Fandom: Navy NCIS
Spoilers: Through "Marine Down".
Disclaimer: These characters belong to DPB, CBS, Paramount, et al.
Author's Notes: This is it--the stalker fic. Mind you, it's not a mystery--I'm not very good with that sort of thing. You'll find that I usually write character pieces, nothing with an elaborate plot. :-)
Caitlin Todd stepped off the elevator. She made her way to the group of desks where her coworkers sat.
"Good morning!" she said cheerfully. The two men grumbled at her.
"How can you be so awake at," Tony checked his watch, yawning, "8:30 in the morning?"
"It's this amazing invention called an 'alarm clock'," she replied. "You ought to try one sometime." Tony rolled his eyes at her.
"Okay, children, enough," Jethro Gibbs cut in. "I would like to get some work done today."
"Whatever you say, boss," Tony said, turning to his computer.
"Oh, Tony, before I forget," Kate said as she sat at her desk. She pulled out an envelope and threw it at him. "Happy birthday."
"Hey! Watch where you throw that thing! Someone might lose an eye," he complained. He picked up the envelope and opened it. His face lit up as he pulled out the contents. "Tickets to an Orioles game! Thanks, Kate!" He grinned. "I knew there was a reason we kept you around."
"Ha, ha," Kate said sarcastically. "Keep it up, and I may just have to return your gift." She laughed as Tony hid the tickets behind his back.
"Uh-uh! No takebacks!"
"Then stop pestering me." Kate picked up the mail that was waiting for her and started sifting through it. "Anything important today, Gibbs?"
"Paperwork. Lots and lots of paperwork." The other two groaned.
"I have a friend who has a flamethrower," Tony said. "Better yet, I'll go see if Abby has anything that'll dissolve paper but leave desks standing. Anything. Just don't make me do paperwork," he begged.
Gibbs tossed him a file. "Sorry, Dinozzo. Start workin'," he ordered.
"Yes, sir," Tony grumbled.
"Don't call me sir," Gibbs said.
Kate watched them in amusement. She shook her head. Turning back to her mail, she frowned. She picked up a manila envelope and tore it open. She reached in and pulled out the contents. Her eyes widened, and she took a quick breath.
"Is something wrong, Agent Todd?" Gibbs asked, raising an eyebrow.
"N-not at all," Kate replied. She attempted to smile reassuringly.
Gibbs nodded, unconvinced. Eyes narrowed, he picked up his pen and got to work.
Hands shaking, Kate replaced the photographs and shoved the envelope into her desk drawer.
"Ha! Done," Tony said triumphantly.
"Then get out of here so I can do my work," Kate replied. There was no heat behind her words, however.
Tony looked at her. "You okay, Kate?" he asked.
"Fine," she said curtly. "Just want to finish this."
"Okay. Well, I'm outta here. See you tomorrow!" Tony grabbed his jacket and practically bounced out of the office.
Kate turned back to the open file on her desk. She rubbed her eyes and sighed. Yawning, she leaned her head on her open palm.
"Kate, go home. You're of no use to anyone half-asleep," Gibbs said impatiently.
"I still need to wrap this up," Kate said, waving a hand at the papers strewn on her desk.
"It'll be here tomorrow. Or if you really want to see this place on the weekend, you can finish it then. But it's my ass on the line if you screw something up while sleepwalking."
Kate scowled. "Fine; I'll go." She threw her pen down and began stacking papers. She then reached into the desk and pulled out the envelope she had received that morning. Her jaw clenched as she gripped it in her hand.
"Kate?" She jumped. "Kate, is there something wrong? You've been distracted all day." Kate just turned away and put her coat on. "Katie, does it have to do with whatever is in that?" he asked, gesturing at the envelope.
"I can handle it," she replied, holding it close to her chest.
Gibbs shook his head. "Whatever you say, Kate." His gaze followed her as she left.
Kate unlocked the door to her apartment, holding her gun as she did so. She slipped inside and shut the door, locking it behind her. She went around the apartment, turning on any light she could. When the apartment was flooded with light, she finally relaxed. She didn't put her gun away, however--she placed it on the coffee table beside the creased envelope.
Walking into the kitchen, she pulled out a mug and filled it with water. She put a teabag in it and placed the mug in the microwave.
When the microwave dinged, she opened the microwave and carefully picked up her tea. She pulled out the teabag and threw it in the trash. She then made her way back to the living room. Sitting on the couch, she took a sip of her tea. The hot liquid did nothing to soothe her nerves, however. She stared at the innocuous brown package, confused and, yes, frightened as well. She hated that she was scared, which made her angry.
Slamming her now-empty mug down, she grabbed the envelope. She yanked out the hated photographs and forced herself to look at them.
She was in every one of them. There she was, getting out of her car, going into headquarters, her in the office, her in the park... she thought she was going to be sick. She felt dirty, violated.
A slip of paper fell out of the stack of photographs. 'I will love you forever.' A chill went through her. She had thought he was gone from her life for good. Apparently, she was wrong.
Kate woke up, sweating. She looked at the clock, bleary-eyed. 4:45. She sighed. Well, she wasn't getting back to sleep now.
She rolled out of bed and stood. Yawning, she went into the bathroom to take a shower.
After her shower, she felt much better. She set a pot of coffee on to heat. She needed it--she doubted she had gotten two hours of uninterrupted sleep. The old nightmares had come back.
She had tried to forget, but it was difficult to forget the man who had terrorized her in the name of love. She hadn't even remembered that he was up for parole until last year, when she had gotten the letter from the parole board. Even with her impassioned plea that he stay locked up, however, he had been released. She snorted. A man that sick could not be rehabilitated.
That was the reason she had gone to law school. She had wanted to keep men like him off the streets. However, she had soon realized that she had no interest in the law, and joined the Secret Service instead. She had loved her job--right up until the day she resigned and joined NCIS.
Now he was back-back to destroy her life a second time. Well, this time, she wasn't completely helpless. If he came anywhere near her, she would blow his kneecaps out.
"Jeez, Kate, did you get any sleep last night?" Tony asked as she entered the bullpen.
"No, Tony. In fact, I didn't. Is there something you'd like to tell me?" she snapped.
His eyes widened, and he raised his hands in surrender. "Hey, Kate, no need to bite my head off! What is it, that time of the month?"
Kate clenched her jaw. "Why is it that whenever a woman is in a bad mood, it's always 'that time of the month'? Can't there be another reason?" She glared at him and slammed her briefcase down.
"I... think I'm going to go... somewhere else," Tony said. He edged toward the elevator slowly. As he got to the elevator, the doors opened and Gibbs stepped off. "Beware the dragon," Tony whispered as he passed. Gibbs just raised an eyebrow.
"Agent Todd," Gibbs greeted Kate.
"Agent Gibbs." She really wasn't in a good mood.
Gibbs tossed Kate's mail onto her desk. "Mail call." She flinched visibly at the manila envelope at the bottom of the stack. She reached for it, hand trembling slightly, ignoring the other items. Gibbs watched her closely. He frowned as the color drained out of Kate's face.
"Kate. What is it?" he asked gently. Her eyes snapped toward him.
"It's nothing," she said forcefully. "I'm a big girl. I can take care of myself."
"It's obviously something if you feel the need to defend yourself so strongly," Gibbs argued.
"That doesn't mean it's not my business, Kate." She scowled, and he continued, "If it has the potential to disrupt the smooth working of my team, it is my business."
"I'll keep it out of the office then."
"Doesn't seem like you're doing that so far."
"Yeah, well, I don't control the mail, Gibbs," Kate glared at him.
"Beware the dragon, indeed," Gibbs muttered. He stood and strode toward the break room.
He found Tony flirting with a woman from the IT department. Rolling his eyes, he pulled him aside and said, "I need to talk to you."
"I'll see you later," Tony mouthed as he was dragged away. "What do you need, Gibbs?" he asked impatiently. "I was actually getting somewhere."
"I need you to take Kate out to lunch today."
Tony raised an eyebrow. "I thought you said that office romances don't work."
"Not like that, you idiot," Gibbs replied. "I think there's something wrong, and she's more likely to talk to you than me."
Tony let out a bark of disbelieving laughter. "Talk to me? The only time Kate talks to me is to either discuss a case or to tell me where to go."
"Yes, well, she's more comfortable with you. And I need to do some investigating."
"I don't know, boss. Why don't you take her out to lunch, and I'll snoop around in her desk?" Tony grinned. Gibbs just looked at him. "Okay, okay. I'll ask her. She'll probably say no, though."
"Then convince her," Gibbs said. They made their way back to their desks, where Kate was working industriously.
Tony groaned as Gibbs handed him a stack of files. "Here. Type these up." They worked in silence, occasionally asking a question about an older case or how to decipher a word.
Finally, near noon, Gibbs threw a pen at Tony. Tony looked up and was about to complain when Gibbs mouthed, "Ask her." He rolled his eyes, then sighed.
"I'm getting hungry. Anyone wanna go to lunch?" he asked.
"Nah. I think I'll stay here and finish this," Gibbs said.
"Me, too," Kate agreed.
Tony shrugged at Gibbs, who glared at him. "Oh, c'mon, Kate. You're not gonna make me eat alone, are you?" He gave her his best puppy-dog eyes.
"Yes, I am."
"You should go, Kate," Gibbs said mildly. "Can't stay here all day."
"Why not? You are." The two men looked at her, and Kate threw her hands in the air. "All right! I'll go. But you're paying," she said, pointing at Tony, who heaved a great sigh.
"This better be expensed," he hissed at Gibbs as he followed Kate out of the office. Gibbs just smirked and waved.
When he was sure the two wouldn't be returning, Gibbs stood and casually sat at Kate's desk. He pulled open the drawers one by one. Finally, in the bottom right hand drawer, he found the envelope that she had received that morning. He carefully opened it and pulled out a stack of glossy 5 ½" by 7" photographs. He scowled and clenched his jaw. They were pictures of Kate in her apartment-photos of her sitting on the couch... of her undressing... of her fast asleep. And more. He slammed the desk drawer shut furiously and grabbed a scrap of paper. He scribbled the other two agents a note, then stormed out of the bullpen.
Tony and Kate returned from lunch. Kate was much more relaxed than she had been earlier.
"Thanks, Tony. That was fun," she said, smiling.
Tony had spotted the note on his desk. "Don't thank me yet, Kate," he said, frowning slightly.
"What do you mean?" she asked.
"Come on. Gibbs wants to meet us in Abby's lab," he said cryptically.
"I don't know. But the man is not happy."
"Gibbs? Something wrong?" Kate asked as they peeked into the laboratory.
The NCIS agent wheeled around and marched up to her. "You're damn right there's something wrong, Agent Todd," he growled. "Why didn't you tell us?"
"Tell you what?" Kate asked.
"You know what. About these," Gibbs said, shoving one of her pictures at her.
Kate's eyes widened. Her jaw dropped, but she didn't make a sound. Finally, she found her voice. "How dare you?" she whispered.
"How dare I? I was worried about you, Kate, and you kept avoiding my questions. Since you wouldn't tell me what was wrong, I had to figure it out myself."
"By invading my privacy!" Kate said, outraged. "You had no right to go through my things!"
"I had every right! Something was endangering a member of my team. I took what steps I needed to find out what it was."
"I can take care of myself," Kate hissed.
"Like you did sixteen years ago?" Gibbs sneered. Kate gasped sharply and slapped him across the face. She rushed out of the room.
Abby, who had watched the entire scene in silence, said disgustedly, "Good going, Gibbs. Great way to blame the victim." She got up and followed Kate.
"Gibbs? What's going on?" Tony asked, confused.
Gibbs, still rubbing his cheek, said flatly, "Kate's being stalked." He showed Tony the photos. "I was hoping Abby could get some prints off of these."
"Damn," Tony muttered, looking at the pictures. "What kind of sick fuck does this?" he asked in disgust.
"Peter Halley," Gibbs replied. A handprint was starting to form on his cheek.
"Peter Halley, 40 years old, released from prison last year."
"What was he in for?" Tony asked, a sinking feeling in his stomach. Gibbs' response confirmed his suspicion.
"The stalking and kidnapping of Caitlin Todd."
"Kate? You okay, hon?" Abby asked gently, placing her hand on Kate's shoulder. The other woman flinched away.
"Just fine and fucking dandy," Kate replied. Abby blinked at the vehemence of her response.
"Look, Gibbs is a bastard, but he's a protective bastard. He doesn't like seeing one of his friends get hurt."
Kate spun around. "I don't care! He had no right to go through my personal possessions! Besides, that sick bastard doesn't want to hurt me. He just wants to kidnap me and stare at me all day."
Abby knew they weren't talking about Gibbs anymore. "Sounds like you're speaking from previous experience."
Kate rolled her eyes. "Please. I know you've already found his file. You know all about what landed that son-of-a-bitch in jail."
"I've read the report, yeah," Abby admitted. "That doesn't mean I know what happened."
"You want to know what happened? Fine," Kate said roughly. "Halley stalked me for a month, abducted me from my dorm room, and held me captive for three days. He made sure I was fed--I had everything I needed to survive--but he locked me in his basement. There was only one way out--a thick wooden door. No way to break through it. Believe me," Kate said, laughing harshly, "I tried. Dislocated my shoulder. He liked to come downstairs and just watch me. Especially when he thought I was sleeping. Once, he... he..." Kate paused, swallowing.
"Kate, you don't have to-"
"No. You want to know. Isn't that right, Gibbs?" Kate said, raising her voice. The two women turned to see Gibbs and Dinozzo standing ten feet away.
"Abby's right, Kate. You don't have to tell us."
She stared right at Gibbs and continued. "He forced me to strip, and looked at me. He just... looked at me. Didn't even touch me." She shuddered. "He took pictures of me. I couldn't do anything. I tried to argue, but he drugged me. I passed out, and the next time I woke up, I wasn't about to disobey him," she said bitterly.
"On the third day, I was about ready to give up. I had been kidnapped, taken to the middle of nowhere, and stripped of my clothing and my dignity. I had given up hope of being rescued. But then, Halley made a mistake. He brought me breakfast, but instead of sitting up, I pretended to be asleep. He sat and watched me, as usual, but when I didn't 'wake up' after fifteen minutes, he left the room. I sat up and cleared the tray. It was one of those big, heavy wooden ones. I had the feeling that he had been drugging me through my food, so I dumped it in the hole I had been using... Anyway. The next time he opened the door, I was ready for him. It was dark, so he didn't see me waiting. When he opened the door, I bashed him over the head with the tray and ran. I didn't look back."
The other three looked at her in horrified fascination. "And before you ask, Tony, yes, I was still naked. I wasn't about to stop and look for my clothing."
"I wasn't going to ask that, Kate," Tony said quietly. She snorted and turned away, blinking back tears.
Gibbs looked at the other two, and they slowly edged away. He approached Kate and quietly said, "I'm sorry, Kate."
"Never say you're sorry, remember?" she sneered.
Gibbs gritted his teeth and repeated, "Katie, I truly am sorry. I didn't know. But I was only trying to protect you."
Kate looked at Gibbs, tears still shining in her eyes. "Don't call me that."
"Katie. It sounds too much like what he called me."
"What did he call you?" Gibbs asked gently.
She grimaced, "Katie-Lynn. You know, like a child might pronounce 'Caitlin'."
"All right. But I reserve the right to call you Katie in the future," he said, trying to get her to smile. He grinned when he succeeded.
"Gibbs, you're the only one I've ever allowed to call me Katie. Not even my parents call me that." Gibbs raised an eyebrow, and she looked at the floor.
"Come on, Kate," Gibbs said. "Let's get back to the lab." He started to walk away, but stopped when he realized Kate wasn't following him. "You are going to let us help you, aren't you?"
She sighed. "Do I have a choice?"
"Fine. Just... give me a few minutes, okay?" she said, wiping her eyes.
"Sure." He headed back to the lab while Kate located the nearest ladies' room.
They returned to their desks. On Kate's desk was a large vase filled with dark red roses. The heavy scent of the flowers made Kate sick to her stomach. She lifted the vase and threw it into her trashcan. She bared her teeth in a feral smile at the shatter. The others in the office looked up. Kate glared at them, and they went back to their work.
"Kate? Are you sure you're all right?" Tony asked quietly.
"Fine," Kate said abruptly, sitting and pulling a file toward her.
Gibbs walked in and stood in front of Kate's desk. "I've ordered a protective guard to be placed around your apartment," he said.
"What? No!" Kate said. "I'm not a child, Gibbs. And I don't want to make my neighbors nervous."
"Yes, Kate, you're a big girl," Gibbs said, rolling his eyes, "but this guy's probably been planning something for a while, and I don't want him getting into your apartment." When Kate opened her mouth to argue, Gibbs said, "Look, you can either accept the guard, or you can stay with either me or Tony."
Kate glared at both men. "Hey, don't look at me, Kate. I told him you wouldn't be happy," Tony said, raising his hands in defense.
"Yeah, well, it's not her happiness that's worrying me, Dinozzo--it's her safety," Gibbs shot back. "What'll it be?" he asked Kate.
She sighed. "Fine. The guard'll stay. But if you ever do something like this again, Gibbs, I will hurt you."
"I'd prefer that to you not being able to hurt me," Gibbs replied. He smirked as Kate grumbled half-heartedly.
"You know, you really didn't need to escort me to my door. I've been able to walk for a long time now," Kate said.
Tony shook his head. "I have my orders. Disobeying them would mean to meet with the wrath of Gibbs. And let me tell you, that's worse than Gibbs without coffee."
Kate laughed. "You're such an idiot, Tony. Good night."
"'Night, Kate." He watched as she closed the door, then turned to the guard. "No one gets in this apartment. If Agent Todd leaves, you let Agent Gibbs or myself know."
"Yes, sir," the guard replied. Tony nodded and left.
He crossed the street and climbed into the car. "Second window from the right," he said to Gibbs, pointing at the light that had just turned on. Gibbs nodded silently. Tony prepared himself for a long night.
Kate's eyes snapped open. Something was wrong... out of place. She attempted to sit up. Her attempt was foiled by the handcuffs restraining her to the bed.
"Good morning, Katie-Lynn!" a cheerful voice said. Kate's stomach dropped. He was there. In her apartment. In her bedroom. She shuddered.
"I made breakfast for you. Scrambled eggs and toast, just the way you like it." Kate looked into the clear green eyes of Peter Halley. He was thinner than she remembered. His hairline was beginning to recede. His light complexion was even paler than it had been at his parole hearing.
"I'm not hungry," she said petulantly. She knew that the best way to get out of there unscathed was to cooperate, but she had lived in fear of this man for too long. He looked harmless--but after fifteen years in prison, she was sure he was anything but.
"You mean you won't eat what I made?" he said in a hurt voice. His eyes flashed, and Kate knew that she needed to calm him down.
"Of course I will. Just give me a few minutes to wake up, okay?" she said, placating him.
He smiled. "Sure! You never were hungry when you first woke up. I remember a lot about you, Katie." Kate flinched at the nickname.
She shifted on the bed. "Do you think you could let me up so I can eat?"
He shook his head, his smile disappearing. "Sorry, Katie. You hurt me last time. Why did you have to do that? All I wanted to do was love you." Kate bit her lip. It had been a long shot anyway.
"I'm sorry, Peter," she said insincerely. "I was frightened. I was only 18, after all. And you did take me right out of my dorm room."
"I'm sorry about that, Katie-Lynn," he replied sorrowfully. "I just knew that you would never give a man like me a second glance. You were so beautiful, and smart, and funny. You still are." Kate's stomach turned at the look in his eyes.
"Thank you, Peter." She forced herself to smile at the man. "Do you think I could just have some toast? I'm not all that hungry." And it was more difficult to drug the toast than it was the eggs.
"Anything for you, sweetheart." He held the toast up to her mouth, and she choked down a few bites. He then held a glass of water to her lips. It was slightly sour, and Kate sighed, disappointed with herself. She should have thought about the water.
Before she lost consciousness, one thought ran though Kate's mind. How was she going to get out of this?
Gibbs watched the window closely. He also kept an eye on the front door, and any traffic going up or down the street. His infamous gut was churning. Something was bound to go wrong, and he wanted to be prepared for it.
The sun rose. Two hours later, there was no sign of movement in the apartment. Gibbs nudged Tony, who was yawning widely. "Hey. What time would you say Kate usually gets up?"
Tony thought for a moment. "Probably around 5:30, 6:00. She would have to, in order to be so awake every morning. Of course, it's Saturday. Everyone sleeps in on the weekend. Except you, boss," he added. Gibbs grunted and checked the clock.
"It's only 8:30 now. Let's give it another hour." Tony nodded, and they turned back to their watch.
Kate yawned groggily. Her arms were becoming stiff from the position they were in, and she had a crick in her neck from turning her head to watch the clock. She glanced back at Peter, who was packing a small suitcase.
"What are you doing?" she asked nervously.
"I have a friend who owns a cabin in the mountains. He offered to lend it to me, and I wanted to bring you up there. I hear they're beautiful this time of year." Kate forced herself to stay calm. Gibbs and Tony were out there watching. Weren't they?
"How did you get in here, anyway?" she asked casually.
"We've been neighbors for two months, Katie. You probably haven't noticed since you've been out of town so much. You work too hard, Katie-Lynn. You need a vacation."
"I like to work, Peter. I love my job."
His face suddenly became angry. "More than your job, I'd say, lovely."
"W-what do you mean?" Kate asked.
"Someone's been making you cry at night, Katie."
"You've been listening to me?" she asked angrily.
"How can I help it? Your voice is so beautiful. I record it, and I can listen to you anytime." Kate forced down a scream. The man was sick. "Who's making you cry? He's a stupid, stupid man. If I knew who he was, I'd make him pay." His eyes grew dark, and his fists tightened on the bedpost. Kate's eyes widened.
"N-no one is making me cry," Kate lied. "I'm just lonely. That's all." She hoped he would buy it.
"Oh, Katie-Lynn, I'm sorry. You're not alone anymore, are you?" Peter smiled happily.
"No, I'm not." Kate paused and collected her thoughts. "But how did you get in here? What happened to the guard?"
Peter's eyes grew violent once more. "He was in the way, Katie-Lynn. He wanted to keep me from you. I had to get rid of him."
"You... you killed him?" she asked in horror.
He nodded. "I made it quick, though, Kate, I swear," he said. "You know I wouldn't lie to you, don't you?" he asked anxiously.
"Of course I do, Peter." She gave him a faltering smile. He truly was a madman. God, please let them get there soon...
"I don't like this," Gibbs said. It was 10:00, and there was still no sign of Kate. He opened the door.
"Do you really think you should go in there alone?" Tony asked. "If something's happened, you should have backup."
"And if something hasn't, you just want to see Kate in her pajamas, is that it?" Gibbs asked dryly.
Tony grinned unrepentantly. "Yep."
Gibbs rolled his eyes. "Just keep your eyes open. If I'm not back in five minutes, call for backup." He got out of the car and closed the door softly. He crept into the building and up the stairs, body tensed, alert for anything out of the ordinary.
He reached Kate's floor, and took in the scene grimly. The guard assigned to guard the apartment was dead--a bullet to the head had seen to that. The guard had not even had the chance to draw his sidearm.
Gibbs twisted the doorknob. Locked. Gibbs pulled out the spare key he had convinced Kate to give him the night before. She had put up quite a fight, but had finally given in. He slid the key into the lock and turned it quietly. It unlatched with a soft snick. Gibbs pushed the door open-and bit back a curse when he discovered the chain was still on.
Peter went still. "Did you hear that?"
"Hear what?" Kate's heart started pounding wildly.
"That." She listened closely. The chain on the door rattled again. Peter hurried out of the room. She heard the door open, and Peter say, "In. Now." The person at the door stepped inside. "Drop your weapon," Peter demanded. Something dropped to the floor.
"Look, I'm a friend of Kate's. I was worried and came to check on her." Gibbs. Damn him, he came up alone. When Kate got her hands on him...
"I would never hurt Katie-Lynn," Peter said vehemently.
"Hey, I never said you would," Gibbs said calmly. "I only said that I was worried. She promised that she would call me this morning."
"What's your name?" Peter asked.
"Jethro Gibbs. Kate and I work together--"
"At NCIS," Peter interrupted. "So you're Gibbs, huh?" Kate could just picture the two men circling each other, sizing one another up. "Did you know that Kate talks in her sleep?"
Gibbs chuckled. "Yes, I did, actually." Kate blushed. She had never known that.
"Do you know what she talks about the most?" Peter asked. There was no answer. Kate imagined that Gibbs was shaking his head.
"You." Kate bit her lip. Gibbs laughed in shock.
"You have to be kidding me. Kate wouldn't dream about me." She closed her eyes. Oh, her dreams would make him blush--quite a feat for the former Marine.
Peter said, "You don't believe me? I have the proof." His voice hardened. "You're the one that's making her cry, aren't you?" Kate heard the gun safety being released.
"Peter!" she called desperately. "Peter, please don't!"
"Bedroom," Peter growled. Gibbs walked into the bedroom, hands raised in the air. Their eyes met. Gibbs scowled at the handcuffs attaching her to the bed, then nodded at her reassuringly.
"You wanted to say something, Katie?" Peter asked, smiling at her. The sight of her stalker smiling while holding her infatuation at gunpoint was disconcerting, to say the least.
"Please, Peter, let Gibbs go. He was only making sure I was okay."
"He hurt you, Katie-Lynn. This bastard made you cry. I can't forgive that."
"Peter, please." Kate was horrified to realize that her voice was thick with tears. "Let him go. Please. Don't hurt him."
Peter's face softened. "Answer me one question, Katie. Just one, and I'll let him go."
Kate nodded in agreement. "Anything."
"You know I wouldn't lie to you, Katie-Lynn. I expect you to do the same for me."
"Of course. What do you want to know?"
Green eyes fixed on her face. "Do you love him?" Peter gestured toward Gibbs, the gun still in his hands.
"What?" Kate asked in shock. Any question but that. Please...
"Are you in love with him?" Peter demanded.
Kate bit her lip and looked at Gibbs. Expressionless blue eyes looked back at her, giving away nothing. She took a shuddering breath and looked back at Peter. She swallowed and nodded. "Yes," she whispered brokenly. "Yes."
Peter nodded, his face contorted with pain. "Why?" he asked in a small voice. "Why do you love him?"
He brandished the gun. "Answer the question," he said angrily.
Kate squeezed her eyes shut. She couldn't look at either man. "Because he's strong, and honorable, and proud, and caring, and... and trustworthy... and he has the most beautiful blue eyes I've ever seen... and when I'm in his arms, I feel so safe…" Kate's voice trailed off in a whisper. A tear trickled down her cheek. She opened her eyes again, trying to force back tears. Peter nodded sadly.
"I'm sorry, Katie-Lynn. I'm so sorry." He cocked the gun.
"No!" she croaked. He held the gun to his own head and pulled the trigger.
Kate tasted bile in the back of her throat. She forced it down and stared at the sight before her.
"Gibbs, I..." she whispered.
"Not now, Kate," Gibbs said tersely, searching for the key to the handcuffs. Finding it, he walked over and unlocked them. Kate pulled her arms down and began rubbing her wrists.
The door opened suddenly. "Gibbs! I heard a gunshot, and I--" Tony stopped suddenly. "Oh, my God," he said.
"Did you call the police?" Gibbs asked.
"Yeah," Tony replied. "What happened?"
"He shot himself," Gibbs said.
"No, Tony, he accidentally shot himself point-blank in the head," Kate said sarcastically.
"Kate... are you okay?" Tony asked timidly. Kate looked at him. As upset as she was, she couldn't find it in her to yell at him.
"No, Tony. I'm not," she replied quietly. She stood.
"Where do you think you're going, Agent Todd?" Gibbs asked.
"To the bathroom. Do you mind?" she snapped. She felt far more comfortable taking her anger out on Gibbs. She stormed past him toward the bathroom. She slammed the door behind her. Falling to her knees in front of the toilet, she promptly threw up.
"Well, we've searched Mr. Halley's--or Mr. Garrett's--apartment. He had more surveillance equipment than the CIA," the officer said. "I think that with the forensic evidence and the audio recordings we have of the apartment, there's no doubt that it was a suicide. Not that there was any doubt," he said hastily, seeing the mutinous expression on Kate's face.
"Can I go now? It's eight o'clock at night. It's been a really long day, and I want some rest, okay?" Kate didn't say sleep. She knew there would be no sleep for her that night. She sighed. No rest for the wicked.
"We have your statement, Agent Todd. You're free to go. Do you have a friend you could stay with tonight?" the other detective said kindly.
"She's staying with me," Gibbs said, entering the room.
"Sir, you can't just walk in here like that," the first detective said.
"I just did, didn't I? And don't sir me. Are you ready to go?" he said, turning to Kate.
"Can't I just get a hotel room, Gibbs? I'm really not up for this tonight," Kate said tiredly.
"You're either staying with me or Tony. I'm not letting you be alone tonight," Gibbs said firmly.
"What about Abby? Couldn't I call her?" Kate knew she sounded a bit desperate, but she really was not looking forward to the upcoming conversation.
"No. We need to talk, and there's no time like the present. Let's go." Gibbs took her arm. It appeared to be a polite gesture, but Kate knew it was so she couldn't run. She had to admit the idea had gone through her mind--but in her condition, she probably would have collapsed before getting ten feet. She was exhausted, both physically and emotionally.
Gibbs opened the car door for Kate. She climbed in and buckled her seatbelt.
They made the trip to Gibbs' house in silence. The drum of the rain and swish of the windshield wipers were all that kept the silence from becoming oppressive.
Gibbs pulled the car into the driveway. Kate didn't wait for him to open the door--she just climbed out and walked around the car. She ignored the rain soaking through her clothing. Gibbs unlocked the door and ushered her inside. He turned on the lights. Kate looked around absently. At any other time, she would have been insatiably curious--but tonight, she was just numb.
She crossed her arms and shivered. She wasn't sure if it was from cold or from nervousness. She sneezed. Okay, so maybe it was the cold.
"Kate, why didn't you wait for me to open the umbrella?" Gibbs asked impatiently. "Wait here--I'll go get something for you to change into." He disappeared into another room--Kate supposed it was his bedroom. He returned with a t-shirt and sweatpants that Kate knew would be too big on her. "Bathroom's through there." Gibbs gestured toward another door. Kate nodded wordlessly and went to change.
She stared at herself in the mirror. She looked bedraggled and worn. She was practically swimming in Gibbs' clothing. She had to pull the drawstring tight and roll up the sweatpants in order to make them fit. She sighed and opened the bathroom door. Time to face the truth.
She stopped at the entrance to the living room. Gibbs was seated on the couch, his head in his hands. He ran his fingers through his silvery hair. Kate hardened her heart. "I'll have my resignation on your desk by Monday. Or would you rather fire me first?" she asked bitterly.
Gibbs' head snapped up in shock. "What?"
Kate crossed her arms and stared out the window. "You said, and I quote, 'If you pull that crap at NCIS, I won't give you a chance to resign.'"
"Is that what you think this is about?" Gibbs asked in disbelief. "Kate, I just didn't want you to be alone tonight. I know it's going to be difficult--"
"Difficult? You think this is going to be difficult?" Kate whirled around and glared at Gibbs. "This isn't difficult, Gibbs--it's impossible! Do you realize what it's like for me? Do you? I had to watch, helpless, as someone I care about was held at gunpoint--nearly killed by a madman! I was forced to admit my love for someone who will never love me back! Don't tell me you know it's going to be difficult. You have no fucking idea how I'm feeling right now!" Kate turned away, breathing heavily.
"Kate, I was there. I do know how you're feeling," Gibbs said softly.
"No, you don't," Kate said dully. She sat down and wrapped her arms around herself protectively.
Gibbs knelt before her. "Kate, look at me. Look at me," he demanded. She glanced up into piercing blue eyes. "I'm not going to fire you. You're too good of an agent for that. Besides, we can't help who we love."
Kate frowned. "Then you'll have my resignation in the morning, Agent Gibbs," she said stiffly.
"I won't accept it, Katie."
She shuddered. "Don't call me that."
Gibbs nodded. "I won't accept your resignation."
"Why? Want to torture me some more?" Kate said bitterly.
"You know better than that."
"Do I? Gibbs, I don't know if I can work with you after this." Kate's eyes widened. He looked like she had struck him. "I didn't mean it like that!"
"I know, Kate. I know. Look, it's going to be a long night. Why don't I make some coffee?" Gibbs stood.
Kate smiled humorlessly. "I am not drinking that sludge you call coffee. Do you have any tea?"
Gibbs made a face. "I don't know. My sister may have left some from her last visit. Why don't you come look?" Kate nodded and followed him into the kitchen. Gibbs turned on the coffee maker. After locating a tea bag, Kate put a mug in the microwave and turned it on.
"Were you telling the truth earlier, Kate?" Gibbs asked.
Kate's hands clenched on the countertop. "I thought we had dropped that subject, Gibbs."
He shook his head. "Were you?" he pressed.
"Why?" Kate bit off. "Why is it important?" Gibbs stared at her silently. "He told me to tell him the truth. Do you think I was stupid enough to lie to a man as unstable as that?" she snapped. She pulled the mug out of the microwave carefully.
"Kate... I'm sorry."
"Don't apologize for something that's out of your control, Gibbs," Kate said wearily.
"What can I say, then?"
"Nothing. Don't say anything. Forget that entire conversation ever took place."
"I can't do that, Kate."
"Why not? Why can't you? Don't you think I've been through enough today? Can't you just let this one thing go?" Her hands began shaking uncontrollably. Hot water splashed over the sides of the mug, scalding her. She dropped it into the sink and turned on the cold water. The mug shattered. Kate's nerves, already stretched thin, finally snapped.
She crumpled to the floor, sobbing. Tears streamed down her face. "Why? Why can't you just leave me alone? Why do you have to do this to me?" Her chest hurt from the force of her sobs.
Gibbs knelt beside her and wrapped his arms around her in a soothing embrace. "Shhh. Shhh, Kate... it's all right. It'll be okay," he murmured.
"Why? Why? Why did this have to happen?" She clutched handfuls of his t-shirt and buried her face in the crook of his neck. He rocked her back and forth, rubbing her back consolingly. He sat on the floor, his back against the cabinets, and pulled her into his lap. He held her until her sobs became shuddering breaths. Still sniffling, she fell asleep in his arms. '...And when I'm in his arms, I feel so safe...' Gibbs smiled sadly. Standing, he carried Kate into the guest bedroom and placed her on the bed. He kissed the top of her head and covered her with the blanket. He sat in a nearby chair and watched over her as she slept.