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Army hearts of love and war

Chapter Text

She stood there, stunned, still not quiet believing what had happened.

First, the disappointment and shock about her fiancé fornicating.
Second, him and two other people shot, and five others injured.
Third, realizing he had been the target of the shooter – it hadn’t been some crazy psycho running around with a gun. A planned assassination.
And now, forth – her apartment being scanned through to scare her.

Hollis Mann didn’t even quiet have to force herself to laugh. That person, whoever it was, might have caught her off-guard, might have ruined a part of her life, but she wasn’t scared. She wouldn’t let him or her have that power over her.
She was angry.
If that person really wanted to mess with an ex-army soldier with links to one of the best team of investigators in Washington … well then, mercy with them.
She was ready for the war.

Chapter Text

Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs was not a man of surprises. But, being honest, there also weren’t many things that could surprise him anymore. He had seen them all – the craziest, most psychotic doings a human being was capable of, had confronted killers, escaped death, and had managed to fail in three marriages.

Despite all of that knowledge and experience the mighty Gibbs stopped almost dead in his tracks this Tuesday morning as he saw the person standing in the bullpen and having a lively conversation with McGee. Toress was shamelessly staring and listening, at least Bishop tried to either just seem interested or mind her own business.
He blinked a view times to assure himself his eyes didn’t trick him. But then she turned around. He would have lied if his heart didn’t skip for a second. And it took him just two seconds as surprise changed into a smile.

It had been about four years since he had last seen her, but she almost hadn’t changed a bit. The sandy-blonde hair, now grown longer and dyed a little darker than the last time, the proud and upright posture, the expressive green eyes.
That was a thing she had in common with Jack. Once they stared at you one couldn’t move. That and her beauty. She was so different to Jack and yet so similar. Army women. They seemed to have that certain something about them.
“Jethro.” She nodded and smiled as he stepped closer. That smile which always seemed to cross the line between being polite and provocative. That was a thing he then and always admired – her “straight down to business and give-no-fucks” attitude.
He was just glad they had talked, glad the last time they parted it was on good terms. This was why the smile on his lips was everything but forced. “Hollis.” He tilted his head. “What leads you here?” He then nodded towards McGee who almost seemed like a third wheel being interrupted in a conversation. “I see you’ve already settled in”, he stated.
Hollis nodded. “Yeah. McGee told me about his kids and Delilah.”
“I’ve got pictures”, spoken agent immediately said and grabbed the frame on his desk. Hollis squeled in delight – if Hollis Mann would ever “squeal” at something, it was more like a loving smile – as Tim handed her the framed picture. “They’re adorable”, she said.
Granting both of them a few moments he made his way towards his desk, on his way handing Bishop her coffee.
“So what are you doing here?”, he recalled the question later on as he had started the computer.
Hollis’ head snapped up. The smile and the happiness on her face disappeared in an instant.
“A case”, she said while handing McGee the picture back. She didn’t follow him, and there was something strangely admirable how she stood there, between Bishop’s and McGee’s table, crossing her arms and speaking to ALL of them – not just him. “A dead navy officer. More precisely” She signed. “My ex fiancé.”
He lifted his eyebrows, not able to hide his baffledness. It wasn’t just the mention of a guy she had planned to marry, more the fact he had died and Hollis seemed to not even care.
“Got shot. While being with his date.”
Okay, now he definitely got suspicious. Hollis was a lot of things but she wasn’t coldhearted, even if she made the impression. And if it weren’t for the second sentence, a sentence which made him smell the rat immediately, he probably would have even thought about comforting her. Bishop had realized the blindspot, too, and started blinking rapidly.
“Wait, what?”
Hollis turned her head to the younger agent. “The date wasn’t me, Agent Bishop.” She shook her head. “It wasn’t me.” Her voice seemed calm, way to calm for being her usual self in such a situation. She neither sounded sad nor angry. Just … disappointed.
“And though I despise him for what he has done, he deserves justice. He and the other two victims especially.”
“Shit.” Nick shook his head in disgust. “I’m so sorry, Agent Mann.”
She shrugged, again. Gibbs eyed her. He KNEW her. And the fact she was acting as if she didn’t care anymore suspected nothing good.
“That why you’re here? To ask us for solving those murders?” He decided to bring the focus back on the case, the work-related side.
“Actually it wasn’t Agent Mann’s idea to come here. It was mine.”
He had been so focused on Hollis’ speech and her strange behavior that he hadn’t realized Leon Vance coming down the stairs and joining him.
The former Colonel turned around as Leon stepped beside her.
He nodded at her. “Agent Mann.”
“Director Vance. My pleasure to work with you again.” They shook hands.
He chuckled. “This time, we’re on equal foot. No phone calls, no rivalries.”
She nodded, not able to hide a smirk. Oh yeah, how he had loved that whit of hers. “And I thank you for that.”
“So what’s it about?” McGee seemed to die in anticipation and he couldn’t blame him. Leon gave her a nod and stepped back as if to give her space. Bishop handed her the remote and they all turned to the huge display while she started explaining what had happened.

“And the thing is - because the agents who had worked on the case were pretty sure that HE was the target …” She turned around and pointed at herself. “That involves me, too.”
“With that you mean endangers you”, McGee figured.
Hollis moved her head as if to weigh the options. “Well, I wouldn’t take it that far …”
“We should.” Leon’s stern voice interrupted her. “Agent Mann’s flat was searched through.”
“My fiancés and mine”, Hollis corrected him. “But nothing’s gone. I they searched around his stuff and probably thought oh, let’s scare the soon-to-be-wife so she won’t run to the police.” She handed Bishop the remote and crossed her arms in belligerence. “Well, if they’d done their homework they would have known I’m working for the government.”
“And that you’re not scared easily.” He didn’t mind hiding the smirk on his lips and Hollis didn’t either.
“You have my word, Hollis. We’ll get this guy.” I won’t let you get hurt again, he thought. Not if I can be the one to prevent it.
Despite the long time there still was a spark between them, something not even time could erase. He valued her and she did the same for him. His affection towards her would never change.
Because love wasn’t just meant for lovers. It was also meant for friends. Hollis was a friend – and in a special way on a very personal and different level his only one. Forever.

Chapter Text

It would have been a lie if she hadn’t been a little nervous stepping back into NCIS headquarters and asking Jethro Gibbs and his team to assist in a case she was at least the slightest involved.
After briefing the team and Vance about the case and handing them the files she had requested from the police, she followed Director Vance upstairs. She literally felt Jethro’s and Agent Torres’ burning gazes on her back and couldn’t escape the tease to turn around and shoot the leading one a smirk. They always did that and it probably wouldn’t stop, ever.

She had met the young woman, Ellie Bishop, before – she still remembered how she blew up a whole house. There was a special something about her and Hollis was sure she would be a worthy member of the NCIS-family. She seemed so much more at ease and integrated as the last and first time she had met her.
She knew the story about what happened to Ziva, about Tony having a daughter and Ziva actually being alive the whole time - but she hadn’t expected not being granted with DiNozzo’s cocky demeanor and his cheeky but lovable smile. Instead there had been this darker skinned, latino-looking guy leaning against Tim’s former desk.
The guy had clearly been surprised to see she wasn’t wearing the visitor’s badge, but polite enough not to ask. And the way his eyes had grown huge as she had told him her name made her aware that her’s and Jethro’s story had been passed on to him, too.

 

Vance and her arrived in front of a door next to his own office. Hollis took a glimpse on the silver nametag on it:

Jacqueline Sloane - Forensic Psychologist

She found herself smirking. She had worked with some psychologists before. Those lads were … interesting. She wondered what would await her with this one.
Vance let her step through first. Within just two seconds she took in the basics of the room – the wall covered in the typical blue and a light grey – which looked so much better combined than that weird orange -, a blue couch with pillows on it, a wooden cupboard. But her attention immediately focused on the woman standing up behind her desk. Her caramel-blonde hair framed a pretty face and fell loose over her shoulders. As she stepped around the desk Hollis made out her black pencil-skirt, elegant black heels and a lightblue blouse. This woman was definitely not a field agent. She wasn’t the slightest comparable to Ellie Bishop.
“Agent Mann. Pleased to meet you. I’m Jacqueline Sloane.” The woman’s voice was smooth and a little raspy in the best way, like velvet mixed with bonfire. As Hollis met her beautiful, brown eyes she was mesmerized by the deep softness of them.
“Pleasure’s all mine, Agent Sloane.” They shook hands and Hollis couldn’t recall the last time she had been indeed excited to meet someone.
“I already briefed Agent Sloane about the case”, Leon came up behind her.
Spoken woman took a folder from her desk and waved with it. “And I’ve already gotten a pretty good overview. If you’re okay with that we can start right now.”
Hollis’ nodded, glad for the woman’s fixity of purpose.
As she made the attempt to grab the chair’s backrest to sit down, Vance rubbed his hands. “Well then, I won’t disturb the two of you any longer. You know where you find me.”
Jack looked up, a sweet smile showing up on her lips. “Oh, I will always find you, you know.” As the smile grew into a grin, she gave him a wink. Hollis lifted her eyebrows and caught a glimpse on Vance and his reaction. It surprised her as his expression was equally broad and teasing, and with that exact amusement written in his face the director disappeared. As the door fell close, Hollis tried to not ask Sloane about that clearly way to personal behavior towards her boss and used the moment to take in her surroundings a little bit. She saw another, comfy chair in the corner, a picture of a wave hanging next to the door, and – what surprised her – a huge painting of Jethro and Bishop on the other grey-colored wall. She wondered if Sloane herself made that, but … she wouldn’t mind asking. She was a curious person but had no need to intrude into the psychologist’s personal life when they had only met minutes ago.
Just then she felt the other woman’s eyes on her and turned around.
“You’re lucky you got a room which is not covered in that horrible orange.”
Sloane started grinning. “Don’t tell me you hate that color, too. I painted it myself. Needed to get rid of it. It drove me crazy.” She grabbed the folder. “And grey’s so much more my color.”
“And it goes way better with blue.” Hollis nodded.
Agent Sloane waved her to the couch, which took Hollis’ by surprise, again. She followed her and they made themselves comfortable, right after Jack had asked her if she wanted coffee or something else. She declined.
It took her only a few seconds to realize something. She had been a little wrong – there was a similarity she and Ellie Bishop inherited. Being cute. Each on their different way, but they were. And … somehow she liked that.

“So where are you staying? Now that your flat is a crime scene in an ongoing investigation.” Sloane asked the question as soon as they had gone through all the important information.
Hollis took a deep breath as she felt her anger showing up again. “Booked a hotel. At least I thought so.”
It took only seconds for Jack to sense the problem. “What do you mean?”
“Something has gone wrong with the reservation.” She shrugged. “Doesn’t matter. Got my luggage stored here at NCIS, I’ll look for something at the end of the day and take a taxi.”
The woman next to her frowned and seemed to think. Then she turned around and looked at her. “Would you like to stay at my house for a while? Until the case is solved and you’re out of danger?”
Hollis raised her eyebrows. That she hadn’t expected.
Her counterpart smiled in apology. “I know, we don’t even know each other and I guess you’d like to be alone for a while to clear your head, I just thought …”
“I would love to.” Without breaking eyecontact Hollis nodded. She had no idea why, but she trusted that woman. “I didn’t felt like being alone, actually.”
A big smile spread out on Sloane’s face, a smile that made her eyes pop out and made her seem radiating like the pure sun. “Great. I don’t have a guest room, but you can take the bed. The couch is pretty comfy.”
Now Hollis shook her head. “No way Agent Sloane. You are not giving up a nice sleep for me.”
“Jack. And yes, I do.” She grabbed the cup of coffee and took a sip. As she sensed Hollis opening her mouth again she shut her down. “And don’t” She pointed a finger at her. “Come at me with that excuse of “I was in the army, I can sleep everywhere”.
Hollis chuckled. “I guess you did use that phrase quite often as well, didn’t you?”
That made the other woman stop. She blinked. “Wait, how do you …” Then her eyes lit up. “Leon.”
Hollis smirked and nodded.
Jack signed. “Of course he told you. And yeah, I did use it. Especially with him, and he at least finally got that he couldn’t force me to anything else.”
The DoD-Agent’s eyebrow went up. Jack caught her staring and burst into laughter. She was mesmerizing and incredibly beautiful when she did that.
“Oh no, we’re just friends. Really good friends. I … stayed with him for a while.” She seemed to clench her jaw and Hollis caught the little blindspot. She tilted her head and squinted her eyes.
“There’s more behind it.”
Jack took an audible breath and Hollis almost feared that again, she had taken two steps in a much to short period of time, but as she met Jack’s smile she knew everything was okay.
“You know, Leon warned me. You really are forth going.”
She lifted her chin, challenging the woman. “Is that a problem?”
Jack studied her for a moment. She didn’t back away an inch but couldn’t deny noticing a tingeling shiver running along her spine.
“Not at all."

Chapter Text

She wasn’t a sceptic, she opened up to people quite easily, but she wasn’t naive. So she had searched for anything in Holly’s face that indicated false interest or something she could – or would – use against her.
But she saw none of those. All she could make out was pure honesty and friendly interest. And something inside her knew that even if she would decline to answer, Hollis wouldn’t press for answers.
Nevertheless she somehow trusted this moment from the moment on their eyes had met. That was why she told her about Afghanistan – not about her team, but about having a very hard time over there and that she had to deal with a terrible loss. Hollis, whose face grew stern and understanding, sat there in silence and let her talk.

After she fell in silence – right at the point where a simply other word would have led to the indication of her team being killed in front of her eyes – she wondered how she should get herself out of the situation. But she was surprised by Hollis telling her about her own experiences, too. As if she had sensed the risky tension she turned the topic and freed her from her demons.
Jack listened in awe to her talking about incidences she had, how hard it had been for her commanding a hole troup of young men, how she had gained respect as Lieutenant Colonel. There was something fascinating about this woman. If it were her posture, her demeanor, or her light green eyes that seemed to radiate like laserbeams and on the same hand were generous and full of devotion. Whenever they met hers she felt something inside her shift. As if her heart recognized her, as if they had known each other for years despite they had been talking for simply thirty minutes.
Jack was a psychologist, a scientist in a way. But she believed in miracles, in unseen forces. And that, whatever seemed to build itself up between Hollis and her, wasn’t a simple meeting. It was more, much more. And as Hollis was called back to assist the agents downstairs, they shared a smile that gave Jack this wonderful feeling about realizing she had just found a new, real friend.

“So you lived in Hawaii for a few years, is that right?”, she asked at the end of the day as got out of her car. Hollis had accepted her offer to stay with her and of course Jack had taken her with her.
Hollis nodded. “I did. It was nice, but … I’m not one to do nothing. So I returned back to Washington a few years later, luckily getting a job not as dangerous as being in the army but challenging in some ways, too. DoD’s interested.”
Jack opened the boot of her car and could just not ask. “Did you learn how to surf?”
Hollis laughed and put a strand of hair back behind her ear. “I tried, but I guess I’m too old to learn it now.”
She heaved her duffel bag and the shoulder one out of it and stepped back with lifted eyebrows as she noticed Jack’s disbelieving look.
“Oh come on, you’re ex-army. And” She gave her a onceover. “What I can make out you’re still trained and fit as hell.”
She caught Hollis biting her lip and smirking. “Well, thank you for the diagnosis, Ex-Lieutenant Sloane, but I really am not the youngest anymore.”
“You’re as old as you feel. Age doesn’t matter.” Smirking, she slammed the trunk lid shut and asked her fellow to follow her. “Besides that, I myself am only a three years younger than you are.”
Hollis eyebrow made their way upwards for a second time that day. “So you looked me up?”
“Of course.” Jack pulled out her keys. “Won’t let everyone in my house.”
While she opened the door she caught Hollis watch her every move. Pulling it open she looked up again to face her.
A smile crept over Hollis’ stern but beautiful features and her eyes sparkeled.
“I like you, Jack. I think we’re gonna have an interesting time together.”
“Oh, that I am sure.”
And she was.

Chapter Text

“So. You and Gibbs?” She started the conversation over their plates for dinner.
Hollis nodded in exaggeration. “Yep, me and Gibbs.” She seemed to sense Jack wanted to hear more so she went on. “I met him during a case. At the time when Jenny Shepard was still the director.”
Jack’s body tensed. Leon had told her about her, his predecessor. And also about what had – unofficially – happened between her and Gibbs in earlier years.
“I heard she was tough”, she started.
Hollis laughed, but there wasn’t even the slightest hint of condescension. More like … appreciation. “Oh yeah, she was.” Jack saw her smirk. “Time flies. It’s about ten years now.” She put some rice on her fork. “And he still looks good.”
Jack stopped herself from telling her she did, too. She had to stop herself from crossing this line a little. She sometimes got to cosy and easy with people she felt comfortable around, and she knew not everyone was this touchy-feely like she was.
“Jenny Shepard seems like a legend. Almost like Ziva, and that has only calmed since we all know now she’s alive.” She decided to turn the conversation onto another field.
Hollis nodded. “She was.” A thoughtful shadow placed itself over her face. “Jenny and I. We were … rivals, kind of. She was beaming with envy and eating me alive every time she saw me, but … she never used it against me. And I didn’t either. She even asked me about joining NCIS after the Army, but I haven’t quite figured out why she wanted me to.”
“That’s what strong women do. They don’t put each other down, at the most using the other as a challenge to grow.”
Hollis nodded. “Yes, that’s true. Jenny was strong.”
“And you are, too, Hollis. Don’t forget that.” As Hollis’ green eyes met hers she just knew it had been the right decision to say those words. She felt that even an independent woman and former lieutenant colonel like her sometimes would appreciate some acknowledgement. Even if she would never confess it.
“I was devastated as I heard she was dead. She didn’t deserve that.” She leaned back into the chair and slowly shook her head. Suddenly she seemed extremely vulnerable and distressed, and Jack felt her heart cramp at the sight of seeing this resolute and strong woman like that.
“Who knows if I would have just asked her, if things would have gone different. Talked with her. About Jethro, about her, about them. What the hell I was doing wrong and what had happened between them.”
She fell silent for a moment, then smiled. But the smile didn’t reach her eyes. “You know, we actually had many similarities.
We loved the same man. We both put out career above family, we learned to be cold, strong, to not let emotions flow. We just couldn’t seem to overcome our egos. We could have been friends, maybe I could have helped her, with anything, I …”
“Hey, Hollis, breathe.” Jack interrupted her and put a hand on her arm. “Calm down.”
The woman closed her eyes and took a deep breath through her nose. “Wow, I’ve quite talked myself in a rage, didn’t I?” A faint smile appeared, a smile Jack reciprocated.
“That’s completely okay. I mean, I’m a psychologist, so … this is kind of my job.”
“Getting people to talk?” Hollis emphasized it as a slight tease and Jack nodded. “Yes.”
“You’re good at that.” The other woman leaned forward to grab her glass. She seemed to fully have regained her composure. “You are very likeable.”
“Well, thank you very much”, Jack laughed.
“I’m serious.” Hollis’ eyes burned into hers, this time calm in softness. “There aren’t many people I’d voluntarily spend my evenings with and actually enjoy talking to them.”
She pointed her finger at Jack. “If you and Gibbs were one person, you’d be perfect.” Then she stopped as if to reconsider her words. “Despite Gibbs is far from perfect.”
Jack couldn’t help it. “And I am?” She wiggled her eyebrows. Now it was her time to tease. Hollis met her eyes, gemstone green meeting chocolate brown.
“You’re pretty near at that”, she said, voice calm and smile honest.
Jack’s heart beat a little faster and she couldn’t help admiring this woman even more than she already did. And something inside her just knew that everything coming out of Hollis’ mouth, at least considering her, was nothing more than the truth.

She had no idea where her courage suddenly came from. But maybe … maybe it was because that part of hers had started to heal since now she knew Faith was okay and that she had forgiven her. “You ever thought about kids?”
Hollis licked her lips dry and nodded. “I did. Once. And then something inside me was thriving to join the army and that question was answered before I could really think about it.”
The smile was keyed up. “My parents never really got over the fact I chose my country over kids and that they would never be granted with grandchildren.” She shrugged and nodded at her. “You?”
Jack felt her hands claw around the glass. “I had a daughter. Faith. But … I wasn’t ready to have child, so I … gave her up for adoption.” She bit her lip and decided to focus on something else then Hollis’ penetrating, interested stare before she went on. “I met her a few months ago. First she didn’t want to have anything to do with me, which I understood, but finally, one day she showed up at my house and we talked.”
Hollis nodded. “Can I ask … I mean, why did you give her away?”
She had regained her strength to look back at her new friend. “I was in the middle of university. Not ready for a child. I could have never given her the life she deserved, and my boyfriend wasn’t quit fond of that idea either.” Now it was her time to shrug. “She has grown into an amazing young woman. I’m proud of her. And I know it was the right decision.”

“What is wrong with us that all men let us go or act like idiots?”
Those words made her laugh. “I don’t know.” The next second she stiffened. “Well, I actually DO know.” Hollis looked at her in expectation. She smirked. “If not we would have never met.” Jack tilted her head. “Even though I know the reason I still wonder how Gibbs could let you go.”
Hollis opened her mouth and fiddeled for words. She knew what had taken her off guard. “I know, Hollis.” She nodded. “I know about Shannon and Kelly.”
She blinked. “He … he told you?”
She nodded.
The older woman leaned back and shook her head, an admiring look on her face. “Wow. Do you realize what an honor that is?”
Again, she noded. “Yes. I do.”
“You two really do have a bond.”
“I guess we do.” Jack silently nodded. “He trusts me. And I trust him.”
“Thank you, Jack.”
She blinked. “For what?”
“For being there for him. He’s a tough cookie, but even a marine sometimes needs a hero.”
She chuckled. “Oh I’m far from a hero”, she said, only realizing how deep those words hurt after she had spoken them.
Hollis shook her head. “Not all heroes wear capes, Jack.” As she looked at her her eyes were full of softness. “Sometimes all it needs is someone who can listen.”

Chapter Text

Jack and her had breakfast in silence and she couldn’t remember the last time she had felt so comfortable in someone’s presence. She liked this woman a lot and it wasn’t just the fact that both of them had once served in the same military branch. Jack was funny, easy and showed just the right amount of sassiness.
The conversation they had had was uplifting and waking suppressed memories all at once. Hollis was pretty sure it wouldn’t take long until she would start talking about how deeply her discovery had really hurt her – she was good at putting a mask on when being at work, but as soon as someone was near her who she trusted, that mask was soon to crumble down.
Time after time, she told herself. When sensing the right moment she would tell her.
It took her a little to persuade Jack to go into the bathroom first but then gave in as the woman granted her to step in even though she was still in the middle of refreshing her curls with an iron. She strained herself to occupy the least space possible as she applied her usual minimalistic make-up.
Yesterday she had suppressed the comment but today she felt like going for it.
“Cute car”, she said as Jack unlocked the blue mini. “It fit’s you.”
She gave her a smirk. “I rented it but I guess I’ll keep it. Have gotten used to it and I really like it.”
The drove in silence, only listening to some music in the radio. Hollis was in the mood of singing but she didn’t know the lyrics, so she decided to just patiently wait if another song would be coming up. It took them about fifteen minutes until Jack pulled into the parking lot and they rode up the elevator. The looks they were given by the team for arriving at the same time didn’t go unmissed but Hollis felt no desire to tell them Jack had managed to persuade her to stay with her.

A few hours they had nothing – Bishop was searching through the cop’s files, Hollis decided to help her, and Torres disappeared somewhere. It was around late afternoon as McGee’s phone rang. And according to the way his eyes lit up and his body posture straightened up Hollis suggested he had just had a breakthrough.
“Our suspect was seen a few blocks away from here”, he called as soon as he had finished the call. Jethro got up immediately.
“Torres, you’re coming.” He waved at the agent who nodded and followed him – just the same as Hollis.
Jethro eyed her with one lifted eyebrow as she caught up next to him. “I don’t recall calling your name”, he said teasingly.
“Oh I figured you wanted me at your side. Wouldn’t have gotten rid of my anyways.”
She ignored the glance of Torres between them due to their playful banter. She would always love flirting with Gibbs no matter what. And as usual he just gave her a smirk and had nothing against her joining in, either.
He drove, Torres being a gentleman let her take the passenger seat – or because he wanted to ogle her and Gibbs interacting. She would have loved to stare him down but just couldn’t get over the fact he was kind of adorable in that childlike-behavior, so she granted him what he so wanted to. She, probably, would have done the exact same thing. No wonder Jack chose to become a psychologist – watching people and their behaviors was very interesting.
Gibbs had barely hit the brake as she already opened the door and literally jumped out of it. She took some moments to take in her surroundings, eyes darting around like an eagle looking for its prey. As she heard Gibbs and Torres come up behind her, she pulled her gun.
“Any ideas, gunny?”, Hollis asked.
That was the second they heard a door slam. All of them were set in attention and had their focus on the building in front of them.
“I take the sideway”, she called at the two men and as no other order came she started running. She felt adrenalin rush through her veins in a way it hadn’t for a very long time. The only kick which could be described as similar was whenever she went for a run in the dark, and till today she wasn’t sure if this was reckless and if she just needed a bit of danger in her life.
Hollis stopped behind a corner, lifting her gun and pressed her back against the wall. She listened – any sound, any scrub on the floor, just something.
Nothing. All she could hear was her own beating heart.
Slowly she glanced around the corner, only to be granted by an empty, little side road. Hollis took a step, then another, eyes darting around.
The hit took her by surprise. All of sudden someone pushed her, hard, and she crashed into the wall. Her shoulder made aware of itself and protested immediately. Hollis turned around, she wouldn’t give up that easily, but the second she did she felt a fist in her face and she tumbled backwards again. She felt her lip crack open and tasted blood on her tongue.
The hit to her stomach was what got her down on her knees. For moments there was nothing to breath, all air was pressed out of her lungs, all she saw were black dots dancing in front of her eyes. Gasping she fell on the ground. Despite the pain she forced herself to look up and caught her predators eyes. He stared back at her – an undistinguishable look on his face. It looked like … as if he recognized her.
And then he ran before she could even reach for her gun.
Realizing she would never be able to get him – not only because he was a lot younger than herself -she groaned and rolled herself on her back. At least they could be sure by now their suspect didn’t work alone and she knew how his sidekick looked.
While getting back on her feet she made out footsteps. Hollis blinked rapidly, trying to forget the numbing pain in her jaw and shoulder and stomach, and prepared herself to be faced by another predator as a familiar person came running around the corner.
His dark skinned face seemed to turn lighter as he stared at her in shock.
“Agent Mann, are you alright?” Agent Torres rushed towards her and knelt down beside her, grapping her arm in caution.
“I’m fine”, she gritted. “Better get that asshole, he went that way!” She attempted to raise her arm but forgot it was the hurt one. With a whiz she squinted her eyes and mumbled a silent curse. She caught Nick shaking his head.
“Yeah, you’re completely fine, I see.”
“It’s nothing”, she said, suppressing a groan about her own stupidity.
“I won’t get that guy anyway, so better not leave you behind.” As he made the attempt to steady her she shot him a glare which had no words necessary. Torres backed away with hands raised in capitulation.
“No wonder you and Gibbs had a thing”, she heard him mumble under his breath but clearly he wanted her to hear it. “You’re just a stubborn as he is.”
She bit back a comment, knowing he didn’t mean it in a bad way and that he was kinda right, and it was more important to preserve her energy.
Still she felt horrible. Ashamed and insulted. A former Army Lieutenant Colonel beat down and defeated by some stupid jerk. She would have been the joke of the day if that would have happened to her while on active army duty.
As her and Torres came back to the car, Gibbs was already there, making a phone call and while doing so taking out some plastic bags. Apparently he must have found some evidence which could help them find the responsible person.
He made out there footsteps and looked up.
Of course he noticed it.
“You okay?”, he asked while giving her a suspicious once over, especially focusing on her lip.
“Yeah”, she mumbled. “Me ego’s just insulted.” She saw Nick’s lips twist into an amused smirk. “Suspect got me. Or better someone who works with him.” She stepped forward and grabbed herself some gloves.
“Should I call Ducky?”, Torres asked.
“No!”, Hollis shouted at him before anyone could even move. Even Jethro eyed her suspiciously. She roled her eyes. “I’m fine, guys. A little rest and I’ll be back in perfect condition tomorrow.”
Torres gave her a look and then asked Jethro as if she had disappeared all of a sudden: “You trust her with that?”
He stared back and forth between him and Hollis. “No”, he said. “We’ll keep an eye on her, and if that shoulder doesn’t get better she’ll pay him a visit. And after that I trust Jack that she’ll get her to a doctor if her condition worsens.”
Hollis snorted but she couldn’t help the smirk spreading out on her lips. Despite everyone’s highly possible assumption she wasn’t the kind of person to bite down pain just to prevent from being belittled, she knew how bad a neglected injury could get, and she trusted and liked Ducky a lot more than any other doctor. And overall she could use it as a reason to get into a little conversation with the doc. She knew for herself he liked telling his stories, and in fact she enjoyed his company. She wasn’t even a real agent anymore, so she probably couldn’t do much more in this case, either.
After making sure they were alone in the building they stepped back in to collect the evidence. Hollis desperately tried to suppress the pulsing pain in her shoulder and ignored the fact she was indeed a little worried about her slight nausea. She blamed it on her age and the fact someone had just kicked her in the guts.
“He seemed to recognize me. And as he did he just ran away. As if he knew me and was kind of shocked I was the one going after him.” She told them as McGee had arrived with the cameras and the usual other stuff they needed. The agent shot her a look but was intelligent enough not to ask again. She knew he’d ask Torres anyways.
“Maybe that guy knew his friend’s target had been engaged and that’s why he recognized you.”
“Which means he now knows I work for the government and own a gun”, Hollis said through gritted teeth.
“We’ll see if that’s going to be a problem or an advantage”, Gibbs called from a few meters away, still collecting evidence but apparently having heard every single word.
She nodded. As much as she didn’t want to admit it he was right. And all of a sudden she was glad she wasn’t staying alone.

Back at headquarters she remembered Jethro’s words about her condition and to her resentment still could felt the pain in her shoulder. She was pretty sure it wasn’t bad but she wasn’t fond of taking a risk. So she excused herself to take the elevator ride down.
The second the door slid open, the old doctor turned around, a smile spreading out on his genuine face. Even if he hadn’t expected the visitor to be her, he didn’t show it. “Hollis.” He stepped closer. “So nice to see you again.”
She smiled as they shook hands and he placed his palm over hers. “Doctor Mallard, my pleasure. It has been a while.”
“And you’re always welcome, as you know.” He then tilted his head, eyeing her. “What can I do for you? Not that I wouldn’t mind such attractive visitors meeting my eyes, but my feeling tells me there must be a reason.”
The guy was a charmer, she hadn’t forgotten, and he hadn’t changed a bit.
She nodded. “You’re right, actually. I … had a little encounter with a suspect and my shoulder was … lets say in the way.”
The old man’s eyes grew sympathetic. “I’ll have a look at it, my dear.” He waved her to the right and allowed himself to place a gentle hand on her back. “Take a seat over there, I’ll be right there.”
She followed his orders and sat down at the end of the farest autopsy table. The second she got rid of her jacket she heard the door open.
“Ah, Hollis, have you met Doctor Palmer?”, Ducky’s voice called through the silence. She turned around and was confronted with a slightly puzzled face of a middle-aged man with glasses who was clearly bewildered seeing someone alive sitting on the silver tables.
“I haven’t.” Glad she was still wearing her shirt – everything else would have been a really weird meeting – she turned a little and gave him a nod. She had heard of him, a new doctor working side by side with Ducky. Little clumsy in front of Gibbs but doing an excellent job.
“Doctor, this is former Army Lieutenant Colonel Hollis Mann”, Ducky introduced them. “Now working for DoD.”
She saw the younger doctor’s eyes grow wide as he clearly remembered the stories around her name but had the decency to not ask. He kind of seemed like the complete opposite of Tony. “My please, Agent Mann.” The smile on his lips was genuine. He looked pretty much like a sweet, caring guy. “I heard you brought the newest case to us and are working with us?”
She nodded. “That is correct.”
“And right now Agent Mann needs to sit still and let me take care of whatever it is that bothers her.” With those words Ducky was beside her and gave a wave at his colleague. “Doctor Palmer, would you be so kind and close the door?” His “no need for any disturbing agents in here” wasn’t necessary. She had never been prude, especially not in front of doctors, and she knew Ducky had seen a thousand naked people before – and she wasn’t even completely naked - so there wasn’t the slightest reason to feel anxious. And Palmer’s presence didn’t disturb her at all, either. The guy seemed like a one-stare-and-he’s-cowed type of guy. Poor one. She could only imagine how hard it must have been at the beginning working with Jethro Gibbs.
As she finally tossed the shirt behind her she shivered. She had underestimated the temperature and already felt goosebumps spreading all over her body.
“So how was Hawaii?”, Ducky asked as if he had sensed her slight uncomfortableness and tried to sidetrack her.
“Amazingly beautiful but boring”, was the first thing coming up in her mind without needing to think. She squinted as Ducky tentatively strobed her arm. Then he stopped.
“If you allow the comment, you look good, Agent Mann.”
Now she blushed. “Ducky”, she said, smiling and shaking her head.
“What”, he smirked in his comforting way. “I’m not used to be granted with such beautiful company, especially not down here.”
She couldn’t help to let the tease slip. “What about Jack and Bishop?”
He waved his head. “True, but …” He gestured at her to not be in need to ogle her. Again, the decent one. “Never like this.”
She roled her eyes in amusement. “How do you manage to make this kind of flirting sound so respectful?”
Ducky smirked. “I am a gentleman, that’s it.”
“You really are, Ducky.” She smiled. “And as much as I enjoy your compliments, I fear I might be freezing to death soon if I keep sitting here like this.”
“Oh oh, of course.” He got her slight hint to the main reason she was down her and got back to business. “We won’t risk you developing into one of our corpses, won’t we, Mister Palmer?”
“Oh, never”, the young doctor called.
Hollis chuckled – and the uplifting mood rapidly shifted as Ducky touched her injured side.
“Does that hurt?” He gently lifted her arm.
Hollis squinted her eyes. “A little”, she said through gritted teeth. He eyed her and she roled her eyes. “Yes.”
Ducky chuckled. “I know you were an Army Colonel, dear, but there’s no reason to play down your pain. At least not here.” He winked at her. “You know, doctor’s confidentiality.”
“What happened, if I may ask?” A tentative voice called her attention. Doctor Palmer was standing on the right, inheriting a polite distance.
“Our suspect seemed to have a co-worker. The guy pushed me into a wall and my shoulder didn’t quite like that.”
She caught Palmer squinting his mouth. “Ouch. I’m sorry.”
“It doesn’t look that bad”, Ducky sad as if to more calm his colleague than her. “I think if you’re lucky and slow down a little you will likely be free of pain by tomorrow.”
She nodded, feeling relief washing over her.
“Did he hurt you elsewhere?”, he went on asking.
“Got a kick in the guts, but …”
“No but, Hollis.” He pointed at the table. “Lay down.”
She suppressed a sign and did was she was told. Her muscles contracted as she felt Ducky’s cool hands observing her, and she shivered at the cold material piercing through her torso.
“You’re probably going to get bruised but that should be all”, he finally said after awhile. He stepped closer to look at her. “I heard Jacqueline made you stay with her?”
She smiled at Ducky mentioning the other woman’s full name.
Jacqueline. She liked the name, the sound of it.
“She did”, she said.
“Well, good. I’m sure she’ll take good care of you.” He gestured at her to get up and she was more than glad to do so.
As far as she had gotten to know Jack she was pretty sure that woman was anything but shy or scared to bend the line, but she knew what Ducky was implefying – when it was about someone else, she would take action. And Hollis was sure she never wanted to get on Special Agent Sloane’s bad side, she thought, as Ducky handed her her shirt.

Chapter Text

Her lip had cracked open and she didn’t even know why, but now it was burning. And her jaw hurt. Good god, when had she become so old?
She was in the middle of massaging her cheek as Jack met her in side-by-side in front of the elevator.
She sensed something was off immediately, especially as Hollis turned so she had full sight on her lip. Jack’s eyes grew wide.
“What happened?” It sounded more like a statement than a question. She decided lying wouldn’t get her anyway.
“Suspect wasn’t quiet fond of being arrested.”
Jack seemed to bite her lip. Even doing that she looked attractive. “Come on.” She placed her palm flat between Hollis’ shoulder blades. “I’ll clean you up as soon as we’re home.”

Just seconds later after they had stepped through the door, Hollis was on a chair, a cooling pack on her cheek, and Jack gathering anything that could help them, or better her, to play nurse.
“I already told you a thousand times, I went to see Ducky and he made sure I’m fine”, Hollis tried for a last time.
“But apparently you haven’t told him about your hurting jaw.” She eyed her as if she were a teacher supervising a student. “And you don’t look fine. Not at all.” She grabbed the piece of cotton pad after drowning it in a distinctively smelling liquid and stepped closer. “Now sit still.”
Even though Jack was cautions she flinched as the burning sting was seeping through her and Jack stopped. “Sorry”, she mumbled, voice soft a velvet.
“It’s okay”, Hollis gave back. “Experienced worse.”
The little smile on Jack’s lips did something to her. And she had no idea what it was.
“It’s not deep. I’m pretty sure it’s just a little cut and you’ll be fine tomorrow.”
She signed. “Gladly. Ducky told me the same.”
“Well we’re both doctors.” Jack smiled. “Even though in different sectors.”
After making sure the wound was free of any bacteria or other unwanted things, Jack straightened her back and eyed her. “Does it hurt elsewhere?”
“Shoulder and stomach, at little at least”, she said while still holding the cooling pad to her jaw, not quite sure if she should ask herself why on earth she told her everything. Usually she would have just shrugged it off … but there was something with Jack that made her speak not only her mind, but also being completely honest. As if she had a secret voodoo on her that made people get out the truth.
She saw Jack clenching her jaw and nodding. “He got you pretty hard, huh?”
Hollis laughed – only to realize the vibration wasn’t quite beneficial. “Yeah, he did. Embarrassing.” The smile on Jack’s face was cute in its sympathy. “There’s nothing to be embarrassed about.”
She cleared her throat.
“Speaking of.” She pulled a chair near and sat down, facing Hollis. “I wondered about this, and … I guess we know each other a little more by now so I just ask you.”
Hollis lifted her chin. Something in Jack’s beautiful brown eyes signalized her that whatever would be coming now, it was either something emotional or …
“How are you? It’s hard loosing someone you once loved.”
Yep, she was right.
Hollis felt a sting in her gut and it wasn’t related to the kicks. “Are you always this upfront?”
Jack shook her head. “Not at all. But I figured I don’t need to put on velvet gloves when talking to you.”
That actually made her smile – for two seconds. She felt a dark, back-breaking shadow laying itself over her. “I don’t know, actually. It feels … unreal.” She leaned back in her chair. “I cried myself to sleep on that day. The next one my moods were mixed, but I was mostly sad. And now … I don’t know. It’s everything. Sadness, anger, but I guess mostly it’s frustration about how someone can turn your life into a huge mess and you can’t even be angry because … that person doesn’t exist anymore.”
And then it happened. A tear escaped her eyes. First, it was a single one. Hollis whipped it away but Jack caught her.
“Hey”, she whispered. She reached out. “Hollis, it’s okay. You don’t have to …”
“I can’t, Jack.” Hollis bit her lip, and as she blinked, another tear fell down. “I’m not … I’m not one to cry easily. In every sense of the word.”
She turned away, knowing if she would look into Jack’s chocolate-eyes any longer, she would break down. And she couldn’t. She just didn’t want to.
She didn’t want to grant Clint hurting her again, even though he was dead, and moreover she didn’t want those killers, whoever they were, whatever they wanted, to take a hold of her life.
“I had figured something was wrong a few weeks before.” She sniffed. “He … wasn’t home anymore as often as usual, and I wondered how much work he still needed to do since he was going to retire.” She shrugged and laughed. It was bittersweet. “Apparently it wasn’t work. It was someone else.” She felt the sarcasm drip from her words and her zynic-self returning. “Someone who was younger, and prettier, and easier.” Again, her fingertips found a way to her face, drying the tears.
“I’m sorry.” Jack’s voice was smooth and calming and understanding. She reached out to squeeze her hand. “I really am so sorry, Hollis.”
She turned around to face her again. “I’ll get over it.” She smiled and finally really meant it. And Jack smiled, too.
“Yes, that’s for sure.”

“Hey, may I use your shower?”, Hollis then asked out of nowhere. Jack eyed her as if she were asking herself where that rapid change of topic came from. But she nodded. And because she was Jack, she didn’t press for explanations. “Of course. Towels are in the drawer, upper shelf.”
She nodded – she had no idea why she nodded – and got up, handing Jack the cooling pack.
“Any special wishes for dinner?”, the psychologist asked. The Hollis two days before would have told her she shouldn’t dare cooking for her since she was already living here for free, but the Hollis now knew that arguing with Jack wouldn’t get her anywhere. So she just shook her head. “You decide. Your house, your kitchen.”
“Okay”, Jack said, still smiling. And as Hollis first took out some clean clothes out of her bag and then headed to the bathroom the picture of a beautiful woman’s smile was burning itself inside her brain. Like a mark that would forever stay with her.

Even though there was a key and she could easily lock the door, she didn’t. She knew there was no reason to. Hollis got rid of her shirt and winced as she had to lift her arm. She really hoped she’d be good again tomorrow.
She folded the old clothes and put them on the floor, then turned towards the mirror. She clenched her teeth.
Two big bruises had formed itself on her skin, one right under the ribcage, another one above her hip. Thank you for nothing, ass, she thought, sending curses to the guy who attacked her. Luckily she didn't feel the pain anymore and Ducky wasn’t suspicious about anything serious either, so it probably was just superficial.
She had gotten pretty good at washing her hair with just one arm since she had broken that damn thing twice in duty, so at least she could refresh herself. And the warm water felt heavenly. She closed her eyes and held her breath for a while as she held her face straight into the jet of water, imagining all pain and hurt being washed away.
Everything was going to be fine …

. . .

She wasn’t the only one to look different, she realized as she came back. Jack had changed clothes, too. And her in just a grey t-shirt and jeans … it had something. As if their thoughts were linked, the second Hollis opened her mouth to say something, Jack turned around. Her eyes went wide. “Wow, you … you look different.”
Hollis smiled. “Different hair, different person.” She roamed a hand through her still damp hair which had returned to its natural form.
“This is incredible.” She put the towel away and stepped closer. “You have curls?”
“Well, I do if I let them dry on air.”
And then Jack surprised her. She reached out and took hold of one strand, circling it around her finger, eyeing it as if it were a masterpiece.
“It looks great on you. You should do this more often.” She smirked at her. “Makes you look a lot nicer and cute.”
Hollis chuckled – even though something about Jack standing so close to her did something to her. “As you know the army didn’t allow open worn hair, and at work I really feel like the straight-hair-kinda person. I seldom let it dry naturally, only on weekends or when I wear it in a bun.”
Jack looked at her for a while as if she were thinking about something. Then she bit her lip and shifted her jaw. Hollis felt her neck strain. Why did she have to look so sexy doing that?
“Would you do me a favor?”
“Depends.” She almost jumped as she heard her own voice sounding so hoarse and whispering.
“Come to work like that. Tomorrow. I wanna see Gibbs’ face. I’m pretty sure he’ll ask himself if this is the same person.”
Hollis laughed and the tension dissolved. “He knows this type of hairstyle, just not in that length, but if it makes you happy, yes, I’ll do that.”

Chapter Text

She hadn’t been wrong. Actually she cursed herself for not having her phone right there to snap a picture at Gibbs’ and the team’s face. Ellie wasn’t shy about it at all, staring at the DoD-agent and telling her how good she looked with that wavy almost curly hair. It was actually McGee who had the funniest look. Jack disappeared with a victorious smile she gave Hollis. And as the woman smirked back she felt something inside her stir.

She caught herself thinking about her. Every minute which was not work related, her mind traveled back to Hollis. Her whit and humor, her smile, her laugh. And then there were her eyes. Incredible, generous and kind eyes. Big and bright and penetrating green. It were her eyes which showed she wasn’t this stern or even coldhearted woman, not at all.
Perfect eyebrows, a face in almost too perfect symmetry. There was just this tiny, cute birthmark on her right cheekbone – a blemish that made her even more beautiful. And the moment she had stepped back into the living room, blond hair up to almost her elbows, she just couldn’t have helped to stare and admire her.

. . .

“Everything okay?”, Hollis asked her as they sat on the couch after watching something on the TV. Jack caught herself smiling back. “Yes”, she said. “I just …” She decided to speak the truth. “I just thought about how nice you look when you smile.”
The sentence coaxed a laugh from Hollis. She had a beautiful, lighthearted laugh, a soft and happy smile, actually a warm aura – if she let it show.
“I mean you look so different. And also when you wear your hair open.” She turned her attention to her ice-cream scoop at put the spoon in her mouth before she could say something embarrassing. Hollis caught up immediately. “How do you like it?”
Jack didn’t need to think for a second. “Open. Makes you more human. Less intimidating.” She played with one of the golden curls. “I especially like that look.” Something inside her was content she was still wearing it falling loose over her shoulders. “It also makes you appear younger. Points out your eyes.”
“You mean the other one is too much army-like.” Hollis didn’t seem to mind her affection at all, also not the fact they were sitting much nearer next to each other than they had done yesterday.
“I really can imagine you in a uniform. Suits you.”
“Camouflage or formal one?”
“Both, actually.” She bit back the comment about that the camouflage one would definitely make her stomach flatter. Even though she also had worn the same clothes for years, or even more because of it, she couldn’t help the nervousness suddenly spreading in her body. Green eyes in camouflage.
Just then she realized Hollis staring at her intensively, and she couldn’t help but ask back.
“What?” She caught her voice sounding dangerously high and nervous.
“I am wondering”, Hollis mumbled. “You seem so … graceful. Delicate. Not vulnerable, not at all, but … you still seem to fit a lot more in a suit and high heels.”
The way her eyes darted over her made Jack’s body tickle.
“That’s because you haven’t seen me with a gun.” She didn’t have to try hard to let her voice sound low.
Hollis batted her eyelids one time. “Oh that I can imagine.” She smirked before turning her attention back to her ice cream bowl that had rested on the table. “Little beasty, you.”
Jack couldn’t hide the gasp that escaped her throat. Hollis’ words were unexpected and hit her right into the heart … and stomach … and caused a heat she DEFINITALY couldn’t ignore.
“How did you just call me?”
She slowly withdrew the spoon before meeting her eyes. Way to slow.
“Sorry, was that offending?”
By all means Jack couldn’t tell if she sounded apologizing or if she was still teasing her. “I didn’t mean it that way, Jack, I’m sorry.”
What rule was it again? Number 16? “If someone thinks they have the upper hand, break it”? And she immediately decided to not back down that easily. She straightened her back and focused Hollis with her most pervasive stare.
“So how did you mean it?”
Hollis still kept her gaze, but now the teasing way of it became insecure. Shy. “Well, uh …” She cleared her throat.
Jack’s eyebrows shot upwards. “Yeah?”, she asked, enjoying the reaction. Hollis clearly hadn’t expected this kind of reply, at least not something like that. It was the first time she had succeeded to catch her off-guard.
“I meant that … I guess you can be pretty … fiery. Strong. Persuasive.” She saw Hollis swallow and couldn’t help the shark grin spreading on her face while she felt her resolve melt.
As Hollis met her gaze she roled her eyes in desperation. “God Jack, stop staring at me like if you’d think about methods how to best analyze me, it’s scary.”
Still smiling she spoke: “Sorry.”
Now it was Hollis’ time to stare. “Liar. No you aren’t.”
“True.”
And they joined in laughter.

Chapter Text

She was standing in a hallway.
No, not a hallway. It wasn’t concrete, it was … sand. Was it sand?
She didn’t know. She just knew there were little dots of reddish somethings on it, every meter some more, some less. Blood. Blood everywhere.
She couldn’t think or move, it felt as if she wasn’t even there, as if she were bodyless. She was … floating.
And she saw everything.
First, she heard footsteps. Someone was running. A shadow appeared, the shadow of a woman, but she couldn’t see her face.
Suddenly, he position changed. Now it was as if she were standing on the ground, just meters away. Shots were fired. The person turned around, blonde hair framing her attractive face, eyes big and wide.
Jack felt her heart cramp as she saw the panic in her face.
She knew her. It was Hollis.
And then, a second shot was fired. Hollis in front of her stirred. A dark dot appeared on her forehead, and without anything else, she fell backwards.

Jack shot up gasping for air. Her body was shivering and her heart aching and trembling as if someone had tortured her with electricity shots.
Short – she was close to a panic attack. One of those many freaking panic attacks in the middle of the night which always left her crying herself back to sleep – or not sleep at all.
As she felt a tear escape her eyes, she whipped it away.
There was only one way she would get back to sleep. She needed closure.
The nightmares had started in Afghanistan but had become worse after her rescue – resulting into Flashbacks of how her friends were killed. She could never talk to them again, ever. There was nothing she could do about that.
Sometimes, they dreams transferred into her real life. She had had a dream about Ellie being captured, once. She had called her after waking up in the middle of the night, just to hear her voice, to make sure she was okay. She had done the same with Leon. Because they were people she trusted, people she knew who would never make fun of her or eye her strangely.
Hollis.
She knew Hollis was downstairs, sleeping, and everything was fine. She wasn’t in a warehouse or whatever that thing had been. But … what if …
No.
No what if’s.
Just do it, Sloane, goddammit.

The floor under her bare feet felt cold and lifeless as she tapped through the almost darkness. Luckily her eyes got used to the dark very fast, but she wasn’t fond of it. She usually always either let a small light on somewhere or let the moon shine through. She remembered that one night, as they had had a party at the beach, two of her friends and her stayed there to sleep in the sand … just a towel, the sea crushing on shore in the background, the moon above them, silence … welcoming, comforting silence.
Since Afghanistan she hadn’t been comfortable in full darkness ever again.
And then she was in the living room.
She hugged herself with both arms and tried to breathe normally. Her heart cramped as she watched Hollis’ sound asleep. She was on her side, arm next to her face, the blanket heaving with every breath she took.
Jack imagined herself stepping closer and caress her cheek, to prove herself she was real, she was here, she was alive. Yet, she couldn’t move. All she did was stare.
After what felt like an eternity she realized she couldn’t stand here for the whole night and stare down at Hollis like a creepy stalker. She took a step back – only to stumble into the table’s leg. She let out a whiz as the pain shot through her just like the sound echoing in the silent room.
And apparently it was loud enough. Hollis eyes shut open and she jolted awake.
Shit.
“Jack? What are you doing here in the middle of the night?” She used her hand to comb back a few strands of hair.
She didn’t think for a second to lie. “I had a dream. A bad one … I dreamed … you were killed. Shot. In the head. And …” Her voice trailed off. It took only three more seconds until Hollis reached out for the lighter of the small lamp near the couch. Jack tensed as the air in the room seemed to grow thin with the light coming on.
“Jack. I’m fine.” She spoke it as if she were puzzled, and truth be told, she had all reason to be confused about someone staring at her in the middle of the night.
“It’s not that easy”, she whispered, her voice trembling.
“What do you mean?”
Jack sniffed and crossed her arms. Hollis had no idea about her nightmares. Why especially headshots freaked the hell out of her. And she really wasn’t fond of telling her story NOW. She barely noticed Hollis getting up and stepping in front of her.
“Jack, look at me. Everything is fine.” Only as she faintly felt her breath on her face Jack realized them standing close opposite each other.
Jack felt like hyperventilating. It wasn’t just the nightmare and that it was HOLLIS who had been in it. It was also the fact she was standing there, in her pyjamas, and Hollis wearing grey shorts and a black top that didn’t leave much to the imagination to her assumption this woman was highly physically trained.
Jack flinched as Hollis cupped her face with both hands.
“You’re shivering.” Never had she heard her speak in such a soft, almost scared tone. Jack couldn’t help closing her eyes and let the gentle touch seep through her bones. “You want me to come upstairs? It helps against nightmares if you’re not alone.”
Even though she had been whispering the words let her tense up. Her heart was hammering. All she could do was stare into Hollis bright eyes, glistening pure golden.
“I’d like that”, she said, not able to control her ragged breathing.
Hollis smiled. “Okay”, she said. Slowly she stepped away to get her pillow and blanket. As her hands left her face, Jack immediately was missing the contact. God, what the hell was that?
“Let’s go”, Hollis smiled and nodded at her to lead her. Jack turned around and they both went back the distance she had covered before.
As they stood in the room she could feel Hollis’ presence. “Which side do you want?”, she asked with a voice still smooth like velvet. Jack just nodded to the one near to the door – it still haunted her. She always needed the best-way-out side to prevent her from feeling trapped. Luckily, Hollis had no problem with taking the windows’ side. Jack pressed the light button and everything was covered in darkness again – except for the moonlight streaming through the roller blind.
She didn’t look at her, maybe she even averted her eyes. She pulled the blanket up it silence, thought about tugging it high up under her arms like she always did when she had a bad dream, but something stopped her.
“Jack?” Her voice was tentative, smooth, comforting. Soft. She didn’t answer, she didn’t know why.
“Are you okay with me getting a little closer?”
Jack nodded – though she wasn’t even sure. She wanted it and on the same hand she wanted to run … and didn’t know why. She craved the other woman’s presence but also felt she should get as fast away from her as soon as possible. She felt her skin tickle as Hollis shifted closer, the warmth of her body spreading and putting itself over her, like a comforting blanket which suddenly seemed unnecessary.
They were laying in silence, minutes passing, as Hollis’ whispers disturbed the silence.
“Do you mind?” She grabbed her hand.
Jack took a deep breath. “Thank you”, she whispered, voice barely holding on.
“You’re welcome.” She couldn’t see her face but sounded a smile out of her words. She squinted her eyes and pressed her lips together.
“I’m here, Jack.” The grip grew tighter. Jack fought against every urge to shift backwards and curl into her embrace. “Whenever you need me, I’m here.”
She felt a tear escape her eye and sniffed. Just two seconds later she felt Hollis’s thumb brush over her cheek. Her body jolted but she didn’t back away. She wished her fingertips would have stayed there for a while longer.
“Sleep”, she said while her hand moved downwards to rest on her hip. “I won’t go anywhere.”
Jack exhaled and didn’t mind the other following tears dripping down. Instead she reached out for Hollis’ hand and held it tight. She didn’t dare move it away, could feel the warmth spread through the bedsheets. She felt her heartbeat’s tempo slowly but steadily decreasing.
And with Hollis’s steady breathing against her neck she finally slipped into a calm and dreamless sleep. Her mind relaxed. But her body was reacting in ways it had never done before when being close to a friend.

Chapter Text

She had found comfort in that low, raspy voice that sounded so easily teasing and seductive whenever she just used the right punctuation.
Hollis was easy. She was straight forward and not one to dance around the obvious or what she wanted, and Jack liked that. She was careful with words but she also knew everything would inevitably lead to the truth somewhen. And with Hollis she could be honest. Bluntly honest.

Well … not THAT honest. Because as she found her in the kitchen the next morning she definitely knew she wouldn’t confess that the sight in front of her gave her butterflies.
She was leaning against the counter, a cup of coffee in her hand and staring out of the window. The dim morning light turned her skincolor into golden caramel, her hair, still wavy, was falling loose over her shoulders and arms.
The shirt she was wearing Jack was all too familiar with. A beige colored, tight fitting t-shirt which emphasized her tones arms and whole upper body in ways no normal t-shirt for work should be allowed to. Jack couldn’t help but realize how good she looked. And that she’d do anything to see Hollis Mann wearing camou just for once. Or even better … nothing.
What the hell was she thinking?!

And suddenly she turned and her eyes were fixed on Jack’s.
“Morning”, she said and smiled before taking another sip of the coffee. Jack smiled – or better, it turned into a weird, stupid grin.
“Good morning.”
Hollis lifted the cup in her hand, smile apologizing. “I hope you’re okay with me using your coffee machine …”
“Oh please, of course I am.” She gave her a nod.
And then Hollis stared at her. Challenging, almost. As if she were trying to read her.
“How are you, Jack?”
She stilled in between. Listening to her inner voice, she nodded. “I’m good. Well, being honest, I could be better, but I could especially feel worse.” She looked up. “Thanks to you. Your presence helped.”
Hollis nodded but there wasn’t the usual smile on her lips, just a faint glinting in her eyes. “I’m glad”, she said, her voice smooth and comforting like velvet. “Feel free to ask for it anytime again.”
Jack nodded and stayed right where she was. The kitchen around them fell silent. Just then Jack realized she wasn’t just looking at Hollis. She was STARING.
Two of her biggest weaknesses. Men in a suit and women in uniform. Especially if it were a woman as magnifying as Hollis Mann whose devilish bright eyes seemed to almost reflect the color and weren’t to escape.
Her lips twisted and turned into a smile. There she was. The most prominent side of Hollis Mann – the flirtatious and sassy one.
“Are you okay, Jack?”
Heat shot in her face. “Yeah”, she said, a little too fast, and turned around. Suddenly feeling embarrassed that Hollis had caught her staring, she swallowed.
She could feel her burning stare in her back and tried not to squint as she literally felt her stepping closer.
“You were staring.” God, that voice. That voice between softness and throaty like coffee. Again she found that fierceness of hers strangely attractive.
“I was”, she said, only to bite her tongue the next second.
Hollis seemed to chuckle. “Why?”
Jack knew she wouldn’t get herself out of that again. They were playing a game … a game she had started yesterday and now since Hollis was taking over she had absolutely no control over it. No wonder Gibbs had fallen for this woman.
“Because you are a good looking woman.” Lying wouldn’t work, she knew that.
Hollis smirked and lowered her chin. God, she looked precious. Almost cute. “Well thank you very much.” She gave her another look over the rim of the mug and Jack couldn’t help the swallow.
“I … I guess we should get something to eat if we don’t wanna be to late.”
Before she could even more Hollis tilted her head towards the table’s direction. Jack followed her eyes. She fought back every urge to not let an “Awww” sound slip as she found the table set with plates, glasses and utensils.
“Toast?”, Hollis asked the next second.
“You playing waitress now?”, Jack decided to say to hopefully shift the atmosphere back into the comfortable teasing one.
“Only for you, my dear.”
Jack caught her smile. And something told her she meant it.

The thought was manifesting inside her head and she finally, finally caught him alone without another agent lingering around.
“McGee?”
The guy looked up. Her fingertips were shaking in anticipation, her body was tensed.
“Could you do me a favor?”
He nodded. “Sure. What do you need?”
She took a deep breath, hoping he wouldn’t sense it. “Is there any possible to get a picture of Agent Mann in her army-clothes?” She put on the sassiest smile she could manage to make it appear as a simple “I’m interested in friendship-ways” and simultaneously hoped she wasn’t overplaying it. McGee didn’t even try to look puzzled, he just nodded. “I would wonder if Tony wouldn’t have snapped a picture somewhen.” He started tapping on the computer. “I’ll ask him and then send it to you, okay?”
Jack smirked and felt her heart pound. “Thank you, Tim.” God, she owed that guy.

Chapter Text

Yesterday morning she had caught Jack. But the evening before she had caught her.
Actually … she had caught her a long time before.
Those eyes. Those incredibly beautiful dark eyes. That smile. Her cuteness. The sass.
It was everything. Every damn piece of hers was so appealing. She wasn’t just beautiful. She was so much more.
Hollis had never been one to be fooled. She enjoyed flirting with good looking people, mostly men, and only since Jack she had realized the things she were doing with women had been different. Around Jack she was behaving as if she were a man she was attracted to. And that hadn’t happened ever before.

McGee found something and they were called into MTAC. It felt ages ago since she had last stepped through that door – the last time had been in her camouflage. And … her and Jethro had been a couple.
And now? Now she wasn’t thinking about him, not even about another, but – about a woman. A very specific woman in even more specific ways a straight woman shouldn’t think about.
As Jack left she couldn’t help herself staring after her, eyes darting over her body, taking in the muscular calves, the way the dress emphasized her curves, the slight but sensual sway of her hips …
Hollis bit her lip as she imagined them being the only ones in the room. Her thoughts took over and she imagined Jack turning around and staring back at her, that beautiful smile on her lips. She thought about getting lost in her eyes, touching her hair …
“Hollis?” The voice jolted her awake. She blinked a view times, only to realize she was still turned around and now staring at an empty spot where Jack had only been standing a view seconds ago. She cleared her throat.
“Yeah?” She turned around and put on her pokerface. Jethro was looking at her, eyebrows squinted together. She straightened her back. Now work was the most important, and she could deal with her unexplainable feelings later on.

“Unexplainable” was exactly the right word. It got weirder and weirded. Not that she was analyzing herself, but she found herself to constantly think about it. “It” were her emotions. She felt comfortable in Jack’s presence, a very unusual comfortableness she hadn’t had since …
Yes. Since she had last had feelings for someone.
All she knew was she wouldn’t want to spend the ongoing nights on a couch alone. And she didn’t know which part of it scared her more.
“Hollis?”
Her voice startled her and made her spine tickle. She turned around to meet Jack bending over the handrail.
“Hm?”
“I wanted to ask if you’re in for a drink this evening.” Jack’s smile was bright and uplifting and – yeah, was it slight nervousness? She didn’t know.
All she knew was SHE was getting anxious. An unexpected yet familiar wave came rushing over her and she blamed it on the adrenalin still running through her veins. So she used her all-time-favorite way of fooling people – whenever growing nervous she just turned it around into the opposite emotion.
“Sounds good. You wanna go out?” Why on earth did she feel like she was being watched by Bishop and Torres all of a sudden? She was only glad they weren’t Tony or Ziva … not that she had anything against those two brilliant agents, but she really didn’t need gossip right now.
Jack shrugged. “Don’t need to. You?”
“Not really”, Hollis’ mouth spoke before her brain processed it.
Jack nodded. She seemed to be happy with that. “Good. Let’s get something on our way back home and mix it together, you in for that?”
She nodded. As Jack’s smile grew even wider and she disappeared with a “Great”, Hollis took a deep breath. And as she heard Torres mumble something like “Dinnerdates” a feeling of nervousness came over her which she hadn’t experienced since the day of her first army-duty abroad.

Chapter Text

They decided to treat themselves with some good alcohol. They bought scotch whiskey and amaretto, her favorite western-bar-mixture how she explained with a smirk.
Hollis had been unusually distant and shy compared to the last days and she wanted her to get lose again. The way she had behaved today, especially as she had faced her in the bullpen … strange. She wouldn’t have thought Hollis Mann to be a woman who could be nervous and to actually show it that well, but she might have just failed in her evaluation.

Luckily the tension disappeared every ongoing minute, and as they were on their second glass – Hollis starting and Jack almost finished – they seemed to have regained the easy-going atmosphere.
Even though something was different. But if she was honest it was different since a few days … they had grown twitchy around each other. And they were looking at each other in a way normal friends wouldn’t. Looking and behaving.

“Who was your first?” She usually never asked that question but she figured she was another person with Hollis than usual. They had talked about almost everything so this topic wasn’t intruding at all. Hollis swayed her glass.
“First to kiss or first to sleep with?”
Jack shrugged. “Both.”
It took Hollis two seconds before answering. “Benjamin Clarke. Seventh grade. Second step, Brody Marshall. I was twenty.”
Jack lifted her eyebrows in surprise and Hollis signed. “Yeah, I know it took me a while.”
She smiled. “I like that. Not doing it too early and with anyone.”
“Oh don’t say that. Did some pretty stupid things in my twenties ad thirties. But in the past years I have realized life is too short to keep up with people you don’t even like.” She looked at her. “That’s why I’m here, drinking godfather with you. Because I like spending time with you.”
Jack almost felt herself beam with pride. “I like that too. I mean, you.”
Hollis stopped. Then, slowly, she turned to look at her, those green eyes sparkeling like amber in the light. “What do you like most about me?”
She didn’t need to think at all. “Well, for example that. Your forwardness. Your cold blooded honesty. One always knows what you want or don’t want.”
She laughed. “And you like that?”
Jack nodded in all honesty. “I actually do. I can’t stand people who smile in your face despite they actually would like to stab you, or complain about things because they are too scared to slam it right into your face.”
“What else do you like about me?” The look in her eyes could have been sheepish as she took another sip of the liquid but Jack knew her well enough by now to be sure Hollis was many things but not necessarily sheepish.
She swallowed as she felt the nervous tickle return. The feeling which had come up since the last days. “Your eyes. They are beautiful. Mysterious. I have always liked green eyes.”
“Same goes with you”, Hollis said. As she went on her voice seemed to travel far away, whispering, thoughtful. And incredibly sensual. “I never thought brown eyes could be so enticing, but … I guess I was wrong.” She smirked and tilted her head. “You make it very easy to fall in love with you.”
Jack bit her lip as she felt her heart pound. “So you fell in love with me?”
They stared into each other’s eyes, neither of them wanting to be the first to break the contact. It was easy, chilled, relaxed – and prickling. The tension was there, but it was undefinable. Somehow Jack felt like she didn’t have to conceal it, and it felt good.
Hollis lifted her eyebrows. Her heart did another leap and she felt it flatter like a bird. “Does that make me … extraordinary?”
“Oh, that and a lot of things.” Jack didn’t hide the clearly seductive undertone in her voice. She was pretty sure Hollis had figured it out a lot sooner before and she didn’t seem to mind.
“For example?” Her voice had become low, silent, almost whispering.
“Well you could answer this question.” Jack shifted in her seat until she was fully facing her, her eyes piercing like dark bullets. “Have you ever kissed a woman?”
Hollis blinked. Just a little too fast to make it appear like a normal reaction. “I haven’t.”

And then it was silent. The tension between them was almost audible, cracking under its pressure. Jack’s body reacted before her brain could send any rational thoughts into her consciousness. She had no idea why and she didn’t even need to think. All she knew was the next second her lips were on Hollis’, capturing them in a kiss containing so many emotions she couldn’t even describe a single one of them. Her heart went wild and her body suddenly got enveloped in pure heat. Heat and the desperate want to be close to this beautiful, magnifying woman with those bewitching eyes.
Very close.
The kiss didn’t last long. As they broke apart Hollis kept her eyes close for a second, seeming to process what had just happened. Jack only backed away for barely twenty centimeter. Her heart was racing, every muscle tensed, and she almost felt like dying in anticipation.
Moments later Hollis opened her eyes, lips parted and rapidly blinking as if she were awaking from a daydream.
“I was hoping you’d do that”, she whispered with heavy eyelids.
Jack smiled. “Really? You could have just asked.” Her voice was low, whispering. There was no need to speak in her normal tone.
She saw Hollis swallowing. “I figure … you have done that before.” As she spoke again, her voice was low, raspy, cautious – and excited. “How often?”
Jack felt the heat and her nervousness return. “Well.” Now it was her time to tremble. How did it just happen that Hollis had flipped the control back so she had it? Just seconds ago she had had the upper hand. “Tried it in high school because I was interested, then there was a young woman at university, two years older than me, and …” Her voice died. She couldn’t. She couldn’t get out another word while Hollis was staring at her like that.
She cleared her throat. “I … I’m gonna get some more whiskey.” She made the attempt to get up as Hollis’ hand grabbed her wrist. Jack stopped, froze, and stared at her. Hollis never broke eye contact while she slowly sat down again. Jack’s heart pounded, so loud and strong she feared the other woman - who was literally undressing her with the look in her eyes – might hear it.
An eternity later she opened her mouth to say something but the sentence died on her lips as Hollis leaned in and kissed her. Passionate and loving and hotbreathed, all at once. Jack didn’t hide the sign that got released out of her throat and her hand found its way into Hollis’ neck, pulling her close. If there were anything left of her resolve, those fragments were melting like an icecube in the burning sun. She parted her lips and allowed her tongue to touch Hollis’ lips. And she reciprocated. In a way that made Jack realize again that Hollis Mann wasn’t just a pretty face – but that she knew exactly what she was doing. Jack felt all the muscles in her back tensing.
As they broke apart for a second time they both were breathless. Jacks heart skipped a beat and felt a heatbulb explode inside herself when she caught the look in Hollis burning, light green eyes. Suddenly, it was raw. Raw hunger, pure, uncovered emotions. There wasn’t the slightest uncertainty about the want and need they both felt. She saw it in her eyes. She just knew. And it made her nervous and excited and aroused the same time.
“Well that was … unexpected”, she panted.
Hollis smiled. A devilish attractive smile, and as she spoke, her voice sounded hoarse. “No it wasn’t, and you know that.”
She nodded. Yeah. And she knew another thing. What she wanted to do.
With Hollis.
Tonight.
Now.
The older woman bit her lip and Jack suppressed a groan. “Oh stop doing that.”
Hollis grinned, eyes twinkeling devilish. “What?”
“This!”
The smug grin grew wider and she tilted one perfect eyebrow.
Jack roled her eyes as she felt her resolve break. “Oh screw it, don’t stop.” She placed her hand in Hollis neck and pulled her towards her, kissed her again, felt Hollis smirk against her lips.
Their lips found each other again without them thinking, it was as if their bodies were opposite poles of magnets, as if they craved each other’s touches. She felt Hollis hand in her neck, gently pulling at her hair, and she couldn’t help gut moan into her mouth. It had developed over the last days, over hours. There was no denial about that and they both were too old to dance around it like inexperienced young people who were scared about love and desire.
“Are you sure about this?”, she panted in between kissed. The answer came immediately and nonverbal with Hollis pushing her backwards onto the couch.
“Does this look like I’m insecure?”, she whispered, voice hoarse. The tone send electricity-like shots through her body.
There was something about Hollis. She was forceful and impulsive, but paired with a gentleness Jack couldn’t describe.
And as she felt her lips on her throat that was the end.

Chapter Text

She let a moan slip out and tried to turn, to catch her lips. But Hollis was prepared to back away just in the right second. She closed her eyes and hissed as Hollis’ hand slipped under her shirt.
“Wait, let’s go to the bedroom.” She lifted herself up from the couch, took Hollis’ hands and pulled her with her. Well after a meter she didn’t need to pull at all. They were walking – or better stumbling - through the halls until they finally reached the bedroom door.
Jack felt Hollis’ burning gaze all over her and she knew if she wouldn’t be able to regain her part of control within seconds she would be a mess.
As soon the door feel shut she turned to her partner and kissed her again, hungry, forceful, and brought her back against the wall. Hollis didn’t seem to mind at all – Jack singed into the kiss as she felt her hand’s moving along her back, pulling her near. Jack broke apart, but only to let her lips travel lower to discover new territory. She claimed her throat, kissing along downward, the beginning of her collarbone, and along the neckline. It had been a while since she had last been with a woman, and she had almost forgotten about the sensation of beautiful, soft skin and smooth, long hair. Hollis made a sound rumbling from deep down in her throat. “Don’t stop”, she mumbled.
Jack grinned. There it was. She had it back, the control. “Oh dear, believe me. I haven’t even started.”
She backed away and nodded towards her. “Get rid of that shirt.”
Hollis grinned. “You getting bossy with me now?”
Jack put on the most challenging gaze she could manage.
“Why don’t you do it yourself?”, Hollis then said.
And Jack grinned. “I was hoping you would want me to.” Smiling she stepped forward again to meet her lips for a gentle and loving kiss. Taking advantage of every single possibility to touch her skin Jack moved her hands along her sides, then finally took a hold of the hem of Hollis’ darkgrey shirt. Her partner willfully lifted her arms to make it easier for her. Jack took in her skin, lighter than her own but still tanned, and the way the simple, black bra contrasted to her light hair. Everything inside her was screaming for reaching around and open that damn claps, but she refused. She wanted to take it slow, savoring every single moment.
This was more than just a flirt. Even though she had some alcohol in her system, her mind was clear as crystal. She wanted this. So badly.
Her assumption hadn’t been wrong about Hollis body physique – toned arms, flat and muscular stomach in just the right amount it was feminine and strong all together. Because that was her – she was beautiful and tough, wiry but elegant.
And for Jack she was perfect.
Slowly she lowered her head and pressed a kiss right on the swell of her breasts. Hollis tilted her head back, signing in contentment. Jack felt the goosebumps spreading over her body – her partner clearly felt as agitated as her. As she went on with assaulting her with soft kisses, she felt and even saw Hollis’ tremble. She smiled and looked up, making sure she was okay. Her eyes were still half shut and she seemed to be in a daze which made her so incredibly beautiful Jack couldn’t help but pull her in close until their bodies touched and claim her lips once again.
Hollis’ fingertips took on a path over her back, down her spine until she reached her butt.
“I have wanted to do this the whole day”, she whispered against her ear, making it sound like the sexiest thing Jack had heard in years. “You look damn gorgeous in those skirts, you know that?”
Her breath hitched. “I do?”
“God, yes, you little minx.” Hollis’ breath was hot against her ear.
She bit her lip. Okay. If they’d keep on playing this game, she would faint any second or worse turn into a needy monster driven by lust, and boy, she knew how she behaved in such situations. And she couldn’t risk that with Hollis.
She had somehow foreboded that she was going to be the one to be naked first. Not because she was desperate to get to the peak of the evening, but more because she wasn’t shy about peeling the layers. She wanted to let Hollis take the lead in this, and overall it was her who had experience in this kind of thing – she didn’t want the other woman to feel she would be playing on her. Because she was everything but not this.
Maybe it also was because she wanted to give her the possibility to back out – but considering the look Hollis gave her in the next moment, she wanted everything but not leave this room. The look and expression in her eyes was different to anything Jack had ever seen on anyone she had been in a relationship or had slept with. There wasn’t heated lust or that usual lip-bite. It was more like … a soft stare-down. It was admiration. And the sweetest thing about Hollis’ behavior was that she didn’t even seem to mind she was naked.
And then they locked eyes again and she smiled. She smiled and her green eyes sparkeled and it was the most precious and beautiful thing Jack had ever seen. For a moment she was completely breathless, just got lost in those big, bright, expressive eyes.
And that was the moment she knew. She knew what she was feeling was so much more, from head to toe she was enveloped in something she hadn’t seemed to have felt in years, something that made her feel alive.
She was in love with her. Every single part of her soul, her heart, her body was in love with her.
It was her body’s reflexive reaction that brought her back to the present. Hollis’ touch was light as a feather as her fingertips brushed over her breasts. Jack closed her eyes at the gentleness. It was sweet, as if Hollis were scared to hurt her or to do something wrong. God, she was pure sweetness. “You’re so soft”, she whispered. “If I had known what I was missing I would have done this a lot earlier.” Her lips found that perfect spot right under her throat.
“What”, Jack hissed. “Making out with a woman or …”
“Making out with you.” She buried her face into Jack’s hair and took a deep breath. “And you smell so good.“
Jack giggled and gasped at the same time. “Am I the only one here who feels like a horny teenager?”
“You’re only as old as you feel”, Hollis spoke back. “Remember? It was you to say this.” She pulled back to stare into her eyes. “And right now, I feel anything than 50 plus.”
Jack stared back, suddenly thinking about how much longer she could bear this, how much longer until she would crumble. And then something happened which took her by surprise. Hollis lowered her head until their foreheads touched. And she just stayed like this, hugging her waist. Jack’s breath hitched but despite her heartbeat running wild she suddenly … suddenly she felt calm.
No. It wasn’t just calmness.
She felt protected. Hollis gave her a feeling of a save heaven, someone she could not only turn to – but someone who was strong and brave enough to handle her breakdowns, her demons. Someone who was able to carry her through the storm.
As if they had the same though both of them suddenly stirred and came into motion. Jack focused on her eyes once more, tried to read the expression. She fiddled for Hollis’ hand, found it, their fingers interlaced. Slowly Jack made a step backwards, silently asking her for permission. And Hollis followed her.
They ended up on the bed a lot faster than she would have thought earlier, but Hollis quickly claimed the control. She moved them around until she was straddling her hips. Jack bit her lip and stared up at her. She couldn’t quite decide where to focus on but then went for staring into her face. Hollis reached for the hair tie still wrapped around it to hold the ponytail in place. She slowly pulled it out and shook her head. Jack swallowed and watched in awe as the long mane settled on her shoulders, falling loosely over her upper arms. The gesture and the look in her eyes was so incredibly beautiful and sexy she didn’t dare to breathe. And probably the most sensual thing about it was that Hollis seemed to not even realize what an impact those seconds had on her.
Jesus, you’re so beautiful.
“For not having done this with a woman before you seem to be quiet forthgoing, Ma’am.” She tried to sound teasing but knew she was failing gloriously. Maybe she should have said the other thing. Lying had never worked with her.
Hollis’ lips twisted into a smile. “I never said I was shy.”
Jack eyed her, then propped herself up on her arms. “But still shy enough to not get this off.” She playfully tucked at Hollis’ jeans. She grinned and backed off to stand. While she got rid of the jeans Jack sat up again, watched her every move. She had always liked those little bows but she had figured Hollis wasn’t the type of such underwear, and she was right. Simple was sexiest. The second Hollis was standing upright again, Jack put her hand around her waist and pulled her close. Hollis seemed surprised but not against it, she even giggled at little. Jack allowed herself to grant her hands some freedom to travel - soft material, almost like silk she figured as she trailed a path along her side and the waistband. The sound her partner made was between a hum and sign, and whatever it was, Jack liked it. God, she craved to hear it again.
She placed a kiss on Hollis’ lower belly right above the hem of her panties. A soft sign filled the room and she playfully dug her fingernails into Jack’s hair. And suddenly she stirred.
Jack looked up. Hollis had bit her lip and she knew, this time she didn’t mean it to be seductive, it was timid. She took a deep breath. “God, am I really doing this?”
Jack reached up to caress her cheek. “Only if you want to.”
What happened next she hadn’t expected. Hollis leaned into the touch and placed her hand above hers. She signed. “I do. God, I so want to.”
“So …” Jack literally felt her eyes grow darker. “What are we waiting for?”
“I don’t know.” She bent down to kiss her, her green eyes burning, the reluctance gone. Slowly Jack made her move to stand up, her kisses growing lighter.
“A Kiss on the forehead means” She kissed her right between her eyebrows. “I respect you.” Tentative she hooked a finger under the strap and pulled in down her shoulder, the other following. Then she slowly made her way along her ribcage, reached around her until she touched the clasp of her bra. She searched for Hollis eyes. “May I?”
Hollis just nodded.
Jack smiled as she bent forward to place a soft kiss on Hollis’ collarbone while whispering: “A Kiss on the shoulder means” She slowly made her way around her and placed another kiss on her shoulder. “… you are perfect.” She looked up just the second to catch Hollis smile with closed eyes. With one single movement she brushed her hair aside and leaned in. “And a kiss on the neck means …” She aspirated one on spoken spot. “I want you.” She felt Hollis’ body reacting to her words, goose bumps spreading, and she made out a sharp intake of air.
“I want you too.”
Jack met her eyes. But despite a hungry kiss she would have expected Hollis just stared a burning gaze into her eyes.
And then she smirked. “Tell me. What do you like?”
Jack laughed. “Wow. You’re really fast with crossing the line between being cute and incredibly sexy.”
She caught the small, cute smirk on her lips. “I want to know. I want to make this the best I can.”
Jack’s heart was beating. All of a sudden she had no idea what to respond to that.
It had always mattered to her how a person was in bed – not because she had a standard, god no, but because of how two people treated each other. And Hollis – Hollis was the sweetest, most caring partner she had ever had.
She couldn’t recall how they had reached the bed again, all she knew was that she had reached that time of not being able to hold herself back for any longer. In a quick movement she was the one hovering above her partner, planting soft kisses on her neck. Her own body tensed as she realized how much of a trigger point that spot was for Hollis, her soft signs almost driving Jack crazy.
Teasing she kissed her way downwards. She felt the firm muscles on Hollis’ stomach tense and vibrate under her touch as she hooked both her fingers under the hem of her panties. She took her time getting rid of it, only pulled them low enough so she could place a kiss on that specific body part, the mons veneris. She heard Hollis rumble deep in her throat, a sound indicating that she was either enjoying this like hell or she was desperate for relief – Jack herself knew for HER it was both. She kissed her way up along the insight of her thigh, feeling her shivering and growing more and more agitated and desperate. Finally she got rid of the piece of clothing, leaving her in all her naked glory. She ran a hand along her smooth legs, slowly settling into position before giving her a last glance to make sure she was really ok with this.
As she tasted her Hollis took a sharp intake of air and she flinched as if her body had just been given some volts of electricity. Jack couldn’t help but chuckle.
“Relax”, she murmured teasingly, only to repeat the move once again. She felt Hollis shiver under the touch and her breathing going faster. As she replaced her tongue with her finger, Hollis moaned. Seconds later she felt her hand at the back of her head and she reacted.
“Shhhh”, she whispered while interlacing their fingers and pulling her hand away to rest. For a while she was just enjoying her partner’s silent whimpers, lavishing at the way she was the one responsible for her making those sounds.
Pressing a last very long kiss on her hipbone she moved upwards, grazing her breast on purpose. She threw her hair on one side to look at her. Her own heart was beating as she took in Hollis’ flustered cheeks and chest, lips slightly parted and closed eyes.
Just seconds later she seemed to realize Jack looking at her since she opened her eyes, blinking. For a moment they held each other’s gaze, leaving Jack breathless at her beauty and the glow in her eyes. All she could get herself to was smile, and as Hollis did the same, just way more worn-out, she leaned in to kiss her. Hollis reciprocated and Jack had no idea from whom the sudden soft sounds originated from. She softly grazed her partner’s bottom lip with her teeth before withdrawing, only to give room for another skilled move with her fingertips. Hollis arched her back every time the pleasant waves came crushing over hers, biting her lip, and Jack felt as if she were seducing her even though she was the one with the clearly upper hand.
Suddenly her eyes snapped open. “Stop”, Hollis’ hissed. And Jack did so.
“What?”
Hollis’ eyes fell shut again. She swallowed. “No I mean … don’t stop. Just … stay ... right there.”
Jack grinned. “You mean … there?” She repeated the move.
Hollis moaned. “God yes”, she breathed.
She arched her back, her leg clasping around Jack’s waist, and then she made that sound, that ultimate sound only a woman was capable of. Jack called it the sound of pleasant pain. Even though was Hollis was doing was more similar to some kind of wincing sound – and it turned her on as hell. And she loved to make her do it again. Hollis groaned and tilted her head.
“Jack”, she whispered her name. Jack bit her lip, preventing herself from giving in. They way her name sounded coming off Hollis’ lips … she would never forget that. She used her thumb to increase the pressure and the tension, and her lover’s reaction came immediately.
Jack couldn’t help it and leaned in. “You close?”, she whispered into her ear. The answer – not only to her words but her actions - was a sharp intake of air. “Take that as a yes”, she growled back, placing a kiss on the spot under her ear.
“Shit, Jack, I …” She felt Hollis’ fingernails dig into her hair as if she were pulling her closer but simultaneously trying to push her away. Jack didn’t grant her any of it and went on with her soft, very reactive torture. Just seconds later she felt Hollis’ clasp on her stiffen and she looked up, caught her eyes. Her silent scream died of her lips as her body trembled and her muscles clenched, and as she opened her eyes again she was panting. Only then Jack realized she was doing the same.
It was silence between them. Jack leaned in with a smile and kissed her cheek, the corner of her lips, and slowly withdrew her hand and instead let it rest on her hip.
Exhaling deeply Hollis relaxed under her. Jack bent forward until their foreheads touched and she closed her eyes to focus on Hollis trying to regain her breath.
“Oh my god you got me”, Hollis whispered.
Jack couldn’t help the chuckle escape her throat. She backed away and smirked. “Well that was easy.” She kissed the spot on her collarbone that had made her wince before.
“You really are as good as I thought you’d be.”
Jack stilled and looked at her with a raised eyebrow. Hollis caught the look and laughed, still breathless.
“Wow. That came out a lot dirtier than it had sounded in my head.”
Jack smirked. “Well.” She settled beside her, tilting her head. “I know what a woman likes.” She nudged her shoulder and went on stroking along her arm, up and down, up and down.
“Oh, that’s for sure.” As Hollis closed her eyes again, smiling sated and contently, Jack settled beside her, propping herself up on her arms so she could look at her.
Seconds later Hollis reached out and took one of her curls between two fingers, twirled it, then watched it falling back into position. Her eyes caught hers, lightgreen meeting deepbrown, and Jack felt her heart hammer against her ribs. Again she was mesmerized at the softness in her partner’s green eyes.
Hollis’ leg slide up around hers, her toes stroking along her calves. She hummed in appreciation. That made her lie down completely and shift closer until their bodies touched again. She pulled Hollis in at her waist, meeting her lips again. She would never grow tired of kissing her.
“Jack, I … I need to admit something.” The sudden whisper made her eyes snap open.
“What?”, she asked.
The expression in Hollis eyes was serious. All of a sudden it seemed as if all the bliss had gone. “I feel … I’ll never be able to give you back even the half of what …”
“Don’t”, she whispered. She stopped her with putting a finger on her lips. “Hollis, this isn’t tit for tat. You are not forced to do anything you don’t want or feel confident in.”
Her eyes were glowing, then started to glister. She reached out and softly caressed her cheek before placing it above her heart. As she spoke her voice was almost inaudible.
“What did I do to deserve you.”
Jack just looked back into her beautiful eyes, hoping she could emphasize the meaning of her feelings with her choice of words. “I guess destiny meant it well with us.”
Hollis’ hand found hers and squeezed it. Then she placed her own one on Jack’s hip and slowly leaned against her to turn. Jack felt her breathing speed up as she realized what her partner was doing. She followed her every move like a hunter its prey, and as Hollis propped herself up on her arms looking down on her she suddenly had no idea how she could ever express that feeling. Suddenly she felt incredibly minor, completely without any control, but safer than she had ever been with any other partner before. As Hollis bent her head and put a soft kiss on her chest she closed her eyes. Her hair was tickeling her skin, a perfect mixture which made her body react in seconds.
“What do you want, Jack?” The soft, barely teasing voice reached her ear. “Tell me. What shell I do?”
Jack signed and decided to just enjoy and go with it. “Just do whatever you would like.”
“Hmm”, Hollis mumbled while putting kisses on the different kinds of spots on her body that made Jack’s mind spin.
She felt her very special daze returning as her mind started to get cloudy, her senses awaking, her body preparing itself. She swallowed to regain her voice.
“I’m sure you …” The sentence died on her lips. She jolted as an unexpected feeling of pleasure shot through her. The grin on Hollis’ face was one of pure victory and smug.
She had gotten her, too.
“You do remember I am neither a virgin nor prude”, she whispered into her ear. Jack felt her body tensing up as she thought about the many different messages this sentence contained.
Hollis made humming sounds as she trailed her lips over her skin, not touching her but near enough Jack could feel the vibration and her breath. She wasn’t merciful. She really wasn’t. She was attentive and sweet and caring but merciless, it was perfect. And something in her sudden confidence was even more a turn-on than she already was.

She wasn’t prepared for a single touch of hers and she had no idea why. All she knew was … she enjoyed every second of it.
And as Hollis’ lips found hers again, hitting her with a kiss so forceful and passionate and filled with care, she knew that not a single one of her encouragements would have been necessary.

Chapter Text

She sometimes woke up earlier than her alarm clock. And today she was especially glad for it. She reached over to turn out the sound to prevent it from waking Hollis.
Hollis.
She stopped for a moment, feeling her pounding heart. She turned around. Hollis was still on her side of the bed as if she hadn’t moved an inch. Jack figured she was either a deep sleeper or she just stayed on her half, which she appreciated. She hated that nightly fight for space or blankets.
Jack couldn’t recall falling asleep, nor how they had ended it. They probably fell asleep just right next to each other, but someone must have had a brain to shut down the lights. She was pretty sure it had been Hollis to save her an inhuman amount of electricity-payment.
Slowly to not wake her she got up and grabbed some shorts and a t-shirt to wear. Bare food she tapped downstairs after silently closing the door.

She wanted to surprise her. It was the most cliche-morning-after-thing ever, but that didn’t mean it wasn’t nice. Luckily, she found all the necessary ingredients in her fridge and even a half-empty glass of maple syrup didn’t lack. While letting the pancakes fry she reached for a tray and put on the syrup and some sugar powder, forks and knifes, and started the coffee machine – hoping she wouldn’t wake her with it.

Her capability as a waiter hadn’t left her and she easily balanced the tray back into the bedroom. Then she almost stopped in the doorframe, smiling in awe at the picture which made her heart do happy jumps. She would have never imagined describing Hollis Mann as cute, but right now she was. Vulnerable and soft and calm.
They probably really both should take a shower if they didn’t want to arise any suspicion at the office – which they highly possibly would either way. They had been a tangled mess of kisses, sweat and loving whimpers. One couldn’t conceal something like this. Especially not her with her non-existent-pokerface.
Attentive she climbed onto her own side, laying down beside her and watched her. She signed. She just couldn’t wake her.
Shit, she was adorable.
How could Gibbs let her go, she asked herself. And how could that asshole of fiancé betray her?

It didn’t take long as Hollis suddenly stirred, her whole body from head to toe wincing. Jack pressed her lips together not to laugh.
“Hey”, she said softly. “Holly.”
She waited to see if her words got a reaction. It did, at least little. Her eyes moved and she stirred again, her head turned. “You should get up.”
A low growl escaped her throat and she still didn’t open her eyes. Jack bit her lip and leaned over to softly press a kiss on her cheek. “Wake up, beautiful”, she whispered. “The pancakes are getting cold.”
The growl turned into a sign and Jack brought a few centimeters between them. She didn’t want to scare her awake by staring down at her. Finally, Hollis moved her head and placed a palm on her forehead. “Uh, my head”, she groaned. “How many did I have yesterday?”
Jack chuckled. “I don’t know. I’m not your custodian.” She bit her lip as she felt her cheeks burn again. “You at least didn’t make the impression of needing one …” She let her fingertips move travel over her arm. Hollis moaned again and ran a hand through her hair. Jack smiled expressing her sympathy. “It’ll fade. I’m pretty sure Gibbs won’t let you out in the field anyway, so you’ll have enough time to sober up.” She reached out to caress her arm.
That seemed to get a reaction. Hollis frowned as if her touch had frozen her. Jack’s smile faded as she looked at her in sorrow. “Hey, what’s wrong?”
Hollis stayed like she did for three seconds before she turned and stared at Jack. All the sleepiness on her face was gone. Instead it was replaced by an expression which made Jack’s insides clench. In rapid movements Hollis put her hands on her stomach, her chest, her legs. A look of horror appeared on her face.
She looked back at Jack in slow-motion. “Jack, did we … did we really …”
A piercing pain shot through her heart and she felt it tighten. “Yes, we did.” She blinked and started a move. “Don’t you remember?”
Hollis didn’t answer. She didn’t even look at her anymore. Instead she shook her head as if she didn’t believe what had happened, then slammed back the cushions. “Oh my god.” She literally jumped out of bed and grabbed her clothes.
“Hollis, wait!”
But she was out the door the next minute.

Jack let herself fall back into the pillow, roaming her hands through her hair. Her mind was spinning, her heart racing. It took her a solid ten seconds to realize what had just happened. And as it did, panic was arising in her chest.

“Shit!” Jack got up again and rushed after her friend. “Calm down, Hollis, please!” She literally slid through the hallway, catching Hollis in the middle of pulling on her shirt.
“This shouldn’t have happened.” She shook her head, one, two, three times, all again. “I don’t know Jack, I …” As she met her eyes Jack saw tears in hers. “God, I don’t even know what I want to say.” Pure despair.
Jack shook her head and forced herself to stay calm. “You don’t need to say anything, okay?” Slowly she stepped closer.
“I … I should …” Hollis whipped her eyes and turned towards the door. Jack ignored the sting in her heart. Everything inside her told her to cry and scream at the woman what the hell was wrong, but she remained silent.
“You don’t have a car”, she said instead, not able to hide the quiver in her voice. “Do you really want to get asked about why we don’t arrive together?”
That seemed to work. Hollis frowned, her shoulder grew relaxed, but Jack knew she was everything but not that.
She took a deep breath to calm herself. “If I promise you we won’t talk about this until you want to and if I try to make this the least uncomfortable as possible, would you take the ride with me?”
Hollis signed, deeply, and put her hands on her hips. “Okay”, she nodded. “That’s probably a good idea.” She still didn’t look her in the eye. She didn’t even look AT her.
And it hurt.

“I made breakfast.” She wouldn’t give up that easily. She tried a smile but knew it didn’t work. “And … it’s still in the room.”
Finally that caused a reaction. Finally, Hollis looked at her, confused. “How early have you been up?”
Jack shrugged. “About fifteen minutes before my usual alarm goes off, and I’m always dozing some minutes more.”
Hollis just nodded.

Silence.

Jack decided to bridge the moment with carrying the tray back into the kitchen, waiting until Hollis was beside her.
“Sorry I freaked out”, she mumbled. Jack shook her head despite she felt like doing something completely different. But the psychologist and empathetic person in her knew if she would make one mistake, like blaming Hollis or forcing her to tell her what the hell suddenly bothered her, she would ruin everything.
And she’d probably never come back ever. “Don’t be.”
“I feel so … so …”
“Hollis.” She put all amount of strength into her voice. She needed to be strong. “You don’t need to explain yourself if you don’t want to, okay? Think about it. Sort yourself. We’ve got time.”
The woman nodded. She looked as if she was about to burst into tears or an outrage.
“Would you like to have breakfast alone? I was about to go for a shower anyways.” She tried it with that. Hoping it would ease the situation.
“I don’t want to scare you off”, Hollis travelled along, but the way she averted her eyes Jack knew the answer was “yes”.
“Hey, no worries. I’ll eat later on.” She forced a smile to appear and waited until she met Hollis’ eyes again. After making sure she would stay here, she excused herself again and made her way to the bathroom.

And as the water ran over her body, the sound of it drowning anything else, she let the tears fall.
It hurt. It hurt so much she could barely breathe, the sobs escaping her throat mirroring every single time everything inside her cramped together as if her body was trying to press all air left out of her.
Was this really happening?
Had this been a mistake?
Had she failed in interpreting the signals?
Because if yes, Jack knew she had just torn away a piece of her heart that could never ever be repaired again.

Chapter Text

She blamed it on the coffee. As soon as Jack and her stepped into the bullpen, as soon as Jack was out of eye- and ear sight, she excused herself for the toilet.
She wasn’t blind. As soon as Jack had come back from the shower, hair still damp and looking beautiful as ever, she knew she had been crying.
It was her fault. SHE had made her cry.

And now it was her time to break down, completely disgraceful, on the toilet.
“Shit shit shit”, she cursed as the tears came streaming down her face. She didn’t want to hurt Jack. And she knew Jack didn’t want to hurt her either.
But she had done it. And she had no idea why.
Her thoughts and feelings were rushing through her like a rollercoaster out of control. Her mind was spinning, everything was just too much.
She had hurt her. Why did people always hurt the ones they loved?

Because, yes, she loved Jack.
She had probably loved her the second they had had their first real talk, but never would she have imagined to find herself in a situation like this. Hell, if someone would have asked her just two days before she would have never thought she might end up in Jacqueline Sloane’s bed. Naked.

She hadn’t been drunk. She had been tipsy. Alcohol made her lose her inhibitions, not her senses. She had been under complete control. Hell if she didn’t she wouldn’t have any memory left.
And she did. Very lively memories. Memories and feelings she couldn’t deny anymore.
Their lovemaking had been like their friendship – or whatever was left of that. Playful and teasing, based on trust but constantly testing the limits. Until they had both decided there weren’t limits anymore.
She remembered Jack’s soft and gentle hands over her body, her kisses, the way her lithe and smooth body felt on hers, her own increasing heartbeat as she had caught the look in those dark beautiful eyes, ravishing, devilish for the first time, as she had went down on her …
Hollis bit back a moan. If she would allow her thoughts to travel back in time, she wouldn’t be able to keep herself together anymore. And she damn couldn’t get herself off on a public toilet on NCIS.
Maybe at home, in her bed, without anyone or anything catching her …
Yeah. Her OWN bed. Which was part of an ongoing investigation and still linked with her fiance’s – and she couldn’t have an orgasm about a woman in a bed that guy she once loved had bought.
She was in trouble. A lot of trouble.
And she had no idea how to get out of this again.
And suddenly she was scared to death about facing Jack again.

She was glad it was only Bishop left as she came back. The young agent lifted her head as she saw her, then got up. “Gibbs and McGee are in MTAG, Torres went down to Kasie to get updates on the DNA.”
Hollis nodded, trying to focus on the case and not on Jack Sloane and the delightful sight of her flushed from head to toe – as one word caught her attention.
“Kasie?”
Bishop looked up, then nodded in realization. “Oh right, you haven’t met her before. She’s Abby’s follower.”
Hollis blinked. So … Tony was gone and Abby, too?
“Abby’s not here anymore?”
The young agent shook her head. “No, almost a year ago by now. She …” She saw Ellie’s eyes glimmer and that she bit her lip. “She moved to England. To fulfil someone’s mission.”
For once all the memories about Jack and their last night were gone.
She took a step forward. “Ellie.” It was the first time she spoke the agent’s first time, and the young blonde seemed to realize it. “Are you okay?”
She shrugged. “He was a friend. His name was Clay. Clayton Reeves, MI6. Abby … Abby left to fulfil his mission he couldn’t do on himself.”
Hollis nodded in understanding. The look in Ellie’s eyes was more than enough to know. “It’s never easy to leave your past behind, and that includes talking about deceased people we cared for.” Ellie nodded, jaw clenched. Suddenly Hollis felt the urge to just hug her, tell her everything was going to be fine one day. But she feared if she would actually do that … she wouldn’t be far away from another breakdown resulting of her own problems.
They both were interrupted in their thoughts as Ellie’s phone buzzed. She gave Hollis an apologizing smile and reached for the device.
“That’s Torres. Kasie found a guy that matches the DNA in the warehouse.” She looked up. “And he asked me to bring you. To …”
“Identify if I know him.”
Saved by the bell.

The way Bishop gave her side glances made her feel like either she had a hickey of whose existence she didn’t know or the younger woman was surprised to see her as a caring person with a heart.
And it was right. She didn’t just collect all possible things to occupy her mind from thinking about one specific woman. She cared for this one, for those people in general. It was right what Jethro once said. Family WAS more than DNA. And, somehow, she felt more and more integrated every day.
That hadn’t anything to do with the fact that she was in love with the team’s “Mom” and had been in a relationship with the kids’ “Dad”.
No, not at all. Of course. If she would go on lying to herself, she’d probably never pass a lie detector test ever again. And would break one of her basic morals – always tell the truth, even if it might hurt. Because the truth always won in the end, no matter how long it took.

Ellie and her drove in silence – at least until she dropped one sentence.
“Sorry ‘bout your loss, Agent Mann.”
Hollis shrugged. “I’m on my way to get over it.”
Ellie gave her a look. It was clear as crystal she didn’t believe her a single words, but she let it be.
She had grown to really like Ellie Bishop. She was easy to talk to but always kept a respectful distance. And right now she was really glad for her sidetracking her thoughts.

It had been a long time since she had last been down the lab. As Ellie and her walked through the door, they were granted with the sight of Torres standing next to a dark skinned young woman with black hair and glasses, dressed in light, orange trousers and the white lab coat on. As if they had sensed it, both turned around.
“Kasie. May I introduce you to Agent Hollis Mann?” It was Torres who spoke, even before they were in reach. Kasie smiled – a big, bright, sympathetic smile that made her do the same instantly.
“Hi.” She reached out her hand. “Nice to meet you.” The young woman seemed relieved as she immediately took her hand to shake it. Hollis was glad for Kasie’s friendly and open-minded reception. Abby never really had liked her that much, she knew it but she never found out why, but this woman seemed to have nothing against her and, being the first of all of them, who seemed to have no idea about her relationship to Jethro. It was refreshing.
“So what about our guy?”, Ellie asked. And Kasie got right back to business. “Right.” She gave Hollis a last nod before she turned around and clicked once again. A picture popped up.
“Do you recognize him?”, she asked, addressed to Hollis. Torres took a step to the right to give her space. She needed two seconds until her blood was boiling. Again.
“That’s the guy who kicked me in the guts.” She clenched her jaw. “So he’s in the system?”
“Yes.” Kasie did another few clicks. “Got arrested for alcohol abuse once and robbery.”
Hollis snorted. “Well, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.” She turned around to face the two agents. “Can you check if he’s got anything to do with the shooter?”
Ellie and Nick nodded. “What about …”
“I’ll tell Gibbs”, Hollis ended Torres’ sentence. Because right now, she needed distraction.

That “distraction” sadly only lasted for about two hours. After that, her thoughts were back to Jack.
She had wanted it. She never did anything profoundly she didn’t feel confident in or really wanted and thought it was right.
But why the hell had she reacted that way?
Well - because she had never slept with someone she considered her best friend. In fact … in the past she had never had a real best friend. It had always been “crush before friendship”. Hell, she hadn’t been friends with Jethro. She had found him attractive, he was a challenge, and … it had happened.
With Jack it was something completely different. She wouldn’t call it “friends with benefits” – because she wasn’t like that. Jack wasn’t like that. What she wanted wasn’t just a flirt.

She wanted this woman in her life. She wanted to work this out. As a relationship.
Because she had feelings for her. Because she loved her.

And she needed to tell her. Immediately.

Chapter Text

She halfway expected it. She was a coward. She really made up an excuse to avoid confrontation. It was bad enough she needed to go back to Jack’s – it would have been worse sitting in her car.
And she needed some time to sort herself, to find a way how to explain her stupid, ridiculous behavior. Slightly nervous she grabbed the door handle of the observation room, praying to god Jack wasn’t in there already or going to join her.
She was lucky. The only one standing there was McGee. He flashed her a smile and stepped aside politely to give her space.
She needed to find the right words. She needed to fix this mess she had been responsible for. And she knew she would need to do more than just kiss her and tell her she was sorry. Jack was more than that, she deserved an explanation, and more over she wanted to show her that she cared and it wasn’t just the sexual part she was interested in. Not that she’d mind doing it over and over again, but she wanted Jack’s heart, her soul, not just her body.

The door wasn’t locked and she couldn’t help but appreciate the trust Jack seemed to have in her – even after that shitty behavior of hers.
She found her on the sofa, dressed in dark pants and a t-shirt and a book in her lap. Hollis took a deep breath and collected herself. She placed her bag down on the ground and made her moves towards her.
Somewhen Jack realized it. She looked up and Hollis’ heart jumped. God, she even made glasses look good.
“Hey.” A little smile. “You’re not that late as I would have expected.”
Cut the crap, Hollis, her inner voice told her. And then she just got it out.
“I lied. Work was only an excuse. I … I needed some time for myself.” She took a deep breath. “I was wrong.”
Silence. If Jack hadn’t already been looking at her, she was focusing now.
For a few moments Hollis couldn’t do anything more than stare back at her. She wanted to kiss her. All she wanted was to kiss her.
But she needed to talk. Talk, not act. She stepped closer.
“This morning. When I … when I told you it was a mistake.” She shook her head. “It wasn’t.”
Jack tilted her head. She didn’t say anything.
Hollis took another deep breath and sat down at the end of the couch, a little nearer to Jack but still far enough to not touch her.
“Jack.” She couldn’t look at her. Not now. She felt she could burst into tears if she would. “I have no idea what you’ve done to me, but …” She signed, again. “I care for you. In a way … normal friends don’t.” She clenched her jaw and let silence take over for a moment.
“I care for you too, Hollis.” Jack’s voice was soft and sweet as liquid honey. “But I’m pretty sure you know that already.”
This made her look up. “Well you’ve made that very clear.” She was more than happy that her words got a little smile and even a blush out of Jack. She straightened herself. “And I’m sorry if I made you feel like I didn’t. Because I do.” Realizing her choice of words she rolled her eyes and made a snorting sound. “God, does this make any sense what I’m trying to say?”
Now, Jack laughed. “Yes, yes it does.” How she had missed that laugh.
Hollis bit her lip and tried to put what she was feeling, what she had been feeling, into words. “I still don’t know how to … cope with it.” She fiddled with her hands, suddenly feeling extremely insecure – and especially inexperienced. “I have never been in a relationship with a woman before, Jack. I didn’t even know I had feelings for women. Maybe … maybe that’s the reason I’m so … I don’t know.”
Jack put the book on the table and reached for her hand. Hollis frowned. As she looked into Jack’s eyes, those beautiful, soft pearls of mysterious brown, it was as if her body couldn’t decide between getting a heart attack or moaning out of passion. Luckily, nothing like that happened. All that happened was that familiar, welcoming, warm feeling she was surrounded with, that feeling that came up whenever she was near Jack.
“Ever heard of the expression that every person is a little gay?”, Jack smiled. Hollis just shrugged. Jack’s smile turned into a smirk. “You can flirt at least.”
Sheepishly turning away she shook her head. “Has always been a tick of mine. I tend to “flirt” with anyone who I either like or am attracted to, even if I’m not into a relationship. Has hurt many people before.”
Suddenly realizing Jack’s quietness and how her words might come across, she jolted upwards. “But all of that doesn’t mean I just flirted with you because I wanted to get a kick out of it.”
She took a deep breath. Collect yourself, Hollis.
Now it was her time to grab Jack’s hand. “This is different. I care for you Jack.”
“You said that before”, she said.
She nodded. “Yes.” She looked up. “But I also wanna kiss you all over again.” Her eyes started glimmering. “And that’s not what friends do.”
Jack’s lips twisted, the light dancing in her eyes, reflecting. She was so, so beautiful Hollis could barely still believe it.
As she spoke, her voice sounded hoarse as if even her throat were constricted – which she was pretty sure was exactly the thing. “You know, I think I know the real reason.” She watched Jack batting her lids, waiting for her to go on. Her grip grew tighter. “I have never had sex with someone who matters as much to me as you. With someone I consider …” She stopped.
Silence was spreading. Until her partner finally gave her another shove.
“What did you want to say, Holly?”, Jack asked, smiling.
Hollis signed. “It sounds ridicolous.”
“Just say it.”
“Do you believe in soulmates, Jack?” She literally gazed into her beautiful eyes.
And Jack’s lips turned into a huge, overly cute smile. “It’s not ridiculous at all. It’s cute. And … it’s real. And .. to answer your question.” She entwined their fingers. “Yes, I do believe in soulmates. And even if I didn’t.” She leaned in to kiss her. A little, just seconds enduring kiss, but not lacking of any emotion at all. “Does it matter?”
Hollis shook her head. “No”, she said, finally smiling. “All that counts are out feelings.”
“Now you sound like how I wanted you to sound.”
She laughed at the blunt answer, giving Jack a soft shove – as the other woman grabbed her arm. A second time this evening Hollis frowned in her move. She blinked, watching Jack. Her partner, friend, girlfriend, stared at her. Then, slowly she leaned in. Hollis closed her eyes and did the same. And as their lips touched, for real, again, FINALLY with both of them knowing what they were doing, both of them sober, she couldn’t help but sign. Jack’s hand moved into her hair as she pulled her close, and Hollis reciprocated with wrapping one arm around her back and one hand on her thigh.
Minutes later they were a tangled mess of kisses and touches, legs entvined and sloughed together on the couch.
“I think we can definitely use the couch as a couch again and my bed for two.”
Hollis laughed at the sweet words indicating so much more than just a simple change of habits. The next kiss they shared was tender and sweet like a sunlight morning in early spring. Being near her was so easy, so comfortable, and so perfectly … perfect.
That’s what it was. Perfect.
“Thank you for being such an easy-going person to be with”, she whispered as they broke apart. Jack’s lips twisted. “I’m not easy. I’m honest. And you are, too.” She felt her hand rubbing over her arm. “This is why we both feel comforted in each other’s presence.”
She grinned and nudged her nose. “Are you using psychology skills on us now, Sloane?”, she couldn’t help teasing.
She shrugged. “Maybe.”
“Is that a new thing for dirty-talk?”
“Only if you see it as such.”
She couldn’t remember a single partner she had been with in her thirty years of relationships with whom it was so comfortable to just stare into their eyes without saying nothing.
She followed every line on Jack’s face, those puppy eyes she would never grow tired of staring into, those lips she would never not want to kiss all over again. The little, tiny wrinkles that made her even more perfect, because she was herself, she was real, she was a natural beauty. Her perfect nose.
And goddamn, her absolutely perfect, adorable smile. “You are an exceptional woman, Hollis.” She roamed her fingers through her hair. “I don’t wanna lose you.” “I don’t want that either.” She didn’t wait a second for answering, because THAT was the truth. And the truth deserved, needed to be heard. She lifted her hand from Jack’s waist softly cupped her cheek to run a thumb over her cheek. Jack smiled and her eyes closed. Hollis pressed a kiss to her forehead and her heart took a leap full of happiness as she snuggled closer.
“Jack?”
A soft “hm” came out of her throat. Hollis smiled. This time, there was no nervousity left in her. Not a tiny bit.
“I love you.”

Chapter Text

The second they both stepped into the bullpen the next morning, McGee’s head shot up. “Agent Mann, Jack, good morning. We got the guy that attacked you.”
Hollis felt herself frown and she knew there was no way she could conceal that.
“Hey.” Jack’s hand curled around her arm. “Kick his ass, okay?”
“You bet we’ll do.” Jack’s eyebrow went up and she wasn’t less astonished as it was McGee who had answered. He smiled as if he were apologizing, a twinkle in his eyes. “Well, we’re in this together. And you, Agent Mann, are part of our team. And we take care of our members.”
His words caused a little tilt of her lips while Jack smiled and padded his shoulder, excusing herself.

She had always liked Agent Tim McGee, had always thought of him to be one of the kindest and most regardful men she had ever met, and she was glad it was him keeping her company along the way.
She had been looking forward to this day they’d finally get a hold of the guy. But she hadn’t expected it to turn out as a total disaster that would bring her to her knees. And Hollis Mann was someone who braced herself as being a woman not easily dragged down.

Well … either she grew soft with her age or THAT was a triggerpoint which didn’t even leave her stoic and cold.

McGee was leading the interrogation, and as she opened the door to observation, she was greeted by Agent Torres. She gave him a nod before they both fell silent and focused their attention.

Hollis felt the hair in her neck strain. Just barely a minute into the interrogation later she felt herself turn into a boiling volcano, dangerously close to losing patience. All she wanted to do was punch the guy in his face and yell at him, not really sure what, just get it out.
Not that she hadnt once done that in an interrogation. But it had been necessary. The ass would have strangled her if she hadn’t made use of her fists.
And then, something happened. She couldn’t quiet measure it, but she knew it the second the topic changed …
But nobody would have expected the outcome.

*

He sensed trouble the moment as he saw Hollis Mann step into the small room to join him in watching the investigation. He wondered if Gibbs knew she was here … she was a pro, of course, but he wasn’t sure if she could really manage witnessing the investigation of the guy who had killer her fiancé.
She did a good job at just staying calm and stoically staring trough the glass.

But then … something changed. It changed as the topic shifted away from the actual murder to something way more intimate.

“That idiot had a fiancé. And he just …” Diaz actually signed as if he were ANGRY with what his victim had done. “I mean have you seen her? Its not that he’s the youngest anymore, and I confess that new chick was hot, but his fiancé … I mean she was a catch.”
Nick felt the tension in the room rising dangerously.
“Not that I’m into older women, but I mean …”
“Focus, man”, McGee grinded. Nick could totally understand his disgust.
“I’m just sayin’” Diaz lifted his hands. “He was an ass. You don’t do that to a woman.”
He literally saw McGee lifting his eyebrows. “You attacked her, remember?”
“That was because I didn’t know her. Thought she was a sneaky cop. When I recognized her I let go of her. Had no possibility to really look at her, but lateron ....” He fell silent.
“So that means if you could have staged her as “attractiv” back then”, McGee clearly got angry. “You wouldn’t have hurt her?”
“Kinda”, the guy said.
Hollis next to him snarled. “So much about looks aren’t that important.”
Nick took a deep breath, steading himself. “Agent Mann”, he said. He waited until she looked at him. “With one thing he’s right. He didn’t deserve you.”
Hollis’ green eyes grew soft. Soft and suddenly, incredibly hurt. “How can you think that, Nick? You don’t know me.” With that, she turned her attention back towards the interrogation, crossing her arms. “And I will never know what made him go seek his fantasies somewhere else.”
He pressed his lips together not to let something slip like “Sex is often the number one reason”. He didn’t need to be as disrespectful as the guy in front of them.

In fact … he felt really bad for Hollis. Gibbs just let her leave. He didn’t keep her. And now her fiancé was dead and he had betrayed her.
She didn’t deserve this. No one did, but especially a woman like Hollis Mann didn’t.

“Hey, tell her I’m sorry, okay? I really am.”
Nick lifted his eyebrows at those sudden words. “Wow. Didn’t expect that.” IF Hollis wanted to say something, she didn’t get the chance too. Because … Diaz wasn’t finished. “And tell her, in case if she’s lonely … I would like to redeem myself.” He grinned. “With anything.” And he licked his lips.
Nausea rushed through him and he was SURE if it were Gibbs interrogating that ass, his fist would have ended in that guy’s face. Hollis stood as if she were frozen.
“Did he really …”
“Yes”, Nick gritted out, clenching his jaw.
Hollis ran a hand through her hair and let out a deep breath. “God I need some air.”

And with that, she left. Nick didn’t even flinch at the door falling shut.

He felt disgusted, angry, and incredibly uncomfortable, as if HE had done something wrong.
External shame. Kind of, at least.
He wished she wouldn’t have heard all of that. Because somehow, he knew, not even a Hollis Mann could get over something like this easily.

Chapter Text

About forty five minutes later she texted Hollis how it went.
No answer.
She waited another thirdy minutes, then tried to call her.
Again, nothing.
She got called down by another troup of agents, told them what she had found out. After finishing that meeting, she was determined to find out what was going on with her girlfriend.
Girlfriend … that sounded good.

“Hey, have you seen Hollis?” She asked the team after the elevator ride, hoping one of them had any clue about what was going on.
They looked at each other, then shook their heads. “No”, Ellie said, confusion written all over her face as if she were wondering why SHE should know.
“I think I saw her walking up the stairs”, McGee said.
Jack bit her cheek and nodded. “So she’s probably in my office.” And I wasn’t there … great. There must be reason why she’s hiding there.
In the middle of turning around, she suddenly caught Nick’s eyes. And there was something in it, a flicker, that made her cautious.
“She was pretty … well …” He averted his eyes and she saw the tension in his shoulder. Tentative, she stepped closer.
“Nick?”
He signed. “I can’t describe it. Disgusted. Shaken up. I don’t know. All I know is that she was all but good.”
Something within her cramped. “Hollis and shaken up? Wow.” She gritted her teeth. “It take … it didn’t work well?”
“We got him to confess, but … let me say he let some things slip which she shouldn’t have heard.” Torres’ eyes were clouded with sympathy. “I guess you should try to talk to her. You’re probably the only one she’d want to see now.”
Jack nodded. “Thanks Nick. For keeping her company, I mean.” She rubbed his arm for a moment before she made her way upstairs.

Usually, if anyone was confident in comforting other people, it was Jack Sloane. But this time, Jack Sloane wanted everything but step into her office since she felt that whatever it was that had happened, whatever she might have to face, it wouldn’t leave her unriddled.

Tentative, she opened her door.
“Holly?”
She had braced herself for any scenario, and luckily the worst one wasn’t occurring. Her girlfriend was sitting on the sofa, legs folded underneath her and staring out of the window.
“Hey.” She stepped closer. “Are you okay?”
The only response she got was seeing Hollis clench her teeth. She was still staring out of the window, didn’t move a centimeter as Jack closed the door. She sat down right in front of her, eyeing her in worry and waiting for her to talk.
Hollis bit her lip. “No.” Then she shook her head. “No, I’m not.” She lowered her chin. And then it just happened. First, it was just a single tear escaping her eyes, running over her cheek.
But within seconds the tear turned into a waterfall. Jack felt all blood draining out of her face.
“Oh Hollis.” She reached out to caress her cheek. Which made all of her girlfriend’s resolve shatter into pieces. She broke down, completely.
“Honey, it’s okay.” She moved closer and wrapped her arms around her, rubbing her back. “It’s okay.”
“No it’s not.” Hollis’s sobs felt as if someone was stabbing her heart with daggers. “Why does it still hurt so much?”
For the first time in her life Jack had no idea what to say or do. So all she did was hug her, all she could do was being there for her.
“I don’t understand”, she whimpered. “I just don’t understand.”
“What, Holly?” Jack spoke softly, silent, and moved to stroke her hair. Most people found that calming. She only hoped it would work with Hollis, too.
“Why does it always end like this?” Her head snapped up and she stared at Jack with pure, deep rooted pain reflecting in her eyes. “Is it because of me?”
Jack shook her head. “Don’t blame yourself, okay? This is NOT your fault.”
Hollis shrugged while leaning against her shoulder “I thought I was over it”, she breathed. “Angry. Like … I thought the fact he was an ass would make it easier to grieve, to help me forget him, but … it doesn’t.”
Jack didn’t say anything. She knew this time words wouldn’t make anything better.
She wouldn’t count the minutes. All she did was sit and wait and hold her, hoping it would help her. Somehow. Because sometimes, all it needed was a hug and a person who understood.

A while later Hollis cries subsided. Jack had moved a little so now Hollis’ head was in her lap, and she caressed her hair, softly running her fingers through silky strands.
“I can’t remember the last time I cried this much.” Her voice was still hoarse, and if it weren’t for the silence in her office, Jack maybe wouldn’t even have heard it.
“Apparently it was necessary”, she spoke softly.
Hollis took a deep breath which turned into a sob. “My god.” Another deep breath. “Sorry.”
“For what?” No answer. Jack touched her shoulder before gliding down her arm to take her hand. “I’m not just your friend, Hollis. I’m not just a psychologist. I’m your partner, your girlfriend, I love you, and this, crying on my shoulder without hesitation, shouldn’t ever be something to be ashamed of. I’m here for you, okay?”
Hollis took their interwoven hands and kissed her knuckles.
And finally she looked up, and there was a little smile lighting up her tear stained face. “Thank you.”

Chapter Text

“Is there something you would like to ask me?”
She asked the question over the soft music playing in the background. She had turned the radio on a few minutes ago after they had finished dinner. Indian takeout. They both were way too lazy.
Hollis looked at her questioning. “Why do you mean that?”
Jack smiled and allowed herself to put a playful strand of strawberry blond back behind her ear. She wore those earrings again. Those dark grey ones with the tiny, golden stones in it. “You know I appreciate you for not asking. But I guess you wondered.” There was shift in Hollis’ face that showed her she know knew what she meant. “Those scars on my back …”
“I’m not forcing you to tell me”, Hollis started.
“Afghanistan.” She spoke the words before she could take a step back.
Hollis closed her eyes and nodded. “I imagined something like that.” The words were spoken silently.
“I guess no one has told you about it?”
She shook her head. “No. Nothing. I guess they treat it with caution.” A slight smile. “Which is good.”
Jack nodded. “Well, the only ones who know about what really happened and that those scars exist are Leon and Gibbs. Already supposed they wouldn’t spill it. I mean, why should they.”

Jack leaned back into the pillows and took a deep breath.
“We were four. Only I made it back.”
And she told her everything.

...

When she was finished, Hollis held her hand. And for a while she said nothing.
Jack appreciated it. Sometimes words couldn’t do any better.
“Oh god sweetheart.” It was spoken as a whisper, and as Jack looked up, she saw her green eyes being coated with tears. Hollis pulled her into a hug, holding her as if she were protecting her. Jack closed her eyes and buried her face on her shoulder. It was only moments later as she felt Hollis’ lips on her cheek and her hand stroking along her back. She felt herself relax – relax in the hug, the devotion … and then she realized Hollis was the first one she was in a relationship with and whom she told everything – and the first lover she had who she really trusted.
“I have never been in captivity, but … I’ve worked with some who have.” She caught a glimpse of deep sympathy and devotion in Hollis’ green eyes before she lowered her chin. She didn’t need to say anything. Their foreheads touched and Jack took a deep breath.
In and out. In and out.
And Hollis held her, in every sense of the word, like her solid rock in the storm.

And she just knew nothing, literally nothing, could ever get in their way as long as they had each other.

...

As they both had recovered, Hollis gave her a nod. “Your turn.”
She literally felt the confusion written all over her face. “With what?”
Her girlfriend smirked, but there was something in her eyes, emotions from before, she couldn’t conceal. That was one of the most special parts of hers. “Come on. There must be something you’d like to ask me. Something you’re embarrassed about, maybe. Or something that had never fitted into a good time.”
Jack bit her lip. She almost … felt bad about that thought, but she had said “Anything”. So … she’s risk the jump. “There’s something, indeed …” She bit her lip, released it, straightened up again. And got it out.
“Why did it end between you and Gibbs? You seem to get along pretty well.”
Hollis looked at her. She had an almost perfect poker-face if it weren’t for her eyes. Those stunning, bright, expressive eyes.
“May I?” She pointed at her phone laying on the table. Jack nodded. Hollis typed something in, swiped, then turned the display so she could read it.
“That song. Take a look at the lyrics. I heard it somewhere, long time ago, and it kind of got stuck in my head. And … it pretty much describes our situation.”

Jack silently, slowly took her phone back, and started reading.

Remember all the things we wanted
Now all our memories, they're haunted
We were always meant to say goodbye

She barely read the first verse as she already felt a painful claw clenching her heart.
But Hollis didn’t say anything, so she kept on.

You know that I love you so
I love you enough to let you go

That got to her. She looked up, batting eyelids.
Hollis was looking back at her, unguarded, unshielded, pain and melancholy mirroring in her eyes.
“I ended it. I left him.” She exhaled audibly, and when she spoke next her voice was almost trembling. “I knew he wasn’t ready. Don’t know if he’ll ever be. I … I knew as I saw his face. When I found out about Kelly and Shannon, I tried to talk to him. But I knew that wall around his heart, I wouldn’t be able to tear it down, and he wouldn’t let me.”
Jack swallowed, her throat constricting painfully. “So … you left to prevent yourself getting at each other’s throats. To avert any fights.”
She nodded. “Yes. I didn’t want to hurt him, and I knew he didn’t want to hurt me. But I knew it would have ended badly if we would have forced it, so …” She fell silent.
Jack reached out and interlaced her fingers with hers. “That was very brave of you.”
Hollis made a sound. “Was it? Sometimes I wonder.”
“It was.” Jack nodded and looked at her, almost glaring. “It’s like that line in the song. And have you ever heard of the saying “In order to love someone you need to let him go?”
Hollis signed and kept her eyes shut for a moment.
“How did I deserve you.” She more stated than asked and Jack smiled. “You know, maybe its fate. After everything that happened, those horrible things that had happened in the past, they both brought us right here. Together.”

...

Somehow they shifted into cuddly-mode soon after, and the new songs, especially one that had started seconds ago, only contributed to that.
Hollis made a low sounds in her throat, like a sweet kind of grumbling, and bumped her nose. “That’s a nice song.”
Jack nodded, even knowing it by its name. “It’s called “Sweet”. By cigarettes after sex”
Hollis stared at her, disbelieve written all over her face. “You’re kidding me.”
Jack laughed. “No I’m not. The band’s really called like that.”
“Well it’s a great kissing song”, Hollis mumbled, leaning back in. “And it fits you.” She gave her a sloppy kiss. “Cause you’re sweet.”
Jack didn’t give her time to bring any space between them, she simply pulled her back.

She didn’t care at all that the kiss wasn’t “sweet” in any way, more like moans and tongues and everything else, and according to the sound Hollis let slip as their lips collided, she didn’t feel embarrassed about it either.

That’s what was working out. They both were on the same page.

The second they broke apart she said: “Since we are all about honesty …” She was breathless. “Was it weird for you?”
Hollis wasn’t fond of stopping kisses so she trailed a path along her jaw and neck. “What?”
Jack closed her eyes and steadied her breath. “Sleeping with me.”
Hollis stopped in her movements. She could literally feel her eyes on her, watching her. “Why should it have been?”
“Well because … because I’m a woman.”
Hollis pulled back and looked at her. Like REALLY looked at her. Right into her eyes, her soul. “Sex never feels weird if you do it with the right person.”
Jack stared at her for a moment, processing what she just heard. Her heart was pounding. Then she blinked, touched. “Wow. That was sweet.”
She nudged her nose with hers and gave her that sweet, content smile. “I can be that, too, just so you know.”
Jack rubbed her arms. “You know. You were exceptionally good.” Hollis laughed and she enjoyed every second of it. “If you wouldn’t have told me you have never been with a woman before I would have sworn you …”
“…were a lesbian?”
Her hand stilled and she looked at her. The expression said it all and Hollis grinned broadly.
“Well thank you for the compliment. I could say something really naughty now but …”
“Do it.” Jack stared at her, eyes twinkling devilish.
Hollis licked her lips. “A woman doesn’t necessarily need a man …”, she let the sentence hang in the air.
Jack felt the grin on her lips spreading into a shark-similar one like Bruce in “Finding nemo”. “The sentence all men dread to hear but secretly find it to be a turn-on.”
Hollis tilted her head. “Why is that so, Doctor Sloane?” If it weren’t for the sultry tone in her voice one could easily mistake it for pure interest and stern realization.
“I guess its because most of them like being with a woman who knows what she wants and likes.”
Hollis made an approving sound, staring into nothing for a moment as if she were lost in thoughts.
“Explains why at least that was great between Jethro and me.”
“Uh!” Jack covered her eyes. “Stop it, I really don’t need to imagine that!”
Hollis laughed, again, even louder and more lighthearted than before, and Jack sent another message right back behind. “But, you know, that is just one of those many things I absolute adore about you.” She playfully grabbed her jaw and grinned. “You are so unshielded.”

They made their way to bed shortly after 11.30. Jack were lying if she didn’t enjoy the fact she wasn’t sleeping alone anymore – it really had something beautiful being near the person you loved.

Hollis was in the middle of shifting and trying to get a rhyme of out the bedsheets which were completely disarraged, she found herself grinning and said: “Don’t really need the blanket, just something around my hips or lower back.”
She felt Hollis stop next to her. Since she was on her side, facing away from her, she couldn’t see her. But … she didn’t need to.
“Something like this?” The next second she felt the warmth of her body and her curves pressed into her backside.
Jack smirked without opening her eyes. “Kind of”, she said.
“And what about this?” Hollis’ leg slid around her waist and she brought herself closer, her hand finding its way around her waist.
Jack’s heart began pounding. “Well I can assure you I won’t get any sleep in that position.” Hollis laughed, a deep, throaty, nasty laugh that caused all sorts of emotions and desires waking in Jack’s insides. As she bit her earlobe, soft but nasty, Jack gasped. The gasp soon turned into a giggle as she felt Hollis’ snuggle near her.
As her lover’s hand slipped under her shirt and her fingertips teasingly stroked over her stomach, the heat bulp which had formed itself exploded and shot right to her center. Without warning she flipped themselves around and the next second found herself hovering above her partner. Hollis lifted her eyebrows. “I thought you were tired”, she mocked, green eyes twinkling.
“Don’t play the innocent”, Jack said, leaning down to kiss her. “Insatiable you”, she grinned.
“No. Today I’m happy to just kiss you. Since we have already had some pretty good dirty-talk before”, Hollis spoke as if it were the most normal thing ever.

She signed as she pulled back, shaking her head. “God, you’re so pretty.”
Hollis’ laughter jolted her body. “Says you.” She lifted up her hand and brought a strand of hair behind Jack’s ear. Her words were full with devotion, green eyes glimmering golden. “You are without a doubt the most beautiful and fascinating woman I have ever met.”
Jack tilted her head. “Do you realize almost every conversation we have is about compliment the other one?”
“Isn’t that a good thing?”
“I just want you to know just because I won’t say it anymore, it doesn’t mean that I don’t think it to be true.”
Hollis’ hand found a way in her hair, softly playing with the loose strands. “Never, Jack.” She shook her head, a loving expression on her face. “Never.”

Chapter Text

She woke up with Hollis’ arm draped around her waist. She turned around with a sleepy smile on her lips and kissed her girlfriend awake until she jawned.

It took them three times longer to prepare breakfast than usual cause they were snuggling and giggling and kissing each other until they couldn’t stop laughing. Jack felt ridiculously childish, but she was happy. And the way Hollis’ eyes sparkled every time she laid them on her Jack knew she was too. And that was the best feeling she has had in years.

They didn’t care about being late. And they were being missed. Hollis phone rang just as Jack was stealing another kiss from her, and she rolled her eyes at the sound as Hollis grabbed it and pressed answer button.
“Yeah?”, she said.
“I know the case is over but we need to close some last loose ends.” Even if she wouldn’t have recognized his voice, she would have known it was Jethro just because of the way he delivered it. A short pause. “Where are you, by the way? Jack forgot how to get to headquarters or what?”
She opened her mouth to say something but Jack didn’t let her, literally bit off her sentence while nibbling at her earlobe. Hollis bit down an intake of air and instead shot her a deadly glare. All Jack did was grin back.
“We’ve overslept. On our way in seconds.” And before he could get any more suspicious she pressed the red button.
“You are dancing on a very thin line, Jacqueline”, she said, breath hitching. She spun around, her hands on Jack’s hips, pressing her against the table.
“That’s what makes it funny, don’t you think?”, she teased, her hands trailing a path along the buttons of her partner’s blouse. Hollis playfully rolled her eyes and pressed a kiss to her lips.
“You’re unbelievable.” A little smile. “Bot oh so lovable.”

Jack had no desire to let go of her at all. So her hands became busy, playing with the buttons of her lover’s blouse. She bit her lip while glancing up and as Hollis signed, she smirked.
“I really don’t know if I’m not too old for this kind of thing.”
“A quicky?” She decided to give her a slow, burning onceover. “Oh I tell you, you aren’t.”
Hollis rolled her eyes but couldn’t hide a chuckle. “Jack, we should be going. Really.”
She signed and playfully pulled at Hollis’ belt. “But I’m feelin’ so horny”, she whined, and yes, it was the truth. Suddenly she felt a desperate urge to just … well … rip those clothes off.
“Oh for god’s sake”, Hollis mumbled, her voice low and raspy. And before Jack could say anything more, she pressed another kiss to her lips before stepping back. “Tonight. If you promise to be good.”
Within moments, Jack was standing upright, holding her hand to her forehead. “Yes Colonel.”
Hollis pointed her finger at her. “If you think that kind of roleplay turns my decision, you’re wrong.”

Grinning, Jack watched her leaving the kitchen.
Oh she was already looking forward to the evening.

Gibbs wasn’t in the office when they arrived so they had a quick chat with Torres, McGee and Bishop before they got the call of doing some paperwork. Hollis stayed with Ellie for a while until Gibbs would be back so they could get to Vance and close the last links.
Which meant she had to be going to get some work done, too. There were files waiting for her, psychopaths to be analyzed.

Hollis rubbed her back for a moment as they said goodbye, and she decided for a kiss on the cheek. She didn’t know if the two agent suspected anything, but the smile on her girlfriend’s face was worth it.

Nothing happened for hours – Jack lost track of time, actually – and just as she had started with the last folder, a knock appeared on her door.
“Come in”, she called, not looking up.
At least she didn’t look up until the person stepped up right next to her. Close.
She smirked. “So you finally found time and have decided to grace me with your presence?” She looked up, finding Hollis smirking down at her.
“I had some work to do, too, Ma’am.” She took a seat next to her on the table. Jack didn’t hide her lingering gaze travelling from her Cuban heeled boots up along her leg.
“So we’re picking up the topic from this morning, hu?” Brown met green.
“What do you mean?”, Hollis asked, feigning innocence.
“The “Ma’am” thing.”
“Oh.” Hollis lifted her chin. “You rather want me to call you “Lieutenant”?”
“Ehm, no.” Jack took off her glasses and turned her chair so they could look at each other. “So. Everything done?”
A smirk spread out a Hollis’ lips, one that made her appear so much younger – and much naughtier - as Jack’s flat hand traveled along her thigh up to her waist. She didn’t need to answer that at all.
“In case you didn’t get the memo, I told you “tonight” and not “at the end of the day in the office.” Her voice wasn’t shaking at all, but she couldn’t hide her body’s reaching.
“’s my office, remember? Don’t have anythin’ to fear”, Jack slurred.
Hollis’ eyebrows went up. “The fact that you’re sounding like Jethro now isn’t making this any better.”
Jack tilted her head. “But I do kiss better than him, does this make it better?”
“You know, you actually really do.” And finally, finally she leaning down and met her lips for a kiss. A sweet sign escaped her throat as their tongues explored each other, Jack now wrapped both her arms around her pulled her in closer, stretching her back to meet her.
As she felt Hollis softly scraping against her scalp she moaned into the kiss. The position grew uncomfortable, so she got up to stand between her legs, steading herself with pulling her partner closer until their bodies were flush against each other.

They didn’t realize the door opening.
That was why they both jolted as a loud thud cut through the silence. Jack and Hollis pulled apart and, with her heart pounding, she stared at the door.
And she wasn’t sure if she should burst into laughter, turn red like a tomato, or just stop and stare like a deer in the headlights.
Caught. In. the. Act.
Almost at least.

Nick was standing in the doorway, two files scattered on the ground in front of him. Open mouthed he stared at them, clearly hoping he could make himself invisible somehow.
“Oh. Shit. Oh my god, I’m so sorry …” Never ever had Jack seen the young agent this insecure and embarrassed. He desperately turned his head, trying to look somewhere else, gloriously failing at not turning bright red.
But her shock quickly got replaced by amusement as she realized Hollis trying not to burst into laughter. She gave her a shove at the waist and stepped back, leaving here there and stepping up to the agent.
“Nick, hey, calm down.” She put her hand on his arm. She herself had a hard time not to laugh, too. “Nothing happened. You caught us kissing, nothing more.”
Well … it was slowly but steadily turning into something more, and she had to admit, one didn’t always catch his co-worker making out in her office.
Especially not with the bosses’ ex.
“I am so sorry”, Nick repeated, his eyes focused on the scattered files. Jack decided to help him and as she gave him the last two files, he could finally look her in the eye again.
“That was … awkward.” He grinned but gave Hollis a smile. Hollis who clearly had her fun at the situation.
She rubbed his arm. “It’s not your fault, Nick. On the contrary, I …” She cleared her throat, smiling shyly. “I maybe should have thought about that broken door.”
Now it was Nick who grinned. “Hey, it’s your life. Everybody does that. Once. Or … more.” Realizing he was stammering he held the files to his chest. “I think Imma just stop talking now, get you that file and then get out again.” With that he handed her a folder and turned on his heels, on his way of heading out.
“Hey, Nick.” She waited until he turned back around. "Just … don’t tell Gibbs, okay?” She fiddled with her hands.
He gave her a thumbs up. “Sure. I mean, of course.” He stopped in the doorway, then turned around slowly one last time. Smiling, he gave them a nod. “My congrats, you two. You make a fierce couple.”
She just couldn’t help giving Hollis a look. And her girlfriend decided to go one better.
“Now you really should get out, Agent Torres”, she said amused. “Or else you might be witnessing something that you won’t be able to get out of your mind in a while.”
She saw Nick swallowing, literally seeing the wheels spinning. A sharp nod, a “Sure. Yeah. Bye Agent Mann” and he was gone.

The second the door closed, Jack burst into laughter. “Oh, the poor guy”, she chuckled. “Did you really need to scare him with that scenario?”
Hollis shrugged. “He can handle it. Seems to have some Tony-qualities.” A head tilt and a smug smirk. “But back to us. Where were we?”
Her answer were her lips reclaiming hers.

Chapter Text

Oh god.
Holy freakin shit.
Mother Mary hallelujah.

After everything he had experienced in his previous life, Nick Torres wouldn’t have thought he would ever witness something like THAT.
Apparently, when it came to lying to his partners, he wasn’t good at it. Ellie and Tim, of course, sensed something was off immediately.
“Nick? What is wrong?” Bishop was the first to ask.
He let out a tormented sign. “I really promised myself to NOT say anything!”, he said, sounding as if he spoke to an invisible ghost. Truth be told, he actually DID apologize to some kind of invisible Jack and Hollis.

Ellie and McGee shared a look, then stared at him.

As Nick caught their gazes, he signed again.
But within a second his eyes lit up and his whole posture and mood changed. And he was back to his old him.
“You won’t believe what I had just witnessed.” He waved them near, since this was nothing whole NCIS was allowed to know – at least not until they’d make it official.
As the two of them stood side by side, he bent over and lowered his voice. “I went upstairs to hand the files to Jack, right?” He waited until they nodded. “And, well …” He almost giggled. “I caught her and Agent Mann sticking their tongues down each other’s throats.”
McGee coughed and Ellie’s jaw opened. “Wait, what?”, she gasped.
“Shhh!” Nick almost silenced her with his hand. “No one should know. Especially not Gibbs.”
McGee turned white. “Well, that I absolute approve.”
“Jack and Hollis?” Ellie’s eyes still were huge.
Nick nodded.
Ellie shared glances with him and McGee. “Is it just me who thinks this is kinda crazy and unexpected but fitting at the same time?”
“Nope”, Nick said.
“Not at all”, McGee nodded. He stared at a point in the air. “It’s just weird thinking that Jack has a thing with Gibbs’ ex.”
Ellie locked her eyes on Nick again. “Do they know you know?”
He laughed and nodded.
“Oh my god”, McGee said with a voice thick with horror, sharing a look with Bishop.
“Hey, not my fault, she told us we could come in any moment”, Nick said. “And by the way both of them had regained their coolness a lot sooner than I did.” He waved his hand. “Hell, I’m still not recovered. Catching two pretty hot ex-army-chicks kissing … whoo.”
Ellie tilted her head. “Has anyone of you ever thought of Jack being bi?”
Nick smirked. “Honestly I never believed that thing between her and Izzy was just “friends”.” He put the word in invisible braces.
McGee shrugged. “Well, Jack is pretty shippable. But I never thought of Hollis being into women.”
“I’m pretty sure she isn’t, she’s just into Jack.” Nick smirked. “Can we blame her? I don’t think so.”
Ellie smiled. “Well, with this you’re right.”
“Still I don’t want to be in the same room with Gibbs when he finds out”, Tim spoke through clenched teeth.
“Either” Ellie started walking and seemed as if she were weighing the options. “He will laugh, wish them good luck with his stare or he’ll go crazy.”
“Or something completely different”, McGee countered. “Since when has he ever done something we had expected?”
“Definitely gonna ask Jack about it.”
“Do you think she’ll tell you?”
Nick looked at him. “Hey, she didn’t even care about taking her hands off her girlfriend after I had caught them, so I guess THIS isn’t nearly as intimate.”
Ellie smirked. “One can say many things about Jack Sloane, but not that she’s shy or easily shamed.” Nick shrugged. “No reason too. Agent Mann’s attractive, and they make a good couple.”
“And lethal.” Tim, who had the decency to at least try as if he were working, spoke while staring into the computer. “I really don’t wanna get on either one’s bad side.”
“Oh me neither.” Ellie, too, went back to her desk.
“Let’s just hope Gibbs doesn’t find out on his own”, Nick then said, getting just a little worried. “Because THAT would definitely be a blowup.”
“Do not conjure the storm, Torres”, McGee warned.

For a while they worked in silence as McGee suddenly stopped typing and stared into space as if she were considering something. Nick raised an eyebrow at him.
“McGee? You alright?”
He just blinked. “Do those two actually know how that could backfire?”
Nick squinted his face. “You mean … because Jack as Gibbs’ friend is dating his ex?”
A nod.
“Guys, in case you forgot he has experienced that before?”, Ellie cut in. “With Diane and Fornell? And that worked out quite well, too.”
McGee shook his head. “Yeah, but you can’t compare that in the slightest.”
“And why not?”
“Well, Hollis isn’t like Diane at all. And her and Gibbs parted in good terms while Diane tried to split his head in half and he was happy to get away from her while Hollis … they never really broke up. At least not officially.”
Ellie’s eyes widened. “You think he’s still into her?!”
McGee shrugged. “I don’t know”, he confessed.
“Well we can’t do anything about it.” Nick decided to get back to the lighthearted conversation a view minutes before and rubbed his hands. “In the meantime, let’s figure out some shipper names.”
Ellie was in within seconds.
“Jack and Hollis. Sloane and Mann. Hm.” She played with her pen. “Jallis or Jollis?”
“Jacmann? Or Jann?”
“Sounds too much like Jen.”, McGee said, losing his tension. No one wanted a reference to the former director, not in that particular topic.
“Slollis?”, Nick then suggested. “Fits to her lollipop addiction.”
“Jackliss?”
“Let’s leave the l out and make it Jackis?”
“Sounds like kiss. I like it.” McGee smirked.
Nick squinted his eyes. “No it sounds weird. I prefer Slollis.”
“Or we just let the two of them decide if the even want a shipper name”, McGee said. Ellie pointed her pen at him.
“Good point. And good idea.” And just a second after, her face fell. “And we should get back to work cause trouble’s on his way.”
Nick was in the middle of asking what the hell she was talking about as he caught a glimpse on Gibbs.

They just shared a last glance.
Oh he only hoped that fairytale wouldn’t end in total chaos.