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Broken souls and mindful friends

Chapter Text

The liquid‘s surface stirred every time someone walked by, or sat down, or slammed on the counter. Every single time that happened, she blinked. Staring at the bottom of the whiskey glass Jack Sloane thought about how she had just ruined everything. Repeated every single moment, moments that made her feel like she’d lose her stomach insides every moment.

How could she had been so damn blind? How did she even think for a second she stood a chance, a chance to melt his exterior and gain a place in his heart?
Well, she knew she had earned that space. Everyone in his team has, from Jimmy to Ellie. But that space was called „Family“.
She didn’t want to be another wheel in the family-machine. At least not only. She wanted to earn the label „partner“. „Confidante“.
„Lover“.

She knew he couldn’t stand losing control, hated being thrown around, being used, being forced.
Being pushed.
She knew he hated being pushed into something and despite that she had done it. That much to her ability as a psychologist, her ability to read and understand people and being empathetic.
Pathetic. She was pathetic. She had acted like that and now she was here, drowning her bad conscious and stupidity with a glass of whiskey. Actually, it was her third by now, and she felt it wouldn’t be the last.

God, why on earth had she done that.
Just WHY.

Chapter Text

It was late. Jack knew the whole team’s day was over by now, probably it would just be him still sitting there at his desk, head spinning about how to solve this damn case.
She had always liked his focus on everything, his focus on the important things, the way his blue eyes burned.
He was attentive.
That being just one of the many things she didn’t get – he always took hints. So why didn’t he realize her change of behavior within the last days, no, weeks? And if he weren’t interested the slightest, why did she catch him staring at her whenever he thought she couldn’t see it, especially when she wore her red heels?
It wasn’t just a man-thing. Ellie had once confessed she stared too, and had told her in secrecy how she had caught Nick doing the same, the poor guy seeming so embarrassed even McGee once had started laughing.
So why on earth was he so reluctant?

Of course she knew why. Because of his past. Because of this damn armor he had put up for years, an armor no one could break.
Or so everyone had thought. Jack had the feeling she had managed to put some cracks into this wall. He was challenging but she wasn’t easy either. That was the thing she could trick people with – seeming like the sweetest person, but when someone played it bad with her … good luck.

She wouldn’t let him play with her, though, she thought on this evening as she packed her bag and locked the door of her office. They both were mature enough to just say it aloud, too old to dance around the obvious.
He was always straight forward, straight down to business. Now it was her time to do the same. She was tired of waiting, tired of hoping, and overall tired of acting like a desperate teenager seeking for attention. She knew her worth and she was everything but scared of conversations – even if it meant crossing the safe line and stepping into dangerous territory.

He either sensed her or had heard the sound of her heels, which was possible due to the unusual quietness. He looked up the second she strolled into the bullpen.
„Call it a day?“, he asked.
She smiled because he had been the one to start the conversation.
„Yeah“, she nodded. „It’s late.“ Even though she knew what time it was, she glanced at the watch. „Even late for you, Gibbs.“ She had calculated about using her „cowboy“-nickname for him. Actually, she thought about using it way more often than at the beginning. It had gotten so much more meaningful, at least for her …
„You’re right.“
She let her jaw fall in exaggeration. „Wow. Jethro Gibbs confessing I’m right. Sadly the other’s aren’t here to witness this one-in-a-million confession.“
He actually smiled. No, he grinned. She loved making him smile, or blush, or stare at her while thinking about something he could bite back. She was the only one who was capable to do so – to challenge him. To actually make him speechless. It wasn’t a playful banter, it was like power-play.
Especially tonight. Tonight, she wasn’t her usual feisty-self. She was here to provoke. Her goal was to make him think. To finally have the upper hand.
“So … that means …”
“Coming with ya.” With that he got up, gathering his stuff and grabbed his jacket.
Jack bit back a grin as she made her way towards the elevator.

Step one – accomplished.

The second the elevator opened she felt his hand on her back, guiding her inside. Her insides twisted, the spot where he touched her grew increasingly warm, and she pressed her lips together to not let a clearly naughty sound slip.
“What are you gonna do with the last hours of the day?”, she asked.
He pushed the button for the parking lot before stepping back next to her. “Working on the boat, I guess”, he said and turned to face her. She did the same.
And decided to not say anything, to just do what she had wanted to do since the last painful weeks. She just looked at him. Stared into his incredibly blue eyes. God, she could only imagine how he might have looked just a view years younger …
“You alright, Jack?” His amused voice brought her back to reality. Still she didn’t back away. She wasn’t embarrassed, in the contrary. She WANTED to be caught.
“I am”, she said, putting strength and certainity in her voice.
He held her gaze, his eyebrows indicating he asked himself what she was doing. Jack silently enjoyed the moment, even though her insides felt like they could explode every second.
Master yourself, Sloane, her inner voice commanded.
Her goal was to tease, not to be hasty.

The silence around them seemed to turn into a vacuum, vacuum so strong she barely noticed the sound of the downward going elevator. Gibbs was still staring at her, his forehead growing smoother again. And then she caught his eyes flicker and drop down to the spot where the v-neckline of her dress ended. It was barely two seconds but she noticed. Two seconds to make her blood boil and to cause him staring back into her eyes sheepishly – he knew she had caught him. And HE definitely hadn’t had that goal.

Step two – accomplished.

Slowly, she bit her lip, trying to suppress the huge grin making it’s way onto her face.
“Are YOU alright, cowboy?”
She caught him swallow.

Step three – accomplished.

“Not with you staring at me like I’m your dessert for this evening”, he gave back.
She lifted her chin. So he had gotten his confidence back.
“So I’m distracting you?”, she asked, desperately wanting to giggle but she knew if she would, she’d ruin the whole tension. And right now, that tension she provoked was exactly what she had been trying to achieve since the past days.
“Kinda”, he gave back, smirking.

The next second a ding disturbed the moment and the aura shifted, the vacuum broke. She still held his gaze, even as the door opened.
He waited for her to step out first, the gentleman he somehow was even when he was being an asshole. She took a step, indeed. But not to her right. She stepped forward until she almost touched him.
She smelled his scent, his aftershave, took in every inch of him and those icy blue eyes of his who were filled with an emotion she had never seen on him before. And without another word, she straightened herself, got on her toes and kissed him on his still smiling but questioning lips.
She closed her eyes and granted herself a moment of complete silence and appreciation. She didn’t expect him to reciprocate, and she didn’t want him to do anything else. That was why she broke the kiss just seconds later, shooting him a look and an innocent – or not so innocent – smile.
„See you tomorrow, Cowboy.“ And with that she was gone, leaving Jethro Gibbs behind whose reaction she couldn’t see but whose eyes were burning a hole through her.
She knew it.
She could feel it.
And she for sure knew that nothing would ever be the same as it was.

Chapter Text

She slept exceptionally well considering the fact she had just kissed the man she had fallen for since months and had left him standing there without saying another word. Admittedly, it had been a little evil of her, leaving him like this. But how often did someone stand a chance to catch Jethro Gibbs off guard?

She didn’t know what she had expected. Nothing, actually. She had figured out a long time before that always if one thought he had figured out Leroy Jethro Gibbs, he did something that threw the whole theory over board.
And it wouldn’t have helped her in anything, she knew. Sometimes it was best to not being prepared for a specific scenario.

And nevertheless she was surprised. Taken aback. Annoyed.
Because there was NOTHING. Not a single different emotion.
Of course he would play his coolness, wouldn’t let any emotion slip while being with the other agents, but no one couldn't be THAT good. Jack actually forced him to look at her, she at least did so, trying to make him look back at her.
It didn’t work. Praise to his professionality and his composure.
She wouldn’t let him off the hook that easily.

She let some hours slide until at about two she leaned over the handrail of the stair’s and called down.
„Hey, Gibbs!“ NOW he had to look at her. And he did. She had to put all her strength and together to not grin like the sadistic idiot she felt to be right now. „Can I talk to you for a second?“
He nodded. “Sure.” He got up, straightened his shirt and made his way past the three agents who, luckily, didn’t bother to ask with looks what she wanted.
She had thought about waiting for him to walk side by side but decided it would be a hell of a lot funnier to feel him following her, probably trying to not stare at his favorite clothing of hers – yes, she was wearing the red heals.
Usually she was the angel. But if she wanted to, Jack Sloane could be the devil, too.

She closed the door behind him and suddenly grew incredibly nervous. She didn’t want him to see it, didn’t want to grant him the knowledge he was the one who caused that reaction. So she cut straight down to business.
„Yesterday evening. In the elevator.“ She let the sentence drift and hang in the air, kind of using it as a question.
He shifted his weight on his left leg, a small but recognizable reaction.
„What do you want me to say?“
She frowned. That she hadn’t expected.
„I … I don’t know.“ Maybe that you like me, too? That you have thought about it? That it’s not possible? She wouldn’t have liked that last explanation but she would never force him into something. She knew it wouldn’t end well for both of them.
But she had expected SOMETHING. She just wanted clearance.
“I know you’re not one to talk much, but you need to have at least an opinion.” She tried it with an uplifting smile but knew she was way to tense to pull it off.
Gibbs signed. Long and painful. “Well. It came … as a surprise.”
She lifted her eyebrows. “Oh, did it? Really?” She hoped she had managed to keep her voice uplifted and easy and not shifting into being bratty.
She stepped back to lean against the edge of her table. “Explain that to me, please.”
Gibbs signed, again. “Jack, if you’re using this as a psychologist-game to analyse …”
“I’m not, I swear.” She looked back at him, trying to prove she was honest and serious about that. “I simply want to know what you think. Or thought. I’m not going to use this for anything, Gibbs.”
His mood seemed to shift and she saw his shoulders growing tense. Bracing herself for an outburst, she took a deep breath, thinking about what she could say to deescalate the situation.
Just then a nod on her door appeared. She rolled her eyes in annoyance and signed.
„Yes?“
Never would she have imagined this thought to cross her mind, but in this moment she wished Ellie Bishop to the moon.
„Gibbs, we got a lead.“ She gave Jack a look and bit her lip in apology. “Sorry for the interruption.”
And Jack did what she was best at – smile. Even though it was the fakest smile she had put on in years.
“No problem, Ellie. Job goes first.” She gave Gibbs a stare, wanted to know if THAT got a reaction out of him, but – as she had already expected – nothing.
He left without another word, following Ellie downstairs.
And leaving an unsettled Jack whose frustration only had grown into an even bigger determination.
This had been just the first try.

Chapter Text

She was a fighter and she more than anything wanted him to know and feel that.
Every person had two sides living inside them – one who went to war and the other one who loved.
She was both of it and she damn well had learned what both of those meant. She used her empathy to fight, and now it was time for her warrior’s side to fight for what she believed in.

The next morning she entered their floor with such confidence and determination she could almost feeling the radiation spreading from her. It seemed to work – Ellie and Tim locked up and turned their heads before she even said something.
But as she saw the empty seat she stopped in her movements.
“Where’s Gibbs?”, she asked, not in the mood for any chatter. Ellie told her he went down to Ducky and Palmer just a view moments ago.
She bit back a growl. She knew he was avoiding her. It was a reaction, at least something, but not what she wanted.

Nevertheless it was her to succeed. She caught him just as she left the office for updating Leon and their eyes met.
He realized his fault immediately – because now he couldn’t pretend anymore he hadn’t seen her. Jack bit back a victorious and evil smirk. That’s why she always preferred eye contact. It made it impossible to escape and always gave a clearer insight in people’s feelings.
She enjoyed the slight hint of nervousness in his blue eyes as she made her way towards him.
Usually he was the cold and menacing rock that could scare off anyone with just a quick stare.
Now he was nothing more than an melting icecube not being able to escape the wildfire. And the wildfire was her.

“Heading to interrogation?” She decided to start with a little work-based talk to loosen him up, even though she knew that wouldn’t bring that much revelation. Everyone had always told her she was an open book. Or, how Leon once had told her she owned the “worst pokerface he had ever seen”. It was always her eyes that revealed what she really wanted.
Now she was glad for it. And she knew Leroy Jethro Gibbs could see her real intention sparkeling in her eyes – the desperate want for answers.
“Yeah”, he said, extending the word as if he spoke a whole long sentence. He lifted his eyebrows as if he were waiting for her to retort.
“Mind if I join you?”
He shrugged and went on walking. Jack exhaled deeply. Okay … there we go …

„We were interrupted yesterday“, she started only seconds later. She peered over to him. To anyone else it might have seemed like didn’t react a bit, probably might have thought he hadn’t even heard her. But she couldn’t be tricked that easily. As a psychologist she had a trained eye for that. And not even the mighty Gibbs could free himself from that.
For a single moment she saw his shoulders grow tense and his jaw clench.

She gave him a second. And another. A whole minute.

And just as they were about to turn around the last corners separating them from the interrogation room, she couldn’t help it.
“Oh come on Gibbs, talk to me, please!”
His head turned like a hawk’s who had just caught his prey.
„God damn it, Sloane, leave me alone!“ And with that he rushed away.
Jack felt her blood boil. She stared after him, baffled at the fact he really had just yelled at her like that.
And then she got angry.
“Hey!”, she called back at him, not caring if anyone could hear her. He didn’t turn, of course, but seemed to slow down a little. She came running after him.
“What the hell is wrong that you suddenly can’t get any word out when talking to me?”
“What is wrong?” He laughed, but this time it was bitter. As he turned around to face her his eyes were twinkeling in the most menaching way she had ever seen them, sizzeling like blue fire. “Are you seriously asking me that question?”
She rapidly blinked and stared back at him, the same intensity mirroring in her eyes.
“Yes, I am! I don’t like being left standing there like an old piece of useless garbage!”
“Oh, so what do you consider what you’ve done two days ago?” His voice was growing dangerously loud, and the fact that he stepped closer and almost hovered above her didn’t quite help her not to shrink.
“I didn’t want to force you to say or do anything”, she told him in honesty. “I simply … I would like to know …”
“And have you, for any second, thought about how I would feel?” He didn’t even let her talk. All he did was stare her down. And it was tearing at her senses.
“How you feel?” She had trouble to keep her voice steady. “That’s exactly what I wanted to find out.”
He shook his head as if she had just said the stupidest thing ever, then took a step back. “I don’t have time for this, Jack!”
She glared back at him. “No time for “THIS” or for me?”
The words came blurting out of her mouth before she even realized it or could think about the consequences.
“Both of it!” He shook his head as if he couldn’t believe it, as if she were a stubborn child. He seemed to make the attempt of walking away as he stopped again, turning around.
“You should better focus on the job like the rest of us do than plotting your love-life!”

The words hit her like lightning strikes. They hurt like a dagger had just been stabbed right into her heart.

Bewildered, she looked after him as he rushed along the floor. And as the door fell shut with a loud noise she flinched.
The sound was echoing through the halls, radiating through her whole body and making her tremble. Slowly she stared at the ground.
Her emotions took her by surprise. Only as her vision became blurred, she realized that she was crying.

Great. It had worked. Jethro Gibbs had just made her cry.
And it was her own freaking fault.

Chapter Text

Her sight already had started to get blurry a long time ago, but her heart was still aching and her mind was too occupied with hurt than anything else. She had no idea how to make it stop. Not even the punching bag had helped her, and that has usually been the first she used to make her feel better. The only thing that had worked in years.

She had thought she would never go back to alcohol as a cure – the last time she had done so she had ended up in a police station in Texas. And that was nine years ago.
She also had never thought she would ever let herself get hurt that much by a guy. But she should have known. Rumors shouldn’t be believed easily, but there was always a part in it that was the truth.
And truth was Gibbs was difficult. Truth was he had a way of wooing women without even doing it on purpose. Truth was she had fallen for him.
Truth was Jack Sloane was a wreck. A lovesick wreck who was trying to drown the chaos she herself had started with the stupidest method one could use.

And it was only as she heard a familiar voice call her name she knew that this truth wouldn’t be able to be kept secret anymore.

Chapter Text

When he had decided to end the day with some nice, chilled hours in one of his favorite bars and chatting with the bartenders, he would have never thought of being confronted with the sight of the blonde woman sitting at the counter and looking like her whole world had been shattered into pieces.
First he thought his eyes were doing tricks. Everybody had a doppelgänger, right? But this doppelgänger would have been a perfect copy, and she wasn’t copied easily.
Slowly Nick stepped closer. Now he was sure. It was her.
It was Jack Sloane, the fierce and sunny Jack Sloane, the NCIS’s personal ray of sunshine, hovering over an almost empty glass of golden liquid and staring at a point in nowhere.
Completely baffled and not spending another thought on his own drink, he made his way straight towards her. As he called her name, she looked up. At least she was responsive.
“Nick? Hey.”
The way her voice cracked made him aware that he had to treat careful. The usual glow had disappeared from her face, her eyes seemed empty and lifeless. He had never been great at reading emotions, but there was no deny that she had been crying and something had happened which had hurt her. Deeply.
“So what are you doing here? Waiting for someone?”
“Ehm.” He watched her emptying the glass. “No, actually. Just wanted to enjoy the lately aura of Washington’s best bar.”
She slammed the glass onto the laminated wood and he caught her swallow hard. His heart cramped.
“Jack”, he started cautiously. “How many did you have?”
She shrugged. “Four? Five? Six?”
“Well if you can’t even recall you should stop.”
She seemed to completely ignore him and that was thing that scared the crap out of him. Hoping she wouldn’t do anything stupid for a few moments, he looked for the bartender. A smile appeared on his lips as he realized he knew one of them. He waved at him and the tall guy came over.
“Hey Sean”, he greeted, holding out his hand.
“Hi Nick.” His pal grabbed his hand. “What can I get you?”
He waved it off. “Later.” He turned his head. “Do you know how many she has had?” He pointed towards Jack.
His colleague shook his head. “Sorry, I don’t know. I’m on the other side tonight.” He gave him a look that spoke enough. Nick shook his head, smiling. He was glad for his secrecy and being polite enough not to ask if him and the attractive blonde were a thing, and understood the nonverbal hint.
“You know, there are guys in this room who wouldn’t hesitate to take advantage of a beautiful woman in a drunken state of mind.” Stepping back next to her he decided to lead it into another direction, one that made him sick, he had realized the looks.
All she did was shrug. She either didn’t mind or hadn’t even listened.
As she raised her hand again to call for another drink, he grabbed her wrist. She gave him a glare – the first time she really looked at him.
“What are you doing?” The sentence was spoken in disbelieve and even through the drunken haze sounded threatening. In another moment he would have backed down, creeping out of sight like a scared puppy, but not tonight. Not now since she was clearly not capable of thinking straight, not when the glimmer in her eyes originated from threatening tears. He sometimes might lack of empathy but he wasn’t blind, and he knew Jack was everything but okay. And whatever had driven this intelligent woman to use alcohol as a way of coping must have been really really bad.
“You’re not yourself, Jack”, he went on. “And you should really think about ordering another drink.” “Whatever.” She started playing with the rim of the glass, then pushed it away with her fingertips. “Maybe I should leave.” She turned to slide off the chair. “Don’t wanna ruin your evening.” She tripped and stumbled and Nick reacted in a second.
“Hey hey!” He grabbed her arm and steadied her. As he felt Jack’s hand on his arm, using him as a balance, he made up his mind in an instant. “You are not going anywhere alone.”

His evening came to an end before it had even started but he didn’t care about that at all. Anyone who thought about calling him selfish again should see him now, one arm around Jack’s waist to steady and guide her out of the bar. He almost had to drag her out, not because she resisted, but more because it was as if she didn’t care about anything at all. He would have done it anyway, even if he would have had to carry her. He tried to ignore the stares in his back and had to bring up all his self-composure not to turn around, face the staring idiots and slam it right into their faces that real men didn’t abuse drunk women.

The cold air was a welcoming change from the warmth inside that had seemed to develop into stifling heat. The way Jack leaned into his side and how her grip seemed to get heavier only encouraged him more to finally reach his car.
He helped her in the passenger seat before returning to his side and sliding in next to her. His jaw clenched as he gave her another glance. Her head leaned against the window, her eyes were closed. He wondered what would have happened if he hadn’t found her. Would she be on her he-had-no-idea-which-row? Would one of those guys had approached her? Nick shivered. The thought about some idiot laying hands on her made his stomach clench and his insides go crazy. No, he shouldn’t think about that. She would be hangover the next day, but that was all that could happen to her now.
As he started the engine he made out a growl coming from her. “Where are we going?”, she asked, almost dozen off.
“I’ll get you home”, was all he said. He waited for her telling him her address, but those four words were all. Fine, he shrugged, he wasn’t fond of leaving her alone anyways. Luckily his flat wasn’t as chaotic as usual.
He just steared the car into the direction of the main road and was going to activate the turn signal as her voice, suddenly more steady than she’d been the whole evening, cut through the silence.
„Gibbs. I kissed him.“
Nick hit the break of his car. His heart skipped a beat as they stopped rapidly.
„What?“, he gasped, voice high due to his perplexity.
„Yep.“ Jack leaned back in the seat. „And … that’s it.“
He turned towards her and opened his mouth, wanting to get ahold of the conversation, but then thought better of it. She clearly wasn’t in the right mood to be pressed for any explanation. And even though he was dying to hear what had happened he had the decency of accepting her privacy. So he started the engine again.

. . .

After about ten minutes he pulled into his parking lot. That seemed to get Jack’s attention. Luckily she was still awake. She looked at him with heavy eyes. “Where are we?”
“My house”, he said while setting the car into parking position.
“Why?”
He felt a little bad but he couldn’t help laughing. “Because you’re drunk as fuck. And you didn’t give me your address. I won’t leave you alone like that.”
He couldn’t see her reaction since he was already out of the car with one foot and pushing the door shut. As he opened hers, he eyed her suspiciously. „Can you walk?“
„No“, Jack mumbled, but now she seemed less drunk than bored.
He signed. “I’m not gonna carry you inside, you know. You need to at least help me with that.” He reached out for her hand. “C’mon, lady, take my hand.”
THAT got a reaction – but a completely different one. “Are ya hittin’ on me now, Nicholas?” At least she reached out and took his hand.
Nick suppressed a sign. Great. He REALLY didn’t want to keep up with a sad, drunk and flirtatious Jack Sloane who actually was into his boss and was losing her senses and using him as compensation. A shiver ran over his spine. Good god, this evening wouldn’t end that soon, he felt. And hopefully he would be keeping his clothes on. And her, too.
Luckily they made it into his house without any other unforeseen occurrences and he even managed to put Jack to sit on the couch.
“Imma get you a glas of water, wait here, I’ll be right back”, he said, hoping she would follow his orders.
She did. As he came back Jack was lying on the couch, staring at the ceiling. Apparently she was one of those drunks who had huge mood swings.
He stopped right in front of her and reached out. “Here you go.” He waited for her to turn to him.
And she did. But she didn’t seem to care about the water. Instead, there was a familiar look in her eyes. Sadness. Deep rooted sadness and desperation.
“Nick. I feel sooo stupid.”
The hurt in her voice seemed to pull him closer. “Why?” He hunkered down in front of her. Forget the water. “Because you got drunk to forget your problems?” Or Gibbs, he thought, in her case. She hadn’t said anything more but he was sure HE was responsible. Or whatever he had done.
“Because I’m responsible for everything.”
She roled around until she was on her stomach and faced him. “Nick, I kissed him. How could I do that without thinking?” He was amazed by how sober her voice sounded.
He took a deep breath. “Well, ah …” She cleared his throat. “I guess … because you like him?”
“God, I do not only like him.” The way she spoke it, low and kinda sultry, send shivers over his spine. He definitely didn’t want to imagine what SHE was probably imagining right now. It was as awkward like parents talking about sex. He had always thought there was something going on with Jack and Gibbs, he wasn’t blind, but god, no, he never thought about them actually doing it …
“So have you told him?” He knew the stupidity of his question as soon as it came out of his mouth. She snorted. “No. I thought he would get it since a kiss is pretty meaningful, isn’t it.”
“Ah, yeah. I guess.” He roamed a hand through his hair, desperately trying to get out of this situation. He felt incredibly helpless.
“Nick.” She signed in desperation. “I don’t know what to do.”
As he looked into her big, brown, vulnerable eyes his heart clenched. He hated seeing her like this. And he hated that he had no idea how he could cheer her up. So instead of trying unnecessary methods, he got up.
“I’ll be right back, kay?”
She nodded, still looking like a sad little four-year-old who hadn’t got what she had wished for for Christmas.
He hurried into the kitchen and closed the door behind him. Standing like this for a few seconds he took some deep breaths. What the hell have you got yourself into, Torres, he asked himself. As he had regained his control he pulled out his phone. And then he started thinking.
Ellie? No. She’d go crazy and he couldn’t handle another crazy woman he liked in his house.
Tim? Na, he would never disturb his evening with his family.
Jimmy? He shook his head almost immediately. Jack and him weren’t that close that she would take his help and tell him about her love life.
Nick already grew rest- and hopeless as his finger finally stopped on another name. His heart leaped. A guy who knew Jack better than anyone else. A guy who was able to keep cool, to be smart enough to say the right things. Someone who was trustworthy. Someone who Jack trusted.
He didn’t hesitate another second and clicked onto the telephone button.

“Vance?” The voice made him sign in relief and also curbed his nervoustity all at once.
“Director, Torres here. I … need your help”, he said before he could do or so something else. He could almost see the director frown.
“What’s wrong?”
And Nick barely got out two whole sentences.

Chapter Text

“It’s Jack. I … picked her up. She got drunk and I fear she’ll …”
Leon’s heart skipped a beat and he felt all his alarm tones ringing.
“Where are you?” He didn’t even let Agent Torres finish. He had heard enough.
Torres gave him the address and he pushed the red button seconds after saying “I’ll be right there.” With that he put the phone in his pocket and rushed out into the hallway.
His mind was spinning and he would be lying if he weren’t the slightest scared and worried. He knew Jack in her drunken state and it wasn’t good. He had thought she was over this using-alcohol-as-a-cure-thing, but apparently … something must have happened that made her fall back into very old and bad habits.

He opened the cupboard and pulled out a light jacket. As he stepped into the second shoe he made out footsteps behind him.
“Dad? Where are you going?” He turned around. Kayla was standing right next to him and looking at him sorrow-stricken. Leon clenched his teeth. He thought about making up and excuse but figured honesty were the best.
“It’s about Jack. I don’t exactly know what’s wrong, but she’s at Agent Torres’ and he sounded … tense.” As he got up he caught Kayla’s almost frightened gaze.
“Is she okay?”
He knew she cared about her, since she knew everything about Jack’s past and she had been staying with them for quite some time in the past, so his daughter had grown accustomed to Jack.
Knowing that lying would lead nowhere, he decided to go for the truth.
“I don’t know, sweetheart, but I’m sure she will be.” He pulled the zipper of his jacked and reached for the car keys. “Don’t stay up that late, okay?” He kissed her on the forehead.
“And you text me about how Jack’s doing”, she gave back.
Leon forced a smile. “Don’t worry. We’ll get her back to the old version of her.” Usually he would have said something similar to “I won’t be gone that long” but he wasn’t sure if that would be a promise he would have to break. So he said nothing. And to him it was as if Kayla understood.

...

“Thank you for coming”, Torres greeted him as he opened the door.
Leon just nodded before glancing into the entrance. “Where is she?”
The agent seemed to understand and welcome his focus on the important and stepped away, letting him in. “She’s in the living room”, he said. “At least I hope.”
Something in Torres’ voice made him unsure if he should smirk or grow even more anxious.
“I know her being drunk”, he said while taking off the jacket. “She had promised not to that ever again.”
“What? Getting drunk?”
He shook his head at Torres’ clearly confused question. “No. Getting drunk to dull the anger. It never ends good.”
“Well, to me she sounded pretty sad …”
“Don’t mistake Jack being sag for being angry. It’s a balancing act I had to learn for myself, too. A sad Jack Sloane is heart wrenching, but an angry Jack Sloane is dangerous.”
Torres snorted. “Tell me something else.”
That made him smile. “What did she do?”
“You mean despite not-caring and then two seconds later spilling what was upsetting her?” He shrugged.
Leon eyed him in suspicion. “What is it?”
It had been a very long time since he had last seen his agent in a nervous, uncomfortable state, but he was now. “It’s … am …” He even dreaded to look him in the eye.
Leon stepped closer. “Nick, please. She’s already here. I can handle the truth, and she wont be mad at you if you tell me.”
Finally Torres looked at him – if it were for the use of his first name or some change of mind, he didn’t know.
“It’s about Gibbs”, he pressed out.
Leon rolled his eyes. “Oh dear god.” Signing, he rubbed his forehead. “What exactly?”
A short hesitation. “From the information I got …” Torres swallowed and took a deep breath. “She kissed him and he didn’t respond. And now she’s upset because she acted without a save way out.”
Leon wasn’t sure what he had expected. Maybe nothing at all.
But … THAT definitely wouldn’t have crossed his mind, at least not NOW.
But since Torres had expressed it verbally … he signed.
He had foreseen and dreaded it. He had seen the looks between those two. Jack had always been a touchy person, but with Gibbs it was different. And Gibbs, he had changed, too. He was different when talking to her, when she was around.

“Director?” Nick’s tentative question reached his ear. Only then he realized he must have been staring into nothing for a while.
“Yeah.” He straightened up and inhaled. He really wasn’t sure what to think about that. He knew Jack since years, loved her like a sister, and he’d lie if he weren’t protective over her, even though he knew she could clearly take care of herself. He also knew about Gibbs’ “rules”, also that one of those included no office romances.
Apparently … he DID follow them.
He didn’t know what had happened, what had been the catalyst for both Jack’s and Gibbs’ reaction. All he knew was he had to do something.

He turned to look at Torres who suddenly seemed helpless. “Would you give us a minute?”
The agent nodded, and without another word guided him to where he had “last seen her”.
His heart dropped at the sight of her curled up on the couch, motionless. He almost thought she was asleep, so he carefully stepped closer not to startle her.
He bend down. “Jack, can you hear me?”
Her eyelids moved and she opened them. “Leon?” She blinked in confusion. “What are you doing here?”
Before he could even open his mouth, Torres behind him cleared his throat. “I’ll leave you two alone, that okay?”
He nodded. “Thank you, Nick.” He decided to use his first name to enunciate the gratefulness.
“Sure director. You need anything?”
Leon shook his head, and Nick excused himself. With that he turned to his friend who had sat up, more or less straight. He took a seat right next to her – also to stabilize her in case something happened.
This was going to be a long talk.