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It was dark, too dark for his liking. The street lights on his street had been off when he'd arrived home, not a rare occurrence given the fact that the bulbs constantly popped. He blamed the lack of sleep to the stress he'd endured over the last 24 hours. Ellie had been his main concern, hoping that he would be able to pacify her fears enough to keep her head straight.

He'd been nervous himself, but tried to hide it from Bishop. At times it had felt like he was back on that forsaken boat in Paraguay, with no sign of ever escaping. The only thing that had kept him sane was the woman he'd been thinking about ever since she had walked into his life.

It had been his coping mechanism when he'd felt himself slipping on that submarine. All he could think about was her. The softness of her hair whenever it brushed against him, the gentleness of her touch when she placed a hand on his shoulder.

Some night's he allowed his imagination to wander, his thoughts indecent in nature. She was usually wrapped in soft satin linen, blonde hair cascading down her back, tanned skin glowing in the sunlight spilling through the open windows.

Jethro shifted on his back, staring up at the ceiling. He'd been fighting his feelings for her since she'd quite literally burst into his life.

He could have sworn she'd looked about ready to hug him when he had appeared in the evidence garage. He'd momentarily indulged himself in wondering just how good it would have felt to kiss her. All he had wanted to do was pull her close and confess that he wanted her in every possible way.

There was still doubt in the back of his mind that she wouldn't return his feelings. He'd seen, or at least heard about the type of men she went for. There had been the MI6 agent, Nigel. Tall, blonde and apparently the nicest guy on earth. The date McGee had set her up with was, according to the senior field agent, quite the catch. The fact that they were both considerably younger than him was yet another indication that he never stood a chance.

He was a difficult person to be with. He wasn't all that young anymore and a long day in the field affected him more than it used to. He carried around more scars and demons than most of the men she'd been with. It was pathetic to think that he even stood a chance against any of the men who had expressed their interest in her.

Scrubbing a hand down his face, trying to force the fatigue away as much as possible, he glanced at his watch 02:13.

He sighed softly. He wasn't going to get any sleep tonight, despite how tired he was. Throwing back the covers, he sat up, his joints popping with each sudden movement. The door to the basement was slightly ajar, inviting him inside its dusty confines.

Past experience taught him that nothing he tried would get Jack Sloane off his mind anytime soon. It was stupid and he would most probably be regretting it later, but he slipped on his boots anyway. The keys to his old Ford in hand as he pulled his front door shut behind him.

The old Georgetown street was quiet, he rolled his eyes at himself, of course it was quiet it was nearly three in the morning. He eased his old beat up truck into the parking spot across from the apartment block. The entire building was dark, including the window he usually stared at when he was parked outside.

He'd been here once or twice. The first time she had invited everyone over to celebrate her move to DC with new friends and acquaintances. He'd been sorely tempted to ditch that night, preferring to drown himself in bourbon and sawdust. An hour later he'd found himself knocking on her door, a bottle of wine in hand.

The team had shared a look among themselves, knowing better than to mention the fact that he'd made an attempt to welcome her. Truth was, he wouldn't have been able to stay away even if had tried – and boy did he try.

The second time he'd been here, he'd dropped her off after they had followed Gabriel Hicks. She had invited him in once he'd convinced her that he needed to walk her to her door. The invitation had been tempting, perhaps too tempting. Dark brown eyes had lured him in, her soft hair teasingly tickling him as he reached blindly for the light switch he knew sat somewhere on the wall.

Instead he'd thought up some lame excuse, desperate to get away from her before he did something stupid. A year later he did do something stupid. He'd almost made an idiot out of himself, he'd been so sure that he'd read the situation right. They'd danced around each other for months.

Flirting when no one was looking, or confiding in each other when the world was weighing down on them. Thinking back now, he should've stopped himself when he'd realized that she had strategically shifted so the kiss he'd aimed for her lips would land on her forehead.

With a slightly bruised ego, he'd rather pulled her into his side, pretending that he had meant for the kiss to land where it did. After that, things had regressed to the steady friendship they'd built over the last year and a half.

Jethro scrubbed a hand across his tired face, hoping he'd change his mind before he reached the front steps of the apartment block. His knee ached as he trudged across the road, his own body trying to stop him from making a mistake. The light breeze did nothing, but tousle his already mused hair.

Taking the small concrete steps one by one, he stopped in front of the heavy glass door. The panel against the wall glowing dimly as it showed each resident's name. Crystal eyes ran over the names, only further trying to stall himself.

3-9 J. Sloane

He glared at the panel, wondering why he even bothered with scanning over the panel each time he found himself here.

He was sorely tempted to head-slap himself. He should be at home, asleep or at least trying to sleep, not loitering in front a fellow agent's house. He glanced at the padlock that burned bright red. He could still remember the code she'd punched in the last time he was here.

Rolling his eyes at himself, he slammed his thumb against the plastic button that housed her name.

The small intercom buzzed ominously. He waited with bated breath, unsure what he was going to do with himself when she did answer. He could always keep quiet, pretend that it was a group of troublemakers. But, he knew she'd probably look outside. The old blue Ford was a dead giveaway that he was the one buzzing her awake at three in the morning.

Fucking genius.

If she didn't answer then he still had a chance to get away without her ever knowing he'd lurked outside her home like some weird psychopath.

The noisy static suddenly stopped and he felt relief wash over him. He could get away.


He could hear the thickness of sleep in her voice, not missing the agitation she could barely conceal. He looked at the panel with narrowed eyes, wondering if he could still dash across the street and speed off like nothing ever happened.

Jethro opened his mouth to alert her that it was him, but the intercom clicked off. Closing his eyes, he grit his teeth, grinding them painfully hard out of frustration. He leaned against the opposite wall, silently berating himself for even convincing himself that it was a good idea to drive all the way here.

What was it about this woman? He'd allowed himself to become attached to her, constantly seeking her out, even if it was just to see her flash him a smile.

He didn't want to label whatever it was he was feeling. It was dangerous and he'd lost his heart one too many times already. Hell, this time he had a feeling he might actually try and make it work. Ahead of yourself already, Gunny?

He was too old for this crap anyway. Tugging his jacket back in place, he gave her name one last glance – deciding that it was better to cut his losses, he made his way back to his truck.

Fishing for the keys in his pocket, he grabbed a hold of the old weathered key chain he'd hooked on the bent key a while ago. Unlocking his door, he grabbed a hold of the steering wheel, knowing his knee wouldn't allow him to bend it enough to slide in with any grace or ease.

He was about to slam his door shut when he heard the heavy glass door to the building close with a heavy thud. Looking up he saw her on the concrete steps – barefoot and smiling at him sleepily.

Guilt flooded through him as he realized that he'd dragged her out of bed and into the still chilly night air. Giving her a poor attempt at a smile, he slid back out of his truck. He watched her shiver against the cold, wrapping her arms around herself.

"Hey, Cowboy."

Jack smiled as Jethro shook his head, amusement curling the corner of his mouth. She took a deep breath, feeling the butterflies in her stomach flutter as he made his way back to her. She'd half expected he'd been more rattled about being trapped on that submarine than he was letting on. Knew from personal experience what it felt like to be trapped.

"Didn't mean to wake ya." He offered sheepishly, knowing that she could see right through his poor attempt at an apology.

Jack winked at him, shrugging her shoulders. "Couldn't sleep anyway."

Jethro raised a silver eyebrow, seeing right through the lie. They stared at each other, waiting for the other to say something. Jack let out a betraying yawn, hiding her face behind her small hands as he grinned at her knowingly. She shivered again, making her displeasure known with a soft moan.

Shucking off his jacket, he draped it over her shoulders despite her vehement protest.

Pulling the warm jacket tighter around her, she blinked up at him. "You want some coffee?"

Jethro shook his head, not sure he would be able to behave himself if he was alone with her in her apartment. He'd seen the reaction her body had to the cold weather, and his own body had reacted to hers. He was far too old fashioned and set in his ways to take advantage of her.

Jack rolled her eyes, slipping her arms through the sleeves, she reached for his hand. She simply tilted her head as he refused to follow her. "It's just coffee, Gibbs. I promise I won't try and shrink you."

The guarded look flashing in his eyes told her that he wasn't aware that she knew that was why he had arrived on her doorstep. Tugging his long fingers until he followed, she slipped her small hand in his large callused one. He squeezed her hand subconsciously as he followed obediently.

Snuggling further into the soft and comfy heat of his jacket, she cast him a teasing glance, "Yup, definitely a cowboy."

Two tumblers of whiskey sat on the coffee table in front of them. She knew that coffee would get them nowhere, she needed to give him something stronger, even if it was just to get him to relax. It became more and more obvious that he was wound tight. He hadn't said a word since she'd ushered him inside the warmth of her apartment.

She buried her nose in the collar of his jacket, inhaling deeply. It smelt like him, from the signature notes of sawdust to the strong scent of Old Spice. It sent her nerve endings racing with excitement. He leaned his head against the back of the couch, eyes closing slowly.

Taking advantage of his relaxed state, she studied him more closely. She had panicked when word had reached them that the submarine had gone rogue and that there was no way of contacting them. She had tried to keep her cool, knowing that everyone depended on her to profile the sick individual. Admittedly, she'd been off her game through the whole case.

Torres had stressed her with his worrying over Bishop, knowing that the young woman had to deal with her fears without much say in the matter. Gibbs on the other hand would have ignored his growing anxiety, unwilling to admit that he still harbored the fear of being locked up, the same way McGee occasionally denied that he wasn't still affected.

Bishop had sought her out almost immediately after everyone left Ducky's new office. Gibbs on the other hand had kept looking at her, blue eyes tired with panic. He'd hid his discomfort well enough from everyone else, but she'd seen right through him.

It had taken her a few months to admit, if only to herself, that she had feelings for him. Still she couldn't bring herself to allow him to see just how much she cared about him. Deep down she knew it wasn't fair towards him, that he couldn't be held accountable for the behavior of other men.

There was no denying that she had feelings for him – she'd hoped and later prayed that her infatuation with him would ease away. That after a week or two she'd be used to his piercing blue eyes and the rare yet dazzling smile he'd give her when he was amused by something.

The line between friends and lovers had tempted her a few too many times. The infatuation had started that same night she first met him. The rumors had been too good to ignore. Every agent that had transferred from- or visited HQ, all had the same awe struck look when they talked about the notorious Supervisory Special Agent Gibbs, and none of them could shut up about his gut feelings.

The image they had created was a classic embodiment of 'every man wanted to be him, and every woman wanted to be with him.' It was because of rumors that she had been more apprehensive than usual when Leon had asked her of she'd make the jump from San Diego to DC. Research had created an even worse image of the man she would no doubt be working in close quarters with.

Arriving on his doorstep had been her own way of judging him without being clouded by others opinions of him. It had been obvious that he had no idea what to do with her when she had barged into his house.

She had been lost the moment he had relaxed enough to smile at her. Soft blue eyes twinkling as she guessed his profession, clearly amused. It had warmed her, allowing her to briefly catch a glimpse of the man that hid behind the rumors he was painstakingly aware of.

Everything she felt for him had built over the last year and a half and suddenly being confronted with the possibility of losing him terrified her. It was easy to brush it off as compassion for a close friend. After all they were in fact in an obscure sense of the word – close. He knew he almost intimately – too intimately. It would be easy to confuse friends with lovers, and the closeness they shared with being in love.

You're smarter than that, Jacqueline.

Jethro shifted, brows furrowed. She bit the tip of her thumb, trying to fight the urge to run her fingers through his hair, anything to ease away the look on his face.

"You talk to Bishop?" he cleared his throat, aware of how thick it sounded.

Jack let out a quiet sigh, concerned that he still wouldn't talk. She knew not to push him, he usually brooded for a while before he decided he wanted to talk. She never pushed him when she knew it was a losing battle, and the only time she had forced him to actually open his mouth and talk was during the Hicks case.

"Uh, yeah, she found me after everyone had left. She's doing fine, Gibbs. A little rattled, but fine."

He scoffed, "Yeah."

Narrowing her eyes at him suspiciously, she buried her nose in his jacket again, no where near willing to give it back to him. Bishop had mentioned in passing that Gibbs had been almost too calm about the whole ordeal.

The grueling time she'd spent in the Army helping fellow soldiers had made her privy to all the quirks they used to hide their fear. No one was without fear, and she'd learned that the hard way.

"Gibbs?" His name came out as a question, immediately causing him to sit up and shift away from her. She bit her tongue, wondering if she should ask him if he was okay.

Jethro stared at her, heart racing in his chest. How could he possibly tell her that his biggest fear was never seeing her again? Hell, she'd probably tell him to make an appointment with Grace because he needed help.

The concern etched on her beautiful face made him feel worse. He had after all woken her up, dragging her out of bed so he could drink her whiskey. The least he could do was tell her why he had decided that 3 a.m was a good time as any to tell her how he felt about her.

He exhaled, heavy and tired. He gave her a tight smile, perhaps he could tell her that he lo.. liked her. Like, Gunny.

"I'm fine, Jack."

"Damn it, Gibbs!" She snapped before she so much as thought it through.

He raised an eyebrow at her, unimpressed with her outburst. It was torturous enough not reaching out and holding her close to him. Please don't cry. He could see the thoughts race through her mind, anger simmering in her dark watery eyes.

"You could have died and the best you can do is fine." Jack brushed her blonde locks off her forehead. She could have lost him forever.

Jethro turned to look at her, blue eyes thunderous. He was sorely tempted to tell her to drop it already. Oh how he wanted to kiss that murderous look off her face. Gritting his teeth, he snapped back at her, "I'm fine."

There was a blur as a sudden 'oomph' left him, almost knocking the breath right out of him.

Lithe fingers carded their way through his hair. He was surrounded by her as she kissed him. She wasn't shy about what she was doing. The tip of her tongue brushed over his bottom lip, teasing him as he eagerly parted his lips. He groaned as she tentatively explored, a double shot of whiskey assaulting him as she deepened their kiss. The still functioning part of his brain realized that he wasn't actually participating in the act, but she'd obviously realized it too.

Jack moved away from him, jumping to her feet, cheeks flushed bright red as she avoided looking at him. For someone who read people on a daily basis, she had royally fucked that up. He'd come to her as a friend and she'd practically made herself comfortable on his lap.

"I… I shouldn't have..." She gestured between them, hoping it would get her point across.

Jethro moved quickly, ignoring the pain shooting through his body. He grabbed her wrist as she took his empty tumbler, gently forcing her to put it down. He laced his fingers with hers, one arm snaking around her waist to pull her against him.

"Oh, but I really wanted you to."

There was no second guessing what was going on between them. Neither of them knew if what was between them was strong enough to survive more than one night. Eyes traced each other's features, taking advantage of being this close.

Jack nibbled her bottom lip, feeling his obvious arousal against her hip. Maybe she should stop this, because if he wanted nothing after tonight, she doubted she'd be able to face him the following day.

Soft lips ghosted over her cheek, the stubble on his chin sending tingles up and down her spine as it scraped across her skin. He massaged the base of her neck as his other hand drifted up her back. He assaulted her lips with renewed fervor.

She clutched at the edge of his t-shirt, warm hands pressing against the bare skin she revealed as she inched the material higher. He gasped against her lips as she brushed her fingers over the firm muscles of his abdomen. He pulled her bottom lip between his teeth in retaliation, laving the sensitive spot with his tongue.

Pushing the heavy jacket off her shoulders, he could see her nipples pebble as the cold air in the room swirled around them. Gliding his hands down her sides, he took a firm hold on her thighs, picking her up with ease.

Jack allowed her head to drop back against her shoulders as he pressed intimately against her. "Oh..." she gasped in his ear as he rocked his hip against hers.

Carrying her down the small passageway that led to her bedroom, he placed her on her feet again. Uncertainty washing over him, he didn't want her to regret this in the morning. He wouldn't blame her if she did, he'd probably be blaming himself for taking advantage of her.

"Jack," Jethro placed his hands on her hips, keeping her at arms length.

Cupping his cheeks in her hands, she tilted his head until he looked her in the eye. Pulling him in for a kiss, she smiled against his lips. "I want you."

It was the only invitation he needed from her.

She yanked the t-shirt over his head, taking in every inch of newly revealed skin. Placing her hands on his chest, she allowed herself to study each and every scar she could see.

There was a small patch of scar tissue on his right trapezius muscle, drawing her attention to the much larger bullet wound that had been a compliment from Ari. The long line that ran down between his pecs to the bottom of his sternum clearly made him uncomfortable. She could feel him squirming as she pressed a kiss to the sensitive skin.

Jethro returned the favor, pulling her shirt over her head. Leaving her bare breasted in front of him.

Cupping one breast in his palm, he felt her lean against him. Allowing him to catch a glimpse of the angry welts that covered her back in the mirror. He felt her stiffen beneath his touch. As self conscious as he was about the line that indicated his brush with death, he could only imagine what she went through every time someone saw the scars.

He twisted her around, meeting her dark gaze in the mirror. Placing a large hand on her shoulder, he brushed his lips over the scars, kissing them tenderly as he watched tears well in her eyes.

She turned in his arms, wrapping her arms around his neck. He was the first man she'd allowed to touch the painful reminder. He brushed her hair from her face, cupping her cheek. He kissed her reverently, this time there was no hurry. Tongues brushed lazily, drawing out the moment as long as possible.

Jethro pressed his forehead against hers, content to hold her like this for the rest of the night.

They undressed each other slowly, luxuriating the feel of forbidden skin brushing erotically. Jack let out a load moan as Jethro's head moved between thighs. Weaving her fingers in his hair, she held him firmly in place, nudging him occasionally when she wanted a change of pace.

Jethro gripped her hips, stopping her from moving around too much. He didn't know what was turning him on more. The fact that she guided him until he was using the right pressure and technique, or the just the idea of her knowing exactly what worked to get her where she wanted to be.

Nails bit into his shoulder as he eased a digit inside her, making sure she was ready. He could tell she was a stroke or two away from falling over the edge, so he eased off. Crawling over her, he settled between her thighs, rocking his hips against the inside of her thigh.

He felt like a horny teenager.

Kissing her, he met her lust filled gaze. "Jack, are you sure about this?"

He needed to be sure she wanted this, he couldn't fuck this up.

She nodded, one hand slipped between them, brushing against his as she helped him position himself. She swallowed with anticipation, moving her hips desperately.

Jethro grit his teeth as he finally sank into the overwhelming heat. He slipped his arms around her, burying his face in the crook of her neck as he rocked his hips. He felt slightly selfish, he usually spent and adequate amount of time pleasing his woman, but one brush of her slick heat and he'd been gone.

She shuddered underneath him, muscles contracting and forcing him to slam his hips against hers repeatedly. She moaned in his ear, his name falling from her lips in a scream that had him cumming right a long with her.

Jack smoothed her hands down her lover's back as he shuddered against her, squeezing her eyes shut she held him close. He finally relaxed and moved so he could look at her.

"All I could think about was you." He said thickly, an answer to her earlier question. "Don't wanna lose you, Jack."

Jack bit her lip, giving him a watery smile. Sharing a tender kiss, she buried her face in his neck. There was no denying it now.

She would love him until her dying breath.