Category: Drama, Romance, JAG/NCIS Crossover
Spoilers: Through "One Shot, One Kill" (NCIS), "Crash" (JAG)
Disclaimer: These characters belong to DPB, CBS, Paramount, et al. No infringement is intended.
Author's Note: I thought this was a good place to end, before AJ and Kate's story became a saga. There will be an epilogue to this.
Chapter 24: The Confession
"I see," AJ said coolly. He stood and paced the living room. He could feel Kate's eyes on him the entire time.
A lump rose in his throat. That was two in a row now. Two women that had betrayed him. Meredith, with that damned Italian colleague of hers... and Kate with, of all people, her boss.
He stopped by the fireplace and stared at the empty grate. He leaned against the mantel and closed his eyes. Outside, the wind whipped around the house, stirring the branches on the trees into a frenzy. The rain splattered on the windows in a way that, any other night, would have been soothing.
She had kissed her boss. Why would she do that? Oh, she had explained it to him--leaving her sketchpad on her desk, the fight, Agent Gibbs forbidding her to see him... and the kiss. AJ felt that there was something she wasn't telling him.
AJ's rational side began to creep into his internal debate. He and Kate weren't engaged. She had never said she loved him. Hell, they had only known each other for a few months. There was no reason for him to be so upset.
Besides, Kate had come to tell him. She had put her pride on the line to ask for his forgiveness. And for a woman as proud as Kate, that was certainly something to consider.
'And how many times have you wanted to kiss one particular subordinate of yours?' an insidious little voice whispered. AJ tried to silence it--then actually, for once in years, considered what it was saying.
For a long time, the only thing keeping AJ from asking Sarah MacKenzie out to dinner was the regs. She was an extremely attractive woman--both physically and mentally. She was... 'Admit it, AJ,' the voice said again... jaw-droppingly gorgeous, she was an amazing lawyer, and she was a kind, caring human being. Any red-blooded male would have been attracted to her.
'And you still are.' Of course he was. But he wasn't about to act on it.
'Only because of the regs.' And because of Kate.
Kate. Had she gone through this same struggle with herself? She had admitted to finding Gibbs attractive. The only difference between himself and Kate was that she had given in to her impulses... the same way he almost had all those years ago in his bedroom, at Francesca's party.
Did he have any reason to believe it had gone beyond a kiss? He forced himself to consider it fairly. They had been in the middle of the NCIS bullpen. Both Kate and Agent Gibbs possessed high standards of honor. Hell, Gibbs was a former Marine; there was no way he would allow it to go that far--especially when he knew Kate was in a relationship.
So, to answer his question... no. He didn't have any reason to believe that. Besides, Kate's level of regret was high, but she wasn't absolutely distraught. He turned back to the woman sitting on the couch. Her eyes were wide, but she held herself straight, her head high.
She and the colonel did have incredible similarities in personality--he had noted that months ago, after they had first met. And when he stopped to think about it... as distasteful as it was for him to admit, he and Agent Gibbs had similar personalities, as well. Was that what had attracted them to each other?
Perhaps it was. Perhaps they had unconsciously searched out someone with the personality of the person they truly desired. But--on AJ's part, at least--he didn't want to be with Kate because she reminded him of Mac. That might have been what had attracted him to her in the first place... but he had wanted to get to know her better because she was Caitlin Todd, not because she was a replacement for Sarah MacKenzie.
AJ sat next to Kate on the couch. She sucked in a breath and held it.
"Kate," he began quietly. "Why did you come here tonight?"
"I thought you ought to know what had happened. I knew you had already been betrayed by another woman, and it wouldn't have been fair to cover up my mistake."
He looked at her with searching eyes. "There's something you're not telling me."
Conflicting emotions flashed over Kate's features. "You're right," she replied tightly. "There is something I'm not telling you... something that I realized tonight. But after everything that's happened, I don't believe that now is the right time to tell you."
AJ nodded. "Will you tell me another time?"
Kate smiled slightly--the first time AJ had seen her smile all night. "I promise that I will tell you at the right time."
"Okay." He reached over and took her hand.
"Does this mean...?" She looked at him with hopeful eyes.
"Of course I forgive you, Kate. It doesn't mean I like what you've done," he said severely, "but I forgive you, all the same."
Kate nodded slowly. "Okay. I can handle that."
"Good. Good." He leaned against the back of the couch. "You've met Colonel MacKenzie, haven't you?"
"Yeah. She's the one dating Clay, right?"
"Yes. My Chief of Staff. And let me just say," AJ chuckled self-deprecatingly, "that I do know what your boss is going through right now."
"AJ..." Kate said in a warning voice.
He assured her, "I never touched her, Kate. I know what the rules are."
She turned fully toward him. "Why are you telling me this?"
"Because I think that you and I interested each other for the same reason. We were both fascinated by people we couldn't have, so we looked for a partner with the same attributes as that person."
"That sounds reasonable," she frowned. "But AJ, when you come right down to it, I'm nothing like the colonel. And, believe me, you're nothing like Gibbs."
AJ chuckled. "I know that. You interested me because of your similarities. But I stuck around because of the differences."
Kate was silent for a moment. "I think you're right," she replied.
"Aren't I always?" Kate scowled playfully and hit him on the shoulder.