by B. Cavis

by B. Cavis

“So,” Tony whispers into her ear, blanketed by her sweat dampened hair, “what exactly are we going to do about this?”

The question so mirrors her own personal, private thoughts, that it shocks Kate for a quick moment; has Tony become psychic in the past three hours? Or has it been a talent that he has always had and just never felt like sharing with her?

Good God-- had he gotten it off of Gibbs in some weird sort of contact way? Sexually transmitted ESP? She experimentally tests her own powers of reading minds, finds them just as underdeveloped as they were ten minutes ago, and relaxes quietly.

Don’t be an idiot, she tells herself. Of course he knows what you’re thinking. You’ve been around him long enough; he should know your moods by now.

Besides, when it comes to the man currently snoring lightly on her opposite side, they’re often thinking the same thing. It’s one of those little pieces of “subordinate behavior” that neither one of them have been totally able to banish just yet. When the older man snaps, they draw their wits together. When he’s cross, they both develop the little frown in their foreheads as to what’s to be done.

When he shows need, they both respond. Whole heartedly. And then, when they’re done responding, they psychoanalyze it to death.

“Hm?” She asks softly, trying to keep her voice down in demonstration. She gently lifts her head a few centimeters off Gibbs’s back, careful not to let the spot be touched by the cool breeze coming in from the window, and settles her cheek down in the exact same spot a moment later, turned the other way so that she has Tony in her vision.

Gibbs stirs, snorts, and falls back into the blackness. His two lovers release a soft, collective sigh.

He tends to become very… clinging during sleep. He claims that he just likes them keeping the cold away, but they both know that it’s not their body heat that makes him draw their skin near to him. It’s the comfort of their presence. Their touch. If he doesn’t have both of them on him in some way or another, no matter how small, his dreams are restless (if he sleeps at all), and he makes the noises of the emotionally wounded deep in his throat.

They don’t break contact with him during the night. The first time Kate woke up to hear the low groan spilling from behind closed lips, she made sure it was the last.

That noise disturbs her. The thoughts of what might have put that noise in his body scares her too. Of who might have abandoned him. Who kicked him to the curb, and how hard did he hit the pavement?

Tony brushes the hair out of her face absently, trying to maintain some semblance of normalcy. His bottom lip is chewed and rough-- he’s been worrying himself lying in the bed next to her; trying not to wake one or both of his lovers as he stewed in his own thoughts and tried to keep her safe from them.

She drags her thumb across his bottom lip gently. God, she loves this man. Both of these men.

“What are we going to do about him?” Tony asks patiently, voice soft and low, and his fingers drag gently across the older man’s skin. His arm, a heavy, comforting slash across her lower back, bulges with the movement before relaxing again. She breathes in the smell of him.

Tomorrow is the day that Gibbs’s third marriage officially became so riddled full of holes that the blood couldn’t be stopped. Tomorrow is the day that he lost the battle against being alone for the third time.

Of course, he hasn’t actually told him this. That would require some sort of admission on his part that it means something to him-- that the fact that his ex-wife calls him up and tries to make him generally miserable, that he spends hours at a time staring at his naked ring finger, that he feels sad and ashamed for some reason he can’t understand-- that any of these things bother him. And that would indicated that he is not the almighty Gibbs he likes to pretend to be. That he is not invincible.

That he is weak.

Not that this is such a big deal to them,of course. They’ve known he was weak since the beginning of this whole thing. They depended on it. That’s how Tony knew that the older man, despite all of his morality and all of his experience and all of his traditions, wouldn’t turn away in disgust when he found himself confronted by two wet, tequila flavored mouths instead of just one. That’s how Kate knew she could move him, shaking and sweating, back into bed after every single one of his “Post coital” sessions in the days before his great release.

He is weak. He is weak and afraid and small inside when it comes to them and all of the other people who have ever fallen asleep with the sound of his heart beat in their ears.

Kate and Tony both knew it. It was obvious-- when you’re on the outside looking in, everything is in twenty-twenty. Kate and Tony have been raised in the world of the singles. Told that promiscuous, wild, free sex is the way to go-- that marriage is a thing of the past that will soon become obsolete and meaningless. They’re part of the Sex and the City Generation: marriage is no longer the do all and end all-- it is not the final goal.

They’re used to being alone. They’re comfortable with it-- not happy, but comfortable, and they know the difference. Gibbs, however, is something entirely different, and they know that too. Gibbs was raised to believe that marriage was all there was-- that the true bonding of a man and a woman was the ultimate goal of life and love and existence.

He was raised to believe that two are stronger than one.

In a perfect world, of course, all of this would mean absolutely nothing. After all, two are stronger than one, but three are stronger than two. If life were lived moment to moment, case by case, the fact that the anniversary of Gibbs’s third failure as a married man is coming up would mean absolutely nothing.

But this is not a perfect world. So, instead, they sit up at night and try not to wake Gibbs with their whispers.

“What can we do?” she asks softly. “If he’s not going to let us help him, I mean.” She listens to the sound of her other lover breathing into the soft sheets behind her, and it soothes some vital female part of her that is amazingly satisfied with the idea of having everyone she loves warm and together and safe.

Tony sighs and blinks slowly. There’s a crust in the corner of his eyes. “Hm. That’s never stopped us before,” he points out. The bite mark on his shoulder blade moves, steady and even along with his breathing.

Somewhere on the stereo that she never turned off before they collapsed into bed and started to tear at each other, Joni Mitchell plays on repeat. Gibbs can’t stand her, but Tony has fond memories of it filling the kitchen when he was young, and Kate can feel the warmth of the porch on her parents’ sun drenched summer home underneath her feet whenever she listens to the soft, lulling notes.

Gibbs now has three of her CDs on his shelf. No one comments on them.

“…I could drink a case of you darling, and I would still be on my feet…”

Kate sighs. “That was different. That was dealing with something he wanted but didn’t know how to ask for. This is… bigger. How the hell are we supposed to get rid of something like this?” She smiles ruefully. “I know that you’re good at oral sex, Tony, but this might require something larger than even your talents.”

Tony’s lips quirk up painfully, acknowledging the not really all that funny joke, before pushing on through. She watches the darkness pool in his face and wishes that she could take all of his frowns away and replace them with something happier. More… serene.

Worries don’t become her men.

God, she thinks to herself, I have men.

“We could keep him home,” Tony suggests. “Call in sick. Play hooky.”

“And how would that keep him from thinking about it? About her?” It occurs to Kate that she doesn’t even know the other woman’s name, and that she has never thought to ask. She’s not sure if that’s important, but she really hopes it’s not. She doesn’t want her life to get anymore complicated than it is right now. She likes simple.

She likes this.

Tony closes his eyes for a second. “We could make him stop thinking. Take all thought away from him. We’ve done it before,” he points out, and there is foolish hope in his voice right now; a foolish hope she wants to take and form reality to meet, but knows it’s not possible.

“That wasn’t this big,” she reminds gently, and if he wanted to, he could snap at her right now for being negative and mean and cruel, but they already have one bad tempered member of their trio, and he doesn’t want to make her the odd one out.

Besides, she’s only telling him what he already knows and doesn’t want to hear. Which is, in some ways, more painful to hear than the things he didn’t know already, but that’s neither here nor there.

“…I met a woman, she had a mouth like yours…”

He sighs, heavy and thick, and it blows her hair out of her face even further. She smiles against the warmth of Gibbs’s back. “Yeah, I know.”

“I hate not being able to do… something.”

“We can be here. That’s what he needs.”

“What he needs is a good kick in the head.” He looks down at her. “He has a beautiful, willing, sexy partner who is willing to do just about anything for pleasure, and is surprisingly double jointed.” He pauses, smirks, and she knows what’s coming but she smiles when he says it anyhow. “And you’re not half bad either, Katie gal.”

“Shut up, Tony,” she giggles softly, and settles more firmly against the warm back she has made her pillow upon. “We can be here for him. And if he starts to really ask for it, yes, we’ll kick him in the head. Sometimes he does ask for it, doesn’t he?”

Tony sighs and closes his eyes for good this time, and she watches the years drift off of his face as he relaxes into the soft limbed pliability of pre-sleep. “We’ll take care of it,” he whispers as the frown leaves his forehead. She reaches out and eases it’s departure with a soft caress from her thumb.

“Yeah,” she whispers. “We’ll make him alright. Get some sleep.”

He’s already gone. She stares at him, watching him half envious of his ability to turn it all off and move on. The warmth under her cheek rises and falls, easy and predictable, and she listens to the muffled sound of his life with a small sigh.

“…Oh but be prepared to bleed…”

Kate is awaken the next morning by an arm being thrown over her face and cutting her out of her dreams with all the subtleties of two men fucking on a bed besides their female companion.

Which, interestingly enough, is exactly what she finds when she looks over to her right.

Hm. Nice how that works out.

Tony’s eyes are closed and his head is tilted back, mouth slightly open like a dog getting his stomach scratched by a friendly hand, and Kate laughs at the pure stupefied bliss that has taken over his usually (moderately) intelligent face. Sometime earlier, Gibbs had apparently been able to maneuver himself out from underneath her and then over her to meet his other sexual partner on the right end of the bed. She wonders how he manages to be so incredibly considerate while still being an asshole, and laughs again.

“Thanks for the wake up,” she scoffs at him, and Tony groans, open mouthed at her. His hand was the one that hit her-- he’s gripping big fistfuls of the sheets in an attempt to anchor himself to something stable. The world has started to lose it’s grip on Tony, and the hot mouth that is pulling at his jugular is winning the battle against heaven for his soul.

Tony’s legs are bent on either side of Gibbs’s hips, feet planted flat on the bed. One of his lover’s elbows rests on his hip, keeping him down while the hand attached at the end jerks him off roughly, and the other is up on his chest, pinning his upper torso still as his teeth dance, dangerous and sharp, around his throat. Kate presses a cheerful kiss to Tony’s cheek.

“Good morning, love.” He groans wet and desperate, gasping for air as the older man works himself in and out of his asshole and melts his skin off slowly and thoroughly. His flesh is covered in saliva and bite marks, and there is a flush everywhere she can see. His head thrashes back on the crumpled pillows, desperate for a catalyst to give him the release he so desperately needs and craves. His eyes seek her out, and she watches him watch her through his dark eyes.

There is a desperation in them that she’s seen on more than one occasion. It’s still just as hot as it was the first time.

“He’s truuuu… trying to ki-kill me,” Tony groans out, trying to make the puffs of air and tones that comes from his throat form words. She laughs low in her throat and he grunts, fingernails scratching the cotton underneath his hands.

Gibbs looks up at him out of the corner of his eye, teeth still firmly marking Tony as his property, catches him looking at Kate, and jerks him harder and rougher. His eyes close and his throat tilts back, stretching the tone of the wail that comes from his belly. Desperate.

“Then die,” Gibbs snarls at him, and Kate full out belly laughs at the fear and need on Tony’s face at hearing those words. Gibbs bites down harder on his throat and pulls one long stroke on the younger man’s cock before going back to the rough jerks that are almost enough to make Tony lose total control of himself, but that are just enough to take total control away from him when combined with the teeth and the tongue on his skin.

She laughs once more, strangely pleased with life in general, and presses a kiss to her older companion’s cheek gently. “Morning, lover,” she purrs, and he growls at her low in his throat, as if to say “you’re next.”

She laughs and shakes her head. “As much as I enjoy watching you work him over, I need a shower before I am officially awake. Play nice now, boys.” And with a parting smack on Gibbs’s ass, she hops out of bed and flounces, naked, into the bathroom.

Tony breathes raggedly on the bed behind her, a soft plea for help that he really doesn‘t want answered.

The rough hands that grab her around the waist as she’s washing the conditioner from her hair are unexpected, but still welcomed. Kate watches the contrast of his fingers against her skin for a brief second, wondering if he has come in to share her shower in companionship or lust.

The rough movement that pushes her up against the tile a moment later pretty much rules out the former.

“I thought you were wit…” Her voice dies out as two fingers slide into her, thick and without preliminary, and when he is satisfied that she is wet enough, pulls out again before pulling her hips back into place.

“He’s passed out on the bed,” he grunts against her throat, nuzzling her hair aside and rubbing his cock against her ass. She wonders if her obituary will read “Woman Found Dead in Shower: Sex and Soap Found as Cause” and really hopes that they have the decency to not misspell her name.

Todd. With two d’s.

And then, of course, all logical thought or rational thought or idle thought leaves her in one hard breath of air, because he has her now in every way anyone could possibly imagine. He has her on his cock and he has her in his hands and he has her in his mind and she is just… his.

Damn. This man…

“Besides,” he growls against her neck, biting down on the skin just below her hairline. “I could really use a shower and a scream.”

She grunts as he pushes forward, slowly deflating her lungs, and now that he has his stroke down, he starts to thrust harder. She’s being bounced between his hips and the wall, and he doesn’t give her enough room to settle against either one of them.

“Scream?” she gasps, as his arm pushes her flat against the wall, hand now free to come down and squeeze her ass. He watches his cock disappear behind the soft swell of her, grins, and bites down harder on her neck.

“Yeah, Kate, scream. You remember what it is to scream, don’t you? It’s when I make you come so hard your eyes close and your throat bends and you lose it.” He squeezes harder, and she grunts. “That’s what you’re going to do for me this morning.”

She grins. “Oh, yes sir.”

“Damn straight, Agent,” he growls, low and boss-like, but the shit eating grin she can feel pressed up against her undermines his authority with more ease than she ever could. Big push over, she knows, and he knows that she knows, so he feels comfortable doing this to her.

The silly little game of control. Three player, for ages twenty-eight and up.

She’s panting before long, eyes squeezed shut at the sensation of him moving in and out of her and grabbing at her like she’s just something to be grabbed. Her breasts, cold from being pressed against the tile, are aching and needy, and she wishes that he would grow another hand so that she could have that stimulation as well. Or that her other lover would come in and join them. But she’s been on the receiving end of a “You’re mine and that’s all there is to it” Gibbs fuck before; it’s not the kind of thing that one recovers from quickly.

“Katie,” he grunts low and heavy in her ear. “You remember what I asked for?”

She gulps for air. The water spraying against their legs is going cold. “Y… Yuhnnn…” She moans, and the grin grows wider. His stubble on the curve of her ear, his tongue against the lobe, and his teeth, finally his teeth, hard and unforgiving on the tip.

“Well?” he demands, and she feels the handful of strings holding her down to Earth come loose in her sweaty palm, spinning out away from her as she loses sight of the ground and gets tossed up in the pure rush that is Gibbs.

She screams. And he laughs.

He comes a minute later, more fluid rushing down her thighs to soak them both to the skin, and she shifts to try and dislodge him. “I have to shower again now,” she complains lightly, and he nips her shoulder as he falls out of her body.

“You’re welcome,” he sing songs, cheerful, and she turns in time to see him step out of the shower and bounce, yes bounce, back into the bedroom.

Kate blinks. Slowly.

Today is the anniversary of Gibbs’s third divorce. Today is the day he failed at something he put his whole heart into, for the third time.

And he’s bouncing? Gibbs never bounces. Never. It defies logic and burns her brain.

…But there he is.


Kate washes off in the now cold water and dries herself with an oversized red bath towel. Her morning toilette is performed, mouth cleaned and rinsed, and when she comes back out into the bedroom she feels like a real person again.

Tony is panting for breath again. She grabs a suit out of her part of the closet and tilts her head at him. “He didn’t rob you of breath for thirty minutes, Tony.”

Tony groans. “No. This is recent.” He throws an arm over his eyes, and Kate can see a bright red bite mark on his bicep that matches the one she knows is on the back of her neck. She raises an eyebrow. “He hates me, Kate, that’s the only explanation. He wants to kill me from lack of… protein.”

She plops down next to him and gently rolls her stockings up. He watches her smooth her hands over the silk with a small grunt. “He did me in the shower,” she argues. “There’s no way he came back out here and did you.”

He takes his arm away and glares at her. “Tell that to my prostate. Three fingers up my rear less than twenty minutes after he fucked me in the same place until I couldn’t breathe anymore. That’s why he went off to find you. I was too close to unconscious to be of any help.” He puts his hand on her thigh and uses it as leverage to sit up. The wince at the corner of his mouth would be comical if it wasn’t real. “Ow,” he mumbles.

She touches the small of his back, and he nestles his head in the curve of her neck, quiet and gentle. The breaths that wash over her throat make her feel strangely maternal, and she sighs. “He hurt you?”

“He didn’t mean to.”

“But he did.”

“Kate, it’s not a big deal,” he argues in a soft voice, careful to keep from being overheard by the man in the next room, bustling around and getting coffee. “He was just… over zealous. We’ve all gotten that way. You couldn’t walk without limping last week after I was through.”

She runs a hand through his hair and he relaxes further against her at the feeling of her fingers over his scalp. “And do you remember how apologetic you both were to me after that?” She kisses his forehead because he pushes it up against her chin, and he sighs. “You brought me breakfast and he refused to let you near me until he had concluded I was ‘safe’ from you and your evil self.”


“Now it’s my turn. Get back in bed, you’re playing hooky today.” She eases him back underneath the blankets, and his lack of resistance more than anything else affirms her belief that he is not well. She pushes the blankets up around him, and he blinks up at her, fuzzy.

“He’s not going to like this.”

“Well he’s just going to have to deal, won’t he? I know this is a big bad day for him, but that doesn’t mean he can hurt you.” She plants her hands in the bed, on either side of his chest, and the grin that pulls at his lips when she comes down at him makes her feel like a woman instead of the special agent she is going to have to be for the rest of the day.

His tongue curls soft and wet around hers, and when she slowly comes away from him, his eyes are closed in happiness. She rests her forehead against his and sighs, a gentle smile on her face. Pure emotional fluffiness, she berates herself, and smiles larger.

“Do you want me to bring you anything?” she asks gently, and he opens his eyes to look at her. The softness is in the corner of his lips now.

“I love you,” he says softly, and she blinks. “Don’t blink at me, Kate. I’m in love with you. I’m in love with him too,” he adds unnecessarily, and she swallows down her initial reaction (because, unlike with standardized testing, her first response here is not the right one) in favor of silence. “I just… wanted you to know that. I love you. Okay?”

She’s smiling. When did that happen? “Okay,” she whispers.

He smiles back, wide and goofy. “Okay.” He pulls her forward into his lap, and she squeals as his mouth comes down on her in the biggest, wettest, sloppiest kiss he has every bestowed upon her. When she pulls back, she wipes the back of her hand over her lips and laughs.

“I’ll see you tonight. Get some sleep.”

“Hm… And here we were worried about him today,” he murmurs sleepily, and she waits for him to lose the battle with Morpheus before sighing.

“Still am,” she sighs, and slips her shoes on before closing the door behind her.

Gibbs looks up over the rim of his coffee cup when she steps into his vision. “Hey. Where’s Tony?”

She crosses her arms over her chest. “He’s not coming with us today.”

Gibbs’s eyebrow raises. “Today is a work day, Kate. Do you mind telling me why Agent Dinozzo will not be coming to work?”

“Because he’s going to be in bed for the rest of the day with cream up his ass to repair what you did to him before work, Agent Gibbs,” she hisses, and grabs a travel mug of coffee off of the counter. The other one, marked up by Tony’s idle chewing on the rim, remains undisturbed. “The next time you want to try and take out your frustrations about life in general and your total inability to be in a committed relationship, at least use common sense and a bit more lube.” She grabs her keys off the key rack and pushes her arms into her coat. “I’ll see you at work,” she growls at him, not sparing a backwards glance.

He’s not worthy of a backwards glance.

She knows why, of course. She’s a fucking profiler for crying out loud-- if she wasn’t able to figure out why the gray haired member of their threesome had suddenly become sex addicted on the anniversary of his third divorce, she would have to kick her own ass for being an embarrassment to the training.

It’s all behavior. And she understands behavior.

Take one man. Add a three time failure of humongous, alimony worthy proportions. Shake thoroughly and then mix with two young, attractive, never married lovers. Top off with a dollop of emotional insecurity for flavor, and garnish with a slice of an anniversary.

And then lose the drink metaphor, because after all Gibbs only drinks hard, straight liquor.

He’s hurting. Three women have taken him, chewed him until all the juice was gone, and then spat him out like a mangled sunflower husk. Three women have experienced all he had, over and over again, and declared him unworthy. Unfavorable. Unloved.


Kate taps a finger against her red painted lips and considers the meanings of that last word. Unlovable.

They haven’t said it yet. She and Gibbs. Tony only said it this morning, and that was only to her-- only for her ears. That has it’s motivations as well. She’s safer than Gibbs, she supposes. In Tony’s eyes, she is the reliable one. The one that he can depend on to not say something heartless and crushing.

He wasn’t sure if he could do that with Gibbs. She knows the feeling.

But the fact remains that none of them have been entirely open with what they are feeling; none of them have come out and actually expressed their “emotions” or whatever the hell you call them. They’re still… committed without classification.

And maybe that scares some part of Gibbs. Definitely, she decides, that scares some part of Gibbs. He likes labels. He likes knowing “Okay, this is who we are to each other.” And without that admission-- that “Yes, I love you, you love me, and we are all as close to each other as any two people put together”-- he feels lost. Like he is lacking definition.

Like their relationship is lacking definition, and therefore lacks importance.

If she didn’t know him so well, know him well enough to know he means no harm (he’s just an idiot) she could really be offended by some of the things that go through his head and come out of his mouth.

It’s a good thing she’s smart enough for the both of them, she thinks to herself, and snorts into her hand.

Gibbs shows up at the office thirty minutes after Kate, and she doesn’t look up at him when he walks past her desk. His phone has been ringing for the past five minutes. She knows who it is. She wants to break the phone with a baseball bat and then feed it through a wood chipper, but that would be unprofessional.

And Kate is always professional.

He avoids her half of the room and keeps at least a foot away from Tony’s desk at all times. She hears him snarl at McGee, hears the younger agent whimper slightly, and knows that if she were a better person she would say something soothing to the rookie and then try and calm Gibbs’s temper.

She’s not that good of a person, though.

The paperwork goes surprisingly quickly, if extremely painfully, and it occurs to her half way through the day that she gets things done a lot faster when Tony isn’t around, but that she’d be willing to go slower in exchange for him being around.

She’d do just about anything to keep him around. The same way she would bend over backwards over barbed wire to make Gibbs happy and prolong the amount of time he spends looking at her like she’s just done something extremely clever.

She likes that look. A whole lot.

She becomes aware of a warm body in front of her, and when she looks up Gibbs shoves his hands in his pockets and examines the glass paperweight on her desk that her niece made for her for Christmas. She resists the urge to take it away from his line of sight.

That would be petty. And her New Year's Resolution was to not be petty except for when it comes to fucking with McGee.

Gibbs rocks quietly on his heels for a moment, before wincing and standing perfectly still. She watches his hands reappear from the caverns of his pockets. He's been chewing on his cuticles. One of them is bleeding.

"How bad was he hurt?" he whispers, and she leans back in her chair, taking on the posture of a lover and equal partner in all things instead of that of a subordinate. Work!Kate and Play!Kate have no business being in the same room.

"He was sore," she says softly. "Wincing. He wasn't crying or anything like that, and he didn't scream when I put him back to bed." She shrugs. "But he was hurt, Gibbs. He wasn't ready for that."

The woebegone expression that flashes briefly across his face soothes her maternal instincts and the very female part of her that wants people who hurt her and her own to suffer. She looks around quickly at the empty office, sighs, and leans forward. Cut him some slack, advises the shoulder angel who she hasn't seen in way too long.

The shoulder devil pouts quietly and takes a hit off of her hip flask.

"He'll be okay, Gibbs," she offers weakly, and the look that comes across the older man's face is one of complete and utter disgust. She feels the last of her anger melt under the heat of that self-hatred.

Gibbs has the ability to hate himself more than she ever could.

"Yeah, sure, he'll be fine," he snarls. "But why should he have to be? I'm a dumb fuck." She blinks at him. Gibbs doesn't curse. He thinks it's beneath him and any other man with at least a high school education. "I hurt him," he growls, and presses one fist against his jaw. "Oh fuck me, I hurt him."

She rises quietly and takes his fist in her hand to keep him from hurting himself as well. He watches her, the self loathing still in his eyes, as she uncurls his fingers and smoothes them out under her touch.

"Yes," she whispers, "you hurt him. But not because you tore him and not because he's going to be limping for a day or so." And now she can see the fear in his eyes-- did he do something else? Did he somehow manage to kill Dinozzo without noticing?

Oh God, she reads on his face, is Tony going to hate him?

"You hurt him because you tried to use him to avoid thinking about what today is." He swallows. "The same way you hurt me when you came into the shower this morning and treated me like a piece of tail. You hurt us both, yes. But," and here she makes absolutely sure that he is meeting her eyes-- that he can see the truth in the set of her mouth and the rich brown of her gaze, "we forgive you for that. Do you know why?"

Of course he does. But sometimes, at least once, he needs to hear it. "No."

"Because we love you, Gibbs. And the fact that you have been married before, divorced before, and thrown out once more before doesn't change that. If anything," her lip curls up, "it makes us love you more. Because that's who you are. And that's all we want."

His hand seems to be the only part of his body that's warm. He wonders if he needs to invest in some better clothing.

"Okay," he whispers back hoarsely, and she smiles big and bright. "Kate..."

And the indecision; the lack of conviction in his eyes nearly destroys her.

She closes her eye for a long moment, sucking in air to keep herself standing, and when she opens them back up again she knows that he can see her pain in her eyes, but she’s not strong enough or brave enough or selfless enough to hide it.

He’s not sure. That hurts more than she ever thought it could hurt.

She swallows. Hard. The smile has vanished, and the grimace she gives him is watery at best and half way to sobs at worst. She bites down on her bottom lip. “It’s okay. You don’t… you don’t have to say it. Wait until you want to say it. We can wait." And even though saying those words and witnessing his hesitance to use the only words she wants to hear hurts her more than she ever imagined it could, she says them anyway. Because she is in love with this man, and whether he’s in love with her or not doesn’t change that fact.

Which is probably why this hurts so bad.

She looks down at their hands, but more at the watch on her wrist. Tony gave it to her for Christmas. “I gotta get going-- I’m going to pick up a few things for him and then head on home.” A few months ago she would have said “head on over,” because home would have been a different place for him than for her. Now, home is wherever the others are. Home right now is where Tony is. “I’ll see you later.” And she removes herself from the warmth of his body and heads towards the door.

She pretends not to hear him calling out for her as the elevator doors close. She pretends she doesn’t feel a little bit of her heart being shattered into glass dust under his foot.

The glass of scotch that Ducky pours him the second he steps into autopsy is unexpected, but welcomed. He’s long since given up trying to hide anything from this man, whose place in his life is so unofficial and yet so certain. Somewhere along the line, Ducky and Gibbs wrote an unwritten list of rules to govern their relationship.

Ducky will kick Jethro Gibbs in the ass when he needs it. Gibbs with protect Dr. Mallard with every breath in his body.

It works out nicely.

Ducky pours another glass, half the size of the previous one, and offers Gibbs a paternal smile. “Well, Jethro, you’re here late. You usually don’t hang around any place with a telephone on this day of the year.”

Gibbs sips at his scotch without comment.

“Tell me, has something happened?” The doctor wipes down one of the autopsy tables with clean, easy strokes. The metal turns shining and cool under his ministrations.

Gibbs watches his hand moves, watches him clean away the remnants of someone’s wasted life, and prays that what he’s about to say will be as therapeutic as he is hoping it will, and that the man he looks at like a father of a sort will still be able to look him in the eyes after it escapes his mouth.

What if he’s about to destroy himself? What is his alternative?

“You look well enough, of course, however I would have thought you would be home by now. Warm and snug in bed,” he smiles encouragingly. Gibbs doesn’t say anything. One of the unspoken rules between them is that when he is in this state, it is Ducky’s job to provide booze and soothing prattle to surround him.

“Caitlin has already gone home, I believe,” he notes absently. “Of course, Anthony hasn’t been here at all today. The cold, I believe.” Gibbs bites down hard. Ducky watches his jaw tense and bulge, nods briefly, and throws the blood stained wipe into the sterile trash can. “I hear it’s going around, actually. Gerald was coughing something horrible last week… But, anyway, more to the point-- I would have expected you to follow their example; to slip off to a warm meal and a cool drink. Some companionship, perhaps.” He pulls his gloves off and slowly unties the back of his smock. Gibbs swallows.

There’s something dark and thick in his throat. A burn that’s from something besides the alcohol. He wonders when they became that powerful. He wonders why he can’t remember a time that they weren’t.

Is it bad, he wonders, that he is being controlled? That he is completely at the mercy of a man and a woman who know how full of shit he is and how exactly to destroy him?

He can’t remember ever being happier, after all, than he is now. He is warm and loved and held. He laughs like he hasn’t known pain in his life, and when he presses his face into his pillow in the morning it smells like more than his morning breath.

He has a home. And it has four arms, four legs, and two mouths.

“It’s funny,” Ducky continues quickly, either oblivious to Gibbs’s internal conflict or not caring. “That a man such as yourself would not be at home right now with all of the things and people that make you happy.” His voice has taken on a gentle chiding note. “On a day such as today, it is good to be surrounded by others.” His suit jacket appears, and he pulls it on and looks up at the dark coated figure that has appeared at the door. “Just a moment, Abigail.” He picks his hat up off of the countertop, smiles softly at the man he has come to view as his friend, and sighs. “It is good to be with other people, Jethro. It is good when they like to be with you, as well.”

Abby smiles when he links his arm through hers, and slaps him on the ass with the flat of her hand. He sticks his nose up in the air, looks grossly offended, and she laughs clear and hard.

Gibbs watches them go. Finishes off his drink.

The door opens and illuminates a bright patch in the otherwise dark hallway. The broken and small man stands there, eyes clear and straight ahead. His back is straight. His mouth is set.

His cell phone is buzzing up against his chest. There are twelve new voice messages on it, and he hasn’t picked up a single one. He never intends on picking them up again.

“I’m sorry,” he begins, and when his voice runs out of air before it runs out of word, he takes a deep breath and repeats it. “I hurt you. I hurt the both of you, and for that I am very sorry.”

No response. He’s not sure if that’s a good or a bad thing. He’s not sure if he has the right to expect one anymore.

“I’m, uh,” he winces, “I’m not good at stuff like this. I tend to… to trip over myself. Screw it up. I’m… bad.” He swallows again. “I tried to write down everything I was going to say, so, you know, I could remember it and get it right, but, uh, I actually forgot it when the door opened. I could show it to you, but, well, you know how my hand writing is. Chicken scratch,” he jokes weakly.

Still nothing.

“The thing is,” he continues uneasily, feeling his tongue start to thicken and sour in his mouth, “that I’ve never had to be good at stuff like this before. I mean… I never wanted to be good at this kind of thing. It was never something I, uh, really felt was missing.” He feels gravity and nerves pull at him, enticing him to drop his head and his gaze to the floor, and he fights it. His arms have started to tremble, slightly, but enough that he can feel it.

Can feel what they’re doing to him.

“I do now, though. I want to have all of the words that you deserve to hear. And you gotta know that… that I want to give them, I just… don’t have them sometimes. Most of the time, I’m not that good. But I’m… I’m going to try. Hard. Harder. And… I just thought you should know that… And I’m in love with you.”

They must be trying to kill him with silence and nerves. It’s working.

“I am, I am. I wake up in the morning and know that you’re there, and when I go to sleep at night I know that you’re there, and I like that. I like eating with you and being with you, and when you’re not around I spend my time looking to see where you are and when you are coming back because nothing can be right until you come back. I want to keep from ever having to leave, and when I do have to, I feel just a little less like me until I get back to where you are,” he swallows, quickly, and hopes that he won’t choke on his own spit. He can’t imagine that would be romantic in any sense of the word.

Huh. Romantic. Is that what this is.

“I know that I didn’t say it earlier, and that was s-stupid of me. I was just too caught up in being afraid. And being sad about… things. It was stupid. I was stupid. And I’m sorry.”

And now his head drops down, because he has no more honesty in him to give and even if he did, he doubts that it would make a difference.

They have all of him now.

“That’s all I have,” he whispers. “I just… wanted you to know it so you could… know it. It’s… that’s it.”

He swallows. Feels lightheaded. Swallows again. “That’s it.”

The light grows outwards, expands into the hallway. And when he looks up again, straight into whatever the hell he is going to do next, he finds that he can breathe once more without his whole body shaking.

He pulls one more moment of life into him. And steps into the light.


Feed me. It stops the voices and soothes the hunger. Really... Okay, not really. But it helps.

Feedback to B. Cavis