Author: Shannon/Raindrops on Roses
Category: Story, Angst
Spoilers: Through "Marine Down"
Disclaimer: These characters belong to DPB, CBS, Paramount, et al. No infringement is intended.
Author's Notes: Well, here it is--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."
"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.