McGee-centric character study/romance. Want to start at the beginning? Click here.
Chapter 379: Ziva
A/N: For reference, it might be a good idea to re-read chapters 255 and 257.
Running. Usually running is good. Feet moving forward, speed, wind, earth below, sky above, quiet mind in between.
Today isn't doing it for Ziva.
She can't get into her running zen. Can't quiet her mind.
The last time she had this hard of a time getting out of her mind when she ran, it was the day after Lt. Sanders died. She ran the loop from his direction, mourned the lost opportunity of him, missed him, and then tried to make herself forget.
In that she wore his hat every time she ran until it was destroyed when her apartment blew up, it's safe to say she didn't succeed.
She's tired. That's part of it. It's always difficult to find peace when you're aching tired.
She's sad. There's no way this will work out well. There's no happy ending where Jeanne and Tony get along and they all get to be some sort of functional extended family. They still don't know what they're going to do about this child. If he wasn't Jeanne's Tony would be all for trying to get involved in his life, but he is Jeannes, so they aren't sure.
Tony researched bone marrow donation most of the night, and she had a long chat with Draga about what sorts of rights a father has. Apparently, a DNA match doesn't offer much in the way of rights. According to him, the only reason he's been able to have any luck on getting shared custody of Kevin is because his name is on the birth certificate, and since the day he was born, Kevin has been listed as one of his dependents.
But Tony and Jeanne were never married, and because they've got no idea what she's got written on this child's birth certificate, it's entirely possible that even if they go to court, they cannot get visitation rights. If she's got another man's name on that certificate, and if Tony does not match for the bone marrow donation, he likely won't even have standing to demand a paternity test.
Assuming they can prove paternity, given the story of how this child came to be, it's likely they can't get visitation rights. Ziva knows how that case would go, she's spent more than enough time with lawyers to see that whoever Jeanne hires will make the defense that Jeanne was effectively raped, that the psychic damage on her of having Tony around will be too high, and that Tony has no rights to this child, at all.
And, since NCIS had no legal standing for the case against Le Grenouille, if said lawyer is really sharp, he'll counter-sue Tony for what he did to Jeanne. After all, there was no warrant, no court order, NCIS does not have jurisdiction over civilians engaging in civilian cases. A counter-suit on this would be horrendously embarrassing to NCIS and might actually land Tony in jail.
All of that is a heartache.
Then there's fear. Jimmy sent them a list of links on bone marrow donation, another list on bone marrow diseases. They'd been online, pretty much all night, reading over everything he'd sent them. From everything they've been able to find, parent-child matches are rare, really rare. So the possibility that this might work is almost non-existent.
From everything they were reading, it would have made more sense to use the child's own bone marrow. They've got some sort of technique to suck it out, clean it up, and put it back in again. Or, suck it out, muck around with it, and grow new, clean marrow from the stem cells. Either of those is way more likely to work, no rejection issues, and if Helen's hunted down Tony for this, it likely means those techniques have failed.
And if they've failed… If the cancer (if it is cancer, that seems most likely though) has come back…
If they've failed, attempting another transplant, from a foreign donor… Either there's a piece they're missing, or Helen and Jeanne are torturing this child because they aren't willing to let him go.
More heartache, because if that's true… If that's true then you have to do something about it. You don't let a child suffer, not like that, not if there's not much shot of it actually working. You don't just 'do something' to do something. The potential for healing has to outweigh the pain.
But, Lord, coming in, now, with 'I want access to my child' will be hard enough. 'I want access so you can stop medically torturing him, and let him die in peace…' Just the idea of trying to make that case makes Ziva clench her jaw so hard her teeth ache.
Beyond all of that there's anger.
Jeanne should have told him. She's said that like seven times now and keeps repeating it in her mind.
Jeanne should have told. A child has a right to know his father. And as soon as she knew she was pregnant she should have found Tony and told him.
Ziva keeps saying that to herself, building up her own anger with it. But each repetition is more hollow. Each time she says it, she musters less outrage at Jeanne.
And she knows why it's not working. Because as time goes by, and hours pass, and the more she thinks about this child, the more she has to think about Jeanne, and how this child came to be.
She can hold a moment's rage at Jeanne for not telling, and she wishes she could hold more, but in the end, thinking about, feet pounding the pavement, if the same thing had happened to her… If she had been the target, and she certainly could have been… Not like her father didn't have enemies galore, and it's not like he was easy to get to. Part of her training was to make sure she never did trust anyone, because that way she couldn't be used, not the way Jeanne was.
Her father knew there were Tonys out there. Her father made sure her boyfriends had full, deep, background checks. Her father drilled into her head that trust is dangerous, and trust could lead to deep, deep pain, so it was to be handed out slowly, carefully, only to people who had earned it with blood. And as Bodnar proved, even after it is earned in blood, it can be lost, so easily.
But… If her father was less careful. Or if Tali hadn't died… She would have been a ballerina, dancing in Paris or Moscow or New York. She would have had boyfriends. Men who came to see the shows, and if one of them had been kind, paid attention, loved her… If he was charming, and witty, and funny. If he lavished her with praise and attention and desire… If she had been the target, if a man had used her, lied to her, and gotten her pregnant… Would she have told him?
No, she never would have told him.
Jeanne had her baby, and then came back and tried to frame Tony for murder.
Ziva tries to think about what she would have done, how she would have reacted. She slapped the shit out of Ray, arrested him, and walked off. But that is NCIS Agent Ziva, who believes in things like law. And Ray wasn't using her, not the way Tony used Jeanne. She knew who he was, she knew what he did. She knew she was getting involved with a professional liar. She had already detached from him, had already begun to grow some distance when he tried to use her.
And it still hurt. And she still burned her tears with hate, and made Gibbs drive her home, and she turned away from him, not letting him see the pain, headed into her place, and beat the hell out of her pillows, ran ten miles, and then forced herself to be calm.
Then she went back to work, and buried all of it in the job.
What if it had been from day one? If from day one everything with Ray had always been an act… If one day she had a man she loved who was moving in with her, and the next it he was out to kill her father and she was pregnant…
What if Ray had done that?
No, she wouldn't have framed him for murder. And she wouldn't have stopped at just hitting him. She would have killed him. And that would have been that.
Confusion trumps anger. If she was the target, she'd rage, but she's been on Tony's side of it, too. She's run this op, twice, and both times she used her looks, her charm, her humor, and walked into a the target's home and killed him.
One time she seduced the target. One time she seduced his son.
The time it was the target, it went fast. Third date, back to his place, he had certain expectations of how that night was going to go. It didn't go that way. In, out, done, clean. She got everything in his hard drive, all of his files, and hasn't been back to Prague since.
The time it was the target's son, it went slow. Deep cover. Took months before he invited her home to meet his family. She eagerly accepted that invitation. His family was Catholic, devout, or at least his mother and sisters were, so they each had their own room. When Philippe suggested it was bedtime, that first night, she'd smiled at him, said she was heading to the kitchen to get a bottle of wine, and that he should meet her in bed in an hour. He'd grinned and headed off, huge smile on his face, looking forward to sneaking around.
She'd headed to his father's office, knocked quietly, and when he opened the door, all he saw was a pretty girl, with long curly hair, wearing a sundress and cute, little sandals. He'd smiled at her, too, and she'd asked him some sort of question about the family, stepping in, closing the door, setting him at ease. By the time the door was closed, she had him in a choke hold. Ten seconds later he was unconscious. A minute later he was dead. Two minutes after that, she walked out, with a bottle of wine, going to get some fresh air and enjoy the countryside.
It can be very difficult to get into a place, but it's usually not very difficult, especially if you are willing to walk and leave all of your things behind, to get out of one.
She walked away, found the motorcycle waiting for her three miles away, and was gone before anyone knew she was missing.
She's never regretted that kill, never thought twice about Philippe. But right now, she is, and she hates the way that feels. He probably looked for her when he noticed she wasn't in her room. He may have been the one who found his father. It wouldn't have taken long after his family knew what had happened to start putting it together, blame him for bringing home the woman who killed Papa.
She wonders, now, how he dealt with that.
Papa led a branch of the Basque Separatists. Now, she wonders if Philippe, who studied sculpture and music in Barcelona, had been killed for bringing home the woman who killed his father.
Confusion and hate and regret slip to anger as her feet pound over the pavement. Anger at Tony. On one level, the big level, the one she feels stupid for, there's just the rush of 'How could you possibly be so fucking stupid?' It was a long time ago. She knows this about him. She knows his past is a wasteland of reckless sexual encounters, any one of which may have produced a child.
When they were talking about it, before they got married, and she asked how many women he'd slept with, his best guess was 'about a thousand.' She thought he was kidding until he broke it down. First time at sixteen. He was forty-five when they had that conversation, so almost thirty years. Five years with Wendy cut it down to twenty-four. Not much action from sixteen to eighteen. Call it twenty-two years of an active sex life. He got to college and got to be one of the stars on the basketball team. Two or three girls a week in college. Two or three a week for the year after Wendy. He figured those five years covered about five hundred girls. The other seventeen years worked out to about thirty women a year, or about one every other week. Factor in Spring Breaks in Florida and dry spells, and that was about right for him.
She thought she was okay with that. At the time, she was okay with that. She's had more than enough partners of her own that she's not going to complain about what he did before they were together.
But right now, especially knowing that Tony wasn't careful with Jeanne, that's really pissing her off.
And she's pissed at herself for being pissed about that. It can't be changed. None of this is blindsiding her or a shock. But it still hurts. She's pissed that this hurts so much. Tony has a child. A child who isn't hers, and that aches.
He's so skittish about making a baby with her, but he spent twenty years more or less spraying sperm around at random like some sort of fertility garden sprinkler, but for her, for a woman he loves and has a future with... No, with her, he's scared.
They talk about it in counseling. She knows rushing him is a bad idea.
And he's said that it's like standing on the edge of the cliff looking off. He can't make himself jump, but that, if he just got a good hard shove, once he landed, he'd be fine. But he needs the shove. So, she's shoving.
They're 'trying' for a baby. But she can feel he's not really comfortable with it. He can't fully relax into it, though he's 'trying.' And she can feel it's getting better, but better and good aren't the same thing and she doesn't know how to get him to good.
But with Jeanne, he could just be in the moment and 'forget.' With Jeanne, he could make a baby. And that hurts so much worse than she thought it would.
Her phone chirps at her, and she stops running. You on your jog? From Jimmy.
She looks around, really noticing that she's about ten minutes from home. Yes.
Whole thing was a hoax. There is kid, but he was born in '10, he's not sick. Jeanne died last week, and Helen went a bit crazy.
She stares at that. For a good five seconds her head is completely blank. She's got no idea, at all, how to even begin to feel about it. Eventually, she feels like she can breathe. Like a huge weight is gone. And sure, some of this stuff won't go away just because this has, but the biggest part, the what do we do now part, that's gone.
Her shoulders slump, tension spiraling out of her, relief washing over her, pulling away a lot, but not all, of the anger and fear and hurt that's been aching through her for the last day.
Her phone chirps again. I haven't told Tony, yet. Want to talk to him, in person, alone. Is that okay?
What would Jimmy want to say to Tony about this on his own? Why?
Got some things to say to him about this. He's not going to like them. You might not, either.
Ice goes down her spine. There's no kid. It's a hoax… Jeanne's dead… Did she commit suicide? Lord, did the thing with Tony screw her up that badly? Does Jimmy want to protect her from that? Things about Jeanne? she texts quickly.
No. Anything I know about her, I'll tell you, too. Things about him and me. You want to be there for this, that's fine, just be easier the two of us.
That makes no sense to her at all. Why would Jimmy want to talk to Tony about Jeanne, and what would it have to do with him? Jimmy?
What do you remember about Michelle Lee?
And then she gets it. What would she have done if she was the target? How would she react if someone had spent months lying to her? God, Jimmy was the target. He can't be cool with this because it happened to him. She punches his number into her phone. A second later she says, "Hi."
"I remember Lee. I was the only one she didn't try to convince she did the right thing."
"Not the only one."
She supposes that's likely true. She can't imagine what Lee might have said to Jimmy. "I'm sorry. I… knew, but…"
"Didn't put it together?"
"Because I'm a guy? And as long as I got laid, I was getting what I wanted, so what's the problem? Guys don't get used, they don't feel bad about it after, not if they get sex, right?"
She winces; he sounds so bitter and so hurt about that. The fact is that it never hit her, at all, that Jimmy got used, until two minutes ago. Why? Then she knows. "That's part of it, yes. Mostly though, because you ended it, before it blew up."
"Yeah. I did. Still bit me in the ass, though. Still got hauled in for questioning, for treason. Still… still had to deal with… all of it."
She can feel the pain in his voice. "I'm sorry."
"Yeah, well… Anyway, got some things to say to Tony. About using people. About sexually using someone. They aren't complimentary. He's unlikely to enjoy them. If you wanted to get yourself some breakfast, say for two hours or so, it's my treat."
She nods. The silence stretches for another second. She's got too much rolling around her mind right now, so she asks again, "It really is a hoax?"
She hears Jimmy sigh. "Yeah. It is. Jeanne was in a car accident last week. She died. Helen... I don't know how she came up with it, but making Tony hurt seemed like a good idea to her. I've already talked to Helen, she's not going to pull anything again." Jimmy stops for a second there. "Ziva, I'm sorry this screws you, too…"
Something feels off about that. He was sorry yesterday, too. Sorry that she was stuck with this mess, stuck with having to deal with the emotional fall out of her husband's stupidity. And yesterday, she definitely got the sense that Jimmy was not thrilled with Tony for having done something that would put her in this position, but that for the most part he was all about making sure they got through it as easily as possible.
But she's not feeling that anymore, and he's still apologizing. Ziva's starting to wonder what the hell just happened, because this is too much for sympathy.
"I really am. I'm sorry you're in the middle of this. I'm sorry this isn't just done, and we can't just all relax and kick back and let it go. I'm sorry, for you, to you, that I can't just let it go. I want to. I'm a lot happier not thinking about this. But, right now, I can't get this out of my head, because I was where Jeanne was. So, I've got to go yell at him. And I know I'm going to hurt him, and I know that's going to hurt you, and I'm really sorry about that, because I don't want to be hurting you, but I don't know how I can stop hating him without it hitting you, too."
It takes her a second to sort through all of that, and find the relevant part. Jimmy's already talked to Helen. Which means he's known about this long enough to find her and have a conversation with her.
"You've already spoken to Helen?" Her voice is cold.
"How long have you known?"
"Since around six last night." Twelve hours. He's known for twelve hours. "I got into Aiden, the boy's, medical records around then. Couldn't find him on the bone marrow registry, so I went into the Federal Medical Database. Then I looked Helen up, found when she was on shift, and made sure she'd never pull anything on Tony again."
Her eyes close and her hand fists. Jimmy went out of his way to find the child for them. He went to see Helen to protect them. And then he let them stew for a night. She's smiling, but it's not a happy gesture.
What would you do if it had been you?
"You and McGee were working together to find Aiden?"
"Yeah. Tim was coming up empty because he had a name, but the wrong birthday, so... technically you aren't supposed to look up people who aren't your patients, but... any doctor has access to any patient, because you never know who'll roll in your door. It was the most direct way to get the information about him."
She forces her fist to relax. He broke the law to find the child for them. Because he's their friend. He talked to Helen, because he didn't want anything bad to happen to them. When everything was going bonkers with Tony last summer, he was the one she spent hours talking with. He was the one who suggested they try marriage counseling. It was his house she stayed at. He's asking her permission to talk to Tony about this. Because he's her friend.
And he let them sit, because he's hurting, and he wanted them to hurt. No, he didn't want them to hurt. He wanted Tony to hurt, and he couldn't figure out how to do that without hurting her.
She exhales, loud. If Tony deserves any of this, she does, too. Jimmy doesn't know that, and she's thinking he's likely better off never knowing that, but…
And if Tony doesn't deserve this, and if she doesn't, then what is she saying to Jimmy? She's saying that what happened to Jimmy was okay. Because if it was wrong when Lee did it, then it was wrong when they did it. And if it wasn't wrong when they did it, then Jimmy's just got to suck it up and deal, because it was okay for Lee.
And it wasn't okay when Lee did it.
She hates this. She hates all of this, every single fucking second of this is torment. All of those hours… but… compared to what she would have done, if it had been her… "I accept your apology, Jimmy." Her voice is tight as she says it.
"Thank you. Anything I say or do to him that you think is over the line, you get as many free shots as you want on me." Of course, yesterday he gave her twenty minutes of free shots on him, because she was hurting. Yesterday, he let her literally hit him (well, he was dodging and moving around, too, but he put his physical body in the game, gave her the opportunity to beat it out on his skin) to make herself feel better.
And it's not the first time he's done that. Because, as of yesterday, anything she has ever needed from him, Jimmy has provided.
"You want to give Gibbs a call?" he asks as she's thinking about the fact that Jimmy will take literal, physical pain from her if it makes her feel better about herself. "Let him know. Tell him I'm handling it."
She sighs again. "I can do that."
"Thanks." He hangs up, and she puts her phone back in her pocket. Right now, talking to Gibbs sounds like
a VERY good idea.
"Balance challenge." Gibbs says it like a swear word. You're knee's all together, so new exercises, working on all of you, not just leg strength. Jimmy had said to him the last time they had a Bootcamp in the gym. Then Jimmy stood on one foot, which didn't look hard at all, then he closed his eyes. When you can do it, each leg, for twenty seconds, no wobbling, we'll move up to the next level.
Gibbs is horrendously embarrassed at how hard it is to stand on one foot with his eyes closed. He hasn't actually fallen over, yet, but he has had to touch the other foot down on more than one occasion.
He can do it with his eyes open, no problem at all. He can probably stand on one foot for as long as he can stand on two, with his eyes open. He just slips into sniper mode, patient, balanced, still, and it's no problem at all. Once those little bastards close, his weight starts to shift, his ankle goes wobbly, and two seconds later, he's got his second foot on the floor.
He's not exactly feeling great this morning, and teetering around on one foot is not improving things. Bad sleep, got some, but the ghosts of the whole Jeanne thing kept his sleep light and his dreams confusing.
But it is morning, and in the morning, he gets up, takes care of business, and then he does his exercises, so he's doing the damn things, and Mona's being 'helpful' by occasionally nosing one of his hands (he's holding them out to help balance, and she keeps thinking this is an offer for petting, so she noses him, and he tips over.) He spends five minutes on his left leg, trying to get to twenty seconds without wobbling, failing at it, and is getting ready to do five on his right when Mona looks up, and suddenly trots down the stairs.
Someone's coming in, fast.
Gibbs tosses on a t-shirt and some sweats and heads down just as Ziva walks in.
She's on her own, in her jogging gear, and he doesn't know exactly what's going on with her right now. Right now she's snuggling Mona, because it's easy to take comfort from a pet. He sits on the floor next to her, where her face is pressed against Mona's neck, and he strokes her back.
She looks up at him and nods. "Yes. Jimmy called. The whole thing was a hoax."
Gibbs feels a hot flare of rage. "Did Jeanne put her mom up to it?"
Ziva shakes her head, sadly. "According to Jimmy, Jeanne died last week, and Helen…"
Gibbs nods, getting it, not needing more words. "C'mere." He wraps her in a hug and kisses the top of her head.
It's hitting Gibbs, as he's holding her, that this is not relief, there's some of that, but Ziva's doing her sad thing, and her angry thing, and her I-want-to-explode-but-there's-no-one-to-hit thing.
She's not talking, because she doesn't much like to talk about this stuff, but… there should be some happy here, right? He's feeling a lot more relieved right now, so she should, too, right?
Also, half the team is missing.
So, he quietly asks, 'Where's Tony?"
"At home. Jimmy's yelling at him."
Gibbs blinks at that. Ziva's got mad radiating off of her in all directions, so his first guess is that Jimmy is yelling at Tony for being a selfish dork who put his wife in a situation where she had to deal with this crap. Because that's a Jimmy thing to do.
Ziva pulls back, looks at Gibbs. "Can we run?"
He nods. She wants to run it off, that's fine with him. "Let me get my sneakers on." He gets up, grabs them, and sees Mona head back to Ziva and rub the top of her head against Ziva's chin.
He's laced up and they're on the porch when Ziva says, "He found out about Aiden, the child, last night. Didn't tell us until now."
Gibbs stops dead and stares at Ziva, he blinks slowly and licks his lips. He knows he heard what she said. Not like she mumbled or something. But, he can't make himself understand.
She can see him staring at her, trying to put the pieces together.
"I was running, thinking, too much thinking all night long, because we were sitting there steeping in this… torture… And I'd been making myself not… I kept saying she should have told Tony, because then I could be angry at her, because I don't want to be angry at him, not right now, not when he's hurting that bad.
"But I could not keep thinking she should have told him. I started to think about what if it had been me. It could have been me. So many men wanted my father dead, for so many reasons. If Tali had lived and… I could have had a life where I would have been a target.
"If it had been me, I never would have told him. Never. And I would have done much, much worse to a man if I found he had been lying to me for months, almost a year, using me like that. Ray used me for a few days, and that… that hurt. Weeks? Months? Everything, all of it a lie?" She shakes her head, and then meets Gibbs' eyes, saying, voice soft, dangerous, "I would have done much, much worse."
Gibbs is feeling very confused, but he's standing there quietly, waiting, letting her get it out.
"Then Jimmy calls, and it's all a lie. And I was starting to feel better, some, about the child and what we'd have to do, at least. There's still, our own… issues… And Jimmy is apologizing to me, which did not make much sense. Because, he had not done anything to me, but he is being very sincere and…
"And then it did make sense, because he has known since last night. He went to talk to Helen, to make sure she would not try anything again, last night. And he let us sit. And… And I want to hit him so hard. Because… the worry, and the fear, and the hurt… But… What if it had been me? What if I had been the target? What would I have done to a man who used me like that? If I had been a target, what would I do to any man who used a woman like that?"
Gibbs is still a step behind. He's getting Ziva starting to feel for Jeanne, but he's not seeing how Jimmy fits into this.
Ziva can see that Gibbs isn't putting it together on his own, either. "Do you remember Lee?"
Gibbs nods, pieces snapping into place.
"Jimmy was the target. And… somehow that never hit me before today. Somehow, I never put that together.
"He let us sit to get back at Tony. Because he knows Tony used Jeanne as a target. And, I want to hit him for it, hard. Want to break a hand on him, because it hurt." She's staring up at Gibbs, and her face is making it clear exactly how bad last night was. He'd offered to stay with them, but they left anyway. He should have gone with them.
"And I understand why he did it. Because twelve hours would not even begin to cover what I would want to do to someone who did that to me. And… And I have my own Jeanne, but Jimmy does not know that. A man I never thought twice about, but… But today, I am thinking about him, wondering what happened to him.
"I hate this whole thing, Gibbs. I hate every angle of it. I hate every inch of it. I hate every minute of this. And I am so mad at everyone right now." Ziva squares her shoulders. "Can we just run?"
"For as long as you need."
So they run. Running is good, because it's letting Gibbs get things into place. Sort of. Jimmy found the kid. Last he heard Tim was looking, but… Okay, Jimmy found him, which means… Medical databases, Tim doesn't have access to them, and Jimmy does.
So, Tim stalls out, Jimmy gets into the game.
He finds Aiden.
And then Gibbs stalls out because he's not sure how this works. He wants to ask more, but she very clearly does not want to talk.
So they keep running.
Round the block, through the park, down the side street, and back again. It's a mile and a half loop, he usually does it twice. But when they get back to his house, she stops, and goes to sit on the porch. Of course, judging by how she looked and what time it was, she's already done her full morning jog, on top of this.
He pats Mona. "That's it girl. Go play."
She trots off to the backyard. She'll probably be back with her ball, soon.
"I am so angry at him."
Gibbs nods. What Jimmy pulled looks like a shit thing to him. "Want me to go slap him upside the head?"
She laughs, a little, at that.
"He is already slapping himself right and left."
"Wait, Jimmy pulled this, but he feels bad about it?"
She blinks slowly. "I was talking about Tony. But yes, if you want to slap Jimmy, I'd approve."
Gibbs nods. A visit to NCIS just went onto the schedule for today.
She half-smiles, self-depreciating, not happy. "It feels stupid. I know all of this about him. I knew about it when it was happening. I've known about it since, and… I was okay with it. I had forgiven him for that year. I thought I was at peace with it, but…
"But it's back?"
She nods. "It's rule number one, Gibbs. Don't screw your partner! I was his partner, and that year... The lies, lie after lie after lie, and I was so worried for him, and he just left me hanging."
"He had orders."
"When do we ever follow orders to screw each other? 'It's a case. I can't talk about it. When I can, I'll tell you.' How hard would that have been?"
Gibbs nods. "And you two were more than partners, then, right?"
Ziva's mildly surprised to hear that, but only mildly. Of course, he figured it out. "Not once you got back. His team, his rules. Your team, your rules. How did you know?"
"The way he looked when you called me in for help instead of him. The way you were acting. Known a few jealous women over the years."
She inclines her head at that. She was jealous, and worried, and angry. Anyone who knew what it looked like could identify it.
She had called Gibbs in because she didn't want Tony to get in trouble. He read it as she called Gibbs in because she didn't trust him to save her. They couldn't get past that, and when it was clear Gibbs was staying, she ended things. "His team, his rules," she had said to Tony, and left him in the break room on his own.
"I should be done with this. Yesterday I was done with this. Today, I want to slap him for being stupid. He got in too deep and didn't ask for help, and…" She sighs, gritting her teeth. "He wasn't careful with Jeanne."
Gibbs can feel that's a live wire, but he can also see she's not ready to touch it yet.
"I want to dig Jenny up and shoot her. She knew how to run that mission right. She knew Tony was not trained for it or capable of pulling out smooth. She knew he wasn't hard enough for it.
"We had both run honeytraps. We'd run one together. I know she knew how to do it right. How to get in and out clean. How to take out the target. And… and now, all I can think is that Jeanne was her target, because I am certain she did not tell Tony that this was supposed to end with him killing Benoit. He wasn't hard enough for Jeanne; he certainly wasn't hard enough for wetwork."
He rubs her back, gently. He knows he can't fix this, can't make it right or better. "You want some breakfast?"
"Sure. Send Jimmy a bill."
He looks at her curiously.
"Breakfast is on him." She shakes her head. "I hate being angry at him, too. He asked my permission to talk to Tony, offered to let me sit in on it. He apologized to me because he didn't want me to hurt about it, but couldn't figure out how to not hit me, too. He let me beat it out on him yesterday, gave me a huge pile of information, found the kid, and talked to Helen.
"And he let me sit. Once he figured out it wasn't real, that this wasn't something we'd have to deal with for the rest of our lives, that we weren't going to be burying a child or dealing with a massive custody battle, something in his head switched and…"
Gibbs nods, that makes a more sense, once the immediate danger was over, Jimmy could stop just looking out for his friends and start to think about himself. "Look out when a good man goes to war."
"Yeah. I shouldn't have let Tony take that alone. But I'm afraid that if I get in the middle of it, I'm going to start yelling at both of them."
Gibbs nods. They're in his kitchen now. "Eggs?"
"Milchig or parve?"
"Doesn't matter. I have not eaten yet."
She starts the coffee while he gets his pan set and begins cooking up the eggs. Once he's got the eggs on plates and they're both sitting down, he says, "Wanna tell me the rest of it? There's more than fallout from Jeanne here."
"Okay. But… you want to say it… It's okay, you know?"
She nods, chewing, sipping her coffee. Not saying anything.
"Want me to tell Jimmy these eggs were coated in gold and had those really expensive mushrooms cooked into 'em?"
She smiles a little, appreciating him trying to joke with her. "With caviar and powdered diamonds on top."
"I can do that." He thinks about it a bit more seriously. "Two thousand dollar eggs? And maybe a long weekend somewhere nice for you and Tony? Get your personal stuff talked out?"
She sighs… "We are talking. We have talked." Another quiet moment. "I know all of this. I have known all of this. I knew it before we got married and signed on anyway. But it's harder, now. This child wasn't his. But the next one? Or the one after that? They have to be out there. No way there isn't at least one, and probably more.
"Once he knew, he wanted to know that child. He wanted to be part of his life. That he was Jeanne's complicated things, but if this hadn't been Jeanne… If it had been one of the ladies from a bar or a club… If that had been the case he would have dived right in…
"But with me… he is scared. With me, he doesn't want to make a baby. With me he isn't interested in just jumping in." She stabs her egg with her fork. "That's not entirely fair. Like I said, we have talked, we are talking, and we're trying for a baby but… that is how it feels. He could knock up strangers with abandon and glee, but with me…" she's looking at her eggs, then she looks up at Gibbs. "Got anything that makes this better?"
He shakes his head. "Want me to slap him upside the back of the head when I get done with Jimmy?"
She shakes her head, and looks over at the clock. "I should get going. Still have to get ready for work. Have to see what sort of a mess is at home."
"What are you going to do?"
She shrugs. "Right now, he's having a worse day than I am, so I will be there for him and I will support him, and I will make him feel better. Tomorrow, he will be there for me. And we'll get it worked out."
Gibbs nods. "Jimmy?"
She shrugs. "I have already accepted his apology. We're not doing carpentry this week for bootcamp, though."
Gibbs nods at that, too. "Okay. Not going to the house today. I'll have my cell on, and I'll head over to NCIS later. You want me, you track me down, okay?"
She stands up to go, and he does too, hugging her close for a moment, kissing the top of her head.