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“Counting you Agent Gibbs, that makes seven.”


His first thought after Sharif had called had been: Hollis.
His heart skipped a beat as the realization hit him like a truck. The gas was somewhere near him, maybe in his house, or his car, he had no idea. The basement, maybe. The place didn’t matter, at least not now. What matter was the fact she had been with him, all the time. So that meant … or it could mean …

Eight instead of seven.

He literally ran up the stairs, chasing after her.
The mighty Gibbs chasing after a woman.

“Hey!”, he called after barely opening the door. Hollis, already standing next to her car, turned around. Confusion was written all over her face. Confusion and … something else. Something he really shouldn’t think about right now.
That had been the first time he realized he cared about her. Or better – that he really cared about her. That he didn’t just respect her. There … was something else.
But right now, all that mattered was that both of them got to a doctor - as fast as possible.

Chapter Text

A lot of things had happened to her in active duty. She had been shot at, had been deaf for almost two months due to a bombing she had been to close at, she had had a life threatening surgery, and overall seen things she still couldn’t completely forget about.
But being dragged to NCIS to be looked over by a medical examiner who was actually used to dead people by one certain Leroy Jethro Gibbs who was scared they both had been exposed to Sharif’s gas … that was something knew.

She liked surprises, honestly. Maybe that was what appealed her about him – no matter what, he always did something unexpected. And usually she was really good at detecting stuff like that.
Not with him.
And she didn’t feel the slightest annoyed.

They didn’t speak much on their way back to headquarters. Hollis’ felt anxious – and she wasn’t used to that. It wasn’t only because of the fact that their lifes maybe were in danger. It was the fact that she was sitting in her car, with him, after talking about something very SPECIFIC.
She had always been straight forward and direct and had already realized, even though this was only the first time they had met, she had already figured she didn’t need to use velvet gloves with him. He didn’t speak much. But his body language did and revealed much more than he would possibly want her to know.
Her rank was higher than his, though. She knew he knew, but she wasn’t one to rub it under his nose. She didn’t need that power play … even though it was kind of … exciting.
As usual she covered it up, covered up her slight insecurity which seemed more like … yeah, what exactly was it? Maybe the best description was hope.

But hope for what?


Ducky was already expecting them, Gibbs had called him on their way back to headquarters. Something about the fact that he had let her drive she appreciated.
The moment the older man closed the door and locked it behind them, she realized it. And it made her blood boil and the hairs in her neck stand up.
She needed to get rid of her clothes.
Underground in a room full of dead bodies and a very specific agent and his, how she had come to observe, best friend. IF Leroy Jethro Gibbs had something like that.
Ducky changed looks between them, seeming almost reluctant. She couldn’t blame him a bit. She guessed he wasn’t necessarily used to examine living people, and more over not an army-colonel who had been over at Gibbs’.
They’d be the main topic of gossip if his agents would ever find out. And THAT she really needn’t.

“Okay”, he spoke in his soft, calming tone, eyes still darting back and forth. “So who of you …”
“She goes first.”
Him being a gentleman and caring about her brought a smile to her face and a feeling spreading through her body which was completely inappropriate in that situation.
And the next second, just as her hands moved to her shirt after she had taken off her boots, she stirred. Her heart beat nervously. She turned around and opened her mouth, thinking about how she should articulate herself, as he answered her question himself by turning around. She closed her lips again, smiled.
She was shivering and couldn’t hide it. She had always been a summer-girl, couldn’t stand the cold. And in her opinion, it was freezing in here.
“Sorry Colonel”, Ducky said the next moment. Of course he made out her goosebumps, and the way her hands rubbed over her arms almost instinctively.
She forced a smile. “The temperature’s not your fault, Doctor. I just hope it won’t take long.”
Ducky smiled, too. “I’m sure it won’t.” He stepped closed, gathering all the stuff he needed, stuff whose names Hollis would never be able to remember.
She bit her lip. She hadn’t been this anxious or insecure in years. “Do I need to …” She tapped against the strap of her bra. Ducky, understanding immediately, shook his head. “No, you can keep it on.”
A smirk appeared on his lips. “I guess in that case I would have send you to your army-doctor, since that would have crossed a line.”
She couldn’t help but chuckle and shook her head, amused by his kind of always appropriate charm.
“Come on Duck, please!”, Gibbs’ gruff voice barked through the room. Hollis met Doctor Mallard’s eyes, nodding.

She knew she hadn’t mistaken, and she knew she wasn’t wrong. She had a good ability to read between the lines – the way people delivered their words and sentences often gave a much more meaningful about the real message behind it than the content itself.
And in Gibbs’ voice had been something else – a shift, a tiny, almost non-recognizable shift. But it was there.

They came in as she had pulled up the zipper of her boot and Gibbs buttoned up his shirt. Ziva David and Abby Sciuto had been waiting behind the door, impatiently wanting her boss to be cleared ok.
Luckily, they were. Despite the cold she was still trying to shake off which had made itself a comfortable home in her body.

But that cold had probably been the only thing keeping her mind of off constantly replaying the option she had contemplated staring at the grey wall while Gibbs was being looked over.

What would have happened if she had just kissed him?

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He barely remembered the way the shots had echoed through the small bathroom.
He barely even remembered how Sharif fell to the ground, defeated, powerless.
He remember the nausea, the way the world was spinning before his eyes, how his body grew numb.
The only thing which was crystal clear, the only picture he could recall as if it had happened just seconds ago, was her hovering above him and looking at him. Smiling at him.
He had just stared back, as if nothing else mattered. Because in this situation, she was his lifeline.

She was beautiful, that wasn’t a debate. She had a lovely smile, a smile which kinda didn’t fit at all into her army-demeanor and the bossiness she exuded whenever she was wearing it. The way her eyes had glimmered in the dim, amber light in his basement, the twist of her lip.

Jenny had green eyes, too. Darker, almost like a deep dark emerald. Forest green.
Hollis’ were completely different. Light, almost as light so he hadn’t been sure what exactly the color was at the beginning. Light and blazing, glowing almost, as if there was a fire burning behind her iris that turned the green into this magnificent, yet bewildering color. Bright and big and expressive, light.
Spring green maybe. Or mint.

He knew what it was.

Army-green. The color of her ACUs reflected just exactly the color of her eyes, and it was daunting and provocative and gorgeous as hell.
She was an army-woman through and through.


And as he was lying in the hospital bed, waiting to be released, he made up his mind.
She had saved his life. He owed her.
Maybe it was true. Maybe even Marines needed heroes. His had just come with a silver leaf on her uniform.
And now, it was time for action.

Chapter Text

The kiss had started out tentative, testing, and sweet. She hadn’t had a kiss like that in a very long time.
Now they were simply staring at each other. Their smiles had faded long before, now everything between them was just silence, and tension, and something else she didn’t dare to describe. She tried to read his face, his expression, waited for him to answer her question.
“If I’d tell ya”, he then said, voice low. “It wouldn’t be a secret anymore.”
She tilted her head. “Well”, she started, her own voice silent, too. “I guess either I need to go on staring at you until you do tell me, or …”
“Let’s just say that I know what I’m doin’”, he cut her off with a soft tone.
She fixed her eyes on him. “Oh that I’m sure about.”
The air between them was strained it almost could be torn apart. Hollis’ eyes darted while she was working on trying to make a rhyme out of the look in his face. His blue eyes bore into hers and suddenly she felt she barely couldn’t breathe anymore.
Realizing he wouldn’t be the one to say anything, she cleared her throat. “So.” God when did her voice get so low and throaty? “That “thank you” all why you’re here?”
He swallowed. There was something strangely attractive about how he was looking at her. “Actually …” She saw his eyes darken. “No.”

Her heart beat faster.
There was no need for words. They both were mature and old enough not to be shy around the subject, and they both knew the other knew. Hollis bit her lip and she enjoyed the immediate reaction that move had on him.
And finally he leaned in – but not to kiss her. Hollis held her breath as his lips touched her throat. Her lids fluttered shut, she couldn’t help it. That bastard had found one of her trigger spots right away … His hands made their way under her kimono and the touch set her body and soul on fire – even though his hands weren’t even touching her skin. And all of a sudden she was desperate to get out of her dress.

That was the moment she realized how much she wanted him. It wasn’t just physical – she trusted him, wanted to be near him. She needed him, craved him – and the way he was looking at her as he pulled back made her believe he was feeling the same. She only hoped.
She shifted and felt a tickling feeling spreading all through her body as she realized he was following her every move.
“Help me to get out of that dress?” She flashed him a smile. She didn’t want this to get all heated up and feel like some kind of horny one-night-stand – that had happened way too often. Men who had misinterpreted her behavior, her teasing nature. Men who thought she was just the same in bed as she was in the field, or on dates. She wasn’t.
In fact, she was probably a lot more sensitive than she knew of herself.
But as Jethro smiled back she just knew he got her. In every sense of the word.
“With pleasure.” With an incredible gentleness he pulled the material over her head and left it to her where she wanted it. She folded it and leaned over to throw it to the far end of the bed. As she wanted to turn around, his hand suddenly was around her waist, pulling her against him. Hollis felt the warmth exuding from his body and leaned into his touch. As he pressed a kiss in her neck, she signed, feeling a shiver running down her spine. God, she wanted this.
She turned her head to meet his lips for a kiss, and they locked, got lost in each other. She decided to make the first move and parted her lips, slowly testing if he was ready for it. He was, and just seconds later their tongues met, his hands were in her hair, and she clung to him like it her life was depending on him.
She couldn’t recall how Jethro had gotten rid of everything except his trousers and if she had played a part in it. All she knew was they both were breathless as they parted. Hollis’ heart was beating heavy against her ribs as she found herself on the mattress, on her side facing her partner who was constantly watching her. Her body was strained in attention and she felt like hyperventilating. Without a doubt, she hadn’t felt that alive in years.
Jethro reached out to caress her cheek and she couldn’t help but close her eyes at the tender touch. His hand moved, fingertips barely touching her chin, neck, shoulder. He reached around her, his fingers dancing up along her back until he reached the clasp of her bra.
There was a short hesitation coming from his. All she did was blink, giving him silent permission.
She didn’t know if she managed to get out of the piece of clothing as graceful as she wanted to, but it didn’t seem to make a difference. She almost bit her lip in nervous, excited anticipation, suddenly feeling like a teenager.
She appreciated the way he was only halfway leaning over her – as if he wanted to give her the opportunity to back out, to not trap her.
Oh, she wanted everything but not get out if this.

She had never been shy – neither in her job, nor in the bedroom. And she didn’t want to wait anymore. So she reached out for him, cupped his jaw and pulled him down to her, finally wanting to feel him, all of him. She signed into the kiss and couldn’t help the little gasp as his skilled fingertips focused their attention on her breast, seemingly enjoying what he was doing to her.
Eventually he let go of her immediately and as fast as he had started it, and looked down at her, again.
Steel blue met olive green. Both equally penetrating, blazing, and full of desire, hope and admiration. His eyes traveled lower to take her in once again, but he didn’t get far.
She inhaled and felt her body tense up. She knew what exactly he was staring at. The scar left on her breastbone, healed well but visible if one looked a little closer. A bullet that had almost killed her about six years ago, a bullet that had put her in a coma because her body had been trying so hard to survive it had shut down.
Luckily, it hadn’t given up on her.
“You are not the only one with bullet wounds, gunny”, she said silently, her hand caressing his chest. He had a lot more scars than she did, and she kind of had expected it. But she figured he neither wanted to talk about it, nor should she stare. So she didn’t.
She was tired of staring. She wanted to FEEL. Just as she made her move to get busy with moving along his bare skin, he reached for her hands and stilled them. She met his eyes, confused. There was a shadow lying over his features, an expression she could faintly distinguish as … sympathy.
“Doesn’t matter”, he spoke with a voice soft as velvet.
She blinked. “What do you …”
“Scars. Wounds. Blemishes. They all don’t matter.” His eyes grew softer than she had ever seen him to be. “They make you beautiful. They’re you.”
She batted her lids and stared up at him. She needed some time to process the kindness in his words. “You are the first man to say something like that”, she breathed out, voice trembling. He seemed to open his mouth to reply something, but she decided she wouldn’t let him. She wouldn’t risk him making her cry, not now, not tonight. So she kissed him, pulling him down towards her, desperate to feel him, all of him. Desperate to be near him.
Somehow she got to him to free himself from his trousers, and finally, she could feel him, skin on skin. Hollis changed the position of her legs so she could kneel in front of him, taking his chin in both hands, kissing him again, harder this time. She didn’t want to wait, not anymore, and apparently he neither, the way he was pulling her towards him by closing his arms around her waist. She felt his growing hardness press against her belly and suppressed to say anything inappropriate, instead pulled back to gaze into his eyes once again.
She knew the effect her green eyes had on others, especially on men. She had used it more often than she would probably admit for herself, and she was pretty sure than had been another reason why she was so good at face-to-face-stare-offs. She always won.

Not this time, though. He flipped her over within seconds, and she let out a laugh. There was some kind of playfulness in the way he was treating her, and she liked it. She bent her leg and teasingly slid her toes along his calves, enjoying the gentle grow which stole its way out of his throat.
He didn’t let her entice him any longer, actually, having a different plan in mind.
Hollis figured it out the second he took his weight off her and instead hooked his fingers into the waistband of her underwear. She closed her eyes and prepared herself.
He kissed his way down her belly along her hip, teasingly slow, reaching her thighs. As he pressed a kiss on the inside, Hollis inhaled.
Her hand clawed itself into the cushions and her body tensed in unison. She had never been one to fall easily, neither in love, nor about surrendering when having sex. She had often heard she was easy to be with, but difficult to be impressed. That reputation she had had for a long time, and there was no reason or want to change anything about it.
She bit her lip at his next very skilled move. She squinted her eyes and reached out to brush over his silver hair, as his tongue hit that one special spot. Hollis gasped and jolted, only to laugh in the next second.
“Easy, Jethro”, she got out panting, trying to calm her already shuddering body. He made a rumbling sound in his throat, one that almost brought her to moan. He stilled her with placing his palm on her hip, steading her, keeping her in place – and securing her.
Hollis closed her eyes, again, and took a deep, long breath. His tongue hit her again, and this time she gave in to a low sign, a sign which soon turned into quiet whimpers. The way his hand trailed massaging, caressing circles over her leg didn’t help her at all. He was so very good at what he was doing.
Maybe it was true. Maybe she sometimes did play “hard to get” – but with him it had been different from the beginning. She was almost clingy, almost desperately craving his attention. She made her partners know when they were good, and he was. No concealment needed.
That has always been a quality and character trade of hers. No lies, no games. Just the truth.
He hit another, perfect spot, and she hissed.
“Oh god, don’t stop”, she whispered.
“Have no intention too”, he growled back.
“No, I mean …” She took a deep breath. “I want you.” He stilled, almost frowned. As if her words had taken him off guard. She wasn’t sure what had happened, but the next second his head was above hers, the warmth of his body spreading and covering her like an invisible cloud. Blinking away the bliss, she smiled at him. And he smiled back. A smile showing devotion, love and passion in once. His hand found a way into her hair, combing through it. She met him halfway, this time the kiss was as their first one – loving, soft, slow. Hollis signed as they broke apart. They could be both. And that was absolutely perfect.
He even gave her some time to put herself back together which she appreciated. She caressed his jaw with her fingers, her fingernails softly scraping along his chin.
“Tell me.” She leaned forward until she could whisper in his ear. “What do you want me to do to make YOU feel good?” Her hand had already been on his biceps and she let it move along his strong shoulders, over his clavicle, feeling every muscle of his.
“Doing a very good job already”, he mumbled, attacking her lips once again. Hollis made a humming sound in the back of her throat, approving his affection. She let her hands become busy, trailing patterns over his chest, his stomach, and downwards. He groaned as she reached her destination and couldn’t help the smut grin spreading all over her face.
Truth was … he wasn’t the only one confident and good at what he was doing.
He took a deep breath. “Slow down”, he gritted moments later, eyes darting, iceblue twinkeling.
“Where’s your determination, gunny?”, she teased, enjoyed what she could do to him. “What about a marine’s energy?” She gave him another playful but teasing stroke and he reacted. In seconds he let go of her waist, instead grabbing her wrist and jerking them away from his now very active body part.
“Wanna be with you”, he whispered into the kiss.
She answered back. “Well that I approve.”
Their kiss became hungrier and more and more passionate while he settled himself into position. It took just seconds, one single move of his to press all air out of her lungs. She squinted her eyes at the painful sensation, her body wanting her to wince, and she couldn’t help the small squeal escaping her lips.
Immediately, he stilled.
“You okay?”, he whispered softly. She blinked and gave him a smile.
“Yes, it’s fine”, she spoke breathlessly. “Just … been a while.”
“Same.” His lips twisted, but the glimmer couldn’t hide the effort he was fighting to maintain. “We’ll keep it slow.” He moved his hips, indeed this time a lot more attentive. Which only build her desire up more, and she couldn’t help the tease.
“Do you think we can?”, she got out whispering. She met his eyes.
“Do you want to?”
She groaned and bit her lip. “Actually, no.”

They didn’t need any more words. Their bodies’ languages spoke enough for it, their mutual signs and articulations more significant than anything else.
And then he stilled. Her eyes snapped open, her breath raging, confused by what had happened. And she was captivated by his eyes.
It was a small movement, minimalistic even, but she saw it. His head moved, one time, from left to right.
“God you’re beautiful.”
She couldn’t quiet recall the last time someone had called her “beautiful”. But hearing it, in this moment, out of his mouth, caused a warmth spreading through her body and settling down right in her heart.
He was so … she couldn’t put it into words.
All she knew was she wanted to repay him.
She hooked her leg around his waist and pressed herself close, slightly changing the angle. That was what made his eyes snap open.
“Do that again”, he panted.
She glared at him – for one second, the first time that night, feeling like the major one in their position. She arched her back. “This?”
He groaned, the sound sending waves of pleasure through her body from head to toe. In reaction he moved again, this time making her moan.
Time passed and she had no idea how much. All she knew was he was watching her. Men liked that position because they could look at their partner. And since a long time she enjoyed that, too. She wrapped her arms around his shoulders and he got her implication. His hands were on her waist in seconds, pulling her upwards. The change of positions made her gasp, and as she felt his lips on hers, she signed into the kiss.
She had no intention to play the stronger, dominant part, at least not tonight, not with him. She trusted him. She trusted him enough to take her over the edge and to give him the freedom to do what he wanted. Unconsciously her hands moved along his muscular back, holding onto him as wave after wave of nearly deserted feelings ran through her, making her tremble. She felt his fingertips on her lower back, he probably didn’t even realize the strength of his grip, and she’d probably have some bruises in the morning, but he’d be left with some crescents on his shoulders, too.
They got each other. She knew it, and she was sure he felt it, too.
And they held onto each other as they both surrendered to their passion, their world bursting into the brightest colors.

Her breath came in shallow, raging pants. He held her even after her body’s recovering, even though she had stopped shivering a while before. She was back on the mattress again and felt his eyes on her but had nothing against it. She took a deep breath, then unclenched her legs and relaxed, grazing his calves with her toes while sliding off.
And then he lowered his head until his forehead was on her chest, breathing out a satisfied intake of air. Hollis felt her head pound. That she hadn’t expected. This kind of affection surprised her.
She stilled and did nothing for a while until she reached out to caress his arms.
“That was awesome”, she managed to get out.
He laughed. “Yeah it was.” There was an unusual lightheadedness in his voice and the way he spoke, and it made her smile in happiness. He bumped her nose with his, blue eyes flaming but smooth. “You okay?”
She would have never imagined calling this man “sweet”, but he could be if he wanted.
“Oh I am more than okay.” She grinned. The smile he gave her was almost boyish, mischievous, and kind of proud as he flipped onto the other side of the bed to give her more space. She reached for the blanket and pulled it over herself, silently lifting it up so he could grab it too if he wanted. He surprised her again as he wrapped his hand around her waist and pulled her close.
The silence surrounding them was comfortable, easy, and save. There weren’t many things Hollis hated more than strained silence, and she was more than glad it weren’t an obstacle between them.
Her head was on his chest, his arm lose around her waist, and she just enjoyed the way they both could say nothing and still seemed to understand each other’s minds.
Time went on, the silence and calmness too, and she felt her body become heavier, her mind clouded.
She bluntly yawned. And he broke out laughing, leaving her with a bright blush on her face.
“God, I’m so sorry”, she mumbled.
Playfully he tugged at her waist, eyes sparkling. “For what?”
She looked up to meet his eyes. “Sex always makes me so tired.”
He laughed again and took her hand she had used to cover her red cheeks. And then he really, actually, tapped her nose. “Ya look cute.”
She felt the blush becoming even stronger and closed her eyes, smiling sheepishly.
“Was I that good?”
Hollis opened her eyes again and gave him a blazing stare. “Don’t get smug, Gunny”, she said with heavy teasing in her voice. As his smirk grew wider, she punched his chest lovingly and snuggled closed. “I’m simply not a night owl.”
He surprised her as he kissed the top of her head. “Then sleep”, he nuzzled into her hair. “Tomorrow’s another day.”
Yes, it was.
She gave in to her body’s tiredness just seconds later, save and satisfied in the arms of a man she would have never imagined to be with ever.
And she couldn’t recall the last time she had slept in with a smile on her lips.

Chapter Text

He felt bad. A bad conscience was creeping over him and it drove him crazy.
But he didn’t feel as bad so it would make him stay, which he also couldn’t do, even if he wanted to. They had already overslept and there was no way for him to be punctual, and he could only hope he wouldn’t be the new center of speculation since EVERYONE seemed to have noticed the tension between him and the attractive CID agent.
Pulling on his pants he glanced around to look at her. She was still asleep, her hair messy, features relaxed.
Jethro signed. She actually was the perfect partner. Strong, sassy, determined, cunning. Had a sharp mind, wasn’t afraid to speak up. Passionate. And way more sensual and soulfull then she let show. And good god, she was beautiful.
It was in her eyes. The truth, her feelings, her real emotion, it was seen in her eyes.

Knowing he couldn’t deal with the sight of a vulnerable, sweet version of hers any longer, he turned around to dress up fully and went to the bathroom as silent as possible. Back in the room he gathered his gear while he thought about if he should leave her a message, or wake her.
All options seemed to be stupid, or the cliché one-night-stand, which he didn’t want her to think. She wasn’t a woman to just spend a night with, even though it was GREAT, but she was a lot more than that, and he didn’t want her to feel like he had just used her. On the same time, what was it between them? He couldn’t explain, couldn’t make himself a rhyme out of it, it was …

“Where are you going?”
Her voice startled him and he turned around.
Hollis was sitting upright, blanket wrapped around her, blinking the tiredness out of her eyes. He couldn’t help but remark that she looked kind of adorable all sleepy and with uncombed hair. The fact that she didn’t seem to bother at all about the fact she was anything than styled and didn’t even try to look like the perfect morning-after-lover was something he appreciated more than anything.
He maybe should tell her. But instead, all that came out of his mouth was “I gotta go”, he said. “Work.” He grabbed his jacket and thought about a proper good bye as he caught her staring at him.
“You have to be kidding.”
There it was. The sarcasm, the sass. But that wasn’t all. It was baffledness. And … something else he couldt quiet picture.
He clenched his jaw, suddenly feeling incredibly insecure. After everything that had happened within the last hours, yeah, days, all he wanted now was to get away from her.
Because this, whatever it was, was getting dangerously close to him. SHE was getting close to him.
“I’ll call you, ‘kay?”
He couldn’t get it over himself to walk back to her and kiss her, he just couldn’t. But what he didn’t expect was how the look on her face, changing from bewildered to angry, affected him.

Chapter Text

He never called. And she was angry with herself for bothering this much.
Maybe it really had been just a quick thing for him. A one night stand. Probably he had decided he wasn’t interested, at least not in a relationship … but then there had been the way he had kissed her, held her, treated her. She couldn’t remember a guy that affectionate.

She wouldn’t mind doing it again, not at all. But more over she wouldn’t mind waking up in his arms and kissing him. Having dinner together. Watch a movie. Sleep in next to each other. Talk – IF he were a talker, which he wasn’t, she had realized that.
She didn’t want to be the one making the move – she had already done it by postulating him to kiss her. Now it was his turn.
IF he wanted it.


One of her closest colleagues at CID, Jamie, gave her a onceover as she strolled along the corridor.
“You look different.”
Hollis gave her a quick glance. “I do?”
“Mhm”, Jamie said as they walked side by side towards their offices.
She lifted her eyebrow. “Good or bad?”
“Good. Like …” Jamie stopped as if a thought had crossed her mind. Her lips curled into a smug smile and the moment she opened her mouth, Hollis held up her hands. “Don’t. Don’t say it.”
She knew EXACTLY what her friend meant. And was annoyed her was that it had taken her only seconds to figure out that she hadn’t spent the night alone.
When the hell did she become such an open book and easy to read person?
Her friend understood. Closed her lips, made a move with her hand, and got back right to business.

Two days later, the tears came. Ugly tears as if she were a teenager who had just gotten screwed over by her crush.
Anger and sadness combined were a deadly, hated combination, especially for her. Hollis hated herself when she was drowning in self-pity but she couldn’t help it. Hugging a pillow to her chest, she grumply watched whatever was running on TV, not really caring about it anyways.

She could go to his house and face him, ask him why he was acting like an asshole. But this wasn’t her. She had a huge ego, and in her mind, no woman should ever put herself lower and creep after a guy she was fancing over. A little teasing, that was good. To make them aware. But playing the clingy partner, holding the “Oh I can’t live without you, I love you, please come back to me” speech – that didn’t work for her. And if he waited for THAT, he wasn’t the right one. Because THIS wasn’t her.

A whole week later she decided to cut the strands. It was over. Maybe they weren’t meant to be.

It took her another week to force herself to think that it was probably the best.
But what she didn’t know and didn’t want to admit was that she had fallen in love with Leroy Jethro Gibbs. And if Hollis Mann loved someone, nothing could change that.
Her heart knew.

Chapter Text

He knew she was angry. Had seen it in her eyes, it was in her body language.

He should have known she wasn’t one to mess with, should have known she was a deadly enemy and he should have seen it coming that she would bring him hell on earth if they’d ever crossed paths again.

Which they did.
And his team was watching.
He didn’t know with whom he was most furious – Tony and Ziva for gossiping and ogling, Hollis being the literal devil to give him all those GLANCES and knowing EXACTLY it was completely unprofessional but didn’t care and probably doing it just because of that, or himself for falling for her.
Because hell yeah, he was falling for her. Had probably been the second they had met.

He knew she was enjoying this. Torturing him, making him squirm under her gaze, get uncomfortable since his team was near. And hell, she had every right to. He had been a total ass.

He told her after they had arrested the butcher lady. Or better, he had asked her if she wanted to come over for dinner.
He still wondered why she had said yes.


Somehow they ended up naked again. On his couch. After making out like horny teenagers. And the worst thing about it was that he didn’t regret it the least.
The sight of her, this always controlled, powerful and bossy woman completely vulnerable and at his mercy, then seconds later in total in charge … it just had something that made his whole brain shut down and make his heart – and animalistic instincts - take over.
Being honest … it was also admiration. Because she could complete change, from icecold army colonel to passionate woman, and both of it was so real, so honest, so HER. She could let loose, let go of her work attitude, and just be Holly. Because whenever she was like this, soft and sweet and curled up next to him, signing at every touch he spoiled her with, she was Holly, not Hollis.

Oh how he wished he could do the same. Let his armor and his walls down.
He wanted it so badly. He wanted to do it for her.
To show her what she meant to him.

The moment she had opened her eyes again, those beautiful, extraordinary green eyes meeting his, unshielded, unguarded, her lips curled into a smile, he knew he was in love with her.
His heart had known it a long time before – hell, he wouldn’t have kissed and loved her in the first place. But it had needed a whole five weeks for those feelings to settle into his consciousness.

“What is this Jethro? Between us, I mean?” Her voice was silent, calm, almost insecure in its question. He took a deep breath.
Honestly … “I don’t know”, he said.
He saw her shoulders fall in defeat. Suddenly he wondered if he should have said something else.

Only disturbed by her grabbing the blanket to cover herself. Wise move.

Then, a long exhale. “I don’t just want to be your bed bunny”, she exclaimed seconds later.
He stared at her, opened his mouth, but … nothing came out.
“I like you, okay? I really like you.” Her eyes burned into his, bright and furious and passionate and desperate, so desperate it hurt him just seeing her like this. “And if you don’t feel the same way, that’s … okay.” Oh, it was everything but okay for her, he saw it in her face, heard it in her voice. “Just … tell me. Please. I can’t go on living like this as if …” She took a deep breath. “As if I’m just some kind of affaire.” Her green eyes pierced into his. “That’s not who I am, Jethro. I don’t know your perception of me, but I’m not one for cheap fling. I’m either all in or nothing.”
He held her gaze. “You aren’t”, he said. Strong and honest and hell yeah, THAT was the truth.
She bat her eyelashes. “What?”
“A bed bunny. An affair.” He straightened his back and sat up, focused on her. “You are no mistake or occasional flirt for me. Even though … I’ve kinda made you feel that way. I’m just … I’m not good at this.”
Her lips twisted into a relieved smile and she whipped her eyes. “That’s okay. I’m not perfect either. Far from perfect.” She reached out and took his hand. He watched their fingers dance around each other, her tender in his calloused ones, somehow fitting, somehow the complete opposite.
“I just want to know … if you’re ready to figure this out.” He felt her eyes on him and he looked up. There was this unshielded, vulnerable honesty in her face, something he hadn’t seen in a lot of people’s features. She was a walking contradiction. A beautiful, sassy contradiction.
“I cant promise anything.” He wanted it to sound like a warning but it turned out as a whisper.
And she smiled. God, that smile had killed him in the first moment. Soft and sweet and flirtatious. “You don’t have to, gunny. All I want you to do is try.”
Finally, he smiled, too. “That I can.”
He pulled her in by her waist to kiss her. And as they did, he felt her smile against his lips, and he knew, THIS felt right.

“What happened?” He trailed his hand along her ribs, up between her breasts, feeling the scar. He had realized it before, in their first night and today too, but he hadn’t felt in the position to ask. Now he did. Now it felt like the right time.
“About two centimeters left and I would have been dead.” The sternness in her voice – and the message – made his heart stop for a second. He stared at her but realized she was looking at the ceiling, lost in the past.
“Venezuela. Some guy went crazy, it wasn’t on duty so I didn’t wear a vest. No one did. But he got me. My troup called an ambulance, they got me to the hospital, and I was out for a whole two weeks.”
He closed his eyes for a second, imagining the IF …
“So many close calls”, he mumbled. “Too many.”
Hollis nodded in silence.

He decided to move on. Since they were already speaking about it …
“And that?” His fingertips rested on the scar just under her ribs, even though he had a vague idea what might have happened.
“Serious kick in the guts. A suspect went crazy. Attacked me in the interrogation room.”
He shot up. THAT he hadn’t expected. She just shrugged it off.
“Splenic rupture. They had to remove it. That’s why IF I get sick, which gladly isn’t often, I get REALLY sick.”
Gibbs swallowed, silently cursing the guy who had done that to her.

He went on examining her with looks, and luckily the last scar he found – at least on her front – was one on her foot.
“Let me guess.” He softly rubbed his thumb over it. “Sprayled ankle?”
She nodded. “Yep. Chased a suspect. Ground wasn’t level.” She snorted. “Most embarrassing day in my entire life.”
He chuckled. “Even a Colonel can get embarrassed.”
“Oh, I was still Lieutenant. Thought I did better than those new ones in my squad.” She rubbed her forehead. “At least, they were scared of me so no one let a comment slip, at least not in my presence.”

He spoke the words after some moments in silence. “’m kinda proud of you, you know.”
Hollis stared at him while her eyebrow rose up. “Why?”
“I imagine you had a tough way to go.” He kissed her cheek and settled closer. “Made it far.”
“Only chased my dreams, Jethro.” She smiled at him, eyes sparkling. “Just that.”

Chapter Text

The topic came up in his mind about two days later. She was staying at his house again, they had had dinner while watching a movie, and as the world around them fell in silence, he articulated it.
“The first case we worked on together. With Abraham. As Ziva defused the bomb.” He turned to look at her. “You stayed with us. Why?”
Hollis took another sip of her drink, and as soon as she had swallowed, she answer without hesitation: “Because we were in this together.”

That wasn’t enough of an explanation for him.
“I get it why Tony and McGee stayed. They would have never let Ziva die alone if she wouldn’t have succeeded. We are a team, work together, trust each other. But …” His voice got lower. “Why did you risk your life?”

Now, an expression of thoughtfulness covered her features. Slowly she placed the glass onto the table before leaning back and curling her legs up on the couch.
Then she looked at him. Right into his eyes. “I guess my heart had already decided it belonged to you.”
He stared back at her, taking in her honest, loving smile and felt his own heart pound. The meaningful heaviness of her voice had an impact on him like alcohol – it lulled him in warmness, clouded his mind, made everything seem lighter.
“I’m not one to back down easily, Jethro. But I guess you already figured that out.” He smiled, nodded. She smiled, too, and moved closer. “On this case, it didn’t matter who was Army and who Navy. All what mattered was us, as a team.” She shook her head. “I couldn’t have left you with that. Even if we all would have been blown up into the air.” Her lips twisted, but her eyes were suddenly covered with emotion. Emotion and … devotion. She leaned her head on his shoulder and tangled her fingers with his. “At least we would have gone up as a firework together.”

He wanted to smile, but there was something that kept him from that.
Tentative, he asked her: “Something in your words tells me … you know what you’re talking about.”
She took a deep breath and shook her head. “Long story.” As he caught her eyes, the smile on her lips was weaker than before and she just closed them, leaning back on his chest.
“I don’t want to talk about it”, she whispered. “At least … not now.”
He nodded. He got her. He probably got her better than anyone else whenever it came to not wanting to talk about something that happened in the past …

He was glad as it was her to restart talking. “You know somehow I never felt like an intruder, and your team seemed to respect me from day one.”
He chuckled. “That was because they were scared of you.”
She shifted and leaned back to stare at him. “That’s not true.”
“Oh, it is.” He grinned down at her. “Do you even know how menacing you can be?”
She blinked. “I am menacing?”
“Well right now ..:” He gave her a onceover, smirking at her wide, grey shirt that looked like two sizes too big for her. “You’re not.”
She bit her lip, a light blush covering her cheeks. “You know what I think?” She shifted near until their noses touched. “It’s because you respected me.” She turned on her back and made herself comfortable on his lap, looking up at him. “Kids usually tolerate the person who gets respected by their dad.”
He laughed. “What?”
“Oh come on, they so do behave like kids.” She tilted her head. “Remember that face-app? Where they mixted a baby out of our facial features?” She spoke the “mixted” with forming quotation marks with her hands. “That is such a kids-thing to do.”
“They’re adults”, he held against it.
“Which doesn’t make them childish”, she said, giving him that one-raised-eyebrow-look. “And you know how I mean it.”

“Wouldn’t mind it, you know.” The words had left his lips without him really thinking about it, but it wasn’t less a truth. She sat up again, staring at him with a completely puzzled look. A single, little strand of hair fell into her fac. It was such an adorable, so unlikely her moment he snorted with laughter.
“Yeah, you heard that right.” He still chuckled, even when she roled her eyes and punched his shoulder.
“Well, I appreciate your offer but first, we’re way too old, and second, I’m no kids person.”
“Don’t worry. Got enough kids at work.” She smirked at his words, at his indirect way of conceding her point.

Kelly was his one and only, his daughter, and he wouldn’t dare replace her. And right now, especially when she leaned full flush against him and kissed him, everything in his life seemed pretty damn good.