When the President Calls

Chapter 15

Thursday June 2nd, 2011
Waldorf, Maryland
Peters Residence
3:21 p.m.

Sighing, Sara sunk onto the couch, everyone was taking an afternoon nap and she had a few minutes to relax. When the phone rang, she debated not answering, but did so just the same.

“Gina? It’s Annabeth…”

“Hey girl, what can I do for you?” Sara asked as she rose and headed towards the kitchen, intent on chocolate before she hit her laptop and checked her e-mail.

“I got some bad news; it hasn’t made the media yet…”

“What happened?” Sara stopped mid-step, suddenly realizing Annabeth sounded like she had been crying.

“There was a shooting today…”


Thursday June 2nd, 2011
NCIS Headquarters
3:30 p.m.

“Thanks for letting her know, I’m heading down, then will probably head to Bethesda with the others.”

“I am never going to get used to that,” Jen said shaking her head as she walked back into the pen. She had been down with Ducky checking up on his progress. “What’s wrong with all of you?” she asked looking between them. “You all look as if you’re best friend has just been shot…” she trailed off as Jethro slowly walked over to her.

“Jennifer,” he said as he gently took a hold of her arms.

“Jeth, what is it?” Jen asked worriedly. “Oh God, Gina…”

“It’s not Gina,” he replied quietly.

“Then who?”

“Jennifer, it was Leo, he’s been shot,” he said, quickly catching her as hre knees gave out.

“No!” she cried into his shoulder as he held her tightly.


Thursday June 2nd, 2011
Las Vegas, Nevada
Brown Residence
12:32 p.m. (Local Time)

“Hey guys, want another drink?” Warrick asked as he rose and headed towards the kitchen, all of the guys had gathered at his place to see the game between the Cubs and the Rangers recorded from the night before. They had purposely avoided any news about the results so they could see it since they had been called in early to work and had to reschedule their actual plans to watch it the night before.

“Sure,” Jim agreed.

“Stop the game while I’m gone,” he ordered lightly and amidst the grumbling he heard the game click off.

We have breaking news at this hour," the TV began as soon as they shut the game off. "Shots were heard outside of a library dedication in Virginia today, where the Vice President was giving a speech."

"Jesus," Jim whispered as Warrick came rushing back into the room.

"We just received word, at 3:20 Eastern Standard Time this afternoon, Vice President Leo Thomas McGarry died at the Bethesda Naval Hospital in Virginia..."

"Oh God," Warrick whispered, glancing over at his computer before looking back at the TV the other four men were glued to.

"Sources say that along with the Vice President, the Secret Service Agents guarding him were fired upon, and at least one has died. We're going now to the White House live..."

“Good God,” Nick cursed. “Jen…”

"She might not even be guarding Leo..." Warrick spoke up quickly. He knew she wasn't, but couldn't come out and say that.

“She works for the Secret Service Rick. She was guarding him the last time they tried to kill him,” countered Nick. “She nearly lost her life.”

You think she would have continued guarding him after nearly dying," Greg pointed out. "Even if she made that decision...you honestly think her family and Sara especially wouldn't tell her that she couldn't do it after they nearly lost her?"

"Gina," Grissom corrected softly.

"He's right Nick, you think Gina and the family would not try and talk her out of staying in the Service?" Warrick agreed.

“You think that matters? It could still be her,” he said getting up and walking towards the door.

"Nick, stop," Grissom spoke up as he rose. "You shouldn't go. You went last time and came home without anything really. If it is Jen, she's got her family there..." he continued softly.

"He's right man..." Warrick agreed. "It's been four years. Don't hurt yourself again."

“You can do better than her Nicky, trust me on this,” Jim said.

“Whatever,” Nick said as he continued towards the door. “I’m going for a walk.”

They watched him go before Grissom sat down as the Press Secretary continued to speak. Before heading back into the kitchen, Warrick walked behind Jim and smacked the back of his head, not staying to explain why.


Thursday June 2nd, 2011
Bethesda, Maryland
Bethesda Naval Hospital
4:17 p.m.

"Josh," Jed called when he, Abbey, and Sara entered the waiting room that held a good number of SS agents, many of Leo's staff members, and of course Jen and Jethro. While Jed headed towards Josh with Abbey, Sara turned and headed towards her sister.

“Jennifer,” Jethro said quietly into Jen’s ear, getting her attention.

Jen slowly looked up at him from where she’d had her head buried in his chest.

"Hey," Sara whispered, biting her lip to keep from losing it herself.

“Hi,” Jen said, sniffing quietly as Jethro rubbed her back soothingly.

"I got the update on our guys on the way in..." she continued softly, they had been keeping quiet what happened to the Agents, Jed being the one to get the information before it was released. He knew they would want to know with both Pete and Jack on Leo's detail.

“What’s the word?” asked Jethro.

"Pete's fine, he got hit in the left shoulder... Jack didn't make it," Sara continued taking a deep breath.

“Breathe Jennifer,” Jethro said as he felt Jen start to collapse in his arms, quickly sitting them down. “Jennifer, look at me,” he said as he took a hold of her head in his hands. “Jennifer, look at me,” he ordered. “Jennifer…Abbey,” he called when Jen’s eyes rolled back in head and she went limp in his arms.

"Oh dear God," Abbey rushed over to them while Josh went for a nurse.

"Jesus," Sara whispered, before stepping aside to give Abbey room.

As Abbey reached them, Jethro was in the process of laying Jen down on the floor and opening the top of her blouse so that it wasn’t restricting her airway at all.

A few minutes later Josh returned along with a couple of nurses and a doctor, who had Jen put on the stretcher and wheeled into one of the exam rooms, leaving everyone else in the waiting room.

"Stupid question," Sara began after she had collapsed in a chair and was staring at the ceiling for ten minutes.

"What's that?" Jed asked looking over at her.

"Has Mallory been notified?"

"Oh shit," Josh groaned before disappearing from the room.

"I think that was a no..." Abbey sighed. "She probably knows by now from the news..." she continued shaking her head before it fell silent again as they waited for news on Jen and others.

“Ms. Peters?” Dr. Gayle asked when he walked into the waiting room a short while later.

"We have a habit of meeting each other here," Sara sighed as she rose and walked over to the doctor. "How is she?"

“Ms. Garrison is awake for the moment and her breathing has stabilized. She’s asking for someone by the name of Jethro,” Dr. Gayle said.

"I'll get him," Sara agreed, surprised to find out he hadn't gone with her like they assumed. "Where is she at so I can tell him?" she continued before getting the information. Quickly filling the others in, she went to search for the wayward man.

“Thank you,” he said before hanging up his cell phone before turning around to re-enter the hospital, only to come face to face with Sara. “Gina.”

"Figured you might be out here on the phone," Sara smiled, "She's stable and asking for you."

“Thank you. Where is she?” he asked as he held the door open for Sara so they could re-enter the building.

After filling him in, Sara headed back to the waiting room while he headed towards Jen's room.

“Hey,” Jen said quietly when Jethro sat down next to her bed and took her hand in his.

“You gotta stop doing this Jennifer,” he chided. “And in order to make sure that you do, you are now officially on leave until after we get back in October.”

“What? But Jethro…”

“No buts, Jennifer, besides the Director agrees with me on this. You need time to deal with everything that’s happened today. You just lost a former colleague and a man that was close personal friend. You need time Jennifer and I’m going to make sure that you take that time. As of this moment, you’re on leave. I’m going to make sure your sister watches you from the time I leave you in the morning until I get back at night. No arguments, young lady,” he said as he brushed her hair off her face.

“There is nothing I can say to change your mind, is there?”

“Absolutely nothing and if you try to disobey me, I’ll partner you with Tony the next time I have to send him undercover as one half of a married couple,” Jethro threatened.

“You wouldn’t!”

“Try me.”

“Alright, alright, I give, you win,” Jen laughed.

“Good,” he said as he leant over and kissed her lightly.


Saturday June 11th, 2011
Las Vegas, Nevada
LVPD Crime Lab
Break Room
8:59 a.m. (Local Time)

Even though Night Shift was over, everyone was still there at the lab, gathered in the Break Room and the A/V Lab, and in other labs that had gained television screens for a few hours. Today was the day they were burying Vice President McGarry, and no one wanted to miss it.

The funeral had been very well done, modeled in a small way after that of President Kennedy and in turn President Lincoln, just not as extravagant one might say. The casket wasn’t taken down the street in a horse drawn carriage, instead by a hearse with two small flags at the front, just as the Presidential and Vice Presidential limos always had.

“Hundreds have gathered today to line the street to pay their final respects to the Vice President,” the news reporter spoke. “Among those most notable would be President Bartlet, who had been friends with Vice President McGarry for more than twenty years.”

While the reporter spoke, the camera moved to where Jed and Abbey were standing, their family with them on one side, and on the other was an older man in Marine dress blues, a woman in Navy dress blues, and another woman that caught the attention of everyone gathered in the break room.

“Holy crap, its Sara,” Greg spoke up.

“Gina,” Warrick corrected automatically.

“And that’s Jen,” Nick agreed looking again at the woman in the Navy uniform. “Those must be Gina’s kids, because that’s her in-laws there next to her.”

“Wonder who the kids her in-laws have are?” Catherine mused before the camera moved away from the group and back to the funeral.

While everyone returned their attention to the precession, Warrick sat back and smiled slightly. He had a feeling that the Marine was Jen’s Jethro…the fact they had been holding hands wasn’t lost on him, even if it was lost on the others. Jen’s daughter was adorable, the spitting image of her mother, her son though he hadn’t been able to see much of as the boy had his face buried in his grandfather’s neck…

Shaking his head he turned his attention back to the television, content to keep his knowledge to himself for Gina’s sake.


Monday June 20th, 2011
Waldorf, Maryland
Garrison Residence
11:27 a.m.

“I can’t believe we’re using your kitchen to make chocolate chip cookies…we’re giving your poor kitchen a heart attack at being used after so many years of just looking pretty,” Sara teased.

“Hey! It gets used…just…not by me,” Jen laughed as she took a swipe at the cookie batter.

"You're going to give my kids bad habits," Sara smacked Jen's hand lightly before glancing over at the three who were using cookie cutters on the peanut butter cookies.

“How do you think I got mine?” asked Jen with a smirk as she looked over at her own twins who were busy making a mess with some flour, Ginny having fun throwing it on her brother.

"So, I get to blame Mom for my children's habits...she's going to love that one," Sara giggled.

“You’re as bad as Jethro, you know that right? He hates it when I do that to him too,” Jen commented with a shrug. “And like Mom’s going to admit to anything.”

"Somehow that is a scary thought...I at least have a reason for this...being germ-a-phobic to some degree. I don't think I want to know his reason..." Sara shook her head. "And I already figured she wouldn't..."

“He’s a marine; do you need a better reason than that?”

"True..." Sara agreed. "Okay, I vote you go get your munchkins cleaned up and I'll get these batches in the oven."

“Sounds good,” Jen said as she stood up and walked over to where Nicky and Ginny were sitting on the floor in the corner playing with the flour. Picking them both up Jen made her way out of the kitchen and up the stairs to get them cleaned up.

By the time she returned, Jackie, Shanti and Johnny were watching the beginning of Snow White, and the first batches of cookies were almost ready to come out.

“Cookies smell good,” Jen called into the kitchen as she passed by, going to put the twins down in the living room with their cousins.

"Hurry back," Sara countered as she poured two glasses of milk. "We're being evil," she smirked. "The kids have chips ahoy; they're covered in the cookie department...so...fresh cookies?"

“Need you ask?” asked Jen as she walked back into the kitchen and sitting back down in her chair from earlier. “Oh and if Jethro asks why he can’t find anything in here, I’m blaming you so don’t be surprised if he comes knocking later,” she smiled.

"I'll just make sure the second top lock is locked, you know the one I have that keeps you from being able to get in," Sara teased.

“Well, just make sure that everything is where you found it and you won’t have to worry about it,” Jen teased back.

"Obsessive Compulsive Man," Sara countered before turning to get the cookies from the oven and put in the next tray.

"Like I said, Gina, he's a marine. You don't come between him and his kitchen," Jen smiled.

"Hmm, I don't remember seeing a sign saying Jethro Gibbs' Kitchen..."

"Well considering I nearly burned his kitchen down the day Abby sent you after us, he refuses to let me near any of the appliances save the coffee maker," Jen shrugged.

"I see he finally knows what we have always known," Sara chuckled. "That you are the female Tim Taylor in the kitchen."

“He never actually believed me when I said I was useless in the kitchen until that morning,” Jen said shaking her head. “He’ll be home later and will make dinner since my style of making dinner is to call take out.”

"How cute," Sara grinned as she settled back down at the table. "By the way, there's something I meant to tell you a few weeks ago..."

“What’s that?” asked Jen curiously taking a bite of a cookie.

"Okay, now, you cannot freak all right?" Sara began quickly. "I need you to trust me and not panic or anything until you've heard everything I have to say...and no, no one is dying," she added before Jen could jump to that conclusion.

“Now, you’ve got me worried, Gina and Jethro is going to kill you if I have another attack, you know,” Jen countered.

"Which is why I told you not to panic okay?" Sara replied, "I've been exchanging e-mails with Warrick, and saw him in San Diego," she continued softly. "He hasn't told anyone there that he's talking to me and he won't. He also doesn't know about Nick, but he does know you have kids and are seeing someone, but he doesn't know that Nick fits into the picture..." she began to babble.

“Warrick?” asked Jen, a note of confusion in her voice. “He was the tall one with the nice voice right?”

"Yeah," Sara agreed with a smile. "He sorta saw my little spy and confronted her about following them...poor Heather was terrified he was going to press charges."

“So, you got ratted out then,” said Jen, not quite sure what to make of the information.

"He made her a deal, and she sent me his information. I wrote him to convince him not to press charges...he wrote back and asked for a chance to just be friends and he swore not to tell anyone...God only knows why I responded..." Sara sighed softly.

“How long?” asked Jen quietly. “How long have you been in touch with him?”

"February," Sara answered hesitantly.

“I see,” Jen said nodding her head.

"Please don't be horribly angry," Sara smiled slightly. "I mean yes, you have every right to be upset and angry...just please don't be so forever..."

“I’m not angry. I’m a little confused and a lot concerned but I’m not angry,” Jen sighed. “I don’t have a right to be.”

"True," Sara agreed with a smile. "You have any questions you think I can answer that would help the confusion and concern?" she continued after a moment.

“Well, I know when you first came east at Jed’s request you didn’t really leave on the best of terms and then things only seemed to get worse when we were there with Zoey and Charlie. I’m just a little confused as to why you would get involved with someone from Vegas like this,” Jen said. “As for the concern, Gina you know why I’m a little concerned, seeing as they’re in the other room. They think of Jethro as their father, especially little Ginny, she adores him.”

"As crazy as it sounds, considering how I met Warrick and all of that insanity...I honestly believe he wouldn't tell Nick. On one hand, I admit that he is Nick's best friend, but he promised me he wouldn't tell anyone there, no matter what. Warrick has always had strong beliefs and he doesn't break a promise. As for why I'm talking to him and everything...I don't really know...the whole reason I went to Vegas in the first place was to investigate him for Grissom, then Griss had me investigate him a second time...but after that...we bonded I guess. Catherine and I fought like cats and dogs; there was the mess with Griss...Warrick was the only one who didn't care about all that, he was the only one who noticed me more than just when they needed me to do something on a case or when they needed a new subject for the rumor mill," she shrugged slightly. "He was really the only one I truly believe regretted everything when he said he was sorry for everything before I came here... "

Jen nodded. “He was the only one that really was nice to me when we were there, other than Nick of course. He never said anything that would upset or offend me even when it came to giving Nick a hard time for having to have me around.”

"Warrick's like that," Sara agreed with a soft smile. "He grew up in Vegas, he had a hard life, after I came he was forced to face the fact that he was a gambling addict and has been fighting that for years. He doesn't judge people, well he judges criminals but no one else...he doesn't want people to judge him, so he won't do it to anyone else."

“I’m still a little concerned that something will slip though,” Jen admitted. “You said that he was Nick’s best friend, what’s to say he won’t accidentally let something slip. You saw what losing Jethro did to me, I don’t want to face the prospect of losing my children.”

"I'd trust him with my life, but even if something were to slip...Sis, you know he's got no legal claim to the kids. Legally, Mike is their father; it's his name on the birth certificate. The only way he could prove he's their father is with a DNA test, and there's no way for him to get their DNA, and no court would order one."

“I know that…I do, it’s just…I don’t know. I guess I’d just feel better if they actually had a father you know?” Jen said.

"I know," Sara smiled softly as she reached over to squeeze Jen's hand. "Who knows Sis, we never know what the future holds..."

“I know. You know, I honestly can’t believe we got Jethro to agree to go to Disney World with us and the kids,” Jen said shaking her head as she changed the subject.

"Oh I know," Sara chuckled. "I say we do to him what you did to me that first time...I'm sure we can make sure the girls know how to sing the Mickey Mouse Club theme song by October..."

“Oh poor Jeth,” Jen giggled at the image in her head. “You know, I think this will be the first trip with just the two of us and the kids, including Jeth of course.”

"I know," Sara chuckled. "Imagine, two whole weeks just the eight of us, not having to plan with everyone else. Of course, you know I love the big family trips but this is going to be so nice at the same time."

“Very true, just plan on having two extra kids around once in a while,” Jen smiled.

"Two extra kids?" Sara frowned. "Isn't that something we should be telling Jethro? Not me?"

“I meant that you would be gaining my two kids once in a while so Jeth and I can have a little time to ourselves,” Jen laughed.

"Oh," Sara chuckled. "God Girl, I was losing it there, I thought you were talking about you and me being kids when we get to Disney World, or Land, or any other DIsney park..."

“And to think I’m the one on vacation,” Jen laughed. “Girl, it sounds like you need a vacation.”

"Sad part is, I don't do anything really besides sit around chasing kids all day and working on the occasional publication and lecture," Sara agreed.

“And I honestly don’t know how you do it day in and day out,” Jen said shaking her head. “I drive Jeth crazy every night drilling him with questions about what he’s working on…not that he tells me anything of course because ‘I’m on a leave of absence so that I can get my stress under control’.”

"Of course," Sara agreed with a smile. "But I've had a few years to get used to this, I'm enjoying being able to just sit and watch my kids grow and not have to work unless I want to, and most of the time, I don't want to."

“I’ve been on my forced leave of absence for not even 3 weeks and I’m already going crazy,” Jen said as she let her head hit the table.

"Well, that could be partially cause you are doing nothing all day but sitting around here basically," Sara shrugged. "Why don't we get out and do some things? I mean yes, we have Mom and Dad's party tomorrow, but after that...we can go to Busch Gardens, go up to Hershey Park..."

“Hershey?” Jen asked, her head popping up suddenly. “Did you say Hershey? As in chocolate?”

"Exactly," Sara grinned. "As in a theme park where you go tour the factory and get all the free samples you want..."

“Okay, I’m sold,” Jen smiled. “Jeth is the one that’s going to have to deal with me high on sugar.”

"Sis, Hershey would be an overnight trip, I'm not driving up then back in the same day..." Sara countered. "But you'll get the majority of the kids' candy to help that sugar high after we're back."

“Works for me,” Jen replied. “Will give Jeth some time to get things together while I’m gone because he’ll actually go back to his place for one night.

"Exactly," Sara chuckled. "So, we need to raid your computer and start planning. That and I need to call and make sure everything is good to go with the planner for tomorrow."

“Well then, let’s get to it,” Jen said as she stood up. “I’ll go grab my laptop and meet you in the living room.”

"Who knew mentioning chocolate would get her excited about visiting theme parks," Sara chuckled as she walked towards the phone.


Saturday June 25th, 2011
Waldorf, Maryland
The Holiday Inn Parking Lot
11:30 a.m.

After Jethro helped Jen out of the car, they got the twins out of the back seat and made their way over to Damon’s Restaurant that was right next to the hotel. Jethro had told Jen he was taking her and the kids out to celebrate her birthday before they had their own private celebration later that night. When they entered the restaurant they were told that there were no tables available at that moment but they were welcome to wait if they liked, which they agreed to but decided to wait in the hotel lobby where it would be a little quieter overall. After walking into the lobby of the Holiday Inn, they found a bench and sat down, putting the twins down on the floor in front of them, only to have Ginny run off when they heard the music of a familiar song start playing. With a look at Jethro, Jen stood up and took off after her daughter, while he picked Nicky up and followed after her.

Jen groaned when Ginny ran through the doors up ahead, and when she slipped in with Jethro and Nicky behind her, she groaned once more because there was obviously a party of some sort going on. The large room was decorated in black and white, black balloons, black streamers…black tablecloths with a vase of white daisies as a centerpiece…a group of black balloons connected to each vase. The streamers were strewn across the ceiling, from the center of the ceiling out. Buffet tables lined one wall, and another had a set-up for drinks. Towards the back corner of the room there was another table, this one with a screen of some sort on it. Just when Jen was about to try to, as quietly as possible, get her daughter before anyone who had their backs to the door noticed them, the doors shut behind them and she spun around to see Jethro looking as surprised as her. When she turned back towards the room she nearly jumped a foot in the air when she heard “Surprise!” and saw everyone turned in chairs to look at her with big grins.

“You!” Jen laughed as she spun to face Jethro, who stepped back with one hand in the air.

“I had nothing to do with this beyond getting you here,” he said as he walked over to where Jen was standing, kissing her cheek. “Happy Birthday Jennifer.”

“Thank you,” Jen said as he pulled back. “But if it wasn’t you then who…GINA!”

"What?" Sara asked innocently as she joined them, two drinks in hand.

“It was you, wasn’t it,” Jen said shaking her head.


"Well, was I supposed to just let your fortieth birthday go without any sort of thing?" Sara countered handing Jethro the drinks for him and Jen. "Now, you can't kill me, I put too much planning into this," she added with a wink.

“I can’t believe you did this,” Jen said as she watched her twins run over to their grandparents, taking the drink Jethro was holding out in front of her before he put his arm around her waist.

"I'm evil, didn't you know that?" Sara countered with a smirk. "Now then, for lunch we have all the good stuff from Red, Hot, and Blue. And you, my dear sister, get to go first in line, so hurry up. We have hungry children here who have been eyeing your birthday cake. We had to make Ziva guard it from the kids...and Tony."

“That man is impossible. I still can’t believe you threatened to pair me with him,” Jen laughed, nudging Jethro as he led her over to the buffet table, Sara heading in the opposite direction.

“It worked, didn’t it?” he asked.

“Only because the thought of having to a share a bed with that man is terrifying. There’s only one man I want in my bed, thank you very much,” Jen countered.

"Thank God, for that," Alicia smirked as she passed them before ducking out of the way when Jen reached to smack her head.

“It’s my birthday, Alicia, aren’t you supposed to be nice to me?” Jen called after her.

"Not on your big Four-O!"

“I can’t believe you said that!” Jen cried as she started to go after the other woman, at least until she felt someone holding her back.

“I don’t think so, Jennifer,” Jethro said quietly in her ear before turning her back around to face the buffet table.

"I think you better run for your life later today, Gina," Jed mused from across the room.

"Why do you think I already had a hotel booked for me and the kids for the weekend," Sara countered. "I'm giving her a few days to chill before she can get to me...I'm actually more afraid of what my birthday is going to bring..."

“You’ll just have to wait and see,” Jen called as she and Jethro made their way to a table.

"Oh well, at least both of us can work together to get Zoey and we have six years to plan..."

"Oh God," Zoey groaned hearing Sara's statement.

"Relax Sweetheart, don't forget, Charlie turns forty next year..." Abbey smirked before Charlie's head hit the table.

"You know Sis, as much as turning forty sucks, it's great reminding everyone else they are going to be turning forty and have to face birthday plans with us involved in some form..." Sara grinned as she stopped by Jen and Jethro on her way towards the buffet.

“Very true,” Jen agreed before turning to face Jethro. “I still can’t believe you were in on this.”

“Only to the extent of getting you here, I swear and I promise I’ll make it up to you later,” he finished so only the three of them could hear.

"Maybe I should extend that hotel room a few more days and take the kids to the theme park another day..." Sara chuckled. "Yell at me for that when I get back, my favorite BBQ place catered this thing and I want to get some Brisket and Sweet Ribs before Tony eats them all..."


Two hours later, everyone had eaten, the children were playing various classic party games, while the adults talked and played a few games of their own. Jen just shook her head when they had charades, but it was only of things from the seventies and eighties, a.k.a. when she was a kid and teenager. Although the look on Tony's face when he drew the card for Care Bears, then had to try and pull it off...somehow that made it all worthwhile.

"Alright, time for cake," Sara announced with an evil grin. "And I'm going to need help lighting the forty candles..."

"Lighter!" Abby grinned holding her's up.

"Matches," Charlie added with a chuckle. "Zoey made me..."

"Those will work," Sara grinned, "Mom talked me out of using a welding torch..."

"Only thing she actually misses from her days as a CSI," Pat shook her head, "Dismantling cars...but I'm still not letting you light the candles with a torch..."

"What about a bunsen burner?" Sara countered.

“Think they’d notice if we suddenly up and disappeared on them?” Jen asked quietly, leaning towards Jethro.

"Here comes the cake," Jed announced as a cart was wheeled over, a screen hiding what was on it, but they could see something burning. When it stopped in front of the table where Jen and Jethro were, Sara grinned before pulling the screen away to reveal a single sparkler in a vase behind the cake.

"Breathe sis, you're a bit pale," Sara teased. "You think I'd give you 40 candles and risk you putting it back on me? Let alone risk ruining Cindy? You would murder me in my sleep then," she winked.

The cake was actually a large sheet cake, which looked like the hall from Cinderella, complete with a staircase in back that sort of ended halfway. In the center of the cake was a figurine of Cinderella with her bucket of soap, blowing one of the bubbles, and around the cake were clear bubbles of various sizes, there were four positioned around the cake, each with a number: 10, 20, 30, 40... Off to the side was a small sign with the classic Disney script.

Bubbles are like life.
You never know where they will float until
they lead you where you're supposed to be.

Jen sat there speechless, not quite sure what to make of the cake.

“I think this is a first. Jennifer Garrison speechless,” Tony commented from the other side of the table.

"Someone hit him," Sara sighed as she looked over to catch Ziva smacking him.

"Sis?" Sara asked a bit concerned after another few moments passed.

“Jennifer,” Jethro tried quietly, finally getting Jen to look at him before she turned her attention back to Sara.

“Wow,” Jen said quietly. “I don’t really know what to say.”

"Just knowing you have the ability to talk once more is good enough for me," Sara giggled. "Now, Birthday Girl, you get to cut the cake, and don't worry, those bubbles are edible....as is the staircase but I say we give that to Jethro for the next time Tony comes in half asleep..."

"Hey! I want the pure sugar staircase!" Abby huffed before grinning, “I need something since my Caf-Pow supply is still messed up."

"Yeah...Jethro you can decide that one," Alicia laughed as she passed the knife to Jen.

“That’s payback for your little stunt at the Memorial Day barbecue Abby,” Jen said standing up as she waved the knife towards Abby.

“I’ll just take that,” Jethro said standing up next to Jen and taking the knife out of her hand.

“Hey!” Jen said smacking him on the arm. “Not that I’m not happy with the results, of course,” she smiled.

“I’ve seen you in the kitchen Jennifer, I’m not letting you handle a knife this size,” he teased.

"Good point," Pat agreed before everyone save Tony took a large step away from the table.

"What did I miss?" Tony asked looking around confused. Glancing at each other, they all took another step back, leaving Tony alone within range of the knife-accessible birthday-girl.

“I can cook!” Jen cried with a laugh as she tried to get the knife back from Jethro.

“You nearly burned my kitchen down when I left you alone in there for all of two minutes,” Jethro countered as he held the knife up and out of Jen’s reach with one hand as his other was around her waist trying to stop her climbing over him.

"She nearly burned his kitchen down?" Timothy asked, everyone looking around confused, save Sara who was looking up at the ceiling to avoid eye contact with anyone for fear she'd crack up.

“I knew it,” cried Abby with a self-satisfied smile. "Ow!" she continued a moment later when she was kicked in the shin, glancing at Sara, Abby found her still looking up at the ceiling.

"Okay, let's get the cake cut, I need a break from the puppy dog looks from these kids," Tony spoke up.

“Would you please just give me the knife?” Jen pleaded.

“Only if you promise not to kill anyone with it,” Jethro countered still holding the knife out of her reach.

“I promise,” Jen said with a nod.

With a sigh Jethro slowly handed her the knife and stepped out of the way so that she could get to the cake, keeping a hold of her waist.

"Why does she get cravings for sweets while we all got the weird food concotion cravings?" Sara mused before passing a peice of cake her way then taking the knife and sending Jen back to the table with a piece for her, Jethro with his own.

“Tell me something Garrison, what is it exactly that you see in Gibbs? I mean why choose him when you have a perfect specimen such as me at your disposal?” Tony asked curiously as he sat down next to her a short while later.

Jen turned to look at Tony from where she had been watching Jethro get her another drink. She sat there for a moment and gave him the once over. “It’s the hair, Tony.”

“The hair? I’ve got great hair,” Tony countered.

“Yes, but Jethro has wonderful silver hair that makes me go all tingly inside,” Jen said trying to hold back her laughter at the look on Tony’s face.

“Move it, DiNozzo,” Jethro ordered when he stepped up behind Tony.

“Gotcha, Boss,” Tony said as he stood up and walked back over to where Ziva, Abby and Tim were standing. “That is just so wrong,” he said when he looked over and saw Jen lean in and kiss Jethro before pulling back a few seconds later.

"Do you want a kiss, Tony?" Ziva asked sympathetically.

“Thanks…no,” he said. “What can she possibly see in him?”

"Well, he's kind, gentle, strong, tall, handsome, older and established in life..." Ziva offered.

"He cares about her," Sara added walking past. "Grow up, Tony."

“Still doesn’t make it right,” he said as he shuddered at the thought.

"Don't make me sic Fawkes on you, Tony," Sara threatened.

"Wait, the psycho bird is here?" he asked looking around frantically.

"You know, I don't see why he is so afraid of my bird, he's a complete sweetheart," Sara mused as she sat down next to Jen and Jethro. "Course, I suppose it could have to do with Fawkes trying to pierce his ear three times, his lip once...and that last time he went after Tony when Tony was sitting down..."

"Oh, that last time was great," laughed Zoey. "I still say it would have been better for the universe if Fawkes had succeeded...we don't need any more DiNozzos running around in the world."

“Oh, please God, that’s the last thing I need,” sighed Jethro.

“You’re the one that hired him, Jeth,” Jen laughed.

“I know, and it seemed like a good idea at the time,” he replied.

"Isn't that what you always say?" Sara teased. "Kate told us all about the first time she heard that."

“It’s true except that he’s a complete pain in the ass,” he said.

"But you wouldn't get rid of him for all his annoying tendencies," Sara countered. "Admit it, as much as we all want to kill him, we can't imagine life without him."

"I'll admit no such thing," Abbey spoke up.

“Poor Jeth. Now see, if you hadn’t insisted I take a vacation, I would be around to distract you,” Jen teased as she hugged his arm and laid her head on his shoulder.

“You’re a distraction whether you’re there or not,” he told her softly.

"Okay, that's it I need a break from the love fest," Sara sighed. "I'm going to raid the blackberry cobbler."

"You know, we need to find her a guy..." Pat mused, "What?" she asked Zoey who was looking at her in shock. "Girl, my grandchildren are almost five, I do believe it's perfectly alright for their mother to start dating again."

"True," Zoey agreed with a shrug.

“What are you planning?” Jethro asked quietly when he noticed the small smile on Jen’s face.

“I’ll fill you in later,” she whispered, not wanting to talk about it with so many people around.

The rest of the afternoon passed much like it started, everyone enjoyed the time to just be together, presents were produced, much to Jen's slight embarrassment. Finally though they started heading home around five, Sara giving Jen one final hug before ushering the kids to her car and they were headed to Virginia.


“I’m never going to get the door open you know,” Jen said as she broke the kiss, Jethro having her pinned up against the front door to her house a short while later.

“Key,” he said leaning in and kissing her once more as she handed him the key and he manipulated it into the door, unlocking it and opening it before getting Jen to back into the house, her back hitting the wall as he used his foot to close the door, taking one hand from his hold on Jen’s waist to lock the door behind them.

“As much as I would love for you to take me right here Jethro, my poor forty year old body would prefer my bed,” Jen said when they broke for air.

“Yes Ma’am,” he replied as he picked her up reverse piggy back style as he kissed her once more, carrying her upstairs to her bedroom before falling on top of her on top of the bed.

Just as he was starting to undo her blouse, his cell phone rang. “Don’t answer it,” Jen panted.

He gave her an apologetic look before flipping the phone open and answering it. “Gibbs,” he said as he sat up.

Jen sighed and sat up as well before walking over to the window as he continued to talk to whoever it was.”

“I gotta go,” he said a few minutes later, hanging up the phone as he walked over to where Jen was standing. “They just located the body of a marine we’ve been trying to find for the past few weeks. I’m sorry…”

“It’s okay Jeth, go,” Jen said sadly.

“Are you sure?” he asked uncertainly.

“Go. It’s alright, I understand,” Jen said.

“I’ll call you in the morning,” he said kissing her lightly before making his way from the room and out of the house.

“Happy birthday
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