"What's she like?" Jen questioned, tilting her head towards Hollis. They stood on the catwalk, looking down at his team and the blonde in question. He turned and looked at her, curiously. Jen, realizing the way her question could be construed, backtracked, "I just meant, is she up to the job?"
"I'll let ya know," he replied with a small smile.
"Well, it's obvious she likes you," she added, a hint of pink dusting her cheeks, "and she's not that bad looking."
"So when you said up to the job…" he let the sentence hang, and she felt her face flush darker.
"You obviously know what I meant, Jethro."
A lazy grin settled on his lips, "Come over tonight. We'll talk to her about it then."
Chapter 1: Grace Period
Paula Cassidy had been more than a Special Agent in Charge. She had been one of her closest friends, and while losing her team was hard, losing the woman herself was harder. Paula had become something of a confidant to her once she was stationed back in D.C., a drinking buddy on nights when Kate and Ziva weren't able to come to girl's night; she had told Paula about her growing attraction to Gibbs and Jen, and unsurprisingly, Paula's advice was extremely blunt and straightforward.
"You can't wait, Abby," Paula had told her, swirling the wine in her glass thoughtfully, "Because if you wait, you'll miss your chance."
And now, months later, she realized the woman was right. Standing at the front of Paula's funeral beside Kate and Ziva, she observed Gibbs and Jen standing beside Paula's family on the other side of the graveside service. Even in death, the woman was right, she shouldn't wait, but this wasn't the time or place. Maybe after a few days, maybe she would gather up her courage.
She catches movement at the back of the service and freezes in place as she watches Hollis Mann slip quietly up beside Gibbs and Jen, feels her heart tighten painfully at the twin smiles on her crushes' lips, somber but still welcoming. The blonde has no reason to be here, she hadn't known Paula, and that's when the thought rushes through her head: She wasn't here because of Paula; she was here to give support to Gibbs and Jen. She'd waited too long.
The preacher's words were drowned out, replaced by her anxious, self-deprecating thoughts. There was no way today could turn out worse.
And then there was a deafening explosion behind the crowd, a lot of screaming, and then she felt something hit the back of her head, and her vision went dark.
She blinks slowly, white hot pain shooting through her head. Jen is kneeling over her, worry lighting her eyes. She blinks again, waiting for her vision to clear.
Who detonates a bomb at a funeral?
We were supposed to take the weekend shift. Those bodies downstairs should be us.
Someone who missed their target the first time.
"Don't try to sit up," Jen is saying, and she listens, movement making her dizzy and the light, nauseous. "Ducky is on his way over. He had to check on a couple more people."
It's a sickening thought when she realizes that she isn't hearing Jen speak but rather reading her lips instead, matching her voice in her head. She looks around the area, realizing that with all the ambulances and police vehicles, she should be hearing noises. Panic sets in, and her hands start moving immediately.
Gibbs. Need Gibbs.
Jen turns her head, opens her mouth, and Gibbs' head snaps towards them from the crowd. He moves quickly, and she's starting to get dizzy again.
He kneels in front of her, tilting her face towards him, and she relishes in the contact for a moment before coming back to the matter at hand.
She's signing faster than he can keep up, evident by the way he signs back, Slower.
Something's wrong, she signs back. I can't hear anything.
"Something's wrong," he tells Jen, but he keeps facing her to let her read his lips, "She can't hear anything."
Ducky makes his way over to them, and Gibbs moves aside to let him have a look.
"A mild concussion," Ducky concludes, and she reads his lips with practiced ease, "I want you to visit the hospital for a second opinion."
I hate hospitals.
"She hates hospitals." Gibbs translates.
Ducky smiles softly, "You'll be in good hands, my dear. I promise."
When both Gibbs and Jen accompany her to the hospital, she can't help but wonder where Hollis was, but a part of her didn't care.
The doctor at the hospital gives her the same diagnosis as Ducky, turning to look at Gibbs and Jen when discussing a solution. That irks her to no end. She was still a human being, damn it. At least look at her so she knew what was being said.
The doctor turns to her abruptly, amused smiles coming to Gibbs and Jen's lips, and she realizes that she must have actually spoken that last bit out loud, though as caught up in her thoughts as she was, she didn't register the vibrations. Unwilling to back down, she raised an eyebrow, daring him to object.
"You just need to rest, Miss Sciuto," she read his lips, "Your hearing will return gradually over the next few hours."
When Gibbs and Jen drop her off at her apartment, she's not too stellar about letting them leave without her. She had evidence to run, and what if there was another bomb? She needed to be at work.
Gibbs reassures her with a smile and a cheek kiss. For the moment, she's complacent; she lets them leave without too much fuss. She feels her heart skip a beat when Jen pulls her into a hug. The woman was never one for physical contact, so it was a welcomed surprise.
Around noon, her hearing starts to come back slowly; she puts on a documentary marathon and takes a nap to pass the time quicker; when she wakes, the sun is starting to set and her hearing is completely back.
"Look I understand what happened," Hollis says with a frown, spearing a piece of broccoli on her plate, "I don't understand why you both had to go."
Jen barely resisted rolling her eyes, taking a minute to cut a piece of steak, motioning for Jethro to say something.
He shrugged, "Team had the scene covered. Abbs was scared."
She could hear what he wasn't saying: he'd been scared too. It was evident in the way he'd run over to them when he'd heard her shouting, in the way he'd kept a hand on Abby's leg as they drove to the hospital.
"Abby couldn't hear," She reminded the blonde, "Jethro needed to translate in case the doctors didn't know ASL."
Hollis looked at her with a glare, "So why did you go, Jen?"
She smiled softly, ignoring the glare, "Because someone needed to keep Jethro calm in case the doctors came back with a different diagnosis."
"So you left me at a crime scene with his team, who you know doesn't like me, because Abby was scared."
Jethro scoffed, "They like you."
Before Hollis could object, he heard his phone, and immediately went to go answer. She and Hollis ate in silence; the woman didn't like her, that much was clear. If it wasn't for Jethro, they wouldn't even be in contact with the other.
When Jethro comes back a few minutes later, she looks up at him expectantly.
"That was Abbs. Hearing is back."
Relief washed over her, "Good, that's good."
Hollis doesn't say anything for the rest of dinner, and when Jethro extends the offer to spend the night, she declines.
She curls into Jethro's arms that night, wondering, not for the first time, if they'd been too hasty in choosing another partner. As she drifts off to sleep, she thinks of dark hair and bright green eyes.