Disclaimers and other info in part 1.
"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.