by B. Cavis
by B. Cavis
Month one starts, and sometimes she’s wishes it started differently. Sometimes she replays the scenes in her head and drags them into something more witty, romantic, etc. Sometimes, when she’s feeling sad or lethargic or nostalgic or something, she’ll sit in her bathtub, dragging her fingers over her well oiled and softened skin and wonder if she could have gotten him any other way but the difficult way. The challenging way.
Marines love a challenge. Would be have answered as well to a “please”?
It doesn’t really matter, and she knows it. The woulda coulda shoulda game is never satisfying and it never ends by its very nature. She will not get another chance at a new beginning, nor should she. All she can do is be happy with the results.
She tries to tell herself that whenever she has doubts. Sometimes it doesn’t work.
“We shouldn’t do this,” he tells her, and she nods.
“I’m your supervisor.”
“And you can’t handle me,” Kate confirms, picking up the glass of bourbon and sipping it idly. His face contorts and she’d laugh if she wasn’t so focused on looking cool and sexy right now.
“What do you mean I couldn’t handle you?” He sounds like he should have one hand planted on his hip, the other waving a finger back and forth in front of her face like a Ricki Lake reject. She tries to imagine Gibbs in a wife beater with a mullet, and shivers idly.
Damn. She never thought she’d be able to find white trash sexy. Apparently he’s just that good.
“Well, Gibbs, I mean, let’s face it. I’m twenty-seven. You’re… fifty? Fifty five?” He’s forty three, but she’s not going to admit that she knows that; Abby swore her to secrecy. “You’ve been married three times, and you’re pretty set in your ways. When was the last time you even had sex?” She doesn’t give him time to answer. “See? You may be a former Marine, but unless you have the stamina of a guy ten years younger and the staying time of someone twenty, you’re really not my type.” She shrugs. “Nothing personal.”
“How the hell am I not supposed to take that personally?” Gibbs’s voice has gone up two octaves. She decides not to point this out to him.
“Well,” Kate says diplomatically. “It really doesn’t matter, does it? I mean, you don’t want to do anything with me anyhow. You are my supervisor, after all.” She smiles and sips from her glass. “I’m just counting out the reasons it wouldn’t work.”
“I could handle you,” he grumbles crossly, jaw clenching and eyes burning brightly in his face. She gives a patronizing smile.
“It’s okay, Gibbs, I’m sure you could. But we’ll never know so-”
And he steps forward before she gets the third word out, kisses her soundly, and pushes her away roughly all in the span of five seconds.
“I can handle you,” he growls. “And if you think this little game you’re playing is going to work-”
“Then I’m absolutely right,” she purrs lightly, grinning up at him and stepping forward into his personal space. His breathing quickens, subtly, and she watches herself in the pupils of his eyes. “You want me, Gibbs?”
“You can’t handle me,” he shoots back at her, low and dangerous, and she shakes her head.
“Maybe not. But you want this and I want this.” Her fingers curled around his belt, hands cool against his flesh. “The rest can come later. We’ll figure it out later.”
By month four, sometimes he dreams. Her sheets turn from a thousand count cotton to the mud or the vines or the arms of his friends. The softness of the pillow transforms into the wet, heavy warmth of moss underneath his hair, bugs crawling in his ears to nibble at him and set his skin afire. The lavender in the air and on her skin and on his fingertips becomes gunpowder. Becomes rotting flesh and gangrenous wounds. Vomit and blood.
He dreams of acridity. He chokes on his own subconscious.
Once upon a women’s magazine, she suggested a lovers game of bondage play. He had fucked her hard and long enough for her to pass out before his turn to be tied down came, and she pretended not to notice the fact that he shifted uncomfortably around the silk ties he had bound her with for the next week or so. The next idea she came up with was breath mints and oral sex. He continues to be an active participant in that game.
She threw the ties out later on that month. He’s never said anything, but of course he’s noticed. He notices everything, even if he doesn’t feel the need to comment.
She does too. He really should know that by now.
Sometimes he dreams, and sometimes she lies awake and listens to the noises he makes. More often than not he’s silent and still-- in control, in command-- a study in self-restraint. Her lover is the poster child for control freaks everywhere; she has never seen him cry and she has never seen him actually admit that he needed help/time/work/anything he couldn’t give himself.
He cries in his sleep sometimes. When it becomes too much for him, his eyes overflow and the choked sobs escape his throat like the violent little bastards they are-- tearing him up as they leave. She watches the years appear and settle on his face, and always closes her eyes before he wakes up and catches sight of the silent witness at his side. She’ll wake up about twenty minutes after he does, complain cheerfully about how his internal clock is a pain in the ass, and roll over to lie on his chest until he pushes her off to make coffee.
It’s habitual. Life.
It probably makes her a bad person that she sort of likes the dreams. More than likely, she’ll burn in hell unless God is in the mood to hear her explanations.
She remembers the hard wood of the pews underneath her ass when she was younger and the unforgiving ruler on her knuckles when she hit puberty. God is too black and white for her these days. She’s not sure if she believes anymore, but she knows she wants to. She hasn’t gone to church in a while, but she still frequents the confessional.
The priest knows her name and the last time she came into see him, he took a deep breath and told her that whatever it was, he was sure she was justified in it. She didn’t say anything but her sins, and he gave her a couple of Hail Marys to keep her happy.
Her lover cries in his sleep, clutches at the sheets, and she feels a little bit of herself glow at the sight of him. She will burn in hell, but she has done many things that she deserves to burn for, and this seems so petty in comparison.
Always in control. Always owning himself and her and the world around them.
He cries, caught up in the old war stories he never tells as they play through his head, and she slides over to him and cuddles up against his side until the noises stop and he loses a little bit of himself to her. Gives her a little bit of something to hold inside her chest and own.
“Where did you get this,” he demands, cool fingers tracing her ribcage, and she shrugs.
“I don’t know.”
“Yes you do.”
She tries to roll over and effectively end the conversation, but he pins her to the bed efficiently, Marine style to the bitter end, and she struggles with half of her strength and a third of her seduction on the mattress underneath him. He doesn’t take the bait, and his eyes keep on the bruise with dogged determination.
“I banged it against a drawer.”
“That’s not the kind of place you could hit with a drawer,” he notes. “And I don’t think that McGee got close enough to you to do that last training day.”
“It’s nothing,” she insists, trying not to think about how very it hot it is when he pins her against the mattress and makes her struggle a bit underneath him. Like all of her bondage fantasies come true and all of her issues with control coming back to haunt her in the most delicious way imaginable.
“I think it is,” he counters back, and tilts his head to one side to get a better look at the bruise. “You’re too defensive about this to be an accident. Did you and Tony spar without…” His voice dies off, and she glances up at the ceiling to try and find some strength to destroy the puzzle pieces slowly aligning in his head. “I did this to you.”
He climbs off her and pads naked into the bathroom. She listens to the water run for a good five minutes, a soothing white noise of water in the porcelain basin of her sink, and gets up to follow him.
He lifts his head out from underneath the stream of the water, hair dripping wet, eyes cold, and she turns the sink off gently. His jaw is pressing together tightly, bunching and releasing underneath his skin. She presses her palm against his cheek and drags her other hand over his short dripping hair like she’s petting a puppy dog.
“You had a bad dream,” she says calmly. “I got in the way. It doesn’t hurt and it doesn’t make me sad and it doesn’t make me want to leave you.”
She comes around to his front, sitting up on the edge of the sink, and he steps forward to breathe in the smell of her without conscious effort. He finds the smell of lavender soothing. She dabs it behind her ears periodically though out the day, and it’s the only body lotion she wears. It never hurts to have him complacent and easy underneath her hands.
“It will,” he whispers hoarsely, the sound to utterly heartbreaking that she would scrunch up her face in sympathy for him if she wasn’t absolutely sure that would send him out the door never to return. Marines don’t respond well to pity. “I’m not an idiot, Kate. I hit you. You should be out the door now. If it happens again-”
“Then I’ll talk you out of being an idiot the same way I am now,” he hisses, grabbing him by the back of his hair and holding him firm. “Do you trust me with a gun in my hand?”
He nods. Like it’s the most obvious thing in the world to trust her with his life over his heart. She licks her lips with a thick tongue.
“Then trust me with this, Gibbs. If you hit me on purpose and I was angry with you, my aim wouldn’t get any less true when I blew your kneecaps out.” And because there really isn’t any way she can top that right now, she hops off the sink and wanders back into the bedroom in a cloud of lavender and sex. The teeth marks on her ass are visible in the dim light the bathroom lamp provides.
She slides back into bed, closes her eyes and waits. He really isn’t all that surprised to find himself back next to her within the minute.
She slips close to him and he watches her sleep for a long time.
By month seven, sometimes they talk. Random, lovers talk in the wee hours of the morning that wouldn’t be allowed or welcomed during the light of the day. She has a picture of a British country side hanging on her bedroom wall, and she knows what it looks like at three AM though a cloud of smoke and the haze of sleep deprivation.
He’ll talk to her and wash himself in moonlight, and she’ll listen with her head on his thigh and her exhalations tickling his leg hairs, gently erotic. He tells her about places he wants to visit and people he knows-- about the boat he’s building and how he really wants it to be beautiful, and about the oceans he plans on pushing it into; the deep blue of the Pacific and the translucent pale blue bowl of the tropical seas.
She never really has much to say back to him, and she doesn’t feel bad about that. He doesn’t want to hear her talk back with him. When he spills himself over the sheets at four AM and lets her see just a bit more of him, he wants acceptance. Quiet. He wants her to be his friend and his companion, not his conversation partner.
She never pictured herself as the kind of woman who just sat in complacency and listened to their lover. It sort of shocks her that she does, but not really. He is the kind of man who needs to be a bit domineering in every day life. She is the kind of woman who will never bend professionally, but is undeniably flexible in her personal life.
He talks, she listens, and he strokes his fingers through her hair like she’s the softest thing he’s ever had in his big calloused palms.
One night she slips up towards rationality and finds him staring off into space smoking one of the cigarettes she sometimes smells on his skin when it all gets to much. Last week they caught a Petty Officer two hours after he raped, tortured, and killed a seven year old girl. She went to bed and held a pillow until her body stopped quivering, and when he showed up he smelled of sawdust, blood, and nicotine.
She breathes him in and licks her lips.
He doesn’t acknowledge her scrutiny, and when he finishes the cigarette he lights another with steady hands. “You should sleep,” he murmurs to her, still fixated on the point on the wall that seems to be so interesting to him right now.
“Not tired,” she whispers back, afraid of breaking the soft pre-dawn quiet that has settled on her world. She props herself up against the headboard, suppresses a yawn, and takes the cigarette in between her own lips for a long drag. God, she hasn’t done this since college. She’s starting to remember why she liked it so much.
He takes the cigarette back firmly. “Don’t let me catch you doing that,” he warns, the father figure she used to deny she wanted with every fiber of her being, and she nods absently.
“It’s early. You were up late. You sleep.” But he won’t and she knows it. She drags a hand down his back, fingers trailing over hard knots he will only let her try and tackle when he’s had a drink in him or a day that robs him of enough strength to leave him pliable and weakened. He pushes back against her hand, and she slips one hand up the back of his shirt. “Lie down,” she whispers, and he stubs the cigarette out harder than he needs to before tearing his shirt over his head and presenting her with his bare back.
She rubs him until her fingers go numb and his back is clean and smooth. His groans dropped off into soft breathing about ten minutes prior, and she presses a gentle kiss to his shoulder blade before getting up in search of a shower and little peace of mind.
He doesn’t dream when they talk.
By year one, sometimes he touches her softly, sometimes he fucks her hard. The roughness of his hands is sandpaper on her skin, but she doesn’t complain about the burn and he doesn’t put lotion on. She lets him move work roughened palms over her body, plays his touchstone, and sighs when he falls against her and relies on her strength to catch him.
The last time he finished with her, his arms gave way and he collapsed face first into her breasts, breathing heavily and shaking slightly with the ache the past two hours had put into his flesh. His skin shivered with sweat and coolness. She dragged a hand over his back and called him back to himself.
“You’re soft,” he’d whispered into her skin.
“You’re not,” she’d whispered back, and rolled them over so that she was on top and he was playing her pillow.
He likes it that way-- whenever he feels like he gives too much of himself to her, he needs her to give it back. Give herself over to him. She’ll catch him against her flesh, warm and steady, and then throw herself at him to make him feel more in control.
It’s a tiny little word, but it still means so much to the both of them.
They have rules-- no fucking at work, no touching at work, no flirting at work. They are competent professionals, except for when they aren’t, and no one is around to see those times.
Last week Tony told her that Gibbs has been smiling a lot more-- asked her if she was sure he hadn’t been replaced by zombies. She tried not to glow quietly, and he had pretended not see it. They all sort of take that approach. When she comes in with a Gibbs shaped hickey on her throat, Abby just grins at her. When he has trouble sitting back because she’s gored his back with her nails, Tony avoids looking at him.
Avoidance is the key to keeping their professional relationship the way it is-- the way it has to remain. When she steps into a potentially dangerous situation he doesn’t think about it. When he does something stupid and insane that he gets away with because the universe likes Leroy Jethro Gibbs, she bites her tongue hard and tells herself not to let it carry over-- not to let their worlds mesh.
It doesn’t always work, but more often than not she can look at him and see the difference between her lover and her boss, and that’s really all she needs.
“I’m fine,” she breathes, licking her tongue over the split in her lip as she lets him into her apartment. Her ribs are killing her and her hip are sore from hitting the ground, but she tries to walk normally for him to prove her fitness. He doesn’t say anything. “You didn’t have to come over tonight.” She turns to look at him and finds him pressed up against her, eyes examining her bruised face critically before he puts his hands on her shoulders and pushes her down on the couch.
“Sit down, I’ll order something to eat.”
“I’m fine, Gibbs-”
“Move and I’ll tie you down,” he warns, as if he hasn’t heard her, and pulls his cell phone out to find a take out place. She rarely cooks and he found it too lonely to cook for one to keep it up for long after wife number three left so his skills are beyond rusty.
She pushes herself into a more comfortable position, ignoring the hiss that wants to escape her throat at the pain of moving. Nothing big, she tells herself, nothing that requires his attention. Getting beaten up by a suspect is just a part of the job-- just part of life. She’s tough. She’ll take it.
He walks back towards her, hangs up the phone and runs his fingers over her face until she’s sighing and almost sick with the contact. “You’re okay,” he declares, and she nods idly.
“Yeah. I’m okay.”
“I thought you weren’t,” he says, and she finds him suddenly fascinated by the grain of her hardwood floors. “I thought you were in trouble.”
She shrugs. “You got me out of it.” He sighs. “I’m fine, Gibbs. I’m not going to break, Ducky okayed me and everything. I’m fine.”
“Don’t do that again,” he whispers to her, and she shakes her head.
“I can’t promise you that, and you know it. It’s the job.”
“You getting bounced against the pavement is not your job,” he growls softly. “Promise me you won’t put yourself in a situation like that again.”
And since there is no answer she can give him that will make them both happy, or make them both any less emotionally and physically wounded, she gives the one that makes him happy. “Okay. I promise.”
“Good,” he confirms, and even though they both know she’s lying, neither one of them says anything more about it. He climbs up onto the couch and puts her feet in his lap, and they watch a movie they’ve both seen until the food shows up and they can fill their mouths with food so they don’t have to speak to each other.
When they go to bed, he doesn’t dream. She doesn’t sleep.
Sometimes she wonders if it’ll last. If she’ll wake up in two, ten, twenty years at his side and want no other. She wonders if his fascination with her skin will last long enough for it to loose elasticity and smoothness, and wonders if he’ll be as forgiving of the wrinkles on her body as she is of the ones on his.
She doesn’t know if he loves her, doesn’t know if she wants him to love her. She doesn’t know if she loves him or if she ever will. She doesn’t know if she’ll ever leave him, if he’ll ever get sick of her, if they’ll ever throw hurtful words at each other through doors or slam delicate glasses down on tables to make their points in a shattering mist of anger and sound.
He doesn’t enlighten her. He doesn’t know the answers himself.
Sometimes he wonders when she’ll leave him like the others did-- when his sins will pile up and become an insurmountable issue between them. He’ll wonder when he’ll screw up enough that she’ll declare him beyond salvation and beyond forgiveness, and wonders what he’ll do this time when he’s on his own. Wonders if all he can ever do is be on his own.
Wonders why they work so well together, for all of their issues and all of their problems; how she knows how to move him and he knows how to keep her still.
Sometimes they don’t think, they play. They laugh, they fall, they feel, and when they wake up next to each other they revel in the flesh provided and whisper morning breath flavored endearments into exposed skin. He’ll push her down and lick her until she’s wet and soft underneath his hands. She’ll let him, and he doesn’t dare tell her how much that means to him. She doesn’t know a lot of things and somewhere along the way that stopped bothering her.
He sleeps on the right side of the bed, her on the left, and every night they meet in the middle.
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