It was the same pounding rain as the two previous days, chasing itself down the panes and the building until it was far out of sight. This wasn't the same day though. That was the critical bit of information that Kate couldn't let herself lose sight of or she'd likely lose her sharp grip on being a functioning human.
The previous two days she'd listened to the normally comforting sound of rain from inside a stranger's basement, hands bound behind her, head resting against a solid and cold stone wall.
She had spent those two days alternating between something close to panic and a deep and just as frightening sense of embarrassment at allowing herself to be kidnapped in the first place. The fear was left behind in that freezing room, shed with the bindings that Gibbs had pulled off her with a gentle touch that had threatened to break her.
At least she had tried to leave it behind.
He'd allowed her to cling to him, allowed her to sob, and held her with a quiet, solid comfort. He had been the one to have her checked out, finding her with the most minor of injuries outside of her pride. Gibbs was the one to drive her home, and walk her to her door. He had taken her keys from her shaking hands, and had let her pretend it was nothing outside of exhaustion.
He had even lingered, when she had stepped inside, while the rain soaked into his clothes and ran down his cheeks. He had looked so lost, so much like had nearly lost something far more valuable than any price she could put on herself, that she nearly invited him in. Reason had won, and she had closed the door, but it was a bitter victory for reason and for her.
It wasn't as if was the first time she'd been kidnapped, she had reminded herself. The novelty had already worn off, right? Now it was just boring and tedious. She had started the mantra of telling herself she was fine when she had crawled into the bed, and the rain and thunder had suddenly seemed more ominous than they had since she was a child.
Kate had squeezed her eyes closed into the darkness, wishing for arms to keep the world at bay, and tried so hard to pretend she wasn't a wrong noise away from running to her car and driving until she reached the only person who could make her feel safe in that moment.
The same man who was now white-knuckling a file he'd been staring at-not reading- for the last half hour. He'd spared her no more than a glance when she had dragged herself in, exhaustion untouched by the very real inability to sleep, but he hadn't turned her back around-hadn't sent her home again.
It had been silent, though. Since she'd arrived, even Tony was absent in his joking, eyes trained on the computer before him. He was tapping on the keyboard in the pecking way he had, avoiding her eyes nearly as completely as Gibbs had been.
Kate's attention fell back over Gibbs, straight-backed and narrow-eyed, every bit an unmovable force as he had been a million times before during a case. Only now the case was over, she was safe and he was still sitting there-the perfect picture of a stalled storm, taking up all the space and darkening their area with his mood. Kate couldn't help but wonder if he would fizzle himself out, or if they'd be swept out with the undertow before he finally broke.
She preferred the smiles he showered her with, liked that sometimes she could tell that she was a little special to him, he was even a bit proud. She wanted the moments where she felt like the center of his universe, saw him smile crookedly as if they were the only two in the universe who were in on a joke, and she hated that she had caused him any pain at all by her mistake. She hated that she had made any mistake at all.
"Gibbs," She finally said, sighing softly into the air between them.
His head jerked to her at once, eyes dark and angry before they softened against her expression, her face. Those same eyes ran over her, down over the cheekbone she had covered so carefully with makeup to the bruise he couldn't see on her neck. He looked desperate, to erase them, to make them as non-existent as they had been before her days in the basement.
She'd expected his anger, fumbled into his compassion.
She wasn't sure where the line was drawn, or what words or actions would tip it so she said nothing as he lingered on the cheek with the bruise he would always know was there, long after it was gone. He'd always see it, always take on some blame no matter how much of it was her fault, that much she knew.
"Should have stayed home," he finally said, dropping the file, and his eyes to his desk.
Anger sparked in her, she had never needed to be babied. Right now, though, the truth was that she couldn't handle being home. She couldn't stand being alone, and while she knew she'd be fine soon, right now she needed to be here just as much as he did.
"I didn't need to stay home."
He reached a hand out, pulling the coffee that had been sitting on the edge of his desk since he had arrived to him. Gibbs drank, his face darkening farther at finding only coldness within its contents. His eyes didn't find hers again, he stared down at his cup as if it had personally betrayed him and she struggled to come up with any words that could call his attention back to her. Her emotions were a little too free today, and the need to be strong was steadily losing to the need to be anything else for a few minutes or hours or days.
She needed him to look at her again. She needed to know if this was something she could fix, if maybe by helping him come to terms with it, she could too.
Hell, she just needed Gibbs and she wasn't sure what that said about her mental state at all.
Silence was his answer. That much she was used to. Gibbs wore silence for any mood.
He stood, dropping his cup into the trash can and rounding his desk with his coat. He was sliding it on and buttoning it, not stopping until he was halfway to the elevator. Gibbs looked back, avoiding her eyes, and finding Tony's instead.
"No one leaves until I get back," he said, in the dark tone that could pull a confession out of nearly any lips.
Kate swallowed away a lump that shouldn't exist, and Tony gave a quick nod to Gibbs.
"Got it, boss," he agreed, then leaned slightly into the gap between him and Gibbs. "We'll be here when you get back."
It was vow, a promise Tony would never dream of breaking, and then Gibbs was gone. Tony gave her a smile, a kind nod, and she wondered how long it would be until they returned to normal. Gibbs was gone, probably off getting more of the liquid he called coffee, but he had left his storm behind to pour all over them. She could only hope they found a way to calm it, before everyone drowned.