The front door was unlocked as usual and the main rooms of the house were, as always, deserted as she passed through them. Finding out about Shannon and Kelly had answered a lot of questions Jenny had often pondered about why Jethro spent so much time in his basement. The house held too many memories, she assumed.
She stepped onto the familiar staircase, expecting to find him hard at work on his boat; or seated on a stool, drink in hand, mind elsewhere. She found neither. The basement was as empty as the rest of the house.
With a small frown, Jenny turned and headed through the kitchen towards the only other place she could think he might be. Stepping out into the back yard, she saw him perched on the side of a flower bed, his back to her. She smiled, and her eyes watered with relief, to see him safe and alive.
“Gardening?” she asked in a light tone, as she slowly walked through his garden, unsure as to how he would react to her intrusion.
His head turned only slightly in her direction, but long enough for her to notice his tight set jaw.
“Director,” he greeted her, tersely.
She inwardly cringed at his abrupt use of her title, but at least she knew now of his attitude towards her presence.
She stopped when she could see his profile. “No,” she stated, “‘Jenny’. I’m not here in a professional capacity, Jethro.”
He glanced up at her, and she caught his eyes with hers before he could look away again.
She offered him a small smile and, softly, but pointedly, added, “This is personal.”
His eyes twitched briefly as if he were deciding whether or not to open up to her. There was a deep sadness in them that broke Jenny’s heart. She had seen it before on many occasions. Years ago, when she had no idea what she was seeing, she put it down to heartache from his broken marriages. Recent years had revealed to her the devastating real cause of his pain but, in all the time since, they had never talked about it. Talking about feelings wasn’t something Jethro did.
She managed to hold onto his gaze a second longer, but then he looked away, focussing his attention on his hands as he dusted soil from them.
Her heart breaking a little more, Jenny sat down beside him and mirrored his pose, pursing her hands together in front of her, looking at the ground.
“You don’t have to do these things alone, you know,” she told him quietly.
“I didn’t,” he responded simply.
She nodded to herself that that was in fact true. “To a point,” she responded, tilting her head to look at his profile. “You should have told me what you were doing.”
“It wasn’t something NCIS – ”
“No, Jethro,” she interrupted him softly, “You could have told me.”
He was silent for a few seconds and Jenny watched the tiny movements of the muscles in his face as his mind worked on whatever it was he was thinking about. She longed to wrap her arms around him and show him, assure him, that he didn’t have to deal with everything alone. She could only imagine the pain that he felt, but her imaginings were bad enough; the thought that he was suffering even worse brought a lump to her throat and left her feeling absolutely helpless.
Eventually his head turned slightly and his eyes sought hers. “I wouldn’t put you in that position,” he stated solemnly.
“Jethro, I would willingly be in any pos – ” She stopped when she realised the possible interpretation of what she was saying, and with a blush rising on her cheeks she glanced away.
“That’s good to know, Jen,” he retorted and she could hear the smirk in his voice.
Turning back to him she smiled to show her amusement at his comment, relieved that he was relaxing a little with her. They shared a smile for a moment but he broke the contact, returning his gaze to his hands. She was trying to decide what to say next when he spoke instead.
“She was Kelly’s best friend…”
She swallowed hard, overwhelmed by the fact that he was actually sharing this with her.
“… They were always here giggling and looking mischievous.”
He smiled fondly, and, with tears now in her eyes, she smiled with him.
“Maddie told me they buried a time capsule in here,” he said, indicating the flower bed on which they were perched.
“Ah. You digging it up?” she asked tenderly.
“Nope,” he said, looking behind him, “Reburying it.”
“You couldn’t look?” The words caught in her throat, coming out in quiet croaks.
He moved his eyes back to hers. “I’m sure they intended it be buried longer than this.”
She nodded and offered a small, sympathetic smile. Another silence descended as he once again continued to hold her gaze; looking deeply into her eyes as if he was trying to read her thoughts. It was something he did frequently at intense moments, and she always wondered what ran through his mind at the time: She never could tell.
“I miss her, Jen,” he said minutes later, his voice barely above a whisper.
She reached out her hand and took hold of one of his. “Tell me about her?”
He gave a sad laugh, “You don’t – ”
She squeezed his hand, “Jethro, talk to me.”
“I’ve a lot to talk about,” he said with a small, sad smile.
She offered a friendly, reassuring smile in return. “I’ve a lot of time to listen.”
He gave a small nod and turned his hand over in hers as his eyes looked back at the resettled soil. She hoped he was deciding where to start, and just sat in silence, keeping hold of his hand, and willing to wait as long as he needed.
We've got a rock and a rock 'til our dying day
I'm holding onto you holding onto me
Maybe it's all we got but it's all I need
You're all I need