrugged her shoulders. „You can’t“, she said in soothing honesty. „I suppose you just need to trust us. Trust me. But …“ She smiled. „You clearly are the major one of us in here. No one will dare to face you.“
„How can you say that?“, an older woman almost screamed at Jack.
Corey’s head turned around.
„Shut up!“, he barked.
The woman fell silent, some kids started crying.
„It’s okay“, Jack tried to them calm down.
„It is not!“ A woman sitting next to them cried in a british accent. „He’s going to kill us!“
„He’s not!“ Jack’s voice became more confident. She stared back at Corey. „You’re not a killer, Corey. I can see it in your eyes.“
Corey’s eyes glared back into hers. Ellie saw the blue dots getting glazy. Slowly, he let his arm sink, his finger letting to of the trigger. The young agent relaxed a little more … but just a little. He was still dangerous, even if Jack seemed to have gotten somewhere with her attemps to calm him down.
„What happened to you?“, she then asked. Ellie was surprised how comforting she sounded – there wasn’t even a hint of false friendlyness, not a tiny bit of disgust. Corey whiped his arm over his eyes. He was crying. „Can we help you?“ Jack’s eyes grew even more sympathetic and now she was whispering. „Can I help you?“
„I don’t know.“ Corey’s answer came back immediately.
Jack took it as an encouragement. She went on. „Tell me what happened. Maybe we can work out a solution.“ She nodded in encouragement. „Can you do that?“
He curled his lips. „You don’t know anything about me“, he said, again whiping his eyes. Now he didn’t sound angry at all, more like scared and confused.
Jack smiled, but it was a sad smile. The same smile she gave the team whenever she was consulting them. That smile that made Ellie prove that she either was an empath or she mysteriously knew every single human emotion or had went through it personally.
„That’s right. That’s why I’d like to understand you.“
He didn’t answer, but his menacing bodystatue seemed to crumble down more with every passing moment.
„I suppose youre angry.“ Jack’s soft, whispering voice was growing cautious. „But that’s no reason to hold a grudge against all of us, okay?“
„How do you know about that?“
Ellie bet he would brake down in a second. But then suddenly he lifted his arm and fired two shots up into the air. She jumped and some screamed.
„Corey, please, listen to me!“ Jack waited until he was looking at her again. „I’m sorry, okay? I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have gone that far.“ Ellie couldn’t tell if her almost panicking and apologizing voice was real or if she just played it to gain his trust back. Jack didn’t have a pokerface like Gibbs at all, but on the same time she was an astonishing good actress.
Three little kids started crying, two young girl hugged themselves, two teenagers seemed like they’d run every second.
„Fuck, I said shut up!“ Corey, clearly annoyed turned around, the gun pointed at the crying kids and their mum.
Her instincts took over. „No!“ Ellie cried before she could even realize. Corey shot around again, pointing the gun at her. She frowned again. The same moment she felt Jack’s hand slipping into hers. All of a sudden, there was panik and pure fear in her eyes. And her voice, too.
„Corey, listen to me, please.“ Even her voice started to break. Ellie wasn’t sure what scared her more – the gun pointed at her or her friend suddenly being scared. „You don’t have to do this, okay? Think about it.“ Jack sounded desperate, as if she’d cry every moment. And now Ellie was sure – THIS was real.
She was confused. Jack wasn’t one to just care about her, she cared about every single person in this room, she probably even cared about Corey, and it wasn’t as if he had done something different than before. What just happened that made her freak out?
Corey stared at her, then back to Ellie, and again back to Jack.
„You friends?“
A single nod, a clenched jaw. Ellie saw tears in Jack‘s eyes.
„Okay.“ Corey swallowed. „I tell you, Jacqueline. Let her come here, I wanna have her here by my side.“ He paused for a second. „Then the kids and their mums can go.“
Jack’s grip around her hand grew tighter.
„Why her?“, she asked, finally sounding a little stubborn again.
„Because I wanna know if you hold your word!“, Corey shot back.
Jack blinked. „What did I promise you, Corey?“ Now she was clearly trying to gain the controle back. „I told you we can work out a solution together. But I didn’t promise anything to you. And I can’t …“ She stopped for a moment, clearing her throat. „I can’t trust you if you keep pointing that gun at my friend.“
From one second to another, Ellie saw his face getting read. „You liar!“ He was screaming again. „You’re just like the rest!“
Ellie saw his finger moving. A quick, little movement. And then she heard the loud noise. A deafening sound she knew so well but still got her to jolt everytime she heard it. People were screaming, there was one mixed into the voices who didn’t sound scared, it was a cryout in pain.
But it wasn’t her. She didn’t feel anything. No burning pain, no blood drenching. She wasn’t hurt – it was Corey who was falling on his knees, crying in agony.
Just in the exact same moment Jack got up, her gun still in her hands. It took Ellie two seconds to realize SHE had been the one who shot him. His arm was bleeding, but it wasn’t dangerous. Jack just wanted to get the control out of him, not shoot him.
Everything happened in a blink oft he eye. Just as Jack was near Corey to get his gun, he grabbed it again. Another shot, some anew screams. Ellie saw Jack tumbeling back, but this time her own training as an agent finally took over. She got up, almost sliding over the floor, and grabbed Coreys hand even before he could move himself. He cried out again, this time it wasn’t just pain, more anger, especially as she finally got the gun.
„Don’t move!“, she called out, pointing it at him. „We’re federal agents!“ Her hands were shaking, her heart still pounding against her ribs, but she wasn’t scared anymore. Just angry.
But that changed in the moment she turned her eyes towards her friend. Ellie frowned. Her heart missed a beat. Jack was on the ground, upright but not sitting straight, staring into nowhere like she was in shook. Her left hand was put on her collarbone.
There was blood. Blood everywhere. Some splashes on her face, in her hair, her left shoulder drained in red color.
Ellie, still holding Corey’s gun, Corey who was just crying and not causing anymore problems, felt like the ground she was standing on was shaking. She couldn’t make out where the origin of the blood was coming from, it covered Jack’s throat up to her shoulder.
Then Ellie saw her brown eyes getting glazy, like coated with fog. Her eyelids started vibrating, then closing. And she passed out.
This was the moment Agent Ellie Bishop started screaming too.

Chapter Text

All right
Sit down and spill your heart
Lets start from the very start
'Cause I can see by your eyes you're wasted
Your energy comes and goes
You taking your time, you know
Nothing can change what happened, and so
Back to the start now
I wont let you go this way now
Honesty
Is what you need
It sets you free
Like someone to save you
Let it go
But hurry now
(Someone to save you, OneRepublic)

Gibbs leaned back in his chair and stared at Phil while holding his bear. „Did you really just ask me when I will have a woman back in my life?“
His friend shrugged. „That’s a normal question friends ask each other.“ He looked back at Gibbs, smiling in an almost cheeky way. „You certainly seem different. What about that cute blonde you’re working with?“
Gibbs almost coughed on his drink. „Bishop? She could be my daughter!“ He looked back in shock. Tobias started laughing and Phil shook his head, grinning.
„God, I’m not talking about her. She’s sweet, but yeah, not available for YOU!“ He took a sip of his drink and put the glass back on the table. „I mean that psychologist. What’s her name again? Jocelyn …“
„Jacqueline“, Tobias corrected him.
Gibbs tried to ignore the fast growing beating of his heart and the rush of adrenalin as he heard her name, covering it with raised eyebrows. „Jack?“
„Yes, Jack.“ The meaningful way Phil pronounced her name made Gibbs shift in the most uncomforable way. „That’s the one we are talking about.“
„There’s nothing going on between Jack and me.“ Despite he was telling the truth, he couldn’t deny the strange feeling growing in his guts. He decided to just go into offence. „And besides that, she’s not „the cute blonde“.“ He used his hands to emphasize the redicioulusness of the expression. „Especially not cute.“
He took another gulp of his bear, turning it around in his hands, but always maintaining his attitude and looking at his friends, especially Phil. „She was an army soldier. Her words can be as sharp as a knife, she clearly doesn’t avoid arguments and has a fierce temperament.“ He knew many adjectives to describe this woman, but „cute“ has never really been coming to his mind. Right up to this moment … as a picture popped up inside his head, of Jack smiling at him, radiating like the sun, her big, dark eyes glimmering …
„Well, she cetrainly isn’t unattraktiv.“ Tobias joined in.
Gibbs turned his gaze towards him, threatening. „And?“
„I’m just saying.“ The ex-FBI put up his hands in defence. „She’s a good woman. Good looking, intelligent und has humor. Would be a good match.“
Seriously troubled with what he could say to get himself out of this uncomforable situation, he was relieved as his phone bussed. Holding back a grin he pressed the green button and put the phone to his ears. „Gibbs?“
But as soon as he heard the news, his smile faded. And he immediately regretted his thoughts.

Chapter Text

Is there a heaven a hell
And will I come back
Who can tell
Now I can see
What matters to me
It's as clear as crystal
The places I've been
The people I've seen
Plans that I made
Start to fade
(24, Jem)

He arrived just as Torres and McGee were in the middle of getting up the stairs to the shopping center. They waited for him to join them, telling them the exact information about what had happened. As he heard the news that two agents were involved, he got more and more worried. Even if it was someone he didn’t know, he felt a sort of connection. All of them were family in a way.
„The suspect was shot in his arm, a woman is hurt, too. Looks bad for her, they say“, Torres said the next second, getting him back into reality.
„Anyone else hurt?“
The agent shook his head. „At least not physical. They’re under shock, which is reasonable. But they should be okay. Medics will take care of them.“
They fell silent the rest of the way. Stepping out of the parking lot, he immediately sensed there was something wrong. Even though the incident had happened in floor 3, floor 2 seemed angespannt. They took the escalator upwards – floor 3 was almost empty, immediately he saw some police men getting the last customer out, trying to avoid any stalkers.
McGee introduced all of them so they’d get through. Gibbs felt his own steps getting faster, McGee started running while shouting „I’m gonna talk to the meds.“ He was out of sight the next second.
As Torres and him walked through the door of said shop, he looked around - and then stopped right in between his tracks. First he wasn’t sure if his eyes were sending him wrong signals, but as he stepped closer, he was sure.
The young woman sitting on a bench and crying her eyes out, shaking like she was freezing, was noone else then Ellie Bishop. She was agent number one.
As Nick saw her, he frowned for a moment, his face grew pale. „Oh shit, Ellie!“ He rushed towards her, getting on her knees. „You okay?“
Ellie nodded, still looking pale and scared to the bones. As Gibbs got closer, he saw her hands were covered in blood. She was shivering, her eyes were and her cheeks wet from dried tears.
„He … he shot her“, she then said, after confirming she wasn’t hurt.
„Who shot who?“, Gibbs asked, getting more worried about the person spoken off because Ellie clearly got help from Torres and was just under a mild shook.
Just then he saw she was holding onto something in her hands. Something golden, also covered in dried blood. It was a necklace.
But Gibbs wasn’t interested in it, he wanted to know what was going on. Making sure Nick stayed with Ellie and giving her a calming touch on the shoulder, he got up.
He saw the meds standing at a specific place in the middle of the shop. He started walking towards the direction, his steps speeding up every meter.
Suddenly McGee got into his way. „Gibbs“, he said, a warning tone in his voice. „Be prepared. Don’t freak out, okay?“
He shot him an angry glare. But the younger agent didn’t back away – on the contrary. What Gibbs saw in his face was uneasyness and fear. And sadness. But he had no time dealing with emotions now. „Out of my way, McGee!“, he shot at him.
First, he couldn’t see much. He just knew for sure that there was blood involved. A lot of blood. He didn’t want to interrupt the meds, so he stepped back as a barrow came in.
And then he frowned. Blonde, strained hair. Darker blond at base, light strands. Suddenly he realized he had seen the necklace Ellie held in her hands before.
One of the meds stepped away, giving him the possibility to look at the person.
His mind went blank. His heart stopped beating for a moment.
It was Jack Sloane.

Chapter Text

You gotta have the patience
And believe you're gonna make it
Gotta hold on
I know you're tired of surviving
But you gotta keep on trying
Gotta hold on
(Hold on, Nano)

As soon as she was sitting in Nick’s car, the tears came back. She wanted to scream, wanted to turn back the time, even though the meds told her they had stabilized her friend, but she was scared.
„It’s not your fault, Ellie“, Nick tried to calm her down. She whiped away her tears. „I know“, she said. „But I should have done something.“
Gibbs on the passanger seat was silent.
„There was nothing you could have done. You weren’t an agent that time, you had no ID, no weapon. And besides …“ He made a pause. „Maybe he wouldn’t even have fired if Jack hadn’t used her gun.“
„Don’t blame her!“, she shot at him. „She wanted to save us, and she did! She almost had him down on his knees, if those people just would have behaved, then …“
Nick breathed in, his hands gripping the wheel until his knuckles were getting white. „I’m sorry. I’m not blaming her. I could never.“
Ellie stared out the window, watching the lights on the street rushing past them. It was icy cold outside, almost if the weather mirrored her emotions. There they were driving in silence, but Ellie felt anything but silent. Her heart cramped and her inner voice was crying and screaming.
This couldn’t be true. She couldn’t lose Jack, she couldn’t lose this funny, cute beam of light who had grown into her friend.
She had seen Quasim get shot, she had lost him. It was a long time ago, but she still wasn’t completely over it. Clay was gone too.
If she’d lose Jack too, Ellie had no idea what she should do.
Nick hadn’t even put on the hand break as Ellie already jumped out of the car, Gibbs followed her. She knew she was probably exhagerrating, but she felt so incredible guilty. She didn’t even want to imagine how Gibbs must feel in similar situations due he was the teamleader. She definitaly didn’t ever wanna be in this position.
At the entrance she asked for her friend.
The woman behind the desk gave her a smile, but her eyes were clearly forcing her to calm down. „Are you a family member?“, she asked.
Ellie sighned in desperation. She knew about the procedure, knew that it was her job, but right now all she wanted was information.
„No“, she said, trying to stay calm. „But I’m her friend. I was with her when she was shot, and I wanna know how bad it is.“ Ellie felt her blood boil and her heart pound. „I’m sorry Miss, but I can’t tell you anything“, the woman said. Ellie clenched her jaw. She nodded her head.
„Right“, she snarled. „Always bureaucraty.“
She felt a gentle touch on her shoulder and Nick leaning in. „It’ll be okay“, he said, his voice calm. „I’m sure she’s in good hands. We can wait.“
Ellie turned around, facing her friend. If it weren’t for him, she probably would have gone crazy. But thus she nodded, pressing her lips together.
Nick took the lead, Gibbs was following them. They sat down on the chairs in the waiting room where five other people were sitting, too. Ellie took the seat between the two guys, feeling like she needed both of them right now. Nick was holding her hand, squeezing it a little. Out of the corner of her eye she observed Gibbs. He was leaning forward, putting his arms on his knees, hands interlaced. Anyone could who didn’t know him would mistake his statue for being totally in controle and put together, but she knew the truth. It was in his eyes. Those icyblue eyes which weren’t twinkeling like usual. They were in deep concern.
Ellie started chewing on her fingernails, staring at the ground in front of her. She had no idea what time it was, or how long they were sitting there. Her mind was dead.
„Are you with Miss Sloane?“ The sudden voice let her jump and she turned around, Gibbs and Nick doing the same. An older nurse was making her way towards them.
This time Gibbs was the first to get up. „How is she?“ For the first time ever she saw his compose crumble down. He wasn’t able to cover the anxiety in his voice. She didn’t blame him a second. Jack was loved by everyone in the team. She had no idea how Gibbs actually felt about her, but she knew if he cared for someone, he cared deeply.
„Easy, easy“, the nurse said, her smile truthful and friendly. „She’s okay, just gone out of surgery.“
Ellie’s heart jumped and she got up. „So what’s wrong with her?“, she asked.
The nurse looked at her for a second, but adressing the explanation to all three of them. „The bulled hit just right above her collarbone. It looked worse than it was due to the loss of blood. Basically it’s just a grazing shot. She was very lucky, but everything is fine. All she needs is a little rest.“
Ellie closed her eyes for a second, whispering a silent prayer.
„Can we see her?“, Nick asked.
The nurse smirked. „I guess from the way all of you are looking at me right now, you won’t except a no either, right?“
Gibbs‘ jaw was still clenched, but he nodded. „You got that right.“
„Please!“ Ellie‘s eyes were begging. „I was with her when she was shot, I … I wanna be there when she wakes up.“
The woman whose nametag said „Sister Madelyn“ let her eyes travel over them, almost as if she was studying them. „If you make it two, then yes. All of you is too many.“
„You two should go“, Nick said right of the bat. His eyes were warm. „I can visit her later on. Right now, you both are closer to her than I am.“
Ellie looked at him, blinking. Then she smiled. „Thank you, Nick.“ She turned back to Sister Madelyn. „So …“, she stated.
Finally the nurse nodded. „As long as you don’t disturb her or try to wake her up, okay?“ She gave both of them a stern look. Gibbs was just staring back.
„Well then.“ She turned around. „Follow me.“
Ellie sighned in contentment. Just as she took a step forward she felt a gentle touch on her arm. She turned around.
„Tell her my best whishes“, Nick said, his voice calmer than she had ever heard him speak. His dark eyes rested on hers, soothing and comforting. Ellie pressed her lips together and nodded.
„I will“, she said. „Thanks Nick. For driving us.“
He smiled and nodded his head. „Anytime, Ellie. Anytime.“
They followed the nurse along a corridor, a white painted one with blue colored doors. The light reflected itself on the polished, grey ground they were walking on. Gibbs hasn’t said another word since, and she wasn’t fond of speaking, either. It was a weird silence between them – not an awkward one, more like helplessness. And Ellie wasn’t used of Gibbs being helpless.
Sister Madelyn stopped at a door with the tag „Room 112“ on. Ellie’s heart beat a little faster, suddenly scared of what was awaiting her. She didn’t wanna see Jack injured, she didn’t wanna see her friend being wrapped in bandages and in pain …
„I can’t tell you when she’s going to wake up, so you need to be patient.“ She gave them a reassuring smile. „Don’t worry, okay? Our doctors are experts, she was and still is in good hands.“
Finally an emotion was showing on Gibbs‘ face, and he nodded. Ellie nodded, too. „Thank you“, she said. The Sister nodded back, smiling, and left.
Ellie looked at Gibbs who already put his hand on the doorknob and opened it. He stopped, giving her a look. She understood and went through it first.
How the nurse had foretold Jack was asleep, her head tilted towards her lift side. A big white bandage was wrapped around her shoulder, her arm in a loop to stabilize her wound and prevent a sudden movement. She was pale, not as pale as right after the shooting, but still a lot unhealthier than usual. The bloodstains were washed off her skin, but that didn’t really help Ellie calm down. She pressed her lips together, preventing herself from crying again. Just shortly thereon she felt a comforting touch on her shoulder.
„She’s gonna be fine“, Gibbs said. He sounded encouraging – but as Ellie looked up, she saw he fought his emotions, too. His blue eyes were glistening.
He probably would never admit it, but there was something between them. Ellie was sure about that, and it was remotely plausible that McGee and Nick suspected it, too. She had wondered if they had kissed somewhen, maybe in Jack’s office, in silence when no one was watching, and then playing their usual pokerfaces, pretending everything was still the same, maybe even trying to fight their emotions. She had no idea how Jack was in a relationship, but Gibbs wasn’t one to love easy, especially after everything he had been through. Ellie wouldn’t wonder if he would push her away, try to cover up and pretend that it was nothing. Or maybe Jack made a move and he backed away, even if he felt the same. But if there was a woman Gibbs could fall for or screw over his damn rule 12, it would be Jack Sloane.
She whiped her eyes, just in a preventive way, and nodded as she remembered his words.
Everything was fine. It was okay. Jack was under constant supervision, no one could hurt her anymore, she was save. And moreover she shouldn’t speculate about her and Gibbs, especially not NOW.
While still staring at the almost lifeless woman in the bed, she saw Gibbs picking two chairs and putting the two on Jack’s right side.
She almost hugged him as he let her sit on the chair next to Jack’s face, but all she could manage was a smile meaning „Thank you“. He didn’t smile back, his eyes just focused on Jack.
Attentive and slowly Ellie reached out and let her fingers roam through Jack‘s tousled curls. She literally felt Gibbs watching and suddenly felt like an intruder, strangely.
„You were just as scared as I was.“ Ellie spoke it before she could even think about it. Gibbs stared at her. „What?“
Calmly, she looked up. „I freaked out, you remained calm. But not because you were less scared, just because you know how to deal with such situations.“
Gibbs stared at her, his blue eyes twinkeling. Again, she couldn’t read him. „If it makes you feel better, I confess.“ He turned his head to look at Jack again. „Yes, I was scared.“ He clenched his hands and his jaw tightened. „This could have been much worse. Maybe there really is something about believing in god.“
„I know.“ Ellie pressed her lips together. „She could have gotten shot right on her throat. Carotid adery.“ She forced her mind not to go there, not to imagine the worst which hadn’t happened, and tried to focus.
It was fine. It was fine …
They fell into silence. Ellie stroking Jack’s hair, Gibbs holding Jack’s hand. After what felt like half an hour, he got up.
„You want something to eat?“, he asked. Ellie’s first reaction was to shake her head, but she actually felt hungry. So she nodded instead and Gibbs excused himself.
As the door fell closed, Ellie stared back into Jack’s face. She desperately wanted her to open her eyes so she could see those darkbrown and smooth pearls of comfort again, captivated by the tenderness of it. She couldn’t believe how someone who had a crush on Jack wouldn’t be helplessly in love when she smiled – not even Gibbs. She was just … amazing. A loving friend, a brave woman, a beauty.
Ellie signed, feeling the exhausting creeping in. She took a look at her watch – it was almost eight, already dark outside.
Just then she realized she still had Jack’s necklace in her jacket. She had washed it off in the bathroom before so now it was clean again, sparkeling golden. As Ellie put the necklace on the table next to the bed, she realized her hands were shaking. She stopped for a moment, taking a deep breath before looking back at her friend.
„I’m so sorry, Jack“, she whispered before she could even think about. She pressed her lips together and blinked, feeling tears coming up in her eyes. She lifted her head, focusing on Jack’s still beautiful but incredibly pale face. „Please. Wake up!“
Jack didn’t move. As she felt a tear escaping her eye, Ellie whiped it away. She got closer and leaned over, right next to Jack’s shoulder, careful to not touch her. She closed her eyes and tried to focus on Jack’s breathing, tried to make out her scent, that comforting, earthy one she always exhuded – but now, everything Ellie’s nose could notice was desinfection spray and those other sharp hospital scents that made her feel even worse.
So instead she thought about how their day could have ended if everything had happened as planned. Maybe they would have walked along the river, or in Washington’s insights, chatting about girl stuff. Maybe they would have bought some stuff to eat, burgers or pizza, and would have watched a movie at either Ellie’s place or Jack’s. Or Jack would have taught her how to make proper italian pasta since she had told her in the mornings that she was from italian origin. She signed.
Suddenly, Ellie felt hair brushing her fingers. She frowned. Then she felt it again. Her heart missed a beat. She hadn’t been moving at all …
She looked up and didn’t know if she should smile or cry in happiness.
„Hey.“ Her voice broke.
Two tired looking, but familiar brown eyes were lingering on her. „Hi Ellie.“ Jack’s voice sounded hoarse, but she was smiling. At least a little bit.
„My god, I’m so relieved you’re okay.“ Ellie took her hand and tried to smile away the piercing sting of tears which were building inside her eyes.
Jack batted her eyelids in slomotion, slowly looking around. „What happened?“
„You don’t remember?“, Ellie asked.
Jack squinted her eyes. „No sure“, she slowly said. „I remember us shopping. And … there was this incident …“ Her eyes widened. „Wait. If I’m in the hospital that means …“
„Yes.“ Ellie nodded. „He shot you, Jack. You’re injured.“
Her eyes grew bigger. She looked like she was trying to get back her memory, to figure out what had happened. Then she stared at her, her voice concerned.
„What about the other hostages?“
Ellie couldn’t help but smile. Always the nice, caring Jack, thinking about everyone else. „They’re okay except of maybe a shock.“ She grew deadly serious at her next words. „You were very lucky, Jack. The bullet grazed your shoulder near your throat.“
They fell silent, Ellie trying not to get emotional again. For some moments Jack was staring right into nothing, then she nodded. „Right. Now that you’re saying it I can feel it.“
Ellie pressed her lips together. „Does it hurt much?“
„It’s bearable.“ She gave her a smile. „Don’t worry, Ellie. I will be okay.“
Ellie smiled. „Says the patient to her friend.“ Then, she sighned aloud. „Gibbs is gonna be so relieved when he’ll be back.“
Jack stared at her, almost as if she didn’t believe it. „Gibbs is here, too?“ Her eyes were twinkeling in a naugthy way. „Did you call on the whole team or what?“
Ellie smirked. „Kind of. I took our shooter down until the police arrived, told them who I was and who you were, and they called them. McGee was the first to arrive, Torres and Gibbs later on.“ She paused for a moment, but then decided to just speak out.
„I’m sure he’d kill me for this, but I have never seen Gibbs this worried before.“ Her eyes grew tender. „He cares for you, Jack. Deeply.“
Jack smiled. It was a tired, but unbelievably loving smile.
„I care for him, too.“ Her voice sounded like velvet. Ellie wasn’t sure if the tone should entangle her, if there was more behind those words. But then she went on. „As I do for you. How are you?“
Ellie laughed for a second. „I’m fine“, she said. Not really, at least she hadn’t been. „Feeling a lot better since you’re awake.“
Jack’s smile grew wider before her eyes started twinkeling. „You took him down? How …“
She was interrupted with a sound at the door. Both Ellie and her looked up, seeing Gibbs entering. He was holding two paperbags in his hand and a bottle of water.
„Look who’s up“, Ellie said. Which was completely unnecessary as Gibbs saw it right away.
„Hey Gibbs“, Jack said, holding up her hand as to greet him.
„Jack.“ His voice was silent. Silent, low and soft. A smile appeared on his face as he stepped closer. „How are you feeling?“
„Considering the circumstance that I just got shot …“ She made the impression as she was reflecting. „Pretty okay.“ Then she fixed her gaze on him, grinning. „Come on, sit down. Both of you need to relax.“
Gibbs let out a snorl, but he obeyed. Ellie, smiling at his reaction, took over again.
„I was just telling Jack what happened and how we disarmed Corey.“
„You did?“ The question sounded like he was just trying to get rid of all attention that was focused on him.
„Yep.“ Ellie decided to spare him the situation which was clearly uncomfortable and too emotional for him now. She turned back to Jack. „Well you did most of the preliminary work. You knocked him down with a shot in his arm, then he shot back, and I used his vulnerability to disarm him.“
Jack’s expression took her by surprise. She frowned and stared at Ellie as if she didn’t believe what she just said. „I … I shot him?“
„It wasn’t bad, believe me. He was just wincing a little.“ Ellie blinked in confusion. „Jack, it was necessary“, she said, encouraging her.
„And you saved them.“ Finally Gibbs spoke up again. „That’s what matters.“
Jack let her eyes rest on his. Slowly she nodded.

For a while everyone of them was quite, silence filling the room. It wasn’t an uncomfortable one, Ellie realized. More like … calming.
„Next time we’re gonna go for a massage“, Jack said. And this sentence even brought Gibbs to laugh.

Chapter Text

Sometimes the days escape me
Sometimes I lose control
Too many contradictions
Between my heart and soul
Sometimes the devil scolds me
Shoots me down in flames
Through the dark, you find me
You take me home again
Safe with you
Safe with you
They can throw me to the lions
I'll be Jack against the giants
'Cause honey, I'm safe with you
Safe with you
The earth can shake beneath me
Anxiety won't beat me
Honey, I'm safe with you,
Safe with you
(Safe with you, Jamie Larson)

They left after about half an hour as Jack’s painkillers started kicking in again and she was dozing off to sleep. She could see it in their faces how they were reluctant to go and she was pretty sure if Gibbs were some years younger, he would have insisted to stay and sleep on the chair.
The doctor wanted her to stay the next day and night, too. Nick was the first visiting her in the morning. Jimmy and Leon were out for the day with their families, but Nick knew she wouldn’t want them to cancel their weekend just „for seeing her looking crappy“.
„You don’t look crappy“, Nick smiled. „Just a little worn-out. And incredibly good for just being shot.“
„Well thank you, charmer“, she said, smiling back.
His smile grew into a grin. „Just honest. Everyone except Gibbs would tell you the same. And that’s not because he doesn’t realize how pretty you are. He’s just way to closed up to compliment someone.“
„Speaking of compliments. You havent done anything else since you stepped into this room. You have a crush on me or what?“
Nick grinned. „Just wanna make you feel better, that okay?“
She looked at him, his eyes honest and comforting, his smile truthful. She nodded. „It is, Nick. And it’s working, believe it or not.“
They sat in silence for a while, until Jack reached for his hand. Nick replied the gesture and put his other one over hers.
She liked this man a lot. He could be a real egocentric person, but he had a heart like a lion which was bigger than he’d probably ever admit himself. He would do literally anything to save the people he loved, she knew this. And moreover she knew she could always count on the younger agent.
„How’s Ellie?“, she suddenly asked.
Nick looked up, his eyes looking confused. „Still a little worried about you, but okay.“
„And Corey?“
She didn’t miss his sudden starteledness about the question. But still he asnwered. „He’s fine. His injury at least. His mind …“ Nick curled his lips. „We’re not sure about that, actually. But we’re on it. He’s unter constant controle, being monitored, and I think there’s a doctor coming in for analysing his mental condition. He’ll inform us.“
He seemed to sense what she was thinking, even planning to do, so he spoke up again: „Ellie and I have planned to speak to his friends, family and classmates if we’ve got time and there won’t be another case coming in.“
Jack made a noise mixed between a sign and a bugged snort. Nick laughed.
„Hey, relax Jack. You need to recover, we got this.“
She smiled. „I believe that, I’m sorry. I don’t wanna make the impression as if I didn’t trust you, it’s not this.“ She took at deep breath which let her shoulder started to pound of pain again. „It’s this damn feeling of helplessness that drives me crazy.“
Nick paddet her hand. „The sooner you calm down, the sooner you’ll be out of here.“
All of a sudden a nod disturbed them and Jack and Nick looked up.
„Miss Sloane?“ A young nurse, the one she had only seen twice by now but already liked, came in smiling shyly. In her hand she was caring a vase with flowers in - gerberas and evergreens. „Someone brought you flowers.“
„My god, they’re beautiful!“ She looked at the nurse. „Who …“
„A man and a woman just came by. They said they were there, at the shooting, and wanted to thank you.“
Jack batted her eyelids in confusion. „And they already left? I would have wanted to thank them personally!“
„I think that’s exactly why they left. They send you those flowers because they wanted to thank YOU.“ Nick smiled at her.
The nurse looked around as if she was searching for a place. „Where do you want me to put them?“
Nick stayed for another half an hour, playing cards with her and showing her some weird but funny moviescenes on his phone. He was shortly followed my McGee who gave Delilah’s best get-well-wishes and hugs and also brought her a painting Morgan and Jonny had made. She almost got tears in her eyes at the lovely gesture and would have loved to hug them, but she couldn’t move her left arm. Even Kasie and Ducky were dropping by for a short moment, getting her some of her favorite chocolate and a book to read from her home, additionally some clothes to change. Somehow she had felt the most comfortable with those two entering her home and with Kasie getting clothes for her, not even knowing why. Maybe she trusted the young woman more than she had thought she already knew – but maybe it was also because Kasie was quirky and sweet and had much more emotional distance to this whole thing than Ellie.
At the end of the day as it grew darker outside, she let her eyes travel around.
The flowers, the chocolate, the picture. Her loving friends, all those people who cared for her. Those people who were her family.
Jack closed her eyes. And even though her injury still forced her to take painkillers, this time she fell to sleep with a smile on her face.
Due to all restrictions in every day life, the doctors suggested she needed to stay at someone’s. She had been at Gibbs‘ a few times before, so they decided – or better she was forced to - she’d settle in there.
It was Tobias who picked her up on Thursday midday. Jack wouldn’t have wanted any of the agents to use their lunchbreak just to drive her home, and she knew Tobias was a good friend of Gibbs.
She wasn’t sure if she imagined him giving her looks like he thought the reason why she stayed with Gibbs wasn’t simply because she already knew her way around the house, but she tried to ignore it. She also wasnt quite fond of the team to know where she was staying because she was sure they’d gossip. It wasn’t the mean type of gossip, but they’d figure there was a bigger meaning behind that arrangement – and the worst thing was, Jack herself had no idea what would await her. She couldn’t help the nervousness she felt as she thought about staying with him for such a long time.
But first she’d get home. To her own home, back to her comfort zone to finally rest for a few hours. Her body had calmed down in the hospital, but her mind was still spinning. She hated hospitals – they were linked with too many horrible experiences.
„You need any help?“, Tobias asked her as he opened the door for her.
„If you could put the flowers on the table over there, that would be lovely.“ Jack pointed over towards the kitchentable. „I shouldn’t forget to take them with me when Gibbs picks me up.“
He did what he was told, meanwhile Jack sat down taking her shoes off – even that was hard, she realized.
„Anything else? You wanna eat something?“
She thought for a moment but then shook her head. Whenever she was sick or didn’t feel like 100 percent perfect she couldn’t eat, not even sweets. Maybe that was the only reason why she had been living through her teenager-years as a thin walking straw despite almost only eating chocolate, lollipops and other unhealthy stuff.
„Right now, all I need is enjoy my own bed“, she smiled.
Tobias smirked and lifted his arms. „Got it. I’ll leave you alone. But …“ He turned around while reaching for the door. „If there’s anything you need, call me, okay?“
She nodded, again realizing what a generous and great men he was. „I will, Tobias.“ She put her hand on his arm, giving him her most honest, thankful smile. „Thank you for everything.“
The ex-FBI took her hand and squeezed it softly. „Anytime Jack.“ His eyes twinkeled. „A friend of Gibbs is always a friend of mine, too.“ And with that, he left.
Jack wasn’t sure if it was just her inner psychologist and her consistent want and talent to profile people and guess their intentions that she was sure there was more behind his words. The yawn escaping her mouth and the pounding pain in her shoulder shook her back to reality. She wouldn’t analyse anyone now. Right now, her body needed to calm down to get whole again.
She made her way to the bedroom, not caring about changing her clothes which already were comfortable. And as soon as her back touched her bed, she fell asleep.

Chapter Text

I hate to see your injury,
I wish that you could transfer all your pain to me
Stay here, it's okay to cry
Let me help you make it right
Let's turn up our radio,
Let the bands remind you that your not alone
We all get low
Even the brave may depend on someone
The moon only shines with the help of the sun
It's not as safe when your walking alone
I'll walk you home
Sun's out, but it feels like rain
So I will illuminate your day
I'm afraid I'm losing it,
What's it gonna take for me to get through this
We'll get through this
(Walk you home, Karmina)

He had promised to drive by at Jack’s after work and pick her up. He left the office just three minutes after the usual time-out and he didn’t even recieve astonished looks. Everyone of them – Bishop, McGee, Torres and also Vance – knew that he was still a little worried about her. He wanted to be sure she would rest, and he had the best controle over her when she was staying at his place.
As he was on his way he tried to analyse the feeling deep in his stomach – it wasnt exactly nervousness, but it felt similar.
He hadn’t seen her since Saturday evening and even though Tobias had told him Jack was doing fine according to the circumstances, he wanted to be sure and see for himself.
As he stopped in front of her house his heart started pounding. Again, he had no idea why. It wasn’t just that he had never been to hers before, he just picked her up and brought her home a few times. Maybe it was because he didn’t know what to expect, he supposed while shutting the door of his car. Maybe it was because he was … kinda responsible for her know. Or – and that was the obvious answer he didn’t really wanted to admit – it was because she would be staying with him.
Day and night.
For some days, maybe even weeks.
Her and him.
Arriving in front of the door of the house he took a look at the doorbells. There were five flats in it, he pressed the button where it said „J. Sloane“.
While waiting he studies his surroundings. It seemed like a nice, quiet quarter of the city. Since it was still february the sun had gone down a few hours ago, still it seemed as if the day was still trying to fight against the darkness which inevitably would be winning within probably two minutes.
Just as he wondered if she hadn’t heard him ring the bell he reached out to buzz again as the door opened – and Jack was standing in front of him. She was wearing black trousers, a darkred pullover and her jacket. He felt the sudden urge to touch her cheek, to comfort her, and he imagined her leaning in, closing her eyes …
He cleared his troat. What was he thinking?
„How are you?“, he then asked, deciding to not ask her why she didn’t buzz him up and let him help get her stuff down.
She gave him a slight smile. „Pretty good for being shot. Took a nap for a few hours, but can’t dull the pain completely.“
He nodded since it was totally understandable.
„By the way, Ellie got your shopping bags.“ He pointed at the back of his car.
Her eyes grew big. „I almost forgot about that“, she laughed.
Before she could even take a step he lifted up her blue sportsbag and she locked the door.
„What did you get?“, he asked, suddenly not confident with silence anymore while they were walking towards his car.
„Perfume, new jeans and pants, and some shirts. Thought about getting new shoes, I saw some amazing heels, but they were too expensive.“
„Don’t you possess enough of those?“, he remarked with a smirk as he held the door open for her.
Jack smiled. „A woman can never have enough shoes. Especially not if they are shoes that make her feel pretty and sexy.“
„Don’t need shoes for that.“ Only as he saw her eyes getting bigger and she stopped for a moment he realized he had actually said it aloud. He cleared his throat, trying to regain his composure.
„We should get going“, he said. Jack nodded and he closed the door, hurring to his side and getting back into the car.
„You got any news?“, she asked as soon as he had started the engine. He was more than glad for her changing the subject into something he was way more confident about.
„We know that the weapon Corey had taken with him wasn’t his. He got it from one of his collegues.“
He saw Jack raising her eyebrows. „How the hell did THEY get it?“
„I have no idea“, Gibbs said while outpacing a black delivery van. „But I’ll find out.“ That was for use. This kid shot one of his best friends and his confidante. He better had a good reason for this outburst.
They drove in silence, but it was a comforting one. He liked that about Jack. She respected his inability and unwant to chatter all the time, even if she could be the one who was a master in it. But despite that it still felt different than any other car rides he had.
They arrived shortly after 8:30, the sky dark as ink. At least she let him carry all her stuff – sportsbag and, which he didn’t quiet get, flowers – to his house. He probably would have locked her inside his car if she hadn’t behaved. But it seemed that even a Jacqueline Sloane loved a good gentleman. And he’d do literally anything to be one for her.
Jack jittered as she stepped into the warmth of his house, rubbing her hands. Gibbs shook his head at her exaggeration while closing the door. But right, she still was a californian woman by heart. He still wondered how she was able to uphold her tanned, bronze skin color.
He helped her out of the jacket and hung it into the cupboard where he kept his too. He couldn’t help but smile and remarking how adorable she looked. The red pullover looked like it were two sizes to big for her, the neckline showing her bandage. He gulped as he saw it, tried not to imagine how Ellie must have felt witnessing what had happened. He was more than glad the young woman was okay, physically as emotional, too. She was kinda like a daughter to him, as Jack wasn’t just his coworker or friend, even though he still wasn’t even exactly sure how to describe their relationship. He just knew there was something more …
„Gibbs?“ Her voice brought him back to reality.
He blinked. „What?“
„You’re staring.“
He cleared his throat. „Sorry“, he mumbled. „Just wondered about something.“
Within turning, he caugh her gaze. She stared at him in disbelieve, batting her eyelids two times. Just then he realized she wasn’t even wearing any make-up, and still, she looked … god, why couldn’t he admit it? Beautiful. She looked beautiful.
„Did you just apologize to me?“
He glared back at her, trying to focus on her words, which was pretty hard since her dark eyes were literally burning holes into him. But as always, she didn’t back down. Jack Sloane never backed down, ever. And he liked that about her. It impressed him.
„You hungry?“ He decided to change the subject. Not smooth at all, he still lacked communication skills.
Jack seemed to think for a second. „I actually am“, she said, sounding as if she’d not believe it.
„You have a special wish?“ He turned around, steering towards the kitchen, figuring it would be much easier to talk to her if he’d do something else than be confronted with her face.
„Is this a rhetoric question or do you really posses anything else than steak?“
Again she made him turn around. The teasing in her voice was unmistakebly, and how every time she did or said something similar, he wasn’t offened a bit.
„I actually do“, he gave back. He’d loved to sound aggrieved, for one single time he’d love to trick her, but no chance. This woman was a walking lie detector.
„Well.“ The smile returned. „In that case, I’d like you to surprise me.“ She reached for the sportsbag and made her way towards the stairs.
„Go ahead“, he called. „Make yourself comfortable, you know the way.“
He frowned at his own words. You know the way. Indeed, she did. She almost knew about every single corner in his house, knew were the bathroom was, the guestroom, even his own … and it felt normal. It felt even more normal than McGee staying over, and he had been there a lot.
The team was family. His family. And if he wanted it or not, Jack had owned her solid place and she probably wouldn’t even have had to fight for it they way she did. Because he had let her in – for his definition of „letting someone in“, at least.
He had left some vegetables and tomato sauce in his fridge, luckily he also found some pasta and cheese. He decided to just mix everything up and together, hoping it would taste better than it looked.
Just as he put the pasta into the mesh he heard her footsteps. He straightened his back. „Food is ready in a few minutes. Take a seat.“
Of course, she didn’t. She took out two glasses and started looking for something to drink. He didn’t even try to make her sit down since he knew it would just end in a staring contest – and he wouldn’t be strong enough to resist. Not tonight.
As he turned around, everything inside a pot and a box, he could make out Jack’s interested gaze. She observed the ingredients while he placed everything on the table and as he looked at her, a smirk was resting on her face. „I never ever would have imagined seing you eating pasta.“
He shrugged. „I don’t just eat steak, even if that’s what everyone believes.“ He barely had settled himself on his chair as Jack already reached for the cheese. His eyebrows raised in slow motion as he eyed her suspiciously. „Don’t tell me you are one of those people who eat cheese with pasta and not the other way around.“
Jack, in the middle of pouring the cheese onto her food, looked up. „I eat my pasta how I drink my coffee“.
He groaned, mumbeling a „oh boy“ which only brought up a beaming grin of hers.
The rest of their time they ate in silence. He appreciated her company, appreciated that she understood he wasn’t a talker and didn’t force him to because she felt uncomfortable.

It was just as they had finished and got up to clean the plates as he spoke again: „Let me take them.“ He waved towards her plate and glass. She tilted her head. „I’m not half-dead, and putting dishes into the washer I surely am capable of.“ With that she got up, ignoring his instructions. He signed but decided to just let her do it. If she so badly wanted to?
„You know, you are just as stubborn as I.“ The words just came falling out of his mouth without him even thinking about it. Jack stopped and turned around. Suprise mirrored in her eyes, seeming like she was processing that he had just admitted his own characteristic dickheadedness.
„I can’t just sit around and do nothing. Even if I love reading, it gets boring after a few hours.“ It sounded like an explanation. But he didn’t grow weak.
„What am I supposed to do the whole day?“, she went on as he didn’t answer. „Don’t you have something to do for me? Like …“ She looked around and almost threw her arm up. „Maybe cleaning your house or something? Getting the rubbish out?“
It sounded so redicioulus Gibbs almost had to laugh. Instead he shot her a stern glare. „I dare you to clean for me. You are here to recover, to calm down.“
Jack signed. „But I WANT to do something. I NEED to.“
He shook his head, not able to hide a smile at her stubborness. „Jack, you’re injured. This being the major reason why you are here and not alone.“
She sighned. „I know“, she said, sounding like a little child. He couldn’t hide the smirk escaping his lips. Cute. There it was again. Indeed, she was cute.
He cleared his throat and as Jack looked at him, seeming confused, he figured he shouldn’t have done that. He really had no want to make her feel like he was nervous or something similar.
„By the way, speaking of injuries. You tell me whenever you need help, okay? I don’t want to annoy you.“
She blinked before a smile light up her face. „You could never annoy me, Gibbs.“
Looking into her eyes and replaying her voice and the words he felt his heart beating – but this time it was a nice and comforting feeling.
„You shouldn’t be so sure about that, Sloane. It’s just beginning.“
She grinned. „You have no idea.“ Was it just his imagination or did her smile grow cocky?
He turned, cleared his throat in silence, and locked his eyes on the TV. „You can watch some movies, just go through my collection. Maybe you’ll find something.“ „I suppose you don’t have Netflix or Amazon Prime, don’t you?“ It somehow sounded like a tease, even though he had no idea what she was talking about.
„No“, he said.
She couldn’t supress the smirk spreading out on her face. „Never mind“, she said.
He grunted. It probably was a hint towards his non-existing affinity to technological devices. They were complicated and unnecessary, at least for him. He didn’t need that kind of other confusing in his life.
His life which had already gotten more complicated than ever before from the moment she had set foot into his house on that rainy day a few years ago.
The hurricane may be over, but the storm was yet to come.

Chapter Text

Oh, I can't fight this feeling any longer
And yet I'm still afraid to let it flow
What started out this friendship has grown stronger
I only wish I had the strength to let it show
(Cant fight this feeling, REO Speedwagon)

As he stepped out of the elevator he was awaited by Bishop and, which suprised him, Vance.
„Morning Gibbs“, Vance said.
„How’s Jack?“, the blonde woman asked. He held back a smile. Of course Ellie wasn’t the only one worried about Jack. Leon and her had a connection that went way deeper than just normal friends. He shouldn’t have wondered.
„She’s doing okay. She’s already bored to death, but at least she obeys.“
„Well she can’t drive with her injury, so she needs to stay at yours if she doesn’t wanna walk here, that’s the good thing.“ Vance smiled.
Gibbs rubbed his head. „Still I fear there’s a storm coming up. Not sure if I wanna deal with a bored Jack Sloane staying in my house.“
„I could keep her company, I you’d grant me to leave …“ Ellie smirked with a sideglance to Vance.
„I’m sure Jack will be able to keep herself busy“, Leon said, smirking at the younger agent as he clearly got what she had implefied.
„As long as she doesn’t profile me due to watching my movies I’m okay with that“, Gibbs mumbled, causing Vance and Bishop to grin. He made his way towards his desk, put the coffee on it and freed himself from his jacket.
While starting his computer he caught himself glancing up to the stairs. It felt weird knowing Jack was at his house and not here. He wondered what she might be doing … his mind made itself independent and travelled back to another place, the same time.
Jack sitting on his couch, legs crossed, a book in her hands, glasses on. Probably twirling one of her curls between two fingers, maybe throwing the book away in desperation. Staring up to the ceiling while thinking if she might intrude his privacy if she’d go downstairs and take a look at his boat, his tools, playing with them …
He shook his head to drive off his imagination. Where was his professionality? He knew Jack wouldn’t do anything to offend him. She loved teasing him, he knew that, but teasing was different than to actually overstep his boundaries.
And right now, he himself was bound to work. The selecter on display popped up and made him turn his attention to it. He could worry about her later. For now, he was glad he had something else to do than thinking about what she might be doing or if she was behaving.
Washington’s murderers had meant it well – there wasn’t a single new case coming up, nothing else to do than neglected, old paper work and archives to sort. Still, there was one thing he was dying to get new information – the kid that shot Jack. He had made some phone calls to the police since they were responsible for investigating but they still didn’t have much to say. Maybe, he hoped, Ellie or later on Jack had a better chance of getting updated. That was why they could finish even overtime, he let McGee off at half past five, Ellie and Nick left about 40 minutes later. He himself stepped into the elevator at six-thirty – trying to ignore the weird and non-definable feeling inside his gut.
That feeling vanished the second he opened his door and didn’t discover any indication of a problem that might have accured the day. Instead he was greeted with the smell of food.
He furrowed his brows. Was this indicating what he thought it was?
„Gibbs?“ Her voice originated from his kitchen. Good, she was still alive.
„Yeah“, he called back. Getting rid of his shoes he took off his skarf and hung it on the coat hanger of his jacket. Already anticipating something he stepped into his hous, heading straight to the kitchen.
As Jack heard his footsteps she turned around, smiling. „You’re early.“
He had missed her smile. And he was more than glad to find her in one piece and clearly in a good mood.
„Work meant it well with us.“ He blinked. „What are you doing?“
The smile on her lips turned into a big one. „I realized there was one thing I loved but haven’t done in a long time. Since it had always been just me, I found it unnessesairy.“ He tilted his head, watching her to go on explaining. She lifted up the cooking spoon. „I love to cook. So I decided to at least make you a good meal.“
He nodded his aggrement. „Well that I approve.“ He stepped closer to look over her head. „What’s it gonna be?“
„Let me suprise you?“, she gave back.
He stopped and held up his hand. „‘Kay“, he said. Before turning around fully, he stopped. „Does it work with your wound?“ He gave her a concerned look.
„Luckily, I’m a lefthanded shooter. So I’m pretty good at doing stuff with that hand.“ And her attention was back to the pot.
All of a sudden he felt bad for not having realized it. There weren’t many righthanders to shoot with a left hand, he knew. But to his defense he hadn’t witnessed her shooting or using a gun that often. If he was honest and his memory didn’t trick him, it had only been once, as they were investigating the Angie-case …
Just then a new thought came into his mind. Out of any reason, he just blurted it out without thinking. „How do you shower?“
She looked at him, suprised or taken aback he couldn‘t tell. He cleared his throat. „Sorry“, he said, feeling his skin burn. „That came out wrong.“
„It’s a legitimate question.“ She smiled. „The answer is I don’t really know. It works, somehow.“
He stared at her and had no idea why. A picture formed itself in his head, a picture which caused his eyes to grow read. He really shouldn’t think about her showering right now …
„I’m in the basement, boat needs to be worked on. You okay here?“ Before risking another smile of hers which would arise his body temperate he already turned around.
„Of course“, she called back. „Go. I’ll get you whenever I’m finished.“
His basement was his safe place, his safe heaven. Closed up from reality and the chaos in this world.
The chaos which had developed a name. A beautiful, caramel colored chaos.
Jack Sloane.
He had no idea how much time had passed as he made out footsteps. He looked up right at the moment she showed up at the top of the stairs.
„Dinner’s ready“, she said. „You wanna eat or should it put it back into the oven to keep it warm?“
Like on command his stomach growled. Even if he weren’t hungry, he was curious what meal she had thrown together.
„I’m coming.“ He put down the sandpaper, whiped his hands and followed her.
Jack placed him at the table like a waitress in a restaurant before he could even catch a glimpse on what was waiting in the now opened oven.
„Stop being such a child“, she spoke in a loving, mocking way as she gentle gave him a push against the shoulder.
He shrugged and hoped she didn’t see the stupid grin on his face. „You could just tell me.“
Sitting down, he caught her shaking her head and tapping against the table. „Sit and wait.“ The command only made him grin and wanting to mock her more. Making her way back to the oven, a definitaly provocating sway on her hips, she turned around, eyes sparkeling. „Where would be the fun in that?“
He opened his mouth again but then decided to leave it there as something hit him right into the heart. Was this flirting? He had no idea. They were teasing and challenging each other all the time since day one, but this felt different. All he was sure was that the way his body and mind reacted at her sassy movements wasn’t simple because he was a guy and she was an attractive woman. But right now he wouldn’t focus on that.
„I’d call this „Casserole of long-forgotten ingredients“.“
He stared at her in disbelieve. The expression he made must have been really funny because she let out a laugh. „I don’t mean they’re expired!“ She shook her head as if what he had just expressed nonverbal had been the most ridicioulus thing ever. „I just used some stuff I found it your kitchen and storage room.“ With that she put the casserole dish on the table. He was in the middle of opening his mouth to ask something, to fight back probably, as his brain started working at the realization.
„Wait, how did you …“ He pointed at the two fried eggs on top of it.
„Crack it with one hand?“
He looked up to meet her, nodding. A misterious smirk appeared on her lips which made her eyes twinkle. „It’s easy if you know how to do it.“
„I bet it is“, he said, not meaning a single word. He turned his attention towards the steaming, well smelling thing on the table. „And would you like to tell me what you put in there?“
She made a noise as if she were considering letting him hanging in the air. „I could let you guess, but I’ll be nice.“ She took her fork and pointed towards the thing. „Potatoes, cheese, some zucchini and paprika. And the egg, of course.“ She placed the spatula in between them and nodded behind her. „You could open a leftover-museum back there. I wonder what else I’ll find around there. Be careful before those things get little legs and start walking away.“
He couldn’t help the chuckle at her remark of buying groceries and not eating them before they got moldy or start developing into living things.
„I’ll remember“, he said, giving in to her playfullness. He had no idea what had happened. She wasn’t a stiff or difficult person to be around, but here in his house, in his kitchen, she was at ease how he had never seen her before. He wondered if it originated from the painkillers, or …
„I wanted to prepare some salad, too, but …“ She pointed at the bandage. „That would have been to much.“
He shook his head in amazement. He still was completely taken aback. „Jack, you really didn’t have to do this. If you think you owe me anything …“
„It’s not just that, Gibbs.“ There was a special something in her voice that made him look at her. No, not just look AT her. Right into her eyes and soul. „And it’s not just due to my inability of doing nothing. I wanted to. I like surprising people.“
A smile stole itself on his lips. As he spoke, his voice was calm and silent. „You succeded.“
„And I can always use this search for food as a reasonable explanation to stalk myself around your house.“
And the playfull, smart and witty Jack Sloane was back.
Since the move clearly would have caused a bad ankle for her wound he scooped out the portions for them. The sent was amazing, only now he realized how hungry he really was. Jack stared at the piece on her plate, a calculating expression on her face.
„I wonder how this is gonna taste. I’m actually pretty good at leftovers, but …“
„You did it one-handed, that being a difference.“ He smirked and took his fork. „We’re gonna find out in a second.“ He let it sink into the soft material and shoved it into his mouth. For a moment he closed his eyes at the sensating his taste buds were experiencing. „God, this is amazing.“
Jack next to him laughed. „It’s a mashed-up casserole, not a four-stars menu!“
„Which doesn’t make it any less good.“ He chewed the bite while getting a new one. „You“ He pointed towards her. „Should be proud of yourself. This is one of the best things I have eaten in a while.“
She actually grew pink around her cheeks, making her appear even cuter than she already was. „Thank you“, she smiled, finally picking up her own spoon. „I’m glad you like it.“
„Oh, I like everything that comes with you.“ Only as Jack looked up again, eyes wide and mirroring surprise, he realized he had said it aloud. He shrugged it off, despite feeling his insides jumping.
Chaos, the word echoed inside his head. There it was again, chaos. But that chaos would never get more recognition than the casserole on his plate.
He had just put the dishes into the washer as he caught her staring out of the window. She sensed his questioning eyebrow immediately and spoke: „Weather looks good.“ She turned towards him, eyes sparkeling like copper. „You in for a walk? I really need to go outside. Haven’t done that since Friday last week.“

Chapter Text

Here I go again
Reaching for the light
I fall back down to earth
Every single time
I found my oxygen
Brings me back to life
It always looks like you
Looks like you
You make me want to be better
Taking me back to the line
We'll always be stronger together
Take on the world when you're mine
I never believed in heroes
How darkness could turn into light
I know they say never say never
But I'll never, ever
I won't stop fighting
But not fighting with you
I'll be fighting for you like I'm
Born again, born again
And I'll keep believing
'Til my heart stops beating
'Cause you got me feeling like I'm
Born again, born again
(Born again, Kodaline)

She wasn’t used to doing nothing, and she also wasn’t fond of just spending her time inside, without any work to do and just laying on the couch like a lazy teenager. That was why she had almost sqeeled in delight as Gibbs had nodded his approval to go on a walk with her.
She usually wasn’t a winterperson at all, being one of the reason why she had been living in California for most of her life. She liked the sun, rays burning onto her skin, the sound of the ocean in her ears, sand under her feet, even the smell of her surfboard’s wax.
But all those things didn’t seem to matter anymore – not now, not with Jethro Gibbs walking side by side with her.
They didn’t speak, each one enjoyed the silence. It was dark since a few hours and the streets were empty. Actually, whole Washington seemed to be empty. It was a nice silence, comforting and calm.
They were walking near each other, almost so close their arms bumbed against each other at times. He didn’t seem to bother. Jack was on the verge of linking her arm with his but she wasn’t sure what he’d think about it. She didn’t want to push, not now when it seemed so at ease with him.

All of a sudden her feet slipped. Out of reflex she flailed her arms in case to prevent herself from falling – bad mistake. A piercing pain shot through her and made her gasp. At first she didn’t even realize him grapping her by the arm and steading her – a burning ache in her shoulder almost took her breath away for a second, causing stinging Tears dwelling up in her eyes.
„Jack? You okay?“ His voice sounded like he was speaking through cotton batting, and only slow and steady she was transported back.
„Yeah, it’s just …“ She took a deep breath, trying to steady herself. „That rapid movement wasn’t … benefitial.“
She squinted her eyes, blinking away the tears that threatened themselves to escape her eyes. She didn’t want him to see her cry, not now …
Just then she realized his touch. His hand around her biceps and the other on her back, steading her, keeping her safe. She looked up into his eyes, those incredibly icy blue ones which bore a hole through her. There was nothing than concern in them, concern and devotion.
And she stared back, the pusling pain forgotten. Deliberately, not to slip again, she lifted herself up on her toes. She grabbed his jacket, locked eyes with him, pulled him down to her, their lips met …
„Jack, you’re shivering.“
His voice starteled him and she jolted back into reality. The imaginary bubble just exploded and left her with nothing more than a beating heart – and an awkward heat lingering in her belly and on her face.
„I …“, she stammered, not able to look away or get out a single, meaningful sentence. She felt dizzy all of a sudden and that wasn’t because of the meds or the wound.
He took off his glove and touched her forehead. Jack couldn’t help the intake of air escaping her throat as she felt his hand on her skin. It felt pleasently cold compared to her burning face. She closed her eyes, tried to calm her breath.
She wasn’t ill at all. At least not with a disease that could be treated with medicine – she was lovesick.
„Your skin’s burning“, he said, his voice thick with concern. She gulped. Stop staring at me with those blue eyes of yours, she thought while trying not to hyperventilate.
„We should go back, get you back into bed. You shouldn’t overtax yourself.“ His voice sounded like honey over sandpaper. Jack needed all of her selfcomposure to not let her eyes fall shut and just sink into his embrace, forcing him to hold her. Or to kiss her. Because, yes she was sure, she wanted him to do that.
„I’m fine, Gibbs“, she mumbled though she knew she wasn’t. His grip around her grew tighter and a little forward.
„C’mon.“ He turned and pulled her with him. Jack signed. She wasn’t in the mood of fighting, so she gave it.
But she couldn’t give in to her emotions. While walking back, she leaned against him. Her stomach made a happy jump as she felt his arm around her shoulder, pulling her close. Taking all her composure together she supressed the childish, happy giggle which desperately wanted to be released into the cold, nighty air.
She knew why he did that. He did it because he was scared she’d pass out every moment. He did it because he was worried and considerate, thought she was vulnerable and needed to be taken care of. Certainly not because he felt the same …
„I’m a grown-up, cowboy“, she thought.
„What?“
Her heart stopped as she realize she had said it out loud. This time she didn’t conceal the giggle escaping her throat. Tomorrow, she could blame her clumsiness and attachment on the painkillers.
And maybe, Jack Sloane thought while walking back, still using him as her support and snuggled up to his side, this all could have a positive side-effect to awaken something in cold Jethro Gibbs. Something. Anything.
At least she wouldn’t give up on it.
And never ever would she give up on him.

Chapter Text

And even as I wander
I'm keeping you in sight
You're a candle in the window
On a cold, dark winter's night
And I'm getting closer than I ever thought I might
(Cant fight this feeling, REO Speedwagon)

The smell of freshly baked bread filled his nostrils as soon as he closed the door and hung his jacket into the cabinet. It was a delicious scent, something which made him appreciate his home much more than he already did. There was just something about food that made all sorrows dissapear, even his.
But maybe it was also the fact that his eyes were granted with a view so scarily normal and familiar … no, that wasn’t the whole truth. The view didn’t just feel scarily normal, it was beautiful.
SHE was beautiful. Jack was standing in his kitchen in the middle of opening the cupboard. She was up on her toes trying to reach for the plates. Due to her need to stretch herself and the resulting position her shirt was riding up a few centimeters, exposing just a tiny inch of skin. It was enough to make his own burn.
He didn’t even feel embarassed due to the fact that he let his eyes travel down her body and focus on her butt for a little longer than necessary, on the contrary – it made him smile and he couldn’t even figure out why. He stepped closer, not able to chuckle at the sight of this usually so independent woman clearly struggeling to get a grip on those damn plates.
„Need help?“
She jolted and turned around with a gasp.
„Gibbs!“ For a moment her eyes closed and she let herself catch her breath. „God, you scared me.“
„Sorry“, he said, still smirking. He wasn’t sorry at all.
Just then he realized how close they were – due to the involuntary scare Jack had almost lost her balance and was facing him, barely a meter left between them. Gibbs felt his skin prickle as he met her eyes, those big, brown puppy eyes which could make him go week every single time … to overcome the situation he reached out to grab the plates.
Slightly embarrased Jack gave him a smile. „Thank you.“ She put a strand of hair behind her ear, playing with one curl like an anxious teenager. Was it just him or did she seem nervous all of a sudden?
„What did you prepare this time?“ He decided to rescue her – both of them, actually – with asking a normal question which would hopefully lead them to another topic they both were comfortable with.
Jack seemed to steady herself in an instant. „Baguettes with mozzarella, tomatoes, salami and mushrooms. You can chose which one you want, made two for each one of us.“ She pointed towards the oven. He nodded.
„Something simple, I like it.“
Right after his sentence he felt a slight punch against his arm. „Hey, don’t you discredit me!“ Her voice had an almost angry tone in it, but her eyes were twinkeling and her lips implied a smile.
He lifted his arms in defeat. „I don’t. Simple doesn’t mean less good.“
He bend down and Jack stepped back after opening the furnace door. He looked at her questioning, and she nodded.
„You go first. I like all of it, doesn’t matter for me.“
God, how did this woman make him smile so often? He felt his muscles had been used much more in the last two days than they had been within the passed two years.
After he took out his chosen baguette, he stopped.
„Didn’t my knife work properly?“, he grimassed as he inspected the way the baguettes were sliced into half. They more looked like ripped apart than nicely sliced. Jack didn’t answer. He had expected her to bite back a comment how she always did whenever he was teasing her, but to his surprise she just bit her lip.
Immediately he knew something was off. Gibbs squinted his eyebrows.
„There’s more behind it, right?“, he asked, his voice calm again.
She sighned. „You really know everything, right?“ Finally she turned around to face him, smiling but looking tired. „I can’t keep anything secret from you.“
Gibbs straightened himself. „What’s wrong?“ He didn’t mea nto press but he wanted to know, yeah needed to know. He hated it when people kept secrets from him and he hated it even more if it was something to worry about. And overall, this was Jack. He couldn’t stand a sad Jack Sloane.
„Wound’s hurting like hell today“, she blurted out.
He braced himself and inhaled deeply through his nostrils. „You think it’s because of yesterday?“ He immediately thought about the walk they had been doing. It had almost sounded like an outcry. He hoped she didn’t realize how scared he had been for a few moments.
And before his mind could process his mouth opened itself to speak: „You want me to take a look at it?“
He wasn’t sure how to interpret the look she was giving him. Was it scepticism? „Maybe later. After I finished this.“ Gladly she didn’t seem offended or harried at all. He nodded. His ability to read people was failing completely when it came to her. So, he decided as they headed to the table, he would just stop trying.

„Sit down and rest. I can finish it“, he said as she already wanted to get up. This time she just gave him an insecure look.
„You sure? You’ve just come home.“
„And you’ve just gotten shot.“ He got up from his chair and made moves with his hands. „Go. Or I’ll force you.“
Okay, now he was concerned. She followed his instruction without contradiction. It must be bad …
„So what were you doing the day?“, he called back into the living room where she had made herself comfortable on the couch.
„I slept in. Reeeeaaaly long“, she started. „The longer you sleep the less you have left of the day, and right now, I long for short days.“
He nodded to himself. „Sleep’s good. Best medicine.“ Why did he say something like that? She wasn’t a child, she knew that herself.
„Listened to some music, ordered some take-away for lunch, and …“ She paused for a moment. „I actually have no idea how I have outlived that day.“
He had no idea why he turned around and was even more surprised to meet her eyes. Eyes that weren’t sparkeling with this usual whit and excitation but with resignation. „It’s horrible if all you think about is the pain and you can’t do anything to … occupy yourself.“
It felt as if she had added those last two words just to stear the conversation and the meaning of her words into another direction. This reminded him of more than just the bullet wound and her reproduction of her lonely and boring day.
It made him think about her captivity. The torture. The scars on her back. He squinted his eyes and turned away. He couldn’t bear the expression in her face right now, thinking about how those scars must have looked before medical treatment … before SHE herself had looked as Leon had found her … god, he didn’t want to imagine …
„Let me take a look at your wound now?“, he offered as he had finished cleaning everything up – and had regained his calm. As she didn’t answer, he made his way to the couch, almost expecting her to haven fallen asleep. She was still awake, staring into nothing and playing with her hair. Just as he remarked how gorgeous she looked – even in that simple t-shirt and simple training trousers - she sensed his presence. She looked up, seemed a little puzzled as if she’d dozen off for a few minutes.
„What? Oh, yeah. Sure.“ She straightened her back and shifted to give him enough space to sit next to her. Still, it was way to close for his self-composure to handle.
He cleared his throat and focused on his task. Rational thinking. Helping his friend and co-worker, there was nothing more behind it.
He laid his eyes on the bandage and just as he reached out to get it off, he stopped. „This won’t really work.“ The realization of the meaning behind his words hit him right into the stomach and he felt his blood starting to boil. He straightened his back to keep himself together before nodding towards her torso. „You need to get that shirt off.“
He wasn’t sure if he should be surprised that she didn’t even sign or say anything against it. It was almost as if she wanted him too … no, that wasn’t possible, that was his immagination running wild.
„A little help?“, she suddenly asked in the middle of trying to taking it off. Gibbs swallowed. Careful, preventing to not touch her skin, he took the hem of her shirt and pulled it first over her right arm, then over her head, to the injured side. He followed the white cloth landing on the table before turning his attention back to her.
And swallowed. She was wearing a darkgrey balconette bra without straps. A lacy one. He desperately tried not to stare but the dangerously gorgeous bra didn’t help with that.
„Doesn’t look like it but it’s the most comfy one I have.“ The shyness and insecurity in her voice matched his trembling hands. He jumped as he realized she must have caught him staring.
„Not judging you“, he managed to get out, hoping he didn’t sound like he felt. He decided to lock his eyes on the injury. Focus, Jethro, focus, the last part of his straight-thinking brain commanded.
„May I?“
She nodded. Carefully he started to unwind the bandage, hoping to not come upon a ripped bullet wound.
„How did you do that in the last days?“, he asked, also to distract himself.
She shrugged and squinted her eyes at the unpleasent movement. „Note to self – no shrugging“, she grimassed. Then she cleared her throat and looked at him. „Don’t ask. It worked, somehow. Was hard though.“
He wanted to ask her why they hell she didn‘t ask him for assistance, but then he reminded himself that he wasnt here to push anything. Jack was stubborn but not stupid. She would have come to him if she knew she couldnt properly cope with her wound.
At least he relaxed a little as he inspected the wound. It wasn’t ripped at all, just a little red around the edges.
„So?“, Jack asked since she couldn’t quite see it for herself.
„Seems okay.“ He nodded as if to asure himself and her. Not knowing what else to say, he decided to just keep going.
Until all of a sudden he had the feeling one got when being watched. He stilled his hands and turned his head, his eyes meeting hers.
„You okay?“, he asked.
She stared at him for a few more seconds, then, as if awaking from a daydream she batted her eyelids in rapid moves.
„Yeah. Yeah, I am.“ Her lips indicated a smile before she lowered her head, turning away from him.
He took a deep breath and allowed himself a quick look over her features. Her jawline, her perfect profile, her lips, her eyelashes. There was something different about her today and he had figured it out the moment he had laid eyes on her in the kitchen. She wore makeup again, not just mascara but eye shadow, too. But the main thing was her hair. It wasn’t as curled as usual, just some barely visible waves in it. He liked it when she wore it like that, it always seemed lighter. She looked a lot more like an agent with this type of haircut, like … another version of herself. He would almost assert that it also made her look younger, but probably the reason he liked it so much was that it made her eyes pop out even more. Caramelcolored skin, chocolate-eyes, honey-golden hair.
It was true. She was sweet. Sweet like the sugar in her coffee. To sweet to handle.
„Ouch!“ It was only due to her wincing that he realized his hands had started to clean her wound.
He flinched. „Sorry“, he mumbled, barely audible. Get yourself together, he thought. He wanted to help her, not cause her more pain.
It felt as if took ages as he finally put a new, clean plaster on and managed to wrap the bandage around. Jack relaxed under his touch and exhaled. He did too.
„Thank you.“ She gave him a smile.
He nodded his reply, tossing the implements on the table and reached for her shirt. He folded it to make it easier for her to get her arm and shoulder through it. Jack chuckled at his gesture.
„What?“, he asked.
„Nothing“, Jack gave back, pulling at the neckline to get a better angle. „It’s just nice seeing you this attentive and sweet.“
He stopped in between his movements. He felt his ears growing read. Had she really just called him „sweet“? The next moment laughter filled his house. A laugh which made his stomach jump.
„Oh come on, that was a compliment.“ Jack lightly punched against his shoulder and gave him a grin. He grimassed back. Oh, he was anything but sweet. Especially the thoughts running throught his mind every time he looked at her …
„Well, thank you“, he murmured. And with that the topic was terminated.

Chapter Text

What kinda dream is this?
You can be a sweet dream or a beautiful nightmare
Either way I don't wanna wake up from you
Sweet dream or a beautiful nightmare
Somebody, pinch me--your love's too good to be true
My guilty pleasure--I ain't going nowhere
Baby, 'long as you're here, I'll be floating on air 'cause you're my
You can be a sweet dream or a beautiful nightmare
Either way I don't wanna wake up from you
(Sweet dream, Beyonce)

Usually he would have started his lunchbreak by now, but he was still in the middle of work, so he decided to go for it and take a break later. Just as he reached for the folder, he saw McGee waving at him.
„Hey Boss“, he said, causing him to look up. „Jack wants you in her office, she needs to tell you something.“ He nodded, trying to hide his sudden nervousness. Since when did she call someone to her office?
He finished working on the file after about fifteen minutes and decided to head to her office before taking his well-deserved break.
He knocked at her door, even though it was open. „Hey“, he said. „You needed me?“
Jack looked up, smile beaming. „Yeah, I did.“ She looked at him for a moment as if she were considering something, then nodded towards the door. „Would you mind closing it?“
He didn’t ask why, he just did how he was told. Turning around and walking back towards her, he eyed her in interest. „So? What’s it you wanted to talk about?“
Jack bit her lip. He swallowed. „Well …“ She lifted herself up from her chair, slow and deliberate, smiling. „It’s your lunchbreak now, right?“, she asked, making her way around the table. He nodded, slowly raising his eyebrow.
„And?“
„I was wondering if you’ve got plans.“ She let her fingertips touch the wooden material of her desk, her nails tipping against it. She started to confuse him.
„I’m in the middle of something, taking break later“, he said, not quit sure why.
„Always the workoholic, hu?“ Her smile grew into an almost miscievos grin she sat on the edge of the table, crossing her legs. Gibbs swallowed. He couldn’t help but notice her black skirt riding up a few centimeters, exposing the skin of her thigh. „Do you ever stop, Gibbs?“ Her voice bekam raspy, whispering. Her foot dangeling, he watched the red heels which made her legs look irresistable. He straighened his back, tried to focus.
„Well, job needs to be done“, he said, voice shaking. He definitaly had no idea where this conversation was heading to.
„You know …“ She slid down her desk again – not caring about straightening her skirt. Seductive. That was the only adjective which would pay her justice. „I’m thinking about something else that should be done.“ Her eyes were burning holes into his and he felt his heart race. „Something we both have been avoiding way to long.“
Before he even realized what was happening, Jack was standing right before him. Her eyes were filled with an emotion he had never seen on her – lust. He could smell her perfume, feel her breath on his skin. What is happening here, he asked himself while trying to controle his own pulse.
It didn’t work. Jack’s darkbrown eyes, the ones which were usually so comforting, understanding and calming, now brought goosebumbs all over his body. And not only goosebumbs – heat.
Then she leaned in and kissed him. Passionate. Tongue. A kiss he would have never imagined coming from her. It was as if his body wasn’t under controle anymore, his mind went completely blank. He found his fingers touching the first botton of her blouse, opening it. He could almost feel Jack grinning against his lips.
„That’s a good boy“, she whispered, her voice causing him to shiver. Her hands tugged at his shirt and she pulled him with her. He didn’t complain a bit. His hands travelled lower, down her back, until he grabbed her ass. She hissed.
„Yeah, right there.“ The hoarseness in her voice let him groal. She slid her leg around his, pressing him closer. He lowered his head to kiss her, but she backed away. A devilish twinkle in her eyes she put her head back, exposing her throat. He understood and kissed her, his teeth grazing her sensitive skin. Jack signed.
„Oh cowboy“, she breathed. He felt her hands roam over his back and his insides explode. His skin felt like burning wherever he touched her, her scent dulling him like a sweet, poisonous cloud.
„What to do want?“, she whispered in his ear.
„You“, he groaled back. „All of you.“ Just then he felt a grip on his tie. Jack pulled him with her, walking towards her couch. He moved without thinking. All he did was stare into her eyes, getting lost in them, lulled in, he watched her every move, the sway of her hips, so seductive, so elegant, her lips invinting him to kiss her …
He shot right up, his heart hammering and hands shaking. A thin line of sweat covered his body. He was trembeling and there was a meaningful heat still lingering around his lower belly. Gibbs put his face in both his hands, sighning in exhaustion and despair. Did he really just dream about Jack seducing him in her office?
This was getting dangerous. REALLY dangerous. SHE being near him was getting dangerous and making him insecure. Damn, she was here to recover, she was injured, and he thought about undressing and laying her?
With a growl he let himself fall back into his pillow. Truth be told, that wasn’t the first time he dreamed about her. It wasn’t always the same, sometimes it was just her smiling at him, sometimes he dreamed about kissing her, about just grabbing her arm in the bullpen … But this was new. It has never been like this. His dreams had always been gentle – and he knew that was what scared him. If they were simply raw and heated he could have tricked himself into pretending he just found her attractive, or sexy, or even hot. Which he did, for sure. But it wasn’t just this … there was more behind it. And that „more“ was what scared him.
One of his first thoughts the next morning was hoping she wouldn’t wear a skirt. The next was it would be best if she’d be still asleep and he wouldn’t need to see her.
Maybe this was an intrinsic motivation to get ready even sooner than he usually was. As he came downstairs for the second time on this morning, she still wasn’t up. He let out a sign of relief.
Still, he didn’t want to leave without any word. Before heading out of the door, he took out a piece of paper and sqribbled a message on it.

Morning,
you’ve anything against Tobias and Phil coming over tomorrow?
Hope you’re feeling better?

Maybe he had had this idea because he feared being alone with her again, he thought. Maybe he could distract himself a little.
Lie, he thought, as he slammed the door of his car shut. There was no way to distract himself, not from her, not from all of this, never again. She had occupied almost every single space in his brain, his mind, his soul. And his heart.
Spoken heart started racing like a hummingbird’s wings a few hours later as his phone buzzed and he received a message.

Morning Gibbs,
why should I not like T. and P. to come over? Of course not. Overall it‘s your house. You’re the boss.
See u in the evening

He forced himself to cool down. What this woman was doing to him wasn’t unavoidable anymore. True, he was the „boss“ in his house.
But she was the boss over him. She owned his heart, his soul, his everything. Every inch of his broken, hurt and damaged soul.
And it scared the living crap out of him about how close he was to lose it all.

Chapter Text

Maybe it's 'cause I got a little bit older
Maybe it's all that I've been through
I'd like to think it's how you lean on my shoulder
And how I see myself with you
I don't say a word
But still, you take my breath and steal the things I know
There you go, saving me from out of the crowd
Fire on fire, we're normally killers
With this much desire, together, we're winners
They say that we're out of control and some say we're sinners
But don't let them ruin our beautiful rhythms
'Cause when you unfold me and tell me you love me
And look in my eyes
You are perfection, my only direction
It's fire on fire
(Fire on Fire, Sam Smith)

She woke up due to the pounding of her wound and realized her PJ were glued to her body. Letting out a pestering, whinching groan Jack roled herself around, dangerously careful not to change the position of the bandage. Just then the memories came back.
He had been so gentle. How could a man like Gibbs, a man who was stoic and cold and acted like he hadn’t even heard the word „emotion“ before be so caring?
The guy fascinated her. And clearly much more than just that.
while glancing on the watch on her phone. 8:27. He was already at work.
What was she going to do the whole day? Trying to clear her mind she got up, not even minding putting something on other than her pyjamas which already were the baggy kind of style.
She wasn’t sure if she was glad or dissapointed that she didn’t encounter him, but it was probably the best.
Her eyes fell on the coffee mug. As if by magic it allured her, made her step closer until her fingers wrapped themselves around it. She tapped against the material, only to realize she had been staring into nothing. The guy fascinated her. No, not only fascinated her … there was no question she was falling for him, more and more every day, and she couldn’t help it.
She remembered her skin burning as she had taken off her shirt. Usually she didn’t posess a pokerface at all, but yesterday it had saved her. Otherwise … she wouldn’rt have known what would have happened.
All she had wanted were his hands traveling over her body, opening the plug of her bra, his lips on her skin, him …
Jack took a deep breath as she felt heat building up inside her. Quickly, she put down the mug and closed her eyes for a second. She needed to take a shower. Now. She probably wasn’t thinking straight, the painkillers made her dizzy and her mind clearly hadn’t enought to do so she thought about stuff like that.
She really needed to get back to work. Needed to occupy herself. To occupy herself with anything than Leroy Jethro Gibbs and her feelings which were clearly out of controle.
She stripped down in the bathroom and caught a glimpse on the bullet wound. As Tobias had picked her up from the hospital they had stopped at a pharmacy to get waterproof plasters, which she put above the other one every time she showered.
She remembered the piercing, burning pain she had experienced as her scars weren’t healed fully. They had been the living proof of everything she had been through. Every moment, every time she turned around on her back she had let out a scream. It hadn’t just been the pain. It hadn’t been just physical, still wasn’t. It wasn’t just the knowledge of how abominable they looked.
It was the psychic damage she was carrying with her. And those damn scars reminded her every single time whenever she saw them. Or felt other people watching.
She had shown them to him out of free will. She didn’t care about him staring at them, because she knew he neither would judge, nor would ever bother her about it again.
And there he was again. Back in her mind. Jack let out a sign and let her forehead rest against the cool wall.
Was she going crazy? Probably.
She knew Gibbs wasn’t easy to love, nor did he love easily. But he MUST be suspecting something. Hell, never ever would she have allowed someone to take off her shirt and taking care of a wound, she was way to stubborn.
God, she had wished him to take her in his arms or to kiss her. Just like that. Without anything else, just to kiss the pain away. And probably do so more things, things that weren’t G-rated at all.
Maybe he had been too focused on the bandage and the plaster than to actually realize how she had been staring at him. She hadn’t been able to help it.
With her palm Jack whiped the steam from the mirror so she could see herself. Truth was, she wasn’t just bored. She didn’t just cook because she needed to do something – she did it for him. She wanted his attention, yeah craved it. It was almost stupid how she was acting, trying to impress her crush like a teenage-girl. If Gibbs ever could be impressed by anything.
She herself was someone who got impressed easily, and that was one of the things she hated. So many had fooled her in the past, so often she had been used. Not even her psychological knowledge could save her from all of it. Love was blind, indeed.
Jack signed. Everytime he looked at her, those incredibly blue eyes piercing into hers, her knees got weak. But she had never been someone to give in or up, ever. So she just countered. Sometimes assault was the best defense – at least in case of Jethro Gibbs. There really were some true aspects in „Teasing is a sign of affection“.
Love was dangerous. Desire was deadly. But never ever in her life had she been closer to overstep this line and dive into insanity.
She knew he was acting protective over hers – more so since the encounter with her daughter, she felt.
He knew she was way more vulnerable than she wanted everyone to know. And the weirdest thing was – she didn’t care if he’d catch her breaking down.
Maybe she was projecting. Maybe she didn’t care about putting her walls up because she wanted him to do the same, to let go of his anxieties and fears and just TALK to her. She didn’t need to be a psychologist to figure this man had some very deep and hurting secrets he wasn’t keen on telling anyone.
She had told herself not to fall in love that easily again. But probably it had happened the day they had first met … she just loved to make him smile or laugh. Ducky had told her Gibbs seldomly smiled. She managed to do so many times in just a few minutes. And she knew even when he was supposed tob e angry with her, he couldn’t help a grin. She loved to tease him, it was fun as hell.
They were fighters, both of them. Broken fighters. The only difference being she was a talker, Gibbs was keeper. She went ballistic, he kept his coolness. She was pretty honest about her feelings, he tried to push all emotions away.
She was fire, Gibbs was ice.
Sometimes she wondered if there had been some reasons more why Leon had asked her to work with his team – though she was sure her best friend had never had the intention of pairing her with Gibbs. On the contrary, she felt he could easily lose it if there were something between them.
But she was her own person. And it was her job to melt him, everything of him. Even if it hurt him, or her, or both of them. That was a psychologist’s job. And it was a friend’s job.
But she didn’t want to be friends with him. Not only.
She wanted more. She wanted all of him.
And she wasn’t a woman to give up. Never.

Chapter Text

We were sitting with our backs against the world
Saying things that we thought but never heard
Who would have thought it would end up like this?
But everything we talked about is gone
And the only chance we have of moving on
Was trying to take it back before it all went wrong
Before the worst
Before we met
Before our hearts decided it's time to love again
Before today
Before too long
Let's try and take it back before it all went wrong
(Before the worst, the Script)

Just about ten minutes after he had received Jack’s infectous and extremely haunting message his phone rang.
New case. Dead marine in the NAVY-Yard.
The only advantage due to this was not being in need to drive a long way since they got the body right in front of their door.
Palmer confirmed his assumption immediately – the guy had been poisoned. While McGee started collecting information on the internet, Ellie and Nick did the fieldjob and called him about an hour later.
„Gibbs, you won’t believe what we found“, Torres said through the phone. Gibbs straightened his back and put him on speaker.
„What?“
„Four marriage rings.“ This time it was Ellie’s voice. „And believe me, they ARE marriage rings and not some fake ones. We found them it a locked box.“
Gibbs shared a look with McGee whose face was dark and knowledge. They had the exct same thought. „‘Kay. Call me when you find something else.“
It was McGee who discovered something. A hint leading them to an old, empty house near the woods. They left Toress and Bishop a message that they were heading there, hoping they would find some more evidences of his clearly not-so-noble life.

. . .

Again he found her in the kitchen as he came home. He purposely had made some noise to make her aware of him, not wanting to startle her again. He was late, they had gotten into traffic on their way back, and except finding a lot of money hidden in a secret drawer and being proved this guy had lived more than just double-life they trip hadn’t opened up new horizons immediately. They’d go on investigating tomorrow.
„Dammit!“
Her voice caused him to stop in his tracks and look up. Jack was standing over a bowl and in the middle of cracking open an egg – or better, she had already done it. And she didn’t look pleased at all. He couldn’t help but let out a chuckle. „Easy, lioness. It won’t ruin anything.“
Her head shot up, her eyes twinkling in suprise. „How’d you just call me?“ She totally seemed to have forgotten the egg.
He shrugged. „Lioness.“ Slowly he caught her eyes, waiting for her to make the next move. Jack wrinkeled her forehead.
„I’m just not sure if that’s a compliment or an offense“, she mumbled. Indeed, he couldn’t make out if she was angry or flustered. He decided to be honest.
„You definitaly have the temper.“ His expression grew softer. Softer and determined. „But also the brave heart.“
As she didn’t answer but her lips indicated a smirk, he stepped closer to look over her shoulder.
„Hm. Is this going to be what I think it is?“, he asked while he eyed the grated cheese, the ham and pasta in another boal.
„Spaghetti Carbonara“, Jack affirmed him, speaking in an accent he has never heard before. He figured it was italian and it sounded astounishly good.
„So how’s the case going?“, she asked all of a sudden. He hadn’t realized he must have been standing there for a while without moving but stearing into nothing. Her words didn’t surprise him a bit. He was sure she had probably contacted Ellie, maybe on their way back home, and Ellie had fed her inquisitive mind with some insides.
He told her about Dave Johnson over dinner. Again, what she had prepared tasted fantastic. He would definitaly miss her cocking-qualities when she’d be moving out again.
Moving out. It sounded and felt like she already was an integral part in his life, in his house, and … it felt like she belonged there.
„And now we’re stuck. We’ll try to find out where he got the money from and why he’s horting marriages rings and pictures of him and different women.“ He ended his narration and hoped to get his mind off his feeling of being domestic over Jack which he clearly had no reason too. The blonde nodded while chewing, seeming to review his words.
„You think he could have betrayed his wifes and stole their money?“
He shrugged. „Would be the easiest option. Who knows. We’ll see tomorrow.“ He clearly wasn’t in the mood of talking about the case now. Not when sitting here, enjoying home-made Carbonara and being gifted with Jack Sloane’s presence.
„Are the guys coming over for poker?“, she suddenly asked.
Anything which keeps me busy from looking at you and helps me to forget this dream, he thought. Cause truth was – there had been some times the day over he had thought about it. He probably would have died if Jack had actually been to work that day.
„Yeah“, he nodded. „Haven’t done that in a while.“ At least not playing poker, they had last been sitting together on the day Jack had been shot.
„May I cook for the three of you?“ Her question made him look up and stare at her in astonishment.
„You don’t need to“, he started. „Even though I think they would love that.“ I would love that, his mind completed.
„Gibbs.“ Jack tilted her head and gave him her lovely smile. „If I didn’t want it, I wouldn’t suggest it.“ She grabbed her napkin and cleaned her hands. „Any ideas? Or something you’d like?“
He thought about it for a moment. „Phil loves anything with pasta, and Tobias‘ is a meat guy. Chili con carne’s his favorite. If that helps you in any case.“
She nodded slowly. „I’ll think of something. You got a storage cellar or do you keep anything which is food-relevant in the kitchen?“

. . .

The next morning he was granted with a surprise as Jack was standing in the doorway, wearing a widecut shirt, black jeans and her bordeaux patent leather bootees.
He straightened himself. „What are you doing?“
That outfit was way to chic to just go for a walk and had no resemblence to the usual comfy clothes she had been wearing since she had been living at his house.
„Going with ya. I feel a lot better today, and I need some of my stuff.“
He supressed a sign. He had known it and grinned at how similar they could be.
„Don’t worry, I will just go to my office, take some of my belongings and will be out of your way before you can get your coffee. In case you forgot it, I also need to be back early to cook.“
He pointed at her. „Coffee is a take-away. This comparison doesn’t work.“
She shook her head in amusement and padded his shoulder. „Let’s go, cowboy. Coffee’s on me.“

Chapter Text

Her halo is broken but there's fight in her eyes
Walls are built to keep us safe
Until they’re crashing down
Worlds apart we were the same
Until you hit the ground
(Angel, Theory of a deadman)

As her eyes made out that Gibbs wasn’t coming in alone, her face lit up and her heart did a happy jump. Nick who was standing next to her smiled, too.
„Jack! You’re back?“
Jack’s smile seemed to brighten up the hole room. God, how she had missed her. „Not really. Just picking some belongings.“ She stopped in the middle oft he isle, looking around and locking eyes with everyone. „I missed you guys.“
Ellie made an aww-sound and got up from behind her desk, McGee smiled. „We missed you too“, he said.
Gibbs made a noise in his throat. „Good morning to you too.“
Ellie gave him a look, but to her suprise there was a smile on his face. Jack shook her head. „Don’t mind him. He’s probably still a little angry because I had insisted on buying coffee.“
As her eyes fell on Ellie, the young woman hugged her – tentative and avoiding her left side. „It’s good seeing you again“, she whispered. „In normal clothes and without the hospital smell.“
As they pulled apart, Jack gave her her famous beaming smile of sunlight. She reached out and softly let her fingers roam through Ellie’s hair. „And it’s good to see you made it out of all of this in a good way.“
This time, it was Jack who hugged her again. Ellie felt her breath against her cheek as she whispered in an almost inaudible tone: „I don’t know what I would have done if I … if I had lost you.“
Ellie closed her eyes, pressing her lips together. „It didn’t happen, Jack“, she mumbled, her voice thick with melancholy. She felt Jack rubbing her back as they both let go of each other. Jack signed and straigthened herself, but Ellie could clearly make out the emotional glimmer in her eyes.
„How do you feel?“ McGee came up next to him and eyed her. She smiled at him. „I’m good, Tim. I really am. It’s slowly but steadily healing.“

Then, as if a switch had been flicked, she turned her attention back to all of them.
„By the way, since I had enough time to do so, I thought about it. About the reasons Cory could have had to hold us hostage.“
Out of the corner of her eye she saw how Gibbs roled his eyes. Ellie smirked. Of course, just picking up some stuff. Sure.
„And what DO you think?“, McGee asked.
And Jack was right back into it, as if she had never been away for a second.
„He needed to know he had the controle over us. He’s insecure, scared, feels like a nobody. He wanted to feel powerful.“
„That sounds like you‘re trying to protect him“, Toress said, clearly verwirrt.
„I’m not protecting him“, Jack shook her head. „I’m just trying to think like him.“
„That a psychologist-thing?“, he wanted to know.
She shrugged. „There are different therapists and each one has different methods.“ Jack fixed her eyes on the screen. „To understand what has driven him into that kind of madness, we need to know his emotional state. We need to find out if there was something or someone responsible for this … outburst.“
„And I guess you’re right on with that“, McGee suddenly said. Everyone turned around.
„You got something?“, Ellie asked in aspiration. The agent, still staring at his computer, nodded. „I think so.“ He klicked the button and a new picture was appearing on the screen.
„Who’s that?“, Jack asked, stepping closer.
„Mike Jenkins. Classmate.“ Nick turned around. „Ellie and I were granted to accompany one of the officers to talk to his classmates and friends. Gave my card to his teacher, asked her to dig a little. And she send me this name. Thanks to McGee we now know how he looks like.“
„And what else?“ Gibbs was back in the game. Well, truthfully, he had never left.
„The teacher said she was told by some kids that Mike used to bully Corey.“
„See? I was right.“ Jack nodded, doing her usual hand-movements whenever she tried to explain something. „Low self-esteem. Powerless. The victim.“
„I’m gonna get this kid called in.“ Torres reached for the phone.
Jack snorted. „Don’t call him kid. He’s not a kid. He’s an ignorant, unsatisfied bully who brought Corey to this freaking state of mind.“
Ellie wasn’t the only one who lifted her eyebrows. None of them had ever heard Jack saying words like that.
But it didn’t end with that. That was what started it all.
Jack turned to face Gibbs, her brown eyes burning in agitation. „Gibbs, let me check that out. I need to speak to his friends, maybe if possible with Mike, too.“
Ellie wasn’t sure if she hallucinated but she could swear Gibbs grinning. „You said you just wanted to pick up your stuff?“
„That was my original intention“, Jack nodded, not bothering to sounding even the slightest way apologizing or begging. „But things seemed to have changed.“
„And they will go on changing, with or without you. No need to fear you’ll miss something.“ Vance was stepping into the bullpen. Ellie wondered if he had observed the situation and had kept quiet, but now decided to step in. Since he was the only one who could give Jack any orders. „We’ll keep you updated. But until now, you’re still on meds and shouldn’t be here. You belong somewhere else, on the couch for example.“
Jack turned around to face her friend. „You know me, Leon.“ Her voice was calm and soothing as if she were trying to convince him with being put together. „I belong where I’m needed. And Gibbs‘ couch doesn’t need me.“
Vance, putting on an already slight nervous and impatient smile, touched her shoulder. „But you won’t reach anything when you’re not really yourself, you know that.“
Jack stared at him, her eyes burning. „What makes you think I’m not „fully myself“?“ She lifted her eyebrows, challenging him. Ellie’s heart started pounding as she realized the situation and Jack’s attitude were shifting into a completely different direction. And she didn’t like that at all.
„No one would be after what happened to you“, McGee said, his voice soft and understanding.
„I am not „no one““, Jack answered, her words growing sharper every second. „And I know I can do this.“
„You said that before. And then you freaked out and scared Hakim out of my office.“
Jack frowned.
Ellie bit back a sharp intake. She shared a look with Torres and McGee. Their faces mirrored her emotions.
„That was something completely different“, Jack spit back. Again, her voice had changed. Now it sounded fizzing and almost like a threat. She stepped closed next to Leon and stared right into his eyes. „That guy killed my friends and tortured me until I was near dead!“ Even though she had kept her voice low, Ellie understood it.
Then, all of a sudden, she saw Gibbs standing up.
„Jack, it’s okay, ca …“
„Don’t Jack-me“, she snapped back without even turning around.
Ellie winced. She saw her collegues sharing looks. No one had ever talked to Gibbs like that. And never ever had Gibbs not bit back.
„Jack, that’s enough.“ Vance’s words were a warning. But either Jack didn’t care or she didn’t want to.
„It’s not enough Leon!“ She stepped towards the display and pointed at it. „This guy put those thoughts in Corey’s brain.“ She shook her head. „I shot him, for god’s sake! I shot a teenager!“
„You’re forgetting something.“ Never had Ellie heard Nick speak so slow and conscious about his choice of words. „He shot you too.“
„Yes, because he was panicking!“
„You’re the one panicking right now, Jack.“ Vance stopped her.
„It wasn’t even his gun!“ Jack went ahead as if Vance wasn’t even there anymore.
He sighned. But it didn’t sound defeated – it sounded pissed.
„You know, for being an intelligent person and a psychologist you can be damn dickheaded and ignorant!“
Jack frowned and stared at him. Everyone seemed to hold their breath.
The air grew thinner and thinner every second that went by. Ellie just wanted to get out of here, but she didn’t dare more. Hell, she almost didn’t breath.
„Don’t you question my reputation, Leon, okay? And you know what?“ She stepped closer. „For being our boss, you’re pretty sensitive to critism and people standing up to you.“
Silence. Cold, piercing silence.
Lately now Ellie stopped breathing, and she knew McGee and Nick did it, too. Her heart started pounding. She saw Leon’s expression growing angrier.
„Now you‘re getting dangerously close to crossing the line.“ His words were sharp, low, and threatening.
Ellie turned her head to look around as if her consciousness tried to make sure she was indeed witnessing this. It seemed to be true. Even Gibbs seemed puzzled.
„I just wanna fix this, okay?“ Jack’s voice cut through the piercing silence again. Her eyes were burning with fury. „I made a mistake, too. I wanna be part of this, don’t you understand this?“
„YOU won’t fix anything if you go on behaving like that!“
Jack opened her mouth, ready to fire back, as Vance cut her off: „You’re suspended for the next days, until that case is closed.“
Jack blinked at him. She let out a laugh and gasped in disbelieve. „This is my case!“ Her eyes bolted around the team as if seeking support. She got none.
„This is not your case“, Vance fought back. „This isn’t even an NCIS-case! First, you’re not a field agent. You didn’t even have a reason to carry your gun around. Second …“
„I’m an ex-army“, Jack exclamated. „I’m addicted to feeling safe, I …“
„Second“, Vance spoke along, cutting off her apologies. „you are not the only one who wants to solve this case.“
Jack stood with her hands on her hips. „So, because I’m involved, you’re suspending me?“ Her voice became zynical and sweet as poison. „Well, in that case you need to suspend Ellie, too.“
Vance didn’t even blink while staring back at her. „No, I won’t. And you know why?“ Of course, Jack didn’t answer. „Because she’s not the one freaking out like a kid and overstepping boundaries.“
Ellie bit her lip, suddenly feeling like this was about her, and she didn’t like that at all.
Jack looked like a bull in the middle of a fight, Ellie could almost see her breath coming out in little white fog. Her eyes looked like bullets filled with fury. Ellies heart was pounding. This was a classic stare-down of brown eyes. Jack’s, filled with fury and disbelieve, versus Vance’s angry and almost g ones. He looked like he could slap her any moment, and if he were someone else, Ellie was pretty sure he would.
„Fine, director.“ Jack virtually spat out the word as if it were poison. „I’ll get my notes and will be out of side. You happy now?“
And without another word she turned around and started marching towards the steps. She even forgot the coffee now resting on Ellie’s table.

As Vance excused himself, too, she finally felt the air growing back to normal again and the vaccum dissapearing – very very slow.
Nick let out a deep breath and she put a hand in her hair, closing her eyes for a moment. After everything she had experienced before, this she would have never imagined. Jack Sloane and Leon Vance fighting. It still felt surreal, and she wouldn’t believe it if she hadn’t just vitnessed it.
„I think I need some time to recover“, McGee mumbled.
„No time to do, McGee“, Gibbs said. „Let’s get back to work.“ He picked up a file and pointed at the display. „The sooner we get this case solved, the later everything’s getting back to normal again.“
The guys nodded, getting behind their displays again. Ellie slowly let herself down on her chair again. For a few seconds, her eyes met Gibbs‘. Ellie was almost surprised that he didn’t back away or tell her to finally do her job and stop worring about a crazy co-worker. He didn’t even try to conceal his emotions.
Ellie swallowed. She wasn’t sure what scared her the most – the fact that the responsible person was still out there, Jack acting like a stupid, stubborn frechman or a worried looking Gibbs.
And she got even more worried as Gibbs didn’t even hesitate a second to allow her to go after Jack as she asked a while later.


She knocked at the door even though it was open.
„Hey.“ She tried to sound as calming as possible, not sure how Jack would react. She was standing behind her table, seeming to sort some files and putting everything in her shoulder bag. „How are you?“
Jack snorted without even looking up. „The guy I considered being my best friend just threw me out and told me not to come back within the next days, and it’ll take longer if I don’t get back to normal again. I couldn’t be better.“ The sarcasm was dripping like acid. Ellie bit her lip and stepped inside.
„Jack.“ She spoke her name in a soothing tone while closing the door. „It’s not your fault.“
The older woman laughed sarcastically. „Yeah, tell that Leon. He thinks I’m totally out of my mind, not realizing the facts.“ She let herself fall onto the chair. You are, she thought, but didn’t dare taking on Jack. Even with a bulletwound on her shoulder she was lethal.
„That’s not what I mean.“ She stepped closer until she was only a few feet away. „Shooting him. It was your right. That guy, innocent or not, would have harmed others. You saved us. And dont forget what Nick said, he shot you too.“
Jack let out a sign. She stopped in her movements and rested for a moment, closing her eyes as if to collect herself. A moment that made Ellie fear like she could explode every second.
„I need to use the bathroom“, was all she suddenly said. Almost angry she got up and ran her knee against the table. For a moment Ellie thought she’d scream at it too, but there was just a silent something coming out of Jack’s pursed lips.
„Can I help you with anything in here?“ Ellie offered and nodded towards Jack’s bag.
Her friend shrugged. „If you want to? There are some files in my table I’d like to take, just shove it in.“ And with that she was gone.
Ellie, who suddenly felt very uncomfortable being in Jack’s office alone and needing to go through her stuff, stepped up to the table. Compared to usual, it was covered in chaos. Ellie signed. This case was getting to herand that fight with Leon wasn't doing much to calm her either. She picked up the papers and was just in the middle of sorting it through as something slipped through her hands and fell on the ground. Ellie cursed. She wanted to help, not break something.
After securing the paper’s in Jack’s darkgreen-colored briefcase, she turned towards the object lying on the ground. It was a booklet, a notebook, covered in black velvet. Its edges were scraped, there was even a crack on the front side. It layed there sprayled open, an das Ellie picked it up, she turned around to make sure the pages weren’t bend.
And then she realized something, as she recognized Jack’s handwriting.
Ellie’s heart started pounding. She knew she shouldn’t. She had no right. And she had no idea why she did it nevertheless.
The paper was thick, smooth and creemy, almost getting brown at some places. It was definitaly a often used, old book. Ellie didn’t scroll, but started at the first word on the left page.

* … what has changed. Not that I’m complaining … I see lights, colors, forest. Walking through those forests. It seems as if they … protect me. *

Ellie didn’t want to, but she couldn’t pull away.
* It got even weirder. The leaves got yellow. But it wasn’t fall, they were bright yellow. Waking up I immediately thought about that moment. I knew he’d take yellow. But since when do I dream about him? And it’s not really him, it’s more like a transfer, as if *

„What are you doing?“
She flinched, almost dropping the booklet again. Her head shot up and she felt the blood vanish from her face. Jack’s eyes were piercing and glowing like a fireball. Even out of distace Ellie could see her breath racing. She looked menacing.
„Jack, I … I’m sorry, it fell down as I picked up the files …“ She almost threw it on the table as if it suddenly had went up in flames, and took some steps back.
„This is private, Ellie!“ Jack came up towards her, but luckily just went behind her table to grab the book as if it were her personal lifeline. „You wanted to help me, and I told you to get the files, nothing more!“
Ellie felt her heart pound and her breath race, her whole body screaming she should get the hell out of here.
„I’m sorry, I’m sorry“, she hurried, putting her hands up in defeat. „I didn’t mean to …“ She pressed her lips together and told herself to not start crying like a little girl who was scared of her friend. Even though she was. She had never seen Jack like that.
Ellie Jack’s jaw was clenched and her eyes seemed like they could shoot fireballs every second. In that moment, she scared the living hell out of her. „Get out, Ellie. Please.“ But the „please“ didn’t sound like that at all. More like „I dare you or I’ll shoot you“. She nodded in fear. Actually, she had never seen anyone that angry and menaching before. „Okay, okay.“ And with those words and a horrible, nagging feeling of guilt in her bones she rushed out of her office.

Chapter Text

Always in this inner fight
Do I listen to the voice that says I'm
Worthless never will be right
Do I try to keep my head up high
Though I feel that I deserve it all
These daggers going through my chest
Can't you see the devastated souls
The remains of my own foolishness
I'll bring you to the garden where we'd go
And cleanse your soul, cleanse your soul
I'll free you of this anger that you hold
And make you whole, I'll make you whole
Darling won't you let it go
You don't have to let it hold you
Listen to the light
Don't let the darkness take you
Your memories aren't your destiny
(Innocence, Nathan Wagner)

Jack felt her heart racing, As soon as Ellie had dissappeared, she closed the door and leaned against it, the palm of her left hand flat against the cold material. She could feel her pulse pound in her wound, an ache she couldn’t stop. She just wanted to curse and cry and curl herself into a ball, she hated being so out of self-controle.
She knew she was freaking out. She knew she was behaving like a teenager, a really stupid and moody teenager.
And then she realized what she had done. Tears started dwelling up in her eyes, her breath grew shallow and faster as if she would break down any moment.
She hated if people started hurting the ones they liked whenever they were in a bad mood. And she had just done that to Ellie, to the young woman she adored more than she could express.
Within seconds she decided to redeem her mistake. She teared the door open und rushed out.
„Ellie, wait!“
The younger woman turned around. Jack’s heart cramped itself together as she saw the hurt and panick in Ellie’s eyes. And she had been the reason.
„I’m sorry girl, I’m sorry.“ Not being able – and not wanting to – hold her tears back, she embraced the younger agent. „I just … I just totally freaked out.“ She held her tighter and put her hand behind Ellie’s head. „I apologize for yelling at you. I’m so sorry for everything.“ Her wound hurt like hell as she was shaking due to crying, but she didn’t care. She needed to get that clear.
„It’s okay Jack“, Ellie whispered back. Her voice was still trembeling but she managed to sound strong again.
Jack shook her head. „It’s not“, she almost sobbed. „It’s never okay to scream at your friend, especially if all they try to do is help you.“
She took a deep, raging breath. God, she was a mess, she just couldn’t hide it anymore.
„Really Jack, I’m fine. I understand.“ Ellie losened their embrace and Jack stepped back a few centimeters. „This is personal. I shouldn’t have read it.“
Jack whiped her eyes and shook her head. Again, she was reminded at how wise Ellie could be for her age. And how stupid she was behaving considering her experience.
„Hey.“ Ellie took her by suprise as she lifted her hand and put a strand of hair behind her ear. She smiled. „I know what you’ve been through. Everyone would freak out in those circumstances.“
Jack bit her lip. Her voice was still hoarse. „Not everyone. Not someone who could controle himself.“ She squinted her eyes. „It’s true. I’m damaged.“
Ellie looked like she wanted to say something but then she seemed to realized no words would change Jack’s perseption right now. So all she did – and all that helped – was taking her hand. A noise escaped Jack’s throat and she put her own hand on Ellie’s to squeeze.
„I think Leon’s right“, she mumbled. „Maybe I should take some time off.“
Ellie nodded, still smiling.
As neither of them spoke anything for a while, Jack made her move to turn around. „Jack.“ The soft touch on her arm stopped her. She rejoined the younger agent’s eyes which, all of a sudden, had a complete different expression in it. „You may be damaged, how you said, but that’s not your fault. You’re a hero, an amazing person, and a lovely friend. Good often comes from broken, that’s counts for you. Don’t ever forget that we love you.“
Jack let out a sobbing sign and finally pulled of a smile. „Thank you, Ellie. I love you too.“
The younger woman smiled and nodded. „You want me to come over today after work?“
Jack shook her head. „Gibbs called in Tobias and Phil, so … I’m not sure …“
„Hey, got it.“ Ellie smiled. „Just call whenever you feel you need to talk, okay?“
„I will, Ellie.“ She nodded, appreciating the young agents even more than she already did. „I definitaly will.“

She hurried up with packing the last items and rushed out of her office. She really had no interested staying there any longer than necessary, not anymore, not since that fight.
As she came down the stairs the agents – or better Gibbs and Nick, since Ellie knew and McGee wasn’t visible – eyed her.
She forced herself to smile. It felt like someone was trying to rip her heart out.
„I’m gonna take a taxi ride back. Good luck you guys with the case.“ She didn’t even hear Nick’s goodbye.

Luckily she had found a driver within minutes, otherwise she probably would have started screaming out loud on the street.
She was moving like lethargic.
She didn’t even care turning up the music which she did the last days.
Gibbs‘ house had developed into a save heaven for her, a calm and soothing place, but not even that distincive smell could cheer her up.
It felt as if something deep inside of her, the last thing that had kept her together, had just been teared into pieces.
Somewhen, she had no idea when, she recieved a text from Ellie.

Hope you got home in one piece? All the best from Torres and McGee, and hugs from Casey

She almost smiled as she read it.

Yes, I’m fine. Thank’s, you all. I appreciate it.

Her mind was spinning as she put her phone down. She took a deep breath, closed her eyes. Everything was just … too much.
It probably was the worst decision she could make, but she did it nevertheless. Almost unconsciously she fiddeled in her bag, fishing out the picture she had taken home.
And stopped.

That picture that always brought her to tears. A picture which held so many memories she couldn’t even try to start with expressing.
On this day they all had been joyful and full of adventouros and courageous spirit. Laughing into the camera, making jokes afterwards.
She felt her lips tremble.
She closed her eyes for a second, allowed herself to sink back into the past.
Anshiri telling a joke, King’s infectios laugh, Hale’s arm around her shoulder as they both shook their heads in disbelieve how childish those two could be.
She’d never hear them laugh or talk again. She’d never feel them breath next to her, like some nights where it had been so cold that they’d needed to slough, touching each other every time they moved. She’d never feel their hugs, listen to their stories, see their eyes sparkle in the fire they sometimes made at night.
Never. Because it was over. Because they were dead.
In her head shots echoed.
Blood splashed.
Three hearts stopped beating.
She was alone.
And with an outcry of anger and deep settled sorrow, Jack Sloane broke down.

Chapter Text

Silence the doubt in your mind
You were by design a victor
Know in your heart, you're alive
Destiny is on your side
Every step and every storm
Light the flame for the torch
When you feel the rain, when you hit the floor
It's for this you were born
Oh the touchdown pain, when you feel those thorns
When it hurts to stay, you know to leave hurts more
So you light the way cause you know for sure
It's for this you were born
(For this you were born, Unsecret)

He had seen Jack in her angry state and her vulnerable state, but never ever would he have expected she really had it in her to pick a quarrel with their director in front of all eyes.
He knew something had happened as Jack had left with barely saying anything, and the fact Ellie didn’t say anything too contributed to his suspicion.
He had already suspected being welcomed by a grumpy ex-army-leutenant and that she wasn’t in the mood of doing anything.
But he wasn’t prepared for what awaited him as he came home.
He stopped right in between his tracks and felt as if his heart was being teared into pieces. Jack was sitting on the floor, legs bend up at her chest, and her face buried on her knees. Something inside his gut told her she wasn’t just sitting there for a view moments.
Gibbs swallowed and stepped closer.
„Jack?“ His voice was barely audible. Nevertheless, Jack stirred and looked up. He frowned. He had never seen her like this – actually, he had never EVER seen anyone that beaten down and defeated. She looked horrible and it was heartwrenching. And the fact that she neither cared about him seeing her with tears streaming down her face and not bothering about whiping them away scared him to death.
And moreover she didn’t say a word. Just a second later her head fell back onto her knees and another shiver rattled through her body.
Tentative he stepped closer, suddenly feeling an urge to put his arms around her.
„What happened?“ He tried to keep his voice low and soft and as calm as possible as if he were talking to a frightened child.
Again, Jack didn’t answer. But there was one reaction coming from her – she lifted her arm and held out her hand, offering a picture.
He understood and reached out to grab it. As soon as it left her hand Jack lowered her arm again.
Gibbs stared at the picture and felt goosebumbs all over his spine. He had never seen it before but knew immediately what it was.
Three men and Jack, dressed in army-clothes. All of them smiling into the camera, the darker-skinned man on Jack’s left had his arm draped over her shoulder.
Her team. Her team who was killed in Afghanistan.
He swallowed and looked down on his friend, that woman who amazed him and whom he had such great respect of. This woman who was just granting him a sight of how it was if one was on the edge of breaking down – even though Gibbs ws pretty sure she had already crossed the line.
Slowly he crossed the last meters and sat down beside her, looking at her.
„Jack …“ For a second time he tried to call her name to get a reaction out of her. Her not talking to him wasn’t a good sign.
She let out a sob. He took a deep breath through his nose and put his arm around her shoulder. Jack turned around immediately and buried her face into his shirt, recipocrating into his movement. He kissed her on the crown of her head and pulled her close, this time using both of his arms to hold her tight.
„I’m a mess“, she whispered, her voice thick with tears and deep settled hurt. „I’m sorry, I just can’t …“ She fell silent again, a shudder rushing through her.
Gibbs tightened his hand on her back – he took care of not touching her scars even through the material of her shirt.
„Don’t apologize“, he mumbled. And he meant it. Everything he told her was the truth, and he damn well knew the feeling of falling into a black, hollow nothing called sorrow and loss.
„I thought I got it.“ Her voice was shaking. It was as if she hadn’t even heard him. „I though I could pull myself together, I thought I could prove myself. But … as Leon came up with Hakim and … everything just …“ Her breath grew ragging and came out in short wheezes. He knew if she wouldn’t calm down within the next minutes respiratory distress or seizure-like shock would be ineviatable.
He rubbed her back. „It’s okay, Jack. It’s okay.“
„They forced me to look at them“, she sobbed, not wanting or not being able to stop he couldn’t tell. „They forced me to look at how my friends died.“
All of a sudden she detached herself from him and stared right into his eyes. What he saw hurt – it brought cracks into every layer he had put on, his strong armour slowly crumbeling down because he just couldn’t bare seeing her like this.
„Gibbs, I saw the bullets hit their head, I … I saw how they were killed.“ Her eyes were glimmering with tears and deep roothed pain. As she blinked, another tear escaped her eyes and she lowered her head again, falling against his chest.
He shook his head while clenching his jaw. „Jack, you don’t …“
„Anshiri was the first. Hale and Anshiri. I … I had to chose … I couldn’t …“ Another breakdown was shaking through her, making her body seem vulnerable and smaller than she already was. Gibbs pulled her even closer, held her tight and closed his eyes. He didn’t want her to tell him all of this, but he wouldn’t dare talk. Somehow, she needed this, and he suddenly felt an incredibly strong desire of being protective over her.
„After King was killed … I was alone. Though Kelb was still alive, I was alone. He was passing out almost every day, and they separeted us, we had no chance at all, and he hadn’t … he just hadn’t been my team. He wasn’t like the guys. He wasn’t them.“ She choked. „There was no one I could talk to, noone to hold me, noone I could lean on, noone …“ She stopped to take a deep, raging breath. Never had the word „noone“ hurt deeper than how she spoke it.
„I don’t know how long it was, maybe a month, maybe less, maybe more, I’m not sure.“
„And then Leon came.“
She nodded. „Yeah.“ She sniffed and whiped her eyes. „My hero in uniform. He saved my life. And maybe the last part of my soul which wasn’t broken, too. He was the only one I talked to for a very long time. Slept on his and Jackie‘s couch for a while. On one point Kayla even offered her bed to me.“
All of a sudden he felt her stiffen. Not out of shock, more like she was realizing something.
Then she turned to look at him. „And then there was you.“ All of sudden her voice was soft and warm and whispering. His heart jumped and started pounding harder against his ribs. What was it about that special look in her eyes that suddenly made him speechless?
All he wanted to do in that moment was to stroke her cheek and tell her everything was going to be fine.
But he knew it wasn’t. Those guys would never come back. Jack was marked, physically and mental, representing some of the most horrible events any human could imagine.
„And I’ll never leave.“ The words came out of his mouth before he even progressed them.

They sat in silence. He had no idea for how long, had stopped to count the minutes, stopped watching the sun’s rays through his window going down. Jack had stopped crying a while ago but he was still holding her tight and stroking her hair, and she didn’t move an inch either. His heart pounded due to the matter of fact that she was so close to him.
Somewhen she backed away and sniffeled.
„God, I’m sorry.“ She straightened his shirt, seeming embarressed about the wet spot she had left.
He shook his head. „Don’t worry. It’ll dry.“
„Thank you.“ Jack gave him a smile. „For listening. Bearing with my emotional breakdown.“
He looked back in her eyes, sensing there was a deeper meaning behind her words. It was true – he didn’t just bear with her, he listened. And there was a big difference between being listend to and actually being heard.
Because he was just as broken and hurt as she was.

Chapter Text

Everybody's looking for love to start a riot
But every time I look in your eyes
The world gets quiet
So let it go, let it fall, let it fly
We’ll keep on trying
'Cause I knew I was in love with you
When we sat in silence
(Silence, Before you exit)

After another ten minutes Jack whiped away the last evidence of tears and brought herself to finish dinner which she had started preparing before. He insisted helping her and this time she finally let him. He was relieved at how fast she was recovering, and lately as she started commanding and chasing him around he couldn’t help the feeling in his stomach telling him how well she fit into his kitchen, into his house – and his life.
„Any news on your Marine playing Gollum?“
He stared at her, dissaray written in his face. „What?“
Jack looked back, then seeming to realize. „Right. Sorry.“ She shook her head. „McGee probably would have gotten the joke.“
He just raised his eyebrow to make her speak up about what the hell she meant.
„The dead guy“, she explained. „The one hoarding wedding rings.“
„Ah. Yeah, actually we do.“ He scratched his neck. „That guy wasn’t just a marine. He was a con artist.“ Jack’s lifted eyebrows made him go on. „Turns out he wanted to quit service a while before. Used those women to get a reason and steal their money.“
She snorted. „So not just a cheater, also a coward. A coward playing on those women’s feelings.“
He nodded, absolutely with her in her disgust. He had started to not taking pity on this guy.
„And what does this have to do with this Gollum-thing?“, he then asked. A grin spread out on her lips. That was the Jack he knew. The one always in for a joke.
„Ah, you know, it’s a character in a huge phantasy-movie-series. He … finds a powerful ring and literally does everything to protect it.“
He raised an eyebrow. „You into phantasy?“ THAT he hadn’t imagined. Whenever he thought he had made up a rhythm or finally had discovered all her blindspots and ways of being, she yet suprised him every day with another new aspect of her multilayered characteristics.
„Well, not that much, but those movies I really like.“ She took the salat servers and put them inside the bowl before handing it to him. Just in the next second a knock appeared on the door. As he didn’t move more than turning his head, he caught Jack staring.
„Are you planning to let them wait outside or what?“ She smirked and waved him off. „It’s your house, cowboy. Don’t let them freeze to death out there.“
He actually chuckled at her bossy demeanor but didn’t want to grant her the satisfying view of him being amused by her, so he turned around and headed towards the door, shortly stopping to put the salad on the table.

„Oh finally, I’m starving.“ Phil rolled his eyes.
„Good evening to you, too“, Gibbs grunted.
„I’m gonna reconsider the expression „good“ if you don’t let us in within the next seconds“, Tobias joined in.
He just shook his head but stepped away to let them pass.
„So where’s the woman of the house?“ Looking around in interest Tobias was the clear evidence for how fast they always forgot their snippy banter. Gibbs nodded towards the kitchen and immediately got stared at by two pairs of eyes, Tobias stopping whithin already setting himself into motion.
„You let her do the cooking?“ He shook his head. „Wow, I didn’t think that low of you.“
„She wanted to“, he defended himself. „Has done so since she’s here. She doesn’t listen to me.“
Tobias chuckled. „Well, one’s for sure. You always pick the strong-willed and sassy one’s.“
„Thank you for calling me strong and sassy, Tobias.“ Her voice brought the men to turn and Gibb‘s heartrate increase. Jack, a welcoming smile on her lips, made her way towards them.
„Evening, Jack.“ Tobias smiled at her. „How are you doing?“ He stepped closer and kissed her on the cheek while carefully pulling her into a soft embrace.
„Good, Tobias. I’m good.“ The smile she gave him was as sunny and light as usual, but Gibbs saw through the surface. She was good NOW. She hadn’t been just a few hours ago.
Just then he realized Jack and the other man looking at each other. „Phil, Jack.“ He introduced them in a fast way, only to receive an incredulous glance by him.
„You really think that was necessary?“ He turned around to shake her hand. „Very pleased to finally meet you, Jacqueline.“
Jack nodded back and gave him her smile. „Pleasure’s all mine. But feel free calling me Jack if you like it short.“
„If you don’t mind, I’ll stay with it. It’s a beautiful name.“ His eyes took on a meaningful expression. „Perfect fit.“
As Jack lowered her head, a flattered smile and redness on her cheek which again made her appear like this cute ball of sunshine, he felt his heart pound in a strange way. He wasn’t jealous, wasn’t he?
„Take a seat, you all. I hope you brought hunger with you.“ Jack’s voice jolted him back to the present. While Tobias followed her immediately, Phil gave Gibbs a look with a meaning clear as crystal.
„Tobias didn‘t exagerate a bit“, he said while eyeing the woman out of distance. „She’s gorgeous.“
He barely could withhold a reply similar to „She is“.
„I wonder how long you can keep this maskerade on, my dear friend“, he went on, clearly stepping over the line of being pushy and at least a little bit provocative. „Big compliment to your self composure, I wouldn’t have …“ Gibbs cleared his throat and Phil held up his hand. „I’m just saying. Don’t wait to long.“
He stared at him. „Sit down.“

After Jack had put the last plate on the table, Tobias inhaled deeply. „That looks and smells amazing.“
The expression appearing on Jack’s face made it clear how she enjoyed the compliment. „The gentleman can chose. Beef enchiladas, salad and different dips and ingredients to spice it up. Everything’s in there, so … help yourself.“ With that she sat down on the chair on his right side.
They had barely put down their glasses and bear bottles after clinking as the guys already started shoving food on their plates. Gibbs shook his head.
„I warned you they are like kids if food is involved.“
She grinned. „If I were a mother and my kids would crave the food I prepared like that, I’d be the happiest cook ever.“
He allowed himself to scoop some salad onto her plate and by the look she gave him she wasn’t against it in the slightest way, which relieved him.
„I can’t recall how long it has been since I’ve eaten something that looked this good and also tastes good.“ Considering Phil’s moving jaw he already had tasted the first bite.
„My words“, Tobias mumbled. „How come you didn’t become a cook, Jack?“
„I like doing what I want whenever I want it. Whenever I put myself under pressure, I ruin it. So … working as a waitress was a way better idea to work in gastronomy. And additionaly …“ She smiled mysteriously. „It’s very interesting for a psychologist. You get into contact with all kinds of people.“
„By the way, Gibbs.“ He shortly gave Jack a look. „Thank you for bringing up this topic.“ He looked back to point at him. „This year I’ll give a big birthday party and you are forced to attend.“
He groaned. Which resulted into three people laughing.
„And you all are welcomed, too. And the team.“ He looked at Jack and Phil. „Feel free to bring them.“
While Gibbs supressed another sign he saw Jack and Phil smiling in emotion.
„That’s very nice of you, Tobias“, Jack said. „Thank you. You can count on my presence.“
„This is going to be fun“, Phil exclamated. „Seeing all the guys again. Oh.“ He shot Jack a smirk. „And women. Sorry.“
„No need to be sorry“, Jack gave back. „You thought about it nevertheless.“
„I promised Emily she could have some friends over. It’s nice enough for her to be there for my birthday, so I thought …“
„You’d return the favor.“ Jack smiled at him. „She’ll appreciate it, I’m sure.“
„By the way I.“ Tobias swallowed another piece of enchillada. „I think she’ll like you. She once told me she’s interested in psychology and people’s behaviours.“
„Speaking of.“ He had no idea why he brought this up but the mention of the teenage-girl seemed to have made him curious about Jack’s words before. „Tobias, have you ever heard of something called „Gollum“?“
Jack burst into laughed so the salatleaves fell off her spoon. The three men stared at her which didn’t do much to help her calm down.
„Sorry“, she laughed, whiping her eyes. „I just … I didn’t think you would actually bring this up.“
While Jack clearly was having a hard time getting herself together again he wasn’t sure how to interpret the jumps his stomach was doing. There was something about her laugh, her being at ease, that made him content and anxious all at once.
„Sounds familiar“, Tobias mumbled as he had regained his composure and all that was left of it was a smirk.
„Maybe Emily had told you? About Lord of the Rings?“ Jack whiped her eyes. Tobias‘ lit up. „Oh yeah, I actually do know about that. She forced me to watch it once since it was running on TV. Was pretty good.“

They somehow fell into relaxed chatter afterwards, eating in silence for a while, picking up another topic and mocking each other playfully. It was a calm and easy-going, typical evening – until Phil let the bomb drop.
„You two make a great pairing, you know?“ His sudden exclamation had him stop in silence and between chewing. Jack just started smiling while Gibbs thought about the best and possibly least obvious ways to kill him.
„We actually do.“ She placed her hand on his arm and gave him a slight squeeze. A gesture which only didn’t bring him down on his knees because he was already sitting. „Don’t we, cowboy?“
He had no idea where to look at. All he was sure of was if he would look at her now, he’d either faint or his composure would betray him completely and there wouldn’t be a backdoor out.
He suddenly felt exposed, way to exposed. Two knowning male eyes on him trying to guess what he was feeling, and a pair of smooth and glimmering brown ones that could basically do anything to him.
Cryout for revenge.

Chapter Text

When you feel my heat
Look into my eyes
It’s where my demons hide
It’s where my demons hide
Don’t get too close
It’s dark inside
It’s where my demons hide
It’s where my demons hide
(Demons, Imagine Dragons)

He woke up in the middle of the night as he heard a scream. First he thought he was hallucinating, but then he heard it again. He frowned. It wasn’t an animals cryout from outside, the scream was human. And it came from upstairs.
Within seconds he was wide awake and made his way towards the stairs. There was only one possible origin where the heartwrenching sound could come from …
The blood drained from his head. Completely shocked he was standing in the doorframe while trying to process what his eyes were just showing him. Jack was asleep – but she was screaming. She was screaming and crying in her sleep and it sounded and looked like the most heartbreaking thing he had witnessed in years.
He rushed towards the bed, only to stop again. He stared at her and felt his heart breaking. Seeing her this vulnerable made his heart ache and cramp. Her hair clung to her forehead, her face tensed and jaw clenched.
Just then another heartwrenching sounds escaped her lips and he leaned forward.
„Jack, hey! It's me, Gibbs, it's all right!“ Her body twitched a few times, her arm relaxed. Gingerly Gibbs reached out and touched her hand.
Amistake. A whimper escaped Jack’s throat and she grabbed his hand, putting such pressure on it he would not have believed it was possible for someone who was deep in sleep.
„No!“, she whinced in panic.
„Jack, calm down!“ But his words made it worse. Suddenly her other arm shot up and she was digging her fingernails into his skin. Gibbs let out a curse, fighting the reflex to shake her off violently.
And then, finally, he felt her hand relax. She let go, her arms falling back onto the bed like numb. Gibbs‘ pulse was raging and he tried to controle his breathing. Still shocked at what had happened he stared at her. She seemed peaceful again, her chest heaving in an almost normal way. Just then one single tear escaped her eye, running over her cheek. Gibbs swallowed. He thought about waking her up, but then he figured this probably wasnt such a good idea. Whatever dream she just had, it meant something to her. Something he shouldn‘t force her to tell him about. She should confess to him on her free will.
He waited some more time resting beside her bedside until he was sure she’d be okay. Deliberately he got up. He couldn’t help brush over her hair before leaving.
„Sleep well“, he whispered almost inaudible. She didn’t even stir. And with that – and a really weird, confusing and nagging feeling in his gut - he went back to sleep, too.

. . .

The next morning Jack came downstairs as he had cleaned his coffee mug. He was still wearing his t-shirt he had worn to sleep, hadn’t had time to change into his work clothes before.
That was the reason she saw it. He hadn’t covered them up. Red scratch marks on his lower arms. They didn’t hurt anymore – at least not physical. The moment he recieved them still was on replay in his mind.

„Oh my god, what happened?“ Her voice starteled him even though he had heard her stepping near.
He cleared his throat, tried to block out the imagine she had put up last night, and decided to go for the truth.
„I … I heard you scream last night“, he started – and immediately stopped as he saw her expression getting even more horrified.
„That was me?“ Her eyes were still lingering on his arm.
„It’s not that bad as how it looks“, he tried to calm her but instincivly knowing his words wouldn’t make a different.
Slowly Jack sat down at one of the chairs, a devastated and resigned appearence.
„I should have told you“, she mumbled.
He looked up. „About what?“
She met his eyes, guiltyness in her brown ones. „My nightmares. I guess you shouldn’t touch or try to wake me.“
„So I should just let you scream?“ He stared at her in disbelieve, almost shaking his head. He couldn’t just let her relive those painful memories, not if there was anything he could do against it.
She averted his eyes. „Well, there hasn’t been anyone to witness it before, so … I actually don’t know what to do about it. Or if it would help.“
The bitterness in her voice pierced his heart like a knife. It was the double meaning behind it – noone to witness it. This also meant there was no one who KNEW about it. Which again made clear that no one ever HELPED her with it. Did she mean that there was no one she had talked to? No one who gave her the feeling of being understood and cared for? Be it a friend or a partner, a lover maybe? No one?
„I think I’ll sleep some more hours. Feeling not that well.“ With those words she turned around.
He opened his mouth, wanting to say something. But he didn’t know what. So he let her walk away, waited until he heard the door fall shut again.
He lowered his head, leaning against the isle.
She was just as broken as he was. And they both needed the same, even if he hadn’t realized it before.
Someone to turn to. Someone to talk.
Suddenly Leroy Jethro Gibbs realized something. Jack Sloane, this always gentle, sunny and teasing woman, hid more than just scars of torture and demons of her past.
She was lonely. She was broken. She had lost her loved ones.
Just like him.

It was quiet at work. They were still waiting for some more information, there was no need to rush or hurry around, so they spend their time in the office.
He looked at the red scratches on his arm, reminding him about Jack's outburst. No wonder she didn’t want anyone to see her like that. And he knew he couldn’t bear seeing her in this state of mind again, it would break his heart a second time.
During the day the air started getting warmer, so he decided to roll up his sleeves. All of a sudden, him being in the middle of reading through something Kasie had sent to him, a voice cut through his thoughts.
„Gibbs? What happened?“ Ellie's voice sounded less questioning than shocked. He looked up, realizing that the eyes of the young agent were lingering on his arm. He wondered how long she had been standing there – and even more so how long he had been staring at it. Before he could even think about an explanation, Nick joined them.
He squinted his eyes. „Uh, that looks rough. And painful.“
„Got scratched by something?“, Ellie worried.
„By someone“, he said before even thinking. Now the two agents stared at him. He sighned. „Jack“, he gave in, staring back into the computer. Out of the corner of his eye he saw Bishop and Torress exchanging looks – meaningful looks. A smirk spread out on Torres‘ face.
„She … scratched you?“ Of course he could make out the playful and kinky undertone in his voice and tried to ignore the burning feeling in his stomach as he thought about what the younger agent was clearly referring to. Covering his emotions he rolled his eyes and stared back at him.
„Not out of this reason!“ He put a stern tone in his voice and locked his eyes with Torres‘. „She sleeps in the guestroom. So can we please all stop gossipping now and go back to work?“ The grin dissapeared from Torres‘ face and he got serious again. Nevertheless, the two agents didn’t move. He signed but gave in.
„She had a nightmare. I tried to help her cope with it, but she panicked and scratched me.“
„More like „attacted“ you“, Ellie mumbled.
He shrugged. „She wasn’t fully awake, so … I suppose her subconsciousness thought I was a predator.“
Nick looked puzzled. Puzzled and more worried than he had ever seen him. „Does this happend often?“
„It depends on the situation and her state of mind, she told me.“ He really didn’t wanna tell them about this – it was personal, a part Jack was holding secret for a reason. He almost felt bad telling them. But on the other hand they deserved to know.
„Ugh.“ Torres shook his head. „Poor Jack. That’s bad.“
„It is“, he said before he could even think about it. „And now get back to work.“
While Torres followed his orders, Bishop didn’t move an inch. He straightened his back and forced himself to keep it calm and be patient with the young agent.
„Something else, Bishop?“ Why he looked up he didn’t quite get. As he saw the concern sparkeling in her brown eyes he was glad he didn’t yell at her. Those eyes which were so different from Jack’s, yet so familiar in another, completely different sense. „How is she? Apart from those nightly attacts.“
He decided to lay down his stern exterior for a moment. The young woman was just concerned, and it was her right to be. And overall … she had probably saved Jack’s life.
„She’s getting better“, he said, voice a lot calmer than before. „A little restless, still. Who can blame her?“
He expected a sad smile or something similar, but Ellie just nodded, jaw tensed. „Tell her my best, will you do that?“
Gibbs nodded. „Of course, Bishop. But I’m sure she knows.“
He knew she knew. But nevertheless it always meant a lot more expression compassing towards someone than to just hope the person knew one cared about. Nothing could or should be taken for granted.

A few hours later an idea came up inside his head. Using it as an excuse to get his legs moving, he made his way up the stairs to the director’s office.
„Come in“, he heard Leon Vance’s voice after knocking at the door.
„I need to talk to you, about Jack.“ As usual he cut through the crap and got straigth down to the important facts. Ignoring the director’s lifted eyebrows he went on: „I think she needs to work at something. At least we should give her a task, otherwise she will go crazy. She’s playing housewife for me and I can’t stand her being like this anymore.“
Leon clearly wanted to grin but desperately tried to seem at least a little bit annoyed. „Fine. Get her those reports of how Corey‘s friends described him. Maybe she can find something.“
He nodded his gratitude and was already heading back to the door as Leon shouted back at him: „Don’t tell her you got those from me! I’m still mad!“
And if it weren‘t for the closing door he would have seen the grin on Gibbs‘ face.

Chapter Text

I think I want you more than want
And no I need you more than need
I want to hold you more than hold
When you stood in front of me
I think you know me more than know
And you see me more than see
I could die now more than die
Every time you look at me
(Never seen anything quite like you, the Script)

He found Jack on thr couch, legs crossed, glasses on and a book in her lap. It was an almost soothing picture, seeing her like this made him smile.
„Jack. How are you?“
She raised her head to look at him. As she caught his eyes she smiled. „After I slept another three hours I felt a lot better.“ She shut the book and looked at him. A long time. He slowly raised his eyebrow while he felt her gaze burning holes throught his brain.
„Thank you, Gibbs.“ Her voice was calm but serious. „Thank you for not pressing for answers.“
He nodded. „Always. Know the feeling of being forced to talk and not wanting to.“
She reciprocrated his movement and started staring at a point in front of her, almost as if it were a gate to another world.

He just decided to leave her alone with her thoughts as she put her hands on her knees and sat up straight. „Let’s stop this talking about sad incidences.“ She got up, his attention fully back to her as she made her way towards the kitchen. He had no idea why he followed her like if she were a magnet. „I took a walk and …“ Arriving at the cooktop she reached behind her and as she turned around, a bottle filled with an amber liquid he knew very well was dangeling in her hand. „ … I bought us a Bourbon.“
She noticed his lifted eyebrows and the sceptical look so she explained: „I’m not on meds, haven’t taken one for the last eight hours. And I wanna drink something tonight.“
He squirmed his lips. „Are you okay with not being on pain killers? Sleep’s the best medicine and you can’t do so when you’re in pain.“
Jck shrugged and, to his relief, neither squinted nor seemed as if she were in pain. „It’s a pretty good day, haven’t even felt it that much. I think the wound’s getting better.“
„Well, you’re a grown-up. You know what’s best for you.“ I hope, he added silently.
„By the way.“ She stopped in between tracks and turned around, doing something similar to how she had presented the whiskey. „Got something for you.“ He waved with the folder. Her eyes lit up and a smile, radiating like the sun, appeared on her face. „Is that …“ She stepped closer with huge widen eyes. He nodded. „Files of our new case. I thought you might be interested. And now“ He held it out for her to grap it. „You can at least analyse those guys. And maybe help us find the killer.“
Jack stared at him until he finally handed her the files. She reached for them as if it were a holy treasure. Then she looked up into his face, her eyes twinkeling in overwelming gratitude.
„Thank you, Gibbs, thank you so much.“And within the next second she pressed a kiss onto his cheek.
He frowned while his heart decided to pound faster the double way. Standing there motionless he barely recognized how Jack’s breathing paused for a second. She clearly was as surprised as he was.
Silence was stretching out between them, making the room feel like a vaccum with no escape. Slowly as if to fast proceded movements would hurt her or him, she stepped away, clearing her throat.
„Ehm … I’m gonna …“ She pointed towards the kitchen. „Check the rice.“ And she was gone. Vanished like a daydream that had never existed.
But it had happened. He hadn’t been dreaming. Deliberately he lifted his hand up to his cheek and rubbed over it the spot, remembering the feeling of her lips on his skin. It was prickeling. His whole body was shivering and in attention, his skin suddenly feeling even more sensitive to his surroundings. Staring back at the path she had disappeared he replayed the moment, over and over again, imagining what would have happened if he would have just turned his head a little more to the right …

Even though he was relieved she was feeling way better than in the morning, this behaviour of hers was making him way more insecure. Whatever was happening here, it wasn’t normal …
Actually it hadn’t been „normal“ since the past weeks, maybe even months. He had always tried to supress it, with success, but since she was living with him … it wasn’t possible anymore.
He needed to admit it. He didn’t just have a crush on Jack.
He was in love with her.

Chapter Text

Maybe I'll crash into you
Maybe we would open these wounds
We're only alive if we bruise
So I lay down this armor
I will surrender tonight
Before we both lose this fight
Take my defenses
All my defenses
I lay down this armor
(Armor, Landon Austin)

They decided to eat on the couch and watch an old-but-gold Bruce Willis - movie. He was glad the awkward situation a while ago had shifted back into normal – if one could call this, whatever was happening between them, normal. Gibbs at least had no idea what exactly was going on. „Normal“ was something else.
Jack had a similar taste in movies as he had which he not only appreciated – it was so much easier. In general, she was easy being around, and he liked that. She was a challenge, but an open minded challenge. She had told him she had watched all the Indiana-Jones-movies on one day, and he had laughed while imagining her grinning and wincing at the scenes – or probably looking at it out of a psychological aspect, since she had the ability to find something like that in literally everything.

Like everything she had cooked for him it tasted amazing again. He ate two plates, even considering a third row, but didn’t wanna stand up for a third time. Especially as Jack sat back closer next to him after returning from the toilet, almost touching him.
He didn’t really process those last minutes of the movie – he was way to occupied to give her little looks while trying to conceal it. She was chewing on her second piece of chocolate, her eyes still fixed on the screen. She hadn’t seen the movie before, he reminded himself. Probably that was the only reason she didn’t catch him staring at her – or she knew it but dissembled it. He thought about what would happen if he relaxed and let his arm casually drop against hers. If she’d back away or smile at him. Or grin and ask „Getting cosy, cowboy?“ God, how weak he got everytime she called him „Cowboy“.

As the end credits came rolling over the display, his body was burning. He felt Jack moving next to him, the couch shifting.
„I’ll get the plates cleaned“, she said while leaning forward. Gibbs stopped her.
„No, please, stay seated. I’ll do it.“
She turned her head, smiling amused. „What. You think I can’t to it?“
„Oh I’m sure you can do a lot. But I don’t want you to.“
He stared at her, and she started at him, didn’t move. He didn’t either. And he had no idea, why.
Suddenly the world seemed to stop. The movies‘ song was coming towards an end. He cleared his throat and leaned forward to grab the remote. His skin was tickeling as he sensed she was watching his every move. As he pressed the red button and the TV shot down, everything fell into silence.
Slowly he turned back around. Jack hadn’t moved an inch, was still looking at him. Her eyes were lingering on his, smooth and brown like sweet chocolate. His heart beat faster as he realized one thing that had changed - a strand of golden hair had fallen in her face.
And this time he didn’t tell her. This time, he lifted his arm and put it behind her ear. She didn’t squirm but looked at him in surprise. He didn’t move a centimeter, instead he let his arm rest on the couch behind her. Usually he would have said something to brighten the situation. He didn’t do it this time. All he did was look at her – no, actually he was staring at her. It always amazed him how her eyes could melt and drown him with how soft they were. He got lost in them, helplessly.
Never ever had he allowed himself to study her like this – he had always backed away whenever she would have caught him staring, but now he didn’t care what she was thinking.
All of a sudden their faces were just inches away, so close he could feel her breath on his skin. His heart was beating in his throat, his breath grew dangerously shallow.
„Gibbs.“ Her voice, almost whispering, made his body shiver. His eyes drifted from her eyes to her lips, glistening from the bourbon. He couldn’t back away. He just couldn’t deny it anymore, couldn’t hold it down, couldn’t conceil it. Every single time she was smiling at him he felt like his heart could explode into a thousand little pieces if he wouldn’t finally tell her what he felt.
He swallowed and looked back into her eyes. Her smooth brown eyes were burning like fire, turning into deep pools of liquid gold. She was unreal.
„You’re so beautiful“, he whispered. Finally he said it – those words he thought about every time he saw her. He had probably thought it the moment he first met her. Her eyes started flickering, and as she opened them again she looked at him with heavy lids.
„Then kiss me“, she whispered. His heart missed a beat. He felt his whole body tensing. Almost bewildered he stared at her. Did she really just … say that? He opened his mouth, wanting to say something, but before he could find the right words her voice cut through the piercing silence again. „Just do it, Cowboy. Kiss me.“
And then, all of a sudden, every disturbing sound stopped. Without hesitation he leaned in. All he could sense was her heartbeat and her breath, hot against his lips, more and more intensive with every inch he got closer. He saw her closing her eyes, parting her lips just a little as if to encourage him. He allowed his hand to touch hers which made his blood boil while closing his eyes, too.
The moment his lips touched hers he almost winced at the sensation of it. It was tender, attentive, soft. He had no idea how he should kiss her, didn’t want to throw her off guard but wanted to hold her close, feeling every centimeter of her body, watching her get lost in the kiss.
Still, he was gentle. Slowly he caressed her cheek with his hand, kissed her again, she recipocrated. Gibbs trembled. He felt like a teenager having his first kiss – younger, full of energy and love, enlightened. His mind was spinning. Just then he felt Jack putting her hand behind his neck, pulling him closer. He obeyed, deepening his kiss a little more, one step at a time.
And then he felt her tongue brushing against his. The pace of his heartbeat increased and he captured her in an almost forceful way. He let his teeth graze over her bottom lip, provocating a sound. The soft, sweet sign escaping her lips nearly was to much for him to handle. With immediate effect his body reacted and pulled her in closer, kissing her harder, more passionate and a little less careful than before. She didn’t seem to mind at all.
He was breathless but he didn’t care. The sensation of her being this close was worth the lack of air. He wrapped his hands around her waist and pulled her into his embrace. As she straddled his hips he felt heat raising up in his chest, spreading out into every single part of his body.
And then he frowned. He didn’t want to feel THIS right now. It was wrong … so totally wrong … she was vulnerable, injured, probably even drunk … she leaned in again, kissing him gently and drowning his inner fight with this loving, sensual thing her lips did to him.
He just wanted to hold her, to touch her, to kiss all her pain away. He wanted to pull her in, so close they’d touch each other’s bodies. He was feeling so lightheaded he thought this couldn’t actually be true …
Suddenly Jack broke the kiss, inhaling a sharp breath as if she had held it in. She opened her eyes, staring at him for a few moments as if she couldn‘t believe that he had actually joined in. And he looked back at her, into her beautiful eyes and that lovely face he had learned to love.
Just then her lips turned into a huge smile. This big bright sunny smile he loved so much, that smile that caused butterflies in his stomach everytime he saw it.
„Jethro.“ The first time she had ever spoken out his first name.
He smirked. „Jacqueline?“
The look she gave him was almost sheepish, cute and concurrent alluring. „I think I might have a crush on you.“
He held back the grin which tried to force itself to show up on his face and instead lifted his eyebrows. „You do?“
She nodded. His lips twisted. „Didn’t notice that.“
Her answer was a laugh right off heart and she put her hands on his chest. Again their eyes fell onto each other, silence sourrounding them. He reached out to let his fingers roam throw her silky curls, then pulled her close while leaning in. He tentatively brushed his lips over hers, to show her he wanted her to take the lead now. Her recipocration blew away the very last aspect of him thinking she might be reluctant – she was almost forthgoing in the way she wrapped her arms around his shoulders and kissed him back.
His heart jumped as he felt her body pressed so close to him he could make out her curves.
As they broke the kiss after a while that felt like eternity she sounded breathless.
„I don’t want to sleep alone tonight.“ The words came out as a soft whisper but still had the effect on him like a gunshot fired. She leaned forward to rest against his forehead. „I need you“, she whispered.
Gibbs surpressed a groan and tried to ignore the burning in his stomach and lower region. Oh, he so needed her too. He needed her since – yeah, since weeks, months.
„I can’t do this, Jack“, he spoke under his breath. „Not now. Not with you being injured. I would …“ He swallowed hard, fighting the urge to touch her. „I would feel I’d take advantage of you.“
She chuckeled. „I’m not talking about sex, gunny!“
He decided to play the innocent since he didn’t want to grant her the realization that he had actually mistaken her words for certrain physical intimate action. „You didn’t?“
Her chuckle turned into a laugh which seemed to echo within his own soul. „I just need the morning after.“ Her hand found its way to his chest as she placed her hand on his heart. „You okay with that? No bruised ego?“
Instantly knowing what she was implying, he smiled and nodded but decided to go on with the game they were playing. „Well, I’m not opposed to the idea, at all“, he started, roaming his hands over her thighs. He watched her body grow tense and her eyes elate. „But …“ He let the expression on his face fade into softness. „Not tonight.“
Jack nodded and regained her sunny smile. „We’ve got time.“ She nudged his nose before sliding off his lap. For a moment he sat there, staring at her, wondering where that reaction came from. She tilted her head.
„I’m tired. You coming?“ She held out her hands.
He laughed. „Well, that mood changed rapidly.“ But she was right, and because she was, he took her invitation and got up.
„But before that“ Jack turned and grabbed the plates. „We should store those in your dishwasher.“

It took them another ten minutes until they finally made it up to the second floor. Jack literally attacked him with a teenage-like behavior on the last steps, trapping him between herself and the wall and kissing him in a way he would have never thought she was capable off. Despite the tension that had grown between them, especially now since Gibbs knew she indeed had a heated temperament, they both ended up giggling, she only stopped by the toothbrush in her mouth.
He gave her some private time in his bathroom and took the chance of changing into pyjamas. After a while he caught himself staring at the bathroom door and smirking. He would never be able to express the level of cute- and feistyness this woman combined.

When she returned he had already searched for a second pillow and put it one the matress.
„Do you mind if I grab some of your clothes? I’m to lazy to get my own ones out of the guest room.“ She pointed towards his cupboard.
He waved at her in encouragement. „Go on“, he said. „Feel free to take anything you want.“
While she started investigating his drawer he for himself went to the bathroom for a last time.
„Oh I’m definitaly not going to wear any of those marine ones!“ Her exclamation didn’t take him by surprise at all. He had just KNOWN she would bring it up. He saw his reflection grin and shook his head, especially as he heard her calling: „Don’t you have anything else?“
„Just keep digging“, was all he gave back, leaving her with a sign. He wouldn’t dare helping her with that.
As he stepped out she seemingly had found something that was acceptable for an ex-army-lieutenant. He glanced over to her, his eyes more or less involuntarily traveling over her body while he made his way to the bed.
„Madam found something?“, he couldn’t help teasing her.
„Yep“, she gave back. „Difficult search, though.“
Without any other word or warning she grabbed the hem of her shirt und pulled it up. He turned around before he could see more than her exposed lower back and the clasp of a white bra. The encounter on the stairs had already left a lingering emotion, and he wasn’t sure if he would be able to keep his promise about taking time if he would witness her change clothes. So he decided to stare out of the window, watching the trees‘ leaves swinging in the wind.
A few seconds went on as he heard Jack chuckle. „That’s cute. You’re shy.“
He bit back the grin on his lips. „I’m not shy“, he grunted. „I’m being a gentleman.“
„Well then, gentleman, you can turn around.“
He did how she told him – trusted her that she was dressed by now - and couldn’t help but smile at the picture. She had chosen his grey t-shirt and black boxers, and due to the not waisted cut and the size being way to big for her she looked even smaller than she already was.
„Precious.“
She tilted her head and bit her lip while roaming one hand through her hair. Gibbs cleared his throat, suddenly very interested by the blanket.
„You know, for christmas I want you to buy yourself an army shirt. Or at least a dark green one. And after a while of you wearing it, I’ll keep it.“
He snorted but joined in her playfulness. And, internally, was grateful for her changing the topic. „No way“, he exclamated while pulling the cover up to his waist. „I’d rather walk around in a pink training suit.“
The laugh escaping Jack’s throat wasn’t exactly what he had tried to achieve, but he liked the outcome. „Oh cowboy, now you’re exagerating.“
„If I’m exaggerating, what is it that you’ve just done second ago?“
She stopped in between moving and seemed to consider his word. Then she nodded and gave him a thumb up. „Point taken.“
And finally she stepped closer and climbed on the bed – and his heart jumped again.
Second step overcome.
He turned off the big lights, only leaving the little one on his bedside. He wanted to look at her. See her.
„Why did you turn away?“ Her voice travelled tender through the silence. He turned to face her, somehow felt like she already knew the answer.
„Wanted to uphold the surprise for another, more fitting occasion.“
Jack raised her eyebrow, but not in suspicion, more in admiration. „I really can’t decide if that was sexy or clumsy Gibbsian flirting.“
He shrugged but smirked. „See it as you want to. Fact is, I don’t wanna stare. At least not at your body like some horny teenager.“ He turned so he could fully face her. „Wanna stare into your eyes and your soul. Wanna know about your dreams and pleasures, your hopes and dreams. The rest … can wait.“
She wrinkeled her forehead and made a mouth similar to a kiss – the face she always used when being either sympathetic or moved. The face which made her look exceptionally cute. „You know that was actually adorable.“
„I think no woman has ever described me as „adorable“.“
„That’s why I am not like every woman.“ She smiled at him in pure honesty. „I know you based on a different side, Jethro. We met as collegues, grew as partners with similar tortured pasts, and … ended up here.“ She intervined her fingers with his and put a kiss on his knuckles. The warmth of her lips seemed to spread out into every corner of his body.
And suddenly he felt something new – happiness. But it wasn’t just happiness. There was something else, something lingering, shifting, like a dark cloud …
His thoughts drivted into nothing as Jack snuggled close to him, her whole length against him.
„How did this take so long?“
„What?“
„Us.“ She looped leg around his and shifted even closer. „Don’t tell me you didn’t get my flirtations attempts“, she spoke, voice low and teasing. „The looks I gave you over the table while playing poker. My hints and emphasises on your famous gut instincts, your … qualities.“ She started playing with the hem of his shirt. „Me sitting at the edge of my table whenever you were around …“
„Are you trying to seduce me, Jacqueline?“
She shrugged and smiled up to him. „I have tried a couple of times, but you didn’t give in, Jethro.“ Her smile grew into a feisty grin. „You really took my explanation that this lace bra was comfortable?“
He laughed again, he laugh coming from deep down his heart. „Not a second“, he said. And then they fell into silence.

He had taken the lights off a while ago and suddenly felt Jack’s fingertips travelling over his scar, up and down, reversing. It felt strangely comfortable with her doing this. Maybe because she knew what scars meant. Because she carried some of her own.
„I’m sorry“, she said all of a sudden.
He stiffened. „For what?“
„For … everything.“ Her voice sounded throaty.
Gibbs shifted and looked down on her. „What are you talking about?“
She was still staring right out of the window while speaking. „For everything you had to go through. No one should experience all that pain and loss like you do.“
He released an audible exhale. „Same for you, Jack.“ He carressed her back with his fingertips, specifically avoiding the space between her shoulderblades. She had shown them to him, but it was a completely different thing to touch them, even if it were through the material of her shirt.
Finally she seemed to relax and let her head rest against his shoulder. He could feel her breath even through the material of his shirt and it felt good. Really good.
„We both fit together perfectly, isn’t that so?“
He laughed. „Yes, we do.“
„Just like Phil said.“ She nuzzled against his chest and he pressed a kiss onto her head. They fell into silence, he stroking through her hair, barely realizing it.
„Two broken pieces make a whole“, he heard her mumble, almost impossible to hear, so quite he wasn’t sure if she really had just said it. Her words made his heart to skip a beat He looked down at her, but to late. She had already dosen off to sleep.

Chapter Text

Now here we are,
So close yet so far.
Haven't I passed the test?
When will you realize,
Baby, I'm not like the rest?
Don't wanna break your heart
Wanna give your heart a break
I know you're scared it's wrong
Like you might make a mistake
There's just one life to live
And there's no time to wait, to waste
So let me give your heart a break, your heart a break
(Give your heart a break, Demi Lovato)

The next morning Jack felt coldness creeping over her body. Not because it had gotten a lot colder, but there was something missing.
She turned around, blinking the sleepyness out of her eyes and looked over. The other side of the bed was empty.
Jack tried to ignore the piercing feeling inside her gut as she realized that Gibbs had left before she woke up. It wasn’t just that – the mattress was cold. He must have gotten up a lot earlier than she herself did.
Deciding she wouldn’t let herself down to the low level of a judging, jealous girlfriend she got up, lumbered to the guest room and dressed herself in the first comfy clothes she could find. She even didn’t think about returning his clothes as she left them nicely folded on the pillow.

She found him in the kitchen making coffee. He already wore work clothes and she wondered since when her sleep had gotten so deep-state that she hadn’t woken up.
Well – maybe it was the same reason why she felt so comfortable sleeping at Leon’s. Those two guys were her save heaven. She felt save with them.
„Hey.“
He looked up and gave her a smile. But today it seemed … insecure. Distant. He hadn’t been that way last evening at all.
„Morning“, he said. „You’re up early.“
She decided not to discourage herself about the thought that he hadn’t kissed her awake and smiled. „Couldn’t sleep anymore. I missed you.“ She expected him to smile, or grin, or shake his head. Instead, his face grew into a cold, motionless statue and he turned away again.
„Coffee will be ready in a few minutes“, he said.
Jack’s heart froze and her smile dissappeared. She knew he was a tough guy, he had his walls, he wasn’t one to open up or love easiely. But … he had been so gentle yesterday. Caring, loving, softer than she had thought he was capable of. She hadn’t thought him to be one of those guys who would be the sweet-type on one day and on the other giving her the cold shoulder as if what happened had been a mistake. And it didn’t even happen anything, except of the kissing.
Had she been to clingy? Hadn’t he been comfortable when she had put her arms around him and fell asleep with her head right at his chest?
She swallowed the lumb which had started to build itself in her throat and did, what she always did. Asking honest questions.
„You okay?“
He looked up again, almost confused. „Why shouldn‘t I?“
Like usual she found honesty to be the best. „Because you seem distant. As if … as if you regret it.“ She bit her lip and tried to supress the feeling of hurt rising up in her chest.
He signed. „I don’t regret it“, he got out after a long pause. „It’s just …“ He shook his head. „I don’t know. Unusual.“
„Having a woman in your bed?“, she stated. They were too old to dance around the truth and obvious, so she would just get it out. Jethro nodded.
„Scared to make a mistake.“ His words let her heart stop for a moment. All her insecurites were being washed away in an instant.
„Hey, don’t worry. Besides …“ She decided to give him a playful sway with her hip. „It takes a lot to get rid of me.“
He looked at her and forced a smile. Suddenly his eyes seemed tired, lifeless. Nothing left of the emotions of last night. „I hope it does.“
She smiled, then lifted her hand to brush along his jaw. Something inside her wanted him to lean down and kiss her, something maybe expected it, but the other side knew she shouldn’t be so full of expectation.
Because she knew she would only be disappointed if he didn’t show her the same amount of compassion and love she would liked to. And that was excactly what he was doing. Backing away.
„I, ahm …“ He roamed through his hair. „I didn’t know what you wanted to eat, so I haven’t prepared anything …“
„You’re finished already?“ She blinked at him. This time she didn’t conceal it, she couldn’t.
He cleared his throat. She had no idea if he knew the grounds of her reaction or if he was just trying to get out of the situation he was clearly uncomfortable with.
„Can’t be late. And I didn’t wanna wake you.“
Her heart cramped at his words. You should have, something inside her gritted.
„You could have“, she said, trying all her best not to sound as dissappointed as she was. Now it was her time to fake a smile.
Slow. She needed to take this slow with him.
„I need to get going.“ His rushed tone were a clear signal that if she were trying to keep him here or to force a kiss or something similarly intimate, it would be a big mistake. „You okay? Need anything?“
For a moment she stared at him, then shook her head. „No. I’m good.“ Despite his cold and absent behavior he still seemed to care about her, and that made her feel at least a little calmer and relieved.
„Good.“
Next to her, he stopped in his tracks. Slowly he turned towards her.
She couldn’t help it. She needed to.
“A little goodbye kiss, Cowboy?” She waggled her eyebrows, hoping to get him to smile.
She didn’t know what she would have expected – a shrug with a smirk, a tug at her waist, a soft brush against her cheek. Maybe a “You being forceful now?”. Definitaly not a passionate kiss – which didn’t mean she didn’t want exactly that.
But what happened was different. He didn’t say anything typically gruff. All he did was lean down and press a haste kiss on her cheek.
There wasn’t a single word escaping his lips. Not even as he rushed past her for the door. Jack stared after him, blinking in perplexity.
She had no idea what had just happened. As the door fell shut behind him, leaving her with nothing than cold air, she asked herself if everything had been just a dream.

Chapter Text

I've been running from my demons
Afraid to look behind
I've been running from myself
Afraid of what I'd find
But how am I supposed to love you
When I don't love who I am?
And how can I give you all of me
When I'm only half a man?
'Cause I'm a sinking ship that's burning
So let go of my hand
Oh, how can I give you all of me
When I'm only half a man?
(Half a man, Dean Lewis)

He was sorry for it but he was glad as he could leave the house for work. Being around her for longer than a few minutes more would have let him go crazy.
While walking towards his car he tried to whipe away the picture of the look on her face after he had kissed her on the cheek and left. He had never seen her this confused and hurt.
He shouldn’t have let that happen. Not right before he would have been free again. Jack would be moving out this evening, going back to her flat. If he just had kept his cool, his controle … nothing would have happened.
This all went too fast, too fast for his brain to process, too fast to think about the consequences. And as a consequence, he had hurt her.
Standing in the elevator he remembered how good if had felt feeling her body mold into his. How good it had felt kissing her, again and again, touching her, feeling her soft and smooth hair sprayled out on his shoulder.
What probably scared him the most was how right it had felt. And how wrong that kiss on her cheek had felt. How wrong it has been letting her wake up alone as if they’d done something illegal and he’d be ashamed of it.
He wasn’t ashamed. He was scared.
Jack had gotten dangerously close to him, has done so since the moment they had met. She wasn’t just pretty and intelligent. She was fierce and she couldn’t be fooled. If she didn’t say anything, it didn’t mean she did not notice it. He figured she let people talk before pressing them for an answer – maybe it was a psychologist-thing. Maybe it was just her character. But she herself was dangerous. She had a temper inside her he had seen a few times by now, and she was a listener, not a talker. She was one of the most honest and kindhearted people he had ever met, but no one ever knew her fully. And no one knew what she knew and saw and heard.
Gibbs let his head fall back until it touched the cold fabrik of the elevator. This woman was driving him crazy.
And his job was, too. He wasn’t sure if he was relieved that his mind was completely occupied with all the things they needed to do – a second incident had happened , parallel to their current one – or if he was getting frustrated. But, and he tried to look at it like a glass full – at least he could distract himself.

He braced himself for what was going to await him while walking towards his door.
This was another problem and a new thing about Jack – he couldn’t figure out what she would be doing. Usually he had a pretty good instinct about people, their tempers and behaviour, but that didn’t work with her at all.
There were different possible szenarios.
Her being angry with him, sharply forcing him to tell her why he acted like such an idiot.
Her trying to shut down her emotions and trying not to be angry with him.
Or – she would have already left.
He wasn’t sure what he felt while letting the third option running through his head. He thought, while driving back home - now it was dark – that it maybe it would be the easiest. She seemed to have a weird kind of power over him in his own house. He felt like he could manage her temper in a better way if she weren’t there. And on the same hand he didn’t want her to leave. He didn’t want to be alone – he wanted to be with HER.
He could cross the third option. He knew the second as he stepped in, making out her boots next to his. The same space they had occupied the last days, too.
Gibbs took a deep breath. He should have known. She wasn’t a woman to run away, and he also knew she wasn’t finished with him.
So he braced himself about whatever would come at him – anger or sadness. He would be prepared.
He couldn’t find her in any of the spots she usually inherited and actually even thought about calling her, as he made out footsteps. Jack just made her way downstairs, running her hands through her hair which looked smooth and glowing – he guessed she had just taken a shower. As she met his eyes, she smiled. God, her smile. That damn smile and those beautiful eyes. He spotted she wasn’t wearing the bandage anymore, just a big plaster over her shoulder. Just then he realize he hadn’t paied attention to it at all … his mind had been elsewhere yesterday and he wasn’t even ashamed.
„How’s the wound doing?“, he asked. „Pretty good.“ Her voice sounded uplifted. Was she really going to play the “I’m disappointed but I’ll let it slide”- card? „I’m glad I don’t need to go back get the stiches taken out.“
„They used dissolving ones?“ He knew exactly what he was doing. The questions he asked weren’t really questions. He was trying to change the subject, to …
„You’re avoiding, Jethro.“
He stopped in his tracks and supressed a sign. Of course she as a psychologist had noticed, too.
He felt her stepping near, the smell of her shampoo lulling him in. All he wanted was to bury his face in her hair, to hold her close, and …
„Skip the dance.“ She tilted her head. „Wanna talk about it?“
Now he let the sign go free and leaned against the counter, hands behind him as if his body needed to steady himself. Staring at the ground he felt Jack’s eyes burning holes into him, even though she neither pressed nor made the expression to hurry him.
And that, again, was one of the many things he loved her.
„You know this is … new for me“, he started before he could run away again and lock himself inside his basement, shutting another woman out. And he couldn’t do that, for god’s sake, not again. Not with her.
„What? A relationship?“ He couldn’t make out if she was either pissed or amused But nevertheless, she was right.
„There is a reason why I have my rules.“ He decided to blame it on that. „Especially … rule 12.“
She nodded. This time it was a statement.
A short but painful silence stretched out between them.
„So … you’re already breaking up with me since we haven’t even started dating or defining this?“
That got his attention. His head snapped up. Had he been wrong? All the time? Wasn’t she even into a relationship?
„Jack, I have no idea how to deal with all of this.“ He blurted out the words before he even realized them.
Her expression which first had been almost non-definable now grew into a compassionate one. She stepped closer.
„Well, you know, you don’t have to deal with this alone.“ This time all what could have been left of the playful banter was gone – now she was stern and rational as if she were analysing something. But despite that her voice still had a soothing untertone with it. „You’re not the only one who has been alone for a long time and isn’t great at upholding relationships.“
The look he gave her must have been obvious. A nervous laughter filled his kitchen. „You know, it’s not easy and definitaly not always a pleasure dating an ex-army-soldier with PTSD.“
No idea how to react to that exclamation Gibbs lowered his head. All of a sudden he felt so incredibly helpless.
Again, his senses knew she closed the distance between them before even his brain reacted.
„Hey.“ She took his hands and gave him a comforting smile. „No need to rush anything. We can take one step at a time.“
He nodded, releaved she wanted this as much as he did. If she weren’t into it, she probably would have just left him. Like the others.
But – she wasn’t like the others.
„By the way, I hope you’re in for tasting my homemade lasagne.“
He lifted his eyebrows at her blunt and abrupt words. „Hey, I’m a creature of habit, but not when it comes to something like this.“
The childish grin on her lips made him return a smile. „Great. Just tell me when.“
„Whenever you want to.“ He pushed himself off to overcome the last centimeters separating them and pulled her into a passionate kiss. The sweet hum she was doing made his stomach flicker and only encouraged him to deeped the kiss. He felt her fingernails putting pressure on his shoulderblades, the way her body was pressed into his. Her soft lips against his, inviting him for further explorations. Without knowing but also without any fear she’d be against it he hocked his arms behind her thighs and lifted her up so she could sit on the counter. The giggle escaping her throat reassured him – and as she crossed her legs around his waist, pulling him even closer, his heart started racing and he felt his ears burn.
As they broke apart Jack batted her eyelids before staring up to him.
„Wow. I take that you missed me“, she panted.
He smiled. “I did, actually.” His eyes focused on her eyes, then travelled down to her exposed skin. The position was perfectly inviting. Leaning forward he couldn’t help nibbeling at her throat and taking in her scent. Jack let out a laugh but didn’t back awake an inch.
“Well then it’s good we’ve got the next hours just for us.” And somehow, the way she spoke those words, didn’t sound teasing or naughty at all – just lovely and sweet. Exactly what he needed.
It had taken a lot of time for him to realize and to admit it, but he was sure now.
SHE was all he needed.

Chapter Text

You and I must make a pact
We must bring salvation back
Where there is love, I'll be there
I'll reach out my hand to you
I'll have faith in all you do
Just call my name and I'll be there
I'll be there to comfort you
Build my world of dreams around you
I'm so glad that I found you
(I’ll be there, Jackson 5)

As she woke up she felt her skin prickle. Today was her first day back at work – which not only meant working side by side with Jethro and they still hadn’t really figured out what it was between them. It also meant facing Leon. The last time they had spoken they had been fighting like they’d never done before.
She hadn’t seen Jethro for the last nights, they had had dinner on Monday but afterwards she had left for her own home. She knew she couldn’t force him to overstep this line of living together, he hadn’t asked her to stay and she was okay with it, and being honest she felt like she wasn’t ready for it either.
It had been a long time since she last had a relationship. They both needed time. One step at a time, she told herself while standing in the elevator.

Ellie greeted her with a hug. It was a long hug in silence, each of them appreciating the other’s presence. The young woman probably had the same scene in her mind’s eye as she had – herself screaming and crying and breaking down, Ellie trying to comfort her. Jack appreciated her silent affection and again was more than lucky to call her her friend. Nick welcomed her equally, stalling just a few moments longer than if one usually did when saying hello. She knew under this guy’s surface there was a soft, caring heart which only sometimes seemed to reach the surface when it came to Ellie. Or her. Or anyone he cared for.
She wondered why it was so hard for guys to express feelings or to admit if they worried about something. But, well, it probably would always be like that.

As she closed the door of her office behind her she took a deep breath. It was over. Finally. She was back, everything was back to normal.
At least … almost. Apart from the fact she was more-or-less dating the team’s leader, which officially was a no-go.
Jack caught herself grinning like an idiot as she thought about how love made clever people irrational and act unexpected. Not even the unwavering Gibbs could escape from that charm.

A nod on her door a while later set her attention up.
„Come on in!“, she called.
It opened.
Her heart beat a little faster as she saw the familiar, darkskinned man entering her office.
„Oh, what a coincidence. I was just thinking about making my way to you.“
She was more than glad to see him smile, a true and well-meant smile. “Well, that indeed is connection through minds.”
He looked at the chair in front of her desk. “May I?”
“Oh yeah, sure.” She nodded him to sit down.
She took a deep breath. “Leon, I’m sorry. And I think you know what I’m referring too.”
The look in his eyes was proof that her resumption was right.
„You’re one of my best friends, Jack. I don’t like being mad at you.“
She shook her head. „Me neither Leon. I’m sorry for my behaviour, I truly am.“
„And I’m sorry how angry I got.“
He closed his eyes for a second and looked down. Jack could see his shoulders fall. „I shouldn’t have brought Hakim in, that was … unnecessary and disrespectful.“
A sad smile on her lips she shook her head.
„No. You know why I bit back?” She waited until he was looking back at her. “Because you were right with everything.“ She let her eyes burn into his, two different shades of brown meeting. That man knew almost every single part of her soul’s dark side, the side so many people before couldn’t bear seeing and witnessing. But he, he had been different. He WAS different. He wouldn’t leave, he wouldn’t run, because he knew exactly how damaged she was and how to cope with her. „I was supressing. Didn’t want it to be true. It’s probably one of the most common displacement mechanism people use, and I did the same.“
„Jack, don’t use psycholgy vocabular around me.“ Leon chuckled.
She sighned. „Sorry.”
“You’ve said that three times by now, I think that’s enough.” His eyes were twinkeling in a clearly amused way. „Past is past, whatcha think?“ Then he got up and stepped around her desk. Jack eyed him surprised – and it must have been a really funny look on her face as he couldn’t help grinning.
„Come here.“ He stretched out his arms and finally she understood. Smiling, she lifted herself up and stepped into his embrace. There was just something about hugging Leon. It was completely different than hugging Ellie or even her once-best friends. He was her save heaven, the one who understood, the person she wouldn’t be alive anymore if he hadn’t found her. He was so much more than a good friend. She tightened her hug and closed her eyes.
“Thank you”, she whispered, almost unaudible. But she knew Leon heard it. He knew. Because that bond between them was stronger than anything anyone could even express verbally.
As they stepped apart after a while, his eyes rested on her shoulder. „How’s the wound doing?“
She slowly circled her arm to ensure it hadn’t worsened. To her luck, there was only a numb little sting not worth to bother about. “Really good. I’m free of painkillers and it’s barely noticeable anymore.”
Leon lowered his head and eyed her. She signed and put her hand on his chest. “I swear it’s the truth. You can ask Gibbs if you want to. Or …” She stepped closer, almost as close until they touched, and stared right into his face. “Tell me. Do you see a hint of lying in my eyes?”
Again it was noticeable how hard it was for him not to laugh. “No. Just the usual feisty Jack I missed.”
She smiled in satisfaction. “Good. Cause I missed that “me”, too.” She stepped back and sat down on her chair, giving Leon a wave. “Now go. I need to work”, she playfully commanded.
Leon raised his hand. “Yes, Lieutenant”, he couldn’t help teasing.
Still smirking she watched him leave - as a thought crept into her brain.
“Leon?”
He, his hand already gripping the door handle, turned around.
She gave him a wink and smiled. “Love you.”
The man smiled back. „Love you too, Jack.”
As he left, she knew from the bottom of her heart that those word would forever be the truth. And there was nothing that could ever change that.

It was almost lunch time as someone else knocked at her door. This time it was one of the agents.
“Hey, Jack.“
She looked up from her computer and gave him a smile. “What’s up, Tim?“
„I thought I’d better come upstairs before forgetting it again.” She raised her eyebrow and tilted her head, her nonverbal gesture to make him speak.
„Delilah asked if you’ve got plans in the next days. She … she would like to get to know you better.“
Jack would lie if she weren’t suprised. For a moment she just sat there, staring at him.
But then the smile came back, brighter and enriched with happiness. „Yeah. I can make that work. I’d love to.“
He smiled too. „Great. I’ll tell her. Can I pass your cellnumber to her?“
„Of course.”
He nodded his appreciating and was in between leaving again as she called him back. „By the way, Tim. Morgan and Johnny’s picture is framed on my shelf in my living room. Makes me smile every time.“
His lips turned into a big proud smile. „That’s the effect it should have. Glad you like it.“
She nodded. “I do. I really do.”

As if talking about his kids had conjured a moment of appreciating silence they stilled, neither of them saying a word nor moving. Until Jack cleared her throat and looked at the watch on her display. “It’s lunch time. Would you like to go on a walk with me and grab something on the way?”
She couldn’t recall the last time a guy she was friends with had used so many different shades of smiling. “I would love to. It looks nice out there, and I’m happy to get my feet busy.”
“Great. Let me finish this and then I’ll come downstairs.”

Chapter Text

My second and my third, I hate they got the worst of me
They don't deserve the way that I was treating 'em
I'd lead them on
When I knew what I was doing
I was stupid, I was ruined, I was healing
But the healing never happened
And I'm sorry that I did you wrong
To all the ones I ever loved
Never let you in enough
Not your fault, I gave too much
To the first one, to the first one
To all the ones I ever hurt
Always knew it wouldn't work
Not your fault, I gave too much
To the first one, to the first one
There ain't nothing I can do about it, yeah
(The first one, Astrid S)

He had dubbed his nervousness about her being back at the office. He had been both excited and frightened, and the feeling didn’t quite dissolve the next day.
Maybe it was because she hadn’t been staying with him the last two nights, so therefor he wasn’t used to her presence anymore.

He had missed her arrival in the morning but was faced with her sight at lunchtime. She wore cremecolored pants and a dodgerblue shirt, something he hadn’t seen before, so he figured it was new.
„Did you buy those with Bishop?“, he asked – only to regret it the next second on as he felt Jack’s eyes on his. Even though he trusted McGee to be secretive, he really didn’t want to get caught at staring her.
Jack looked at him, her eyes lighting up. The surprised but flattered smile indicated she was astonished that he had realized it and it made his insides jump.
“I did”, she said.
McGee grabbed his purse and stepped away from his desk. “Since we’re already stepped into that topic, I must say you look really good today, Jack.” He gave her a onceover and Gibbs literally felt a hint of jealousy, which was redicioulus. “Those colors look great on you.”
Jack lifted her eyes, blinking at him surprised and charmed. “Thank you, Tim.”
Grinning she stepped aside for him. “I guess I should go shopping more often. Haven’t received such a compliment in years.” The short but meaningful look she gave him was enough for Gibbs’ to feel his body react. Luckily, McGee’s attention wasn’t on them anymore but on the elevator.
“Gibbs, you’re gonna stay here?”, he asked.
He just nodded, eyes focused on the computer to prevent it from wondering elsewhere.
“Do you want something?”, Jack joined in.
This time he shook his head. “No thanks”, he said.
Trying to ignore McGee’s raised eyebrows at his politeness he concentrated on Jack smirking. “Okay. I’ll get you a coffee, then.”
He wanted to smile at her words but couldn’t and was only glad the two of them finally left. This secret-relationship-thing would be even harder than he had expected.

When they returned about half an hour later and Jack went over to him with his beloved coffee in his hands, he had to pull all of his selfcomposure together to not give her a thankful kiss. The smile on her lips killed him, and as their fingers brushed against each other he felt his heart jump. He could only hope his pokerface was good enough to cover it up.
He definitely couldn’t maintain it an hour later as he stepped into her office to brief her about the suspect and their newest discoveries. Her eyes were on his all the time, nodding, focused, glasses shoved up in her hair. He wondered how the hell he had become so incredibly good at being rational even while the woman he loved and needed so desperately was staring at him.
„‘Kay, I gotta go.“ He reached out for the door.
„Wait.“ Her voice stopped him. He turned around, questioning her with his eyes. Jack got up, forehead wrinkeled and head slightly turned.
Shit, he thought. He took a deep breath. Here we go …
„Look at me.“ She stopped just a few centimeters in front of him. „Something’s bothering you, right? I can see that.“
The expression on her face grew soft and, hell, cute. How did she pull this off, WHY did she have to be so damn sweet?
„Wanna tell me what it is?“
No.
He didn’t know if it was some kind of vodoo she possessed, or if it was her presence, her aura. But he couldn’t hold it back. The words just fell out of his mouth before he could think about them.
„I’m scared to love again, is that what you wanna hear?“ He heard his own voice trembeling and cursed himself for it. Now it couldn’t be undone. And he knew Jack wouldn’t let him out of that room before he didn’t explain himself to her.
So he did. And every single syllable hurt as if he were stabbing himself right into the chest.
„Everyone I loved or cared for too much, has gone. Shannon and Kelly. Jenny and Hollis. Kate, Ziva, Abby … and the list goes on!“
His breath was going dangerously shallow and he felt a threatening sting in his eyes. No. He couldn’t, he wouldn’t cry. Not in front of her. Never again.
He let his hand run through his hair and mumbled: „I don’t wanna be the jinx who ruins your life, Jack. You don’t deserve that.“
Even though he didn’t look at her he literally felt her stepping closer.
„Hey.” The soft touch on his arm was light like a feather, almost not to feel. “It’s not your fault, you get that?“
He shook his head in disbelieve. The laught escaping was bittersweet. „Says the woman who still blames herself for her friend’s death’s.“
There wasn’t even a pause between his words and her reaction.
„Yes, I tell you. Because I know exactly how you feel.“ The forcefulness of her voice made him look back at her. Her jaw was clenched, her eyes covered in an emotion he just couldn’t explain. He felt his own ones burning in the stare-off.
Suddenly she tilted her head towards the side as if a thought was running through her mind.
„Isn’t that what you’re really scared of? Knowing that I KNOW how you feel? That I can relate to this pain, and that I can read you?“
She stepped closer. He wanted to back away, but he resisted.
„You are scared because I can get under your skin. Because you can’t controle me, you never could. Not on the professional state, nor in emotional situations.“
The part of his brain which has been dead for the last years, the part she had breathe new life into, told him to kiss her, to shut her up with capturing her lips. But the other part still was stronger – the cold, resolute, rational-driven one. She already had gotten under his skin, she couldn’t get any more near to his heart.
„Jethro.“ She took his hands. His first reaction was to shake her off, but he couldn’t help the warmth spreading from her touch. He didn’t want to hurt her. He couldn’t. „Every person has a task in his or her life that needs to be fulfilled“, she explained in this soothing tone of her voice. „And yes, terrible things happen. Things we don’t want to understand, things we can’t. We loose people we love. And for us working here, the chance is even higher than for normal people. But sometimes …“ She swallowed. „I don’t know. Maybe it was Reeves‘ task to save Abby’s life. Maybe he … he needed to die to see his mother again. And Ziva … she left because otherwise she would have gotten killed. We all thought she was dead, and we don’t understand why she kept this secret for such a long time, but she surely got her reasons. She’s safe with Tony. And Tony left because she needs him and he needs her.“ Then she locked eyes with him again, but this time there was a different expression to be seen. „And maybe Shannon and Kelly both died because Kelly needed her mum. And they knew you have the power to change this world to a better. Cause you’re a survivor. YOU had to live so you could do all the good you are doing.“
He pressed his lips together, preventing himself from crying. „Stop it Jack, please“, he finally managed to say.
She put her hand on his heart, her eyes full of devotion. „I’m not saying this to hurt you“, she said softly. „I hope you know that.“
Yes, he knew. But still it hurt like hell.
„You don’t deserve how I’d treat you.“ Silence spread out around them. He halfway expected Jack to sign, maybe run her hands through her hair, trying another attemp to convince him.
But something completely different happened. She looked up, her eyes piercing and radiating.
„Yeah you’re damn right!“ Her voice let him jump. He stared at her in disbelieve, only to realize there were now tears in her eyes. „You know what I don’t deserve? Being pushed away.“ She blinked the tear away, whiped it of. With her voice thick with sadness she said: „I love you, Leroy Jethro Gibbs, and I think you love me too. And that“ She put her hand on his heart for just one second. „That is exactly what scares you.“ And before he could say something she took a step aside and walked towards her table.
Gibbs knew he should say something. Something like “You’re right” or “I’ll try to get myself together”. But he couldn’t. Again, as usual, he couldn’t.
„I need to get back to work.“
She snorted. A bitter, sarcastic sound he never thought could get out of HER mouth. „Yeah right. Always work. You’re hiding behind it, you realize that? Because you’re scared of your own emotions. Scared of loosing controle!“
He didn’t even squint as he heard her door fell shut behind him with a loud, pounding noise.

He was glad he didn’t need to see her again the day. He probably couldn’t have kept cool, and the team would have noticed it. They have had their dissagreements, Jack and him, as she first started working, but they had never argued.
Actually … he has never had an argument with someone without actually being angry with them. He was more like … confused. He had no idea what to do, how to cope with this, whatever „this“ was.
Making sure he wouldn’t be in the bullpen when she’d go home he dissapeared right as he saw her coming around the corner, and before her feet even touched the stairs he was out of sight. He had no idea if is team already suspected something, but for once he also didn’t care. He didn’t care about anything right now except of how he should cope with the Sloane-problem.

This was exactly the reason why he had invented rule 12. Because he knew, as soon as something was wrong with the parties involved, problems in the working balance were soon to come. Now he was totally making that mistake he was constantly trying to prevent.
He couldn’t risk his work – or even worse, his team – to suffer from his mental state of being. He knew better.
At least he had thought so.
After all he was just human, too. And not just human. He was a hurt, desperate man who fell head over heels for his co-worker.
The case wasn’t getting to an end either. They had spoken to one of the „wives“, but still needed to get a lot more information. The latest one, Amanda Sullivan, was on vacation with her daughter, she wouldn’t be back till the next days.
So they had to wait.
Sometimes he hated going to bed since it was always then when memories and thoughts came haunting him. And lying there he realized something. Being near her wasn’t the problem anymore. The problem was her absence.
„I don’t want to sleep alone tonight“, she had said.
He had needed a long time to realize, but now he knew that he was feeling the same way.
Letting out a growl, he turned over to his other side. He wouldn’t wonder if he’d have one of those certain dreams tonight – the last really naughty one he had (the one he still was embarressed about because, hell, he wasn’t a horny teenager) had been as Jack was sitting on her table, legs crossed, her glasses on and totally pissed at one of their suspects. She was even attractive when she was angry. And not just attractive. There was something about her when she was all furious. She was a lethal combination of brains, beauty and a lionesses‘ heart.
Gibbs shut his eyes, tried to focus on the calming sound of leaves moving in the wind outside.
He had to do it.
He needed to. He couldn’t live like this anymore.
He had banned one rule before, so ... getting rid of another one wouldn't kill anyone.
Screw rule 12, the devil on his shoulder insisted. And his angel approved.
With this thought in his mind he finally fell asleep.

Chapter Text

When I'm holding you in my arms
We don't need to rush this
Let's just take it slow
Just a kiss on your lips in the moonlight
Just a touch of the fire burning so bright
And I don't want to mess this thing up
I don't want to push too far
I know that if we give this a little time
It'll only bring us closer
To the love we wanna find
It's never felt so real
No it's never felt so right
(Just a kiss, Lady Antebellum)

Arriving in front of her office door, he straightened his back. He felt like a young boy meeting his first crush. Ridicioulus.
Love wasn’t just blind. It made people behave like children. And Jack had a power over him he couldn’t deny anymore.
He knocked but didn’t wait for her response, hoping he wouldn’t interrupt her.
„Hey. You got a minute?“
She was sitting on her couch, legs crossed and reading through one of the files.
“Sure”, she said.
He figured it was a good sign that she closed the folder and straightened up to give him his full attention. Even though he wasn’t sure about that look on her face …
“I’m sorry”, he said. Her eyebrows went up.
“I’m sorry about what I said and didn’t say yesterday”, he went on, not giving her the chance to interrupt. He saw the expression on her face grow softer but determined, a clear indication that he REALLY needed to fix everything right.now. This was his last chance and he better wouldn’t mess it up. “I shouldn’t have pushed you away like that. It’s true, I am scared. Because THIS, this feels all knew to me, and I feel like I don’t have any controle over anything. And with anything I don’t mean you.” He locked his eyes with hers, trying to put as many emotions and the fact he was serious in it as possible. “I don’t want you to think that I don’t appreciate you, because I do.” He took a breath. “And maybe the reason why I overreacted is because I think you are too good for me.” He stopped, sensing her rising eyebrows. “Okay, no, that wasn’t what I meant …”
“Jethro.” Her soft voice cut him off and he blinked at her. The skepticism and interested was gone, instead she was smiling. Deliberately she got up and made her way towards him. “I get you. I do.”
He shook his head. “Yeah, because you know how people behave and you know how to react to it. But it’s not fair, not to you.” He felt his resolve tremble and for once, he didn’t care about that at all. This was way too important for him.
“I love you, Jack”, he said, voice raspy and almost whispering because hell, all of his stern exterior and strength had been whipped away. She trusted him with seeing her vulnerable, so he damn needed to show her that he trusted her, too.
Whenever he thought he had finally defeated his demons, something happened that called them back. He took two steps back, Jack one step in his direction, leaving her own safe zone, and he, again, took another step.
He couldn’t do that anymore.
“I don’t wanna run away anymore”, he went on. As if to reassure himself he stepped closer to her. “I want to show you how much you mean to me, but I don’t know how. But I promise, I’ll figure it out.”
Her lips twisted. “I almost feared I overran you with my clinginess and emotions”, she teased.
He managed to smile. “Oh, no, you didn’t. At least the functional and non-broken part of myself was glad you’ve overcome that step.”
Jack looked up at him, eyes big and brown and soft with devotion. A smile spread out on her lips.
„You know, if you would’ve just said something, anything, to free me from my uncertainity, we could have saved outselves a lot of emotional distress.“
He lifted his eyebrows. „Meaning?“
Her smile grew wider. „You know exactly what I mean.“ Stepping closer, a twinkle appeared in her eyes. „If it weren’t for your steoic, cool exterior and your poker face, I would have just grabbed and kissed you. In my office, or maybe even in the interrogation room, in the elevator, or …“
He closed off her sentence with capturing her lips with his. Forcefully, almost ravishing. He didn’t care that he clearly took her off guard. He wanted her to know, needed her to know that she meant something to him. Hell, she meant everything to him, and that was the problem.
At least it had been the problem. The last nights had been a total horror. Not having her near had almost killed him. He was missing her more than anything, and he didn’t want his fear being the problem anymore.
„I love you Jack“, he whispered as they broke apart. He put a strand of hair behind her ear. „I want you and I need you. But …“ He stopped, fighting for words.
Jack smiled. „It’s okay, Jeth. I …“
He put a finger on her lips, sensing the little jump in his stomach at her calling him “Jeth”.
„I don’t know how to show it. I think … I guess I need some time.“
She nodded, putting on that radiating, warm smile. „I have time.“
Finally he could smile. „That’s the thing. I need time but I don’t want it.“ He signed before taking her hands into his. „This, whatever this is between us, I want it now.“ Jack lifted her eyebrow, giving him a coy look. „Here? Right now? In my office?“
He roled his eyes which only fed her amusement. „You really are a tease, you know.“ He stopped and decided to go with the tease. „And … as tempting as it sounds …“ He let his eyes travel over her body, giving her a onceover. „I would like to do certain things in other, more fitting circumstances.“ Again he locked his eyes with hers, blue burning into brown. „But I’ve got nothing against a kiss.“
Jack’s lips turned into a smirk. „Well what are you waiting for, cowboy?“ She closed her eyes. „Stop running away and start living.“ As he didn’t react immediately, she opened her eyes again and glared at him. “And kiss me, for god’s sake.”
His laugh came from deep down, a real, happy, reliefed laugh. A laugh he had missed and hadn’t even realized he was capable of pulling off. He slid his arm around her waist and pulled her close before leaning down to finally relieve the tension.
„How about that lasagne you talked about?“, he asked later on, his hands resting on her hips. „Tonight?“
Jack who was tucking at his collar gave him a cheeky smirk. “Well this is going fast”, she grinned. “You must have gone through a big chance last night.”
He nodded. No words needed. Not anymore.
A knock on her door had both of them jump and as he let go of her, Jack couldn’t hold back a laugh.
“Yes?”, she giggled, forcing her red cheeks not to burst into a deep red.
The door opened and they both looked at McGee in feigned innocence, Gibbs not really sure if she with the worst pokerface in the world could really pull it off.
“You two, we found something.” Even if he had noticed anything, Tim had the decency to not make aware of it, and he appreaciated his agent for that.

They followed him downstairs, Gibbs more felt than saw the little sheepish looks Jack was giving him. If he weren’t so damn lightheaded himself he probably would have gotten enganged into a stare-off with her, but he knew better that in such a case, he would brilliantly loose.
At least they both had regained their professionality as they stepped into the bullpen, Ellie and Nick awaiting them.
“So. What have you found out?” Jack asked before he could even open his mouth. He gave her a look which she noticed but perfectly annoyed. That little stubborn thing. “Well you know he was a con artist, right?“, Nick started.
As Jack nodded, clearly enjoying her sudden rank as being the one who received all the information, Bishop stepped forward and put a picture on screen.
“Well, we found this.”
He as well as the woman beside him lifted his eyebrows at the picture of the cut off finger.
„If I were a beginner in investigation and the knowledge of people’s inner demons … I’d suggest the killer either was someone who found out about his victim’s fetish for having different marriages, or the reason being a complet different one. Like being greedy and he couldn’t get the ring off, so he just took the whole finger.“ She snapped at the last sentence. Gibbs lowered his head to hide his grin which he gloriously failed to do.
„But that’s speculation. It could also be a trap, to lead us somewhere else.“
„As long as it’s not a serial killer who collects fingers of dead marriage swindlers“, Torres mumbled.
Jack started walking backwards, out of their sanctum, and pointed at the agents. „Get me the files. Maybe I’ll find something in his history or background, who knows, someone who …“
Suddenly she tripped, but that was all that happened. Before he could even think straight he shot forward and grabbed her by the arm.
„You okay?“, he asked, staring into her eyes. Only then he realized he wasn’t just holding her shoulder, but his arm had unconsciously found its way around her waist to stabilize her. Immediately he let go of her, hoping he didn’t blush the way he felt he did.
In a glimpse of an eye she seemed to realize the situation too. She laughed and put a strand of hair behind her ear.
„Thanks cowboy“, she said with a grin.
He let go of her, trying to ignore the burning gazes in his back.
„You’re welcome, lieutenant.“

As he turned around after she had left, he saw Torres’ lifting his right eyebrow. „Cowboy?“
He shrugged if off. „She calls me like that since the first day she set foot into our office.“
„That I can confirm“, McGee said.
“Why?”, Nick went on asking, eyeing Jack suspiciously as she took the last steps.
He cleared his throat in a warning, and luckily, the agent got the message.
„What Jack said would make sense“, Ellie got back to business. „But maybe it’s too easy. How she said, this could be a starter’s idea.“
„But there are murderers who aren’t clever. Sometimes the answer is right in front of your nose, and you can’t find it because you focuse to much“, McGee countered.
„At least Miss Sullivan will be coming back from holiday this evening. So maybe we can talk to her tomorrow.“ Gibbs nodded towards Bishop. „Leave a message on her voicemal. Try to call her in“, he insisted.
The young woman nodded. „Got it, Gibbs.“

Chapter Text

You never know when you're gonna meet someone
And your whole wide world, in a moment, comes undone
You're just walking around then suddenly
Everything that you thought that you knew about love is gone
You find out it's all been wrong
And all my scars don't seem to matter anymore
'Cause they led me here to you
I know that it's gonna take some time
I've got to admit that the thought has crossed my mind
That this might end up like it should
And I'm gonna say what I need to say
And hope to God that it don't scare you away
Don't want to be misunderstood
But I'm starting to believe that
This could be the start of something good
(Start of something good, Daughtry)

Jack hadn’t promised too much. They went shopping for everything they would need and cooked together – or better, Jack did most of the work, he assisted.
It tasted heavenly. He had always liked lasagna and every bite literally seemed to melt on his tongue. As he finally asked the question how she was such a great cook she answered it with a simple “My mum was Italian”. Somehow, this seemed to explain everything.
After dinner they made themselves comfortable on the couch. It had been colder the day throught so Jethro lit up a fire in a fireplace.
With Jack snuggled into his side, wearing one of his hoodies, his arm draped over her he wondered how the hell he got so damn lucky. And how one single kid, a teen with a gun who had been a danger to so many people, seemed to have turned out into someone who had made this situation even possible.
He just looked at her, smiling in awe at her beauty. His staring must have been obvious because Jack lifted her head so she could look at him.
„What?“, she smiled.
„Nothing“, he said. „Just realizing how lucky I am.“
There was something flickering in her eyes and the next moment she bit her tongue. Now he was the one to eye her, eyes burning in anticipation.
„You know”, she started. “As I was sitting in my office a thought came into my mind. I know you want to take it slowly, and I dont wanna rush things either, but …“
„Jack.“ He tilted his head. „Just spit it out.“
She signed but it seemed more like a relief. „I thought about making a bucket-list.” She batted her lids. “You in for that?”
He pulled his arm away to let her gett up. “Go on”, he said, even though he had no clue what a bucket-list was.
Letting out her cute childishness only a Jack Sloane could pull off she got up and basically sprinted out of his eye- and earsight.
Only seconds later she came back with a college block and a pen, sitting cross-leged.
„Sooo“, she slowly said. „We can put „San Diego“ on it. And maybe horsebackriding.“ All of a sudden her eyes grew big. „Oh!“ She touched his arm, eyes beaming with exitement. „Sunset cliffs! We definitaly need to go there!“
„That the place you went surfing?“
Jack nodded while writing it on. „One of many, but yes. It was my favorite place.“
“So …” He approached cautiously. „You want me to think about stuff I wanna to with you?“
Either she hadn’t realized he had had no idea what she had meant with a bucket-list or she simply was nice enough not to mock him with his non-existing knowledge of modern stuff like that. He figured it was second.
„Or your hobbies, yes.“ She nodded, pen in her hand as she waited in excitement.
„You go first. I need to think.“
It took her only five seconds to come up with another idea. „Billiard with Jimmy and Breena. We once talked about it and figured we both are pretty good at it.“
He nodded. „Sounds good.“ He suppressed the comment about the fact that if they were really going to do this they needed to tell the Palmer’s about their status of relationship, and he didn’t feel quiet ready for that step. „What else?“ He decided it would be much more important for her if he stayed at the topic, and he wondered himself that he was suddenly really interested in their possible future-plans.
“Hm …”, Jack mumbled while tapping the back of the pen against her lips. Then her eyes lit up. „Camping. Near a cliff at the ocean.”
He stared at her as if she’d just suggested a flight to the moon. „You know I’m not a teenager anymore? My back would killing me.“
„Ever heard of inflatable mattresses?“ Not caring about his outrage at all she put it on the list. “Oh, and isn’t it you who always says a marine can take a lot of things?” She stared at him with a challenging look. And she knew she had gotten to him.
He roled his eyes. “God, you’re unbearable.”
Jack grinned. “Yeah. I guess that’s another reason why I’m here with you, right?”
He shook his head, smirking, and pressed a kiss on her forehead which was answer enough.
„A day with the kids. Whenever Morgan and Johnny are older, and we take Victoria with us.“ The idea came up without him even thinking about it, and his heart seemed to rid itself from all sorrows and pain as he thought about him and the woman he loved spending time with those three little ones.
Jack smiled at him brightly. The fact that he had just made her seemingly happy with anticipating in her bucket-list-thing was a great feeling.
„That sounds great. You’re good with kids, you know?“ Just then her brows grew tight and she wrinkeled her forehead. „I still owe Kayla a trip to Massachussets, I just remember. I hope I can manage that this year, cause if not, she’ll probably be really mad at me, and I couldn’t blame her.”
His eyes lit up at the mention of Leon’s daughter. „How close are you to her and Jared, by the way?“
She took a deep breath and relaxed her shoulders. „Well“, she started. „After Afghanistan I stayed at their house for about two weeks. I know them since they’re kids.” She paused for a second and let the memories past. „Ten years are a long time. I saw them grow up. Attended almost every birthday, came over for Christmas every year. I was on Jackie’s funeral as he was there for me when we said goodbye to the guys.“
As she fell silent he reached for her hand and squeezed it. He knew how she felt, at least had an idea about it. Jack gave him a thankful smile.
„His family is like my family. They’d grown into a very special part in my life.”
He nodded. That was for sure.
„How do you think he’s gonna react?“
She got his implication in an instant. „About us?“ Again he was amazed by her whit and her smartness, her ability to pick up little pieces within seconds and form the whole picture. „Either he’ll be like „I knew it“ or go ballistic. Or threatens you to not hurt me.“
“Hey!”, he exclamated thought he got what she meant. And he could totally see Leon act as the protective “big brother” over Jack.
Suddenly a giggle escaped her lips that shifted the tension. He lifted his eyebrow.
As Jack looked at him, her lips had turned into a naughty smile. „Have you ever played strip poker?“
His eyebrows went higher. „I am not gonna participate into something like that!“, he exclamated, though the thought of Jack stripping down for him in a dim light room had something … exciting.
„My question was serious. You ever done it?“ Her brown eyes burned holes in his profile and he felt his body prickle. Aware of his slowly but steadily increasing bodytemperature he shook his head, then turned to her. „You?“
She grinned. „Oh cowboy, you don’t wanna know what I’ve done in my younger years pre-army.“
His ears grew hot as he saw her wiggeling her eyebrows. „Well now I want to know even more.“
She chuckeled. „One step at a time, Jethro.“ She padded his arm. „One step at a time.“
Gibbs growled. „You’re a damn tease, anyone ever told you that?“
„So many.“ Her tone became playful but slinky, and he couldn’t hold back the question. “How many?”
Even though her eyebrows expressed amazement she couldn’t fool him. She knew exactly what she was doing. “You really want to know the number of guys I was in a relationship with?”
He shrugged even though he damn wanted to know. “Only if you tell me.”
It was Jack now who turned away and grabbed her glas of water. “Ruins my mood. And right now, I’m in a pretty good one.” She took a sip before placing it back on the little table. Gibbs eyed her. He wondered what her words meant, wondered if there had been anyone who had treated her badly, and he knew in an instant he would beat the crap out of that son of bitch if he just knew who he was. Lucky for the guy if Jack would never tell him his name.
Just then his mind came up with an idea, an idea that made him smile. „You know I got something.“ He took the paper and pen out of her hand and started scribbling.
Clearly excited his girlfriend stained her head. „Yeah, what?“
He grabbed the paper and placed it on the couch behind him so she couldn’t see it, then turned to her. He took some moments to look at her, caught her eyes move rapidly while she was trying to deciver what he was going to do.
„This.“ Whispering the word he leaned forward, then kissed her and gently brought her to lean back into the pillows on his couch. Jack let out a happy giggle which felt even more beautiful due to her lips on his. Her hands softly scraped through his hair and send waves of pleasure through his body.
As they broke apart a while later he stared down at her. She was beautiful in her daze, smiling at him with dreamy, heavy eyes.
“That was nice”, she mumbled.
He grinned. “Yeah.” He bent forward one more time and sofly nibbeled at her bottom lip. Gibbs’ heart jumped in joyfulness as she laughed at his teasing and loving attention he gave her. He couldn’t remember the last time someone had made him feel so lighthearted, so … yeah, made him feel like him being himself was enough for her. Finally, he was enough.
“Hey.” He propped himself up on his arms to make both of them feel more comfortable. “May I invite you tomorrow evening?”
Jack’s eyes were twinkeling golden in the flickering light of the flames. And the smile she gave him was worth a million dollars.

Chapter Text

Kiss me like you want me
Show me that you care
Hold me like you're hoping I'll stay here
Tell me in a whisper, look me in the eye
(Kiss me, Rea Garvey)

They went to a nice italian restaurant which was pretty expensive for both of their usual habits, but the food was amazing, the service attentive and also the facility exceeded their expectiations. It made the evening even more unique than it already was, and Gibbs was glad to finally be able to take his woman to dinner.
The case they were working on had taken a lot more time than they expected, so they decided to just head to the restaurant right after they finished work. And he didn’t mind at all being granted with Jack Sloane in a gorgeous darkblue silkbloude, a killer skirt and nude high heels.

„You want desert? Or another glass of whine?“, he asked as the waiter had cleaned up their table.
She seemed to think for a moment before shaking her head. „Actually I’m good. And I’d like it more having something sweet back home, if that’s okay.” He nodded. Even though it had been a nice evening he was glad to head back home. He wasn’t used to having dinner while being surrounded by strangers.
He insisted to pay for her, but she didn’t quiet give in so she paid for their bottle of wine. Gibbs signed and shot her a look, something that didn’t go past the waiter who clearly was amused by the situation but was polite enough not to say anything.

Jack had left her car at the parking garage so they drove home with his. They sat in silence, only listening to some music playing on the radio, and he would almost described the situation as relaxed and satisfied – if there weren’t this feeling in his gut. The feeling that something was in the air. Something had shifted, away from their easy chatter over dinner into something way more intimate and closed-up. He wondered what it was or if he was just speculating. Apparently he wasn’t used to be carefree or to just live in the moment anymore. Something he definitely needed to learn again.

As he pulled into the parking space and they both exited, Jack still hadn’t said a word. She simply gave him a little “thanks” and a smile as he opened the door for her.
Gibbs was the first to head into the kitchen, had he remember her words about desert at home. While opening the fridge he turned around. „What would you like to ...“ The rest of the sentence was stuck in his throat and the words died on his lips. Jack had followed him and was leaning against the doorframe. Casually, so casual it was sensual, she let her high-heels slip off her feet - and was about to unbutton the fourth button of her blouse. Gibbs swallowed. He carefully closed the fridge, fearing he might break something if he moved too fast.
„If you‘re asking me what I want for dessert.“ She cocked her head and smiled. „I’m thinking of something special. Something that burns calories, unlike ordinary desserts.“
Slowly, he raised his eyebrows as he tried to suppress the burning in his lower abdomen. „Never thought you to be a woman THAT forthgoing.“ He approached her. „But I like it.“ He watched as his words sent a shiver over her body. But as she looked up to him, her whole expression changed.
„I trust you.“ She let her palms rest on his chest and turned her brown eyes on him. There was nothing in it but pure honesty. Honesty and love. All at once his thoughts about how he would have liked to ravish her here and now felt terribly stupid and embarrassing. How fast could this woman switch her exterior? „There is no reason to pretend or conceal something. And I know you ... „
He stifled her next words with a kiss. „Sorry“, he said, smiling. „What did you want to say?"
Finally she smiled again. „I know you won‘t abuse my trust. We both went through so much. We understand each other. And that's why ... why I feel save whenever I’m with you. I’ve felt it the moment we met.“ She fixed her eyes on his hand and reached for it, narrowing her fingers with his. Gibbs met her eyes on the way.
She did not need to say anything. He didn’t say anything either. They both understood. He could see it in her eyes, and for once, he had laid down all his armor. They paused for a long moment, doing nothing more than staring into each others eyes. He felt a longing deep in his guts, something he hadn’t felt in years. And finally Jack made a move – one he eagerly recipocrated. She narrowed her arms behind his neck and shifted her weight, he understood and lifted her up. Jack let out a chuckle and wrapped her legs around his waist.
„Do you think you can make it to your bedroom like this?“ Teasingly she raised her eyebrows. He replied. „Do not underestimate me, Sloane. I may not be the youngest, but there’s still something left in me.“
„I never expected something else“, she whispered, locking her lips with his. Again he was glad for his woodwork and shipbuilding – it kept him in shape.
„You know, if you don’t want us to fall you should stop distracting me“, he said as he needed to stop on the third step. Chuckeling she let go of him.
„Eye, sir.“
Carefully he let her down, not ashamed at all for lifting her skirt upwards. Provocative he slid his hand over her butt. Jack stared up at him, a cheeky smile on his face. She came to meet him again, he replied. This time he allowed himself to go further. Carefully, he let his tongue touch her lips, begging for entry. And Jack reacted immediately. As she opened her lips a fireball shot through him. Now he didn’t hold back the sound that escaped his throat. He pulled her closer, letting his hands wander over her body as he had dreamed a thousand times before.
All of a sudden his fingers felt the cool metal of a zipper, and he paused. He felt Jack's breath on his neck, going faster than before. It was driving him crazy. He swallowed and hold himself back, trying not to lose control.
„Turn around“, he whispered in her ear. She obeyed without another word. Gibbs brought only so much distance in between, so he had room for his plan. He pulled the zipper down, slowly, and studied her breathing. His nervousness was increasing every second, and he enjoyed and hated it at the same time. Just then his fingertips brushed a different kind of cloth, a way smoother and thinner one. An adrenaline shot rushed through his body, from head to toe, manifesting at a specific spot. He knew it wouldn‘t take a long time today. And the way Jack started shaking under his touch as his hands brushed against her leg as he pushed her skirt down, he knew she was even closer to loosing it. He wondered what she was wearing, what color, which model ... he slipped under her blouse and let his hand remain on her lower abdomen for a moment. But against his expectation it wasn’t her skin he felt, it was the same fabric he felt as he had freed her from the skirt. Wandering upwards, very slowly and a little teasing he enjoyed her reaction. He felt every muscle in her body tensing up and as he grazed the spot above her breast, Jack gasped. Gibbs kissed her shoulder, also to suppress the rumble in his throat. He slowly started withdrawing his hand and gave Jack the signal to turn back around. She grinned.
„Your turn now.“ When he did not answer she grabbed his shirt and started unbuttoning it. His heart pounded as he looked down at her. Her dark eyelashes, the slender fingers, the manicured nails ... and this time it was no longer uncomfortable for his eyes to remain on the barely visible, dark piece of fabric visible under her blouse. Her necklace was glimmering in the dim light which also was turning her hair into a beautiful caramel color. Gibbs felt the sudden urge to put his nose inside her hair and inhale her scent, but the angle was almost impossible to do so.
Finally she freed him from the shirt, leaving him only in his undershirt. His hands found their way to the remaining buttons of her blouse – he looked into her eyes while unbottening them. Jack was staring back, the slightest hint of a smile on her lips – but moreover it was excitement mirroring itself in her eyes.
He pushed the material down her shoulders, neither him nor her caring about it falling on the floor. He bit his lip. Now he understood why he hadn’t felt her skin under her blouse. She was wearing a black bodysuit that hugged her figure like a second skin. He didn’t actually figure why, but somehow this was sexier then every other lingerie.
She took his hand and took a step back towards the bed, pulling him with her. As their bodies collided his heart pounded. For how long and how many times had he been imagining this? In how many dreams had she been the main character? In how many variations, variations that kept him awake, he was even embarrassed for. Scenes he couldn‘t push aside every time he laid eyes on her, every time she walked by, things he couldn’t deny, feeling he thought he wasn’t able to feel anymore ...
It was never to late to love. There was always a time for passion. Now he finally could let loose, could be honest to her and to himself.
Jack sat down at the edge of the mattress, still holding his hand, grinning up to him. Her eyes were twinkeling in aspiration. He smiled back, not able to hide his emotions either. He joined her and took a seat behind her, kissing her on the shoulder. She signed in contentment and tilted her head, giving him more space to caress her. He loved her reaction, was relieved she liked it.
And then he stopped as his eyes fell on a small, darker spot with little stiches around it. He swallowed the lumb in his throat, not trying to think about what could have caused them. Slowly he lowered his head and put a soft kiss on the spot. Jack took a sharp intace of air but didn’t seem bothered by it. It sounded more like a sign out of relief.
He ran his hand over her spine ... and when he felt the first bump, Jack jumped. Immediately let go of her, giving her the space she probably needed.
“If you do not want me to do it again, just say it."
She shook her head. “No, that ... it’s not that.” She fell silent and he granted her the moment. He wasn’t here to rush anything. After a while she turned her head, smiling shyly. “I'm glad you've seen them before. It ... makes it easier.”
He nodded, completely understand how she felt. He knew words of comfort wouldn’t work here, not for her. His task was something else.
„Do you trust me?”, hence he said. “May I try something?”
She nodded. He smiled, halfways expected her to do so.
“OK. Turn around?” Jack obeyed and knelt down, turning her back to him. His jaw tightened and he tried not to imagine what had happened then - not again, not now. Very carefully, as if he could hurt her – and he was pretty sure he could if he weren’t treating her the right way - he touched one of the welts with his lips. Put a kiss on it, the softest one he could manage. Immediately he felt goose bumps running down Jack's body and paused.
“That okay?”
She nodded. He leaned forward again to kiss her again as he stopped right in between his movements. His heart cramped.
He had seen them before, that was true. But he had never seen them so close, or touched them. And it was just now as he realized it weren’t just those horrible scars from being flogged. Three dark, round spots, aligned as in a triangle.
Burnmarks. Or something even worse.
He swallowed the lump in his throat, trying not to get himself transported back to imagine what they had done to her … not now. Now it was all about them, all about making her feel better than she had in years.
He couldn’t think about that now. Closing his eyes he kissed her again, so soft he barely even touched her. He felt Jack stirring under his touch, but she didn’t back away. Gently he ran his hand over her arm, up and down, and slid a little closer to her. Every second going by Jack seemed to relax more, and he smiled as he noticed it.
As he broke away from the last scar he put his other arm around Jack's waist. She exhaled audibly, long and relaxed, and let herself sink against him. As her shoulder blades touched his chest, he finally buried his nose inside her hair to inhale her scent. Her light perfume, barely perceptible now, but nevertheless so her.
They fell into silence for a while before Jack turned around, facing him completely. He stared into her eyes, tried to read her. At the touch of a button, a switch seemed to flip over inside of her. The provocative, cheerful flickering which had been in her eyes disappeared. All at once she looked nervous like a teenager. And he loved the sight of it. He smiled.
“You okay?” He knew his voice was teasing, maybe even insolent.
Her lips twisted. “Just a little nervous.” She reached out and let her fingers run gently over his chin. „It's you with whom I do this. It's ...“ She bit her lip, then released it. "It's just a little bit surreal. Being here with you."
It was as if she could look inside his soul, took his emotions and put them into words.
„Believe me, I feel the same way." He let his hands roam over her body, caressing her butt. Her eyelids started trembeling but she kept her gaze straight – or at least tried to. He travelled upwards, fingers itching.
Until Jack started laughing in an almost wicked way. „You can keep trying, handsome, but you won’t find what you’re looking for up there.“ She sounded teasing.
He lifted one eyebrow. „I don’t?“, he asked, putting a challenging tone in his voice. He felt Jack grinning against his skin as her lips grazed his cheek.
„Those are press buttons.“ She let go of his shoulders, leaned back and started moving around. Gibbs, still letting his hands rest on her hips, watched her cope with her clothing. The pose seemed quite uncomfortable and Gibbs couldnt help but chuckle at the face she was pulling.
„You need help?“, he asked, smirking.
„In your dreams“, Jack gave back, straightening herself up. Then, two almost inaudible clicking sounds brought his body to tense. He stared up into her eyes, only to realize how dark they had gotten. He tried to steady his breath which was getting harder every second.
„Speaking of dreams.“ She locked her eyes with his. „Have you dreamed of me?“ Her voice was dangerously low. He felt his jeans grow increasingly uncomfortable and judging by how her pupils dilated, she was feeling agitated, too.
„So many times“, he said without hesitation. He decided it was time to finally let loose of everything he has kept inside – her owed it to her.
"Well then, come on, cowboy." Her silky soft voice lulled him in. She put her hands around his face and met him halfway, their lips crushing together. Gibbs put a little more pressure on his touch, feeling her squirm. She pressed herself against him, tugging at his undershirt. He let go of her, grabbed the disturbing piece of clothing and threw it over his head. Before he could even think he felt Jack’s hand on his chest. He frowned and stared up at her. All she did was smile.
„Your heart’s racing“, she whispered.
„All because of you.“ He smiled and put a strand of hair behind her ear. Their lips met once again, teasing and loving at once.
As he hooked his fingers under the cotton above her hip he supressed the urge to just rip it off. While sliding the soft material upwards he made sure his fingers were in constant contact with her skin. He wanted to know, needed to know, which movements had the biggest impact on her, what she wanted and what made her tremble. When he grazed her ribs she lifted her arms, making it easier for him to take the suit off. Only as his lungs were protesting he realized he was holding his breath. He made the last move, freed her from the clothing and threw it aside.
For a second their eyes locked – Jack’s were filled with anticipation. His, probably, filled with lust. Slowly he let his eyes travel downwards, taking her image in. He heard her breath getting faster and a little more shallow than before. Her tanned skin was glowing golden in the dim light, her light hair framing her face, her dark eyes radiating. His lower regions twisted and he swallowed as he saw her nipples elate as the cold air licked her skin. Her bust size was small, which of course he had noticed before, but this was actually a lot more appealing to him, too. Tenderly he reached out and put his hand on her breastbone, slowly travelling down. Jack took a sharp intake, but he didn’t go further than just her navel.
He couldn’t help but sign and bit his lip. „Beautiful.“ As he felt his control fading he looked back into her eyes. „You’re incredibly beautiful.“
Jack bit her lip. „And you’re a handsome charmer.“ She let her hand roam over his chin, back behind his ear and grazed through his hair. „So.“ She put her hands back on his arms and dipped her head, smiling sheepishly. „You’re gonna stare at me for the whole night or what?“
He couldn’t help the cheeky grin spreading out on his face. „What’s wrong with that?“ He put his hands back on her hip, lower than before. She started shivering.
„Wrong is that you’re overdressed.“ Her eyes gave him a quick onceover before she reached down with her hand. He jumped has her hand made contact with his lower belly and she started working at his belt. Jack, who of course had noticed his reaction, shot him a dangerous smile. „You really thought I’d let you go that easily?“
„Never questioned that“, he managed to say, cursing his voice sounding so low and already trembeling.
She opened the belt, undid the zipper and stood up. Before he could even react she pulled his jeans down in a single move. Immediately he felt the air in the room grow colder and his bodytemperature increasing. He tried to not look at her, knowing this would cause an immediate reaction of his body, but he couldn’t help it. A grin on her lips like a wicked teenager she climbed back onto the bed, her hands finding the waistband of his boxers. He grabbed her hands, causing her to stop. She shot him a questioning look.
„No. I’l do it myself.“
She raised her eyebrows. „You don’t want me to see?“
„Do I always need a reason?“, he growled back, not sure if should felt offended. Jack tilted her head.
„No.“ Without warning she cupped him through the material. He flinched. She grinned, enjoying what she was doing to him. Okay, she definitaly wasn’t angry. She was teasing him.
Gibbs pressed his lips together, trying to steady himself. „Jack …“, he whispered her name, dangerously close to pleading.
„What about getting those off now?“, she asked in a sultry voice he had never heard of her before. He growled and gave in, letting himself lean back. „Just do it, for god’s sake.“
While she did so, she didn’t say anything, didn’t even make a noise. She just pressed a soft kiss on his hipbone, still dangerously close to his growing erection. He felt her lips above his knee, trailing its way along his thigh. Gibbs closed his eyes, taking all his composure together. More or less luckily she let go of his leg and crawled back upwards.
„Was it that bad?“, she spoke softly – this was the Jack he knew. He shook his head.
„Just knew I won’t be able to keep my coolness anymore. That’s probably what scares me a bit.“ He almost frowned at the brutal honesty of his words. He couldn’t remember if he had told this anyone ever before. That was the magical thing about Jack – one always spoke the truth in her presence, even though she didn’t push. According to the look in her eyes she seemed to realize the meaning of those words, too. Caringly she caressed his cheek.
„Don’t be scared. This is testing uncharted waters for both of us.“
He looked at her for a few moments, thinking about the right answer. The he lifted himself up until he was upright again, Jack straddling his hips. He was impressed how he had gotten his calm back even in the position they were in. Maybe that was another thing which amazed him – with Jack, he didn’t just feel desire and lust. There was so much more between them – appreciation, friendship, friendly teasing. But overall, trust. Trust and honesty.
„I won’t live in fear anymore. Not as long as I’m with you.“
Softly he pulled her in, his fingers buried in the silky weight of her hair. For the first time their tongues really touched, brushed against each other, tentative. Testing unknown waters, that was exactly what this was.
One step at a time he started to increase the intensitiy of the kiss, let go of her hair and let his hand travel downwards. He felt her smooth skin under his fingertips and stilled to cup her breast. Jack gasped as he gently started massaging the sensitive spot. Her forehead fell onto his, her hands clawing at his arms. Gibbs felt her hips moving against his torso, she almost pressed her body against his in desperate want - an evidence for what he was doing definitaly caused the intended reactions.
He let go of her and slid down on her sides, his hands resting on her hips. With a single movement Jack threw back her hair before leaning in for another kiss. He hugged her waist with one arm and let himself down on the mattress, pulling her with him. As he felt her body touching his for the first time, without any layer of clothing between them, he felt the fire which has built itself deep inside his body exploding into like he could explode every second.
It was … perfect. She was perfect.
As she began pulling away, he pulled her back. He just couldn’t stop kissing her and his heart made a jump as he felt her smiling against his lips. Slowly he roled himself around so that she was now the one whose back was on the matress. She stared up into his face, into his eyes, and immediately he asked himself if she didn’t like this, didn’t like being held captive, if she was more comfortable on top, or … suddenly she grinned and put a finger on his lips.
„Stop thinking“, she said. „Just feel.“
He sighned. „You know me so well, Jack.“
She let her hand fall again, her eyes grew darker. „Not that well I would like too.“ His stomach twisted as he knew exactly what she was talking about. As she spoke her voice sounded breathless, but determined and affectionate and full of devotion. „Make love to me, Jethro.“

Chapter Text

Look into my eyes and tell me we're okay
And we both can be forgiven
Kiss me gently, say the things you wanna say
You don't need to ask permission
I'm a stormy ocean, but you're steady
And I'm a commotion, but you get me
Too many emotions, but you let me
Let me blossom in the dark
Turn the lights on, honey, honey, I don't wanna hide
Turn the lights on, honey, I'm surrendering tonight
Although I'm not perfect, I feel perfect in your eyes
Turn the lights on, honey, I don't really wanna hide, not tonight
Come and crash into me 'cause I want us to collide
(Collide, Rachel Platten)

 

Even though it had been clear that they were going to do this his heart started pounding faster and stronger against his ribs as she spoke the words.
„With pleasure“, he whispered back, capturing her lips in a passionate but loving kiss.
While kissing back and forth, slowing down and speeding up, he let his hand move downwards her body. He wasn’t sure if she was just a great concealer or if he was actually sidetracking her with the kiss. His fingers travelled down her body, so soft he barely touched her while doing so. He wanted to take this slow, he reminded himself.
As he felt her wetness he surpressed a growl, bit back a naughty expression, and decided to just feel. Tried to make her feel good. He curled his finger and she moaned. Gibbs pulled back to give her the possibily to speak – he didn’t want to silent her.
„You like that?“, he whispered against her lips. Her answer was another murmur, a hum deep down in her throat. He moved again, provocing soft signs escaping her lips and making her breath grow faster. He put a kiss on her jawline, then started nibbling at the sensitive spot on her throat. Jack mumbled something, then let out a breathless sign as his fingertips found that perfect spot, the spot that send shivers through her body which were so intensive he could feel it, too. She started moving and writhing beneath him, then let out a whimper as he went on with what he was doing. As he increased the intesity of his touch, partly because he started to feel more and more confident with what he was doing, he suddenly felt her leg around his, clasping at him.
„Please Jethro“, she whispered, her voice almost unaudible. His body twiched as her voice send waves of pleasure through him. Gosh, she wasn’t even doing much more than those noices and he already reacted in such a strong way.
He wouldn’t let loose that easily. In one movement he removed his hand, caressing her lower belly. Jack’s eyes shot open as if she wanted to secure herself if he hadn’t just vanished. He smirked at her, admiring her flustured cheeks and her desperate, burning eyes.
„Still here“, he whispered.
„Don’t do this to me“, she said breathlessly, a playing undertone in her voice. „This is torture.“
She was right – it was also torture for him. And as much as he enjoyed sending her over the edge, he wanted to be with her when she did. Almost of its own volition his hand found its way to her leg. He played along the soft, smooth skin on the insight of her thighs while adjusting himself between her legs. Jack willingly excepted him, her eyes shifting darker and glimmering in aspiration.
He closed his eyes as he entered her, preventing himself from moving to fast. He felt her whole body tensing up in canon with his. He kissed her slowly and flaming, then rocked his hips forward. Just then she took a sharp breath, mixed with a high pitched whimper. Gibbs frowned and stared at her.
„What’s wrong?“, he asked, his voice full of concern. Her eyes were shut, her lips slightly parted, but she didn’t seem like she’d enjoy the moment. Not at all. What he saw scared him.
„Jack, talk to me, please!“ He didn’t dare move even a centimeter while his heart was pounding. Slowly Jack opened her eyes, blinking. Her breath was shallow and tense. He stared down at her, his eyes screaming for an answer. Her own ones were glimmering – he just hoped it wasn’t what he thought it was. „Sweetheart, tell me what’s wrong.“ His voice almost broke because he was whispering so quietly. Jack relaxed just a little more and she took a deep breath before giving him an insecure, almost apologizing smile.
„It’s been a while since …“ She seemed embarrassed as she swallowed. „Since I last was with a man. I guess I’m not used to it anymore.“
He frowned even more than before. Waves of protectiveness and a bad concience were crushing over him, so demanding he almost completely forgot about the position they still were in.
„We don’t have to …“
„No!“ She shook her head and grabbed his face. Her eyes were piercing through his. „I want you.“ She shut her eyes and took a deep breath. „You, us, this, I want it more than anything.“
A confusing and nagging feeling arised in his stomach.
„But Jack.“ He smiled at her, feelings of lust and sympathy mixed. His body and his heart fought against each other, and he for sure wouldn’t let his animalistic instincts win. „I don’t wanna hurt you.“
She stared at him for a few moments before shaking her head. „You won’t hurt me.“ She smiled. „Just give me some time to adjust.“
He stared at her – but he knew what he needed to do, and it was something else. Slowly he slid out of her and brought a little more space between them. Jack signed. „That wasn’t what I asked“, she said, trying to sound flirtatious.
„You’re not the one giving directions, lady“, he gave back in soft whispers.
Jack looked at him for a while without saying anything. Then she signed and let her hand roam through his hair.
He kissed her on the shoulder and propped himself up on his arm so his whole weight wasn’t on her. For a while he just stared down at her, trying to think of a solution. He felt her hand drift down his head over his shoulders, over his lower back, almost massaging.
And then he had an idea. „Relax“, he whispered as he started letting his hands travel along her thigh. He saw her body shiver, enjoying what huge impact just a little of his touch could do to her. „Tell me what you want. What you like.“
Her answer came immediately. „Your voice“, she whispered.
As if it were the most unusual thing ever, he raised his eyebrows. „My voice turns you on?“
„Oh yes.“
He grinned. „Well you’re damn good at conceiling that.“
She laughed, a throaty, silent one. „Just didnt wanna break before you did. I wanted to get to you first.“
„Oh woman, you did, I promise.“ He aspirated a kiss on her throat. „Everytime you walked into the bullpen I tried my best not to constantly stare at you. Especially when you were wearing those skirts. And your red heels.“ He rolled his eyes and brought her to blush, while she was moving under him, eyes still closed. He grinned as he saw what he could actually do to her when she let him. „You have no idea how often you were so close to killing my resolve me or took me offguard.“
Her eyes snapped open and she stared at him. „You playing the dirty-talk-card now?“
He tilted his head. „You told me you like my voice.“
„Oh, I like everything that comes with you.” She gave him a burning onceover.
He growled. „Jack, for god’s sake. I wanted to seduce you, and not the other way around.“
She stared at him, batting her eyelashes once. „You know what?“ She moved a little closer. „The best way to seduce me actually is seeing you getting lose of your own controle“, she whispered against his lips. He took the chance to nibble at her bottom lip, making her producing a soft hum in her throat.
All of a sudden he knew it. The idea made his blood boil and he prevented himself to lick his lips in anticipation. He’d do this for her – at least mainly. Of course, he did it for himself, too, but that was just a nice side-effect. „You trust me?“
She smiled at him – that honest, loving and beautiful smile. „Of course I do. More than I trust anyone else.“
He put kisses on the little freckles on her chest, causing her to shiver.
„Let me do something for you?“ Again he enunciated it as a question, and though he did not expect an answer, Jack nodded – excitement in her eyes. He fought against a devilish smile which forced its way to show up on his face as he slowly started kissing his way down her body. He felt Jack tensing and her breathing went faster. Lately now she knew what he was up to.
„Jethro …“
He stopped. „You okay with that?“ He has never been a ruthless lover at all, but he was so much more cautious with Jack than with every woman he had ever been with. He felt she was way more sensitive than she’d probably even know of herself. In fact – strangely she was the most vulnerable one he had ever been with, though she also was the strongest woman he had ever met.
„Yes.“ Her whispers sounded breathless. „Yes, I am.“
While moving along he thought about how she had sounded – definitaly not insecure. More like desperate and wanting. Exactly what he was trying to accomplish. The last thing he wanted was doing something she wasn’t comfortable with.
As he pressed another kiss on her skin, now reaching her hip, he heard her taking a sharp intake of air. He felt the urge to say something, but he himself didnt like another person talking all the time during sex. He had no idea what Jack’s opinion was, but he already figured she wasn‘t a talker.
As he lowered his head and tasted her for the first time he felt her body jolt immediately.
„Shhh“, he whispered, only making her tremble more. „Relax.“ He ran his fingertips up and down her thigh, feeling the vibrations coming from her. The next stroke made her wimper, the third one unleashed a deep and stretched-out moan which sent waves of pleasure through his own body. If he kept doing this for longer, he wouldn’t even last, and he desperately needed and wanted to with her when his body collapsed. Suddenly he felt her leg clasping around his shoulders, a desperate nonverbal sign for relief. He felt the sadistic urge to prolong what she wanted from him, to make her whimper a little bit more, to beg him to release her. He placed his hand on her thigh and stilled her, preventing himself from getting neckpain since he was sure she’d be able to pull of something like that if she just used all of her strength – or better what was left of it. He felt her muscles vibrate and tremble in intervals, he knew she was close, and he knew he had gotten her where he wanted her to be.
He lifted himself up on his arms and crawled back up, looking down at her. Her face was flustered, as was her rapid moving chest, her eyes shut and a few strands of hair clinging to her face.
He smiled at her, in awe of how gorgeous she was. As if she sensed he was watching her she blinked.
„Hi there“, he said, silently, still smiling.
„Hi“, Jack breathed. He placed a kiss on her neck, right above her carotid artery. Her puls was racing and beat strong against his lips. While kissing her and moving his fingertips along her thigh, he slowly entered her again, more careful than before. Gibbs couldn’t withhold a low sign escaping his lips, adjusting himself again. She inhaled, deeply, and squinted her eyes. He watched her again, studied every emotion on her face which could indicate any inconviniences. But this time none of those bad ones were on her face.
„Everything okay?", he asked softly. A quick nod came back.
„Good.“
At his next move she moaned, and he couldn’t help but do the same. She felt good, so good it almost hurt. He let his hands slide over her hip and rested on her lower back, putting just the right amount of pressure on her skin. He felt Jack shifting and in the next second her legs were around his waist, pulling him closer.
Her fingernails were digging into his backside and he fiddeled to reach out for her free hand. When he found it he wrapped his fingers around hers, not only to give her the feeling of being connected - he needed something to hold on to. He continued his movements, taking a deep breath since he felt his own conscience resolving, his lower regions burning. Her soft signs and whimpers didn’t do much to help him. As she pressed herself against him, almost forceful, he moaned against her collarbone. He did another thrust and as her back arched, the whole of her shivering, he held onto her.
And then she made that sound, that unbelievable sound between please and pain, and he fought against every urge to take her, to ravish her, to practically force her over the edge.
„Jethro“, she breathed, her hand on his ribs trembeling. His hand grazed her breast and she gasped, which made him return to the spot, caressing her nipple. Jack signed, a sweet and almost innocent sign which send shivers through his body. It felt so good knowing he could get those reactions out of her.
He looked at her, felt his own eyes burning like blue fire, resembeling his passion. Hers were still shut and her hair tousled. Her body shuttled in intervals, almost parallel to his.
Steading himself for a last time he kissed the spot behind her ear and closed his eyes as his vision started to blur and the fire inside him threatened to explode every second. Just then Jack tugged at his hair and pulled him back to her. Her lips met his and they were crashing together as if he was her oxygen mask. Truth was – she was one for him. She was the rescue, his lifesaving rope, simultaneously the reason he could come down crashing into pieces.
Jack broke the kiss and her head fell back into the pillow. For a moment she stared at him, her dark eyes glowing. A sight which took his breath away. It was a glow between love and passion, desire and comfort. He took back his strenght, tensed his muscles. Gave another thrust. Her body started vibrating for a last time, her mouth fell open for a soundless scream. And together they let loose.

Chapter Text

If it's love
And we decide that it's forever
No one else could do it better
If it's love
And we're two birds of a feather
Then the rest is just whatever
And if I'm addicted to loving you
And you're addicted to my love too
We can be them two birds of a feather
That flock together
Love, love
Got to have something to keep us together
Love, love
That's enough for me
(If it‘s love, Train)

He kissed the spot between her shoulder and neck while listening to her shallow and raging breathing. Her head fell to the side, touching his forehead. He rested there, didnt dare move, nor wanted too.
He hadn‘t felt something like this for a lifetime. This connection they had was more than just mental and, now, physical. It was something beyond everything he had ever experienced since … since he had lost his one love.
He turned his face to kiss her on the cheek and felt her breath against his skin. She was still panting, a little at least, and then she opened her eyes. An almost frazzeled smile spread out on her lips.
„Wow.“ She blinked. „You got me.“
He couldn’t help but laugh a little. She turned her head until she was staring at the ceiling, her hand resting on her stomach. „That was really good.“
Gibbs chuckled.
„No, I mean it.“ She turned around fully to look him in the eyes. „You were amazing. Actually …“ She let her fingertips travel over his chin and smiled the loveliest smile he had ever seen on her. „You were perfect.“
He reached around her waist and caressed her spine, wandering up and down with his fingertips. „Oh, you did pretty good, too.“
She looked at him, lowering her chin. „I didn’t even do much“, she said.
He shrugged, smile still sticking to his lips. „It always takes two to make sex how it becomes in the end.“ He played with a strand of her golden hair. „And by the way. You were gorgeous. Incredibly pretty. I …“ He smiled. „I couldn’t take my eyes off you.“
She smiled and her cheeks covered up in a cute pink. „Thank you for saying that.“ She snuggled closer and curled into his embrace. „You know, more men should tell their woman about her worth. It’s rare these days.“
„Meeting and loving a woman like you is rare, too.“ He waited until she processed the words and looked at him. The bewildered look as if she didn’t believe what he just said brought a smile to his face.
„I love you“, she whispered.
„I love you more“, he said back, kissing her on the crown.
„Thank you for being my first after a very long and lonely time.“ He finally spoke the words he had been thinking about unconsciously, but only now realizing. He felt Jack move closer to him, her lithe and smooth body warm against his own.
„And thank you for taking your time with me. I know …“ She swallowed. „I know it probably wasn’t as you had planned it.“
The hand on her back stilled and he put a little more pressure on it. „I would never hurt you, Jack. Not emotionally and not physically. And besides that.“ He stroke a strand of hair out of her forehead and went on with his words, keeping his voice honest and calm. „This was more than I had ever wanted.“ He deepened his gaze. „I love every single aspect of you. And additionally …“ His lips twisted. „It’s actually kind of sweet. Knowing that you’re not one to jump into bed with every guy you meet.“
She shuddered and smiled with closed eyes. „I did that once in my pre-army years. Believe me, that won’t happen again.“
All of a sudden he felt her tensing up.
„You’re the first.“ Her whispered voice started to sound hoarse, as if she could doze off every second.
He wasn’t able to hide his questioning look. „The first what?“
„The first I let touch the scars.“ He didn’t even know why he frowned. He frowned and beamed with pride at once. He felt bad – and in a sense relieved, too.
She trusted him. He had known before, but this, this was proof of her trust.
„Only two other people know about them and have seen them. My doctor and Leon.“ She tilted her head to look him in the eyes again. Her voice was still low and raspy in her whispering but her eyes indicated that she was fully herself and that what she was telling him was important. „But you are the only one I have ever allowed to touch them. Doctor doesn’t count.“
He gulped as he saw the look in her face. „So ... does that mean since Afghanistan, you hadn’t …“
She shook her head and he was glad for her interrupting him being uncomfortable about asking the obvious. „There had been two guys for a short period of time. But I never told them about it.“
Gibbs blinked as surprise mixed itself into his mind. „But, how …“
„Never showed them my back or took my shirt off in front of them. Never showered with one.” She shrugged but he knew she very well cared about that and it still bothered her, at least in a slight way. „Maybe that’s the reason I was shivering so much.“
She turned around to stare at the ceili. „God, I can’t remember the last time a man had seen me naked.“
He decided to go for a little jibe. „And I thought it was because you couldn’t resist me.“ He grinned while saying it and Jack gave him a light punch.
„Don’t think everything’s your doing, cowboy.“

The room fell silent. All he could make out were his and Jack’s breaths. He was comfortable with the silence and she seemed to be, too. The way she relaxed into his touch was almost infectious, he enjoyed the way they were so easy about this whole situation and the fact that they had really just slept together. It wasn’t just a kiss. This was a whole new level. And to his amazement Gibbs didn’t feel a single part of him feeling anxious about it. No, on the contrary. Playing back the memories he felt his ears burn and his body tickle, especially his right side where Jack was still curled into.
He waited some time before he bumped her nose with his.
„What you think?”, he asked with a voice so low it sounded hoarse. “You in for a second row?“
Jack looked up, eyes darting over his features as she were trying to read him. He didn’t back away an inch and looked back at her, allowing his gaze to travel over her body. They hadn’t bothered to put a blanket over themselves and he felt the temperature increasing within seconds. He didn’t care at all about conceiling his body’s clearly visible reaction as Jack suddenly bit her lip. He had no idea if she was doing that to look seductive – whether be it this or out of any other reason, it worked. Then she slid her leg around his hip and pulled herself close. A sassy smile appeared on her lips.
„What is my body-language telling you?“, she purred, eyes dark and soft and covered in lust.
„Enough“, he whispered back before flipping her over in the most gentle way he could pull off.

Chapter Text

Breath in, release you know that's all you need,
I can't describe your eyes, but when they're looking at me.
My heart, it beats & I can't seem to dream...
Baby you know that I won't mind,
If we get no rest, til' the sunrise.
Until you make me fall in love again, as light shows your face, I could never be the same
I plan to love you all my life,
Until you meet your chariot
Your fingers are mine,
As they intertwine,
You're telling me words unspoken...
(Chariot, Jacob Lee)

He woke up before the ringing of his alarm clock. Barely able to keep his eyes open he turned around.
Jack was laying on her back, one arm bent upwards, head tilted towards his side. She was still asleep, her breathing calm.
Gibbs smiled at the picture. The second time they had made love he had been way more relaxed, he knew what to do, how she reacted, and she had gotten a lot more confident, too. Very confident. In a way he could clearly get used to.
He moved closer and reached out his hand to brush a strand of hair out of her face. His touch woke her. He saw her eyelids flutter and the next second she yawned.
He wouldn’t have thought she could get even more adorable, but drowsy Jack was a whole new levelof sweetness.
“Hey.” He roled over on his side. “Morning.”
She smiled without opening her eyes. "Hi." Her voice sounded scratchy, thick with sleep. "What time is it?"
He glanced at the watch. "About half past six." The alam would go off any minute so he reached for it and turned it off.
As he turned around he almost bumbed his nose with her since she had slid closer to him. He laughed at the sudden contact and Jack broadly smiled.
“Sorry. Am I too cuddly?” The undertone let slip she wouldn’t care at all if he stared her down so she snuggled closer, wrapped an arm around his torse and placed her head on his chest. Gibbs' heart leaped with happiness. A wonderful feeling spread through his body as he put his arm around Jack's waist and kissed her on the crown of her head. It was quiet for a while. Gibbs enjoyed being so close to her - without saying doing anything, or thinking.
Until something occurred to him.
"Hey." With his free hand he stroked her cheek. He waited until she looked up. Her brown eyes were sparkling. Nothing was left to be seen from the tiredness. "Are you okay?"
When Jack started to smile, he could not help but do the same.
“Never felt better since years.” Then she tilted her head to give him a look. „You realize you’ve asked that question a lot?“
“Just didn’t wanna do anything you weren’t okay with”, he said in all honesty.

„Be honest. You weren’t expecting a bodysuit.“
He raised his eyebrows at the sudden statement. „What makes you think that?“
A mischievous grin sneaked up on her face. „You know, yesterday your pokerface didnt work at all.“
He clenches his jaw but couldn’t help the smirk showing up on his lips. She was right. He hadn’t.
“White."
He felt Jack pausing.
“What?"
He chuckled and looked her in the eyes. “Underwear. If I had guessed, then I would have said white. "
She cocked her eyebrow. „Is that so?“ She turned back on her side and propped herself up on one arm. „Because I’m so nice and innocent?“
„Oh you’re definitaly not innocent“, he said with a meaning undertone as she started moving her fingertips along his chest.
“What do you like most?” Her voice tickeled even the last inch of him and got rid of any sleep left in his body. It was raspy, sweet and sexy all at once.
“Well”, he started. Slowly he turned around and slid his hand under the covers until his fingertips got into contact with her skin, hot under his touch. „There's a nuance that's called nude ..." Jack laughed throatily and wrapped her arms around his shoulders. He was only too glad to meet her, rolled onto his stomach and braced his arms so as not to crush her.

„We should get up by now”, she murmured after what felt like a heavenlike eternity filled with all kinds of kisses.
Gibbs sighed but did not move. “I just wish I could make you a nice Morning-after-Breakfast'."
She raised her eyebrows. “Don’t tell me you're a romantic.”
He tapped her nose. “Your fault. You get me to.”
“Oh? Am I?”
“I just want to offer you the best.”
“Do not worry. The last night came very close.“ She left him no time to accept the compliment in any way or react and padded his biceps. „And now get off me. Otherwise we won’t be getting out of bed today anymore.”
He rolled himself back to his side with a sincere sigh. “Well YOU certainly aren‘t a romantic.”
“Do not say that, Jethro Gibbs. I'm going to raise other sides soon.“ Putting a playful slap on his arm, she slammed the covers and got up.
He signed, again, but decided to give her what she wanted.
He lifted his torso up and watched her gather her clothes – or better watched her. Closely.
As she pulled up the zipper of her skirt and reached for her blouse, she caught him staring.
He put on an innocent look. “What? I‘m just enjoying the view.“
She paused as if she was thinking about shooting something back. Then she turned around, crawled back to him and kissed him. Gibbs lovingly let his hands travel along her sides. He wished this kiss would never stop.
“I love you, Jethro Gibbs.” The whispered words touched his lips like soft feather and hit like lovebullets right into his heart. But different to normal bullets they didn’t make him bleed. They healed the wounds.
Staring deep into her beautiful eyes he susurrated: “And I love you, Jacqueline Sloane.”

Chapter Text

Look around
There's no one but you and me
Right here and now
The way it was meant to be
There's a smile on my face
Knowing that together everything that's in our way
We're better than alright
(Between the raindrops, Lifehouse)

She felt his hand trail soft patterns over her back, even though she already was wearing her skirt she felt his touch on her thighs.
„What about I drive you home? You can change clothes so the others won‘t get suspicious and at least only one of us will be late.“
She lovingly slapped his arm. „Good idea, overpunctual.“
„Hey, if I‘ll be late, the three are never gonna leave me alone“, he defended himself. „At least not Torres.“
„Think about it …“ Jack’s eyes started twinkeling. „Wouldn‘t it be interesting to make them believe a woman was involved?“ She let her fingertips wander along his chest. „And at some point letting go of the big bang and telling them that I am the one?“ Questioning him she looked up again.
„Hm.“ Jethro grimaced. „I think they would notice. Especially if we‘re really gonna go play our little game.“
„We are“, she said convincingly.
He signed aloud, deciding not to think about it anymore.
„Well. Up to this point“ He nuzzled his face into her hair and pulled her close again. „We can still cuddle.“
She smirked against his chest. „I never thought you were the cuddle-type of guy.“
„See, I’m full of mysteries“, he gave back, his voice low in his throat.

She let her toe travel up and down his leg, not sure if she was tickeling or caressing him, but he didn’t seem to bother at all. As she felt his hand graze over the back of her thigh resting on her but, she chuckled.
„Insatiable you“, she teased.
„Since I can’t do it for the whole day I thought I’ll do it now“, he answered.
She turned around, facing him completely. „Feel free to touch my butt anytime you want.“
Jethro stared at her for a few seconds, then he laughed. And Jack couldn’t help but join in.
It took them almost ten more minutes to finally get out of bed. After getting herself a little cleaner in the bathroom, Jack went downstairs to collect her belongings. Just as she put her phone into her bag she felt his strong arms around her waist. She signed and closed her eyes, leaning into his embrace.
„You ready?“, he asked. “Breakfast?”
She nodded even though she wasn’t fond of leaving this place which only got cosier every hour she spend there. Just then she realized something. „You need to come to my place someday. You’ve never visited me there.“
She felt him stiffen in an instant, her inner alarm racing.
„You’re right. We …“ He fell silent as if he didn’t know what to say.
„Hey.“ Jack turned around and took his hands. „One step at a time. No hurry. My flat won’t run.“
The still took their time to have their breakfast and enjoy each others company in appreaciating silence, only some occasional chatter. The car ride felt easy and comfortable, too, and Jack was glad for this. This was the good thing about Jethro Gibbs – since he wasn’t a talker it never felt weird if they didn’t say anything.

Nevertheless she couldn’t hide the little sign escaping her lips as Gibbs pulled over next to her house.
„See you soon“, she whispered while leaning in. He met her halfway, the smile on his lips worth everything. When they kissed again and she felt his fingertips on her cheek, she felt a shot of happiness rushing through her. She was so lightheaded she almost started crying – she had no idea when she had last been so happy.
And all because of a bullet wound. Everything happened for a reason, it was true. And in every bad thing there was a good aspect, indeed.
„See you, gorgeous.“ His blue eyes were twinkeling, capturing hers. „I’m looking forward to meet you in your office.“ The way he said it sounded sweet, not naughty at all. And she loved him for this.

After the door fell close behind her she stopped right in between her tracks.
They had done it. Did this really just happen?
She caught herself smiling like a schoolgirl after her first kiss. She leaned back against the wall, closed her eyes for a second and signed in contentment. She let her thought travel back to the night and the evening before … his hands all over her, his soft but teasing kisses, his skin on hers. Fire and Ice melting together.
Jack felt herself blushing and how the meaningful heat returned to her belly, so she cleared her throat and starting making her way to her bedroom.
She decided to go for a quick shower – ten minutes more or less, didn’t matter. Leon wouldn’t care, and even if he did, she’d just lie. But despite, if she would be able to keep a straight face she wasn’t sure about that when it came to the man she considered her best friend, the guy who almost knew her better than anyone else.
Feeling the cool water sprinkle over her body her imagination replayed her own hands putting showergel on with Jethro’s caressing her skin.
Being honest she had been a little scared of sleeping with him. Not because she had feared he wouldn’t be gentle – she had been scared she’d ruin it. She had ecpected nothing less of him being respectful but … there were things surrounding this topic she wasn’t easy to just shrug off. Jethro wouldn’t be that type of man to laugh about it, but she had been ashamed. Since Afghanistan she hadn’t had a single meaningful relationship. A big part being her personality and all those guys who couldn’t cope with her emotional wounds. Actually … all those men, and they weren’t many, had melted into the feeling of one-night-stands.
Unneccesary sorrows. He had been perfect, more than perfect.
She cought a sight of herself in the mirror. She couldn’t help but chuckle. It was true, one could indeed see the difference after a night light this. It was in her eyes. They had always betrayed her, she had never been able to hide her emotions since her eyes were like a mirror of her soul.
Never mind, she thought, whiping off the last drops of water before stepping back into the bedroom. If someone noticed it, they should. She wasn’t ashamed of looking happy. And moreover, just the thought about Jethro seeing her like this made her stomach tickle like a thousand butterflies.
Probably the most contend butterflies she had felt since years.

Chapter Text

The way you got me under your spell
Don't you keep it all to yourself
So won't you take it, I feel like for the first time I am not faking
Fingers on my buttons and now you're playing
Master of anticipation
Don't you keep it all to yourself
Just a touch of your love is enough
To knock me off of my feet all week
(Touch, Little Mix)

He wondered how he made it to the headquarters. All he was thinking about was Jack and that they had indeed crossed the final line.

“Good morning everyone.” Her voice chased a shiver of the very best sort over his back. Getting everything together, not giving a noticeable reaction, he looked up too. She was wearing a tight creme shirt plugged into the waistband of her black high-waisted-pants which made her legs look irresistable. There was no way she hadn’t chosen this outfit without purpose.
“Morning Jack”, Ellie said.
„Good morning my dear“, Jack gave back with a smile.
“Well somebody seems to have gotten out of bed on the right foot”, Torres said casually leaning against his desk.
“But also a little late …”, Gibbs allowed himself to say. Jack caught his eye and smiled. She clearly bit back a huge grin and another teasing comment which probably would have tested his self-composure. He was glad she kept her mouth shut. He couldn’t deal with her sassiness and whit right now, even if he loved it.

As she was out of earshot, Gibbs noticed Nick's eyebrows squinting.
„What's up, Torres?" He asked, prevent himself not to look after her and follow her tracks. Nick shakes his head briefly, then turns around. "Is this just me or does Sloane seem different?"
„I feel so too“, Ellie nodded. „She seems changed. In a positive sense."
„Somehow ... elated." As if he did not care, Nick stared after her. Gibbs was just relieved he wasn’t Tony.
In order not to arouse suspicion, he now raised his head, too. Jack had taken the last step and was walking to the right, in the direction of her office. She turned around again and gave him a smile.
The game had begun.
The case they were currently working on took Bishop and him to an antique bookstore while Torres and McGee were questioning the victim’s personal driver. It turned out that Johnson hadn’t just been a normal marine – he was rich. Way to rich than to not arise suspicions, and that wasn’t just for the money they had found stored away.

Some hours later he felt her presence even before she had approached them.
„Guys, I’m finished. And you know what I found? An archetype of narcissist.“ With those words Jack stepped into the bullpen.
For a moment he allowed his eyes to scan over Jacks body, taking her imagine in. It only took him two seconds for his gaze to land on her butt.
Images and memories came flashing back into his mind. His hand on her leg, tracing patterns up and down, feeling her smooth skin. Her soft signs and moans against his ear. The way their bodies molded into one perfectly. Their kisses, her hot breath on his chest, her hair like velvet tickeling …
„Gibbs, you okay?“ Torres‘ voice starteled him and he couldn’t help but jump a little. „You look … you’re face is a little red.“
He cleared his throat. „Might be catching a cold“, he mumbled, hoping to get himself out of that awkward situation. Gladly Torres got the message and left him alone.
Jethro’s thought travelled back as he frowned. Had he really just replayed Jack and him making love? In his office, surrounded by his co-workers?
He couldn’t bit back the grin spreading on his lips.
This was going to be fun.

Chapter Text

But she said, where'd you wanna go?
How much you wanna risk?
I'm not looking for somebody
With some superhuman gifts
Some superhero
Some fairytale bliss
Just something I can turn to
Somebody I can kiss
(Something like this, Coldplay)

He had given Jack his spare keys since they had arranged she’d stay at his for the next few nights. She had left earlier and was already at home when he arrived, putting her clothes into the closet he had tidied up for her. He greeted her with hugging her waist and pressing a kiss on her shoulder.
„I waited the whole day to do this“, he mumbled against her skin, causing her to giggle.
„You could have done it anyways“, she teased him – of course he knew exactly what she was implying to.

While she took a shower, he made himself comfortable on the couch and opened the laptop. He finally had found some time to do what he had promised to since weeks. His lips turned into a big smile the second her familiar, lovable face appeared on display.
„Hi Gibbs!“, Abby said, her grin so wide he almost got the feeling as if she were standing face-to-face with him. He was glad Ellie had taught him how to skype and neither told Toress nor McGee about it.
„Hey Abbs. How are you doing?“
„I’m great!“, Abby esclamated, getting big eyes. „I went to an amazing, old city last week. Britain’s got great places to visit.“ She grinned. „You could visit me one day.“
Of course they fell back into habits – her asking him about work, and he told her about the cases, the newest gossip, and some funny stories about Morgan and Johnny meeting Victoria.
While Abby listened in interest his non-talking brain was occupied with something else, something he needed and wanted to tell her, too about certain person … Abby asked about the other agents, if they were good, and as she stumbeled about Jack’s name, he took a deep breath. Here you go, he thought. No better transition.
„Since were talking about her, I … wanted to reveal something to you.”
Abby’s eyes lit up. “Yes?”
„About Jack. We …“ He trailed off, suddenly not knowing how to express it.
„You …“ Abby made moves with her hands as if to encourage and rush him. He took a breath.
„We’re together.“ He pressed his lips together, waiting for a reaction.
For a few moments Abby just stared at him with huge eyes. Then a huge smile spread out on her lips and she jumped up and down on her chair. „I knew it! I knew Jack could crack you!“
He laughed, relieved about her taking it so easy. He still remembered her not being quiet happy about his relationship as she found out about him and Hollis.
„Don’t tell me you were suspicious that there was something going on between us. Because there wasn’t.“ There was, you idiot, you just didn’t want to admit it, his brain voiced.
„Well.“ Abby grinned. „You certainly behaved different whenever she was around. And …“ She pointed towards the display. „There’s something in your eyes. Haven’t seen that spark in a long time.“
„Still I’m scared I’m not enough for her.“ He almost frowned at his own words and the hurtful truth behind it. Abby smiled at him in sympathy.
„This is Jack Sloane we’re talking about. This woman doesn’t expect anything from you except that you love her.“
He nodded, jaw clenched. „That’s the thing. She’s an amazing, lovely human being and I don’t wanna hurt her.“
„So don’t.“ Abby spoke with encouragement. Her features grew stern and honest. „If you don’t want it, don’t do it. You know what makes someone happy, as you know what in reverse. You’re lucky Jack has seen some of your temper, she knows how to handle it. And you know she can.“
Yes, he knew. But he also knew there were aspects in her character that made her more vulnerable and sensitive than anyone else. It was just incredibly hard to define her.
Just then his ears made out footsteps. He looked up and frowned in his position. Jack was walking down the stairs and his heart hammered. All she was wearing was a lightblue bathingtowel which barely covered her up to the middle of her thighs. She looked incredibly gorgeous and relaxed, domestic, at home.
As if she had sensed him looking at her, she turned around. Her hair was damp, she probably had washed it, and her cheeks were covered in a nice lightred-tone. Her eyes fixed the laptop, then she looked back into his face.
„Who’s that?“, she asked in silence. He smirked at the gesture, what it revieled about her character. She put the pieces together. Instead of asking loudly and probably causing the person he was talking to to ask him about why she was there – overall this late while he was in his casual clothes – she did it in mute language.
„Abby“, he answered. And he decided to go for it. He waved her towards him. „She knows.“
The happy, almost childlike grin spreading out on Jack’s face was worth it all. Without even caring to grab some clothes she made her way towards the couch, crawling next to him.
„Hi Abby!“
She also didn’t mind to literally climb on his lap and putting her arm around his shoulder – overall with almost nothing to cover her body. He had never liked clingy women but Jack was just cuteness overload whenever she did it. Maybe he should change some of his perspectives …
„Jack!“ Abby’s eyes were twinkeling and Gibbs was sure that the smile on her lips didn’t just implefy being excited about seeing her old friend again. „So how is life with Gibbs?“
He rolled his eyes at Abby’s cheeky question.
„Oh, till now it’s great.“ Jack put a kiss on his cheek. If she was going to get any closer he was sure he wouldn’t want Abby to still watch them. „But how about you? How’s Britain?“
And it was Abby’s time to talk.

They both listened in interest as Abby told them about her work at the shelter, about the friends she had made, the different trips around the English island.
“You two need to visit me sooner or later”, she finished. “Two of the boys I told all about you are desperate to meet you, and I miss you!”
Gibbs smiled. “I miss you too, Abby. But I’m happy you’re happy.”
“Oh I am!” Abby smiled brightly. “Feels good to make a difference.”
“You’ve always made a difference, Abby”, Jack cut in. “You make the world a better place.”
Deeply touched by her words Abby tilted her head. “You too, Jack. Keep him safe, okay?”
He saw his girlfriend nod. “I will.” The grip around his shoulder grew just a little tighter. “I promise.”
„See you Abbs. And talk soon.“ He motioned a kiss towards her.
„Bye Gibbs, bye Jack.“ The goth put her hand on her lips and showed them their palm. „Love you.“
„We love you too, Abby.“ Jack made the same gesture, only with a little wave at the end.
As the screen turned black Gibbs growled. „Woman, you are dangerous.“
He closed the laptop and caught her staring at him in bewilderedness.
„What? What did I do?“
He looked at her and tryed to guess if she really was as unknowing as she sounded. „Basically climbing onto me while being almost naked.“
Sheepishly she bit her lip. „Sorry. Gotten a little shameless in that aspect.“ He could almost hear the explanation „Army“ at the end.
„I’m gonna put off all the lights, you okay with that or you wanna stay up a little longer?“, he asked while getting off and putting the laptop on the table. She shook her head and lifted herself up, too.
„Nope, I’m tired.“ As an explanation, she yawned and streched her arms into the air. Gibbs wondered how the hell that towel still clung to her body. Not that he would have minded if it had landed on the floor …

As he entered the bedroom a while after her he stopped right in between his tracks. The sight before him took him off guard and he couldn’t conceal it. He stood in admiring silence as he watched her hands roam over on one bent leg, rubbing in the lotion. He had known before he was a „leg guy“ and this just proved it again. Everything seemed new with Jack, as if he was exploring love, emotions and passion all over again. The breath he took was longer and deeper than usual and almost audible enough for her to hear it. Luckily, she seemed to be sidetracked by her doing. The situation had an innocence with it, an innocence so casual it was the most sensual thing he could imagine in this moment. She looked incredibly gorgeous in that long, darkred t-shirt, her hair pinned up in a messy, sexy way, smoothing her tanned, bronze colored legs which contrasted on the white bedsheet.
He swallowed. „You’re beautiful.“
Jack looked up, amazement writting all over her face. Then, without saying anything, she waved him towards her. He behaved and stopped next to the bed.
„You know what?“ Jack turned and shifted until she was facing him. Gibbs expected her to stand up and once again entyce him with the gaze in her eyes when she did something completely different. She wrapped her legs around his calves and took his hands. „You might not say much, but what you say is meaningful.“
He stared down at her and again wondered what the hell he had done to deserve this woman. Her brown eyes were sparkeling as he leaned down to meet her soft lips for a kiss. They got lost in it, Jack’s hands traveling to his hips, his own ones in her hair, the kiss growing more and more passionate the second. Suddenly he lost his balance. The last moment he steadied himself on his hands not to crush her under his weight.
And then he stopped.
Jack stared back up to him, her hair sprawled out on the bed. He figured she did something to get it all curly, since it was almost straight now that she washed it and it had dried.
A grin appeared on her face. „You okay, cowboy?“
He swallowed, not caring that she sensed it. „Yeah“, he said. „Just …“ He looked her up and down, suddenly dissapointed she wasn’t in that towel anymore. „I just wondered how I could ever look at you and not be amazed by how gorgeous you are.“
„God, you’re a charmer“, she whispered before pushing herself up until her lips could meet his. Her voice was smooth and raspy, sounding so seductive he groaned deep in the back in his throat.
He felt her legs sliding around his waist again, her toes caressing the backside of his thigh. His stomach twiched, his legs grew weak and he let himself turn over – and Jack saw the opportunity. In the blink of an eye he was on his back and she was straddeling his hips.
„Well.“ She blew a strand of golden-strained hair out of her face. „That was easy.“
„I’m getting old“, he gave back and started rubbing his hands over her bare thighs. He was happy she was wearing shorts which, due to the position she was in now, had risen upwards.
„No. You’re finally giving in to your feelings.“

Chapter Text

And I know this could work if
I could only let you in
But I'm freezing
I'm not running away
I'm not running away
I will feel the pain and stay
I'm not running again
I'm not running again
Even though I'm scared, baby
And I won't freeze you out
(Freeze you out, Marina Kaye)

Jethro found chicken-meatballs stuffed with mozzarella in the supermarket and even bought tagliatelle and a medium-spicey tomato-sauce with herbs in it. She could have kissed him – well, actually she did. She prepared a green salad with balsamic dressing.
They ate in silence and Jack felt her spine tickle and her heart clench. A thought had manifested itself in her mind and hadn’t disappeared the whole day. She had almost forgotten it, but she had noticed. And she knew he needed to tell him – even though she was scared as hell to open up that wound again.

„It’s not just the scars originating from the whip.“ She gave him a look out of the corner of her eye.
He clenched his jaw. „I’ve noticed.“ His voice sounded throaty, indicating he was curious and didn’t want to know about it, both emotions struggeling.
She turned around. „The night we first slept together, right?
Now he stared at her, surprise in his eyes but his face wasn’t readable.
„You stirred. I almost felt you stopping and staring.“
He swallowed. „I’m sorry Jack, I didn’t …“
„Hey, you’re not the first to stare.“ She put on a sad smile. „At least you can understand it. You don’t press for answers, don’t make me tell you everything.“
His lips twisted but his eyes were sad. Sad and stern. „Goes for you.“ He pressed a kiss on her forehead. For a moment Jack enjoyed his gentle affection, the safety his presence provided. Then her heart started pounding and beating against her ribcage, it was almost painful. She had started the conversation, had laid out the topic, and now there wasn’t an escape way anymore. She had gotten herself into this, and she decided not to run away again. Those ghosts of her past, those demons that haunted her night after night – he would understand them. Because he understood HER.

As she looked back at him, she could almost see the wheels in his head spinning. His eyes seemed to burn like blue fire. She knew what he was thinking about.
„Do it“, she granted, hoping he would. „Ask.“ There was nothing worse than shutting people out for years, then deciding to reveil everything and the person spoken too being to reluctant or attentive to ask.
For a moment he closed his eyes, looking incredibly vulnerable all of a sudden. „Did they …“
„Burn marks.“ She clenched her jaw and nodded. „Not the usual ones.“
„Jack.“ His voice had a cautious tone in it. „You don’t have to relive …“
„I want to. I mean, I don’t want to, but I need to.“ Her shoulders shuddered. „I want you to know what had happened. If that’s okay.“
She saw his blue eyes gleaming in threatening tears. „Of course.“ His voice was soft, silent, throaty. She knew this was hard for him, possibly almost as hard as it was for her, but she needed to get it out. Now. Finally.
She closed her eyes. Took a deep breath.
„I told you they had played their … games. Used us. And there was this one guy …“ She wet her lips as she felt they had gotten dry, dry as back then, as they had been covered with only dust and sand and blood. „He wanted to test how much pain we could bear. And … what glowing iron does to human flesh.“
She stopped – she didn’t even know why. She was waiting for Jethro’s reaction, anything coming from him, any indication about his uneasyness. But again, there was none. He was stoic like a statue, looking at her, waiting.
„It had probably been the second month, I don’t know. They grew tired of psycho-games and started realizing we were trained, they couldn’t hurt us with that. So … they used other methods. Physical ones.“
She stared out of the window, feeling tears dwelling up. She wouldn’t hold them back. Not now.
Jethro’s grip around her hands grew stronger. Jack closed her eyes, allowed herself to feel it, to relive it, to let it happen … in front of someones eyes …

Chapter Text

The pressure is weighing down
Is closing in all around
Gotta get out while you can
Gotta get out while you can!

Am I gonna swim, am I gonna sink?
Am I gonna bend, am I gonna break?
Will I make it out alive?
Make it out alive?
(Will I make it out alive, Tommee Profitt)

Heat.
Heat and pain.
That was everything she was feeling. And she was scared. More scared then ever before in her life, even though the feeling had grown quite normal, like a constant, existing in every minute, every second, lingering under the surface like chronical pain.
King had suffered from migrane a few days before, it had been heartwrenching watching him and knowing they couldn’t do anything. There were days where they felt like starving to death, days they were being left alone, ignored almost by the capturers. On others, they were beat or pressed for answers.
None of them grew weak. No one said a word.

Jack had no idea what time of the day it was. She was staring at the ceiling – a ceiling which let sunrays shining through, at least keeping them from dehydrating or getting burned. It was a miracle they didn’t use the sun to get them to hallucinate, to provoke a sunstroke. Maybe, she thought their capturer’s goal was indeed to get information, not to just torture them for fun. At least she hoped so.
King, who sat next to her, mirrored her state of being. Leaning against the wall, eyes on the opposite one or the ceiling, thinking about what could happen next. They had been quiet in the last hours as if they were all to tired to talk. Jack was. She was tired all the time, and on the same hand she couldn’t sleep, couldn’t rest, couldn’t even get her mind off for a minute, despite any trick she was exerting.

Suddenly her ears made out a sound. Footsteps.
Her body grew into defensive mode, legs bend up to her chest to protect herself. It had developed into an unconscious reflex. The three men had heard it too.
Only seconds later a man stepped in. He didn’t speak a word. Regarded them, one after another, hunter versus prey. Jack stared back at him – challenging but calm, stoic but non-provocative. Her outsides were calm – her insides a hurricane. She had always been like this.
And suddenly his dark, penetrating eyes focused on her. He was shouting something, something they all didn’t understand.
„You.“ He nodded towards her.
She didn’t move an inch. King and Anshiri who sat next to her sloughed together as if to built up a wall. They had developed an almost childlike protection over each other since they had been captured. Everyone knew they didn’t stand a chance in here, and after the first four weeks they had been tired of pulling up a straight face and trying to impress their captures.
His eyes grew menacing as she didn’t follow his orders. Again, he yelled something. Two men appeared from the right, stepping closer.
Too close. The reached out and grabbed her arms, pulled her up.
Lately now Jack’s heart beat faster and she was on the verge of panicking. What was going to happen now? Another psycho-game? Taliban russian-roulette, but without bullets?
She was nudged forward, roughly, and she bit back a curse. Yelling at them wouldn’t help or change a thing, she knew.
They made her stop at the opposite side of the corridor, now she was facing him. She would make up a name for him, she decided, since she had no idea who he was.
„Such a beautiful face“, he said, his smile like a snake lingering above her pray.
Snake. She would call him „The Snake“.
„Would be a shame to destroy it.“ His words made her insides twist. She would have loved to spit at him, but thought it better to remain silent. Instead she just turned away, averted the sight of him as good as possible. Still she felt his eyes travelling over her body, like poisonous, radioactive waves staring through her, analysing her. Suddenly her shirt was tugged at and her conscious came back to reality, jolting like a scared fawn.
It was then as her mind made up a speculation – a horrible spekulation. A thought that never before had crossed her mind.
She was the only woman. The only woman in this freaking damned hell on earth. She had noticed some of the guy’s looks, the way they looked at her … it was different then when they were looking at King, or Anshiri, or Hale. Good god, please not … She resisted, struggled, tried to defend herself, but without effect.
„No!“, she heard Anshiri yell in unison with King.
„Keep your fucking hands off her, you bastards!“, Hale joined in. The pain in their voices cut deep into her heart.
The guy grinned, not caring about their screams. „Once the woman, always the woman.“ He reached out and caressed her cheek. The gesture was almost gentle – if she didn’t know what those guys were capable of. „No worries, gentleman.” The hand traveled lower, along her shoulder and her arm. She clenched her jaw and felt her body tensing up. “This will be the most skin you’ll be granted with.”And they let her go. She hugged herself with both arms, trying to protect herself. At least she wasn’t completely naked, even though she felt that would soon be secondary. Something deep inside her gut told her this wasn’t going into the direction she had feared. Something else was going on, and she wasn’t sure if it were a better or worse scenario…

She hadn’t realized „Snake“ leaving until the eerie feeling of being watched crept over her. She lifted her head, staring right into a bad shaved, grinning face with small, piercing eyes. „Men, weak men trying to protect their woman.“ His english was a lot more broken than Snake‘s, his accent thick, but still she understood every word. He stepped forward. She stepped back. He tilted his head, eyed her as if she were a painting inside a museum and he a famous artist. „I wondered myself, what are you doing here, pretty? Don’t belong in a place like this …“
„So let me go“, Jack fizzed. That guy didn’t scare her, and she damn wanted him to feel it.
He grinned. „No“, he said, shaking his head. „Not enough fun.“ Again, he stepped closer. Again, she took a step back, but then touched the wall. She felt his breath against her ear. „Anyone of them ever touch you? Did you let them?“
Her heart jumped and her chest thightened. Of course someone brought this up. She calmed her breath, steadied herself. Selfcomposure and controle was everything she had left, she couldn’t lose it, she shouldn’t …
„Some nights can get very lonely …“
„Yari!“ The guy jolted and stepped away.
Snake was back. He yelled at him and pushed him away. Jack jolted.
Right. She wasn’t an object of lust here. She was just like everyone else, just like King, like Anshiri, like Hale and Kelb. And like all those many other hostages who had been here before. The only difference being that they thought she was the weakest. That they liked to stare and make up stories. That it would be the easiest to crack her.
Oh no. Simply no.

Her inner mantra was interrupted by two strong hands pushing her forward. Before she could even react her wrists were in chainst, arms pulled up heavenwards.
Heaven. Was there something like heaven?
Her heart beat faster and faster, everything inside of her screamed for flight. But she didn’t move. She knew there was nothing she could do. She stared at the wall inches before her, focused on her breath. Prepared herself for the pain.

The first hit her like a lightning strike. She had’t imagined it to be like this. It felt like a knife cutting through her skin as if it were nothing more than butter. She squinted her eyes, pressed her lips together. She took a deep breath as the next one hit her way to soon as she had expected. She gasped, tears escaping her eyes, mingling up into a mixture of dust, dirt, sweat and saltyness.
The third strike forced a whimper. She clenched her fists and prevented herself from screaming. It felt like someone slowly but steadily was peeling off her upper back‘s skin.
The fourth was too much to bear. She screamed. A scream of pain, anger, despair. Tearing pain was rushing through her, clouding her mind. She could almost smell the blood as another strike hit her and made her screams echo through the tunnels.
And then it was silent. All she made out was her own, ragged breath, shallow and choking. She felt the wounds throbbing, she knew she was bleeding. Someone loosened the chains and her body gave in. She fell onto the floor, motionless, trying to breath and to stop the tears streaming down her face.
She felt some guy’s fingertips traveling along her spine, but she didn’t even shudder. The pain was too much, the heat was too much, everything was to much. She felt her limbs grow weak, her body numb, as she dove off into the dark hole of unconsciousness.

A light breeze was tingeling her skin and woke her up. She recognized the pain immediately, a numb but still throbbing and stinging pain spreading from her upper back into all directions of her body. She groaned with pain and agony as she felt someone stirr next to her.
„Sloane?“ King’s voice was whispering. She kept her eyes shut. It was dark, she knew. She felt it, even smelled it. The nights smelled different than the day.
„Yes“, she hissed.
„You awake?“
She didn’t answer immediately, nor really sure how to describe her state of being. Just then she felt him caressing her hair. That caught her attention. He had never done that.
„Yes.“ Slowly, she opened her eyes. She made the attempt to turn around as two – no, four hands – stilled her.
„Shh, don’t move.“ Hale’s face appeared over hers, still white as a bleached paper.
Her mind was spinning.
„You were on shutdown for a few hours. We … tried to take care of it the best we could.“ Of course, she knew what he meant with „it“.
„How …“ She swallowed. Her voice was raspy. „How bad is it?“
A short silence.
„Bad.“ The third guy’s face appeared. Anshiri’s jaw was clenched. „Really bad.“
She closed her eyes. At least, he was honest. „I can feel that.“ She took a deep breath. „Are they still bleeding?“
Now they shook their heads. „We tried to clean them as good as possible“, Anshiri said, voice still low as if he weren’t sure she couldn’t handle a normal tone. „But … I would lie if I’d say they won’t leave marks behind.“
Jack bit her lips as her tears came back. „What about you?“, she whispered. She blinked rapidly as she locked eyes with her collegues. “Did they … did they hurt you, too?“
“Not physically.“ King’s dark eyes grew softer and more sad than she had ever seen him. „But forcing us to look ... was almost as bad.“
She closed her eyes for a second – which was a bad idea. The memories, the pain, it came back. “Try shut it out, guys”, she said through clenched teeth. “Past is past, and pity won’t help.“
Hale smiled. He placed his hand on hers and squeezed it. “You’re way to wise for being a soldier, Sloane.“
Her lips twisted and she felt tears sting in her eyes. “I am not a soldier”, she breathed. “I thought I were, but … I’m not.”
King shook his head, deep sadness in his eyes. “You are one of the strongest people I have ever met, Jack. Don’t give up.”
That was the day they addressed each other by their first names.

They had been left alone the next day. Again, it was heat and dust and sand and pain.
The day after, her scars still hurt. They burned like fire, she couldn’t lie on her back, everytime she did it unconsciously she woke up with tears in her eyes and the stinging pain of non-treated, open wounds. She knew King and Hale were deep sleepers, but Anshiri woke up everytime she winced and cried herself back to sleep. One night he had simply grabbed her hand as if to asure her it was fine.
Even though it was.
King had offered her to rest her head on his lap while sleeping so she could lie on her side, and she excepted the offer willingly.
One day – she had lost the counts – something changed.
„How you doing, lads?“ Snake stepped in. Anshiri’s hazel eyes were burning. She could see he would have done everything to murder him, to make him bleed and suffer until his last breath. But he was intelligent enough not to do anything.
Just then she made out new footsteps. And as she saw him, his face, those dark and devilish eyes, her heart stopped.
Masahun.
She would recognize this monster beyond thousands, millions. His eyes. His smell. His voice. Everything.
She had a vague and horrifying feeling about why he was here. They had understestimated everyone of them. They had thought she as a woman was the weakest, the first to break. She didn’t. They probably had thought the guys wouldn’t say anything, they were heartless.
They seemed to have realized none of those were the case. That was why the had used HER. As a tool.
And they did it again. She knew it the second one of them stepped forward and took a hold on her arm, dragging her with him.
Her “brothers” didn’t move, couldn’t, didn’t even scream, and she was glad for it. She stumbeled as someone turned her around so she was facing them again. She locked eyes with them, from left to right, Anshiri, Hale, King.
Someone pushed her and she fell forward with a gasp as her knees hit the dirty, sandy floor. Jack’s eyes were darting around, trying to understand what was happening – and it did happen.
Suddenly she saw Hale’s face getting white, and Anshiri and King stopped in shook. Their eyes widened as they stared on something behind her.
„Please.“ Hale’s voice sounded pleading, almost crying. “Please, don’t do this, not to her!” He had always been the softest, the sweetest, the kindest.
She wanted to sneak a peak over her shoulder, but all she saw was someone coming back into the room. The next moment the guy next to her gave her a slap in the face and she was forced to turn around again.
She held her gaze on her friends. The three guys stared back at her – shook, compassion, pain and anger in their faces.
She opened her mouth to say something, to tell them it was okay, to make them turn away … as a hot, burning something was pressed against her spine without warning. She let out a bloodcurdling scream she couldn’t conceil. It probably took just a few seconds but it felt like eternity. Due to her already bruised skin she was even more sensitive to the pain. Jack gasped for air as the ache subsided – not fully, but at least that much so she could breathe again. When she opened her eyes, a haze had formed itself before her eyes. Her body was shuddering, her shoulders cramped, and the spot on her back burning like fire.
„That was just a sample.“
Masahun. She recognized his voice. And he was angry. He was bugged. He was pissed as hell that none of them said a word, and nothing would change that.
No one answered.
„Do you really want me to torture her more?“ With those words addressed to her men, he held something in front of her face, showing it to her. Her heart missed a beat.
It was a bar, a long, darkgrey bar glowing red at the end. No wonder it had felt like fire.
She shook her head, tears threatening. She didn’t want them to see her cry again.
„No“, she shouted. It was barely more than a wimper, a hoarse, breathless whimper. „Don’t. Don’t tell them.“
Someone grabbed her by the hair and pulled her head backwards. She couldn’t make out the face, just saw an outline. Her pulse was beating in her ears, she could hear her blood rush. Masahun leaned down and whispered in her ear, his smooth, slick voice menacing.
„What is the password?“
She turned so she could look at him. Right into his eyes, twinkeling in all its evilness.
„Go to hell“, she croaked.
The next burn left her breathless. It took longer. Way longer.
And her mind went dead as she felt the iron rod searing her skin.

Chapter Text

Now, fear in itself
Will use you up and break you down
Like you were never enough
Yeah, I used to fall, now I get back up
The beauty is
I'm learning how to face my beast
Starting now to find some peace
Set myself free, yeah
(Fear, Blue October)

As her voice trailed off tears were streaming down her face. Before she could even lift her hand Jethro’s thumb was on her cheek, gently whiping them away. Then he pulled her close, kissed the top of her head. She signed and leaned into his embrace. And he held her, just held her, without asking or replying anything.

„Want me to run you a bath?“
She smiled at him in daze, hoping she could give it justice to what she felt, about how much she loved him.
„If you join me?“ She tilted her head to meet his eyes. They were generous and kind and full of sympathy. He smiled. „I’d love to.“
He kept on holding her for a couple more minutes before he got up, leaving for the bathroom with kissing the top of her crown.
She watched him walk away before shutting her eyes and resting back against the couch.

She felt good. Weirdly good. It hadn’t even been that difficult – it wasn’t because she hadn’t shut those emotions and memories down, she had always admitted them. The only difference now had been to actually TALK about it. Say the words. Express it. But, somehow, Jethro had helped her with it.
„Thank you guys“, she spoke, face turned towards the ceiling, addressing heaven. „Thank you for helping me find him.“ Because they were her guardian angels in heaven. And he, he was her soldier on earth.

Chapter Text

It's okay to not be okay
When even the air you breathe
Is just too much for your lungs to take
C'mon pick up your phone
Don't have to face it alone
Gonna fight with you and for you
Yeah I want you to know

I will stand your ground
I'll kiss your battle scars
And leave my XO mark till you can feel it
Can you feel it?
You can call my name
I'll hold your hand grenade
I'll take your fears and wipe your eyes and wear it all like war paint
Wear it all like war paint, wear it all like war paint
I see gold, when you're black and blue
I love the colours burning beautiful that you wanna use
When all you want is to get out alive
You don't have to cry for me to hear your battle cry
(War paint, Madeline Merlo)

He still felt nauseous about her story, the flashback and the pictures that had formed itself in his head. Lost in thoughts he roamed his hand through the water to get the right temperature.
Care for her. All he could do was care for her and to make her feel better.

As he was finished he came back into the living room and tapped her on the shoulders.
“Your bath has been drawn, Mylady.”
He saw Jack smirk as she opened her eyes. “Thank you, Mylord.” She grabbed his presented hand and he helped her to get up.

In any other situation he probably would have suggested something more intimate than just taking a bath together. But now all he could think about as he watched her undress was how small she was, how delicate, how vulnerable. He was barely able to conceil his breath leaving his lips more audible and tense than usual as she pulled up her hair in a messy bun, exposing the scars. They had been horrible to look at in the first place – around a year ago, back in her office as they had had their first real deep conversation – but now he knew the real story behind it, he pain, the memories, and could link them with very lively pictures he wished he could ban out of his hand.
But this was her. Her story was as much her as her sparkeling eyes and the little but magnificent smile she gave him as she turned her head. Realizing he was still wearing his jeans he wondered for a second if it would be more appropriate in the situation if he would wear bathing trunks. But as she reached out for his hand and gave him a small nod he felt his tension resolve.
“You go first”, she commanded in that soft tone which even made her bossiness sweet and kind. He stripped down the disturbing pieces of clothing, suddenly feeling completely confident again. They were mature enough and he had no intention or want to do anything more than just relax and make her feel save.
He growned as he knelt down into the water, his knees protesting. He literally felt Jack watching him and chuckeling. As he finally, finally found the right position to sit he nodded at her.
Amazed he watched her toes testing the water, then slowly stepping into the tub. He reached for her hand to steady her and she sighned in satisfaction as she lowered herself into the almost hot but still comfortable water.
A wave of protectiveness and delight came over him as he felt Jack relaxing completely, bringing her full weight to lean against him. He was once again amazed by how small she was, how her posture and bodylanguage always tricked him. He lifted his hands and started massaging her shoulders. Jack growled a satisfied hum and turned her head into his direction.
„I could become used to this“, she mumbled with that cute, sleepy voice of hers that always seemed an octave deeper and raspy. He just smiled and went on.

A while later, after his massage had shifted into gentle strokes over her arms, she rubbed her hand over his knee and as he reached out, she intervined their fingers.
“You’re a good guy”, she suddenly said.
Gibbs couldn’t help but laugh. “Just because you’re a good woman.” He kissed her on the cheek - and he meant every word of it.
That was when he promised himself to protect her – no matter what, he wouldn’t ever let anyone or anything hurt her again. She was his and he was hers. There was nothing so far he could think of which could stop him from his currently favorite thing to do – loving Jacqueline Sloane. He didn’t if they would last forever – but right now “for the next time” sounded pretty good too.

Chapter Text

No one bites back as hard
On their anger
None of my pain woe
Can show through
But my dreams they aren't this empty
As my conscious seems to be
I have hours, only lonely
My love is vengeance
That's never free
No one knows what it's like
To be the bad man
To be the sad man
Behind blue eyes

(Behind blue eyes)

 

He had been looking forward to this day. Finally Amanda Sullivan could be questioned, and he was glad she’d be there at already 8.30.

“So you’re saying … he was a scammer?“ The question forming itself out of her mouth sounded reluctant, insecure, even a little scared, after McGee had told her.
“You never suspected anything?”
She shrugged. She seemed embarrassed. „I knew it was risky, I haven’t known him for a long time, but … I trusted him. And Kelly liked him, so …“
Gibbs, who had only listened and watched, felt his heart skip a beat. „Kelly?“ He couldn’t help asking, he just couldn’t.
Miss Sullivan turned to look at him. „Yes. My daughter.“
He frowned.
“We looked at his phone records”, McGee went on, the tone in his voice indicating that he was sensing the shift oh the atmosphere. “And there was a number that had been calling him many times, but he never responded. That caught our attention.” He pulled out the sheet and placed it in front of Amanda, pointing at one specific underlined number.
“Do you recognize this number?”, he asked her.
Amanda leaned forward. Gibbs could literally see her mind working, and then her eyes snapped open. “I do”, she said as if she were surprised, too. McGee and Gibbs shared a look.
“Who is it?”
She snorted. „My ex-husband’s. We haven’t talked much in the last months. The only thing keeping us together is Kelly.“ She shrugged. “I’m pretty good with numbers, that’s probably why I still remember it.”
Gibbs didn’t quite follow with the ongoing conversation, he just couldn’t. His mind was turning, spinning, and he felt trapped in an unseen spiral.
“Check on Samuel Thornton, Amanda’s ex-husband”, he called at Torres after they had finished the talk and McGee was still with Amanda, asking her if she could stay for some more minutes. She did.

It resembled a wonder. Actually Gibbs didn’t even quiet realize everything falling into pieces within hours, or better, minutes. Amanda was very helpful with giving out information, and even though she was playing the coldhearted ex-wife, Gibbs knew she was scared. Of course she was – no one wanted the father of one’s child being involved in a crime, no matter what happened in the past.

He went with Bishop as they had found out the address.
The second they had introduced themselves as NCIS Agents Samuel knew. Gibbs saw it in his eyes.
He didn’t even try to get himself out of the situation, he just nodded and took his coat.
The confession followed just barely three seconds after they had taken place in the interrogation room. Never ever had they found a lead and made the suspect confess and put him behind bars within one day.

Gibbs almost felt bad they had to arrest him. Murder was murder, even though the victim had been a giant asshole and he didn’t mean to actually kill him.
The mood within his team mirrored his own. No one was happy.

It was McGee who first spoke as they had all found themselves back in the bullpen. „So … he set Brooks up, wanted him to confess everything but then …“
„It all went wrong and he shot him in self defense.“ Bishop clenched her teeth as she recalled Samuel’s words.
Torres’ seemed puzzled. “But there is one thing I still don’t get.” He locked eyes with everyone. “Why did he cut off his finger?”
“I guess he couldn’t stand the fact that the guy would be buried with a marriage ring he didn’t deserve.” Jack’s voice traveled over to him and seemed to lay itself around him like a smoothing blancket. Suddenly he didn’t feel that horrible anymore – but another emotion came crushing back. Somehow she had been a reminder to it, and he only needed about two seconds to know why – Jack was a woman he loved. Exactly how the girl he loved. The girl which was gone. The girl named Kelly.

In silence they all stood there, watching two police officers leading Samuel Thornton out of the room.
He caught Jack swallow. „Parents do everything to protect their family.“ The words cut deep. Oh how right she was. And Gibbs knew too well what she meant by that, considering her own past. „He just did it in the wrong way.“
The silence came back, stretching itself out between them until the tension grew unbearable.
„Come on guys“, Torres finally said. „Let’s call it a day.“
Everyone seemed glad for the guy taking action. While the younger ones took their bags and got ready to leave, he kept on standing there and getting lost in thoughts. Until a gentle hand on his shoulder literally jolted him back to the present.
„Hey. You okay?“
He looked down at her. „What makes you think I’m not?“
Jack shrugged. „Don’t know. You seem distant.“
He raised his eyebrow. Jack signed. „Okay, I mean even more distant than usual.“
Gibbs turned away again. „Case”, he gritted. “Got me a little harder than usual.”
Out of the corner of his eye he caught her smirking. „What about rule 10? „Never get personally involved in a case“?“ Her voice was teasing but had a different impact on him. His heart leaped in a way that hurt him. Now he stared at her, his eyes piercing.
„I don’t wanna talk, Jack, not now, you get that?“ He had no idea if he sounded pissed and didn’t really know what he actually wanted to express.
But she got it.
„Fine“, she said, nodding, at least not sounding hurt. Then she turned on her heels. „I’m in my office if you need me.“
With that she was gone.

Chapter Text

Lately I've been wondering what's been going on
I've been here before but I don't remember when
And every time we get to where we're entering
I feel my beliefs and hopes surrendering
But I know I'll be coming home soon
And yes, I know that I'll be coming home soon
'Cause like the enemies that we are battling
I am nothing but a human alien
Left with nothing else but to keep wandering down
This path whilst stopping my hands trembling
I've seen inside the devil's dreams where young men die
And graveyards open up their arms for mothers left to cry
I have seen the bleeding and I hate what we've done
But just like every other fool I'll keep marching on
(Soldiers eyes, Jack Savoretti)

She knew she shouldn’t, but Jack knew deep inside she had wished him to tell her what had thrown him off guard that much. He spoke even less then usually, his jaw clenched and his blue eyes were staring numb into nothing.
Something must have happened while they had spoken with Amanda Sullivan. If she had just been present … she would probably know now, but she wasn’t fond of the idea asking McGee. Jethro was her boyfriend nevertheless, even though it still felt surreal, and she wouldn’t dare sneak around his back. She had never been scared of him and she especially wouldn’t let him get to her and shut her out again.
She was kind of glad that tonight she’d meet with Delilah. At least this would get her mind somewhere else, hopefully rid her of anxiety.

„You know, I started wondering how it took us so long to finally sit down and talk“, Jack said as she pulled the chair nearer the table. The pretty brunette in front of her smiled. “That’s why I decided to take action and use my dear husband as the speaking tube.”
“And I am so glad you did.” Jack smiled a bright smile and even the waiter received a bit of it as he got them the menu. Delilah and her scammed through the meals in silence, everyone taking their time in silence.
As they had chosen and ordered Jack asked her about the kids and Delilah shared some cute stories. But suddenly she sensed her friend’s uneasiness.
„Hey, there’s something I wanted to tell you.” Delilah bit her lip. Jack lifted her eyebrows. “I’m sorry for being so nosy about you and Ray, I just got a little too excited about pairing you off.”
Jack shook her head. „Don’t be sorry. It was nice. Until …“
„Until you realized you were sitting next to this guy from Afghanistan.“ Her blue eyes darkened and were clouded with sadness and sympathy. „Tim told me about it. About what had happened to you.“ She batted her eyelids and reached out for Jack’s hand. „I am so sorry.“
Jack forced a smile and squeezed her hand. „Without you, I would have never found him. I woud have never had the possibility to seek justice.“
Delilah opened her mouth to say something but was cut off as the waited approached with their drinks. As he had stepped away out of earside, Delilah leaned forward.
„By the way. Thank you for saving Tim’s ass in the hospital.“
She smiled. „It wasn’t just me, Delilah. We were all involed, and without Gibbs’ ability to …“
„Stop it.“ The brunette shook her head, smiling. „Don’t discredit yourself. They couldn’t have done it without you, that’s a profen.“ Jack bit her lip. She suppressed the fact that she barely had kept her controle and had almost blown it. Luckily, they had made it out alive. Even though she still felt sad for the old hospital guard who had lost his life on that day …
Within her inner dialogue she caught a dark shadow creeping over Delilah’s soft features. She must have made a face similar to a question because the woman signed and spoke: „After Paraguay, I was so worried about Tim. About … actually about both of them. Gibbs has been through so much, I wasn’t sure if he’d get up another time.“
Jack batted her lids in confusion. „Paraguay? What happened?“
Deliah’s blue eyes got bigger. „You … don’t know?“
Jack got more and more addled but figured something was very wrong here. „Don’t know what?“
Delilah swallowed. It took her a while to answer, and as she did, her voice was trembeling. „They were captured.“
The word rang a bell. Within seconds she was transported back. Back to yesterday evening as she had confessed everything to him, about HER captivity.
And as she realized it, the feeling she had, what it really meant, her heart cramped in hurt.
„He … they what?“ Jethro had been imprisoned, too, and he hadn’t even told her about it?
Delilah’s veatures grew soft and sad. „No one has told you?“
Jack shook her head as she stared into nothing. Her heart started aching as if someone had just stuck a knife throught it. She felt tears dwelling up, stinging in her eyes.
„You know Gibbs. Quiet as a grave.“ She grabbed her glass and took some gulps to dull the emotion. She hadn’t meant her words to come out this sharp and betrayed, but it was true. She was angry. Angry that her boyfriend had so many secrets he just couldn’t communicate.
She was hurt. She was hurt he still couldn’t lay down his armor after everything that had happened.
Delilah looked at her. „You seem – sorry for the expression - pissed.“
Jack let out a sarkastic sound. „Yeah, I am.“ The anger was back in an instant and she decided to focus on that better than on sadness. „I don’t know what else to do so he’ll finally tell me about what happened to him.“ She threw her hands up. „Is that too much to ask for?“
She saw Delilah shifting uncomfortable. „I don’t want to seem superior, Jack, but he hasn’t even opened up about everything to Tim, and he has known him a long time now.“
Now Jack stiffened. Of course Tim didn’t know everything about Gibbs, because he was a keeper. She would never have dared to force him into something, especially not if she were just a friend. But she wasn’t just a friend. She wasn’t Tobias or Tim or Abby. She was more.
„Delilah. I need to confess something.“
Yes, she had to. Right now. She needed to tell SOMEONE, otherwise she would go crazy. And she couldn’t ask for Delilah’s help or to expect her to trust her and build up a friendship if she wasn’t honest. „I would ask if you could promise not to tell anyone, but I guess this is to much to ask for.“
The brunette nodded, her facials mirroring excitement and a bit of insecurity. „Okay, now you’re scaring me.“
Jack pursed her lips and sat up straight. „I’m not just some co-worker or psychologist to Gibbs. Not anymore.“
She put a very meaningful tone in her voice and looked deep into Delilah’s eyes. The woman blinked. „Are you telling me …“
„We’re a couple.“
The reaction she received was completely different to what she had expected. In an instant Delilah’s face lit up and she strated beaming, her smile bright. „Congratulations! That‘s so nice to hear!“ She tilted her head and started shaking it with disbelieve. „I wonder why Tim hasn’t mentioned …“
„He doesn’t know“, Jack cut her off. „Nobody knows.“
This time Delilah was surprised. „But … why? I mean, I know about his rules, but …“
„Because he is how he is.“ She shrugged, but it came off as resignated and not as if she didn’t care. Weird. There was something about Delilah that made her lay down all her walls and being brutally honest. Maybe it was because she was a complete different person than anybody she worked with or was friends with. She wasn’t an agent or a psychologist. She was an extern of NCIS.
„How long have you two been together?“ Delilah’s voice brought her back to reality.
„About three weeks by now?“ She cleared her throat. „I’m not sure, actually. Feels longer.“
“You’ve been working together for some years, probably that’s the reason.” Delilah gave her a comforting smile. It didn’t help hear chear up – and Delilah realized it. “You know, this has got nothing to do with you, Jack. Not with him not trusting you. There are parts of him he just can’t open up about and it doesn’t depend on the person.”
“I know.” Jack signed. “Still it makes me feel like … I am not good enough.”
“Oh stop it, right now.” Delilah took her hands once again, forced her to look her in the eyes. „You’re a good woman. The best for Gibbs. If anyone is not good enough it’s him, because YOU are definitely not the problem.”
Jack gave her a small and took her hand. „Thanks, Delilah.“
„What for?“
„For suggesting to talk. For listening. It feels good to have someone you can confess to. Since … since I can’t speak to any of the agents.“
She smiled. „Any friends of my husband are my friends, too.“ She streched out her hand and Jack took it happily, placing her own hand above hers.
„I see why he loves you. You have gigantic heart, Delilah. You’re a good soul.“
Delilah smirked. „That coming out of YOUR mouth.“
Jack laughed, but it wasn’t a happy one. „I’m shady and grey. Not at all free from demons and thoughts that are definitaly not good ones.“
„But look where you’re now.” Delilah tilted her head. „Do you realize how strong you are, Jack? Has anyone ever told you?“ Leon, all the time. But she had never been one to believe other’s well-meant encouragements. She needed to FEEL it herself, needed proof. Some people felt better after someone tried to built them up. She didn’t. It wasn’t that easy.
„Good comes from broken. I think you know that.“
Jack nodded. „Yeah. But good can also easily get broken.“ She looked into Delilah’s eyes – suddenly aware of how much those words actually meant to her. „I have seen so much, Delilah. I have experienced so much, too much, have seen peoples deepest darkest secrets and the worst parts human’s could be capable of.”
„And this is why you and Gibbs are made for each other. You can heal him, and I think he can do the same for you.“
Just then the waiter approached, their food on plates.
And for the rest of the evening none of them even got near the name “Jethro Gibbs” again.

Chapter Text

Did you lose what won't return?
Did you love but never learn?
The fire's out but still it burns
And no one cares, there's no one there
Did you find it hard to breathe?
Did you cry so much that you could barely see?
You're in the darkness all alone
And no one cares, there's no one there
But did you see the flares in the sky?
Were you blinded by the light?
Did you feel the smoke in your eyes?
Did you, did you?
Did you see the sparks filled with hope?
You are not alone
'Cause someone's out there, sending out flares
(Flares, The Script)

„Her daughter’s name is Kelly.“ He didn’t even think about the words, they just came blurting out. He saw Jack stiffen and turn around, watching him. He knew she had put the pieces together. And according to the look in her eyes she finally realized that every single behavior of his made sense.
„1967. We were teenagers.“ He braced himself. „We first spoke while waiting for a train. She told me she was thinking about getting rules for everything in her life and living by them. To prevent her from mistakes or remind her of lessons.“ He just knew he didn’t have to speak out her name, he knew Jack would put the pieces together.
„That’s why you still use them.“ She nodded, her lips clenched. „I get it now. Sorry I made jokes about them.“
He shook his head. „You couldn’t know“, he mumbled. It was true, she couldn’t.
“What happened?” She sounded tentative, even fearful. He saw her swallow. “I know it’s hard, but …”
„Kelly was 8. Shannon witnessed a murder, committed by a drug dealer. This guy … he who was responsible …“ He swallowed. „He shot the agent who was driving them back home. The car crashed and … they both died.“ He pressed the heels of his hands against his eyes, hoping to stop the tears. Even though he knew he could cry in front of her, she would even like him to, to spill everything, to give in to his emotions … and still, she didn’t say anything. She didn’t press. All she did was sit next to him, hand on his arm, watching him with warm sympathy. She offered quiet support. “Inner bleedings were their case of death. They were unconscious the second the car hit the tree, so …” He pressed his lips together, feeling the iron claw around his heart clenching. Usually that was the moment he got up, cover up, pulled up his walls. How he had done before, so often before he couldn’t count it anymore.
But he didn’t run, not this time. Not with Jack. He couldn’t risk loosing her, too, and he knew he needed to change.
“I miss them”, he whispered into the silence. “I miss them so much, Jack, it still hurts. Even though it’s more then ten years by now, I … it feels as if someone has ripped a piece of my heart apart and … I know I can never ever replace it …”
“So don’t.” Jack’s eyes were focused on his. “You don’t have to replace them, Jethro. And you don’t need to justify yourself.” She caressed his cheek. “Not in front of me. Never ever feel ashamed for mourning.”
He gave in. For once, he gave in to the grief and the pain he knew she knew best amongst all the people in his life. He didn’t shift back as Jack placed her hand in his neck and pulled him close to embrace him, to hold him.
And that was the moment he knew he had changed. That was the moment he knew he finally was on the right path – and Jack had been the reason for all of it.

His sobs were quiet, almost inaudible. He had unlearned to cry, and it still … it felt surreal. Letting someone in, letting someone see the tears, the fear, all of his demons he had covered up so well.
Sometimes he had caught himself wondering if things between his first army-girlfriend and him would have worked out if he would have just told her. Hollis had been understanding, she still was – one of the few understanding women he had been with. Still he was sure she wouldn’t have minded … but he didn’t tell her. He just hadn’t been ready.
Or maybe they just hadn’t been destined to be. Rule 39 – there is no such thing as coincidences.
He had lost many women because of those dark shadows lingering in his soul. All his exes, then Hollis, too.
He wouldn’t risk that with Jack. Never ever.

As he sat up straight again he caught his lover’s gaze. Jack’s eyelids were opening and closing rapidly. As she saw he was watching her she wiped away her tears. „Shit“, she mumbled. „We’re sitting here, me trying to comfort you and now I’m crying, too.“
„No need to be sorry“, he said, though he knew exactly what she meant.
„I’m just not good at conceiling my emotions“, Jack whispered, giving him a faint smile. Gibbs opened his mouth as she said something that made his heart ache even more than it already did:
„You lost your daughter and I gave mine away.“ She turned away and put her palm flat against her forehead. „God you must have hated me as you found out.“
He shook his head. So that was the reason. That was why she had always had this kind of guiltiness in her eyes whenever he talked about Kelly … or whenever she thought about them. Whenever she layed eyes on the picture in the living room.
„I didn’t. I never could.“
She batted her eyelids in confusion. „How? I gave away what you’ve lost. I had a choice. You didn’t.“
He clenched his jaw. The day with Tanya Jakobs … he had just known something was off. How she talked and behaved around Elena … how she had cared for the little baby boy … Jack had never confirmed it back in those days, nor talked about it, but he had just sensed it.
„It was your decision and none of my concern. No one had a right to chose except you.“
She watched him for a few seconds as if to make sure he was honest with her. Then she fell back into the couch with a heavy sign. „I’m glad you’re saying that. Not everyone thought like that.“ Especially not Faith, he almost heard her saying. Despite they had talked a little and Faith’s reaction clearly was understandable, he knew how hurtful it must have been for Jack.
„When we were talking to this girl, Tanya, you said … that she wouldn‘t regret it.“ He shot her a tentative look, hoping not to cross a line. „You gave her up for adoption.“
Jack looked down. „I knew you’d sense something was off after that day.“
Oh yeah, he had. „Lately now, I know it.“
She fell silent. Both of them did for a while.
But there was something, a question he had dreaded to ask, but since they were on the best way to spill every littlelest secrets they had ever had …
„May I … what happened? What made you decide?“
He held his breath. Jack lowered her chin, he saw her close her eyes.
And since she was Jack, she did what she could best – speak. „I was twentythree, in the middle of university. I wasn’t ready to have a child, and my boyfriend at that time wasn’t very supportive either. I had no idea what I should do and I even kept it a secret for some time, but … when I saw her, this tiny little dot who I knew was going to be a human one day on display while doing the ultrasonic test …“ She took a deep breath. „I knew I couldn’t abort her. I didn’t want to, it would have felt like killing her. I …“ He saw her lick her lips and clench her hands. „I wanted to give her a chance. A chance for a normal life, a good one.“
„That’s why you gave her up for adoption“, he calmy stated. She nodded.
„I was so freakin scared as I got into the hospital. There were moments I thought I’d die. My mom was with me and held my hand.“ She shook her head. „I honestly have no idea how I got through those hours. All I remember was the moment they put her in my arms.“ A tear came running over her cheek. „And I only held her once.“ She swallowed. „I know it was the right decision, it was best for her and also best for me. But still it doesn’t make it easier. I just … I just hope she can understand it one day.“
She fell silent. He reached out, grabbed her hand and gently rubbed little circles over the spot between thumb and forefinger due he sensed she needed it.
„Everyone should respect your decision, Jack. She was yours and you were the only one who knew what was best for her and for yourself. That’s for sure.“
She looked at him, nodding. „I know.“
„Just as everyone should respect my privacy and realize it’s not okay to talk behind my back about how bad I must have treated my ex-wives. That I should let loose, I shouldn’t still hold on Shannon.“ The moment his voice died he frowned and felt his heartbeat race. Never ever had he said those words out aloud.
„Hey, listen.“ She put her hands around his jaw looked deep into the eyes. His thoughts vanished, the demons of his past dispelled by her soft brown eyes. „I will never try to replace them, anyone of the women you loved, okay? And you should never ever be ashamed thinking about Shannon.“ She was whispering in the most calming way he had ever heard her speak and caressed his cheek with one stroke of her thumb. „I know how much you loved her and what she meant to you. No one can take those memories away from you, and no one ever should.“
He felt his lips tremble. „Thank you Jack.“ His voice was low and scratchy and dangerously close to breaking. Of a sudden all he wanted to do was burst out into tears and being held by her, like a child being comforted. „You don’t believe how much this means to me.“
She smiled and kissed him, slow and comforting, as if she were trying to kiss the pain away.
It was still a long way to go. But with the right partner, no path was to long or to hard.


„I’d love to know how they looked. Wanna show me some pictures?“ Jack’s uplifting voice got him back to the present. He smiled.
“With pleasure.” He got up but still couldn’t not press a kiss to her forehead. He didn’t see the content, relieved smile on her lips. But he needn’t to.
Just second later he came back with an album in his hands, a huge, darkred one. Red like Shannon’s hair.
He flipped it open and placed it on his right and Jack’s left thigh so she could have a better look at it.
They didn’t speak – at least at first. As they came to the picture of Kelly’s first day of school he couldn’t just not tell her about it.
The went on flipping, him explaining the situation from time to time, Jack listening in interest, smirking at the uplifting parts. She even laughed as he turned the page and reveiled a huge fotograf of him sitting on a chair and Kelly painting his face in different colors.
The next picture was Kelly at seven years old, dressed in her favorite blue dress, eyes sparkeling, a huge grin on her lips. Jack looked at the picture in silent admiration. „She is beautiful.“ She looked at him. „They both are beautiful.“
He clenched his jaw, nodding. In his mind he could her Shannon’s laugh, her uplifting, beautiful laugh, and the way her eyes would light up.
„There are still here, Jethro. Their souls will never leave you, and one day, you’ll see them again in heaven.“ Tentatively she brushed over his cheek.
For the first time since he had opened the album he looked at her, only her, not caring about his eyes glistening. „You really believe in this? This kind of heaven the priests and all those guys talk about?“
„In case you’ve realized the cross on my necklace I wore in the past, you know I’m not an atheist.“ She smiled. „I have my own vision of heaven, but yes.“ A nod. „I believe when we die, we will meet the ones that passed away again.”She raised her head to look up to the ceiling. „I wounder what the guys are thinking. I’m sure they made bets about how long the two of us needed to get together.“
Gibbs was happy for the smile her words brought on his lips. He knew exactly who she meant with „The guys“. Her team. The mighty Wingos.
„What were their names?“, he then asked, feeling his confidence creeping back since they weren’t talking about him anymore.
Jack took a breath. „Safwan Anshiri, Samuel King and Ray Hale.”
She cleared her throat, looking at the pictures again. „Back to the pictures.” Sure. She wouldn’t let him get away with it.
The next picture was them on horses, on a beach. God, he remember that day. Kelly’s birthday wish. He had never seen his little girl happier.
As Jack spoke her voice seemed like a thousand miles away, in another world. „Would you like to go on a horseback riding trip one day?“
He laughed. „That picture was made years ago, Jack. I’m not sure if I can even get on one’s back anymore.“
„Oh believe me, you can. Your body is in great shape, you proved that.“
He stared at her and she shamelessly smug-grinned. According to the look in her eyes he interpreted it the right way.
„Haven’t done it for a while“, he then said, changing the subject smoothly. „You do horsebackriding?“
She shrugged. „Learned it as a kid, stopped as I went to college, but I’m still pretty solid. I guess.”
He allowed himself a little trip into the imaginative-world. He could see her on a surfboard, totally. With a drink in hand in a western bar. On a horse, a cowboy hat on … well, actually, it wasn’t hard to imagine. The only thing which she didn’t seem to fit in was a golf field. And she would probably even try THAT out.
After a while of silence she paddet his leg. „Come on, let’s get something to eat.“ She stood up before him, lending him her hand.

Chapter Text

When I get tired of finding
All of the fears I've been hiding
You gave me a breath, and tell me to rest
You never left
I can, I can, I can hear You, calling me by name
Pulling me up from under my shame
I'll never be the same
I can face anything, so let it rain
You are my anchor
So steady me, steady me now
You are my anchor
You're keeping my feet on the ground
In angry oceans, You've never broken through
Every wave of the storm
You are my anchor
So steady me, steady me now
(Anchor, Skillet)

 

„You haven’t opened up to someone like that for a very long time, right?“
He was sitting on the chair, lost in thoughts that weren’t thoughts. „Yeah.“ He looked at her hand placed on the table. Slowly he reached out and put his palm on hers, feeling her warm and soft skin under his own. She understood, turned it around and slipped her fingers around his.
„I’m glad you know now“, he then said, looking up into her face. Her brown eyes were resting on his and the smile she gave him was gentle.
„Me too, Jethro. And I promise nothing will leave this house.“
He pulled her close until she was standing between his legs, their bodies almost touching. Her smile grew warmer as she let her fingers trail through his hair.
She kissed him on the top of his head and let her chin drop. He enjoyed her movement of being so close to him and decided to loosen himself, sinking into her embrace. His cheek against her chest he could feel her heartbeat and smell her scent, only the slightest hint of perfume, mixed with her own he still couldn’t define. All he knew was it clinged at him, everywhere, and he wouldn’t change it for a bit. Her slender fingers started massaging his scalp, downwards his neck, and upwards again. His eyes fell shut at the relaxing movements.
She wasn’t close enough. He reached out to slide his arm around her waist, pulling her onto his lap. Jack got his implication and sat down, placing her hand on his chest. Her warm body molding into his, her breath against his forehead, was just what he needed right now.

“This is a very interesting position to have a heart-to-heart-talk”, she grumbled against his throat. He laughed. Oh finally, a laugh coming from deep down in his heart.
“Still got our clothes on”, he said, not really sure if he was trying to accomplish anything with his words.
“That an offer or something?”, she asked, lifting her eyebrows.
He kept her eyes locked. “Your decision. The message unfolds when reaching the receiver.”
Her lips twisted. He knew she didn’t want to grin, but as he did, pretty smug for his state, she roled her eyes and chuckled.
“You know that Jacqueline is another word for “perfection”?”
Her head snapped up again. “What? Where did that come from?”
“And it means supplanter. Just as you’ve came into my life like hurricane Molly, whirling my life upside down.” He smiled proudly. “Google says so.”
She stared at him open-mouthed and with deep admiration. “You know how to use google?”
He lovingly shoved at her waist and she laughed in response.
“I really need to google Jethro.” With that she entangled herself out of his grip and got up.

Puzzled he stared after her. “Where are ya going?”
She just turned her head as she called: “I need to keep up with your knowledge.”
He was still baffled. And she sensed it. He knew she knew. She had a sixth sense for that kinda stuff. And apparently … her former idea was gone. A seductive sway on her hips she waved over her head. “Meet me in the bedroom, cowboy!”
And he laughed a second time – something he would have never thought he would do this evening. Actually … something he hadn’t done a long time before.
That was the amazing thing about Jack. No matter how bad the situation, she always knew a way out of it or made other people feel better. Be it with a sassy comment, a smile or a heartfelt story.
He didn’t know if he was ever to be saved. But he knew one thing – of there was a hero on this planet, a hero in his life – this hero carried the name Jacqueline.

Chapter Text

Where were you
When everything was falling apart?
All my days
Spent by the telephone
That never rang
And all I needed was a call
That never came
Lost and insecure
You found me, you found me
Lying on the floor
Surrounded, surrounded
Why'd you have to wait?
Where were you, where were you?
Just a little late
You found me, you found me
(You found me, The Fray)

Standing in the bathroom and putting on mascara she braced herself to what she was going to do today. The only two people who knew about it were Leon and Nick whom she had trusted to keep it secret - because she needed someone to call his parents and doctor asking for permission. She wasn’t sure what was awaiting her when she’d tell Jethro, but she was pretty sure he wouldn’t be happy about it. She just hoped she wouldn’t ruin their right now pretty good working relationship.

She had been in slight contact with his parents who were feeling miserable because their son had shot an NCIS agent. They had met once in a cafe where they talked – apparently, the parent’s had no idea about their son being bullied, which Jack had already suspected. They had insisted on paying for her, and after debating back and forth she had given in.

Sometimes she was in the mood of power-suits. Her clothes always gave her a certain posture and attitude, but on some days – especially when she knew she had to question someone who was said to be a tough one – she wore something different. A blouse and the fitting blazer and skirt, for example. Darker heels, never her nude or even red ones.
But today she knew she wouldn’t need those. There was no reason to impress someone or show them she had the upper hand.
So she’d settled for her white shirt with the asymmetrical double-layer and simple black pants. Her goal was to get to him, not to scare him. Hell, he probably was scared enough. She at least would be if she were in his situation.
Shooting someone and then being called in by this person, who, overall, worked with the government? Must sound threatening.
She just hoped she could help with his process of reconciliation.

As the older man with the golden glasses stepped into the bullpen, wearing a visitor’s badge, she knew time had come.
She approached him. „Doctor Wilson. Thank you for keeping me updated.“ She welcomed him with a handshake.
“Of course, Agent Sloane.” He nodded, his smile friendly. He was a sweet, old guy. “It’s my duty. You have a right to know.”
Jack felt the four agents staring, probably wondering what was going on or if it was what they thought it was. Well … Nick knew. And according to the look Ellie was giving her and considering the fact she was following them, she now knew what was happening, too.
„Do you want to go in there alone?“, the other psychologist asked as they stopped next to the doors to the interrogation room.
She smiled at him, almost apologizing. „If that’s okay for you, I’d like to.”
He nodded. “May I …” He nodded towards the observation room. Jack smiled. “Sure.” She grabbed the doorknob. “Overall, he’s still your patient.”
As the old man, eyes twinkeling and suggesting excitement, stepped through the door first, she couldn’t help but smile. Psychologists really had a weird love about watching other people. Also he probably had never witnessed an agent who had the same reference and knowledge about human psyche and behaviours interrogating one of his patients.
„Hey.“ Ellie grabbed her by the arm, her eyes doubtful. „You really wanna do this?“ Jack looked at her. She knew what the younger agent was implefying. It never was easy facing the person who hurt you, and she especially hadn’t the best reputation about handeling such a situation. But still she nodded. This was different.
„It’s not that he was trying to kill me. Look at him.“ She took a look through the mirror. „He’s not just scared, he’s ashamed. He’s not a threat to me, and I’m not planning to be one for him.”
Ellie, jaw still clenched, nodded. “Okay.”
“It’s probably better for him that I am the one going in, not you”, Jack couldn’t help saying. Ellie’s lips twisted. “Yeah”, she gritted. “Very likely.”
Jack nudged her shoulder and nodded towards Nick who was keeping a polite distance. “I got this.”

Considering the look he gave her as she opened the door he was surprised SHE was the one he had to face. Jack took her time sitting down, the smile never leaving her lips.
„You‘re probably wondering about why you’re here, right?”, she started the conversation, looking at him. She saw him swallow, eyes darting around. He was nervous as hell. „I didn’t call you in because I want you to tell me the same things you already told Doctor Wilson”, she went on, tone soft. Finally he looked at her.
Questioning. Intimidated.
She didn’t leave his eyes for a second and deepened her gaze. „How are you?“
He blinked while staring at her in disbelieve. „How I am? You seriously are asking me? I should be asking you.“ His eyes traveled along her shoulder as if he was looking for any bandages or something similar.
„I’m fine. It wasn’t a dangerous wound at all, the blood just made it look worse.“ She concealed the fact that if the bullet would have hit her about two inches more on the left she likely would have died – not even the parents knew. It wasn’t necessary, she knew this hadn’t been Corey‘s intention so there was no reason to depict it.
She leaned forward, interlacing her fingers. „You are a good guy, Corey.“
He snorted and averted his eyes. „I shot you. And you’re saying I was a good guy?“
„You weren’t meant to do it, isn’t it? So you didn’t plan it.“
„But I took a gun with me. I purposely took a weapon to threaten people!“
Jack couldn’t help her eyebrow lifting. This wasn’t usual. Corey was putting pieces together like he was the investigator. She just hoped no one had put those things into his mind …
„I’m sorry. I am so so sorry.“ He put his ellbows on the table and buried his face into the palms of his hands. „I didn’t want to hurt anybody, or you, I promise!“
Jack pressed her lips together, the scene rushing through her memory, replaying for a few seconds.
„Corey.“ She reached out and touched his hand. „I’m fine, you see? And the other’s are fine, too. It’s a big step that you realize what you’ve done, and that you regret it and know it was wrong.“ She waited until he lifted his head. To her relief, he did after he felt her touch. She gave him her comforting smile. „The only important thing now is that you get the help you need. To get your confidence back so that nothing like this will ever happen again. You understand what I’m saying?“
Corey stared at her as if she were an angel. He hadn’t moved his hand an inch. Then he whiped his eyes. „How can you still believe in me after what I did?“
That was the question she had been waiting for. Her smile grew sad. Sad and honest, because she was just that.
„Probably because I know exactly what horrible circumstances and experiences can do to people. It’s not just us. Of course, we are the ones who decide to make the final step, but our environment and the people we’re surrounded with have a huge impact on us, too.“ She tightened her grip and fixed her eyes on his. „It happens to everyone of us, Corey. It happened to me, too. To the good and to the bad ones. No one can seal oneself off from the impacts life throws at us.“
While she spoke she felt his hand relax which she took as another step forward. He was easy to talk to, and she was more than relieved.
All of a sudden a thought came into her mind and she smiled. „One day a good friend of mine was asking me for advice. He had two choices which both weren’t right nor wrong. A viscious circle.“ She paused for a moment. Corey was still looking at her, hadn’t averted his eyes a second. „You know what I told him?“ He shook his head. Jack straightened her shoulders. „I said that everyone makes mistakes. It’s not about the kind of mistakes, it’s our response to them that define us.” She smiled and spoke with persuation. „So stop looking back, Corey. Stop blaming yourself and start start moving forward, even if it’s baby steps, to get better. Okay?”
And finally he turned his hand and rejoined her grip, taking her hand.
„Thank you, Doctor Sloane. Thank you so much.“
„Anytime, Corey.“ She slipped him her card. „If you ever want to talk, about anything, give me a call.“

As soon as Corey and his therapist were out of eye- and earsight, she closed her eyes and let out a loud sign of relieve.
She didn’t care about Ellie and Nick looking at her and literally burning questions into her. Nevertheless, Nick smiled. „You okay?“
Jack took her time answering, but as she did, she was sure of herself. „Yeah. I am.” She relaxed her shoulders. „Feels good knowing you made an impact.“
„That’s why we have this job.“ Ellie smiled.
Jack nodded. “Yes.” She met the two young agent’s eyes. “And I couldn’t imagine any better people I would want to work side by side with.”

Chapter Text

Strong hands, thick skin, and an open heart
You saw through the pain, saw through the mask
You never gave up on me, yeah
(Loved me back to life, Sia)

This evening they did something which was a huge step for him, something which also was completely different. First – they ordered pizza. Second – he packed some clothes to stay at her place.
It was true, he had never been to her home before, picking her up after the stay at the hospital the few weeks before didn’t count because he hadn’t even put a foot inside.

„Hi.“ Jack opened the door for him just seconds after he rang the bell, wearing lightblue jeans and a widecut, grey t-shirt. She wore a different hairdo – the strands on her side she had tied back, the rest openly fell down over her shoulders.
He smiled. She looked so at ease – probably she was right what she had told him the second day they’d met in the office. To know a person one had to meet her in her private comfort zone.
She literally dragged him inside and didn’t quiet leave him the time to put his stuff down as she met him for a kiss and then dragged him with her. But he wouldn’t have wanted to miss it – he was way to curious about her home, how she lived.
He had already figured she was this open-room-type of person – much to do with her being captured. She couldn’t stand small spaces. Sometimes he was amazed how calm she stayed in the observation room, since that space was dark and only slightly dimmed, pretty small with no windows and there was only one way out. But maybe, he hoped, she just felt comfortable enough at work that she didn’t bother about that. „I know it’s not huge, but I like it.“ Her voice cut through the silence.
For a moment he felt embarrased how he had inspected her home, thought he should have done it a little more discret – but when he met Jack’s gaze and the contenct smile on her face, all his sorrows dissapeared.
„I like it“, he epxressed his honest opinion. Jack’s smile grew even bigger and her eyes light up as she lifted her hand and pointed back over her shoulder.
„I need to show you the balkony, it‘s amazing.“ With those words she grabbed his hand and pulled him with you. Jethro chuckled at er sudden eagerness to show him around. He liked this little bossyness on her, and the way she moved around so careless and at ease let him relax in a kind of way, too.
Maybe it also was another thing he just realized – this was her sacret space, and she had let him in. Literally in everything, every aspect of her. Her demons had become his demons a long time ago, he just hadn’t been ready to accept it.
But now he did. And the way Jack’s hand fit into his, how the warmth of her merged over into his, was more than he had ever wanted.
Of course her appartement needed to have a balcony. If there were a person who needed to get some air and the possibility to escape closed rooms it was Jacqueline Sloane. But the type of the balcony was something special. It was a roof loggia – and she was right, it was amazing. Not exactly the type of term he would have used, but it fit. He made out a darkgrey marquee over their heads which of course wasn’t used now, even though the sun was shining it would be to cold to sit under it.
„That thing is waterproof and even resists storms and snow“, Jack mentioned as if she’d read his mind.
„Don’t tell me you sit out here in the deepest winter.“ He shivered at the imagination.
Jack laughed. „You really ask a Californian that question?“
He smirked. Point taken.
„It’s nice, indeed. But …“ Slowly he turned his head. It only took Jack a second to meet his gaze, her brown eyes twinkeling in anticipation. He let his smile grow wider into a grin. „It’s not as nice as this.“ He lowered his head, meeting her lips halfway for a tender and loving kiss.
„You know, if you want to, you really are a charmer“, Jack whispered as they broke apart again. The amusement in her voice had him smirking.
„Ya know, sometimes it’s nice to not be bossy.“
She backed away as if he had sent out an electric shock. „Wow.“ She stared at him in playful disbelieve. „Hello universe, did you just hear that? Jethro Gibbs confessed he doesn’t like being bossy all the time.“
He shook his head and let out a laugh. Jack just grinned, this wide, huge and childlike grin no one else was capable off. He pulled her in and watched the sun going down the last meters.
It was amazing how something simple like this – standing on a balkony, watching the sunset, thinking about nothing – could make him feel so happy, so peaceful.
Well, it wasn’t the whole truth. Nothing about being with Jack was „simple“. She was anything but simple, but that exactly was what he loved about her. Because she was perfect in her edges and cheerfulness, her sharp tongue and vulnerabilities. The slyness of hers was a beautiful poison. And he only hoped, while having his arms slung around her waist, her leaning into his embrace, that no one would ever find an Antidote for that.

He caught her. As she was standing in the bedroom and he came in, he caught her. He wasn’t sure if he had expected it or if he should be surprised, but the fact that Jack still tried to uncover the visible flaws on her back, those flaws who shaped her into the woman she was today, did something to him.
It hurt.
„It’s nothing to be ashamed of“, he murmured against her shoulder. He heard her take a deep breath which turned out as a sign.
„How did you know?“
He wanted to shrug but didn’t. „Wasn’t hard. You still try not to turn your back towards me.“
She lowered her chin and he sensed her unease. „Jack, I know.” He caressed her cheek and along her jawline. “I know how it feels, but I can’t do anything else than tell you it’s nothing you should feel like being in need to cover up.“ He stepped around her and gently cupped her face. „Try to wear them as battle scars. As something which makes everyone see you’ve faced death and conquered it.”
Jack gazed into his eyes and he saw tears glimmering in those perfect, brown perls. „This so doesn’t sound like you“, she whispered. A smile. „But I like it.“
He smirked. „That’s soft Jethro. No one knows this part of me except you. Not even I knew he still exists.“
„We all have soft and tough sides in us. Angels and Demons. Support and destruction. Love and hate.“ She stroke his cheek and let her words seep through him, through heart and his bones. „It’s about the part we decide to chose.“ Even though she whispered, the message still cut deep.
„You know.“ He met her penetrating gaze and looked deep into her eyes, right into her soul. „I think you have just brought me back to the right path.“

Motionless he stared at the sleeping woman next to him. He was in awe at the calmness she was exhuding – she wasn’t a nervous person at all, bubbly and cute and all of that, yes, but since he had fallen for her she didn’t do much to help him cool down. But right now she was just peacefuly asleep, only a few centimeters beside him. The first time ever he was in her bed, sharing her blanket. Her arm slightly bend, her face tilted towards him, chest heaving in slow, deliberate moves. Her forehead smooth, her eyelids weren’t even twinching, and her whole body seemed relaxed as if she was in a deep REM-phase. It was the most soothing, beautiful picture he had seen in years. Gibbs knew, most women didn’t like a man staring at her while they were sleeping. But he wasn’t staring at her, he wasn’t observing. He was just looking, amazed by how lucky he got to meet her and love her. He didn’t want to be creepy, he just wanted to take her in, to let this picture burn itself inside his brain so that he could remember this moment in times where the world was crumbeling down again.
He was impressed by what she had done today. How she had treated the boy, faced him with nothing but a true heart that wanted to help. He himself wasn’t sure if he could have pulled this amount of calmness off when facing someone who had shot him and threatened his life, even if it wasn’t on purpose. The fact that she had been quoting what she once had told him had made him smile. A smile that had been visible – he had caught Bishop and McGee looking.
Gingerly he leaned forward to place a kiss on her forehead. She didn’t just save Corey and gave him back his confidence. She did the same to him. And Jethro loved her for this.

Chapter Text

You're still in bed at ten and work began at eight
You've burned your breakfast so far
Things are goin' great

I'll be there for you
(When the rain starts to pour)
I'll be there for you
(Like I've been there before)
I'll be there for you
'Cuz you're there for me too

No one could ever know me
No one could ever see me
Seems you're the only one who knows
What it's like to be me
Someone to face the day with
Make it through all the rest with
Someone I'll always laugh with
Even at my worst I'm best with you, yeah

(The Rembrants, I’ll be there for you)

Jack needed a moment to realize it was her phone ringing, not the alarm. She was confused. Why did someone call HER in the middle of the night?
Apperently it was urgend and the person insisted on her waking up. Groaning she roled around, blindly tapping on the table until her fingertips touched the cold material. More sleepy than awake she tapped on the green button and held back a yawn as she answered.
“Sloane.”
“Jack.” It took her brain only a second to recognize the voice as Leon’s. “Where are you?”
She just wanted to yawn and say “In bed” as her brain woke up. She opened her eyes, taking in her surroundings.
It wasn’t as dark as usual when she woke up in the middle of the night. There were sunrays streaming through the window, slight, but visible. Her heart jumped and she looked at her phone display.
8:53.
Shit.
“I’m so sorry Leon, I totally overslept”, she said, wanting to get up – as a strong arm around her waist kept her right were she were before. Appalled she fell back on the mattress which made Jethro behind her chuckle.
She heard Leon laugh. “No worries. I was just wondering.”
“I’ll be there as fast as possible”, she said – as she felt Gibbs’ arm sliding around her, almost possessive. Lately now she was fully awake. She bit her lip. She REALLY needed to hang up now.
“Oh and by the way, have you heard anything from Gibbs?”
Now her heart skipped a beat.
Panik. That was the emotion rushing through her.
“I am … no, I don’t know. Why sh …” Her voice died as she felt him nudge closer, feeling the heat of his body against her.
“Oh really?”, he mumbled deep in his throat, his breath tickeling her neck. Jack closed her eyes and prevented herself from letting a way too obvious sound slip.
“Have you tried to call him?” She closed her eyes as she caught her voice trembling. The way he was stroking over her waist along her thigh didn’t do anything to help her breath.
And all of a sudden Leon laughed. Hell, what was so funny about her being late?
“Jack. I know.”
That caught her attention. She frowned, suddenly not even aware of Jethro teasing her anymore.
“Know what?”
She felt Jethro press a kiss behind her ear and NOW she couldn’t hide the sign.
“I guess about us, my dear”, he said in her ear – clearly intentional for Leon to hear.
She started panicking again, and just as she wanted to tell her goodbyes he grabbed her phone.
“Morning Leon”, he said, finally roling back on his back and letting go of her. Jack turned around and stared at him in disbelieve, paired with shock. Did he just ... “Hello Agent Gibbs”, she heard Leon from the other side of the phone. Not the slightest confused, more like … amused.
Jack stared at the man next to her. What the hell …
“Give it to me!”, she snapped, reaching for the device. Jethro just stared at her in playful baffeldness.
“Really? Now?”
She turned beaming red as Leon burst into laughter. The smug, naughty grin on Jethro’s lip made her blood boil. Oh she would kill him.
“We will be at the office as soon as one certain guy finally gives me back my phone!”, she literally yelled so Leon could hear her.
Of course, one certain guy didn’t give in teasing her. “Is she always like this?”, he asked into the phone.
“In the mornings?” She literally saw Leon shrug. “Depends on how she slept.”
“Oh shut up, Leon!”, she barked but slowly felt the awkwardness fade and realized there was actually something funny about this whole situation … if she weren’t so damn embarrassed.
“I’ll make sure I got your back”, Leon then said. “So the other’s won’t get suspicious.”
Jethro nodded. “Good. Thanks. And trust me, Leon, I’ll have an eye on her, everywhere, anytime.”
“Oh I’m sure you do.”
Jack put her hand on her forehead. She groaned. “Stop it, both of you!”, she called loud enough for her friend to hear. Another chuckle, both of them, but finally, finally Jethro pressed the red button and tossed her phone back on the nightstand.
He really had the guts to look down at her, propped up on one arm. Jack looked at him, blazing.
“You ass. He knew?”
He shrugged. “Had a talk with him a view days ago. He told me if I should treat you bad he’ll kill me.”
“And don’t underestimate him. That man holds his word.”
The expression in his blue eyes shifted and changed into pure, heartfelt sweetness. “And I do, too.”

“You could have told me you know.” She didn’t even bother to wish him a “good morning” or anything, they knew each other well enough.
Leon behind his desk smirked. “Where would have been the fun in that?”
She roled her eyes and signed, but silently she knew she would have done the exact same thing.
“Thank you, Leon.”
He had suggested she’d take the elevator up to his office while Gibbs should use the other one, and luckily, she hadn’t had to face anyone.
He nodded. “Of course. I hope I didn’t … disturb.” He put a meaningful tone in his voice paired with an even more meaningful look he gave her. Jack bit her lip and felt her cheeks turn burning red. “You didn’t. Luckily.”
“Yeah. That would have been awkward.”
She licked her lips and tried NOT to imagine the situation, so instead changed the subject. “You think the others sense anything?”
He shrugged. “I don’t know. I got Torres to get coffee and Kasie did me a favor to keep Bishop and McGee downstairs for a while, so … I guess no one noticed both of you arriving at the same time.”
She signed in relief.
“It’s not that I don’t want them to know, you know.”
“It’s just that Gibbs doesn’t want them to find out.”
She nodded. He nodded, too.
“Hey. Since you’re already here …” He stepped back to reach for two coffee mugs. “You in for a coffee?”
She smiled brightly. “Of course. It’s been a long time since we’ve last had some time for ourselves in here.”
Leon stopped in his movement and looked at her. “Okay never say THAT when talking about Gibbs, okay?”
She was blushing, again. And Leon burst into laughter, again.
“My goodness, armor’s arrow hit you right.”

Chapter Text

Even if your hope has burned with time
Anything that's dead shall be re-grown
And your vicious pain
Your warning sign
You will be fine

Hey, oh, here I am
And here we go, life's waiting to begin
Any type of love - it will be shown
Like every single tree reached for the sky
If you're gonna fall
I'll let you know
When everyone was working for this goal
Where all the children left without a trace
Only to come back
As pure as gold
To recite this all
(The Adventure, Angels & Airwaves)

 

Jack made him happy. But the phonecall he got this morning almost made him cry tears of joy. He knew from the faces he received they clearly suspected something, but they all were reluctant to ask. Hell, he probably would have told them right away, but … he had other plans.
There was one person he wanted to be the first to know about the happy news. The person who, in his opinion, had been involved the most besides him. She deserved it.

The lasagne was in the oven, the lettuce cut, the table set. He and Jack finally had a moment to relax on the couch. It had been cold the day through so he decided to light up a fire in the stack.
The comforting cracking noice and the woman cuddling into his side made him content even more. It was perfect. So perfect he started smiling unconsciously.
„What’s up?“ Jack’s voice brought him back to reality. He blinked and met her gaze. She had lifted her head and was watching him, almost studying him. „You’re in such a good mood today, cowboy. What happened?”
„There’s something I need to tell you.“
Jack shifted. „Well, that doesn’t sound good.“
He couldn’t hide the smile. „Actually … it is something good. Something very good.“
She regarded him with a skeptical face. „Okay“, she said, pulling the words into a long syllable. „Spit it out.“
And he did.

„Got a call from Rico Ruiz this morning.“ He could clearly see the wheels in her head spinning. Her eyelids moved rapidly as she blinked to regain her memory. „Wait … THE Rico Ruiz? The father of … Elena?“
He nodded. Her eyes got bigger. „What happened? Why did he call you?“ She almost started jumping up and down of excitement. Jethro couldn’t blame her. He took a deep breath.
„I’ll make it short.“ Now he looked right into her eyes, not hiding his contentment about the news which had almost brought him to tears of joy. „They got accepted and now they can settle down here in the US.“
Jack stared at him, motionless, as if she were processing what he just said. Then, slowly, an expression of realization came up in her eyes. Jethro nodded. „They are save, Jack. La Vida Mala won’t ever hurt them again.“ Finally the silence broke. A gasp escaped her throat and a smile, radiating like the sun on a summer day, spread across her face.
„Oh my god, that is …“ She put her hand over her mouth, putting herself together. „This is … amazing.“ Before he could say another word, Jack’s hand were around his shoulders and she squealed in delight. He hugged her back, even allowed himself to laugh and join her in her emotional state of being. „This is great news, indeed!“ As she let go of him again, she sniffed. Jethro smiled as he saw it.
„Hey, don’t cry“, he said, playfully carressing her cheek. Jack let out a laugh and whiped her eyes. „Let me cry if I wanna cry. It’s an occasion to do so.“ Her eyes were still glistening which made the effect they had on him even stronger. She dropped her hand so it rested on his knee. „Do the others know?“ He nodded his head. „Haven’t told them yet. Wanted you to be the first to know.“
„Aw, how sweet of you.“ Jack put her arms around his neck, nudging closer. „Thank you.“ She put a quick kiss on his lips.
„Of course. I know how much she meant to you.“ He studied her expression, hoped not to have opened the wound he was so afraid of, the daughter-thing. But all she did was smile. There was nothing but relief and happiness.
„Where are they now?“
„Somewhere in Kansas, they’re still trying to find an apartment which is big enough for both of them. Rico just told me he found a job as a construction builder, right now he’s looking for a school for Elena, so … they are not settled down yet, but they’ll get there.“
Jack sighned in contentment. „I’m just so happy for them. They deserve the best in this world.“
He nodded. „I think they are on a good way. I even talked to Elena shortly, she said she wants to see us again as soon as possible.“
Lately that let Jack’s eyes light up – even more so than they already were. „I just hope you had told her she and Rico will be welcomed every time!“
He couldn’t help but laugh. „You kidding? I’m not that bad of an host.“
She grinned. „Yeah, I know.“ She tilted her head, smiling a sweet but also teasing smile. „All it takes are some big brown eyes and an angel’s smile.“
Clearly realizing what she was implefying he pulled her closer and slid an arm around her waist. He didn’t mind his hand grazing her naked legs for longer than blaming it on a coincidence. „You talking about Elena or you?“
„Hm“, Jack said, her voice high and sweet as honey. „Who knows.“
The kiss he captured her lips with was more than words could express.

Chapter Text

I will go down with this ship
And I won't put my hands up and surrender
There will be no white flag above my door
I'm in love and always will be
(White flag, Dido)

She made her way downstairs right as Jethro slammed his fist against the edge of his computer. Ellie jumped in her chair and McGee squinted his face, almost as if he’d felt pity for the poor technological device. She couldn’t even blame him. Jack pressed her lips together to not burst out laughing at the oh so familiar and charater-fitting situation as she took the last step and joined them.
“What did it do to you to spark off your anger, marine?”, she asked, her tone just enough to tease but not to arise suspicion. He was so busy being annoyed with the technical device that he didn’t even seem to realize it.
“Damn page won’t open”, he grunted, his zeigefinger violently attacking the computer maus. Catching a glimpse out of the corner of her right ee of McGee seemingly having a hard time to hold himself back, she herself couldn’t. She burst into laughter and tried to stifle it with covering her face behind the file.
As usualy, she was pailing gloriously. Jethro lifted his chin so his bright eyes burned through her. It didn’t do much to help her calm down.
“Easy, Jethro. Violence isn’t always the answer.” She playfully slapped the file against his shoulder before placing it right in front of him. His eyes were still lingering on her, just a little too long to indicate he wasn’t just interested about the documents she had gotten him. Jack felt the teams’ stares in her back, but she didn’t care at all.
“You done mockin’ me or do you know how to get that going?” Jack focused on not letting a “Oh I know many strategies to get you going” slip and decided to be a helpful co-worker instead of a teasing secret girlfriend.
“You see that moving circle? It means it’s working, just give it some time.” She couldn’t help squeezing his shoulder. “Patience is a virtue, Jethro”, she said lightheaded.
He snorted. “Says you.”
Their eyes met a second time, and she almost felt Bishop’s and McGee’s ogles and meaningful, shared looks and probably wondering what the hell was going on. Knowing if she’d stall any longer next to him she’d be doing something which would very possibly expose them or would be inappropriate she stepped back.
“Next time you’re shortly before breaking NCIS property, ask Tim”, she called over her shoulder, seing Nick stepping out of the elevator. Now she was sure Jethro wasn’t the only one staring after her.
“What did I miss?”, he asked. She heard Ellie’s “Jack calling Gibbs Jethro” and literally saw Nick turning, asking “Since when does anyone except Ducky call you by that name?”
She was sure they could hear her laugh even through the closed door.

They decided to get some thai food for lunch, even though this wasn’t really his type of food, at least not anymore. But their lifes had already changed in all possible ways since they had occupied a solid space in each other’s lifes. And a little change of old habits wasn’t bad at all, especially not for him.
They had been eating without saying much. She enjoyed this – not having to talk all the time, being comfortable with silence. This was one of many things she admired about Jethro Gibbs.
„Do you miss home? San Diego?“, he asked all of a sudden.
She who sat opposite of him shrugged while picking at her food. „Not sure“, she said. „But I definitaly miss the weather and the sea.“ the next second she stilled as memories came crashing over her. She almost felt the thoughtful, dreamily smile spreading out on her face. „The smell. There was always a slight sent of sea, a nice breeze.“
„We could go there somewhen. You could show me around, and I could admire you surfing.“
She stopped and looked at him in disbelieve, not quiet sure if she really heard what he had just said or if it was her brain playing tricks.
He caught her. „What?“, he smirked before putting another spoon full in his mouth.
She was still staring at him. „Are you actually proposing to go on vacation together?“
He shrugged in typical Gibbs-way, but the twist of his lips indicated the real intention behind his words – and proof she was right.
„Leroy Jethro Gibbs, this is the most romantic thing you’ve ever said.“
She knew she would never grow tired of hearing that laugh, and moreover she knew he’d do literally anything to make him do it all over again.

She knew something was off the moment Jethro and her walked back into the bullpen – him steering towards his desk, her walking past. Ellie’s head shot up and she followed her with loos, Jack could feel her eyes literally stare a hole into her back.

Just seconds after she sat down and put her glasses on, someone knocked.
“Come in”, she called, a slight expectation arising.
„Stop playing that game, Jack.“ The young agent stepped in, closed the door behind herself and stopped right in front of her desk. Jack’s lips twisted.
“What?“
Ellie roled her eyes. “Oh, you do know excactly what I’m talking about.”
Jack barely couldn’t hold back her amusement, but she decided it would be a lot more fun letting her hang in the air and guess.
„You’re different. You’re even more smily-faced like you usually are, and I didn’t think that was even possible. And Gibbs – he’s acting weird. He’s not angry with Torres, not short with Jimmy, and he even laughed with Kasie as she made a joke.“ She tilted her head, her attention still on the highest level. „What the hell is going on between you two?“
„Between us?“, Jack asked, not able to keep a straight face even though she was trying hard.
Ellie threw her hands together. „See, you’ve got that look again!“
Jack knew she was growing desperate – and a desperate Ellie Bishop could be as stoic and dickköpfig as a donkey, and so she decided to give in.
“Okay. Just a second.” She took out her phone and clicked on her partner’s number.
„Jethro? Do you have a minute?“ She could almost see him narrow his forehead and went on. „Can you come upstairs? Don’t tell the guys.“
As she pressed the red button she caught Ellie’s stare. It was a mixture between baffledness, confusing and the slightest hint of knowing where this was going.
Only seconds later her door opened and Jethro stepped in.
“Yeah?”, he asked, looking back and forth between the two women, clearly confused. Jack got down to business in a second and got up. „We can’t lie to Ellie anymore”, she said, making her way to him.
He focused on her know. Like REALLY focused. Almost gave her a once-over. That special Jethro-Gibbs-gaze he only had when …
“Oh … my god.” Ellie’s mouth opened. “You two.” She pointed back and forth between them. “You’re a thing!”
Jack caught Jethro’s smirk, and they both nodded.
And Ellie signed in relieve. “Oh finally!”
She chuckled, amused by her friend’s clearly positive reaction.
„Promise to not tell anyone?”, Jethro let the bomb drop and she saw Ellie’s enthusiasm fade – at least, just a little.
She nodded. „You have my word, Gibbs. Even though I’m not sure why you wanna keep it a secret.“
„There’s nothing more annoying than office gossip. And guys are the worse, believe me. Had that before, not gonna risk it again.“
Jack held back a sign. She wouldn’t force him to risk the jump and leave his shadows behind, and she silently was more than glad Ellie had had the audacity to just blunly force her to speak up.
Just then the young woman’s lips turned into a huge smile. “I’m so happy for the both of you.” She hugged Jack first who reciprocated. There was something about Ellie’s happiness for both of them that made Jack feel so incredibly happy and relieved she almost felt like crying.
“Thanks Ellie”, she whispered and rubbed her back.
“Thank YOU, Jack”, Ellie spoke back. “For making him happy.” As they parted, Ellie squeezed her hand for a moment. “You’re good for him, you know.”
Still smiling and with a twinkle in her eyes she now eyed both of them. “Don’t hurt each other, okay? Cause if you do, I’ll be freaking mad.”
“And we do not want to mess with an angry Bishop-woman, right?” She padded Ellie’s arm and gave her boyfriend a look – which, as it was proved, wasn’t necessary. He reached out and pulled Ellie into a hug.
“Thank you, Bishop”, she heard him mumble. And when Ellie closed her eyes and Jethro kissed the top of her head, Jack felt an incredible warm, lovely feeling spreading from her heart into every corner of her body.
A feeling of hope, and love – and family.

Chapter Text

Years go by and I still remember your face
And how many times I numbed the pain
Or how many times I tried to move on
Couldn't get out of my own way
How many times I lied to myself
I lit up and burn out
How many times I hit
Rock bottom 'cause I couldn't admit that I needed help
I see life flash before my eyes
All I see now is a window
To my life from inside my mind
Feeling like I'm stuck in limbo, I go
Ooh, don't know where I'm going, I go
(Limbo, Whatever we are)

The next day, they had an encounter – in every sense of the word. As she walked pass him, she bumped his arm.
„Sorry“, she said – but not sounding like being sorry at all, touching him for a brief second. Just then he realized her hand had slid into his for a moment and left something back behind.
He went back to his desk, sat down and made sure no one of his agents was looking. They all didn’t seem to have noticed – not even Ellie, and she knew what was going on between them. Gibbs opened his hand. It was a little piece of paper, folded into a small square. Cautionsly he unfolded it – and as he read it, his heart jumped and cramped itself together the same time.
J & J
and a heart, all in Jack’s handwriting. A simple but meaningful message – so much more meaningful than Jack knew. Memories came crushing over him, memories of joy, laughter and pain. A beautiful redhead, a beautiful blonde. Heartache and love. Strong, independent women.
Both two J’s.
He clenched his fist and tried to steady himself. Just then, as he thought he couldn’t hold it any longer, Torres got up.
„Guys, our guy’s credit card has just been used.“ He took his jacket and looked at Gibbs, as if he were waiting for further instructions. The "guy" was their new case, a young sailor who had used his military-status for some illegal trafficking. An embarrasement for the Forces, and for the real, true Navy.
He nodded. „Good“, he said - getting astonished faces from all of them. He got up. „Going with ya. Bishop, McGee, go on looking.“
But before leaving his desk and following Torres, he crumpled the paper.

„Don’t ever do that again“, he said. He had rushed into her office without warning and now stood in front of her, chest heaving while he tried not to freak out again. She looked up, batting her eyelids in confusion.
„What?“
„Slipping me little messages, and overall not in front of the team!“ He wanted to sound angry, not vulnerable, but he had no idea if he succeeded. Jack leaned back in her chair, her hands moving as if she was trying to calm him down.
„Easy, cowboy, I was cautious. No one saw it.“
As usual, whenever she called him „cowboy“ his whole body and mind seemed to react in a way. He felt goosebumbs all over his back, knowing exactly what was happening. Maybe she didn’t even intend to, but using this special nickname always got him down on his knees. He couldn’t let it happen again.
„We’re not kids playing around, we need to be professional in here!“
Every other person probably would have screamed at him or spit back something – but not Jack. Sometimes her calm exterior and deliberate moves not only baffled him, but scared him.
All she did was softly speaking: „There’s more behind that, isn’t it?“
He was about to bite back as he realized how often he had done it – and every single time she had waited for him, patiently.
He couldn’t do that again. He wanted to change, not to relive this behavior every single week.
But he couldn’t do it right now. He needed to calm himself down.

„You are right.“
He spoke the words feeling a wonderous relief. Maybe it added to the fact that he had carried the burden around for the whole day, and now, finally, with her next to him on the sofa, he could find the strength to tell her.
Jack turned around to look at him, interested but not postulating.
„Jenny used to do that, too. Once. To annoy or tease me. It was so not likely her, and yet … that was the reason it meant so much.“
„And with doing the same I reminded you of her.“ She lowered her head and he did the same. A while later he felt her hand slipping in his.
„I’m sorry. If I had known …“
„You couldn’t, and that’s why it is not your fault. And again no reason for me to be angry with you. It was innapropriate.“ He looked up again and locked his eyes on hers. The emotions in those brown marbles had him shiver. Again, he felt bad. Bad because of how he was treating her. „I should be angry with suspects and murderers.“ He put a strand of hair behind her ear. „Not with the woman I love.“
Jack smiled, but it wasn’t a happy one.
„I get it, Jethro. I won’t push again.“ She tilted her head. “Wanna tell me about her, one day?”
“’Bout Jen?”
Jack nodded. He shrugged.
“Maybe. But not now.”
Oh if she only knew how many ghosts of his past were still haunting him …

Maybe he would tell her one day.
About Shannon. About Diane, Stephanie, Rebecca, Ellen.
About Kate.
He couldn’t risk another woman he loved because of not speaking with her – he had made that mistake with Hollis.
Hollis. He needed to tell her about her, too.
Actually … there was so much he should tell her about. But instead, he pulled her close, kissing the top of her head.

„I’d like to prove you how much you mean to me“, he mumbled. „Just don’t know how.“ There was a short silence between them, fortunately not an unpleasant one.
„I don’t want you to buy me flowers or cook the greatest meals, if that’s what you thinking“, she whispered back. She slid closer until her leg was around his. „Bodylanguage is one of the most important and expressive mode of transmission.” She put two fingers under his chin and lifted it up. „Talk to me. Open up. You know I won’t hurt or analyse you, even if I could. But I would never betray your trust, cause I know how hard it is for you.”
He swallowed and nodded. Jack’s lips twisted. She had won, again.
“Kiss me.“ She put her lips on his cheek. „Love me.“ She took his hand and put it on her heart. „Touch me.“ While saying so she intervined her fingers with his. Then she smirked and her eyes light up. „Do it like lovers do.“
He joined the expression and went on. „Walk with me like lovers do.”
„I want to kiss like lovers do“, she whispered against his lips.
„I want to dive into your ocean …”
Jack gasped. “Oh that was nasty.”
He chuckled. “I didn’t mean it that way.”
“But you knew exactly that I would think it”, she countered pointing her finger at his chest.
“True. But it’s the song’s fault.”
Jack signed. “And then there are people saying a person’s sex drive decreases with age.”
She caught his lingering gaze even though she wasn’t looking at him. She rose her chin, hands which had played with the collar of his shirt before stilled.
“Well.” His eyes grew darker. “Let’s get upstairs and I prove you wrong.”
The sentence shot heat through her belly within the blink of an eye and she felt her cheeks redden. She bit her lip, smirking. “Oh I never was one of those people.”

Chapter Text

This is not the way into my heart, into my head
Into my brain, into none of the above
This is just my way of unleashing the feelings deep inside of me
This spark of black that I seem to love
We can get a little crazy just for fun, just for fun
Don't even try to hold it back, just let go
(Flesh, Simon Curtis)

The next days went as if nothing had really happened – at least speaking of things between him and Jack. Ellie was doing a great job at covering up, too. He wasn’t scared for a second that she might betray his trust. And, though he would never admit it, it actually felt good having someone with him who knew about it.

She was back at his place, he knew. He would have even known it without her mini standing in the driveway, and it wasn’t just because it was late in the evening, almost midnight.
What he didn’t know was HOW he would find her.
He stopped in between his tracks. There were a thousand words and adjectives he had described her with and still did.
Beautiful, stylish, attraktiv, sweet, a little kinky almost, sexy, flirtatios. But he had never really thought of her as hot (at least not THAT often).
She was on her stomach, propped up on her elbows, going over a report or something similar. Her right leg bent up and dangeling up and down, her left one streched out. She was wearing a light, creme top which just covered her scars – and skintight, white cotton-panties that emphasized her butt in the most delightful and sensual ways. It was the perfect example for „Simple is the sexiest“. He swallowed and tried to ignore the thoughts running through his mind. Maybe she just came back from showering, he tried to steady himself. Maybe she felt warm, maybe her trousers felt uncomfortable, maybe …
He ran into the table in front oft he couch and let out a curse. Jack’s head shot up, her curls falling over her shoulder.
„Oh. Hi.“ She put her glasses up into her hair and smiled. „I haven’t noticed you coming back.“
„Apparently“, he stated. He looked her up and down. „Looking slightly dressed, Agent Sloane.“
A miscievous grin spread out on her face. „You like it?“
He felt his mouth go dry and a familiar feeling rising up inside him. His answer would have been a yes, but …
Suddenly he had something in mind. Something completely different.
She had surprised him, taken him off guard. Now it was his turn.
„But I didn’t like what you did today.“
Jack blinked. „What? Why?“ She sat upright and looked at him, confused. He had no idea if she was playing with him. But he decided to go with it.
He stepped closer, allowing his voice to go lower. „You didn’t follow my rules, as you didn’t obey Vance’s.“
He saw her eyes darting over his features, trying to read him, as he bent down.
But he didn’t kiss her. As much as he wanted, that didn’t fit into the game.
„You have been a bad girl, Jack.“ He put a kiss on her troat, humming against it. She frowned. „So many times.“
He pulled back just as she came leaning towards him. As his fingers touched her lips, her eyes flickered. She took a breath and Gibbs did the same. And then she shot him a look which made his blood rush immediately, down into his lower belly.
„So punish me“, she whispered.
And he promised himself to.

Chapter Text

I'm so into you, I can barely breathe
And all I wanna do is to fall in deep
But close ain't close enough 'til we cross the line
So name a game to play, and I'll roll the dice, hey
Oh baby, look what you started
The temperature's rising in here
Is this gonna happen?
Been waiting and waiting for you to make a move
Before I make a move
So baby, come light me up and baby I'll let you on it
A little bit dangerous, but baby, that's how I want it
A little less conversation, and a little more touch my body
'Cause I’m so into you, into you, into you
Got everyone watchin' us, so baby, let's keep it secret
A little bit scandalous, but baby, don’t let them see it
A little less conversation and a little more touch my body
'Cause I’m so into you, into you, into you, oh yeah
(Into you, Ariana Grande)

There was a weird devilish attractiveness about him being possessive. That something which always made her skin prickle whenever he touched her, even if it was just a second to guide her through the door before he himself stepped through. He could be an asshole, but he was a responsible and trustable asshole. A gentlemen.
That was excactly what described his temper and what he was doing to her right now.
He tugged at her shirt but then decided to just leave it on. Hands were trailing over her ribs, sending shivers over her spine. She tried to look him into the eyes, to challenge him. But this time he had something else in mind it seemed. As she felt his hand travel along her thighs, she pressed her lips supressed a moan. She wanted that – she didn’t want to admit it, but she had wanted this for a long time. There hadn’t been a chance for any other guy to do something like that with her – the only reason she wanted and allowed it was because she trusted Jethro more than anything else. Her eyes fell close as he caressed her sensitive skin in delibaret circles, with every stroke closer and closer towards her center. Jack put all her strength together, not wanting to crumble down immediately due she felt she’d definitaly do so.

All of he sudden he paused. Jack still kept her eyes closed, knowing if she’d look into his incredibly iceblue eyes now, she’d be lost. Completely lost.
The only thing making her realize he lowered himself towards her was as she felt his breath and the heat of his body on her skin.
„Are you sure about this?“, he asked, his voice breathless and dangerously low near her ear. There he was again, the gentleman.
„Yes“, he hissed. That was all he allowed her to say before capturing her lips with his again – this time passionate, almost forceful. The kiss almost took her breath away, let her thoughts spin around so fast she barely noticed him freeing her from her panties. It was only as she felt his hand on her butt as she realized she was almost naked by now. Jack slid her leg around his waist, pulling him closer to finally release her. She digged her nails into his shoulder, knowing that if he would have been naked she’d leave cresent marks on his back. He made a sound in the back of his throat, somewhere between disapproval and a groan. He pinched the delicate skin over her carotid artery with his teeth, pulse hammering against his lips. Then he ran his tongue over the tender skin to ease the sting. Slowly he closed his mouth over the spot and suckled. Jack wanted to laugh but the next second his hand was on the insight of her thigh, the other on her breast, and her mind went blank. Without concealing she let a deep moan slip out, not feeling embarrased a second. If he wanted this, she’d give in. She had been silent for so long, she just didn’t want to cover up anymore. And it was true – she wanted it. She needed it.
His lips were on this special spot on her throat as he moved into her. She almost winced at the sensation of the painful pleasure, but there was nothing that could stop her from the want she felt. She let herself fall back on the couch, allocating all controle to him.
His hand was in her hair, gently and possessive at a time passaging her scalp. Her mind was spinning. He truly was … a skilled man. She had no idea about what she should focus on, it was to much, the sensation of everything …
Suddenly she felt his hand between her shoulderblades, just over her scars. Before she could even react he pulled her up so that she was facing him, almost like sitting in front of him, not lying anymore.

And then, they fell silent. The aura shifted. Jack’s body was trembeling, but her mind was clear again. As she opened her eyes, still panting, he was looking at her.
He wasn’t staring. His eyes weren’t twinkeling of lust like before, instead there was only devotion. Devotion and softness. Love.
Jack stared back at him, her heart racing, almost forgetting about the position they both were in. It wasn’t like he suddenly got rid of his controle over her, but now she felt … protected. He held her, literally. This simple gesture had huge meaning, symbolism that made her feel not only wanted, but loved. There was this incredible feeling he gave her – while on one hand he was forcefull, he always also gave her the feeling of being save.
As he moved again, she let out a soft moan, closing her eyes again. This time he wasn’t raw or hungry, just gentle. Gentle and loving, like the first night they slept together. The ancle was new but no less good, sending different kinds of reactions through her body. She sensed his lips getting closer to hers as she felt his breath on her skin. Jack gasped at the sudden contact as he kissed her, light as a feather, almost not even touching her.
She felt her cheeks getting wet. A tear escaped her eye, slowly running down her temple.
„I love you“, she whispered.
„Surrender“, he hissed into her ear. And she did.

Chapter Text

Like stars in hiding,
You and I burn on, on
Nobody sees, nobody knows
We are a secret, can't be exposed
That's how it is, that's how it goes
Far from the others, close to each other
I used to be cautious
A little too reckless
Now all my emotions
Are all cause of you
(Sometimes I uncover, Zara Larrson/Ariana Grande)

„I’m not sure if we can keep it together tomorrow after this.“ Jack was staring at the ceiling, not caring about being now fully exposed and the cold air cooling down her body temperature. They had moved to the bedroom since they both had figured out the couch was getting a little too uncomfortable, and they had ended the surprising action with some way more gentle and loving minutes in a way more fitting room. Gibbs turned around, looking at his watch.
„Actually, it already is „tomorrow“. He propped himself up on one arm. „I can do it. Can you?“
She turned her head. „Depends, cowboy.“ A wicked smile spread out on her lips. „What if I decide to wear … something white?“
He growled. „Don’t you dare. You’re already enough of a tease.“
Her smile turned into a satisfied grin. „You were the one who started this.“ In a quite provocative way she put her hand on his lower abdomen, tickeling him. „Remember?“
“You cannot make me believe that after chosing what you wore to wear. Or better … what you didn’t wear.” He stared holes into her eyes. „Be honest. You were in for it.“
„Oh, you had no idea how much.“
He laughed at her answer and she joined in. She loved making him smile, or blush – or being the reason this always stern and controled man did something like what he did to her just a few minutes ago.
„Are you real, Jethro Gibbs?“, she asked, voice barely audible.
He mumbled a „Hm?“.
She smirked. „You are the most caring man I ever was in a relationship with. This …“ She paused, then intervined her fingers with his and brought their hands on her chest. „Even in such moments you’re so attentive and careful, and loving.“ She paused before pressing a kiss on his knuckles. „Thank you for making me feel save.“
„You are my light in darkness, Jack. My moon, my stars and my sun.“ He seemed to wait for something so she looked up. He was smiling down on her, his eyes twinkeling almost black in the dim light streaming through the windows. „You’re my ocean. The ocean I wanna discover.“
She smirked. „The ocean you’d set sail on?“
„Maybe“, he teased. „I guess there are still many hidden parts to discover.“
She stilled as he did. Indeed … and he probably had no idea how many.

„By the way how is it going with your boat?“
He chuckled at the change of topic.
„Good“, he just said, pulling her close.
She closed her eyes and relaxed into his embrace, felt her body relax and the blissful aftermaths of exhausting slowly creeping into her bones.
His voice, soft and silent and seeming to be far, far away, stirred her. „Jack?“
She realized she had almost dozen off to sleep. „Hm?“
She felt him chuckle. „You still here?“
„Sex has always worn me out“, she mumbled, not bothering to open her eyes.
„Then sleep.“
The last thing she witnessed before falling into father sleep’s arms was the kiss he pressed on her forehead.

Chapter Text

Sweet wonderful you
You make me happy with the things you do
Oh, can it be so
This feeling follows me wherever I go
I never did believe in miracles
But I've a feeling it's time to try
I never did believe in the ways of magic
But I'm beginning to wonder why
Don't, don't break the spell
It would be different and you know it will
You, you make loving fun
And I don't have to tell you but you're the only one
You, you make loving fun

(You make loving fun, Fleetwood Mac)

 

She decided not to be evil and settled for a plain black blouse – since she needed something to cover her throat - and pants. White would have definitely been a bit too much, she wasn’t THAT much of a tease.

She had nothing to do for the moment so she decided to pay a visit to Jimmy downstairs since she realized she hadn’t seen him for a long time – actually she hadn’t been down there since she had gotten shot.

The morgue was empty as she stepped through the glass doors, leaving her confused. Jack turned, witnessing there were files spread out all over the desk on the short side of the room, so it meant Jimmy had been in here some time before.
Since she wasn’t in the mood of taking the elevator up again and being a bored pain in the ass for Leon, she decided to take a look at those incredibly realistic pictures of human organs hanging on the wall.

She was so absorbed in her thoughts and admiring the handcraft she neither heard nor noticed the doors opening. Finished with the last picture she took some steps backwards, then turned around – only to run against Jimmy whose coffee slopped and spilled all over her.
„Agent Sloane, oh my god, I am so sorry“, he exclamated, eyes wide and completely hysterical. “I didn’t see you, I was completely focused on that picture Breena sent me …” He stopped, his expression changing from shock to embarassement. “Oh no, that sounded like a completely different thing, it’s not that, it’s a cute one from Victoria …”
„It’s okay, Doctor Palmer.“ Jack smiled reassuneringly and decided to end her mission of cleaning her blouse since it was ruined anyways. „It’s just clothing, not the world’s end.“
Jimmy grimassed a smile but didn’t really seem to be calmed by her words.
“Let me see, I got some tissues somewhere …” Hastily he place his now almost empty cup and the phone on the table and started looking around.
“Really, it’s fine”, Jack tried it once again, almost finding a sense of humour in the situation. Jimmy stopped in between his attempt and looked at her.
„Of course I will pay for the cleaning …“
„Oh don’t be ridicioulus!“ Jack padded his arm. „I always have some clothes to change in my office, no worries.“
Finally, that seemed to work. He took a deep breath and relaxed, his eyes full of sorrow. „Again, I’m truly sorry.“

And then, suddenly, his expression changed and he literally stared at her.
„How are you?“ His voice was soft and enriched with sympathy. Jack smiled. She really adored this guy, he was such a kindhearted man.
„I’m good. Actually, really good.“
„How’s the wound going?
She shrugged. „It’s pounding while after while but it’s getting better the day.” It certainly didn’t keep her from acting out certain physical excercises …
Jimmy’ eyes and smile lit up. „Well, you know, I’m always here if you need a doctor. Just call and I’ll be upstairs before you can say Leroy Jethro Gibbs.“
She had no idea why but the sentence made her laugh. „I’ll remember it, Doc. And thank you.“
Jack already turned on her heel to get out of her coffee-soaked shirt as Jimmy called her back. „Oh, Agent Sloane, since you’re already here, could you do me a favor?“
She stopped and turned around. “Sure.“
The young man grabbed a folder from out of the cupboards under the table and went back to her. „Those are the results of the autopsy. If you could give it to Agent Bishop that would be great.“

She loved coffee, was addicted to it, but the smell of it on one of her favorite dress shirts … not the greatest.
She found a simple, blue shirt in her desk and quickly changed before someone could knock at her door and give her some really strange looks. After she had changed she went downstairs – it was only Ellie and Nick in the bullpen, both of them angaged in a conversation.
It seemed to be a generally chilled day in NCIS today – Jimmy having time for getting coffee and chatting with his wife, her having nothing to do, and their youngest team members stealing some moments to talk while leaning against Ellie’s desk.
“Hey”, she greeted them and they both looked up. “I got this from Jimmy, he asked me to bring it to you.” She handed spoken agent the file.
“Thanks Jack”, she smiled.
There were a few moments of contemplating if she should just stay with them and engage in their conversation to occupy her from growing bored as she realized the two of them staring at her – or better at a specific part of hers.
Jack lifted an eyebrow. „What?“, she asked, voice clouded with skepticism and a slight aggressiveness she just couldn’t turn off whenever she was really, really confused about someone’s attention.
She saw Nick’s face grow into a huge grin while Ellie was clearly trying to supress it.
„Ehm, Jack, you …“ Ellie pointed at her throat, her eyes twinkeling, her lips turning into a smirk.
„That what I think it is?“, Nick asked, a tiny bit of kinkyness in his voice.
For a few moments she just stared at them, confused by what the hell they were talking about.
And then she remembered.
The memories came crushing over her like a wave, for a few breaths she felt like when she was trapped underwater whenever falling off her surfboard, her surroundings spinning.
Jethro.
The kissing.
Their … encounter on the couch.
The hikey.
The damn hikey.
She had worn the blouse to cover it, but then there had been this incident.
Jack closed her eyes for a moment, cursing herself due she didn’t think about that as she had changed shirts.
„Ah, you know …“, she started, feeling her cheeks getting redder every second. The two younger agents just got even more amused.
„Hey, no need to be embarressed. Everyone deserves to get some action, including you.“ Nick tilted his head. „Who’s the lucky guy?“
He’s got the bluest eyes of blue and silky, silver hair, she thought, but she couldn’t say THAT, of course.
„He’s … handsome.“ She cleared her throat, desperately praying he wouldn’t come around the corner in the next seconds. She didn’t miss the devilish, knowing twinkle in Ellie’s eyes and the expression that she had to pull herself together not to grin like an idiot. Of course, NOW she knew what Jack was talking about.
“I, ah …” She pointed towards the stairs. “I gotta go.” And with that she vanished – knowing she would probably be the new topic of office gossip.

But – she didn’t care. And as soon as the doors of her office closed behind her she burst into laughter.
A thought manifested itself in her mind, a thought with set her whole body into attention.
Anyone who would have seen her in this moment, anyone who didn’t know who she was, probably would have mistaken her for a psychopath. A devilish grin on her lips she stepped out of the elevator.

He didn’t like games, he told her. But she did.
And she had a great one in mind.

Chapter Text

Oh, she's sweet but a psycho
A little bit psycho
Oh, she's hot but a psycho
So left but she's right though
She'll make you curse, but she a blessing
She'll rip your shirt within a second
You'll be coming back, back for seconds
With your plate, you just can't help it
No, no, you'll play along
Let her lead you on, on, on
(Sweet but psycho, Ava Max)

He blew away the scales of wood he had riffled off the spot he had emerized before and controled it with putting his hand on it.
On his way back home he suddenly had the best name for his boat – that’s why he had stopped by a shop to buy some paint. Darkgreen and brown paint which was waterproof. He still needed some time to finish the boat, but at least he already had the paint he needed.

„Hey cowboy.“ He jumped at her sudden voice as he hadn’t heard her come in. And it wasn’t just her usual voice. He had never heard her speaking so sultry. He turned around – and frowned. Immediately he felt his blood boil.
All Jack was wearing was one of his shirts, the red and grey plaid flannel one, the only button closed was the middle one. The shirt was one of his longest, but still it didn’t even reach the middle of her thigh. And the thought about if she was wearing any underware made his stomach flicker.
She smiled at him – a wicked, coy smile. She had always been a tease – but right now she was on fire. Her eyes seemed as if they were glowing like lava. In her hand she held a bottle of cream, in the other one a glas with icecubes in.
He chocked. „Jack, wha … what are you doing?“
The smirk on her lips grew even more vicious.
„Seducing you“, she whispered. And stepped closer.