Next up, Jenny and Diane! Two of my other favorites from Gibbs' past. Jibbs was actually my first NCIS OTP, and Diane grew on me and ended up becoming one of my favorite Gibbs pairings too, so writing them discussing his relationship with Hollis was kinda fun even though it isn't much. Anyways, I hope you enjoy this loose tag to season 11, episode 12, Kill Chain, and I really hope I've been doing these poor characters justice.

Don't tell me she's another one of your ex-wives.

Close enough.

The two women had heard about the exchange through the grapevine, more commonly known as Anthony Dinozzo's big mouth, and from then on had taken extra precautions to observe former Lieutenant Colonel Hollis Mann and the Marine they all knew on the most intimate of levels.

There were looks, exchanged under the assumption no one could see. Looks that spoke of a longing neither party was willing to act on, especially once it got around that the blonde who had broken Gibbs' heart was now married. He had too many morals to cross that line, and she was the same way. Both Jennifer Shepard and Diane Sterling thought that would be the end of it, one rejoining the agents in the bullpen for their investigation into the suspected drone attack and the other relocating to MTAC to run point with SecNav.

Their positions didn't last long once scrap of information number two reached their ears.

Hollis Mann did get married to a trauma surgeon at Walter Reed Hospital. But she was now divorced.

"I think you're completely wrong about this." Diane announced from her place on Jenny's office couch. The entire MCRT and Hollis were out in pursuit of suspect Erin Pace, leaving the redheaded IRS agent with very little she could do until they returned. Which was how she found herself spending her time in her former rival's office, gossiping about their mutual ex's personal life.

"I'm telling you, Diane, you didn't see the way he looked at her six years ago." Jenny replied with a sigh, already tired of the conversation. "They were together, I didn't need any kind of confirmation to figure it out."

"Key word there is were. They were together. And then what happened, hm? The same thing that always happens. He couldn't get over Shannon. The only difference is, she realized he would never get over her and let her in earlier than the rest of us and left before things went too far."

"That's not entirely true." the director countered, setting her pen down and leaning back in her chair with the resignation that the other woman wasn't going to drop the topic any time soon. "I didn't know anything about Shannon and Kelly when I left. I did it because it was what was best for me and my career."

"Okay so one time he managed not to run a woman off with his commitment issues." ex wife number one waved her hand in response. "It would've happened eventually if you'd stayed. The point is, there's no way they're going to get back together."

"Diane, we can't put our own personal experiences onto their relationship." Jenny told her for the third time since Hollis had shown up and the two women had begun having their discussion.

"Come on, Jennifer." Diane rolled her eyes.

"Come on what? You want to dismiss the entire relationship because she's not his type?"

"Who's not whose type, Jen?" Neither woman would ever admit to jumping. But damn could the man move quietly.

"Hollis Mann isn't your type." Diane answered bluntly, far braver than any of his agents. "I'm not even sure how you ended up dating her in the first place."

"None of your damn business, Diane." Gibbs growled, sending her a scathing glare. "Don't you two have anything better to do than gossip about me?"

"It was just a conversation, Jethro." Jenny rolled her eyes. "And it's a valid statement. I'm not disputing that the two of you were together or that you cared for her, but she's not your type. She never was, and even though I knew you were seeing her, it was still pretty puzzling. As long as I've known you, you've only ever dated redheads."

"It was already never going to work out because of your past and your refusal to face and deal with it, but it was even more doomed because of her not being a redhead. People prefer dating within their type, especially men." Diane agreed. Her ex-husband's only response was to roll his eyes.

"Got Pace." he grunted in an attempt to shift the conversation to a less uncomfortable topic for him. He hated discussing his personal life and liked other people discussing his personal life even less, especially when those people were his former flames. Hollis had been a sore subject since the day he'd had to read about her move in the newspaper rather than hearing it directly from her. It had been a rough day for his team when he ended up taking his bad mood out on them.

"Good. I take it you and Agent Mann will be doing the interrogation together?" Jenny asked, taking perhaps a little amusement at the glare she received for even mentioning the blonde again despite her involvement in the case.

"She's already down there waitin'." Gibbs muttered, shifting uncomfortably.

"Well then let's go, Woodchuck." Diane stood up, fixing her blazer and striding toward the door before being stopped by his hand enclosing around her bicep.

"Don't go down there trying to start trouble with 'er, Annie." he warned, making her narrow her eyes at him.

"Oh please. Like I don't have anything better to do than meddle in your love life." she scoffed, yanking her arm out of his grasp.

"Not my love life." he growled.

"Not anymore." Jenny hummed, feeling his glare turn onto her and struggling not to laugh as she pretended to read over a stack of papers on her desk.

Still grumbling under his breath, Gibbs turned on his heel and strode out of her office with Diane following close behind as they traveled down to the observation room. As soon as he pushed the door open, he could tell something was...off about Hollis. She had a glint in her eyes as she glanced from him to Diane and back again, and he wondered for a brief moment if she'd somehow, for some reason, gotten it in her head that something was going on between him and ex-wife number one again. Before he had time to really think on that too much, however, she was all business again.

"Are you ready?" A vague noise of assent was all she got in response, and with that, they stepped out into the hallway and then into the interrogation room where Erin Pace awaited them.

The news of the next drone attack spurred them all into action so fast, he still didn't have time to question her about the glint. McGee and Delilah were in danger, and he had to put his focus on that.

Hours later, when Delilah was safely recovering in the hospital, and the rest of the team was visiting to boost both hers and Tim's morale, Gibbs sat in his basement, not quite admitting to himself he hoped she would stop by but nevertheless knowing he wouldn't object if she did.

It wasn't long before she did, in fact, make an appearance, the sound of her familiar footsteps on the basement stairs a welcome change from the silence resulting in his mind being too distracted to get any woodworking done.

"How's Delilah?" she asked as she descended the last few steps and made her way over to stand next to him at the work table, leaning her hip against the edge as she always had. The sight was almost painfully familiar.

"Wouldn't say good yet, but better." he answered, holding up an empty mason jar in an offering of a drink and grasping his near empty bottle of bourbon when she gave an assenting nod.

"Hopefully she'll continue to get better." She took the jar he handed her, raising it to her lips. Another painfully familiar sight he couldn't quite bring himself to look away from until she gave him a quizzical look. Taking a gulp from his own jar, the usual, almost comforting burn of the alcohol in the back of his throat gave him the push to finally ask the question that had been swirling around his mind for hours.

"What'd ya give me that look for earlier?" Her expression once again took on a confused, questioning nature as she lowered her glass and tilted her head just slightly.

"What look?"

"In the observation room. Ya looked between me and Diane like you thought somethin' was goin' on."

"It's remarkable how well you still know me." she mused, slowly turning the mason jar back and forth in her hands. "I didn't think you'd even notice that look."

"Nothin's goin' on with Diane." he grunted, choosing not to say that no scenario existed where he wouldn't notice everything about her. The way her eyes got brighter when she discovered a new piece of evidence or caused a break in a case. The dimples that appeared on her cheeks when she laughed. The way her lips had quirked up in a ghost of a pained smile when he had told Leon she was close enough to being an ex-wife. Even after so long, every little thing about her caught his attention.

"I know." her soft laugh echoed in the basement, and he felt like it was healing something within him he couldn't identify. "That's not why I looked between you two like that."

"Then why did you?" he asked, confusion coloring his tone. Another chuckle had him even more confused, though he welcomed the sound he had admittedly missed.

"Because...I heard a bit of the conversation you had with her and the director." she answered with another sip of bourbon. "That's two more to add to the list of people who think I'm not your type." He made a face, and it reminded her of every time she'd seen him make the same expression when faced with something that made him feel ill at ease.

All she'd ever wanted from him was a promise to try. She didn't need promises of forever he may not be able to keep, whether due to his job or his baggage, she'd simply wanted to know that despite his past and the trauma he'd gone through, he was willing to try to make things work with her. When no signs of such a promise had been immediately forthcoming, she'd decided she would be the one to run away, to save herself the heartbreak she had seen in Stephanie Flynn all those years ago. Now, she was back in his basement, divorced and hoping in a corner of her heart she kept under lock and key that maybe he had finally healed and moved on enough to let her in, even if only as a friend.

"Don't have a type." he grumbled predictably, turning his eyes to his newest project. She recognized the wall for what it was and sighed internally. Clearly six years still wasn't enough to heal the wounds that kept him from loving someone else. Or allowing someone else to love him.

"Right. Of course not." she shook her head, draining the last dregs of bourbon from the jar. "I should get going."

"Hol…" the old nickname falling from his lips in that deep, gravelly tone felt like a knife was twisting in her heart. She waited, once again stupidly hoping he'd open up just a little, but all that came was a resigned expression and sigh. "Take care of yourself, okay? Let yourself be happy."

"I could say the same to you." she replied, leaning forward to press a soft, ghost of a kiss on his cheek. "Goodbye, Jethro."

Walking up those stairs again, she couldn't help but wonder if everyone had been right about them.

And there you have it! Only one more chapter to go!