Spoilers: Through "Twilight"
Word Count: 1,202.
Disclaimer: These characters belong to DPB, CBS, Paramount, et al. No copyright infringement is intended.
Author's Note: A series of drabbles (or almost-drabbles) written for xgenchallenge.
A brush of the hand. A gentling of the voice. Frequent glances. Personal space invasions.
It wasn't blatant, but it was there. She was there. She hadn't waited, but if he had asked, she wouldn't have declined.
He pulled the blanket up around her shoulders and smiled. He knew he was teetering on the edge--was close to falling for her--but, hell, what she didn't know couldn't hurt her.
There was a reason he had rule number twelve. He wasn't about to throw it out.
There was no rule about keeping a secret. Even a secret this potentially disastrous.
What she didn't know couldn't hurt her? What a crock of bullshit.
He glared into the distance. He knew he would never be able to hit the bastard from this range--not with a handgun--but, oh, how he wished he could.
The rage bubbled up from his gut and into his throat. He cursed loudly and thoroughly and turned away. Tony looked shocked, but he knew it wasn't from his reaction.
Kate lay at his feet, staring sightlessly at the spring-blue sky. Streetlights blinked on in the distance as dusk fell.
He pulled out his cell and called for backup.
The tie was uncomfortable; the bench even more so. He glared indiscriminately. The priest was the current recipient of his icy stare.
He wanted to feel surprised that Kate had requested Father Clennan to preside over her funeral Mass. Wanted to, but didn't. She and the priest had seemed to connect during the Johnson investigation.
And Kate had always been prepared. She would've made a good Boy Scout.
Except that she was definitely no boy.
He shifted slightly. It wasn't right to think like this. Not at the woman's funeral, for God--Heav--for Pete's sake.
He gritted his teeth and avoided DiNozzo's eyes as they lifted the coffin.
His eyelids drooped against his will. He took a sip of cold coffee, hoping the caffeine would keep him awake for a few more minutes.
Sleep was bad. Sleep was the enemy. An insidious threat against his sanity. With sleep came dreams. Dreams that turned into nightmares of red and black against a blue backdrop, of a more tangible enemy threatening his team.
Destroying his team.
Sleep was a single shot through the forehead of one of the best agents he'd ever had. One who could have been the best.
He lost the fight, the ribs of his half-finished boat serving as a sort of canopy for his table-bed.
She had only been in his house a few times. Even then, it had only been to drag him out of his basement and to headquarters to work on a case.
Yet she was there, in his kitchen, washing dishes. She looked over her shoulder and smiled at him, flicking soapsuds toward him as he approached.
He knew it was a dream. He knew it, but he didn't care. She was there, and she was laughing now, and happy, and he didn't want to forget this.
And then the water in the sink turned red and tacky, and her sparkling eyes went blank, and she slumped over.
On the fifth day after the funeral, Tony showed up at his door with red eyes and slurred speech.
He let the younger man in and took the bottle from his hand. Whatever it was, it wasn't cheap. He shook his head at Tony's explanation: Kate only deserved the best.
He had never pegged Tony as a thoughtful drunk. He kept coming out with trivia that could rival Ducky on a good day. And then, he started with the 'remember whens'.
Remember when we met Kate? Boy, boss, she was furious.
Remember that time you taped Kate's PDA to the target at the shooting gallery? I seriously thought she'd burn your boat.
Remember when you guys had to go undercover? Kate was hot in that uniform, wasn't she? Of course, she was hot in anything. I mean, she was like a sister to me, but still, she was a beautiful woman.
He tried to ignore his (former) employee and currently intoxicated friend.
It wasn't right, talking about Kate in the past tense.
McGee stared when he stalked into the bullpen. It would have made him laugh, if he still had the ability.
Tony just looked relieved, as if he was glad to hand the responsibility back to the true leader.
Someone was sitting at Kate's desk. He glared, and the agent cowered. He ignored McGee as he tried to introduce the intruder.
Agent Interloper scurried off, looking for something to do as far away from Gibbs as possible. He grinned, baring his teeth in a display of supremacy.
The trespasser had his things and himself in Alaska by the end of the week.
As many enemies he had made over the years, he had friends. They found Ari (the bastard, the asshole, the man who stole the heart and soul of their team, the man who had destroyed the dream he had nurtured in secret) holed up in southern Florida, heading another terrorist cell.
It was simple enough. No warning; no fair play. Fuck the rules, fuck the law, and fuck being a good guy. He killed Kate; he would pay.
A single bullet through the forehead. Clean, quick--more than the son of a bitch deserved.
But after the cold thrill of vengeance, he felt empty.
One year after Kate's death, he quit NCIS for good. He had tried to resign before; he had returned, in order to fulfill a promise (to himself, to Kate, to his adversary).
DiNozzo watched with shadowed eyes as he packed his desk. He looked up at his former employee, his former protégé, the one taking his job. He would be a good senior agent, no matter how little he wanted the job. He'd grow into it.
McGee watched with sad eyes. The young man hadn't been around long enough to understand burnout. He would, though. It wasn't an education he wished on the still-innocent agent, but he knew it would happen.
Abby hugged him tightly and asked him to remember them. Ducky did the same, and wished him luck.
He lifted the box of the few personal belongings he had at his desk and left.
The wind chilled the cloudy afternoon. He tightened his coat around himself, stared at the plain granite headstone, and wondered.
What would have happened if Kate hadn't died? Would they still be a team, working together to get the bad guys who never seemed to go away?
Would she have eventually gotten over her fear of him (because she had been afraid, just a little) and treated him as a friend?
Would he have forgotten about rule twelve and asked her out to dinner?
Would he have been quite so insistent on tracking down Ari?
He scowled at himself. It didn't matter. Kate was dead.
She wasn't coming back.
He trudged back to the car, ignoring the rain beginning to patter on his shoulders. A small hand-carved angel, not yet worn by the fierce New England winters or scorching summers, watched silently from its new perch.