Series: - No Series - #1
Chapters: 001 Word Count: 668
Character(s): Jethro Gibbs, Other Female Character
Category(ies): Angst/Drama, Character Study, Holiday
Summary: In Moscow on assignment, Stephanie tries to reach her husband. Day 7 of the 12 Days of Gibbsmas.
Author Notes: Day 7 of the 12 Days of Gibbsmas.
December 24, 1999
“Why so upset?” Stephanie Gibbs crossed the room to her husband. Jethro had been reading files most of the day and she had ducked out to pick up some supplies for dinner. The lines to get groceries were enormous here in Moscow, but like in most places and with most things, money spoke its own language. She’d been able to get in and out and get what she needed to finish her stew.
But she hadn’t expected her husband’s stormy mood. He had been fine when she left, preoccupied as usual but nothing like the anger written all over his face.
“Jethro?” she asked softly.
“Alex. Can’t make it.” Her husband’s voice was tight and she only then realized how much he’d been looking forward to it. She’d only met Alex a couple of times and knew Gibbs missed Christmases with his brother.
“No, you don’t understand,” he said softly. “We haven’t spent a Christmas together in years. Not since…a lifetime ago.” There was that sad note in his voice, the one that came in whenever they talked about family or children. And she couldn’t reach him
“I am sorry, Jethro,” she tried again, reaching a shaking hand out. She ran her fingers through his short hair, trying to soothe him. “I was hoping to get to know him.”
“Yeah, I wanted you to.” Now he sounded resigned and that was much better than anger. He pulled her onto his lap. “Get any food?”
Stephanie let out a breath she hadn’t known she’d been holding. “I got some veggies and the bread turned out really good. We’re going to have an unconventional Christmas Eve dinner but we’re together. And it’s snowing out, Jethro.”
There was so much about Moscow that was grim but when snow started falling, it turned into a magical place. And in Moscow it snowed a lot.
“Yeah, I can see it in your hair. The flakes.”
Stephanie reached up, intending to brush the moisture away but Jethro grabbed her wrist and pulled it down. “Don’t. I like it. Makes you look…”
“Look what?” Stephanie asked him, amused.
“Younger than you are. Less jaded. Less brittle and ready to fall apart.”
She sighed, opening her mouth, ready to retort, but what could she say? She had been brittle since she’d miscarried the baby in October. And Moscow was a hard place to live in during the winter. Jethro tried but he was so preoccupied with his work and the intelligence community was very tight knit and closed off to outsiders.
Instead she lifted her hand up to her hair again, but didn’t quite brush away the droplets still clinging to her hair. “Even though Alex won’t be here, we can have a nice time anyway, right?”
“Yeah,” he said, sighing. “Christmas Eve is just hard for me. Real hard, Steph. Bear with me here.”
Stephanie knew that. She didn’t pry but of course he’d told her that he’d been married previously, that his wife and daughter had died. And she knew that there were two ex wives, had even met Diane, who had hooked up with Jethro’s friend Tobias. But she was different than these women. Stephanie Bronwyn Flynn Gibbs played for keeps and she was going to hang on to her husband. She wasn’t going to be ex-wife number three.
“I know,” she finally replied, snuggling in for a moment. “Now let me up so that I can cook you some Christmas Eve stew.” She swatted his chest gently and touched his nose.
“And maybe later we can go for a walk in the snow.”
His arms reflexively tightened around her and Stephanie felt him bury his face in her hair. When he spoke, the words were whispered and they broke her heart.
“Whatever happens, Steph, we’ll always have our Moscow holiday.”