Spoilers: "Bete Noire". Oh, and the CBS website.
Disclaimer: These characters belong to DPB, CBS, Paramount, et al.
Kate stared at the monitor. Rather, she stared through the monitor. Her eyes were unfocused, unseeing. She was lost in the events of that day. That horrible, terrifying day.
"Doctor. Caitlin. Put Qasam in the body bag." Ducky and Kate looked at each other, then out at the flashing light in the hallway. The terrorist interrupted. "Now, please. Soon they'll be calling to negotiate your release." Kate turned and glared at the bastard holding them hostage.
"We don't negotiate with terrorists," she stated, eyes narrowed.
"Caitlin, when you get to know me better, you won't call me that." His voice was one of infinite patience. Kate's stomach churned at the look in his eyes.
"I have no intention of getting to know you better," she replied.
"Are you sure?" He asked the question as if he was really curious about her answer.
"Are you sure?"
His educated, cultured tones rang through Kate's head.
"Are you sure?"
Kate shivered with the memory.
"--going out to lunch?"
Kate blinked and looked up. Tony Dinozzo stared down at her, a bemused and curious expression on his face. "Ah, yeah, I guess," Kate muttered.
Tony grinned. "Great! I know this little Mexican place..."
Kate raised an eyebrow. "Did I say I was going with you?"
Tony's face fell. "Aw, come on, Kate! I don't want to eat by myself!"
Kate sighed. "Whatever. Let's go," she said to head Tony off before he really started to whine. She grabbed her purse and jacket, and they left.
Kate sat alone at the table, playing with her straw. Tony had abandoned her after spotting a couple of old friends. She didn't mind, though--she hadn't really wanted to eat lunch with him, anyway. She wanted some quiet, some alone time to think.
The back of Kate's neck began to tingle. Someone was watching her--she knew it. She glanced around the room casually. She didn't see anyone she recognized. She grabbed her purse and got up from the table. She headed to the ladies' room.
When she came back out, her eyes swept the room once more. The new vantage point allowed her to see the entire restaurant. Her back had been to the door, so she hadn't been able to see much.
Satisfied that nothing was out of place, she made her way back to her table--and stopped in her tracks. She rested her hand on the butt of her gun. She snuck up behind the man sitting at her table. "What the hell are you doing here, you bastard?" she hissed.
The man greeted her with the grin she had seen every night in her dreams since the day in autopsy. "Good afternoon, Caitlin. Are you enjoying your lunch?"
Kate scowled. "I was." Her grip tightened on her gun.
"You wouldn't draw your weapon in a room full of civilians, would you, Agent Todd?" His eyes taunted her. He knew she wouldn't do it. She dropped her hand.
"What do you want?" Kate was past being frightened. How dare he disrupt her life like this?
"I just wanted to talk," the terrorist replied, leaning back in his--her--chair. She sat in the opposite chair and watched him warily.
"I don't associate with terrorists," Kate snapped.
He shook his head. "Caitlin, I thought you were a good agent."
"I am a good agent."
"Then why do you keep calling me a terrorist?" He seemed genuinely curious about her answer.
"Let's see..." Kate began sarcastically. "You break into NCIS headquarters, steal evidence relevant to a current investigation, hold three NCIS personnel hostage, put two in the body cooler, and shoot one--no, wait, two--in the shoulder. Why do I think you're a terrorist? I don't know. Why don't you tell me?" Kate said all of this in a low, angry voice.
"I apologize. I did what I had to do. How is Gerald doing, anyway?"
Kate's jaw dropped. "You have balls of steel, buddy." He only smiled. Kate resisted the urge to slap him. "For your information, he'll be in rehab for months."
"I truly am sorry, Caitlin. You'll understand someday." To Kate's surprise and dismay, she found she believed him.
He checked his watch. "It was a pleasure speaking with you again, Agent Todd. Perhaps we'll run into each other again, one of these days." He slipped out of his chair.
"Wait," Kate called before she could stop herself.
"Yes?" His eyes held a knowing look.
Kate cursed herself for her curiosity. "What's your name?"
He paused for a moment, then grinned. "Ari." He turned and disappeared into the lunch-hour crowd.
Kate watched him go, her mind whirling. What the hell?
Tony frowned at Kate as he sat at his desk. "Why didn't you wait for me?" he complained.
"Hmm?" Kate murmured absently.
"You left without me. I had to take a cab back here."
"Oh, yeah. Sorry."
Tony looked at Kate closely. "Something wrong, Kate?"
She shook her head and stared at her computer screen once more.
"Whatcha lookin' at?" He stood and walked around his desk. He peeked at Kate's monitor. "Baby names?!" he yelped.
Kate glared at her colleague. "No, Tony, I'm not pregnant."
"Then why are you looking at baby names?" he pressed.
"I'm not looking at baby names, Tony. I'm looking at name meanings."
"'Ari,'" Tony read aloud. "'Means lion in Hebrew.'" He paused. "So who do you know that's named Ari, Kate?"
"No one, Tony," she replied irritably. "You know, you might want to get some work done before Gibbs comes back."
Suddenly, Gibbs interrupted their pleasant chat. "Social hour's over. Get to work." Tony rolled his eyes at Kate and hurried back to his desk.
"Speak of the devil and he shall appear," Kate muttered under her breath.
"What was that, Kate?" Gibbs asked.
"Nothing, Gibbs," she sighed.
Kate settled on her couch with a bowl of ice cream. She picked up the television remote and flipped through the channels absently. Eventually, she turned the TV off--there was nothing that could hold her attention for more than a few minutes.
Why hadn't she told Gibbs about her run-in with the--with Ari? She knew he wanted to find him as much as she did--if not more. Kate knew that he was angry with Ari for harming his team, and angry with himself for letting him escape.
Gibbs wasn't going to rest until Ari was found. He kept scanning the photo of the man's face through the database of known terrorists, determined to find a match. Kate could only imagine the look on Gibbs' face if she told him that she suspected that the man wasn't a terrorist.
Ari was suspected of being Hamas. Kate wasn't so sure of that anymore. But if he wasn't, why would he go through all that trouble to cover up his cohort's mistake?
Or had he? He hadn't taken the body with him. He had escaped with nothing but his life. Kate snorted. That was a pretty big nothing.
Was he a spy? If so, for whom? "Caitlin, when you get to know me better, you won't call me that." Was that a threat--or was it a veiled hint?
Kate didn't have the answers to any of these questions. All she knew was that she wouldn't be getting any sleep that night.