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The Bomb

Chapter Text

Saturday morning, Bishop and Gibbs loaded up her truck with their suitcases, and began the drive back to D.C. After an uneventful day of driving, they arrived at a motel in Tennessee that evening. While Bishop went to get them a room, Gibbs called to check in with the team in D.C. They had finished orchestrating the bone marrow transplant, and were just finishing up the paperwork. No new cases had come in yet. As Gibbs hung up, he saw Bishop walking back to the car, and immediately noticed something was off. "What is it?" he asked. "Did they not have a room?"

"No, I got us a room," she replied. "But the only room they had left only has one bed in it."

Gibbs merely nodded his head, and they both grabbed their bags and headed to their room. Bishop opened the door and they walked in. Seeing the size of the bed, Bishop said, "I can sleep on the floor, it's just for one night."

"Of course not."

"Gibbs, I'm not letting you sleep on the floor. This is all my fault. You wouldn't even be here right now if it weren't for me and my problems. I'm not going to let you sleep on the floor."

"That's not what I was saying. The bed's big enough for two. I won't encroach on your side."

"It's not you I'm worried about. I tend to move around a lot when I sleep. At least …" Here she broke off for a second before taking a deep breath and continuing. "That's what Jake told me."

"We'll be fine," responded Gibbs, before setting his bag down and sitting down on one side of the bed.

Later that night, Bishop changed into her sleeping clothes and crawled into bed before turning the light out. Gibbs was already laying on his side of the bed, eyes closed, on his back, on top of the covers, lying stiff as a board.

When Bishop woke up the next morning, she found herself curled up next to someone. For a moment she thought she was back in her old apartment with Jake, but then she remembered that she was on her way back from Oklahoma, and the man she was curled up next to was most certainly not her cheating husband Jake, but rather her much more imposing boss, Leroy Jethro Gibbs. She quickly rolled back onto her side of the bed, hoping and praying that he was still asleep and didn't know that she had been curled up next to him. After a few minutes, she looked at her phone, and saw that it was already 0700, so she quietly got out of bed and headed to the bathroom to change. When she came back out a few minutes later, she saw that Gibbs was still in the same exact same spot he'd been when she went to bed last night and when she had woken up this morning, only his eyes were now open and he was looking at her as she walked out of the bathroom.

"Sleep well?" he asked her.

"I did," she replied, still wondering if he knew she had been curled up next to him. "How can you sleep like that? You look like you haven't moved an inch all night, and that doesn't look particularly comfortable."

"You learn how to sleep anywhere," he replied, getting up and heading to the bathroom. Bishop assumed he was referring to his time in the Marines. After Gibbs came back into the room, they headed to the hotel's breakfast before they started the second half of their trip back to D.C. Before he went in to the dining area, Gibbs stopped to check in with the team in D.C. to see if they had picked up a case yet. When he walked into the dinning area, he saw Bishop already halfway through a large plate of food, and couldn't help but smile to himself as he started to get his own food. Even though she was the smallest member of his team, she ate more than most of his team combined, and by the time Gibbs had finished his plate of food, Bishop had already finished two more plates of food. "Any new cases?" she had asked as he'd sat down.

"No one dead, but Vance has them running background on a defense contractor that may have ties to terrorists in the Middle East. Its a long shot, but since there are no active cases, it'll keep them busy. And hopefully keep DiNozzo from goofing off too much."

After they finished eating, they headed back on the road. When they got back to D.C. that evening, Bishop dropped Gibbs off at his house before heading to the new apartment she had rented.

The following morning Bishop returned to work, where they quickly got a case involving a dead Marine in an alley that put an end to her coworkers' attempts to determine if she was still with Jake or not. Later that day Jake dropped by NCIS to force Bishop to talk to him, during which she officially ended things between them, leaving a visibly upset Jake standing in the garage as she went back to work.

A few days later they had successfully apprehended the murderer, and found Ducky's long-lost younger brother as well. The next case they got turned out not to be quite so open and shut as they first thought, but Bishop, Gibbs and the rest of the team were soon back into the normal routine, and little was said in the office about Bishop's recent breakup. Even less was said about Jake himself, but everyone clearly still felt animosity towards him.

One morning, about a week before Christmas, Bishop was woken early by a soft noise outside her door. She grabbed her gun and peaked through the security hole. Seeing no one, she cautiously opened the door, and saw a square package about a foot and a half tall sitting in front of her door. She pulled out her knife, and carefully opened the package, taking care not to touch the package or make any sudden movements. Finally opening the top, she saw a mess of wires leading to what looked far too much like a timer, but without any numbers showing.

She instantly leaped into NCIS Special Agent mode, and rushed to pull the fire alarm to get everyone out of the building. Making sure everyone was heading outside, she called Gibbs to tell him what was going on. As she continued to herd people down the stairs, Bishop hung up with Gibbs, who said he would let the NCIS bomb squad know. Knowing it was a risky move, she grabbed the bomb and entered her apartment. Hoping to keep the blast as small as possible, she quickly stuffed it into her nearly empty fridge, and then shoved the kitchen table up against the refrigerator door. Grabbing her work bag, she headed back out into the hall. Making sure everyone else was in front of her, she headed towards the stairs herself. Exiting the exterior stairwell, she saw Gibbs' truck squealing into the parking lot. As Gibbs opened his door, Bishop was suddenly thrown into the parking lot by a deafening explosion. Her ears still ringing from the blast, she saw Gibbs rushing towards her.

"I'm fine, I'm fine," she gasped, trying to catch her breath. "Make sure everyone else is okay," waving in the general direction of the explosion. At the same time, the fire department and the NCIS bomb squad pulled in, quickly followed by a dark blue Charger, driven by their teammate Ziva, who barely avoided hitting a fire truck before screeching to a stop a few feet away from where Bishop lay on the ground. Tony and Ziva instantly popped out, slowly followed by a slightly sick looking McGee.

Assured that his youngest agent was okay, Gibbs quickly began barking orders to his three senior agents. By the time Bishop had been released by the fire medic, Gibbs had returned to check on how she was doing.

"I'm fine," she said before he could ask. "Just a few scrapes from being thrown onto the pavement. How is everyone else?"

"As far as we know everyone made it out safely. You appear to have been the last one out, and the only one close enough to have been thrown by the explosion. Fire department's checking all the rooms, and bomb squad's gathering what they can of the bomb."

"I'll start canvassing my neighbors, see if anyone saw anything," said Bishop, getting up to walk away. But before she could take a step, she felt a firm hand grab her arm. "DiNozzo, Ziva and McGee've got that covered. I want to know exactly what happened," Gibbs said, pulling her over to the side.

When she finished telling Gibbs her story, he had a stern look on his face. "You shouldn't have wasted time putting the bomb in the fridge! It could have gone off at any moment, or had some kind of motion trigger! You just barely got out in time!"

But before he could continue, the bomb squad leader came over to them. "Did you by any chance put the bomb in the refrigerator? I'm guessing by the look on Agent Gibbs face you did."

"Yes sir," Bishop replied, guiltily.

"Well, it was an extremely reckless and dangerous thing to do, but since I'm guessing Agent Gibbs has already told you that, I just want to say that it probably saved several people's lives. The fridge contained the explosion surprisingly well. It still did a lot of damage, as I'm sure you can tell, but it would have been much worse if it had gone off in the open. As it is, merely the shock wave traveled through the building. Other than your apartment, which is mostly destroyed, the rest of the building survived pretty well, and the fire department was able to quickly put out the fires. Your quick thinking saved the majority of the building, and possibly several people's lives from flying debris."

Bishop nodded as the bomb chief walked away. Waiting for Gibbs to say something, she was thankful to see her teammates walking towards. It would be a while before she would have to hear the rest of Gibbs' remonstration.

"We talked to everyone, boss. No one saw a thing," said DiNozzo as they walked up.

"Are you okay, Bishop?" asked the other female on the team, sparing Tony a quick glare for his insensitivity for not checking on how his teammate was doing.

"Yeah, I'm fine," Bishop quickly assured them, before asking, "Have you checked the security footage to see if they were caught on any of the cameras?"

"Not yet. We haven't been given clearance by the fire marshal or bomb squad leader to enter the building yet," replied McGee.

"McGee, when they give us clearance, get the security footage. DiNozzo, Ziva, with me to check out the crime scene. Bishop—"

"I'm fine, Gibbs. Really. I can work."

"All right then, crime scene with us."

After Bishop hurriedly put her computer bag in the Charger, she followed the rest of the team up to her apartment; or at least what was left of it. She caught up to them standing in the hallway outside of where her front door used to be, where she'd first found the package.

Thirty minutes later, they left the crime scene to see if McGee had found anything on the security footage. Bishop's apartment had yielded few clues, as the bomb had destroyed almost everything, and the package had merely been dropped off outside her apartment, not in it. They had sent all the bomb fragments they could find back to Abby, hoping she could ID the bomb, and maybe the bomb maker. Finding McGee in the security room, he had little to offer, either.

"All the security cameras are on the front of the building, and our bomb planter clearly didn't come in that way. The card reader on the back stairwell registered a card right before Bishop heard someone outside her room, but no name, and there's no cameras on that side to see who it was."

A little while later, they made their way back into the Big Orange Room. "What do we have?" ordered Gibbs.

"Well, the assumed target is Bishop, but we are looking into the rest of the occupants to see if one of them could have possibly been the target," started Tony.

"Abby is determining the blast radius of the bomb to determine who else could have been killed from it's original location, along with who made the bomb," chimed in McGee.

"We are looking for any other cameras in the area that could get an ID on our bomber," continued Ziva.

"And I assume someone needs to interview the suspected target to find out about any potential enemies. And no, I don't know anyone off the top of my head who would want to blow me up," finished Bishop.

"Ziva, interview Bishop. DiNozzo, bring in Jake."

"Conference Room or Interrogation, boss? And I know they just got divorced, but do you really think he could have done it?"

"Conference Room. He's not a suspect yet, but I still want to talk to him."

"Anyway," Ziva chimed in, "don't you always suspect the spouse, Tony?"

"Yeah, but... It's Jake. Doesn't exactly seem like the killing type."

"Go," came Gibbs' voice, putting an end to their discussion.

A few minutes later Ziva and Bishop sat down in the conference room. "All right, so, do you have any enemies that you know of?" asked Ziva.

"None that would bomb me. Jake took it rough when I told him it was over, but I could hardly believe he would want to kill me, and especially that he would plant a bomb. He's not exactly a field agent, and I'm not sure how he would even know how to get his hands on a bomb.

"Other than that, the only enemies I could think of would be suspects we've put away at NCIS. Or perhaps NSA, but that's been several years since I was a field agent."

"What about the girl Jake cheated on you with?"

"Taylor Matthews? She's just Internal Affairs. She'd be less likely to know how to get a bomb than Jake would. And anyway, I'm not sure why she'd want to kill me. I'm done with Jake, he's all hers if she wants him."

Down in the Bullpen, McGee was still looking through traffic cam footage when Ziva and Bishop came back down.

"Well, no obvious enemies. Tony would normally suspect the spouse, and then there's always the mistress. But neither of them seem to have knowledge or willpower to pull it off, which leaves a long list of criminals she's helped put away," said Ziva as they walked up.

"Pull up all case files we've worked on since Bishop joined the team involving bombs and bomb makers, and reach out to the NSA get any files from bomb makers she worked on over there."

"On it boss. Still no traffic cam footage of our bomber."

From up above them they heard the Director's voice. "Gibbs. If you've got a minute."

"I'll be right up," Gibbs said up to the Director, before refocusing on his team. "Ziva, get copies of those case files to Ducky to see if he thinks any of them might go this far for revenge, and make a list of suspects and accomplices who are currently out of jail. Bishop, look through Jake and Taylor's financials to see if anything stands out. And make sure Jake never see's Bishop!" he finished as he started up the stairs.

"I'll go check in with Abby, and work from my laptop down there," said Bishop as she headed towards the elevator.

Gibbs entered Vance's office, and closed the door behind him. "I heard you were bringing Bishop's ex-husband in."

"Standard protocol. Talk to the family, see if they know anything," Gibbs replied.

"As a grieving ex-husband, or a suspect?"

"Both," replied Gibbs with a slight tilt of his head. "It's too early to tell if he had anything to do with the bombing, but I still want to talk to him."

"Of course. And the girl he was sleeping with?"

"I'll have DiNozzo go talk to her while I'm talking to Jake."

Vance nodded his head. "Well, that's not really why I called you up here. One of our own was targeted by a bomb. Protocol is to put her in protective custody. Are you going to?"

"Maybe. Or she could just stay at another agent's place for a while."


"I don't know. I'm sure someone will volunteer. They all seem to like her."

"And if not?" questioned Vance.

"Have you met Bishop? She's not going into protective custody. She'll want to be out there where the action is. Hell, it's part of what broke up her marriage."

"This is serious, Gibbs. One of our own was nearly killed."

"I know, Leon. It's a risk of the job. But Bishop is not going to quit doing her job just because she was nearly blown up, and nor should she. The safest place for her to be is with her team, finding out who did this." Gibbs paused for a moment. When Vance didn't say anything, he continued, "Are we done here? I have an ex-husband to go interview."

"I will let her stay out of protective custody on one condition. On the job she is always with at least one other agent, and outside of work, she stays with you."

Gibbs started to open his mouth to protest, but at Vance's look he sighed and shrugged his shoulders in defeat, before heading out the door. Walking down the hall, Gibbs came up to DiNozzo standing outside the conference room. "Jake's inside, boss, but he's not too happy I wouldn't tell him what's going on."

"I'll take it from here. Go talk to his new girlfriend."

"Yes sir," replied Tony, and headed towards the elevator. Gibbs turned the handle to the conference room, and walked in.

"Agent Gibbs," said Jake, standing up to shake hands with Gibbs. "What is going on? Did something happen to Ellie?"

"Please, sit down," replied Gibbs, ignoring the outstretched hand, and walking over to the other side of the table and sitting down. Once Jake had sat down again, Gibbs began. "Someone put a bomb outside Bishop's apartment this morning. Fortunately, she wasn't there when it went off, and it wasn't powerful enough to hurt anyone else in the building. Do you know of any enemies she might have that would want to do this to her?"

"A bomb? That's terrible! And, uh, no. I, uh… I don't know anyone who would want to bomb her. I mean, everybody I know is from before she started working at NCIS. At the NSA she was just an analyst. Big picture kind of things. She wasn't close enough to any suspects for them to seek revenge on her."

"So you think it was someone from one of her cases here?"

"Who else would it be? She's been practically married to her work since she joined NCIS."

"Ever heard of a guy named Benham Parsa?"

"No. Is he a bomb maker?"

"Bishop's been put into protective custody until we've determined who wants her dead. She'll be safe," finished Gibbs, getting up and walking out the door, informing the agent on the outside of the door that he could escort Jake out of the building. Gibbs headed back down to the Bullpen to get an update from his team. "Sit-rep" he ordered.

McGee started. "I finally found an unmarked van going towards the apartment complex just before the bombing and leaving right after it. BOLO's out, but don't have a license plate yet."

"Still compiling a list of bomb suspects, nothing stands out yet. Bishop is down with Abby running Jake and Taylor's financials. Tony is out talking to Taylor. Find out anything from the ex-husband?"

"Only that he blames us for putting Bishop in danger, and that they weren't talking since long before she left the NSA. Bishop apparently never told him about her field agent days tracking down Benham Parsa."

"Abby called. She said she has something," said McGee.

Gibbs stepped out of the elevator to be greeted by an ever enthusiastic Abby, loud music, and Bishop sitting on the lab floor with her papers and snacks spread all about her. "What have you got, Abbs?" Gibbs shouted. Seconds later, the music shut off. Handing Abby the Caf-Pow he was holding, Gibbs walked over to Abby's computer.

"So I was trying to reconstruct the bomb fragments, and I noticed something interesting. Most homemade bombs have some kind of fertilizer as the basic ingredient. But I haven't found any traces. In fact, I haven't found any traces of anything. It's like all the fuel was completely burned up."

"Military-grade bomb?"

"With the amount of destruction it caused, it would have to be a fairly small one, but that's all I can think of, unless someone really knows their chemistry. I still haven't pieced enough together to make an ID."

"Thank you, Abbs," responded Gibbs, giving her a quick peck in the cheek. Turning to his youngest agent, he asked, "Have you found anything in either of their financials?" As Bishop continued to pay no attention to him, he realized she had her headphones in, and didn't know he was there. He tossed the couple of candy bars he had for her down in front of her, startling her. She quickly pulled her earphones out of her ears and looked up at her boss with a smile. "Hi Gibbs!"

"Find anything yet?"

"Other than the fact he's spent a lot more money on her than he had on me in a long time, nothing useful. Only deposits are his normal ones from the NSA. He's bought her more jewelry in six weeks than he had for me in a couple years and they've already taken a trip to Vermont, but everything I've looked through seems normal. And I've just started looking through her's, but nothing yet."

"Keep looking. And Jake should be gone by now, if you want to come back upstairs."

Thirty minutes later, the three younger agents were quietly working when they heard DiNozzo exiting the elevator, and saw Gibbs approaching from the opposite direction. "Update" came the voice of their boss.

Grabbing the remote, Tony pulled up the driver's license of Matthews. "Taylor Matthews, thirty-three years old, born in Summit, New Jersey. She's lived in D.C. and worked for NSA Internal Affairs for ten years. According to her, first started talking to Jake at an NSA meeting about a year ago, and first slept with him in Dubai. She's a complete bitch, but has an alibi for this morning; she was in an all night NSA Internal Affairs meeting. Apparently there's a leak selling intel to the Palestinians. She certainly wasn't upset about Bishop nearly being blown up, but I don't think she had anything to do with it. And I quote, 'there's no reason for me to try to kill that Bishop girl, Jake has clearly preferred me for a long time, and honestly, who wouldn't'."

"And she knew you work with Bishop?" asked Ziva.

"Depends on how much Jake has told her. She knew I was NCIS, but I don't know how much she knows about what Bishop does."

"Found anything about her, Bishop?" asked Gibbs.

"Nothing interesting, boss. She seems to spend very little for as much as she makes, and apparently is living with Jake now, since she no longer has an apartment rent. But nothing to indicate that she hired anyone to bomb me."

Chapter Text

Later that evening, as everyone was getting ready to go home, Ziva asked the question that had been on everyone's mind all day: "Where are you staying tonight, Bishop?"

Before Bishop could answer, Gibbs said, "It has to be with an agent. In exchange for not putting you in protective custody, I promised Vance you would always have an agent with you."

"Well I would definitely offer my place," said DiNozzo, "but I don't think my current houseguest would be too happy with another girl staying in my apartment."

As Ziva glared at Tony, McGee said, "Delilah and I would be happy to let you stay with us, Ellie. Our apartment's a little cramped, but we'll make room."

Bishop glanced over at Gibbs.

"It's entirely up to you, Bishop, who you want to stay with; Tiva or McLilah." "Or I've got a whole house with no one in it," he added as a seeming afterthought, after he had turned back towards his desk.

Bishop stared at his back for a few seconds as he shuffled some papers around on his desk.

"You've been planning on me staying with you this whole time, haven't you?" accused Bishop.

"Director Vance might have insisted you stay with me in exchange for not putting you under protective custody," he replied. "Oh, and one of us has to be with you anytime you're outside this building," he finished, walking towards the elevator.

After a second of surprise, Bishop grabbed her bag and hurried after him before the elevator door closed.

Once in the elevator, Bishop turned towards her new host. "You know, if I'm going to live at your house, I'm going to need some real food. You know, food with some actual food in it, not TV dinners."

"Get whatever you want, there's plenty of room in the fridge. I do have a steak in fridge now to go along with those three TV dinners."

"You still have the same three TV dinners from when I was over there two weeks ago?" Bishop asked with disbelief.

"They've probably been in there a year. I never eat them."

"Then why do you have them? Never mind, I'll stop by the grocery store on my way to your house. Do you want me to get you anything?"

"You're not allowed out of a fellow agent's sight, remember? That includes driving."

"What, so you're going to drive me to and from work every day? You know, this whole having to be with somebody is going to get real annoying real quick. And just how far does the 'never allowed out of sight' rule go?"

"Only when you're outside NCIS or my house, until I can convince Vance this is unnecessary. We'll stop by the store on the way home, and you can get whatever you want."

Gibbs soon pulled his truck into the grocery store parking lot, and found a parking spot. As Gibbs removed his seatbelt, Bishop saw him put on his gun holster before donning his coat. Bishop followed his lead, even though she doubted anyone would try to kill her in the grocery store. As they walked into the store, Bishop grabbed a cart and began going through the store, with Gibbs casually strolling behind her, keeping a constant eye on everyone around them. Fifteen minutes later, Bishop had the shopping cart filled with more food than Gibbs reckoned he normally ate in a month. "How long are you expecting it to take us to catch whoever's trying to kill you? You've got enough food for a month."

"Oh, it should be enough for at least three or four days," she replied with a smile. "Any way, I'm not the only one who needs to eat. I'm not letting you live on takeout while I'm staying with you."

By this time they had made it to the checkout line. "Hi, Agent Gibbs," said the cashier. "Is this your daughter?"

"No, this is Agent Bishop, the newest member of the team," Gibbs replied, stepping in front of Bishop to talk to the cashier while she unloaded the groceries onto the conveyor belt. "Her car is in the shop for a couple days, and I got the short straw as transport until her car is fixed."

"You? I thought you could just pull rank, assign it one of your team members."

"I could, but I occasionally like to appear human. They seem to work harder when I act nice from time to time."

They both shared a chuckle, as Bishop finished unloading the last of her groceries. Gibbs had insisted he didn't need anything, but Bishop had put a few steaks and other things into the cart that she thought he would like. Bishop pushed the cart to the end of the checkout line and moved towards the card reader to pay, but was blocked by her boss who was standing there. She looked up to ask him to move, but before she could, he took out his own card and swiped it. "Gibbs," she said, "You don't have to do that."

He just waved his hand and said, "Its fine," before starting to load the bags back into the cart.

Once they got everything loaded into Gibbs' truck and were back on their way to his house, Bishop said, "Thank you for that, but you really didn't have to."

"What kind of host would I be if I didn't provide food for my guest. Anyway, I have to make up for not having any food the last time you came over. I can't have you dragging me out to the diner in the middle of the night because there isn't any food in the house."

At this, Bishop just chuckled and shook her head.

A few minutes later she spoke again. "I'm assuming the story about my truck being broke down is because you don't want anyone knowing I'm staying with you?"

"It wouldn't be a very good protective custody if they did."

Soon, they arrived at Gibbs' house. After taking all the groceries inside, and locking the front door, Gibbs gave her a short tour of his house. Downstairs were the living room, dining room and the bedroom Gibbs and Shannon had slept in. Upstairs were Kelly's bedroom and the guest bedroom Bishop would be staying in.

Bishop set her go-bag in her room before following Gibbs back downstairs, making a mental note to ask Gibbs to let her go clothes shopping that weekend to replace the clothes in her apartment that were now ash. She had enough clothes in her go-bag for the following day at work, but by the weekend she would be in need of new clothes.

When she got back downstairs, she found Gibbs putting the groceries up in what seemed to her to be a very specific order. She stood in the doorway watching him put everything up like he knew where everything was supposed to go. He turned and saw her standing there. "Oh, sorry, I suppose I should have let you put everything up, since you're the one who'll be eating it. Old habits."

"That's fine," she replied. "I'll figure out where everything is."

They finished putting away the groceries, and then Bishop began making supper. After a pleasant, but quiet, supper, Gibbs headed down to the basement to work on his latest boat, while Bishop sat on the stairs watching him. Later that night, they bid each other goodnight and Bishop headed upstairs to her bedroom while Gibbs headed to the couch.

The following morning, Gibbs woke up to the smell of breakfast cooking in the kitchen.

"Are you expecting guests?" he asked as he saw how much food she was making. "Or is this just for you, and I have to make my own breakfast," he added with a smile.

"I think there's enough here for you to have some," she replied jokingly, taking out two plates and silverware and putting them on the table. A few minutes later they sat down to eat what Bishop was sure was far more than Gibbs ate for breakfast in a typical week.

"How did you sleep?" he asked, once they had started eating.

"Oh, okay, I guess. I suppose having your apartment blown up can make it a little tough to sleep."

"It'll take some time."

She wondered if he was talking about when he'd got shot (well, the most recent time, anyway), but she didn't press him.

They continued their breakfast in silence for a while before Bishop finally broke the silence. "Gibbs, most of my clothes were in my apartment when it blew up. I have enough clothes in my go-bag to last for a while, but unless I'm going to be wearing the same three sets of clothes for the next couple weeks, I'm kind of going to need to get some new clothes soon. So, I was wondering if maybe you could let Ziva take over protective detail for a few hours this weekend, so that I could go shopping. If we don't have an active case, of course," she added.

"Too embarrassed to be seen with me? Don't trust my sense of fashion?"

"What?! No! I just…I figured you wouldn't want to go. Most guys aren't usually very interested in shopping for clothes. Jake never went shopping with me; I would either go by myself, or with some of the girls from NSA." She paused a second before adding with a smile, "And always wearing a polo or Marine sweatshirt isn't exactly the pinnacle of fashion. Not that it doesn't look good on you, of course."

Gibbs chuckled, before replying, "I'll let the dig on my lack of fashion slide for the time being. As for who you go with, that's completely up to you. If you'd rather go with Ziva, that's fine. She's probably a little more up-to-date on the latest fashions and trends. Last time I had to pay much attention to clothes fashions was 1991."

"You would actually go clothes shopping with me?"

"I assumed I would have to since my place was so kindly offered by Vance to serve as your safe house. The explosion destroyed everything, so obviously you'd need new clothes," he said as he picked up his empty plate and walked into the kitchen. "Leave in 15 min," he called over his shoulder and he disappeared out of sight.

As she finished the rest of her breakfast, Bishop tried to figure out whether her boss was just being polite by offering to go shopping with her, or if he actually wanted to, but was too embarrassed to say so. As she cleaned up her plate and got ready to leave, she wondered if perhaps he really did want to go, that he missed being able to go with his own daughter so many years ago. She decided that unless something occurred to make her think that he'd rather not go, she would just go with him, and not bother Ziva, and whatever she might have planned with Tony for the weekend. I can always go with Ziva next time, she thought.

As they pulled into the NCIS parking lot, Gibbs got a call on his cellphone, so Bishop headed up to the Bullpen with Tony and Ziva, who had just arrived as well. They had not yet settled into their desks (or the desk space behind Ziva's desk as was Bishop's preferred working area) when Gibbs walked out of the elevator saying, "Grab your gear, dead Air Force pilot at USU."

"But, if its an Air Force pilot…," began Tony, before Gibbs cut him off.

"Used to be a Navy pilot, and AFOSI has their hands full right now, so they passed it on to us."

"What about looking for Bishop's bomber?" asked McGee.

"Do you have any new information to help us find whoever did it?"

"Well, no, boss, but—"

"Then we carry on doing our job. We will keep working on that case, and we will find whoever did it, but right now we have a dead pilot."

And with that, Gibbs headed to the elevator. His team scrambled behind him to grab their gear and make it to the elevator before the doors closed.

Late that afternoon the team were all in the bullpen working on the case they'd picked up that morning when a man in a suit approached Gibbs' desk. "Hi Agent Gibbs. I believe you're investigating the death of Air Force pilot Ray Trapp?"

"And you are?"

"Special Agent Fuller, CIA," the man responded holding out his hand. Gibbs ignored the outstretched hand and continued to look at the newcomer, who resumed talking after a moment. "Trapp was part of a joint Air Force - CIA operation based out of Michigan. If you want to find out who killed him, I would suggest starting there."

"If you think his CIA operation got him killed, then why didn't the CIA take this investigation?"

"Because as everyone knows, the CIA doesn't operate on US soil. And because they were investigating a ring of terrorist bombers, and if I'm not mistaken, one of your own was recently targeted by a professional bomber. Is there somewhere we could talk in private?" As Gibbs and Agent Fuller headed towards the conference room, the four agents looked up at each in surprise before returning to their work. Fifteen minutes later Gibbs returned. "Get two tickets on the earliest flight to Detroit tomorrow morning," he said to McGee.

"We going to Michigan, boss?" asked DiNozzo.

"Not we, DiNozzo, Bishop and I. The CIA insists I lead the investigation in Michigan, and in case you forgot, Vance won't let Bishop stay with anyone else. The three of you will run the investigation here, along with anything you find on the Bishop case. And talk to Tripp's younger sister. She's an Air Force Lieutenant in med-school at USU. Sit-rep, and then we'll pick things up tomorrow."

Once they had each gone over what they had found out about their dead pilot, Tony, Ziva and McGee headed out while Gibbs went up to talk to the Director, and Bishop waited for Gibbs to return. A few minutes later he returned. As they rode the elevator down to the parking lot, Gibbs said, "I think your shopping trip with Ziva is going to have to be postponed for a while. I'm afraid you're going to have to put up with me tonight in order to get clothes for Michigan. On the plus side, NCIS is covering it since it is a work trip."

"Is that what you up talking with the Director about?"

"No, that was to inform him we were going to Michigan for a few days. The Director doesn't care about travel expenses. That's just for Fred to complain about after the fact." They both chuckled at the picture of Fred confronting Gibbs for the thousandth time about his "excessive" use of NCIS budgetary resources.

As they walked out into the parking lot, Gibbs handed her the keys to his truck and said, "Wherever you'd like to go."

"You're letting me drive your truck?" she asked in disbelief.

Gibbs just shrugged his shoulders as he opened the passenger door. "It doesn't always like shifting into second when it's cold out. You have to make sure the clutch is all the way on the ground, and then pull it real hard."

Soon they arrived at the mall, and Bishop led the way into the first store. "So how long is this trip going to take?"

"It'll probably only be two or three days, but accounting doesn't know that. Get at least a week's worth. You'll need clothes for when you get back, too."

She rolled her eyes, but proceeded to start looking through the clothes. As she went from rack to rack, Gibbs followed her around, always trailing her by about ten feet, and just standing there, looking around. Bishop knew everyone else in the store was wondering what he was doing, so after a while she turned to him and said, "You know, you can sit down on one of the benches if you'd prefer. You don't have to follow me around and watch me pick out clothes if you don't want to. I'm sure nobody is going to try to kill me while I'm shopping, and I am armed."

Gibbs merely shrugged his shoulders, and continued to stand where he was. As awkward as anyone else would be just standing there, Bishop thought to herself that he didn't seem the least bit bothered. Soon she went off to the fitting rooms to try on some things she'd found, and she returned to find him rummaging through some of the racks where she had left him.

As she reached him, he pulled something off the rack and held it out to her. She was surprised that he would even try to pick anything out, but even more surprised that it was not only fashionable, but she also liked it. She knew he had once been married (well, happily married once) and had had a daughter, but she never took him to be the kind that would be much interested in clothes, even back then. But since he had picked out something she liked, it came as little surprise to her that it was also the right size. She didn't know how he could tell what size she was, but as observant as he was on the job, it didn't surprise her. She looked up to say thank you, but she found he was already a few racks away, still going through the clothes.

Deciding to take his momentary distraction as an opportunity to get some clothes she'd rather get without him following her around, she said, "While you're looking through these, I'm going to go over there and get some things. I'll be right back." Gibbs just nodded his head without looking up.

When she returned a few minutes later, he said, as he handed her three more outfits, "I was going to let you get those by yourself anyway. You didn't have to get them while you thought I was distracted."

"Oh, sorry," she mumbled to herself, as she took the clothes he was handing her. Soon she had found everything she needed (and a bit more at Gibbs' insistence), and they headed home, picking up a pizza on the way to eat for supper.

Chapter Text

The next morning they headed to the airport before it was light to catch the flight McGee had booked for them. As they boarded the plane and found their first class seats, Bishop sat down cross-legged and pulled out her Mac. Gibbs, who was used to his youngest agent sitting cross-legged on the desks behind Ziva's desk, was nonetheless amazed to see that she was able to do so in an airplane seat, first class though it may be.

Soon the stewardess came by to ask if they'd like anything to drink or snack on while the rest of the passengers were boarding. Gibbs replied, "I'll just have a water, but I'm sure she'll have some of every snack you've got," pointing at Bishop. The stewardess chuckled as she smiled at Bishop and said, "Hungry? Don't forget we will be serving breakfast once we get into the air."

"I'm sure I won't have a problem eating breakfast as well," she smiled back. "And I'll have a Coke and a water."

The stewardess soon returned with their drinks, and then came back with a basket full of snacks. "Most people don't take very many snacks, so I'm sure nobody will mind," she said quietly as she handed Bishop the basket of snacks.

An hour later they had taken off and reached cruising altitude, and the stewardess returned with breakfast. A few minutes later she passed by again to refill their drinks, and was amazed to see that Bishop had already eaten half of her breakfast, while Gibbs, like most people, had just started. "You weren't kidding about being able to eat," she said with a chuckle.

"Eating helps me work," Bishop replied.

"I'm pretty sure she eats more than everyone else in the office combined," Gibbs said. "We have yet to figure out how she burns off all the calories and stays so skinny."

After breakfast Gibbs took a nap (or at least leaned back and closed his eyes, Bishop wasn't sure if he was actually asleep or not; she figured he probably wasn't), while Bishop continued to work on the case on her Mac. Towards the end of their hour and a half flight, Bishop reached over and nudged Gibbs.

"Yes?" he replied, not opening his eyes.

"Abby just sent me the results of the tox screen on our dead pilot. She said he was poisoned by a very specific toxin most commonly used by Palestinian terrorists. He was apparently poisoned several days ago, and would have died quite soon even if he hadn't been shot."

"Any explanation as to why he was in D.C.?" he asked, finally opening his eyes and looking at her.

"No, not yet. McGee and Ziva are running his phone and financials, but I haven't heard anything yet. And I don't know how much they'll help us anyway; I assume he's got multiple identities we don't know about."

"Well, that's why we're going to Michigan. And Agent Fuller did say they were tracking a Palestinian terrorist cell that specialized in untraceable bombs."

"Perhaps he found out something, so they poised him, and then he came to D.C. to tell someone, so they shot him before he had the chance to talk since the poison wasn't working fast enough."

"Have DiNozzo check with the Pentagon to see if he was planning on meeting with anyone there."

Not long after that they landed in Detroit. To Bishop's surprise, at the rental car place Gibbs walked up to a Mustang GT and got in. "First class and a Mustang? Isn't this a bit more than NCIS usually splurges for?"

"CIA's covering the car. Said we had to drive something respectable; they have a reputation to protect and we'd stick out like a sore thumb in a standard rental car. And he turned down my request for a 1964 Aston Martin DB5. But since NCIS didn't have to cover the car I took advantage of the situation to get first class seats. Plus, we have a protective custody budget use. Not that Fred will see it that way, of course," he added.

By this point they had made it out to the real roads, and Gibbs peeled out onto the highway doing a speed better measured in R than mph (a velocity measure, defined as a reasonable speed of travel that is consistent with health, mental wellbeing and not being more than say five minutes late. R is not a fixed velocity, but it is clearly far too fast). The normally hour and forty minute drive took considerably less time, and soon they arrived in Bridgeport, Michigan; amazingly without having been pulled over by the police.

Before heading to the CIA substation, they drove to the bed & breakfast where they would be staying to drop off their bags. When they got to the hotel, Bishop went inside to check-in while Gibbs called DiNozzo to find out what progress they had made. Bishop walked up to the counter and gave the attendant her name. The attendant told her, "You're in cabin 5-22, and the code for the door is 1-9-9-3. It's a lovely single cabin overlooking the river."

"Um, single cabin? It was supposed to be a double."

"Ah, yes, well you see, a power surge last night blew out the heaters in all the double cabins, so we've had to shift everyone around. I'm terribly sorry," the attendant replied.

Back outside, Bishop found Gibbs hanging up with DiNozzo. They walked down to their cabin, Bishop deciding to let her boss find out on his own that they were stuck with a single bed again. As they walked in, Gibbs barely glanced around before saying, "I'll take the couch," pointing to the couch in the living.

She had no idea how he knew there was only one bed in the bedroom when she couldn't even see into the bedroom from where she stood right behind him, but then again, this was Gibbs after all. Since he always slept on the sofa at his own house (had he really been sleeping on the sofa ever since his wife and daughter were killed?), she thought there was no reason to try to convince him otherwise. He might have taken the couch even if there was a second bedroom for all she knew.

After they dropped their bags off in the cabin, they headed over to meet the CIA team Trapp had been working with. While they were only given the big picture of the mission, Gibbs and Bishop learned that a CIA team working with Mossad had tracked a Palestinian terrorist group that specialized in bombs from Palestine to Michigan, where they were believed to be using Bronner's Christmas Wonderland as a front to plan and coordinate attacks on US soil. Trapp had stolen a microchip from Bronner's that was believed to contain the identities of some of the terrorists. But he had been seen, and rather than risk exposing the presence of the CIA group, he had decided to go to DC to give it to a contact there. Whether he had made contact before he was killed, or if not whether his killer(s) had found the chip, they didn't know.

"Did you know he was first poisoned by a Palestinian poison that would have killed him soon anyway?" Gibbs asked.

"No, but it wouldn't surprise us. They may have laced the microchip with poison so that if anyone did steal it they would be poisoned."

That night, as they sat in the living room of their cabin, Gibbs and Bishop filled in the rest of the team in D.C. with what they had learned. The D.C. team had a little to add, as well. McGee had found traffic cam footage of a vehicle driving away from the area soon after the time of death, and had a BOLO out on the vehicle. Tony had talked to the pilot's sister, and while she had suspected that her brother was more than just a pilot, all he had told her was that he was testing prototype aircraft. Ziva said that Abby had finally pieced together enough of the bomb fragments that if Gibbs and Bishop could get designs of the bombs used by the terror group she could see if the bomb meant to kill Bishop was from them. Then Gibbs told them to tell Ducky to look for a microchip somewhere on the pilot's body, along with giving them the Tripp's burn phone numbers to see if they could track down who his contact was that he was trying to give the chip to.

After they ended the call with the D.C. team, Bishop asked Gibbs how they were going to proceed. "Well, the first thing would be to go to Bronner's Christmas Wonderland. Get the general layout of their base of operation. Although we need to do so without arousing suspicion that federal agents are looking at the place."

"Well, it is Christmas. And we are staying in a one bedroom cabin. It might be time for some Christmas shopping. What vacationing Christmas couple doesn't need a tree?"

"Your suggestion is for me and you to go there, as a couple, doing Christmas shopping? Are you sure father/daughter wouldn't be a little more believable?"

"We don't look anything alike to be related, especially as closely as father/daughter. Plus, what if they were to grow suspicious and follow us back to here? Which would be more believable in a one bedroom cabin, couple or father/daughter? I know our age gap is a bit much, but I think it could still work," she replied.

"Are you still talking about our cover?"

At this Bishop blushed slightly. "Yes, our cover."

"Just checking. You did seem rather comfortable curled up next to me on the way back from Oklahoma."

Bishop blushed a much more noticeable shade of red. "Oh, you know that happened," she mumbled. "I was really hoping you were still asleep."

"It's fine. Not the first time something like that has happened. I'm sure you heard what happened when my second ex-wife came into town last year."

The following morning Bishop woke up early and quietly slipped into the kitchen. With the early morning light that had started to creep through the windows, she could dimly see Gibbs sleeping on the couch. As she looked out the window, she could see that a few inches of snow had blanketed the surroundings during the night. A noise behind her startled her for a second, and she turned around to see Gibbs getting up from the couch. She wondered how long she'd been staring out the window, because it was noticeably lighter in the room than when she'd come in. Bishop also noticed how sore and stiff Gibbs seemed to be, and realized that both nights she had spent at his house he had already gotten up before she saw him.

"Breakfast?" she asked.

"Of course. Can't let my probie starve to death. Think of what Tony would say if I returned and had to tell them that you had shriveled up a floated away because I didn't let you eat breakfast." Bishop chuckled and rolled her eyes. "Don't you want to change first, though?" Gibbs replied.

"Oh. Right. Yes. I'll be back in a second," she said, having forgotten that she was still in the clothes she slept in. A minute later she returned to the living room, and found that Gibbs had also changed into his normal work clothes. "No Marine Corp sweatshirt for breakfast?" she asked as they walked out the door.

After an uneventful breakfast, Gibbs and Bishop drove over to Frankenmuth to visit Bronner's Christmas Wonderland. As they got out of the car and started walking towards the store, Bishop wrapped her arm around Gibbs. "Are you still sure this is the best idea? Are you sure they won't suspect us just because we're pretending to be together?"

"Then stop pretending. You have three exes, you should have plenty of experience."

"Yes, but none of them were five years younger than my daughter would be right now if she was still alive."

"She's five years older than me, really? I mean, would be five years older. Sorry."

"You're fine."

"That would be awkward to have a stepdaughter five years older than me," she said quietly to herself. And then out-loud to Gibbs, "I'm terribly sorry. I shouldn't be talking about your daughter, I'm sure it's a sensitive subject. Sorry. I mean it."

"It's okay. But you are letting your fantasy of marrying me show through again, might want to be more careful."

"What! No! I don't have a secret fantasy of marrying you!"

At that moment Gibbs' phone ringed. "Gibbs." Dinozzo, he mouthed to Bishop.

"Hi boss, just checking in. How's it going in Michigan?"

"Well, Bishop somehow convinced me it was a good idea to do undercover research at the Christmas store as a couple on vacation looking for a Christmas tree. So I'm about to go looking for a Christmas tree with a girl five years younger than Kelly would be that I'm pretending to be dating, while really looking for Palestinian terrorists. So yeah, my day's going great."

"Right, well, we don't have anything new on this in yet, either, so we'll get back to work now. Have a fun time on your date." Click

"So what did he say?"

"He was just calling to see if we had any updates." He paused for a second and then continued. "You do realize Tony is going to bombard you with questions about how our 'date' went as soon as you get back to the office, right? Still sure this was the best idea?"

Screwing up her face pretending she was contemplating the options, Bishop replied, "Tony blowing an undercover fake date out of proportion, or coming up with a different plan…hmmm? Yeah, I think I'll take Tony blowing the date out of proportion. I've heard worse from him. The real question is whether to be so vague that he creates his own ideas about what happened and thinks I'm hiding something, or to come up with an incredibly detailed story that'll make him regret asking," she contemplated thoughtfully.

"Rule number seven."

"True, but the first one's not lying, it's just being so vague that he thinks there's something there when there's really not. And it could be really entertaining to see where Tony's mind goes on it's own."

"Can we just go?" interrupted Gibbs, walking towards the store. "I agreed to a fake Christmas shopping date with an NCIS Federal Agent, not to be part of your plans to feed DiNozzo's crazy ideas of what happens when I go on undercover missions with my twenty-seven year old probie. Rule twelve point five: No undercover dates between agents with a nearly forty year age gap."

"I'm kidding, I'm kidding," she placated. "Lets go," putting her arm around his again as they walked into the store. A few hours later they had completed their reconnaissance and left the store, with a miniature three foot tree in tow. Storing the tree in the trunk, they discussed the observations they had made as they drove back to the cabin.

Bishop woke up early again the next morning, and having nothing better to do, she walked into the kitchen, being careful not to wake Gibbs up. He was still lying on the couch, in a very uncomfortable looking position, and Bishop wondered how he could do that night after night and still be so alert when they all got to work in the morning. Then she remembered the five cups of coffee he drank every morning (ok, so maybe it wasn't quite that many — usually).

As she sat on the kitchen counter, legs tucked under her, thinking about this, she saw him stir. Even though he did a good job of not showing it, especially when he saw her sitting there watching him, she could tell that he was really stiff and sore. She had never really thought of him as being old before, but watching him get up from the couch reminded her that he had a few years on him. Bishop didn't say anything, but she made up her mind not to let him sleep on the couch again. Even if he insisted on sleeping on top of the covers, looking like a board, as he had on their way back from Oklahoma, it had to be better for him than sleeping on the couch. And this bed was noticeably wider than the one on the way back from Oklahoma, so maybe he'd relax a little (and hopefully she wouldn't move around as much).

After breakfast, they continued with their investigation, with little progress. They interviewed several friends and family members, but no one seemed to know anything except that he was an Air Force test pilot, and that he'd gone to DC to visit his sister for Christmas. As they drove to their afternoon meeting with the CIA, Bishop called DiNozzo to find out if the pilot's sister knew anything about the story that her brother was in DC to see her for Christmas.

"Well, if she did, she didn't mention it," replied Tony. "So most likely, no, but I'll ask about it tomorrow when I talk to her again."

That night, when they were getting ready for bed, Bishop walked into the living room, already changed. Gibbs was arranging the sheets on the couch.

"Gibbs," she began, "I'm not letting you sleep on the couch again. You've been way too sore and stiff both mornings after sleeping on that thing. I need an agent who can cover my back, and you'll be much better prepared to do that if you get a real night's sleep, instead of sleeping on that. We slept together on the way back from Oklahoma, and this bed is much bigger than that one was. So get in here."

She stood with her hands on her hips, looking as serious and threatening as she could. Gibbs had apparently seen that look enough times before that he didn't object, but just looked at her for a few seconds before walking around her into the bedroom.

When she turned around and walked back into the bedroom, surprised that he hadn't put up any fight, Gibbs had already laid down on top of the bed, on the side she didn't sleep on. She didn't know if it was just coincidence, or if he somehow could tell which side she slept on, but by this point she didn't question it. He was still lying flat on his back, but he didn't seem quite as rigid as he had been on the way back from Oklahoma, more relaxed somehow.

She flipped off the light, and got into the other side of the bed, falling asleep almost instantly.

Chapter Text

When she woke up in the morning, she was glad to see that she was still on her side of the bed, and not draped all over her boss. She realized that the reason she had awoken was because Gibbs was getting up, so she discreetly peaked over her shoulder. He certainly didn't seem to be as stiff as he had been the previous two mornings, even though he had apparently slept the same way he had on their previous trip, since the bedcover on his side remained untouched. Bishop rolled onto her back and lay there a few minutes before getting up and heading into the kitchen.

"Sleep better?" she asked him when she saw him standing in the kitchen, pouring a cup of coffee he had just made.

When he heard her, he shrugged noncommittally, and grabbed another coffee cup out of the cabinet, which after filling he turned around and handed to her.

"Thanks," she said, as she took a sip. He might not be willing to admit that he'd slept better, but she could tell.

They continued their investigation, but were making little progress. The CIA had had Bonner's under surveillance for months, and still couldn't prove anything was going on. Since their Air Force pilot/spy hadn't been killed in Bonner's, or even in Michigan, Gibbs was hesitant to upset their ongoing operation. The CIA team hadn't seen any of the suspected terrorists leave during the time Trapp was in D.C., so it didn't appear as if someone from the Michigan cell had killed him themselves. Bishop had gone over the store's financials, but couldn't find anything the CIA had missed.

With no more leads to follow in Michigan, Gibbs had decided to spend one more day before flying back on Christmas Eve. They would peruse Bonner's one more time, and try to get as accurate a picture as possible of Trapps last movements in Michigan before heading back to D.C.

That night, Gibbs casually moved towards the couch, but heard Bishop say "Nope" as she breezed by him on the way to the bedroom, so he reluctantly followed her.

It wasn't that he hadn't slept better in the bed than on the couch, he obviously had. But as much as Bishop might have been completely okay with sharing a bed with her boss, he was less comfortable with the arrangement. And in no small part to the fact that he actually didn't mind it. This way he could at least argue that he had tried to sleep on the couch, but she wouldn't let him.

While Bishop was in the bathroom changing, Gibbs got into the bed, under the covers this time. She had managed to stay on her side of the bed the previous night, and he knew he wouldn't roll onto her side of the bed.

As Bishop climbed into bed a few minutes later, she noticed the Gibbs had forgone his typical spot atop the covers, and was actually sleeping on his side under the covers tonight. It brought a smile to her face as she drifted off to sleep.

By the time Bishop woke up the following morning, Gibbs had already woken up and was in the kitchen making coffee. She looked to make sure she wasn't on his side of the bed, worried that she'd invaded his personal space, but found that she was still firmly on her half of the bed. She walked into the kitchen, and looking around found him sitting on the couch drinking coffee.

"I didn't curl up next to you again, did I?" she asked worriedly.

"Oh, no, you stayed on your side. I just woke up early and decided to go ahead and get up and make coffee. You were fine. Your cup's next to the coffee pot, I didn't know how long you'd be asleep, so I didn't pour you any."

Waking up Christmas Eve morning, Bishop realized how warm and comfortable she was waking up next to her boss. It had only been a few weeks since she'd found out that Jake had been cheating on her, and she knew the last thing she should be okay with was waking up next to someone she wasn't married to. And yet here she was, plainly enjoying it. It wasn't like they snuggling up together, they weren't even within two feet of physically touching each other, but there was still something nice about it, and that bothered her. Thinking about it, she realized that she was actually a little disappointed that they were heading home that morning, because it meant that there was no necessity for them to sleep in the same bed again. She quickly pushed this out of her mind, wondering what had gotten into her.

Several hours later, Gibbs and Bishop had made it back to D.C. Earlier that morning Gibbs had invited Ziva to take Bishop out shopping, so after a quick lunch at Gibbs' house, Bishop left with Ziva.

When Ziva asked Bishop where she wanted to go, Bishop told her that she had plenty of clothes from when she went shopping with Gibbs before leaving for Michigan, and that she really just wanted to do some Christmas shopping, since Christmas was the next day, and everything she'd gotten had blown up with the rest of her apartment.

While shopping with Gibbs had been surprisingly pleasant, it was nice not to have someone tailing her around the whole time. Both of them of course silently agreed not to tell Gibbs about how 'lax' Ziva's security protection had been, but both of them had their guns with them the whole time, and it's not like they were ever out of each other's site. They were both trained federal agents, constantly vigilant, and it was highly unlikely that their killer would attempt to kill her in such a public place.

A few hours later, Bishop had found everything she needed, and her and Ziva stopped off at a small Greek restaurant for supper before driving back to Gibbs' house. While eating supper, Ziva drilled her on the juicier bits of her trip to Michigan with the boss. Ziva had of course heard for Tony that Bishop and Gibbs had gone undercover as a couple, and wanted all of the details. Though Bishop had sworn to herself that she would never tell anyone that her and Gibbs had slept in the same bed, four times now, and had tried to push it completely out of her mind, she soon found herself telling the whole story to Ziva, who listened with rapt attention.

"So, are you going to keep it up?" asked Ziva when Bishop finished.

"What! No, of course not! Why would I do that? That's just—No. Definitely not," Bishop sputtered.

Ziva didn't say anything about it for the rest of supper, but she could feel her giving her looks, and her mind kept wandering back to her thoughts when she'd woken up that morning, along with Gibbs comment about her 'secret fantasy of marrying him'. But all that was just ridiculous. If anything, he was just a father to her; plenty old enough, for sure.

Walking in the door of Gibbs' house, she saw him sitting on the couch, watching Die Hard.

Christmas Eve, she thought to herself. What else would he be watching.

"Hi, Gibbs, I'm back."

"How did it go? Find any good clothes?"

"Oh, we didn't go clothes shopping," Bishop replied, as she sat down on the other side of the couch. "We just picked up a few Christmas gifts, and then got supper. Nice little Greek place."

"Oh, I thought you said you wanted to go clothes shopping with her. A fellow girl."

"No, you said I wanted to go clothes shopping with her. I never said that."

Gibbs just raised his eyebrow at her for a moment, before returning his attention to the tv.

An hour and a half later the movie ended, and Bishop took her purchases upstairs. Coming back downstairs, she saw Gibbs arranging his pillow on the couch. Standing in the doorway watching him, her thoughts from the last few days, along with her conversation with Ziva over supper, came flooding back into her brain.

One more night can't hurt anything, she thought. He'll feel better than sleeping on the couch, and it's not I'll really be sleeping next to him anyway, we stayed well separated in Michigan.

Finally making up her mind she cleared her throat to let him know she was there and said, "I don't know why you won't sleep in your bed, and it's none of my business. But I'm not going to let you sleep on the couch on Christmas Eve. We've slept together the past three nights, you can do it one more night. Anyway, how is Santa supposed to come if you're sleeping in the living room?" she finished with a smile.

He looked up at her, an unreadable look on his face.

"Come on, it's Christmas Eve. I'm not taking no for an answer." And with that, she turned around and headed back upstairs.

Gibbs stood there for a second, debating what to do. One one hand, he knew it was completely inappropriate. Rule twelve and general workplace rules about bosses not dating their employees and vice versa aside, he was more than old enough to be her dad, and it went against everything he knew.

On the other hand, he wasn't exactly opposed to sleeping in the same bed as her (he would never admit it, but it had felt slightly nice to wake up with someone curled up next to him; it had been a long time since he'd really enjoyed waking up next to someone; the ex-wives never seemed to count), and she certainly wasn't bothered by the age difference. She was twenty-seven after all, and perfectly capable of making her own decisions (Jake was nearly fifteen years older than her, after all).

Meanwhile, upstairs, Bishop was almost hoping he refused. She didn't know what had gotten into her over the last few days, but a little separation and it was sure to go away. Admittedly, there was only so much separation that could be had while she stayed at his place, but sleeping with him certainly wasn't going to help clear her mind.

But a minute later she heard his footsteps on the stairs. She wasn't sure if she was surprised or not that he had consented to join her, and she wasn't entirely sure if she was glad about it or not, either. But as she climbed into bed after him a few minutes later, all her worries drained away for the time being, and she quickly fell asleep, cozy and warm, with a smile on her face.

Christmas morning, Bishop woke up bright and early. Christmas was one of her favorite days of the year, and she had never been one for sleeping in on Christmas. Normally, she would have been up in an instant, and in the kitchen making coffee and enjoying the day, even if she didn't have a pile of presents under the tree to open like she had when she was a kid.

But this particular Christmas morning, she was content to stay in bed a little longer than she normally would have. She knew she would probably be in trouble when he woke up, and she would have her own confusing feelings to deal with later, but for the moment, she was content to stay where she was.

And where she was, was lying with her head on her boss's chest, one arm thrown around him, cozier than she'd been in months. In fact, now that she thought about it, she couldn't remember the last time she'd woken up like this with Jake. Between Dubai and the nights he was elsewhere with Taylor or actual work, they hadn't actually even slept together that much the last few months they were together. And even when they had, they hadn't really woken up close to each other very often.

She had nearly drifted back to sleep when she felt a hand gently running through her hair.

"Awake, I take it?" she asked.


As he made no indication of being uncomfortable with the situation, and was still lightly stroking her hair, she continued to lay there, enjoying the moment. After a while, she knew they were eventually going to have to get up. Finally, she broke the comfortable silence.

"Merry Christmas, Gibbs."

"Merry Christmas, Bishop."

"Sorry about this, I know is this isn't what you signed up for."

"You're okay. At least this time I don't have a different ex-wife to show up and gripe about it. But we should get up. Don't you want to see if Santa brought you anything?" he finished, teasingly.

At this Bishop rolled her eyes, but rolled off of him nonetheless. "You don't even have a tree for Santa to put any gifts under," she retorted cheerfully, getting out of bed. Not bothering to change, she went to make breakfast.

Gibbs smiled to himself as his youngest agent headed down the stairs. When he heard the yelp of surprise, he chuckled lightly and headed downstairs himself. He found her standing in the middle of the living room, staring at the rectangular wrapped package sitting in the spot on the couch she typically occupied. That had "To Bishop, From Gibbs" written on the side of it. She slowly turned to look at him.

"You didn't really expect me not to get you anything, did you?" he asked as he walked past her towards the kitchen.

Bishop rushed upstairs to grab the gift she had gotten for Gibbs, and then grabbed his present for her before walking into the kitchen. She sat her present on the kitchen table before handing her gift to Gibbs.

"Sorry it isn't wrapped, but I didn't get it until yesterday."

Gibbs smiled as he took the gift from her. He wasn't surprised that she'd gotten him something; she had after all got him a cinnamon cake after hearing he liked cinnamon, and that had been within the first few weeks of starting joint duty assignment at NCIS. But he appreciated it nonetheless.

Bishop walked back over to the kitchen table, and started opening the present he had got her. When she saw what it was, she rushed over to him and threw her arms around him. It was a framed copy of her original NCIS application from before she joined the NSA.

"There is also your official NCIS acceptance letter underneath it," Gibbs said, and Bishop finally released him to go finish unwrapping her present. After profusely thanking him for her gifts, and another hug, Bishop began making breakfast.

After moving their gifts to the living room so that they wouldn't get any food on them while they ate, Gibbs joined her in the kitchen, and took over cooking the bacon and sausage while Bishop made pancakes and eggs.

Later that afternoon, Gibbs and Bishop were sitting in the living room when they heard a soft mewing at the front door. Grabbing his gun, Gibbs quietly walked to the front door. Peaking through the window, he didn't see anyone, so he cautiously opened the door, gun in front of him. As he saw no one at eye level, his gaze traveled downward, till it came to rest on a cat, looking up at him, unperturbed by Gibbs' gun.

Still glancing around, Gibbs cracked open the door a little wider, and the cat daintily trotted in. Rounding the corner, it saw Bishop standing in the corner, gun in hand, and ran up to her. At the same time she heard Gibbs say, "All clear," so she tucked away her gun and picked up the cat, walking back over to the couch and sitting down.

"Any idea whose cat this is?" she asked Gibbs, as he walked back into the room. "He doesn't have a tag."

"I think he's the neighborhood stray. I think I've seen him around occasionally when I drive into work."

"Can we keep him?" she asked, looking up pleadingly. "He shouldn't have to live outside in D.C. winter weather."

"Well, I'm sure he doesn't eat as much as you, and he does seem to like you, so I guess. As long as you take care of him, and take him with you when you move."

Bishop smiled brightly at him before returning to the cat sitting in her lap.

That evening, the entire team came over for supper. The girls and DiNozzo immediately flocked to the cat, while the rest exchanged pleasantries and took over the kitchen duties Bishop had abandoned when everyone congregated around the cat. But all that was left was to move the food to the table, so in a short amount of time they were ready to eat.

Since Gibbs' kitchen table clearly wasn't large enough for everyone, they pulled up chairs and ate in the living room. After a pleasant dinner and evening (where Ziva successfully cut short all of Tony's attempts to ask Bishop how her 'date' with the boss went), Gibbs and Bishop eventually found themselves alone again.

When the last guest closed the door, Bishop engulfed Gibbs in another hug.

"Thank you for taking me in, Gibbs. And thank you for a wonderful Christmas."

Gibbs hugged her back, and replied, "You're welcome, Bishop."

Bishop then proceeded to introduce Gibbs to her Christmas evening tradition of watching the Trans-Siberian Orchestra show on YouTube at full volume. DiNozzo had brought over the miniature computer speakers she had requested, and Bishop had the volume turned all the way up. It wasn't quite as close to being at a live show as when she had the surround sound at her and Jake's old apartment at full volume, but it would work.

Bishop set her computer on the coffee table, and convinced Gibbs to sit on the couch instead of the armchair he usually inhabited, so that he could see the show on the small screen. It took no convincing to get Probie Cat to sit in her lap. By the time the show was halfway over, Bishop had stretched out on the couch, with her legs stretching across Gibbs lap, playing with the cat that was laying on her stomach.

By the time the show was over, it was time for bed. Gibbs hesitated as Bishop got up, unsure of what Bishop expected. Waking up after sleeping on a bed had certainly been less painful than waking up on his couch, but he still had his hesitations about the whole thing, and he was still unsure what was going through the mind of his youngest agent.

After Bishop stood up, holding Probie Cat in one hand, she held out her hand to Gibbs, pulling him up off the couch. She held onto his hand until she was several steps up the stairs. She wasn't exactly sure what her feelings toward her boss were, but as long as he didn't protest sleeping with her, she was going to keep sleeping with him.

Chapter Text

Over the next several days, Bishop and Gibbs continued sharing her bed, and continued waking in similar positions to how they had on Christmas morning. Gibbs of course never moved more than a few inches during the night, but every night Bishop drifted from her side of the bed over to his. Even when she woke up in the middle of the night, using his chest as a pillow, and moved back onto her side of the bed, she always ended up back on his side by morning.

Accepting this as the new norm, neither of them mentioned it, and continued to keep their interactions at work the same as normal. Neither of them cared to look too deeply into what this new dynamic between them meant, and for the most part ignored its existence.

Tony had finally trapped Bishop in the girls restroom on their second day back at work after Christmas to ask about her 'date' with the boss. Not wanting to spread any rumors, Bishop simply responded, "Michigan was nothing compared to now," and ducked under his arm and out the door as he froze in shock.

"Might want to go rescue your boyfriend before someone else needs to use the girl's restroom," she said quietly as she passed Ziva. A few minutes later she saw Ziva pushing Tony out of the girl's restroom, giving him an earful. And though he frequently gave her and Gibbs suspicious looks, especially when Gibbs and Bishop were in close proximity to each other, he didn't try to ask about it again.

As they slowly progressed on the Air Force pilot case, they began to make some connections between it and the case on Bishop's bomber. They had finally tracked down Trapp's D.C. contact, and while he had not met with Trapp to get the flash drive before Trapp was killed, he did know of a few places Trapp might have hidden in. And based on a look at the clothes Trapp had been wearing when he was killed, the contact didn't believe Trapp had had it on him the night he was killed. He was also able to confirm that the bomb from Bishop's apartment that Abby had pieced together was of a similar design to those previously used by the Palestinian terrorists.

After several failed attempts, they finally found the missing flash drive hidden in the safe house Trapp had stayed at the night before he was killed. Using the codes provided by the CIA, Abby finally unlocked the flash drive.

In addition to numerous plans for bombings, and various bomb schematics, there was also a list of names of the members of the terrorist cell. The CIA agent with them recognized all the names on the list except for the last two. But the NCIS team recognized them.

"All of these people are in Michigan right now, except for those two. With the information on this flash drive we can arrest all of them, but those two are a much bigger threat since I don't know who they are, what they do for the cell, or where they are."

The NCIS team just looked at each other in shock, and then back to the screen on the list, and then back at each other. This certainly wasn't expected. Bishop was the first to find her voice.

"Um, we know those two." A little too well, she thought.

"Oh, you do? Then can you arrest them while we arrest the rest of the cell in Michigan?"

"More than happy to," replied Gibbs, with the slightest hint of a growl. "DiNozzo, get out a BOLO on Jake Malloy and Taylor Matthews."

An hour later, the team pulled up outside Jake's apartment.

"You okay with this, Bishop?" Gibbs asked as they got out of the car and strapped on their bullet-proof vests.

She nodded her head seriously. "Yeah. Let's go get that lying, cheating, bombing ex-husband of mine."

Bursting into the apartment (Bishop had the honors of kicking in the door to her former apartment), they quickly cleared the rooms. Jake wasn't there (not that they had expected him to be), but the evidence of his association with the terrorist cell was. After a thorough search of the house, they found extra parts for a bomb that matched the one he had placed outside Bishop's apartment, along with extensive research and plans detailing how and when to place the bomb at her apartment without being caught. Plans covering everything from the blueprints of her apartment building, to street maps labeling all of the traffic cameras, to the time schedules of everyone in the building.

On Jake's laptop, they found emails between Jake and Taylor arguing about Jake's plan to bomb his ex-wife. According to the emails, Taylor thought it was a completely stupid thing to do, Bishop was completely out of their lives and there was absolutely no reason to kill her, and take half her apartment with her. Even if he didn't get caught, it was completely pointless.

Jake, on the other hand, was apparently pissed about Bishop divorcing him, even though he'd been the one who had cheated. Plus, he had the bomb lying around, and if he planned it correctly, no one could ever find out he'd done it. And with Bishop dead, there would be no one around to ever potentially discover that they were part of the Palestinian terror cell.

Along with matching emails on Taylor's laptop, they also discovered emails between her and the leader of the cell discussing the theft of the flash-drive by Trapp, orders for Taylor to kill Trapp, and a reply email confirming that the job was done, but that the flash-drive wasn't on him. In addition to finding a gun in Taylor's belongings matching the caliber of the weapon used to kill Trapp, apartment surveillance video confirmed she had left the building before the shooting took place, and hadn't returned until after the shooting. They sent the gun to Abby to run ballistics and confirm that it was the murder weapon. It was.

All that remained was to find them.

Taylor had been fairly easy to catch. After the BOLO had gone out, she had returned to work at the NSA after her lunch break, where she was promptly picked up. However, Jake hadn't been into work that day, and apparently got word that Taylor had been arrested, because he was nowhere to be found. And being a spy, albeit a fairly recent one, he knew how to hide.

The NSA, after going through Jake and Taylor's computers, had discovered that they had been the ones leaking intel to the Palestinians this whole time. No wonder the investigation had gone nowhere, the head of the investigation was the leak herself.

Assuming Jake would continue to go after the flash-drive in hopes of finding it before the CIA could, Gibbs had people watching all of the potential hiding spots the CIA agent had told them about, along with Jake's apartment and several other locations Bishop thought he might potentially go to.

But two days later, they were still no closer to finding him than they had been. The CIA had been lenient enough to hold off on arresting the Michigan part of the cell, and the official reason for Taylor's arrest had been suspected mishandling of sensitive documents, in hopes of not spooking Jake underground. But the CIA was growing restless, and Gibbs and his team knew they were on a deadline.

Just as they were about to head home for the evening, USU campus security called with reports of a man matching Jake's description on campus. When they got to the campus in Bethesda, they spread out in hopes of covering more ground more quickly. Several times one of them would think they had found something, but it always turned out to just be study groups.

Finally, as Bishop was walking down a darkened hallway, her ears picked up a single male voice, speaking in low tones. She sneaked to the door she thought it was coming from, and listened. Hearing Jake's voice, as quietly as possible she eased open the door to the lab, and slipped in. Only a few lights were on, and she could easily hide in the shadows. It took her a few seconds to recognize who Jake was talking to, but once her eyes adjusted she realized he had the pilot's sister tied to a chair, and he was trying to find out where her brother had hidden the flash-drive. Which explained why Jake was at USU in the first place; he hoped the pilot's sister could tell him where the flash-drive was.

Obviously disappointed with the results he was getting, Jake started threatening to shoot her if she didn't tell him where her brother hid the flash-drive, deaf to her repeated insistence that she had no clue what he was talking about. This whole time, Bishop kept her gun trained on Jake, wondering how she could alert Gibbs or one of the others to her location without letting Jake know she was there, and without having to leave the room. But a moment later, all of that was forced out of her mind.

Bishop saw Jake reach for his gun, the NCIS agent inside her reacted instinctively, and she felt herself pulling the trigger of her own gun. But the part of her that had once been married to Jake couldn't let herself just kill him, and her shot grazed his left arm.

Jake turned towards the source of the shot, gun leading the way. As soon as he saw her, he pulled the trigger, but a bullet from behind him tore through his shoulder right as he fired, causing his shot to pass through her shoulder instead of her heart. As the bullet from her ex-husband's gun tore through her shoulder and she dropped her gun, Bishop saw Jake pull his gun back up, but before he could pull the trigger, four more shots rang out from behind him, and he collapsed to ground, dead. Bishop looked up and saw Gibbs with his gun still pointed at where Jake had been standing moments before. Completely forgetting about the pain in her shoulder, she leapt up and rushed across the lab to where Gibbs was standing, and threw her arms around him, burying her head into his shoulder, tears flowing from her eyes. As Gibbs wrapped his arms around her, Tony, Ziva and McGee burst into the room. Before any of them had time to take in the scene before them, Bishop, who was oblivious to the newcomers, reached up, putting her arms behind his neck and head, and kissed her boss. Not a quick peck on the cheek, like Gibbs gave Abby, but a full on kiss, like her life depended on it. The three older agents stopped dead, stunned at what they were seeing before them, dreading what would happen next. But their boss defied all of their expectations. Keeping one arm wrapped around her, he moved the other one to her hair, and kissed back.

When Bishop had first reached up to kiss him, she had done so without thinking; in the intensity of the moment, it was just a sub-conscious reaction. But as her lips touched his, she realized exactly who it was she was kissing, and knew that, no matter how much he had seemed to warm up to her over the past few weeks of living together, there was no way he was going to allow this. But as she had come to realize over those few weeks that she actually liked him, as impossible and pointless as that was, she wasn't going to let this one opportunity slip away; and she would accept whatever consequences followed. So the last thing she expected was to feel his hand in her hair, and him kissing her back. When they finally broke apart a few seconds later, she looked up at him in complete shock. A shock that was echoed on the faces of Gibbs' other three agents, as well. But before any of them could reengage their brains enough to say anything, Gibbs broke the silence.

"Call 911, Bishop's been shot, and take care of her," he said, pointing at the pilot's sister. They all knew better than to try to ask any questions now, so they did as he said, as Gibbs led Bishop over to one of the tables to try to stop the bleeding in her shoulder as she waited for the ambulance to arrive. "Are you good?" he asked, taking a look at the bullet wound.

"Other than the feeling we're going to have to talk about a certain rule number twelve, yeah, I'm fine," she said. At that moment, the sister, who had just been untied, cautiously walked up to them.

"Considering I am a military med-student, mind if I take a look?" she hesitantly asked, not wanting to intrude on any potential 'moments'.

Gibbs briefly nodded before turning and walking to where his other three agents were standing around Jake's dead body. Might as well let an Air Force doctor-in-training take care of the injury. When they saw him, they all looked at him hopefully, but as he began giving out directions, they knew they would have to wait for any kind of explanation; if they even were to ever get one.

Soon the ambulance arrived, and after a brief examination, the EMT confirmed the sister's diagnosis that the bullet had passed through her shoulder cleanly, and there would be no lasting damage.

Bishop slowly walked over to where her ex-husband lay on the ground, with Ducky beside him completing the mandatory examination. As she came close, Ducky looked up at her. "Would you like a moment?" he asked her.

"No, it's okay. I just never expected the man I married to eventually try to kill me. Or be a Palestinian spy, or cheat on me, or much of anything that's happened in the last couple months," she added as an afterthought. After a few moments of silence, she said, "I couldn't shoot him, Ducky. I shot at him when he started to pull his gun on the girl, but when he pointed it at me, I just couldn't make myself shoot him. Even though I knew he was going to kill me."

"I should hope not, my dear Eleanor. You are a much better person than he was. You still love the man you met when you first started at the NSA. Of course you couldn't shoot him. It's not something to be ashamed of." Pointing towards a scrape on Jake's left arm, he said, looking up at her, "I assume this would be your shot?" Bishop nodded in agreement. "Then the rest of these would be Gibbs' handiwork."

At that moment, Jimmy Palmer walked up with the body bag, and Bishop took the opportunity to walk over to where her fellow agents were talking.

As they drove back to the office, Bishop kept replaying the events in her mind. Not the part where she shot Jake, or where Gibbs killed Jake; that was all fine. There would be more than enough time later to relive those moments. But rather, the part immediately after that, where she had not only kissed her boss, but even more surprisingly, he had actually kissed her back. Ever since Christmas Day, she'd been trying to avoid her growing feelings, not quite sure what they were, and not wanting to explore them too closely. She knew that, even if they were what she was afraid they might be, there was no way Gibbs would feel the same way, and even if he did, there was no way he'd break rule number twelve. He allowed Tony and Ziva to break it, and admittedly she'd heard he'd broken it a few times himself in the past, but especially given their huge age difference, there was no way he would ever go along with it. Now she wasn't so sure. But she did know one thing; he had kissed her back, and she now knew exactly what all those slowly building feelings inside her really were. And she wanted to at least try.

Meanwhile, Gibbs was running through his own thoughts. Despite his best intentions, his way too young agent had slowly been integrating herself into his life in a way that no one had in a really long time. His ex-wives had always felt like more of an attempt to replace Shannon; he didn't feel that way about Bishop. Or he wouldn't have felt that way if he'd allowed himself to think about, which of course he didn't, because she was nearly forty years younger than him, for crying out loud. It was just too wrong. And of course things never ended up well when rule twelve was broken, although Tony and Ziva did seem to be doing a fairly good job of it. But then Bishop had kissed him, and he had surprised himself as much as he had Bishop or the rest of the team by kissing back. Up until that point, he could convince himself he was just feeling fatherly towards her, but that pretty much shattered that comfortable notion.

That night, as they sat down in the living room to eat the pizza they had picked up on the way back from the office, Bishop asked the question that had been on her mind ever since the case had come to it's abrupt close.

"You kissed me back." (Okay, so that wasn't actually a question, but there was at least a question behind it.)

"Mmm. Hoping you hadn't noticed," he replied, echoing back the words she'd said regarding waking up curled next to him on the trip back from Oklahoma.

Taking a deep breath, Bishop began, "I know you probably don't feel the same, I know there's a huge age gap between us, and I know it goes against rule twelve, but I really like you." Taking another breath, she prepared to go on with all the reasons that it could possibly work, and why they should at least try it, but Gibbs cut her off.

"You're not the only one."

She started to launch into all her arguments when she realized what he had said. "Wait, What?! You do like me?"

"Despite all attempts not to, yes."

And that was how Ellie Bishop found herself dating Leroy Jethro Gibbs.