Title: Sometimes They Come Back
Blah blah on the blah chapter.
AN1: So folks, this is the last chapter, thank you SO much for being along for the ride, I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. Of course please leave a review; it will inspire me to write another fic.
I certainly hope it was worth sticking it out for six chapters. Enjoy and see you in another fic.
Chapter 6: Confrontation
8 pm, Saturday
Kate handed the keys to her BMW to the valet and straightened her dress. She had debated most of the afternoon whether to wear this particular dress or not; in the end, her devious side had won out. It was a shimmery black dress, one of her favorites. It was mid-thigh length and showed off her toned legs, but not too much. The neckline was not low by any stretch, but the back was a different story, it plunged down, the material starting again just above the curve of her hips. The dress was held up by two spaghetti straps just under her shoulder blades that connected to the material hanging loosely on her body, and kept her from exposing too much. A thin silver strip crossed horizontally at her lower back; in the right light, it was almost invisible. It was a tricky design, but it worked. She had topped it off with black high-heeled sandals and a black clutch purse with silver trim. She had even pulled her hair up carefully into a loose bun, allowing tendrils to fall about her face it in what appeared to be a haphazard fashion, although in reality, it was carefully planned.
Taking a deep breath, she walked to the front doors, which were opened for her by the host. Kate noticed him look her up and down, but ignored it.
"Hi, I'm…" she started, but was quickly cut off.
"I am well aware, Miss Todd. Please, follow me." He turned and started walking through the mostly full dining room. She caught several male patrons giving her a second look and smiled. It wasn't often Kate was openly ogled.
The host got to a closed door and stopped. Kate looked confused; where had he taken her? With one swift movement he opened the door and her question was answered. Ari had somehow arranged to have a private room for them.
She took one step in and caught her breath. In the center of an intimately-sized room was a table set for two people. Soft classical music played, and the room was lit with what Kate estimated to be nearly 100 candles. But the effect was breathtaking; everything had a stunning soft yellowy orange glow. On one wall was a lit fireplace. A vase of roses sat on the mantlepiece, and around the room were several other arrangements of flowers, some exotic in species. She was so stunned by her surroundings; she nearly missed the man standing to the left of the table, staring at her.
When her gaze finally stopped on him, she was amazed. The only other two times she had seen Ari, it had not been the best of circumstances, and she had not allowed herself to actually look at him. Now she did.
He was dressed in an expensive, possibly Armani, dark blue suit, tailored perfectly to his body. He had a soft smile on his face and Kate realized how good-looking he was. How…non-threatening he could be. Finally he moved to her and held out one hand.
"Caitlin. You look… stunning."
She took his hand and he led her to the table, where they sat across from each other. Again there were no lights, only a few candles, but it was plenty; they could still see each other.
"How…how did you manage this in one day?"
Suddenly a waiter appeared from the doorway she had come though, and all Ari did was nod at him.
"Anything for a beautiful woman." He smiled at her.
She returned the smile as a sommelier appeared with a bottle of wine. Ari took a small taste, nodded, and their glasses were filled. The sommelier left the bottle in a cooler and quickly retreated from the room without a word.
"I hope you don't mind. I took the liberty of ordering already."
She opened her mouth in surprise; normally that would've annoyed Kate, but this time it didn't, because she sensed no attempt at machismo in the act. "That's fine, thank you. But really, how did you manage this? I mean, you are supposed to be in the Middle East, not Georgetown."
"Ahhh, as some women need secrets, so do men." He picked up his glass, drank from it and indicated for her to do the same. Keeping one eye on him, she did. It was, as per usual she was realizing, perfect.
"You have impeccable taste," she said and set the glass down.
He nodded. "Thank you. Now, I'm sure you've read my file, Caitlin. But what about you?"
She raised her eyebrows at him. "I'm surprised you don't already know everything about me."
"I know you left the Secret Service, where you had been for more than a year, because of a relationship. I know you were recruited to NCIS by Agent Gibbs and have thrived there since. The rest I would rather hear from you; it's better hearing it than reading it from a file."
"What do you want to know?" She asked, as the door opened once again, and a salad plate was placed in front of her. She looked at the plate, surprised.
He shrugged. "I also know you like raspberry vinaigrette on the side."
That kind of creeped her out a little, but Kate let it go, and carefully poured the dressing on the plate of greens. They ate the salad in silence, each trying to get a feel for the other, but there was no awkwardness.
When the plates where cleared, he answered the question she posed before. "I want to know everything."
"Well, that might take a while." She smiled and played with the edges of her napkin.
"I don't have anywhere to be. Why don't you tell me where you went to university."
She stopped playing with the napkin and took another sip of wine. "University of Southern California. I was a psychology major; I had started a Masters in forensic psychology when the FBI caught my interest. I flew out to Quantico, liked what I saw, and entered the program." She paused. "It was the hardest challenge of my life, but I relished it because I realized it was what I was meant for. I pushed so hard, I barely spoke to my family for nearly four months. I missed the birth of my first niece -- it was barely a blip on my radar at the time. But I finished at the top of my class and entered the FBI, working at the main office in DC, handling kidnapping cases."
"Then what?" he asked gently.
"It wasn't as easy as I hoped. It doesn't matter what the recruiter tells you -- it's still a man's world, and I had to work twice as hard to get the respect I deserved. Plus…the nature of the department wasn't easy. Most kidnappings…." She paused again. "…don't end well."
"So you left?" His voice was gentle, and genuinely curious.
"Not exactly. A position became open in the Secret Service, so I jumped at it. It took six months, but I was finally assigned to the presidential detail. And that's as far as I can go without having to kill you." She smiled.
He returned the smile. "Understood."
He reached across the small table, and touched her face lightly, just stroking her cheek with his fingertips. "You are a beautiful woman."
Smoothly she pulled away from his touch. "Thank you."
She waved her hand. "Don't…."
Just then the door opened, and the waiter returned with two plates, placing one in front of each of them. "I hope you like lobster, Caitlin; this place has the best I've had." He turned to the waiter and dismissed him with a 'gratzi'.
"I do. And of all the places you've been, this place has the best?"
"Oh, yes," he said, cracking open the tail. Kate smiled and followed suit.
Nearly thirty minutes later, Kate observed the remains on her plate; he had been right,, and she told him so. "That was….excellent." Looking up, she noticed him smiling at her. "What?"
Picking up his napkin, he leaned across the table one more time and wiped at the corner of her mouth.
Embarrassed, she repeated the motion with hers. "Oh…"
"Just a bit of butter. Lobster is not a clean man's food, no matter how delicious it is."
"No, I suppose not."
Sated, she sat back in her chair slightly, and the waiter returned to clear the plates.
"Thank you; it has been a lovely evening." She meant it, no matter if it never went farther than this.
"You're very welcome, Caitlin."
Suddenly, he stood and stepped to her side of the table, holding one hand out to her. "Would you care to dance with me?"
She hadn't even noticed, but the music had changed to accommodate his request. She eyed him momentarily, but stood up, placing her napkin on her chair and taking his hand.
Gracefully, he moved them over to a small open area near the fireplace and pulled her in to his body. For just an instant, she stiffened, but just as quickly relaxed into his grip. He had her right hand in his and the other modestly placed on her covered hip. He urged her closer, and she shortened the distance between them to mere inches. Now she could smell his cologne -- it was subtle, but nice.
Easily he took the lead, and swayed her to the music; she was taken in and followed his smooth movements. As they moved in tight circles, his hand slid slowly across her back, coming to a stop on the bare skin there. Kate pulled her head back and looked at him; he gave her that warm smile and moved a little closer.
That look, his eyes. It was that look in his eyes that stopped her from stabbing him all those months ago. That warm expression that pulled her in and made her question his intentions. And yet again, that look gave her pause, but for a different reason. Because in that second, Kate realized what a truly bad idea this was. All those word Gibbs had said, the words that she tried so hard to ignore…the bastard was right. This man who was holding her lightly in a candlelit room, who was being so charming, was actually a cold-blooded killer, regardless of his intentions. He could turn on her in a second if he felt she was a threat to him and his 'cause'.
All that was secondary to what those eyes reminded her, though. Gerald lying flat on an autopsy table, bleeding internally -- the use of one arm in question as the minutes ticked by. Gibbs sitting on the floor, a bullet in his shoulder, watching as she and Ducky were rescued from the body cooler. Gibbs' expression of distaste thrown Ari's way at the farm, as the supposed terrorist was whisked away by the U.S. government.
This man had made her feel helpless, angry and alive all at the same time. She looked into his eyes and stepped away. This was… not right. She always knew it, but she ignored it for all the wrong reasons. She could ignore until he was right in front of her.
"Caitlin?" he questioned, but didn't look upset in the least.
"I…" She started but didn't know how to finish.
"Its ok, Caitlin," he said and gave her a wan smile.
"What's ok? None of this is ok, Ari!" She turned from him and walked back to the table. "I don't know what is wrong with me! I cannot believe…." He took a step toward her and she backed up, one hand raised toward him. "Don't, just…don't."
He seemed to try and placate her, stop her from leaving. "I apologize for putting you in this position, Caitlin. I never should have contacted you, but…you intrigued me so. You are unlike any woman I have met before; I had to talk to you again. Had to see you."
She picked up her purse. "And I was stupid enough to let it get this far. God!"
"You weren't stupid…" he started.
"Yes, yes I am." She raised her hands again and shook them slightly. "I…I have to leave. Please don't contact me again."
"As you wish." He looked defeated.
With that, she opened the door and stepped out, closing it softly behind her. Holding her head high, Kate walked back through the restaurant, this time ignoring the looks she received until she got to valet parking where she handed the attendant her ticket and before long, he was back with her car.
She slipped in carefully, so as not to expose anything and drove off, feeling incredibly stupid and frustrated. The whole way home, she mentally berated herself for the mistake she had made; she should've known better. After the first call, she should have ended it, but he smooth-talked his way into her life, and the next thing she knew, she was here. And Gibbs was furious with her. Christ. Gibbs. He would figure out something happened, and then she would be forced to admit her own foolishness to the one man she cared what he thought.
Before Kate knew it, she was home, dropping her keys on the entry table and her purse next to them. Walking through her living room, she passed into the kitchen and opened the fridge, pulling out the expensive bottle of wine. Kate stared at it for one moment before stepping to the sink and dumping the liquid down the drain.
She sighed as the bottle made its final chugging noise, indicating the wine was gone. She righted the bottle and set it on the counter. Staring at the amber glass, she was suddenly angry with herself again and Kate resisted the urge to pick up the bottle and pitch it across the room.
Instead, she pulled at the pins securing her bun as she walked through the kitchen, heading toward her bedroom when a knock on the door stopped her.
Pausing her movements in her hair, Kate looked at her watch: 9:30. Turning on her heel, she walked back toward the door, sure that it was Ari coming to apologize and try and sweep her off her feet again. This time, however, Kate was determined not to let that happen.
Swinging her door open, she opened her mouth to tell him to leave, but the person on the other side caused her to catch her words before they escaped. Standing at her doorstep was the last person she expected: Gibbs.
Kate stood, stunned for a moment before he spoke.
"Can I come in?" he asked, his voice quiet.
Despite her evening, or perhaps because of it, Kate immediately went on the offensive. "I didn't think you even knew where I lived."
"I know more than you think, Kate." He was still standing in her hallway.
She relented and moved aside, letting him pass.
He stepped in and stopped in her entryway, as she shut and locked the door.
"So, what brings you here tonight?" Kate wondered for one instant if he was following her; on all nights for him to appear at her door, it had to be tonight.
He turned back to her and stopped a moment, just staring. He hadn't really noticed her attire when she opened the door; he was too focused on getting into her apartment and talking.
But now, he took notice of the dress that accented her body in all the right places. He could see the curve of her hips sway under the black satin material as she floated past him into the living room. As he turned to follow her movements, he noticed the bare back.
She had been out on a date. And he knew with whom.
"You were out," he commented, his tone strained.
She smugly replied, "Yes, I was." He didn't need to know how it ended, not yet; she hadn't really dealt with it herself. And in some way, she was punishing him. He had been right about Ari, and that pissed her off.
"It's really none of your business, Gibbs." She leaned against the back of her couch and restated the question that hadn't been answered. "Why did you come here?"
He took a step toward her. "I wanted to try and talk to you about this, rationally. It's hurting the team, Kate. You and I…we need to work this out."
She snorted. "Wow, you do talk things out. Maybe you should have considered that before last week."
He was incredulous. "ME? Maybe you should have before you went on a date with a terrorist!" Gibbs was getting angry now, which was exactly what he didn't want, so he took a deep breath and stepped back.
"He's not a goddamn terrorist, Gibbs!"
"Are you trying to convince yourself of that? Because that seems to be your only excuse these days." He let the fury show on his face
She threw her hands up and walked into the living room, turning on a light as she went. "Well that's because 'he's a terrorist' is your only line, too! I'm getting fucking sick and tired of this debate."
"Well so am I, Kate!" He walked around her couch. "Why would you go out with him? Why?"
"You are on thin ice here, Gibbs, and you know it."
"Kate, as if the gifts and calls weren't enough…He could get you killed, can't you see that?"
She did, but she was so angry with him, Kate would never concede his point. So she skirted around it. "I took that chance, Gibbs. And as you can plainly see, I came out in one piece."
"Who's to say you will next time, Kate?" he asked. Adding to his anger was terror, the terror of seeing her body on a morgue slab, next time not in his dreams. "What if next time, you don't come out?"
"He wouldn't hurt me, Gibbs!" She exclaimed, even though she didn't entirely believe it herself.
"Maybe not, but a man like that has enemies, the kind that don't care about innocent bystanders." He took another step toward her. "He might get you killed."
She narrowed her eyes; despite his softening tone, she refused to stop her attack. "What? You worried about being left alone with DiNozzo?"
She watched anger and a healthy dose of fear float across his face before he took another step toward her. She resisted backing away, though he was barely two feet from her now. "No, Kate. I'm afraid of seeing you on a morgue slab. The morning you disappeared, I had a nightmare. You know what that nightmare was?" She shook her head. He never intended on telling her this, but it came out anyway in a rush of words. "You were lying on one of Duck's tables in a body bag, cold as ice -- your skin blue, hazel eyes open, a bullet hole in your head. And sitting in the corner, with a smug look on his face, was your killer. Ari. And then you disappeared, Kate, and it was him…"
He watched her eyes widen in surprise. "Gibbs, I…I didn't know. I'm sorry."
"Sorry for what, Kate? Getting caught?" His voice was bitter.
"No, for everything." He watched her visibly relax, the anger fading. "For everything." She threw her hands up in the air and turned her back to him.
For a moment, Gibbs had a hard time focusing on anything except the smooth, tan skin of her back and the curves her barely-there dress exposed. But he could sense the distress from her, and he concentrated on that.
"Kate? What happened?" When she didn't answer, he took another step toward her, reaching one hand out and touching her shoulder. "Did he hurt you?"
"No, Gibbs!" She was agitated, but didn't pull from his touch. "I told you he would never hurt me. This is my own doing."
"I don't understand…." He truly didn't.
She spun around, and his hand fell from her shoulder. "Of course you don't, because you were right, you…self-righteous bastard!" He had the grace not to smile at that. "Are you happy, Gibbs? Are you? You were right, yet again. I never should have accepted his gifts-not that I had a choice. But I could have stopped this with the first phone call -- I should have. It was stupid of me to let it get to that level, thoughtless really. He's a dangerous man and….dammit!"
She sniffled slightly and looked down; Gibbs took another step toward her, placing him within an arms length. "I'm sorry, Kate."
She looked up at him. "No, you aren't, Gibbs."
He titled his head and smiled. "You're right, I'm not."
"You know, somehow it didn't feel…real until tonight." She looked down again, unwilling, it seemed, to look into his eyes as she confessed. "He was at arm's length when it was just gifts and calls. I could play this…game with him and not worry; he was somewhere across the ocean. I thought I had it under control, and you didn't need to know; he wasn't NCIS' concern anymore. But then he touched me…and it became very real, and no longer a game, and out of control." Kate was still looking down and didn't see the distressed expression cross Gibbs' face. "All I could think of was Gerald in the hospital and Ducky in cold storage and that blonde…lying dead on the ground, a bullet in her head. And you…" Now she looked up. "And the guilt just came crashing down on me. I was betraying my friends, for what? Nothing. It just wasn't worth it. It was incredibly foolish of me to think I could continue having any kind of relationship with him, I know that and I don't need you to tell me again."
"Why would you want to? Honestly, Kate, of all the men, why him?" His tone was soft and genuinely curious.
She seemed to consider the question before answering. "You remember I called you in May to let you know where I was?" He nodded. "Well before the Calvary arrived, we had time to talk. He explained his…situation to me. I began to understand why he did what he did, despite the fact I was still pissed at him for both you and Gerald. In his eyes, he was doing what was needed for his country, and I have to admit I admired him a little for that. Even you mentioned he could have killed you, Gibbs. A terrorist probably would have, but he didn't because he didn't have to. How could I vilify him for something I would do for this country if asked?"
She paused and looked at him, waiting for commentary. But Gibbs remained strangely silent, so she continued. "So, five months later when I started receiving gifts, it was…exciting in a way, and safe. It was just a few gifts, nothing more, no commitment. But then he called, and the game changed. He was sweet and charming, and so…rational about the whole thing. Twice I tried to break it off and twice he sucked me back in. At that point it was less about him, and more about you…"
"Me?" he asked, startled.
"Yeah, you. You didn't trust me Gibbs to handle myself. In one instant you took the faith I had in you and destroyed it, by not trusting my judgment with Ari. You wouldn't listen to me, so I needed to prove you wrong."
He had softened some as she spoke, until the last part. Then anger fueled by fear flared in him again. How could she be so stupid? "You went out with Ari to prove me wrong?" His tone was incredulous, jealousy taking over part of his brain. "You have to be kidding me."
"I don't need attitude, Gibbs! I just admitted everything to you -- cut me some slack."
"So you accept a date from…him!? What is wrong with you?"
Annoyance flared in her, this was exactly what she had been talking about. He didn't seem to hear a word she said. "Don't start. I explained myself as much as I will to you. And besides the last time I was on a date…well, it's been a while. So I went, ok? You tell me where to find someone." She had wandered far off her original point, but Kate didn't care, she could feel her blood boiling again, her failed personal life now part of the equation in her mind.
"Where, Gibbs?!" she practically screamed at him. "Please, tell me so I don't make that mistake again!"
Without thinking, Gibbs crossed the last few feet and pressed Kate against the wall, pushing his body into hers, effectively trapping her.
"What the…?" she started, but was cut off by his lips on hers.
Initially, she fought the feeling, trying to push him away, but after a few seconds Kate gave in and returned his bruising kiss. His lips felt so good on hers, and for that moment, she allowed herself to forget he was her boss and the problems inherent with that.
Kate allowed her eyes to flutter closed as he caressed her mouth, the perfect combination of force and delicacy. She felt him express every emotion in that kiss and nearly melted in his arms from it. When he pulled away, she actually moaned from the lack of contact and opened her eyes to find him staring at her.
"What? No wow this time?" He gave her that crooked grin.
"That was…beyond wow."
He reached out and touched her face carefully, pushing hair from her forehead. She could sense his intentions, and she didn't want him to leave, but knew it was for the best right now.
Surprising her, he leaned back into her personal space, putting his lips next to her ear. "About Rule 12? I made it up," he whispered and the feeling of his breath on her skin sent a shiver down her back.
Despite that, she managed a conspiratorial smile. "I knew that, Tony told me."
He kept his eyes locked on hers. "Never again, Kate."
She knew what he meant, Ari was gone for good, and shook her head.
Again he smiled -- God, how she loved that smile -- and winked at her. "We good, Kate?"
"Yeah, Gibbs, we're beyond good."
He nodded and walked to her door; she followed slowly, still somewhat dazed. Once they reached it, Gibbs turned back to her, this time eyeing her up and down without trying to hide it.
"You look…beautiful. Goodnight."
He turned into her hallway, but she stopped him by calling his name. As Gibbs turned back to her, Kate closed the distance and kissed him hard one last time, making sure that he knew those emotions weren't a one way deal. After a few seconds she pulled away and licked her lips sensuously, leaving him a mental image to take home.
With that, she turned back into her apartment and shut the door softly. Sighing, Kate locked the door and headed back to her bedroom, confused by the night's events, but calm at the same time. She had a feeling that this was just the beginning. Divesting herself of the too-high shoes and dress, Kate put on her pajamas and slipped under the covers, falling into an easy sleep.
When Gibbs returned from his Monday morning meeting with Morrow, Kate was at her desk -- the flowers gone someplace along with the doll. In their place was a small model of a sub he had left for her that morning. As he passed her desk she gave no indication she saw him, just continued to work on paperwork that had been left from the weekend. He sat at his desk and she turned to him, a small grin on her face.
Their eyes met briefly, and Gibbs swore he could see her soul bared to him. The spell was broken, however, when Tony arrived in a hurricane of noise. Gibbs smiled and they broke eye contact. Everything was back to normal.
"It's a little strong."
"Strong is better." staaare
"Yeah, that's what they all tell me."
"We don't have time for a warrant, what's the quicker way."
"Hack into the servers." Pleased look from Gibbs "Cant believe I just said that…I would have never suggested that before I started working here."
And what started it all….
"I heard you quit Agent Todd."
"Happy news gets around fast. Yes, I resigned; it was the right thing to do.
"Yep, pull that crap at NCIS and I won't give you a chance to resign."
"Is that a job offer?"