by B. Cavis
It bounces in his skull. Tears around the area behind his eyeballs and brings his mood down to three steps above "Come near me and I'll eat your face for protein."
The idea eats at him. Picks its teeth clean of his emotional and mental state before starting the feast all over again, and no matter how much appeasement he throws its way, it's still there. Still... eating.
Because the thought that ravages him isn't imagined. It isn't the worries of an overworked and let down mind, and he can't pretend it is. He can't rationalize it to himself, because there is no rationalization that he is allowed to comfort himself with, and he refuses to dig into his emergency box for the others.
That's what bourbon is for, after all. Numbing his hatred, his anger, and the knowledge that for a good five hour chunk there-- for a good deal of time, during which anything could have happened (death, dying, murder, her body in that bag, please God no, not Kate, not Katie) he was completely and utterly out of control.
For five hours, he was nobody. All of his work, all of his strength, all of his power.
And he was nobody. Nothing. Incapable of helping and not even having the resources to know how to. He was inept. Impotent.
For five hours, Kate Todd, his work in progress and flesh; his masterpiece of power and energy and gun toting, ass kicking, breathlessly intelligent woman... was lost.
Was gone. And if he had been right, she never would have come back without the red black bloom on her forehead.
And all that time, all that precious time that he was thinking and cursing and praying, she was sitting at a picnic table playing with nut shells. Fucking nut shells.
Marine One as a walnut.
Her hair up around her shoulders, blood pooling in her mouth; her eyes never looking down and her features never giving anything away-- she sat there and looked like an avenging angel, lowering herself to the level of the mere mortals. Lowering herself just enough to be slapped around and ordered into betrayal and almost killed.
Lowered to a level below the clouds and his line of sight by a man who smiles and laughs and whose eyes don't lie.
There is no way to justify that to Gibbs. No possible way, and they all know it and they all have to accept it because they all have no other choice.
Abby just bobs her head. Smiles. Tries way too hard not to be anywhere near him in this mood. She saw the blood on the floor of the morgue and winced, but didn't say anything.
There were bone shards mixed in. She recognized them wading into the pool and decided she really didn't want to go swimming in that bog just yet. Or ever, for that matter.
Ducky mops. Quietly and without remorse or regret or concern. Gerald won't be getting out of rehab for another two months, and even then he won't be coming back to work. The old man who no one believes is old bemoans the younger child's absence. He understands the duty one holds towards one's country, he doesn't accept that as justification.
When Gibbs came up from the elevator with his gun hot, Ducky said nothing in the way that a father has to for those he loves, and poured forgiveness and love upon him in a silent wave the way he has to for the man who won't allow anyone but him to use the name "Jethro."
Tony just ducks. Quickly. Completely. Ducks. He remembers telling Gibbs he should read "Moby Dick," and the look he saw on his boss's face when he looked up at the stairwell and saw the older man holding his cellphone and glancing at Kate's empty desk. Like a beaten old hound dog, confused and used to kindness, wondering what the hell had happened.
He remembers the furry of "That bastard's got her!" and the pure relief in his spine that had accompanied the whispered words of "She's alright?" into the phone. He knows that Kate didn't drive herself home that night. And he knows that in the conference room, after telling their information to the higher ups, Gibbs took Kate aside and had her show her battle scars of the day.
And he knows that they weren't beyond repair-- knows that she wasn't damaged in any way long term enough to leave scars or weak muscles, because Ari is still alive.
If Kate had a lisp for a week or a white line on her lip, Ari would be MIA. Never to be found. Tony knows it; knows that this is how Gibbs operates, how he works, and so when the time comes he ducks his head and hides. And is eternally grateful that the woman who has become indispensable has decided to stick around for a bit longer.
Her mouth still tastes like blood. She knows it's been over 36 hours and that she's brushed her teeth at least five times. She put ice on it. Washed it out with sugar water. All the old wives treatments she can think of.
But she still tastes that iron tang. And it still tastes like failure.
Logically, honestly, she knows she didn't fail. Knows that she proved herself right and true in the best way possible-- she recognized a man for what he truly was and no one can dare tell her otherwise. She told Gibbs that he had kind eyes, and she meant it, and she won't take it back no matter how hard his eyes get.
Truth is better than self-delusion. Anything is better than self-delusion when you know it's there.
Kate knows. Kate always knows.
Off to her peripheral right, she can hear movements-- constant pressure and force and motion applied to the art of creation. Down in the basement, a few stumbled steps away, is her boss. The man who she took two hits to the head for and kept her mouth shut tight around the blood and the pain that threatened her cool and her control.
The man who took a look at her, climbing out of the back of the CIA's black unmarked car, and his jaw tightened. Painfully.
The distress lurked in the corners of his eyes, and she'd stood still as he wiped them over her methodically, checking for injury or damage or pain that the medics couldn't see.
He had found her mouth, still covered in a thin sheen of blood and swollen up to a noticeable size now. She heard his jaw click from five feet away.
But he had kept his mouth shut. She had followed him (or, more aptly, led him by silent persistence and force) up into the building, past the guards and the spook detail, and into the conference room. Her story was told-- the story she had learned when she was with Ari-- and Gibbs stayed quiet and all mighty by her side while she told it to the important people in a thick tongue.
The look on his face had cut any questions the others may have had back before they could ask them in more than one way to try and trip her up. Everyone had enough information. No one had too much.
She'd watched him cross to the desk and shut down the whole thing. Turn the screens back to the news, where colon cancer was now the center story.
Her little trip would never become public knowledge. That was what she had been trained to accept before she joined up with this man and his team, and she accepted it now just as easily.
Silence is their greatest ally.
But before she could leave, before she could step outside to make her excuses and disappear home to soak her face in ice and tend to her bruises with a good deal of vodka, he had taken her arm.
Held it. Like a friend, not a boss. And suddenly getting home and crying for reasons she didn't understand wasn't the most important thing she needed to do right now.
Gibbs had just looked at her. Begged for reassurance with his carefully hooded eyes. And she had nodded quietly and opened her mouth.
He took her chin in his hand and washed his eyes over her. Swept them over the pissed off red marks her teeth had made when they were introduced to her lip and examined every nuance of the bruises on her cheekbone.
His thumb had condensed on her lower lip. Soft and gentle, like a lover she was about to gain but didn't yet have, and he pulled down slightly, nodding at the blood that stained her teeth.
She couldn't focus beyond his thumb and the rough, soft perfect skin that he had cultivated there. All five of her senses had been jolted with a fine line of electricity, and she felt and heard and knew every moment with the crisp, dry edges of her senses. She had fought down the urge to entice his thumb into her mouth with the tip of her tongue, to suck on the salty heat of his finger until his eyes had grown just dark enough.
Kate had kept her back straight and her face guarded. Proud. Untouched.
And despite all of the clenching of fists and all the tightening of muscles, Gibbs did something then that she had never expected of him. He smiled. Proud and wide and bold and white, like she had done something amazing and beautiful that needed to be rewarded.
She had rather liked it, all things considered. As off setting as seeing his teeth was, it had been... nice.
Kate takes a sip of the beer she really shouldn't be drinking with the remnants of a painkiller in her blood, and lets all the air in her body slip out of her lungs like a one night lover in the morning. The night air feels warm and lovely on her face, and the sensation of being held by the wind is almost tangible enough for her to believe it.
She never imagined that Jethro Gibbs' home would be a safe haven for her, no matter what the circumstances. It's a little odd, when she considers who she's seen him as for the past year, but less so when she sits back and looks at the man who brought her here tonight.
Maybe, just maybe, this is a different man than she had originally thought. Maybe, just maybe, she feels comfortable with the idea.
Her thoughts turn slow and sweet, and she lets them pour down her throat with the beer like so much cheap drama. Ari's eyes glint in her head for a moment before she swallows them down too. Not enough time in the world for her to dissect that man and her reactions around him without coming completely undone at the seams.
The beer is empty. Somewhere during the past five minutes, she must have gotten up to get another one from the fridge, but she can't remember doing it. It's a result of the extreme low following her adrenaline high, not of the alcohol, so she keeps drinking.
Not wasted and oblivious quite yet. Another two beers aught to do it. She makes a note to put more back into his fridge eventually to replace the one's she's drunk and will drink.
The moonlight sparkled night receives her silent toast without passing judgment. Her silent redeemer in silver and black.
"Cheers," she whispers, and tilts a half of the Guinness down to put out the guilt burning in her stomach.
"You shouldn't talk to yourself," the man who has temporarily replaced her boss tells her from the doorway to the porch, and she glances over her shoulder at him, winces and nods.
"I was having a perfectly good conversation, Gibbs."
He moves out of the shadows that painted over the delicate pieces of his face, and she can see the eyes that no matter how many times he had tried to tell her can be untruthful, she will never believe can lie. They look hurt. Angry. Sad.
When she had finished telling her story, when he had finished taking a quiet inventory of her combat wounds, he had put her coat up around her shoulders and placed his hand firmly in her personal space and steered them both in the direction he demanded.
Out of the office.
To his car.
To his house.
Into his space. Into his presence.
And probably into a situation that was just a little bit... inappropriate considering their professional relationship. But one that felt so right given their personal one.
...She hadn't really wanted to go home alone anyhow tonight. Dwayne had left a week ago, telling her to call if she got better hours or a nicer boss or if her tits suddenly sprung up three cup sizes (though that part had been... overtly implied in her own mind). She'd come home, found him there, kicked him out, and never looked back.
Still. The idea of having someone to warm her feet and rub her back after this was more than a little bit tempting. She had been seriously considering calling him up for a little bit of comfort, unconditional sex when she was leaving the office, but then Gibbs had touched her back and the coat had suddenly been on her shoulders, and the next thing she knew there was the air of his car in her lungs and she could leave for anything in the world.
And then she was here and there was nothing to be done but sit back and drink herself until she forget the sound of a gunshot in her left ear.
Gibbs looks her over, takes a deep drought of air, and sighs. "You look tired."
"You look pissed."
"Fair enough." He sits down beside her, and she wonders how he manages not to feel the splinters that have been pricking her with silent tenacity since she sat down and started drinking. Her bottle is in his hands a moment later, and she watches the movement of his throat as he swallows down a decent sized bit of it. She fights down the childish urge to grab it from him and yell "Mine!" really loudly, and picks at the deck to squish the nervous twitch in her hands that he always manages to instill in her.
Nervous and half drunk and completely in need of something to take her mind and acid wash it clean of the past few hours. Not the best state of mind to have when sitting next to this man.
She steals the bottle back and sucks down enough to make his eyebrows go up. She licks her lips and keeps a firm hold on the bottle neck.
"Trying to get drunk?"
"Succeeding in getting drunk, Gibbs. At least, I will be with a few more of these."
He nods and the moon nods back at them. Quiet but for the crickets, the grass forest in front of them looks soft and springy. She lets her legs dangle down off the side of the deck to feel it with her naked toes, and the cool sensation of dew not yet set and the promise of a cool good morning in a few hours. A moth floats by her head.
She watches. Hears the tiny beating of wings too small and pitiful to deal with anything.
She can smell blood on him. She knows he left a few hours ago and came back. She knows that someone is lying in a pool somewhere, and knows that unless Gibbs decided to become psychotic and shift his emotions onto someone else in a really inappropriate psychological move, it's probably Ari.
She hopes he didn't hurt him too badly. She hopes that he did. She hopes to someday find out exactly what she feels when it comes to this man, and grunts into the night.
"Did you kill him?"
The steady rushing of breath beside her comes at the question. She glances over at him, loosened and relaxed from a bottle and a half of Guinness, and he meets her eyes with something akin to shock. Didn't expect that from me, she thinks, did you big man?
And, the way it always is with this man so full of pride and protection, the shock turns the corner and blooms into anger. She braces herself against the beer label.
"Damn it, Kate, why the hell do you want to know that?"
"Yeah?" He's on his feet now, and the still surface of the grass is suddenly disturbed with the planting of his feet in front of her. She looks up at him as he paces back and forth, grabbing at his hair and chin, and waits.
The blue eyes turn back towards her, and a few words from her favorite Who song float in and out of her head before crashing against reality and splintering into a million unrecognizable pieces.
"Well wonder about something else, why don't you?"
"You did something, Gibbs." She sets her back straight and fixes her jaw. She's not feeling all that drunk anymore, and she's glad. It takes all of one's mental strength to deal with Regular Gibbs. Angry Gibbs isn't someone she'd liked to meet while wasted. He might take her home and take advantage of her.
And then he wouldn't be able to look at her the next morning, which is the part that really scares her and offsets her desire.
Forget the heat between your legs, woman, she thinks, scolding her own self. Stop thinking with your cunt and start thinking with your sense of self-preservation.
Self-preservation. Sleeping with Gibbs and then losing him to the daylight would destroy her fast.
"I know you did something," she continues, "because I know you. I know that you don't do 'forgive and forget' and there is no way you can convince me that you followed the orders and just... left him alone." She squeezes the grass between her toes and it bleeds green on her skin. Pretty.
"You don't know me that well. You've only been here for a year."
"That's 51 weeks longer than I need to know this about you." His shoulders hunch. He hates the thought that he's transparent to anyone, even to her. "I could have told you that you liked your revenge served cold the first day I met you, Gibbs. And I would have if you had listened."
He steals the bottle away and swallows down the rest of it. She doesn't move to get more, and he doesn't move to stop pacing around the five square feet of lawn in front of her. She can see him trying to poke holes in her reasoning, and when his tongue comes out this time, it's a pin.
"How do you know I did anything?" His gaze meets her eyes, and she looks back at him with a calm that the last few days have scared into her. "Huh? The CIA has him, Kate. He's beyond my reach, and that's the way it is so that's what I have to accept. What proof do you have that I did anything?"
Her own feet are suddenly able of carrying her weight, and she stands up on the lawn, steady and firm. He's in her personal space and she's in his and there's no way that one of them can move without brushing the other and feeling.. awkward.
Like they can even do awkward tonight.
"I can smell the blood on you," she responds softly, and he grits his teeth, dangerous and not as reassuring as they were in the relative safety of the conference room. Both of his hands are on her shoulders, and she doesn't struggle even as he gives her a shake for good measure.
"You can smell that on me, huh?"
And she knows this isn't going anywhere but downhill, but she is going to let herself tumble anyway. Can't stop herself and doesn't truly want to. "Yes."
He nods. Like he expected that of her, and his fingers tighten and his hands shift and suddenly she is feeling every little pressure point in her body pressed up against every little pressure pusher in his. There's something extremely hard against her stomach, and she doesn't have to look down to know exactly what she'll see.
His cock is hard, his hands are secured at the small of her back and at the base of her neck, and she couldn't find the safe ground now if she had a map, a compass, and a guide who spoke the language.
Doomed, whispers the crickets. Have fun, wishes the wind.
She gets a flash of his teeth before he dives. Takes the plunge against her and she bends to allow it. His nose is against her neck. Soft and cold and invasive, and she hears him sniffing even as her kneecaps are absorbed into her blood and the cotton that is keeping the smell of her from further polluting the air is suddenly not doing such a good job.
He's smelling her.
God, is he smelling her. His nose is flush against her skin and his nostrils are flaring, and she can hear his deep shuddering releases of breath after each inhale. The side of his mouth tilts up a bit, sadistic and cruel, and she wonders when she decided that a hard Gibbs was better than a soft, romantic one.
He's getting harder against her. She can feel his hips rotating, gently but firmly, and there are little noises coming out of her throat that might just signify her return to life and sensation as she knows it. She's not sure whether to thank or curse him.
Maybe neither. Maybe both.
She feels his lips part against her skin and prepares herself for either a bite or a kiss or some hint of wet want in the hollow of her jaw, but nothing is forthcoming.
Nothing but words.
"Yeah? Well I can smell his cologne on you. Did you sleep with him and then figure him out?"
Her head is shaking back and forth. It was a rhetorical, cruelly founded question that he didn't really want to think about, but she's answering anyway. She needs to say it, if only to clarify her worth to her self and to the moon.
And maybe to him. Hell, who is she kidding? Always to him.
The word becomes her mantra, and he listens to each little whine of it with a head that wants oh so desperately to believe and a nose and a heart that scream something different. Lying bitch, his senses scream. Lying, evil, cheating bitch.
He doesn't dare think about how someone can cheat on someone they're not actually having a relationship with. He's too saturated with her scent for such logic.
"Liar!" He hisses into her neck, and his teeth have found her flesh there without his consent but he's not complaining. He can feel her shaking underneath him, trembling at the introduction of this anger that has never before been directed at her. He's never gotten angry with Kate before-- never been threatening or pissed off, and he hasn't had a reason to be anything but professional and respectful.
Kate's a good agent. Could someday be a great agent. And she never acts in a way contrary to how he's taught her. She never forgets what she needs to do.
First time for everything. Last time for this, he hisses into her skin, and she lets out a little panting scream, like he just scared her from the pit of her stomach on up. The shirt she's wearing is his, and the fact that it's touching the same skin that man touched not 48 hours ago infuriates him.
She must have. He can smell him-- she must have.
God she did, didn't she?
"Was it good?" She's firm and tight against him, and the hand pressed against the small of her back rips the shirt up and presses against bare skin that must have looked simply stunning in the gold tint of the sun drenched afternoon, spread out on the picnic table with a bottle of white wine nearby to cast water shadows on her stomach.
He wishes he could have seen that. He has the images in his head already-- seeing them in reality might offer some closure. But probably not.
"Did he make you scream?" His tongue tastes skin flavored with sin and evil, and it tastes sweet and soft and damn it, it really shouldn't. She should taste sour. Evil. Like spoiled milk.
And she tastes like cream. And honey. And everything he wants running around in his mouth for the rest of eternity and a day.
God he hates her. Hates himself. Hates Ari. Her head is still shaking back and forth, and she grunts as he pulls the shirt up over her head and beyond. Blue cotton and soft, unbruised skin. His shirt looks lonely on the grass, and he starts tugging on the back of her bra to give it some company.
He pulls his teeth away and looks down at her. There are no signs of anyone's touch but his. Hm. Must be on her legs. He can't imagine Ari put her on satin sheets and made sweet love to her, and the image of him riding her thighs to release on the table makes him know that there have to be marks.
There have to be.
Kate's chest is flushed and her fingers are shaking from their perch on his chest. A few minutes ago, she might have been trying to push him away from her, but the futility has sunken in. There's no way in hell she can get free without hurting them both, and she truly doesn't feel up to dealing with more pain right now.
No more pain. Please, no more pain.
His hand is still around the back of her neck. "You fucked him and you loved it."
"He wasn't good?" He laughs, and she flinches, looking down at his mouth for a moment to gain strength. It doesn't help much. "Figures."
"I didn't sleep with him. I didn't fuck him. I didn't do... anything." She blinks and her eyes crawl up to meet his. He searches for fallacy, grits his teeth and snarls. "Look at me. You know I'm telling the truth."
"Eyes can lie."
"Not mine. Not to you." She takes a deep breath, which basically comes out as a tortured rattling in her throat and chest, and forces herself not to blink or try and unbutton his shirt and do him in his own backyard.
Professionalism has limits, after all.
"You can see I'm telling the truth, can't you!" Her bra cuts against her back, and she reaches behind herself to pull it off. It snaps and ends her entirely. A hand sends it flying into the shirt already on the ground. She tilts her chest out and narrows her eyes. "Look at me, Gibbs."
Her permission breaks him, and the warm wash of his eyes pours down over her body. Curve after curve is absorbed, cataloged, memorized. He'd be able to trace her image in his sleep; able to cup her breasts in complete darkness and know her by their shape and her smell alone. Her nipples are perked up to meet him, and he feels his lips fall apart in surrender.
"Not a mark on me," she whispers, proud and firm. "And he would have left marks. He would have wanted you to see. He wo-"
"Stop talking about him," he snarls out, and then his mouth is sucking on her left breast like a demon possessed child, and her fingers are in his hair, and they're both on the ground and hey, the grass feels really good when you're practically naked.
"Okay," she grunts, and he bites her in reward. The hand that had been at her neck drives straight down between her thighs and presses up. Up. The cotton rubs to the side, bunches, and takes control of her clit. Her back is suddenly arched and her hair is suddenly joining the green lawn. His fingers press on.
"Damn it," he gasps against her as her pants make a hasty retreat down her body, pulling her underwear with it. Good bye boys, she thinks solemnly, and if she didn't have company, she'd laugh.
His eyes are fixed upon the little brown thatch of hair between her legs. He's not laughing.
"Jesus, fucking Christ," moans some outside part of himself into the air, and she uses his momentary distraction to force his own shirt up over his head. It catches for a moment on his ears, but he doesn't complain. He had way too many clothes on anyway. "How are you doing this to me?" he wheezes, and this time she really does laugh.
He looks up at her face, desperate for an answer, and she reaches up to grab him down and pull him into the first kiss of the night. His fingers start tracing a trail around her cunt, up and down and across and back, and every time he moves she can feel him almost start fucking her, almost touching her.
She bites on his lower lip and he moans. Sucks on his tongue and he starts breathing like he's moments away from death and he wants to have a parting memory of air to guide him to his rest. She hears a zipper open somewhere, but who really cares when this feels this good?
His fingers are in her for the barest of seconds, just a quick dip into her to see if she'd hot and see if she's tight and God why didn't he just ask if that was all he was going to d...
His cock is suddenly pressed against the hole his fingers just occupied. Her eyes open. He presses forward until the head is inside her, barely there and barely out, and her spine liquefies into the grass and cements her to the grass, panting and desperate.
God how this man operates.
"I don't care if he fucked you," comes the heated hiss into the air above her face, and she can't look away from him to save herself. "I'm the one you're going to remember about the past three days." And he pushes in all the way, cock to the base, and she's wailing and the moon is watching and anyone could see and who really cares?
"God you're so tight... how... uhn... how can you be this tight? He fucked you..." The fuzzy logic is starting to make it's way into his head, and he bites down on his bottom lip to keep it from coming. Best to have an off-center head when doing something like this. When fucking his best agent in the grass outside his house and loving every minute of it and already making plans to let it happen again.
God please let it happen again. How can I make it happen again?
And it comes to him in a moment of glory and insight-- make it good. Make it so good that she'd come to you and hump your leg for a taste of what you've given her, and make it good enough to overload her body's memory and leave only his image in the data banks.
Make it good.
One of her thighs are taken in each hand, and he pulls her apart and up. There's a burn at the new position, and she can feel her muscles protest, but when he starts to move the angle is just right to hit just about everything she needs it too.
He's kneeling between her legs and thrusting in and out. The moonlight is tongue bathing him in silver and darkness, and she can see the wounds in his skin that were inflicted tonight by the idea of her and Ari. She reaches up her hands and presses against them, grabbing and pulling to stem the bleeding and patch them up to make him whole. He keeps moving.
Her clit really likes him right now. With each movement of his hips, his pubic hair drives against her like sandpaper, and the little epicenter of her body is receiving the brunt of the rub. He tilts her forward farther, and she grunts with the new pressure.
"He's a ghost," he grunts into the wind. "He's nothing compared to me. No-thing. You could never keep him in your bed and you could never trust him with anything." And the words are true, and hell, it's not like she's debating it, but he keeps whispering them, and he keeps moving, and he keeps pushing and damn this is how sex is supposed to be-- all encompassing and wrapped up in a carpet of smells and feelings that make it memorable no matter how far in the future.
She will never be able to smell fresh cut grass without thinking of this night. Without seeing that look of concentration and angst and pleasure on his face, while his hips kept moving, kept her moving, kept her on the edge and tried to push her off to crash below.
And when they succeed, she screams.
And when she screams, he succeeds.
They're there, but they're not, and both of them have grass stains on embarrassing places on their bodies. His pants are pushed down to his ankles, and when he picks his head up off her shoulder, he remembers how uncomfortable he is.
Her eyes are open. Hazy, but there, and he searches for judgment and finds none, and then searches for forgiveness and finds none of it there either.
I'm sorry for thinking you slept with him. I'm sorry I fucked you in return. I'm sorry I didn't have a soft bed and softer touches. I'm sorry that you're stuck with an old ass like me, because now that I've done this, we can't go back. All of it echoes in his eyes, and she reads it all and smiles.
"I'm not." Best to wipe his mind of that little thought. She looks up at him, and her pupils whisper to his, and she can see him getting the message just as she did.
I'm not sorry I didn't sleep with him. I'm not sorry I slept with you. I'm not sorry we didn't have a bed, and I'm not sorry you weren't gentle with me. I'm not sorry I'm stuck with you, and I'm not sorry you're stuck with me. You'll never be rid of me after that Gibbs. Don't even try.
His eyes go wide and fuzzy for a moment, and the lingering softness she can see around his eyes would melt a lesser woman.
But Kate is not a lesser woman. She smacks his ass. "If my butt is green, Gibbs, you're going to have to clean it."
If you enjoyed this story, please send feedback to: B. Cavis