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Breaking Down

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Leroy Jethro Gibbs was not a man that showed more than the basic emotions to anyone.  Well, just about anyone.  Ducky had seen him at his worst, more than any of the others.  Jenny had seen him pretty bad, and Mike Franks.  He shook his head.  Mike, well, Mike was Mike.

And Mike was gone.

Jenny was gone.

And now…so was Ducky.

His heart constricted at the thought of who else was gone.

His father.

Dad was gone.

Only one other person was left who knew him better than all the other people in his life.


But what the hell good was Fornell?

Feeling two slender, warm hands on his neck, he stiffened then relaxed at the recognition.



“It’s okay to let me see you grieve, Jethro.”  Sam whispered as she rested her head against his, knowing instinctively not to move so that she could see his face even though she wanted to so that she could look into his eyes.

“I’m not good company right now, Doc.”  Jethro mumbled as he fussed with the half empty glass in front of him.

“Did I say I wanted good company?” she shot back at him.  Everyone else in his life might back off when he used that line and tone of voice, but she wasn’t everyone else.  She knew that Dr. Mallard would have pushed him, and she suspected his father would have, but neither were here anymore – she was.

“Damn it, Doc.  Go home to your son.”

“He’s spending the night with my sister,” she answered as she gently massaged his neck.  “You’ve held me night after night so that I could get some sleep.  Why won’t you let me help you?”

“I don’t need help, Sam.”

She quirked an eyebrow at that.  He’d called her by her name.  Hmm, progress.  Continuing to rub his shoulders, she turned her head and pressed a kiss to his.  She hurt because she knew he did and because she knew he was holding it all inside, bottling it up like he had so many times before.

“You aren’t going to leave, are you?” he finally asked a few minutes later.

“No, I’m not.  You don’t scare me like you do the others.  I know you, Jethro, better than I think you like.  Better than anyone really has since,” she paused, knowing what she was about to say would probably push too many buttons, but knowing she had to.  “Better than anyone since Shannon,” she finished quietly.

Jerking away at the mention of his first wife, Gibbs turned to glare at the woman currently invading his solitude.  “Go the hell home and stop playing your ridiculous mind games with me,” he growled, his eyes flashing dangerously.

Taking a deep breath, knowing that the man who held her so gently while she slept could never hurt her, she moved to where he stood and stared up at him.  “I’m not playing mind games, Jethro.  I’m only stating the truth.  You’ve closed yourself off from everyone since Shannon and Kelly were murdered.  I know that Dr. Mallard and Mike Franks were let in, and that Jenny Shepard was someone close, but none of them knew you like Shannon, not even your own father.”  Reaching out she caressed his face.  “You’ve lost so much.  So much that you’ve bottled up and held inside.”  Tracing his lips, she moved until her body was touching his.  “Let me hold you, Jethro.”

Looking down at the woman who had somehow worked her way inside his walls, Gibbs sighed, “You’re infuriating.”

Sam nodded.  “I am.”

“You’re nosey.”

Again she nodded.  “I am.”

Giving into her, Gibbs moved away and held out his hand.  “You know the way,” he whispered.

Smiling tenderly, she took his hand and slowly lead him up the stairs out of the basement.  “Are you going to let me be your boat?”

Looking at her when she stopped at the bottom of the stairs leading up to the bedrooms, he closed his eyes.  “I don’t know if I can, Sam.”

Again she arched her brow, more progress.  “Come on,” she whispered and tugged at his hand.

Gibbs followed her aimlessly, his body as weary as his mind and soul.  “Sam?” he asked when she paused just inside the bedroom.

“Shh,” she soothed as she caressed his face.  “I didn’t realize there were no sheets, that’s why I paused.”

Gibbs looked at the bed and shrugged.  “I never sleep here,” he looked at her.  “Alone, anyway.  I guess I didn’t notice that you’d taken the sheets off when you were here last.”

“I would have put clean ones on if I’d known where they were.”  She smiled at him.  “Tell me where they are?”

Pointing at the chest of drawers against the far wall, he watched as she moved and waited for him to indicate which drawer.  “Top one,” he murmured.

Pulling out the first set she came to, Sam closed the drawer then turned and set the sheets on the nightstand.  “Help me?” she asked.

Nodding numbly, Gibbs moved to help, finding that even something as mundane as making his bed was almost too much.  Looking blankly at Sam when she asked him a question, he shook his head to clear it.  “What?”

“Where did the comforter go?  It wasn’t here the last time but it was warm so it wasn’t needed.  It’s needed tonight.”


Nodding, she moved to the closet, smiling when she found the comforter and a shirt to sleep in.  “Let’s get this on the bed and then we’ll take a shower.”


“Yes,” she nodded.  Working with him to quickly get the comforter on the bed, she made her way around to him after they’d finished.  “You’re about to fall over, Jethro.  I need a shower, and I know you do,” she looked at him and snarled her nose.  “You smell like you’ve been drinking for the last two days.”

He shook his head.  “Spilled some.”

Lifting up the edge of his sweatshirt, she smiled at him.  “Lift your arms,” she whispered the command, pulling the shirt over his head when he did so.  “You do the rest while I go get the water started.”

Nodding, Gibbs did as she said then made his way to the bathroom.  Looking down at her hand when she held it out, he stared at it then looked up at her.  “Why are you here?”

Reaching out, she took his hand and tugged him into the shower, closing the door behind them.  Gently nudging him under the spray of warm water, she picked up his soap and began to gently move it over his body, the lather bubbling and running down his chest.  “I’m here because the man that has held me for so many nights since we met, just so that I could get some sleep, is hurting.  I know that he didn’t do it so that I would have to some day pay him back, but I want to.”  Turning him so that the water washed away the soap, she moved it over his back and down, carefully moving over his legs before standing up and putting the soap away and grabbing his shampoo.  “Turn around and bend over so I can put the shampoo in your hair.”

“Bossy.”  Gibbs groused even as he did what she’d told him to.

Sam shook her head as she gently massaged the shampoo into his scalp.  “I have to be.”

Frowning at her before tilting his head back, he sighed as the warm water washed away the shampoo.  “I don’t have anything for you.”

“Your soap and shampoo will work just fine.”  She smiled when he looked at her, her hair and body already covered in bubbles.  “Now move so I can rinse this off before the shampoo runs down into my eyes.

“Bossy,” he murmured again even as he moved.  Reaching up, he helped rinse the shampoo from her hair, then pulled her close and held her.

“It’s alright, Jethro.”  She reached up a wet hand and cupped his cheek.  “Let’s get out of here and dry off before the water turns cold on us.  I hate being suddenly surprised with a blast of cold water when I’m nice and warm.”

Turning off the water, Gibbs opened the shower door and stepped out, turning to help her so she didn’t fall.  “You really are too bossy for your own good.”

Sam smiled as she rubbed the towel over his body, nudging him to get him to bend down a bit so she could dry his hair.  “Would you like me if I weren’t bossy?”

Studying her as she dried herself off, he shook his head.  “Doubtful.”

Smiling, she held out her hand.  “We need to find you something to sleep in.”

“I can do it.”

“Good because I need to put on the shirt I got from your closet to sleep in.”

“Nosey,” he murmured his earlier sentiment as they moved about his room, him getting a pair of pajama pants to sleep in, her buttoning up the shirt she’d grabbed from his closet.

“You’re good at calling me names,” she retorted as she slipped beneath the covers.  “Besides, you’re the one that told me to look in the closet for the comforter.”

Shrugging, he joined her, turning to look at her.  “I’m not sure I can sleep.”

Smiling softly at him, she settled against the pillows and held out her arms.  “You don’t have to sleep if you don’t want to.  Just let me hold you.”

Settling against her, his head resting on her shoulder, his hand settling against her breast wanting to feel her heart beating.  Closing his eyes, he saw his father’s face, Ducky’s face, Jenny’s face, Shannon, Kelly, his mother, they were all blurring together.  Gripping Sam, he shivered against the onslaught of pain.  Pain he’d held in for years.

“It’s alright.  Let it go.  I’m here.”  Sam whispered as she held him.  Hearing him gasp, she felt warm moisture soaking through the shirt she wore…the dam had finally burst.  “That’s it.  Let it all out.  I’m here.  I’m here.”  She whispered the words over and over between tender, light kisses to his head, one hand caressing his back, the other moving to clasp the hand at her waist.

“So many people,” he murmured as the torrent settled, his grasp on her hand loosening.  “I never told her,” he admitted quietly.

“Never told who what?”  Sam asked, certain she knew the answer.

“Jenny.  Never told her that I needed her.  That I,” he stopped.

Sam finished.  “That you loved her.”

He nodded against her, the rest of his body draping over hers as he settled further against her.  “I thought that if I never told her, she wouldn’t go away like Shannon, Kelly, and Mom.”

Sam felt her heart break at his admission.  The man who so willingly gave of himself to help others, had been afraid to admit to love because those he’d loved had been taken away from him.  “It wasn’t because you loved them, although I know it had to feel that way.”

“But Dad, Duck,” he started.

“Jethro, your father was ready to go be with your mother.  Dr. Mallard,” she sighed.  His was a hard one.

“He died because of me.”


“If I’d been paying attention.  If I hadn’t been so lost thinking about Dad and the fight we had…”

“Stop it.”

“I let Shannon and Kelly down.  I didn’t protect them.”

“Jethro,” she whispered, lifting his face so that he had to look at her.  “You can’t blame yourself for Dr. Mallard’s death.  He was protecting you because he cared about you.  From the report, what he did was the only thing that could have been done.  You wouldn’t have had time to react.  And you can’t blame yourself for Shannon and Kelly’s deaths, either.  You were defending your country, something I know your wife and daughter were very proud of you for.  Your wife was doing what she felt she had to do.”  Cupping his cheek, she gently caressed the damp skin with her thumb.  “And you did what you had to do to avenge their murders.”

Blinking in surprise, Gibbs studied her.  “You know?” he asked, wondering how she could know when that bit of information wasn’t in his file.

“I know you’re wondering how I know.”  She smiled when he nodded.  “How did I know about the powdered sugar instead of syrup?”

Settling back against her, he let his hand caress over the curve of her hip down to her bare thigh at the hem of his shirt.  Closing his eyes, the feel of her smooth skin soothed him as he gently caressed her with his thumb.  “You scare me, Sam,” he admitted.

She tapped his shoulder, smiling when he looked up at her.  “You scare me, too.”

“Not good for a relationship,” he muttered, his hand moving further up her leg.

“It’s not a bad scare, Jethro.  It’s because we’ve both been hurt.  You scare me because you can read me as well as I can read you even though my walls are still in place.  I’m guessing that’s why I scare you.”

He nodded.  “You worked your way in without much effort.  I’m not sure I can do it again, Sam.”

“We’ll take everything one day at a time.”  She smiled and cupped his cheek.  “Your hand is being very bold, Mr. Gibbs.”

Discovering she wore nothing but his shirt, he paused and looked up at her.  “Nothing?”

She shrugged, her own hand becoming bold as she traced the line of his spine following the path the waistband of his pants took.  “Couldn’t very well put on my dirty things after I just took a shower, now could I?”

Shaking his head, he let his hand roam her soft body, thinking about how long it had been since he’d been with a woman he cared about.  And, hating to admit it to himself or not, he did care for this mind gamer.  Cared for her more than he had a woman in a long time.  None of the other women he’d been involved with in the last few years had been let in.  This one hadn’t been let in, either.  This one was just…in.  He still wasn’t sure how she’d managed, although evidently from her confession, he’d somehow managed to do the same to her.  “Do you know what seeing you in those power suits has done to me since I met you?”

Sam laughed, glad to hear some of the life back in his voice.  “Why do you think I kept bending over?”

“Damn, Sam,” he growled then shook his head when she laughed.

“I didn’t know you were a poet.”

Moving, he propped himself up on his elbow and looked down at her.  “Are we ready for this step?” he asked, his hand hesitating at the first button she had buttoned on his shirt.

“Haven’t we been flirting with this step for a while now?” she asked as she covered his hand, caressing it with her thumb.

He studied their hands.  “I suppose we have.”  Looking up at her, he half smiled.  “You’ve teased me enough.”

Tugging at him, she ran her fingers through his hair when he settled between her parted thighs.  “I wasn’t teasing.  I think I’ve wanted you from the moment I met you.”

“According to the kids I have a bounce in my step around you.”

“The kids?” she asked with a laugh.  “Do they know you think of them that way?”

He shrugged.  “They’re the only kids I’ve got.”

“They’re good ones to have.”  She winked.  “Even Wink Martindale.”

Gibbs shook his head, a small smile on his lips.  “You could give Dinozzo a break and at least call him Chuck Woolery.”

Smiling, she combed her fingers through his hair.  “I could.”

Resting his forehead against hers, he sighed as he slowly began to unbutton her shirt.  “I don’t think I’m ready, Sam.”  He lifted his head to look at her.  “But,”

Nodding, she ran her hand up his arm.  “Go ahead.”

Unbuttoning the rest of the buttons, he moved so that she could sit up and take the shirt off.  Nuzzling her breasts, he lifted his gaze to hers.  “Thank you.  I do want you, Sam.”

“I know you do, Jethro.  I also know you’re too weary to make love right now.”  Her eyes twinkled as she leaned forward, her lips catching his in a kiss.  “But if I have to sleep without clothes, so do you.”

Moving so that he could take off his pants, he settled back against her, his eyes closing as she caressed his head.  The feel of her smooth skin, her strong but soft body, the steady beat of her heart soothed him, letting him know he wasn’t alone as he finally drifted off.

Sam felt him give in, his body relaxing completely against hers, and then her tears came.  She’d never had the chance to meet the senior Gibbs, but she had Ducky, and she’d formed an almost instant attachment to the man.  His quick wit, his ease in dealing with Jethro no matter what mood he was in, the care he’d given to all of his patients.  She hadn’t known him long, but she hurt because he was gone, because it hurt the man currently sleeping in her arms. 

How long had it been since she’d cried?  She couldn’t remember.  Something about Gibbs had changed her, made her take the chance to slow down a bit, to feel something other than the love she had for her son.  Was it because she saw a soul as lost as hers?  Was it because he’d offered to help her stop running from her ex, something that no one else had done?  It was all of those things and more.  But most of all, it was his soul being as lost as hers.  Maybe, it was just a little more lost.




Sam jolted awake, the cries shocking her as she blinked to orient herself to her surroundings.  Looking down at the man beside her, she saw his face contorted with pain, a pain she knew wasn’t physical.  Reaching out, she touched his cheek, thankful when he opened his eyes and didn’t react as she’d feared he would.  “It’s me, Jethro.  It’s Doc,” she intentionally used the name he most often called her.

“Sam?” he whispered as he blinked to clear his muddy thoughts.

Laying back down, she turned on her side, her hand smoothing his mussed hair.  “You were having a nightmare, Jethro.”

Moving, he pulled her into his arms.  “I’m sorry for disturbing you.”

Listening to his heart beat, she caressed his chest.  “It’s okay.  You didn’t do it on purpose.  Now, if you had, well,” she playfully threatened.

Nuzzling her ear, he half smiled.  “Thanks, Sam.”

“Do you want to talk about it?”

Laying his hand over hers, he caressed it with his thumb.  “Why did you call yourself Doc when you were waking me up?”

So that’s the way this was going to go.  “I thought you would respond to that faster than you would Sam.  You call me Doc more than you do Sam,” she answered, going along with his obvious desire to forget the nightmare.

“It’s who you are.”

“It is,” she agreed.  “But I like when you call me Sam.”  She smiled against his chest.  “I like the way you say it.”

“Sam,” he whispered, drawing a finger down her arm.  “Sam,” he whispered again.

Looking up at him, she saw the hunger in his eyes and shivered as he repeated her name.  Moving over him, she sat up, each leg on either side of his chest.  Hissing when his hand moved up her ribs to cup a breast, she balanced herself using her hands that rested on the pillow under his head.  “I always knew you’d be good with your hands,” she murmured before she captured his mouth in a kiss.

Pulling out of the kiss, he caressed her neck.  “You’re as soft as I’d imagined when I found myself staring at the way your skirt pulled tight over your backside every time you’d bend over.”

She smirked at him, something she was discovering turned him on.  “You like that huh?” she asked, wiggling against him.

“Damn, Doc,” he groused, forgoing the use of her name this time so she wouldn’t laugh at the rhyme.

She smiled and traced his lips with her finger, his hands busy cupping her firm buttocks.  “Sam,” she whispered.

“Sam,” he echoed, smiling smugly when she trembled against him.

Moving herself a bit lower, she leaned her head back and moaned at the feel of him fully against her.  Moving her hips, she let the length of him slip between her wet folds, gripping the pillow when he moved his hips causing more friction.  “Jethro,” she gasped.

Sitting up, Gibbs caressed his fingers over her short hair, smiling when she opened her eyes and looked at him.  “You’re one helluva woman, Sam,” he told her, his voice husky.  Gently lifting her, he slid slowly inside her, inch by inch until their bodies were completely joined.  He swallowed a growl at the feel of her tight body surrounding him, hot and wet.  Not moving, he stared at her and watched in rapt attention as her features softened with her body’s complete adjustment and acceptance of his.

“It’s been a long time since I’ve felt like this,” she whispered, her voice shaky.

“Felt like what?” he asked as he slowly began to move against her.

Letting her head fall forward, her forehead bumping against his, she held on and closed her eyes.  “Whole,” she answered his query in a voice barely audible.  “So many times,” she started then moved her head to rest on his shoulder as she held him closer.  “So empty.”

Wrapping his arms around her, he closed his eyes, letting their bodies speak for a few moments before responding.  “You do the same for me, Sam.”

Placing soft kisses to his neck, she let his body take hers higher and higher until he was laying her down on the mattress, his body moving wildly over hers, her own body responding in kind.  Legs and arms wrapped around him, she fell over the precipice mere moments before him, her throaty cry the catalyst for his own climax.

Pulse racing, body still tingling, she held him close, her hands caressing the damp skin of his back.  Smiling when he moved the full weight of his body off hers, she turned to look at him.  “Wow,” she breathed.

Gibbs gave her his lopsided grin and nodded.  “Pretty much.”

Sam chuckled and reached out to trace his face.  “I love that grin.”

“As much as I love your smirk.”  Pulling her against him, he looked down at their feet.  “We’re all turned around.”

She laughed, her foot caressing his.  “You did it.”

“At some point we should probably move around.”

“At some point,” she agreed lazily.

Pressing a kiss to her head, he smiled even though she couldn’t see.  “You know,” he started.

“What?” she asked, looking up at him.

“I’ve never been with a woman who has hair shorter than mine.”

Sam’s laughter filled the bedroom, making him smile at the sound of it, healing his soul just a little bit more.  He pulled her close when she stopped and just held her as he studied the way her elegant fingers moved over his skin.  How many years had he spent bottling things up?  Dealing with loss by himself?  Smiling when she looked up at him, he caressed the tip of her nose.  Maybe breaking down hadn’t been such a bad thing.  It seemed to have healed not just him, but her as well.

“You’re amazing, Sam.”

She smiled, her eyes lighting up.  “You’re pretty amazing yourself, Jethro.”  Kissing his jaw, she sat up.  “Think you can sleep now?”

Sitting up and moving with her to settle back against the pillows, he settled the covers over them as she snuggled close.  “I can sleep.”

“Goodnight, Jethro.”

“Night, Sam.”

“I’ll be here,” she whispered in the darkness that suddenly surrounded them with the loss of the moonlight that had flooded the room only moments before.

“Mmm,” he mumbled, sleep already claiming him.

Sam smiled, her eyes closing as she relaxed to sleep.  Maybe tomorrow she’d introduce him to her son.