When the President Calls

Chapter 13

Wednesday May 19th, 2011
NCIS Headquarters
8:47 a.m.

“Okay Abby, I’m here, what was so major you had to send my sister after me?” Jen asked as she strode into the pen.

“Where’s Gibbs?” asked Abby.

“How should I know?” countered Jen.

"Yeah, no one knows what he's up to," Tony agreed.

“About six feet,” Jethro said as he walked by Tony, smacking him on the head in the process, coffee in hand. “Now what was so important, Abby?”

"We got a case," Abby grinned while Tony rubbed his head. "Big one, serial, lots of forensics, I need lots of Caf-Pow for this one."

"McGee and Ziva are over at the scene, I offered to stick around till you showed," Tony spoke up.

"Yeah yeah, it's great, lots of bullets, one dude had his leg chopped off, I think I'll be having a few new pics for my collection after this one. McGee says it's really freaky, one guy is up in a tree, bodies are over 20 acres of wood, various states of decay...lots of bugs too..." Abby rambled on, growing more and more excited.

“How many dead, Abby?” Jethro snapped.

"Oh, they found twenty-two so far," Abby answered. "Not big on foreplay are you?" she asked shaking her head.

At hearing Abby’s last comment Jen started chocking on her coffee, having just taken a sip of it.

“You been talking to my ex-wives again Abby?” Jethro asked looking over at Jen, who was still coughing.

"Nah, should I be?" Abby asked hopefully.

“I know the Heimlich, Boss,” offered Tony as he made his way over towards Jen.

“Touch me and die, DiNozzo,” Jen threatened as she finally got her coughing under control.

"Alright, you know you're not supposed to inhale the coffee, you drink it," Tony countered.

“And you’re supposed to be out doing your job DiNozzo,” Jethro ordered. “I suggest you do just that.”

"Yes, Boss," agreed Tony before rising and making his way towards the elevator.

"Okay well, I'm going to head downstairs, I'll be expecting Caf-Pow soon..." Abby nodded turning to leave as well.

“Abby, hang on a sec,” Jen said as she made her way over to the other woman as Jethro made his way out of the pen to meet with the director about the new case.

"What's up?" Abby asked turning back to her.

“You can forget getting any Caf-Pow any time soon,” Jen said quietly, not wanting this conversation overheard.

"What!" Abby asked shocked. "But...but I can't function without it..."

“Well maybe you should think about that the next time you decide to send my sister out looking for me at the crack of dawn,” countered Jen before turning and making her way out of the office.

“What have you got for us, Abby?” asked Jethro as he and Jen made their way into the lab a number of hours later that same day.

"Need you to sign this first," Abby answered as she grabbed a clipboard and turned around to walk towards them, holding it out to Jethro.

“What is it?” he asked, taking the clipboard from her as Jen stopped at his elbow.

"Time sheet," Abby shrugged. "Sign!" she ordered lightly, "Or no results."

“Fine,” he sighed as he signed the sheet and handed the clipboard back to Abby.

"Good, now my poor Igor can get paid," Abby nodded before heading back to her computer.

“Igor?” asked Jen, looking between Abby and Jethro, who shrugged.

"You did not just call me Igor!"

"What, at least I'm not calling you Chip," Abby countered as her 'assistant' came out of the office.

"Oh and that makes you Dr. Frankenstein...maybe we should start making sure Ducky isn't having any internal organs going missing..."

“Gina?” asked Jen in shock.

"Yeah, you two owe me," Sara rolled her eyes. "Bad enough I got dragged out of my bed practically to come find you two at seven this morning, then I get a call begging me for help in the lab. You people are evil denying her Caf-Pow..." Sara shook her head.

"Hey, stop complaining...I think I got off worse, you're a pain to work with," Abby countered. "She's snappy when she's interrupted. She nearly took off Tony's head when he went to touch the shirt with bare hands...I think he's still hiding under his desk from when we went through the office a few hours ago in search of McGee for his explanation of where exactly that butcher knife was..."

“It’s not our fault she sent you out to find us this morning,” argued Jen. “And denying her Caf-Pow was punishment for doing just that.”

"Bite me," Sara countered. "And you don't touch anything without gloves; I am not dealing with having to eliminate his prints and DNA from anything. He was a cop before becoming an agent, he should damn well know better," Sara grumbled towards Abby before turning to head back to a section of rope she had been printing. "And hello, you two can at least smile at each other. The cat is out of the bag after all."

“Hang on Gina, what do you mean the cat is out of the bag?” asked Jen.

"You know...I almost wouldn't know she hasn't done this in almost seven years..." Abby smirked.

“I didn't have the best solve rate in the entire state for nothing,” Sara countered. “So, now that I'm being paid, we have fingerprints that belong to a Master Sergeant, Thomas O'Callahan,” she explained to Jethro before turning back to Jen. “Abbs knows.”

“This is so not happening,” groaned Jen as she dropped her head into her hands. “How?”

"No, the fingerprints on the rope definitely belonged to the Master Sargeant; even if he did manage to wipe everything else clean..." Abby frowned.

"I think she meant the other thing," Sara called.

“Oh, well yeah, that is happening,” Abby agreed. “As for how, I’m not good at my job for nothing.”

“Jeth,” Jen said her voice quiet as she gently touched his arm.

“Jennifer?” Jethro said turning around when he felt her hand on his arm, only to notice how pale she’d gotten. “Jennifer breathe,” he instructed as he caught her as her knees seemed to give out on her.

"Oh shit," Sara nearly yelled before dropping the rope and coming around the computer as fast as possible. "Paper bag Abbs, now."

"Yeah...." Abby nodded before looking around searching for one. Finally finding one she hurried over.

"You know, this was not part of the plan when it came to people being happy for you, Sis," Sara shook her head as Jethro helped Jen breathe into the bag.

“Not…supposed…to…know…” Jen said with some difficulty as she tried to get her breathing under control.

"No one else knows..." Abby promised. "I mean I suspected for months but Tony's clueless and so is McGee and you two are really good at hiding it so, Ziva's got no clue, I just have because I've known you both so long and really the only major sign I had was at Halloween when you kept holding Ginny all night and oh that thing with the candy..."

"Abby, Shut UP!" Sara ordered before turning her attention back to Jen. "Deep breaths sis, the only ones who know anything are in this room. And I never told Abbs, she is her usual psychic self..."

“Gina, will you take her home?” asked Jethro, concern evident in his voice.

"Of course," Sara agreed. "You okay to go now, Sis, or need a few more minutes to relax?"

"And don't worry Jen, no one is going to hear anything from me, I swear on my Caf-Pow," she added with a smile hoping to make Jen smile.

“Jeth…” Jen began, holding onto his arms tightly.

“It’s okay Jennifer, I’ll come by when I’m done here,” he said helping her to her feet and holding her steady. “I promise,” he said kissing her forehead lightly and pulling her close for a few minutes before stepping back.

Jen nodded in agreement, before turning to look at Sara.

As hard as it was Jethro relinquished his hold on Jen when Sara stepped up next to her and wrapped her arm around Jen’s waist. He stepped back, allowing them to leave the lab before turning back to Abby. “Not one word of this to anyone, Abby.”

"Of course not," Abby defended herself lightly. "I'm happy for you two, doesn't mean I'm going to go around telling the world."

“Good, now about this evidence of yours…”

"Jen...perhaps we should go to a doctor..." Sara began as they drove away from NCIS, Jen still hadn't completely relaxed or even started to breathe anywhere near normal, using the paper bag once more...


"Sis...you can't even catch your breath..." Sara countered gently. "What about Abbey?"

“F…fine…” Jen said with some difficulty.

After hanging up, Sara concentrated on getting them back to the house as fast as possible, arriving just as Abbey was parking.

Abbey met her at Jen's door and they both helped Jen into the house, Abbey glancing over Jen's head, her expression saying 'we are having a talk', but for the moment her concern was with Jen.

“All right Gina, what happened?” Abbey asked from the kitchen doorway a short while later, having seen to Jen.

"She had a panic attack at work, I was there, Gibbs had me bring her home."

“Jen’s lucky to be conscious, what could have happened to cause a panic attack as severe as the one she suffered?” demanded Abbey, concern for Jen evident in her voice.

"Something came out that wasn't supposed to," Sara replied cryptically.

“I take it you’re not about to tell me what this something is,” commented Abbey.

"You know I love you," Sara began before Abbey nodded, "it's not my place..."

“Fine,” agreed Abbey reluctantly. “Just reassure me Gina, that at least you know what is going on here.

"I do," Sara agreed. "And...I'm almost positive that this will not happen again."

“Good,” Abbey said. “You know how Jed and I worry about you girls. I had to practically hog-tie him to prevent him coming with me.”

"I know," Sara smiled. "Tell him not to worry, why don't you guys come for dinner Monday with me and the munchkins, if Jen is working and can't make it, I can tell you all about my first lecture."

“That girl still works too much,” Abbey sighed. “But Jed and I will be there.”

"Very true," Sara smiled. "I'll make Chinese," she added as she started towards the door. "I have to get back to NCIS, the Caf-Pow machine isn't working and Abbs begged me to come help her, they have a major case..."

“I’ll stay with Jen until you get back,” Abbey said.

"Thank you," Sara smiled. "If I can't get away I'll have someone come stay with her just in case...Abbs and I want to get as much done as possible with me leaving in the morning..."

“Well, I’ll stay until whoever you send shows up then, and if I don’t see you again before you leave, good luck in San Diego, Gina,” Abbey said, kissing her on the cheek.

"Thanks, love ya," Sara smiled as she opened the door before heading out, waving at Thomas who was standing in his doorway before grinning, and waving a plastic bag for her to see. Shaking her head she continued to the car to head back...at least the children were going to be well dressed now that Uncle Thomas had been given the chance to go on a shopping spree.

He hadn’t gotten away as quickly as he had planned, thanks to the Director, who had not been happy to learn he had ‘hired’ a new lab assistant and sent home one of his agents without her approval, the fact that said agent had been Jennifer only made things worse as the Director seemed to have taken an instant disliking to her, the reason for which something only the Director herself knew. It may have taken him a bit longer than he had intended but he was here now and that was all that really mattered. He stood in the doorway to Jen’s bedroom for a few minutes watching her sleep before making his way over to the bed, sitting down next to Jen and gently brushing a few strands of hair off her face.

“Jeth?” Jen asked quietly, her eyes opening slowly.

“I’m here Jennifer,” Jethro replied quietly as he gently caressed her cheek. “How are you feeling?”

Jen shrugged. “Okay, I guess.”

“Please don’t lie to me, Jennifer,” he pleaded softly. “You’re not okay. I can see it in your eyes. There’s a fear in them that wasn’t there this morning,” he said, running his hand through her hair. “What are you afraid of?”

“People weren’t supposed to find out about us, Jeth,” Jen said as she sat up against the headboard, her knees to her chest.

“Jennifer, you and I both knew it was only a matter of time before Gina figured it out,” he said.

“I know,” Jen said. “Gina I could deal with but…”

“But Abby springing it on us the way that she did, about her knowing about us, wasn’t exactly what you were expecting,” he said as he wiped away one of Jen’s escaping tears as she shook her head gently.

“When Abby sprung it on us in the lab like that, I started to panic. It was Vegas all over again,” Jen said.

“What happened in Vegas Jennifer,” Jethro pressed quietly, concern evident in his voice.

“I’m surprised it’s taken you this long to ask me Jeth,” commented Jen.

“It was obvious that what happened in Vegas had an effect on you and I wasn’t about to push you for information you weren’t ready to give,” he said, giving Jen’s hand a reassuring squeeze. “I figured you’d tell me when you were ready.”

“As you know, I was having a really hard time dealing with the loss of Mike and John and had thrown myself into work. One day while we were in Vegas, Zoey insisted I take a night off so I found myself sitting in a bar off the strip having dinner. When I was finished and getting ready to leave I had some asshole who wouldn’t take no for an answer hit on me, that’s when another gentleman at the bar stepped in and I managed to get away, or so I thought, only to have the creep follow me out into the parking lot where we got into it. He hit me…hard, knocking me to the ground. He was going to rape me.”

“I take it he never go the chance,” Jethro observed.

“No he didn’t, when he turned me over he found my gun trained on his face,” Jen replied with a small smile.

“That’s my girl,” Jethro smiled back. “So what happened next?”

“Someone in the bar must have called the cops when they heard me fire off a warning shot since they arrived a few minutes later. After everything was sorted out, Nick, the guy from the bar who helped me get away from the creep inside, offered to drive me back to my hotel room but I didn’t want to face Gina with a huge cut on my face so he offered to take me back to his place and tend to my cheek. I don’t really know why I did what I did, I just know that I was so lonely and one thing led to another and…”

“You slept with him,” Jethro commented.

Jen nodded. “When I woke up and realized what I’d done, I ran. I felt so ashamed, like I’d cheated on Mike. By the time I got back to the hotel room, I just wanted to forget it ever happened. Gina could tell right away that something was wrong but before she could question me, we heard Zoey scream.”

“The failed kidnapping attempt.”

“Yeah. The locals were called in to handle the case, at least forensically. It turned out Nick was one of them. I don’t know how or why but one minute I’m protecting Zoey and Charlie and in the span of a phone call, I’m now protecting the man I just slept with and thought to never see again from a stalker. Over the week I was protecting him, his colleagues decided to start digging into Gina and my pasts. One of them confronted me one day with a newspaper article. The article that was run the day we buried Mike and John,” Jen said swiping away her tears as she played with the edge of her duvet.

“Do you know why they would do something like that?” he asked, not really liking the sound of these people.

“I don’t know and I never really gave the guy much of a chance to explain either. Being around Nick twenty-four hours a day was forcing me to deal with things I had buried when Mike and John died. To have such a blatant reminder of him thrown in my face…I nearly killed him, Jeth. And I probably would have if Nick didn’t stop me. By the time Zoey and Charlie boarded the plane for Hawaii, I’d dealt with some of my demons, with Nick’s help but I was so scared. I was scared of what I was feeling. It was too soon. The day Gina and I were leaving, Nick took us out for drinks, his way of saying goodbye, but his colleagues found us and decided to join the party. Things got pretty nasty after that and as Gina and I were leaving, the cop they work with pulled me aside and handed me the article on the funeral and told me to stay away from Nick because he deserved someone better than a woman who was damaged goods and had gotten her husband killed. You know pretty much everything that’s happened since then,” Jen finished quietly.

“You don’t still think that do you? That you’re damaged goods and responsible for John and Mike’s accident?” he asked concerned.

“No,” Jen said. “You helped me realize that none of that was true.”

“I take it Nick’s the father of Nicky and Ginny,” he commented.

“Biologically he is, but you’ve had more of an impact on their lives than he has. Ginny adores you Jeth,” Jen said.

“You said that when you were with Nick, you felt like you were betraying Mike. Do you feel that way when you’re with me?”

“No, never,” Jen said, laying her hand on his face, rubbing his cheek gently. “I still love Mike, a part of me always will, but you’ve helped me move past his death. You’re the reason I’m still here.”

“Jennifer, I…”

“I heard you. When I was in the coma after I was shot, I was ready to give up, to just let go of everything in this life, until I heard you talking to me. It was then that I realized I had something in this world to hold onto and I used that to pull me back,” Jen explained.

“Then what are you so afraid of? What is it about Abby knowing that scares you so much?”

“When the people Nick worked with in Vegas started learning that there might be something going on between us, they did everything they could to drive a wedge between us and a stake through any thing that could possibly be between us. They used my past as a way of driving me out of Vegas and out of Nick’s life. I’m afraid that if people start learning about us then they’ll do the same thing; that they’ll try to come between us and drive you away from me,” Jen said, dropping her hand and her gaze from Jethro’ face.

Jethro reached over and gently raised Jen’s gaze back to his. “I’m not going anywhere Jennifer Garrison, unless you tell me to.”

“You promise?”

“I promise,” he said pulling her into his arms and holding her tightly.

To: [email protected]
From: [email protected]
Subject: I need to vent quite frankly...
Date: 20 May 2011 0145 EST


Well, if this hasn't been the most interesting day... You've just become my sounding board 'cause I don't want to talk with my family about this. I don't want to worry them or open old wounds...

I found out (well the suspicion was proven) today that my sister has a boyfriend. Jethro (who I am sure I've mentioned before) is an old friend. He works for NCIS, and six years ago now, a fellow SS agent started working for him. Through Kate we met Jethro as well as the other members of the team, Tony (a complete idiot if ever there was one, he thinks he's God's gift to women), Abby (the forensic specialist, she is a genius when it comes to computers among other things...also a bit of a scary woman, she's a Goth through and through, and sleeps in a coffin - among other things. She is the one responsible for my initial e-mails being untraceable. But for all her strangeness, she is a very unique soul and is a good friend) and Ducky, the Chief M.E. (he's a bit of a strange duck as well, he's got this habit of telling stories ALL the time when really you have no desire or time to hear them.). We also later met Timothy when he joined the team, another computer genius. Five years ago Kate was killed on the job, and Ziva came to the team, she was a former Mossaud agent, and is a bit of a scary woman when the need arises, but is also a good friend. Her grasp of American sayings has improved from spending so much time with all of us. :)

But about Jethro, today I learned he and Jen have been in a relationship for the past eight months (Abby was thrilled to have our suspicions proven that even I wasn't truly sure about...she was the real believer...). Jen is worried sick about the fact anyone knows and I had to calm her down before heading back to NCIS as I was giving Abby a hand in the lab today. Truth be told, I am concerned about Jen, she's so worried about anyone knowing...but at the same time I haven't seen her this happy since we lost Mike and John, no...that's not right...I haven't seen her this much at peace since the day we learned of the accident. And I know that Jethro cares for her a great deal. I learned today that he has for some time and I know that he would never hurt her. Well that and he knows that if he did, he would face serious consequences with a former CSI, a now retired NCIS agent, and of course the former President and First Lady, and the rest of our family. I know that I can't stop Jen from her worrying and make things better; I learned long ago that I can't help her in regards to some things. None of us could help her after we lost the boys, even more so after we lost Mikey...Jethro has managed to do that and more...

Which leads to another problem...I learned today that eight months ago, Jethro managed to get the files from the investigation into the accident...Jen read them, I'm not sure what they said, I didn't ask...but at the same time...God Warrick, I've always known that John and Mike's death hit Jen harder than it did me. She lost her husband and her twin, and I can understand having lost my twin...it's harder to loose a twin than it is to lose an older or younger sibling...

And today I found out that Jen was able to read the report, she saw what the investigation revealed...and it has come back all over again. I thought I had, if not dealt with all of this, at least put it behind me. I buried my husband, the first man to love me unconditionally. I buried my brother-in-law, who I adored, who I trusted in a way I haven’t trusted anyone since my brother died. And I buried my son...I simply do not know how to handle this, how to be the strong one this time...I just want to crawl into a ball and finally be able to simply be the lost child I know still resides in me. The little girl who was forced to grow up too soon and has suffered so much in my life, so much that I could never step back from it to simply be able to cry. Only once have I been able to cry about my childhood, and that was the day I told John...I just...

I just wish that things were different, that I hadn't lost John and Mike, that I was able to step back and be lost like I want, but I can't, my children need me, my niece and nephew need me, my sister needs me...so many people need me to not lose myself like I want. And I know John would not want me to lose myself...but I just want to be able to so much that it hurts.

Lord above...I just...I just need to sleep. Yes, that's it. It's after two in the morning and I have to be up at seven so I can get the twins so Jen can work and I need to get my kids up and take all of them to Norfolk. I have that lecture Friday in San Diego...

I'm sorry for putting all of this on you, maybe I should just delete this and not send it... yeah I think I'll do that...

Thursday May 20th, 2011
Waldorf, Maryland
Garrison Residence
7:37 a.m.

Letting herself into the house, with every intention of quietly making her way to get the twins and letting Jen and Jethro sleep, Sara was surprised to hear a familiar giggle come from the kitchen. Following the sound of her niece she smiled when she saw Ginny and Jethro, he was waiting on the coffee while she had breakfast...

"Good morning," she greeted.

“Morning,” he greeted in return.

"Wasn't expecting to see you up..." she countered walking over to grab a coffee cup and then to grab the pot before he could.

“You can thank the one at the table giggling for that,” he said. “I heard her through the monitor. I told Jen I’d get her and let her sleep a while longer.”

"Yeah, Ginny's the early morning one, Nicky is more like his cousins..." Sara smiled before handing the pot back to him. "One plus to being an insomniac...you don't have to worry about little ones waking you up."

“She takes after her mother,” he smiled at the image in his head. “Can I ask you something?”


“What happened in Vegas?” he asked, not taking his eyes off little Ginny.

"I'm taking a guess you aren't asking what happened for me..." she sighed. "Jen met Nick, and Jim, and Catherine, Grissom, Warrick, and Greg...and she beat the crap out of Hodges...that I enjoyed. But I have probably just managed to completely confuse you..."

“You might say that,” he said throwing a look at Sara before turning back to Ginny, who was now playing with her cereal.

"Have a seat Jethro, this may take a few," Sara sighed once more before pulling out a chair and dropping into it. "I used to live in Las Vegas, and I worked at the Crime Lab with Nick Stokes, as well as the rest of those people I just mentioned."

“I’m aware of who Nick is,” he said as he sat down at the table next to Ginny.

"Yeah..." Sara sighed. "Nearly eight years ago I left my life in Vegas, overnight, no explanation. Jed had called me and I came to help find Zoey. When we went back to Vegas with Zoey, the plan was to see Zoey and Charlie safely on their way to Hawaii then I could clear out the storage area I had in Vegas and completely close that door of my life. Things didn't go as planned though..." she paused for a moment. "I'm sure you know what happened the night of the attempt on Zoey and Charlie?"

“Jen told me about what happened,” he said.

She nodded before continuing. "Neither of us was expecting who walked through those doors to work the scene. Jen got hit with Nick; I got hit with not only Nick but Grissom, my old boss and Brass, the detective who, at one time, I in a small way considered a father. Zoey found out about Nick having a stalker and convinced Jed to order her to protect him as a way to hopefully get her to relax...one of the stupidest things he's ever done..." she shook her head once more. "I tried to talk him out of it, but he didn't agree and I went to the lab to tell her, as well as check on the progress of our evidence. I arrived in time to see her put Hodges, one of the lab techs, completely in his place. I foolishly opened my mouth and made a comment that got the attention of those I once worked with. Greg somehow recognized me, but I never denied or confirmed his suspicion...I later learned he took it upon himself to prove that he was right, that I was Sara Sidle, the name I was born with and was known by in Las Vegas," she explained. "In his search he found an article...that he asked Jen about..."

“The one about the funeral. The one she said she nearly killed him over,” he replied.

"That's the one," Sara agreed, "I didn't know about it even existing until the night we left Vegas...Nick convinced us to let him take us out for drinks; neither of us were ready for what happened when the rest of the team showed up. They were upset with me, and when Catherine and Brass figured out there was something blooming between Nick and Jen...it gave Catherine an outlet for her anger at me for breaking her now husband's heart. I'll never understand why Brass was upset...but I do know that as we were leaving he cornered us and said something to her, gave her the article. I saw the article after he walked away and convinced her to go to the car; Jen thought I was just paying for our drinks..."

“What were you really doing?”

"The night after the attack, Brass and everyone else except Nick showed up at the hotel...they demanded answers and I reached my breaking point, told them more than I ever wanted them to know about my past. Things I haven't even told anyone out here other than John, Jen, Mike, Pat and Kevin. As Jim was leaving that night he apologized again for how things ended when I left Vegas. The last thing I told him in the bar that night, was that what he had done to Jen was uncalled for...it was unforgivable and to never contact her or me again, I wouldn't be held responsible for my actions. And I walked away, Jen and I spent thirty minutes at the storage place then we were on a plane back here. I got her out of Vegas as soon as I could..."

“I’m glad you did,” he admitted.

Sara nodded before looking up at him, "Do you know what he said? I...I never wanted to ask her, I knew it was something about damaged goods but that was it. I didn't want to bring up painful memories for her..."

“He told her that Nick deserved someone better than her. Someone who wasn’t damaged goods and wasn’t responsible for the death of her husband,” he said quietly, remembering how hurt Jen had sounded when she had said those words to him the night before.

"Jesus," Sara whispered before crossing herself and glancing up. "John would yell at me for that..." she sighed. "But damn...I always knew that man was blunt and didn't mince his words..." she shook her head while talking. "He's lucky as hell I'm not in Vegas and I don't have time to get from San Diego to Vegas this weekend. Even the number 2 lab in the nation wouldn't be able to find him," she added darkly.

“And Jen would never forgive herself if you did,” Jethro sighed. “I’m taking her away for the weekend.”

"I know," Sara agreed softly. "And good, she needs a break. You're good for her Jethro, and she's good for you...I don't want to see that ruined by people finding out...Abbs and I won't say anything."

“She told me what caused the attack yesterday,” he said as he got up and put his cup in the sink.

"People finding out?" she guessed.

“That’s part of it and after what you just told me the rest of what she said makes sense,” he sighed as he leant back against the counter.

"Can you tell me?" she countered softly. "Or do you think it should be Jen's place?"

“I don’t think she’ll mind if I tell you since she always knew you’d find out about us eventually. She’s afraid that if people find out about us, that they’ll try to separate us, much the way your friends did with her and Nick in Vegas,” he said.

Looking up at the ceiling Sara heaved a deep sigh, "None of us would do that...I can understand why she is afraid...but damn Jethro, we'd be the first to throw a party before we'd try to break you up…well, I admit DiNozzo might be a pain in the ass but the rest of us would, and in Abbs and my cases are, thrilled...and I just realized I have been swearing up a storm," she groaned looking over at Ginny. "Don't pick up any of your Aunt Gina's language, Sweetie Pie..."

“I’m not the one you have to convince Gina, it’s part of why I’m taking her away. We’re leaving shortly after she wakes up and the twins are off with you. I managed to…convince the Director to give us both the weekend off. Neither of us are due into NCIS until Monday morning,” he said as he walked over and picked up Ginny’s cereal bowl, putting it in the sink with his cup.

"That may be true, that she's the one I have to convince...but I would like to have your trust at least..."

“I trust you to do what’s best for Jennifer,” Jethro said, by way of an answer.

"We need to work on the trust issue it would appear," Sara countered as she rose. "I'll go get Nicky, if you could get Ginny ready to go. Enjoy the weekend Jethro, you both deserve it."

After seeing the twins off with Sara, Jethro made his way upstairs to Jen’s room where he carefully climbed back into the bed next to her, hoping not to wake her up only to have her eyes slowly open.

“Morning,” she said sleepily as he laid his head on the pillow next to her, their faces mere inches apart.

“Morning,” he greeted. “Gina just left with the twins.”

“Okay, what time is it?”

“About twenty to nine,” he said.

What?” demanded Jen as she suddenly sat bolt upright in bed. “Jeth, we’re going to be late,” she said as she threw back the covers intent on getting up.

“We’re not going to be late Jennifer,” Jethro said as he laid his hand on Jen’s arm, stopping her movements, having sat up when she did.

“Of course we’re going to be late,” Jen said turning to look back at him.

“No, we’re not because neither of us is going in until Monday,” he said.

“What?” asked Jen in confusion.

“As of this moment, you and I are off duty and unreachable,” he said, placing his hand gently on Jen’s cheek. “I’m taking you away for the weekend, just the two of us.”


“Don’t worry about it Jennifer, as far as work is concerned, you’re off to San Diego with Gina and I have a family emergency to deal with. Only Abby knows the truth and she’s under orders to keep it to herself and not try to contact us under threat of permanently losing her supply of Caf-Pow. Now come here.”

Jen sat there speechless for a few minutes before giving into the gentle pressure she felt on the back of her head and leant towards Jethro, closing the distance between them until their lips met and he convinced her to lie back down.

“I can’t believe you made me leave my cell phone at home, yours too,” Jen laughed as they pulled into Staunton, Virginia, located in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley, later that afternoon.

“I told you Jennifer, this weekend is about you and me only, everything else can wait until Monday and the twins will be fine with their grandparents,” Jethro said as he pulled into a driveway in a historic part of town.

“Where are we?” Jen asked as they got out of the car.

“The Staunton Coral Gardens Bed and Breakfast,” he said holding his hand out for her to take before leading her into the main house to check in.

Once they were checked in they were led out the back towards the Carriage House, which was situated just behind and to the side of the Main House. As they stepped inside they found themselves standing in a living room that had exposed beams and an open staircase that led up to the loft, which contained a king-size bed plus an additional seating area that overlooked one of the gardens. Attached to the living room was a small dining area that contained a microwave, coffee maker and small fridge. There was even a freestanding fireplace in the living room.

“Jeth I…” Jen’s words trailed off when she found herself being pulled into Jethro’ arms, his lips meeting hers.

After breaking the kiss, Jethro took Jen by the hand and led her back out of the Carriage House, locking the door behind them. They made their way from the bed and breakfast to the trolley stop, where they boarded the free trolley and rode it into downtown Staunton, hoping off at the wharf where they had dinner in one of the restaurants located there.

As they made their way from the wharf, they strolled through Gypsy Hill Park, stopping to listen to the free jazz concert for a while before making their way back to the bed and breakfast.

As the door clicked closed behind her, Jen felt herself being lifted off the ground and soon found herself being carried upstairs, where she was placed gently back on her feet.

“Jeth, what are you…”

“Shh, don’t talk,” he said, laying his hand on the side of Jen’s face before leaning in and kissing her.

Not long after his lips touched hers, Jen found herself slowly walking backwards until the backs of her knees hit the edge of the bed and she felt herself being lowered to the bed, Jethro’s body on hers, never once breaking the hold his lips had on hers.

Friday May 21st, 2011
San Diego, California
Hyatt Regency La Jolla at Aventine
Salon G
8:37 p.m.

Sara hadn’t realized she had hit send until she was checking her e-mail Friday morning and saw it in her outbox… There was no response from Warrick…so she assumed that hopefully he hadn’t read it…a long shot she admitted, but she could hope. She had shut down her laptop, leaving the worries about it behind while she headed down to Salon G for her first lecture…

Hours later she smiled at the last person to ask her a question, Sara watched the Criminalist from Ohio walk away, and God only knew how, managed to not collapse in relief.

“You look tired Dr. Peters.”

Glancing over to the left side of the room, she realized not everyone had left as she thought. “Warrick Brown,” she smiled softly. “I didn’t know you were going to be here…”

“Wasn’t completely sure I’d be able to come, was supposed to…but you know how things work sometimes,” Warrick shrugged. “Great lecture,” he added waving one hand to indicate the meeting room they were in. “You had them in the palm of your hand.”

“You think?” she asked skeptically.

“Girl, half the room was drooling, and not because of you’re looks.”

“Oh geez,” Sara chuckled. “So, how’ve you been Mr. Brown?”

“I can’t complain,” he shrugged. “Have dinner with me, we can talk. I can tell you all about Lai and Carey.”

“Lai is Greg’s girlfriend and Carey is Brass’ grandson right?” Sara asked as she packed up her notes.

“Fiancé as of yesterday, and yeah, Carey is Ellie’s son.”

“Well, what the heck,” Sara shrugged. “You’re paying.”

“Deal,” Warrick grinned. “Meet you in the lobby in fifteen?”

“Sure,” Sara smiled before they parted and she headed back to her suite. /-/Did I just agree to that?/-/

Twenty minutes later found her seated at a table in one of the restaurants in the hotel with Warrick, now more comfortably dressed, and with a glass of Chardonnay to help her nerves. True she had been e-mailing Warrick for three months, and at least three times a week...but that was a big jump to sitting across from him, talking in person...

“Lai does DNA for days,” he explained as their salads came. “She came when Mia left and Wendy who was on days came to nights. She's nine-years younger than Greg, and was a skater; Greg loves to talk about how she competed as far as the U.S. Nationals before she gave it up.”

"She sounds nice," Sara smiled. "So, Greg's all grown up and getting married...I sorta never imagined it happening..."

"That makes two of us; a lot of people in the lab lost a lot of money in the office pool on that. I didn't, but I got to hear others complain for weeks..."

"You would think they would know not to bet on people's love lives," Sara shook her head starting to relax.

"The next hour was spent discussing everything from the lives of those in Vegas: Jim had gained custody of his two year old grandson he'd never known about. Ellie had died, her life finally caught up to her, and Jim had found out not only was his daughter dead but he had a grandson. A small part of her felt sorry for him, as another parent knowing what it was like to lose a child. at the same time though, she was still angry with him over what he had done to Jen and in a way herself. He had retired, to care for his grandson...

Catherine and Grissom were still happily married; Lindsey was a junior, planning to attend Yale. Doc was still working, though he was talking about retiring, he wanted to spend more time with his family, and then there was Nick. They had skirted around the topic of Nick, other than he was doing well, busy with work and such.

After dinner they had continued to talk, walking through the gardens before she realized it was almost midnight and she had a bird in her suite that might very well be having a fit.

Saturday May 22nd, 2011
San Diego, California
Hyatt Regency La Jolla at Aventine
Peters Suite
9:58 p.m.

He found her that morning, down at La Jolla Shores Beach, she had been reading under an umbrella, Fawkes by her side. Surprisingly her normally hostile bird when someone new came around her didn't do anything really. The last time Tony had come upon her unexpectedly, he'd nearly ended up with a pierced ear...

They ended up spending the afternoon together, and then after the evening lecture sat together people watching at the pool. Sara had been surprised when she realized just how comfortable she was with him there…

“Gina…” he drew her from her thoughts and she glanced over at him.

“Hmm?” Warrick glanced back towards the ocean before turning towards her.

“I got your e-mail…” he began.

“Oh hell,” Sara closed her eyes. She had hoped he hadn’t…

“Gina…I’m not going to pretend I know what you’re going through…” he continued softly. “But if you ever need to talk…” he offered.

“I’m fine,” she answered opening her eyes to find him watching her skeptically. “I am,” she reasserted.

“Gin,” he began.

Her head shot up to look at him, before she began to shaker her head, “No…” she whispered, repeating herself before his cell phone rang.

Warrick glanced at her before looking at his phone, reluctantly taking the phone out intending to turn it off, watching her in confusion when she rose and backed away, “Gin…” he called before she shook her head, turned, and quite literally ran.

“Rick? Hey Rick you there?”

Raising the phone he turned his attention at least partially to the caller, realizing he must have hit the wrong button. “Yeah? I’m here…what’s up Greg?”

“Wanted to call and tell you the good news, Lai and I are getting married Tuesday…”

“Tuesday?” Warrick repeated. “Damn Greg, isn’t that a bit fast…”

“This is Vegas,” Greg reminded him. “Hey, who’s Jean?”

“Nothing to worry about,” Warrick argued lightly. “Congrats, I’ll be there.”

“You better be, enjoy the rest of the conference,” Greg countered before he hung up.

Looking around Warrick shook his head before rising. He wasn’t a CSI for nothing…

After Sara had escaped the pool and made it back to her suite without Warrick following her, she made a few calls down to room service, planning to watch a couple chick flicks and try to forget what Warrick had called her…

Of course she wasn’t expecting the knock on her door that she assumed to be room service, to instead be the very man she had just escaped.

“Gina… what happened?” Warrick asked immediately.

“It’s nothing alright,” Sara countered shaking her head.

“No, it’s not,” he argued, putting hand up to stop her from shutting the door. “Talk to me, Girl… What did I do?”

“You called me Gin!” she shouted before turning and walking into the room.

“I don’t understand…”

“Only one person has ever called me that,” Sara spun around to look at him. “Only one,” she whispered. “No one calls me Gin, not my sister, not our folks…only John…”

“Oh Gina… I’m sorry,” he sighed, sinking into the chair by the desk.

“I’m sorry for running off…” Sara sighed as she sat down. “I may just use you as a sounding board again…”

“I got nowhere to go,” Warrick smiled gently.

Sunday May 23rd, 2011
Waldorf, Maryland
Garrison Residence
7:12 p.m.

It had been a long time since Jen had had a weekend like the one she had just spent with Jethro. They had spent the days exploring Staunton, visiting the American Shakespeare Centre and touring the theatre. They checked out the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and Museum, they took in the various art galleries, took a walking tour through the five historic districts in Staunton and enjoyed the Farmer’s Market that was held on the wharf. Their evenings were spent privately at the Carriage House after having dinner in one of the restaurants on the wharf, although their last night in Staunton was a little different from the others.

Jen had no idea what was going on back at the Carriage House while she and Jethro enjoyed the Farmer’s Market and the walking tour. She had no idea he had anything planned until they returned late that afternoon. She had her breath taken away when they entered the Carriage House. All the blinds had been drawn, blocking out the last remaining rays of sunlight, the room instead being lit by a roaring fire and candles lit in strategic areas around the room. A romantic dinner for two had been laid out in the dining area and in front of the fireplace, large pillows and blankets were spread out, rose petals strewn all over the floor. It was one of the most magical nights of her life.

The weekend had been perfect, actually if she was to be honest, it was beyond perfect and she hadn’t been this happy since before she had lost Mike and John. The weekend had shown her what a life with Jethro could be like and she started to believe there really could be a life for her after losing Mike, a life that included Jethro. That is until they got home.

“Enjoy yourself?” he asked as he put her suitcase down in the living room.

“Immensely,” she sighed with a smile as she put her arms around his neck and leant in to kiss him.

“You do realize Jennifer, that this weekend changes nothing between us,” he said, putting his hands on Jen’s waist and stopping her forward movement.

“What?” asked Jen, confusion evident on her face and in her voice as she stepped back slightly.

“I just mean don’t read more into what happened this weekend then is really there. I did it to take your mind off of everything that was happening. It doesn’t change the fact that I’m not interested in a committed relationship,” he explained as Jen pulled away completely and walked across the living room.

“But…” Jen started turning back to face Jethro.

“But what Jennifer?”

“But what about last night? The candles? The romantic dinner for two? The fire? The rose petals? What was it all for if you don’t want that type of relationship?” demanded Jen, determined to hold her tears in check.

“I told you, it was to take your mind off of everything that was happening,” he argued.

“Right. Of course,” Jen said, trying to keep the hurt out of her voice as she went to stalk past him.

“Jennifer,” he said, taking her arm as she walked past.

“Don’t touch me,” she snarled, ripping her arm out of Jethro’s hold as she continued on her way.

“Where are you going?” he called after her retreating back before following her into the kitchen as she pulled a bottle and a glass out of the cupboard.

“I need a drink,” she said as she poured some vodka into the glass in front of her before taking a drink.

“You don’t drink Jennifer,” Jethro said as he started across the kitchen to where she stood with her back to him.

“Get out.”

“Jennifer…” he started as he stopped halfway across the kitchen.

“I said get out,” she said, still refusing to look at him.

“Jennifer,” he tried again, exasperation evident in his voice.

Get out!” Jen yelled as she spun and threw her glass in his general direction, causing him to duck quickly, the glass shattering on the opposite wall. “Consider this my two weeks notice Agent Gibbs. Now get out of my house before I call the police. You’re not welcome here anymore.”

“Jennifer…I’m sorry,” he said, hoping to get through to her.

“I said get out.”

With a sigh, Jethro turned and made his way out of the kitchen, turning back with one last look at Jen before stepping through the front door, closing it quietly behind him.

Jen waited for a few minutes after she heard the door close before finally breaking down, collapsing to the floor as she gave into gut wrenching sobs, her heart breaking into a million tiny pieces, thankful that she had never actually told Jethro that she was in love with him. Thanking God that she had lost her nerve every time she tried to tell him.

Sunday May 23rd, 2011
Waldorf, Maryland
Peters Residence
1:21 a.m.

Groaning, Sara dropped her bag to the floor by the front door, kicking it shut behind her, smirking when she heard it automatically lock. Plopping down at the kitchen table she stared at the ceiling. She still wasn’t sure if she was going to tell Jen or not…it wasn’t like anything happened between her and Warrick, they’d just sat and talked all night long. She told him more than she had told anyone other than John…

Of course now she had to face telling Jen that not only did she see Warrick in San Diego and everything…but she had been exchanging e-mails with him for three months…

Of course technically Jen had no leg to stand on in some regard with the thing with Jethro…but still…

Sighing heavily she rose and headed towards the liquor cabinet. This might be the night that called for getting plastered…

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