Category: Drama, Romance
Spoilers: Through "Marine Down"
Disclaimer: These characters belong to DPB, CBS, Paramount, et al. No infringement is intended.
Author's Notes: Thank kerlin for this one. I truly had no plans on writing a sequel to "Intentions"... but now I have. *sigh*
The two agents squared off. The first placed her palms on the desk.
"I'm not an invalid, Gibbs!" Caitlin Todd said angrily.
The second mirrored her position, getting into her face. "No, you aren't. But you've just been through a pretty tough experience, and the powers that be want you to take some time off."
"And I'll just bet you convinced them that it was a great idea, didn't you?" she accused. He did not respond, and she threw her hands up in a gesture of frustration. "God! I've killed men before! You don't think I can handle this?"
"Those men weren't out to kill you specifically, Agent Todd! A man broke into your apartment and planned to kidnap you. I think that's pretty damn traumatizing, myself." Gibbs sat down and crossed his arms.
"Then why aren't you taking a forced vacation?" He did not answer her. "Fine. Go ahead. Ignore me, you bastard." She grabbed her briefcase and stomped out of the bullpen.
Anthony Dinozzo sat at his desk and watched the argument with avid interest. "Jeez, boss. What happened up there? I've never seen Kate that pissed off--and believe me, I know when she's angry."
"That's because you're usually the one that upsets her," Gibbs said, turning on his computer.
"I don't know, Gibbs. You must've done something really bad..."
"Drop it, Dinozzo," Gibbs said harshly. The phone rang, and he picked it up. "Gibbs." He listened for a moment. "Yeah. We'll be there as soon as we can." He hung up. "Dinozzo, book us on the soonest flight to Rhode Island."
"Rhode Island? Why are we going there?" Tony asked, confused.
"I'll tell you in the truck. Get goin'." Gibbs headed for the elevator. Tony shook his head and picked up the handset.
Caitlin Todd slammed the door and pounded the steering wheel. That jerk thought he could run her life! Just because she had said something stupid in a moment of desperation... Kate growled low in her throat. God, that man pissed her off.
She twisted the key in the ignition savagely. The engine roared to life, and she peeled out of the parking lot.
Kate entered her apartment and tossed her keys on the table. She sighed and flopped down on the couch. She really didn't want to be cooped up there for the next week. The apartment held too many fresh memories.
The phone rang, startling Kate. She got up and looked at the caller ID. Sighing, she picked up the cordless receiver. "Hello, Mother," she said resignedly.
"Caitlin, dear," Barbara Long greeted her daughter. "I just received a call from a gentleman who works with you. He said that you were taking a vacation after something happened to you? Why didn't you call me?"
"It just happened this weekend. I haven't had too much time to myself." Kate closed her eyes.
"Oh. And what is this I've heard about a new job?" Kate nearly groaned.
"I'm working at NCIS now, Mother. Naval Criminal Investigative Service."
"Really?" The note of disapproval in her mother's voice was clear. "When are you going to settle down and marry a nice man?"
Kate gritted her teeth. "You know that I like my job, Mother. I don't want to 'settle down'. Don't worry, you'll be the first to know if I decide to get married." 'Yeah, after the wedding,' a vicious little voice said in her head.
"Wonderful! Well, dear, remember you can call us anytime. Jeff and I would love to see you again. Oh, have to go. We're late for brunch. I'll talk to you later, darling!" Her mother hung up, and Kate shook her head. That was classic Barbara.
Her phone rang again. "Out-of-area?" Kate's brow furrowed. "Hello?"
"Kate? I just received a call about you. Are you all right?"
"Oh, Dad," she said. "Let me guess--Gibbs called you."
"I believe that was his name, yes. What happened, sweetheart? Was it the same man as last time? I knew I should've gone after him when I had the chance," her father growled.
Kate smiled. "Yes, it was, Dad--but you don't have to worry about him anymore."
"Well, that's good--but what about you? How is your new job going?"
"My job?" Kate snorted. "Well, other than blurting something out that I shouldn't have, and now being stuck on forced leave, it's going just wonderfully."
Robert Todd sighed. "I'm sorry, Kate. But you could probably use the time off. When was the last time you took a vacation? Wasn't it four years ago?"
She laughed. "Five, actually. We went to Disney together, remember?" Her father laughed with her.
"I remember. You insisted on going on Space Mountain three times in a row."
"And then you forced me to ride the spinning teacups, and I threw up," Kate grinned.
"How is it that you can handle Space Mountain, but not the teacups? You don't exactly have a weak stomach."
"I don't know about that--you should've seen me on Navy transport. I thought my stomach would turn inside-out."
"That doesn't sound like much fun. Are you going to be okay?" her father asked, reverting to the original subject.
"I'll be fine, Dad."
"You sure? You could always take off to the cottage if you want. It's not summer, so you'll have to open it yourself, but it'll be quiet. And I'm sure you could use a change of scenery."
"You know what? I think I'll do just that. Thanks, Dad."
"No problem, princess. Call me when you get there, just so I know you're okay. Do you want me to send the jet?"
"No, I think I can handle flying commercial," Kate smiled.
"Okay. Well, I should probably get back to my meeting now. You take care of yourself, sweetheart."
"I will, Dad. I love you."
"Love you too. 'Bye, Kate."
"'Bye, Dad." She hung up the phone and smiled. Then she frowned. Narrowing her eyes, she dialed a number.
"Dinozzo," Tony answered his cell, turning away from the crowds at the airport.
"Put Gibbs on. Now," the caller demanded.
Tony pulled a face. "It's for you, boss." He handed Gibbs the cell phone.
"You called my parents?!" Tony could hear Kate's outraged voice.
"Hey, you didn't seem to want to call them anytime soon," Gibbs replied.
"You assume too much, Agent Gibbs. All stupid confessions aside, you had no right to meddle in my personal life."
"Look, Kate," Gibbs started.
"Don't you 'Look, Kate,' me, Gibbs. You look. You keep the hell out of my personal affairs, and I'll stay out of yours. Got it?"
"I'm not promising anything, Kate."
Tony could just picture Kate rolling her eyes. "What I tell my family is my business. Unless you want me to call up your ex-wives and--"
"You leave them out of this," Gibbs growled.
"Then you leave my family out of this." Kate changed the subject abruptly. "I'm not going to be home for a week. You'll have to call my cell."
"Where are you going?" Gibbs asked.
"That's none of your concern. You just need to know I won't be home." She hung up. Gibbs swore and threw the phone down.
"Hey, hey, hey! Watch it! That doesn't belong to you!" Tony rescued his phone. He took one look at Gibbs' glower and decided that he would be silent on the flight.
"We will be landing in Providence in approximately ten minutes. We hope you have enjoyed your flight, and as always, thank you for flying American Airlines."
Kate opened her eyes and yawned. The flight had been much more enjoyable than usual--probably because she wasn't riding Navy transport, and she didn't have to watch Tony hit on the flight attendant for the entire flight.
The plane touched down at T.F. Green, and Kate disembarked with the other passengers. She collected her luggage and made her way to the car rental agency.
"Hello. Reservation for Caitlin Todd," she said.
"Good afternoon, Ms. Todd," the rental agent said cheerfully. "Here's your key. 12A. Have a nice trip!"
"I will, thanks." She smiled and walked to the parking spot, where a bright red convertible waited for her. She got in and left the airport. Turning south, she headed toward Newport.
For as long as she could remember, her father had rented a summer cottage on the beach in Newport. A few years ago, after he had received a promotion, he had bought the cottage outright. She rarely visited nowadays, but the cottage held many happy memories for her. When her parents had been married, it had been neutral ground--somewhere they had refused to fight. At least for their yearly vacations.
The half-hour trip from Warwick to Newport put Kate in a better mood than she had left Washington with. She maneuvered the streets of Newport with ease, surprised at how much she remembered.
Pulling up in front of the cottage, she smiled. She unloaded the trunk and walked up the front walkway. Unlocking the door, she took a deep breath. A feeling of peace washed over her as she stepped inside.
Kate wrinkled her nose at the dust floating in the air. The house would need a good cleaning. Well, she could handle that. Besides, it wasn't as if she had anything more important to do.
Kate pushed the open the door to the master bedroom and dropped her bags on the floor. She walked over to the linen closet and pulled out a fitted sheet and a comforter. She quickly made the bed, then fell onto it in relief. Exhausted, she sunk into a light slumber.
"C'mon, Kate. Wake up." Her eyes fluttered open. Concerned blue eyes bore into hers.
"Gibbs?" she asked thickly. "What..." She sat up and shivered. "Oh, God," she whispered.
"I don't think He had anything to do with it," Gibbs said dryly. Kate glared.
"I thought it was a dream." Gibbs shook his head. Kate's eyes narrowed. "Have you been sitting there all night?" she asked. He nodded wordlessly. She rolled her eyes. "Go to bed, Gibbs. I'll be fine."
"You certainly didn't sound like it two minutes ago."
Kate closed her eyes and leaned back against the headboard. "Gibbs, I've been dealing with nightmares my entire life. I can take care of it. You need some sleep--you've been awake for nearly two days straight."
"I've gone for longer than that without sleep," he answered.
"I'm sure you have. Gibbs, I promise, if I have a really bad nightmare, you'll hear me," Kate said, her lips curving up at the corners.
"I don't doubt it." Gibbs grinned as Kate smacked his arm.
"No, thanks." Kate rubbed the back of her neck and yawned. She folded her arms on the dining room table. She placed her head on her forearm. "I'd usually yell at you for waking me up this early, but..." She trailed off.
"Me, neither," Gibbs said in understanding. He pushed her hand away from her shoulder and started kneading her tense muscles. Kate sighed in relief.
"Oh, that feels good," she moaned. She could imagine his smirk. "And don't you dare say that's what they all tell you." He chuckled softly.
"Am I that transparent?" he asked, working out a knot.
Kate's smile disappeared. "Only to me." She sighed again, sadly this time. She reached up and grabbed his wrists. "Stop."
"Why?" He truly sounded confused.
She stood and looked directly into his eyes. "You know why."
He held the door open for her. "You sure you'll be okay?"
"I've done this before, Gibbs. I'll be fine." She walked away, aware that he was watching her.
She opened the door to her apartment. Tears welled up in her eyes, but she determinedly held them back. She had cried more than enough last night. It was time to face the facts.
She stepped into her bedroom. It was spotless--but she could still see the bloodstain where Peter had lain after... after he had killed himself. She glanced at the bed. She would sleep on the couch tonight.
She walked back into the living room. She sat on the couch and stared unseeing at the wall. Last night, she had been a wreck. Tonight, she felt... not numb... empty. Like she had spent all of her pent-up emotional energy, and there was nothing left inside.
He knew. Months of hiding it from him, and he knew. He seemed willing to work with her... but could she work with him? The entire dynamic of their relationship had been changed yesterday, and they couldn't get it back, no matter how hard they tried.
Funny... she had never thought she was the kind of woman who would fall for her boss. But Gibbs... Gibbs was different. Not only was he physically attractive, he had the kind of personality that just drew people to him. Even if he was an insensitive bastard sometimes. Plus, he wouldn't put up with her stubborn streak. She smirked. He had proven that last night.
She sighed deeply, then lay back on the couch. Last night, she had asked why. Tonight, she realized that 'why' didn't factor into it. Sometimes, there was no why. She just had to accept it... and move on. No matter how long it took.
Kate opened her eyes. She shook off a feeling of unease. Standing, she started toward the door--then tripped. Groaning, she lifted her bags onto the bed and placed her clothing in the large walnut dresser.
She walked out into the kitchen. Opening a few windows, she let the cool air into the house. She pulled a rag and a bottle of kitchen cleanser out of the cabinet beneath the sink, and began to wipe down the kitchen.
Two hours later, she stood back and observed the results of her hard work. The countertops shone. The cupboards stood open, the items on their shelves freshly washed and neatly arranged. The room was ready for use. Kate's stomach growled, and she realized that there was no food in the house. She grabbed her purse and a light jacket, and she headed for the nearest grocery store.
"She's the fourth one we've found this month," the NCIS agent said. He hid his distress well, but not so well that Tony didn't pick up on it.
"Listen, Quinn, why don't you go back and get us the information you have on the other three victims. Okay?" He patted the man on the shoulder and walked over to Gibbs. "You know, I think he's more annoying than McGee was."
"You're only saying that," Gibbs said, standing, "because he's refusing to call you 'sir'. Good thing Ducky's not here, or someone would've been pushed off of Newport Bridge by now."
"You know they had to move the body, Gibbs. It would've been washed away at high tide otherwise." Tony shrugged at Gibbs' glare. "I'm just sayin'..."
"I know what you're saying, Dinozzo. And I realized that."
"This is a nice part of town. Why would someone dump the body here?"
"It's the off-season. They're either a native, or they're just trying to stir up trouble."
"But if they wanted the body to be found, wouldn't they have dropped it somewhere there's more people?"
"The current probably dragged her from the drop spot down to this beach." Tony waited for further explanation, but Gibbs was more tight-lipped than usual.
"I really wish Kate was here," Tony muttered.
"What was that?" Gibbs snapped.
Tony's eyes widened. "I only said that I wished Kate was here. It goes more quickly with her around. And it's less boring."
"I can live without your bickering. And we survived before Kate joined the team." Gibbs started toward the truck.
Tony shook his head as Gibbs walked away. Had he forgotten about another anniversary or something?
Kate groaned as she sank into the bathtub. The hot water eased her aching muscles. After grocery shopping, she had worked on cleaning the bathroom. She had then "made" herself dinner--clam chowder from the restaurant down the street. A lot had changed over the years-but the wonderful seafood place she had loved was still there.
Her anger at Gibbs was beginning to wane. Oh, she was still ticked that he had decided to handle her. However, she was enjoying her vacation too much to maintain her original level of fury.
Kate sipped at a glass of wine and closed her eyes. Yes, this had to be much better than whatever Tony and Gibbs were doing right now...
"Dinozzo..." Gibbs said in a warning voice.
"You know we need her, Gibbs. Why are you being so stubborn about this?" Tony said, frustrated.
"We don't need Agent Todd's help. We managed before she joined us, we will when she's gone."
"Why? Is she going somewhere?" Tony asked, suddenly suspicious.
Gibbs rolled his eyes. "We're obviously not getting anywhere with this. Go to sleep, Dinozzo." Gibbs got up and went to his room. Tony reached for his cell phone. "And you better not call her!" Tony rolled his eyes and made a face, but left his phone alone.
Kate awoke to the soothing sound of the tide. She smiled. She hadn't been this relaxed since... well, she couldn't remember when.
Kate got up and poured herself a cup of coffee. The automatic coffee machine had worked perfectly. She opened the sliding-glass door and sat on the back porch, facing the water. It was breezy, but her terry-cloth robe kept her warm. She took a sip of her coffee and sighed in contentment. She looked down the beach. There was a lot of movement off in the distance. Impromptu picnic? She shrugged. Her gaze swept the water. A couple of boats bobbed on the horizon. She was hit with the sudden urge to draw. Her fingers practically itched with the desire. Kate stood and headed for the bedroom.
She changed into a sweater and a pair of comfortable jeans. She decided to forgo footwear. Kate pulled out her sketchpad and a set of colored pencils, then headed for the porch. Impulsively, she decided to walk along the water.
She set her pad and pencils on the table. Rolling up the legs of her jeans, she walked slowly down to the water's edge, relishing the sensation of sand between her toes. She shrieked and scurried away as the frigid water washed over her feet. She repeated the action, giggling. She felt like a little girl again, splashing in the cold water of the Atlantic.
Kate spotted an outcropping of rock. She returned to the porch to grab her drawing supplies, then headed for the rocks. She carefully stepped onto the slippery rocks. Finding one dry and flat enough to sit on, she perched there and began to sketch the beautiful scene of the beach in the late morning light.
The water began to rise, and Kate decided to head back before she got trapped. Picking her way across the rocks, she slid suddenly. Keeping a firm grip on her sketchpad, she reached out and grabbed for a handhold. She pulled herself up. At eye level, she saw a flash of white. She reached out and lifted the item carefully. Her head immediately snapped toward the bustle of activity at the opposite end of the beach. It was a female Naval officer's cover... and it had blood on it.
Kate hurried off the rocks, leaving the cover as she had found it, and ran as fast as she could toward the cottage. She stumbled a few times before realizing running on the hard-packed sand at the water's edge would be easier.
Jumping up the steps to the porch, she paused to catch her breath. Ignoring the sand still clinging to her feet, Kate hurried to the bedroom. She searched for her cell phone. She began to get frustrated when she could not find it. Suddenly, there was a knock at the door.
Tony walked the length of the deserted road, Agent Quinn accompanying him. He shook his head again at the injustice of it all. This was pointless. It was the middle of April--no one was in these cottages. No one sane, anyway. "Who would want to come to Rhode Island?" he asked aloud.
Agent Quinn shot him a glance. "It's quite the tourist place during the summer. You ever been to Watch Hill?"
"No," Tony said, shaking his head.
"Shame. It's beautiful. There are good things about Rhode Island. You just need to know where to look."
"Sounds like a good motto for life, Quinn." Tony squinted. "Is that a car?" he asked, a note of excitement in his voice.
They jogged toward the red convertible. "Nice," Tony whistled.
"It's a rental," Quinn said, pointing to the plates.
"So whoever lives here doesn't live here. C'mon, let's see if our mysterious resident saw anything." They walked up the stone steps and knocked.
"Coming!" an irritated voice rang out. Tony's brow furrowed. It sounded familiar.
The door opened. Tony's eyebrows flew up in shock. "Kate?"
"Tony? Why am I not surprised?" Kate asked, exasperated. "Yes, I have seen something. Come in," she said, waving her guests inside.
"What are you doing here, Kate?" Tony asked.
"You two know each other?"
Tony and Kate smirked at each other. "I suppose you could say that," Kate said dryly. She held her hand out to Agent Quinn. "Special Agent Kate Todd. I work with Tony--well, most of the time."
Quinn shook Kate's hand. "So you're the one Agent Dinozzo's been wanting to call."
"Tony?" Kate turned to the other agent, who shrugged.
"Gibbs has been a major bastard since you left yesterday. Much worse than usual."
"He can be worse?" Kate asked, rolling her eyes. Tony snickered.
"You don't believe me? Why don't you come back to the base--I'll prove it to you."
Kate laughed. "No, I believe you." She reverted to professional mode. "You want to see what I found. Come on." She led the way out of the house.
"You never answered my question," Tony said. "What are you doing here?"
"Vacationing, of course," Kate said. "My dad owns the cottage. He offered it to me after..."
Tony smirked. "I heard."
"Gibbs told you?"
"No, I heard you yelling at him."
Kate shook her head. "He deserved it."
"Never said he didn't." Kate stopped, and Tony asked, "We there?"
"Yeah. Right up here." Kate climbed onto the rocks and pointed to the cover. It was hidden in a little overhang. It was difficult to see unless one was close up.
Tony nodded. "Thanks, Kate." He pulled out his cell phone. "You, uh, want me to..."
Kate shook her head. "Put it off for as long as you can. I was actually beginning to enjoy my vacation. At least give me a few more minutes."
"Sure. Hey, Quinn, you want to take her statement?" Quinn nodded, and Tony dialed Gibbs' cell. "Gibbs, we found something."