When I'm Gone
AN: This is the end my friends. It's sad really to see the story come to a close. Siiiigh. I hope you have enjoyed the ride, and again, feel free to review even on the last chapter. Italics are the past, Im sure you can figure that out.
Thank you, thank you, thank you to EVERYONE who took the time to leave me a review. I read every last one and appreciate them all. You guys are some of the best fans. I never expected to have this many reviews on this fic (nearly 200 by now!), its officially my second most reviewed story. And that's because of you.
Last chapters song title was "Echo" by Trapt. Since there isnt another chapter, this one's "In the End" by Linkin Park. Thanks for playing!
I will be back with one more story hopefully soon. It's a bit darker than my usual fic, and is taking longer to write. Maybe by May you'll see the first chapter. Until then….
Chapter 12: In the End
The pain was gone. The fire she thought would consume her had been put out and she felt as though she was floating. She couldn't quite feel her extremities; she knew they were there, but she couldn't control them if she tried.
She didn't care.
Everything was black and her eyes weren't opened. She could hear…something in the distance.
Talking. A familiar voice.
She loved that voice, even when it was rough and cranky, especially when it was soft and seductive.
She felt like she was in that place between being awake and sleep; it wasn't unpleasant but it wasn't right either. She was supposed to be somewhere else, someplace important.
She opened her eyes slowly to a dim room. It only took a second for her to realize exactly where she was. Hospital.
"Gibbs," she choked out, her throat was still rough from abuse and the intubation from surgery.
There was a light squeeze on her left hand. "Hey, Kate."
She turned her head toward the voice slowly. It hurt to move. "Hurts…"
"I know. You're lucky to be alive…."
He ran up the stairs screaming her name. "KATE! KAAATE!"
Gibbs instantly turned toward their room and found his worst nightmare. Kate was lying on the bedroom floor, motionless. Even in the dim lighting he could see the blood splashed across the front of her shirt.
Flipping on the bedroom light, he rushed to her side. Her lips were already starting to turn blue, her skin the pallor of the already dead. Reaching out one shaking hand he felt for a pulse: it was weak, but there.
911 was called in an instant and he relayed the address, telling them to hurry; his voice broke on the words.
"Kate…" he whispered and touched her cheek, but the skin was ice cold. "Stay with me…"
It was barely a whisper, and he could hear the effort she put into it.
"Shhhhh….ambulance is on its way."
"Gibbs…" Her lips barely moved and she took a shuddering breath.
He grabbed her hand tightly and squeezed. Tears stung his eyes but did not fall. "It's going to be ok…"
She licked her lips. "You told me it would be ok. You always…keep your promises."
He picked her hand up and kissed it lightly. "I do. Get some rest, Kate. We'll talk again when you're more rested."
She nodded and her eyes fluttered closed…but one word escaped her lips. "Jake…"
Gibbs gave her a smile that was a mix of sadness and relief. "He's fine. Sleep."
Within seconds she was out and Gibbs brushed hair off her forehead. Jake was a conversation he wasn't prepared to have yet.
He was holding one of her hands with his while the other used a pillowcase he had stripped from the bed to stem the tide of blood. A small voice from the door startled him.
Gibbs snapped his head around and saw Jake standing behind the door jam in the hall. He looked terrified and it wasn't hard to figure out why.
"Jake," Gibbs said and waited until the boy looked at him to finish. "I need you to do something. There is an ambulance coming, I want you to go next door and stay with Natalie. I'll be over soon."
The little boy nodded slowly.
With that Jake ran down the stairs and Gibbs heard him working the locks on the front door.
There was silence, save for Kate's increasingly labored breathing, for several long minutes before he heard the door squeak open and someone call out.
"Hello? Someone called 911?" He would only find out later the reason they arrived so quickly was because she had called herself.
"Up here, master bedroom…god. Hurry!"
In a few short moments they had pushed Gibbs out of the way and were frantically working on Kate, applying pressure, starting IV's. The older EMT turned to him.
"We have to go…now."
Gibbs just nodded, following them downstairs. Natalie was standing on the sidewalk by his driveway, wrapped tightly in a coat, with Jake nowhere to be seen. Before getting into the ambulance with Kate, Gibbs turned to her.
"I'll watch him, John don't worry."
"Thank you. I'll call you as soon as I can."
She nodded and he climbed in a mere second before the ambulance pulled away.
While watching the EMT's work furiously, he pulled out his cell phone and made one call.
"Director? This is Gibbs. There's been a problem…."
Gibbs sat at her bedside for the third day in a row; he barely left except to get food or coffee. Strings had been pulled to allow him such access. The director hadn't questioned why he just did it.
The Marshals had already been to the hospital where she was still registered as Katherine Mitchell. They were sure that the two men now in government custody were the end of the line, but it was better to be safe.
The Marshals. They had provided profuse apologies for James Mason and Al Majid finding their location but couldnt explain how, they suspected a leak. Al had been their terrorist connection, sent by the buyers to ensure the termination of Gibbs, Kate and Jake and continuation of their information flow from potentially another US military man.
Tony had arrived late yesterday to deliver a harsh blow and see how Kate was doing.
"How is she?" the younger agent asked, all business.
"She'll make it, but it was close." Gibbs was short.
Tony nodded and looked down, unsure how to deliver the news.
"Spit it out, Tony."
For not the first time Tony wondered how Gibbs did that. "I found relatives."
Gibbs, who had been watching Kate through the window turned back to him. "Jake?"
"Yeah, the Lt Commander had a distant cousin living in Atlanta. Apparently they had a falling out several years ago about something no one can even remember anymore. They were starting to patch it up when he was moved to Norfolk and disappeared. He and his wife are more than willing to take Jake."
Gibbs ran a hand across the back of his neck. "Ok, thanks, Tony. I assume the Marshals know this?"
Tony nodded. "They approved it."
Gibbs had been forced to go to Natalie, explain the situation to her and try and calm a young boy who didn't want to go with Agent Adams. Eventually he gave up and became resigned, as if he knew from the night before events that this was the end for the family they had created.
Gibbs had reassured him that he and Kate would come visit. The Marshals had agreed to a meeting once Kate was well enough. But first they had wanted a debriefing on the events of the night, as he knew them.
He pulled into the garage, closing the door behind him. It had been a long night, but they had finished on time. Everything was working as expected and he was walking into the condo earlier than expected. Gibbs couldn't have been happier to be back, to crawl into bed with Kate and hold her close for a few hours. If he was really lucky, maybe she would stay in bed with him and get her morning exercise a different way. She brought out the teenager in him; he would stay in bed all day and worship her if she gave him half a chance.
As his hand reached for the door leading into the kitchen, Gibbs stopped. There was noise on the other side. And voices. Men's voices.
Silently he dropped the briefcase and his coat and looked around the garage. His gun was in the master bedroom. Not much use to him now.
That's when he spied it. The ax. He lifted it and tested its weight in his hands. It felt…deadly.
Quietly he opened the door just a crack and saw a man walk past the door, oblivious to Gibbs' presence. Then he heard the second one; they were talking to each other at the doorway between the kitchen and dining room.
One wouldn't be a problem for the marine, but two…and without a gun. That was some long odds.
Thankfully they gave him an opening when they agreed to split up. One went to the basement while the other started opening closet doors on the main level. Gibbs shifted position and found his target with his back to him.
Gibbs moved at a lightening pace, using the handle of the ax to knock the intruder out cold before he even knew he was a target. Rolling the body over, Gibbs recognized him as Mason.
They had found them.
He heard footsteps on the stairs and slipped behind the door jam, waiting in the shadows as the other man walked past him. He got the same treatment as the first and was quickly rendered out cold on their kitchen floor.
He ran up the stairs…calling her name….
On her third day in the hospital, she woke up while he was getting coffee. When he opened her door to find her eyes opened and alert, the dark depression that had become a permanent resident in his body lifted.
"Hey, how long have you been awake?"
"Not long…" She eyed his cup and smiled. "I should have known."
"I should have been here," he said as he sat down, leaving the cup on a table behind him.
"It's ok. You're here now."
He touched her face slowly. "And I'm never leaving."
"Mmmm, hope not. I've finally got you broken in."
He chuckled and shook his head. There was silence for several minutes before she spoke again, her voice rough.
He could hear in her voice that she knew the answer, but wanted him to tell her differently.
"With the Marshals." Gibbs grabbed one of her hands and brought it to his lips, kissing the skin delicately. "Tony found a cousin. They are going to transfer custody tomorrow."
Tears sprung up in her eyes. "Wh-why so soon?"
"Because that's the way it has to be, Kate. With our cover blown and relatives found, there's no legal standing to leave him in our custody."
She licked her lips and barely held back tears. "I need to see him."
He nodded. "Marshals have agreed to a meeting when you are well enough, Jake's been asking for you, too."
"He's got to be so confused and scared."
He reached out and wiped a tear that had escaped off her cheek. "He understands more than you think, Kate."
"Can't I see him sooner?" He looked at her dubiously. "Please, Gibbs. Please."
He could see the desperation in her face. "I'll see what I can do."
"Thank you," she said, and yawned.
"Get some rest, Kate, and you'll get out of here faster."
She nodded and closed her eyes. Once Gibbs was sure she was deep into sleep, he stood up and went into the hall, making a call.
He could sense her starting to slip into a depression, stuck in a hospital bed for at least another day, unable to see Jake and Gibbs was gone more often now constantly in debriefings. Yesterday the Marshals had come into her hospital room and spoke to her, but only to get her version of events from a few nights ago. They refused to answer her questions about Jake, only saying he was being taken care of and she needn't worry.
Gibbs was standing in the hall when he heard the small voice call out his name.
He turned and saw Jake running down the hallway to him. In seconds, the boy's body slammed into his and Gibbs pulled him up into his arms.
"Hey, little man." Gibbs ruffled his hair lightly. "How are you doing with the Marshals? They treating you ok?"
"Yeah. It's weird without you and Kate, but Janine and Steven are ok."
"Good…" Gibbs seemed at a loss what to say next, but Jake spoke for him.
"It's ok, Gibbs. I know I have to live with them now."
"I don't think it's all bad. You don't have to remember a different name and the Martins really want you to come stay with them."
"I'll miss you and Kate…"
"We are gonna miss you too, buddy, but I think we might be able to come and visit sometime."
Jake broke out in a grin. "Good."
"You want to see Kate? She's doesn't know you are here, so it's a surprise."
His eyes lit up. "I love surprises."
Holding Jake's hand, Gibbs pushed opened Kate's door. She was staring out the window, lost in thought.
"Kate, I've got a visitor for you."
"If it's Tony again…" she started, but turned around. Surprise registered on her face as she laid eyes on Jake. "Jake!"
"Hey, Kate!" he squealed and pulled away from Gibbs' grasp, launching himself onto her bed.
"Jake…" Gibbs chided. "Remember we talked about being careful."
But it was too late; by the time he got the words out, Jake had her in a tight hug and Kate had tears of joy sliding down her face.
"He's fine," she whispered and held him just as tightly.
When they finally pulled apart, Jake eyed Kate critically. "I thought you were dead, too…"
"I'm fine. Tomorrow they might even let me out of here so I can go home."
At the mention of home, Jake hung his head. "I'm not going to live with you anymore."
She bit her lip. "I know, but I hear your cousins are nice people who really want you to come stay with them. They have another little boy your age, so you'll have someone to play with."
He nodded slowly. "I wanted to stay with you, Kate."
Gibbs could see she was struggling not to cry as she spoke. "I wanted you to live with me too, Jake. But sometimes things don't work out the way we want. Sometimes we have to do things that are hard even if we don't want to, because it's best for everyone. Do you understand?"
"Good. That doesn't mean I can't come visit sometimes, if you think that would be ok?"
His face brightened. "Yes!" He paused a second. "That's if Janine and Steve say it's ok…" He leaned into her and whispered in her ear. "I'll make sure it is."
She smiled and nodded.
They visited for a while longer before the Marshals cut it short; they needed to head back to DC where Jake would pack up his life and move onto yet another, but more stable, one.
As she gave Jake one last hug, she whispered in his ear. "You be good for Janine and Steve, ok? I'll come visit as soon as I can."
He pulled away and looked at her with an expression that was beyond his 7 years of age. "I'll be ok, Kate. You made it safe."
She pursed her lips and gave him a nod as the Marshal led him out of the room by the hand. At the last second he turned and gave her a small wave. She returned it and spoke to Gibbs.
He sat on the edge of her bed, playing with the fingers of her left hand, the IV long gone. "You're welcome."
Suddenly the flow of tears started and she cried silently. Gibbs slid up the bed and turned, pulling her gently into his arms, holding her as she let it out.
"I'm sorry, Kate. So sorry…"
She didn't speak; instead she brought up one small fist and gripped onto his shirt like it was the only thing keeping her on earth as the silent sobs became vocal ones.
For nearly 20 minutes they sat like that, Gibbs occasionally pulling his fingers through her hair and whispering words.
"I was ready to take him, Gibbs. Permanently."
He had a feeling. "I know. It's going to be hard not having him around."
She sniffled. "Worse than that…it's going to be impossible."
He didn't say anything, just held her a little tighter.
After 6 days, Kate was released. Gibbs had already packed all their personal items and shipped some things back to his house, while the rest were in the back of the SVU. He saw no need to go back to the condo; Natalie had come to visit Kate in the hospital and the older woman, while shocked to hear the story, understood and promised to keep in touch.
The doctors had cleared Kate to make the short drive back to DC if they stopped often and she was conscientious about taking her medications. So at noon on Wednesday he entered her room to find her struggling to button up her shirt.
Without a word he walked over and finished the last couple for her, giving her a gentle kiss as he did.
She nodded. "As I can be."
"You're going to stay with me when we get home," he stated as he helped her into a coat.
"Presumptuous, aren't we?" she joked lightly. It was the first semblance of humor he had heard from her in nearly a week.
"Well, doctor said you needed someone to keep an eye on you, plus the Marshals had to release your apartment; all your stuff is in storage right now."
"Is it really so bad, living with me, Kate?"
"Not in the least." She smiled and he led her out of the room.
"How you doing?" he asked her for what seemed like the twentieth time in 5 hours.
"Fine, Gibbs. I'll let you know if I need to stop."
She had been uncharacteristically quiet the entire ride, and he had an inkling what was on her mind.
"I'm sure he's fine."
She gave him a small smile. "You know me so well. It's just…I miss him already."
He reached across the car and grabbed her hand, squeezing. "I do too, Kate. But he's in a good place with people who love him, and can give him a stable life…"
"I love him," she whispered.
He had no answer to that.
In a few days, Gibbs was back to work, leaving Kate at his house alone until she was cleared to return to desk duty 2 weeks later. Neither mentioned to anyone where she was staying; they all just assumed she had rented another apartment. There had been little adapting to living together, but otherwise they just continued from before with a few minor adjustments.
Gibbs had been worried about her for those two weeks. She was withdrawn, sullen and prone to fits of anger – something he had rarely seen in her before and never directed at him. He was hoping with her return to work, she would return to the Kate he remembered: a fireball, lively and fun.
It didn't happen; another week passed by with her being uncommunicative at work, Abby, Ducky and Tony had all raised concerns about her behavior to him separately. She seemed to despise the desk work she was forced to do, but never vocalized her feelings.
The only reason it never went to the director was because Gibbs stopped it first. Morrow would have forced Kate into medical leave and insisted she see a psychiatrist. Gibbs knew forcing wouldn't help, and while initially he thought she would snap out of it, she wasn't showing signs of doing so.
While they slept in the same bed, they hadn't had sex since New York despite the fact there were no physical limitations now. She couldn't even seem to stand for him to touch her. It came to an impasse one Thursday night; she was cooking dinner, quietly of course, and he came into the kitchen, wrapping his arms around her waist.
"Hey…" he whispered into her ear.
She tried to pull away, but this time he didn't let her, increasing his grip instead.
"Gibbs…" Her voice held a tone of warning, which he ignored.
"Kate." He pulled her tighter to his chest. "Talk to me."
She ignored him in return and started wiggling, but he didn't relent. "Gibbs, god damn it, let me go!"
"No! You haven't let me touch you in weeks. You don't talk to me. I want to know what is going on."
"Nothing, and I don't appreciate being held hostage and forced to talk."
Suddenly he released her and she spun around, giving him a nasty look. He took a step toward her, trapping her between the counter and his body.
His tone, despite his body language, was soft and gentle. "You are starting to scare me, Kate; you aren't the same person I was with in New York. You're starting to turn into me."
She looked down. "I'm just…trying to deal with everything, ok?"
"You can't deal with it if you don't TALK about it, Kate. You can't work through this on your own. I want to help you."
She gave him a steely glare, but behind it Gibbs could see a woman that was hurting badly. "I'm done talking. I've talked to the FBI and Director Morrow and the Marshals…."
"I want you to talk to me."
"About what, exactly?"
Instantly her face fell and she bit her lower lip. "I'd rather not."
"Yes, Kate. You got so attached to him, and then…he was just gone. That's hard on a person, especially you."
"Especially me? What, I'm unstable now?"
He physically backed off her slightly. "That's not what I mean and you know it. You are an amazingly emotional woman, Kate. It's part of the reason I…." He paused; he didn't want to tell her this way. "I'm falling in love with you. And it serves you well, but right now I think it's doing more harm than good. You need to talk about it…about him. You need release."
She was sniffling now, her eyes still down. "It's so hard without him." Her voice was quite even in the silent room.
He closed the gap between them, putting one hand on her shoulder, lightly stroking her clavicle. She didn't move, but at least she didn't pull away.
"I know it is. I miss him too, Kate. But you should be talking about it, not holding everything in, because eventually you wont be able to contain it, and the aftermath is never pretty – trust me." He paused a moment. "Maybe I'm the wrong person here I'm not exactly known for my communication skills. Would you be more comfortable with Dr. Barren?"
Kate looked up into his eyes; he could sense her decision and it didn't upset him. "Maybe, yeah."
"Then I think you should."
"Are you going to leave me on the desk longer?"
He had never been anything less than honest with her. "That'll depend on you, Kate. The way you've been acting, I'd say yes, but we'll see after you talk to Barren."
She sighed. "Fair enough. I'm sorry, Gibbs. I'm sorry for the way I've acted at work…and at home. You've been…surprisingly patient."
"I'm not a bastard all the time, Kate." He pulled her into a tight hug, which she accepted and reciprocated with equal force.
"I know…" she whispered into his shoulder.
They stood like that an eternity, and somehow they both knew everything would be ok, eventually.
"When Im Gone" is copywrited material.