Chapter 17 Closure and Epilogue.

Gibbs sensed there was something the second he walked into the bullpen. Kate was already at her desk, Tony and McGee yet to arrive. He knew what was coming. Kate had been building to it for the last day and a half. She had been giving him looks that betrayed her emotion, but had so far restrained from comment. He'd known it wouldn't last. He just wasn't sure what would push her over the edge.

It was only a day and a half since Tony had shot and killed Matthew Ward, since Petty Officer Richard Michaels had been taken into custody, and a lot had happened. Tony had been cleared for duty and was coming back to work today, although he was unlikely to be doing anything other than filing paperwork for a little longer, psyche had cleared him for active duty again. Everyone had been relieved and excited by the prospect of having Tony back, but Kate had a problem. She had a problem with the methods he had used, and it was only a matter of time until she called him on it

He barely made it to his desk before she was there, standing opposite him as he turned and placed his coffee on the desk, the air around her crackling slightly with repressed emotion. He looked at her expectantly

"I just spoke to our informant on the Michaels' case."

So that was it she had been waiting for proof of intent. Gibbs met her gaze dispassionately, giving nothing away, waiting to see what she would say. How far she would go.

Her tone was sharp, challenging. "He thinks we should pay him double since apparently he gave us the information about Michaels' whereabouts twice."

Gibbs kept his expression neutral. "Really?"

"Yes, the first time was at 11 a.m. then again at 1.50."

"Interesting," Gibbs stated, his expression unchanging. " You'd better pay him then." He shrugged out of his jacket, the action causing him to look away. It read like a dismissal. He knew Kate had to get this out, but that didn't mean he was going to take it easy on her. She wouldn't expect that. Wouldn't appreciate that. Part of getting this out of her system involved venting anger and frustration, and he had to feed that if this exchange was going to be truly cathartic for both of them. Just as she needed to vent on him, he needed to hear it, to dispel some of his own fear and guilt at what might have happened. If he'd been wrong. . .

Kate stared at him, the frustration building by increments. She'd made her challenge clear and he knew it. "That's all you've got to say- 'pay him?'" The tone was more angry now.

Gibbs was dragged sharply back from his own introspection. "Yes," he met her gaze again, "but clearly you have more."

"The first time you took the call on Michael's whereabouts you were here. We were here." She made a gesture that took in McGee's desk and her own. "You could've picked him up with the proper backup, instead you waited until you had Tony with you."

Gibbs had to look away, had to feed the anger a little more. He hung his jacket on the back of the chair before looking up. "And your point is?" he asked, now his gaze met hers with a new strength; it seemed to bore into her. Steel blue challenged her to continue with the accusation.

Kate couldn't help being a little disconcerted, but her anger was enough to drive her on. "My point is that there is no way that a couple of punks like Michael's and Ward got the drop on you. My point is that you set it up so that Tony would have to back you up."

Gibbs leaned forward slightly "And if I did?"

Kate wasn't sure what was frustrating her more, the fact that he had done it or the fact that he wasn't admitting it. She stared at him, or maybe he was. The confusion drove her on. She leant forward herself, resting her hands on Gibbs' desk. Her voice rose in pitch as anger tightened her vocal chords. "Are you insane? You could have gotten both of you killed. I read the report. Michael's had a knife at your throat and Ward got off at least one clean shot at Tony before he had a chance to fire back."

Gibbs shook his head. "You'll have to make up your mind Kate, either they were thugs who couldn't have got the drop on me, or they were dangerous killers. You can't have it both ways."

"Even a thug can kill with a gun." Kate's reply was quieter, more controlled and all the more effective for it.

No good, this wasn't a time for quiet control; Kate needed to get the anger out. "But they didn't. I'm fine, Tony's fine. So just what is your problem?"

"So that's it, you got away with it?" Kate regarded him with an incredulous expression. Couldn't he see what he'd done? "You took a hell of a risk, what if Tony couldn't back you up? What if he'd made it inside and froze? What if. . ." Kate had imagined so many bloody outcomes since she'd seen Tony walk out of the warehouse, had seen them in her nightmares. The powerful images made her voice shake slightly; fear now mixing with the anger and the frustration. She could have arrived at that warehouse to find both of their bodies, his and Tony's, couldn't he see that, didn't he know how reckless he'd been?

Gibbs stood. "It didn't happen Kate," he stated softly, and there was something else in his eyes now. It was as if he could see the images from her nightmares, as if he'd shared them, and done it anyway.

Her anger wasn't going to be quelled that easily, the next words escaped in a flood. "But it was irresponsible, and stupid and reckless and. . ."


The word was softly spoken against the tirade, but it was enough to stop her dead, she stared at him, unsure that she had heard right. He was agreeing with her, and not only agreeing with her, but admitting to behaviour that if any of them had tried it, he would have chewed them out long and hard. She stared, the anger finally draining away.

"But it got him back," the subtle emphasis on the word him alluded to more than just the physical. It was their Tony that they had back, and Gibbs had brought him back in the only way possible, regardless of the risk.

The emotion hung in the air for a moment longer, as Kate accepted the truth of what Gibbs was saying; it had been the only way. As it dissipated there was only an awkwardness left in its wake.

"I. . er. . I guess I'll fill out the requisition to pay the informant," Kate stated, taking a step back towards her own desk.

Gibbs nodded. He waited until she started to walk away before calling her. "Kate."

She turned in response.

"Pay him a little more than double."

Questioning eyes met his.

"I did keep him waiting around for a signal from me." Gibbs stated, suppressing the accompanying smirk as he sat down and reached for his coffee.


Tony was working at his desk, looking up every so often to give Kate another hard stare for what she had done to his pants, whatever she had spilt on them, it smelt awful. He couldn't prove it but he was sure it had been deliberate. She knew he didn't have a spare pair to change, into since he'd used up both of the pairs he normally kept in his locker after visiting two particularly grimy crime scenes the day before. The only alternative he had were his shorts, and they were looking more and more tempting the longer he had to put up with this smell.

For her part Kate just kept smiling back at him sweetly, which of course just made it all the more infuriating, deepening his scowl.

"Special Agent Dinozzo?"

Tony looked up at the questioning tone, standing to greet the stranger who now stood at his desk. Although it wasn't quite a stranger, Tony recognized him from somewhere. "Yes that's right." He moved round his desk offering his hand, trying hard and failing to put his finger on where he knew this man from. "I'm sorry do I know you?"

"Jason," the young man returned Tony's handshake, "Jason Vernon. You. . .er. . borrowed my motorcycle."

The images slid into place, the SUV crash, faking a leg injury, tricking Jason into searching for a ficticous dog before stealing his motorcycle. Tony looked slightly embarrassed. "Oh, yes. I'm sorry about that I. ."

"No need to apologise," Jason interrupted. "Special Agent Todd explained the whole situation to me." He turned briefly to look at Kate before turning his attention back to Tony.

Tony followed his gaze, to be met by a smiling Kate; she gave him a little wave and continued to grin at him as Jason turned back. That was when Tony was hit by an almost overwhelming sense of dread. "Oh, she did did she?" He asked, realizing that this was a set up of Kate's engineering, and that she looked altogether too happy about it.

"Yes," Jason said, enthusiasm shining brightly in his eyes "and I have to say that I'm most impressed by your dedication to your job." He lowered his voice, "Having to go undercover as a male prostitute shows real dedication to law enforcement if you ask me."

"Yes, well. . ." Tony began, but he was unsure how to continue. He could see past Jason to where Kate was sniggering openly, damn he was going to get her back for this one. It took him a moment to realize that Jason was speaking again.

"I have to admit that I was a little angry at first, but I did get my motorcycle back undamaged, and after Kate explained about the dangerous assignment you were on an' all, and the injuries you received in the line of duty I felt it was the least I could do."

Tony took a moment to process the statement, still half plotting his own revenge on Kate. "The least you could do?" he repeated questioningly.

"Yes," he made a gesture behind him, "I know its taken a few weeks, and she was a lot the worse for wear, I guess wilderness living'll do that for ya, but at least we found her."

"Found her?" Tony repeated again, his brain still not processing the implications.

"Your dog, Kate," Jason stated excitedly as a young woman stepped round the corner with a very mangy looking dark brown dog, which was now straining at the leash. The girl let go, and the animal made a beeline for Tony's pants. Barking excitedly, it attacked Tony's leg as soon as it was in range. Biting into the material, pulling and growling with such force that Tony had to brace himself in order not to fall over.

"But I don't. . . " Tony began, and then his attention was focused on the dog that was attacking his leg with some vehemence. He looked up at Jason. "But I don't own a dog, I don't even like dogs," he stated, looking pleadingly at Jason for help, but Jason had stepped back. He looked back down at the mangy animal, attempting to talk to it.

Behind Jason Kate was laughing so much she thought her sides would split apart, as each, "good doggy. . .nice doggy," left Tony's lips.

Tony intermittently looked up for allies, but, although he was attracting a lot of attention, his audience, he couldn't help but notice Ducky and Abby out of their normal environment and amongst them, was simply watching and laughing. He tried without success to shake the mutt off, but whatever Kate had spilt on his pants was clearly driving the animal wild. Trying to maintain what dignity he could, he decided that his only hope was the locker room and his shorts, and he began the tortuous journey dragging the dog behind him, a spectacle of much hilarity.

Kate watched him go, deciding that this was much better than shooting him, maybe he'd think twice before he called his next made up pet Kate. She settled back down to her work. Ah revenge was sweet!

Gibbs watched the whole spectacle silently from the top of the stairs. It was good to have things back to normal.

The End

Author's note:- Thanks again for all the support during the writing of this. I hope those of you who read it enjoyed it. I would love to know your opinions. Thanks so much:- Judith