Disclaimer: These characters belong to DPB, CBS, Paramount, et al. No copyright infringement is intended.
Author's Notes: Okay, here's the sequel to A Friend Indeed. No real romance here, folks. If anyone wants to take this storyline and run with it, be my guest.
"Hell is other people."
The windshield wipers swooshed loudly in the silence of the car. Kate Todd glanced at the man in the passenger seat and smiled slightly.
"Gibbs, it'll be fine. I promise."
Jethro Gibbs scowled. Of course, this wasn't much of a change from his usual facial expression--but this time, Kate knew the reason. "Remind me again why I let you talk me into this?"
Kate smirked as she pulled into the gravel driveway. "Rule number seven."
Gibbs grumbled. Kate turned the car off and reached in the backseat for a large dish filled with sliced fruit. "I think the rules need some amending," Gibbs growled as he climbed out of the car and walked around. He opened the driver's side door and helped Kate out.
"Look, Gibbs, I promise I'll tell my family the truth before we leave today." She glanced up at him. His face was stony, but his blue eyes looked... no. Agent Gibbs would never panic.
They dashed up the back steps, hoping to get out of the rain. Laughter and loud music greeted them as Gibbs opened the door. Kate stepped inside and toed off her shoes. Gibbs followed her lead.
Kate led him out of the small room and into a large, well-stocked kitchen. She set her dish on the counter, next to countless others, and called, "Hey--is everyone hiding?"
"Aunt Kate!" Two children--a girl and a boy--came running into the kitchen. They slid across the tiled floor in their socks and crashed into Kate's legs. She staggered a bit, and Gibbs caught her arms, holding her up. She smiled her thanks.
"Joey, Hannah, what did your parents tell you about running in the house?" Kate chided gently.
"Mama doesn't care," the boy piped up, "but Aunt 'Reen says if we wanna run, we gotta go outside--"
"--But it's rainin', so we can't, so Uncle Dan says we can go upstairs to the other 'partment and slide around in the hallway!" the girl finished.
The two ran off before Kate could say anything else. Gibbs chuckled, and Kate smirked. "My younger brother's two youngest."
"How many siblings do you have?" Gibbs asked. Kate thought she heard a bit of trepidation in his voice.
"Three--but Trish lives in Florida, so we only see her at Christmas. You'll get to meet Daniel and Stephen, though." Kate took Gibbs arm and guided him through the dining room and front hall. To the right was an old-fashioned sitting room, where a few adults sat conversing. To the left was a closed door, through which they could hear pounding music. Kate opened this door and shouted, "Peter! Turn the damn music down!"
"'Sup, Aunt Kate?" A teenaged boy grinned while a younger girl hit a few buttons on a remote, and the music turned off.
"Not you, if you keep that up," Kate replied.
"Who are you?" another girl asked, eyeing Gibbs.
"Sarah!" Kate exclaimed, tightening her grip on Gibbs slightly. "Jethro, these are another three of my brothers' children. Peter--"
"Yo," the boy said, nodding.
"--who, apparently, thinks he's some sort of rapper," Kate rolled her eyes, "Rachel, his sister--"
"Hi! Are you Aunt Kate's boyfriend?" the young teen asked, giggling with the other girl.
"--who is going to get herself tossed in the pool if she keeps that up," Kate glared, "Sarah--"
"Hey, Aunt Kate, where's the dessert you promised me?" another voice sounded from behind them.
"--and Jacob behind us," Kate finished, not turning. "Peter and Rachel are Daniel's; Sarah and Jacob belong to Stephen." She glanced up at Gibbs, who had a dazed look in his expressive blue eyes. She covered a smirk and continued, "Joseph and Hannah are also Stephen's."
Now she turned and addressed a gangly, red-haired teen. "It's in the kitchen. Why don't you ask your mother if you can have some?" His face lit up, and he went across the hall. "Where's Elizabeth?" Kate asked, glancing around the room.
"Upstairs, as usual," Rachel answered, rolling her eyes in exasperation. "She's always on the computer."
"Hey, it's her vacation," Kate shrugged. "Let her relax."
"Relax?" Peter exclaimed. "She hit me with a book yesterday!"
"You deserved it!" the two girls declared in unison.
"Okay, well, if she comes down, tell her to say hi," Kate said, backing out. As she closed the door, feminine squeals followed them.
Kate blushed. "Sorry about that."
Gibbs shrugged, having regained his composure. "No problem."
"Ready to meet the siblings?"
"As ready as I'll ever be," Gibbs muttered. Kate stopped him before they entered the room.
"You're not used to big families, are you?" she asked gently, compassion painting her brown eyes.
He opened his mouth to answer, then simply said, "No."
"Just keep quiet and let me do the talking. I know you're not used to that," Kate quipped, "but trust me, it'll go easier that way."
He nodded, and she pulled him through the doorway.
"Kate!" "Hey, Kate!" "What's up, girl?" "Who's the hot guy?"
"Whoa!" Kate put her hands up and laughed. "One at a time, people!" She turned to Gibbs and pointed out her family. "From left to right--Daniel, Stephen, Melissa, Maureen, Richard, Amy, and William. Got all that?"
Gibbs raised an eyebrow. His eyes sparkled, and Kate knew he was going to say something that would be difficult to explain later. "Yes, dear," he drawled. Kate's face went pink, and her family laughed.
"Behave," she said, slapping his arm lightly. "Everybody, this is Jethro Gibbs."
"Gibbs... Gibbs..." one of the men muttered. "Where have I heard that name before?"
"I'm so glad you could make it, Jethro!" Maureen smiled. People shifted on the couches to make more room for the couple. "I don't think Kate wanted to invite you," she frowned in her cousin's direction, "but I guess she did."
Gibbs nodded. "So, what do you do... Jethro?" another person--Amy--asked.
"Gibbs... hey, you're the one Kate's been secretly in love with for months, aren't you?" the man, who had apparently finally placed Gibbs, asked loudly.
The room fell silent.
The woman next to him smiled sweetly and dug her fingers into his arm. "Stephen, can I talk to you for a second? Alone?" She dragged Stephen out of the room. He wore a bewildered look on his face.
Gibbs looked down at the woman he accompanied. Her face was ashen, and she stood quickly. "Excuse me--I need to use the bathroom."
"...her boss...can't tell him..." was audible from the dining room.
"You're that Gibbs," Maureen said, comprehension dawning. "Oh, why didn't she say anything? I never would have..."
"That's why," Gibbs said gruffly. "She wanted you to think she was seeing someone, so you'd stop matchmaking."
"And I bought it hook, line, and sinker," Maureen said mournfully. "Oh, Kate's going to kill me..."
"...what were you thinking...she swore me to secrecy..."
"Why did you agree to this, anyway?" William asked. Amy smacked him upside the head. "Ow! What was that for?"
"...but she is...tell him the truth..."
"She needed my help," Gibbs replied.
"Would you do that for all of your coworkers?" Daniel asked shrewdly. Stephen and Melissa entered the room, Stephen looking browbeaten.
Gibbs shook his head slowly. "Only for Katie," he said softly. A hush fell over the room again.
"She lets you call her Katie?" Stephen asked in awe.
"Mom doesn't even call her that," Daniel said. "Damn, she does have it bad."
"Daniel!" Maureen exclaimed, throwing a pillow at him.
"What?" he said, throwing it back. "It's already out in the open--there's no taking it back--"
"--Thank you very much, Stephen," Melissa said, shooting daggers at her husband.
"So tell me, Agent Gibbs..." Daniel continued, a devilish smirk playing around his lips.
Gibbs froze. He knew that look. That was the look Kate gave Tony when she was about to lob a particularly harsh verbal spar his way.
"...what are your intentions toward my baby sister?"
"Daniel Todd, I am going to kill you," Kate declared from the doorway.
And by the look in her eyes, Gibbs thought wryly, that was a real possibility.