Title: Adding Color
Disclaimer: Kate and Gibbs aren't mine.
Spoilers: Not really.
Summary: KIBBS PWP. Inspired by a scene from "Bikini Wax". Kate has a lot to teach Gibbs too.
Gibbs saw the world in black and white. Kate was just trying to add a little color.
The man had never received flowers in his life. He'd scoffed at even the suggestion when she'd asked. And she was of the opinion that everyone – even jaded old marines who didn't like gifts that required attention – should experience that special thrill at least once.
Every time he off-handedly and doggedly uttered one of his back and white statements, like "I don't trust anyone", "Nothing surprises me", or "Romance between agents never works" – she felt compelled, for his sake as well as her own, to challenge him on it.
To Kate, the world was more finely hued, more full of possibility, more open to interpretation.
She knows that Gibbs trusts her implicitly, whatever he might say. She knows she surprises him constantly, he's told her so. And she knows that their romance, however youthful or covert, has been working very well for nearly three months now and gradually strengthening.
After they'd gotten together, she'd smugly teased him about his earlier statements regarding fellow agents becoming involved. She still smarted a bit thinking of how he'd growled at her in Gitmo so very pointedly – like feeling about him as she did was in some way her own fault or within her power to control.
Gibbs had responded, rationally with: "I said 'romance' between agents doesn't work, Kate. This isn't a romance."
"What would you call it?" she'd demanded, indignantly, glaring at him over the low coffee table they sat at.
He'd stolen an egg roll from her plate and said simply: "I'd call it a relationship," Averting his eyes, he dunked it in some sauce and added evenly: "There's a difference, you know."
She'd gone from feeling anxious and hurt in that moment to feeling treasured and touched. It was a very significant distinction.
Romances were what Tony indulged in with his various nameless women and what she'd tested out now and then before her employment at NCIS. Romances were brief, entertaining and superficial. Relationships were lasting and meaningful, requiring both effort and commitment.
A romance was a flash in the pan; a relationship, a slow-burning miracle. And if any man knew how to craft 'slow-burning' into an art form, it was Jethro Gibbs.
Their coming together had been an explosion of massive, romantic proportions, and in their time together since, their budding relationship had only grown closer, more intense, more real.
The three month anniversary of the day that they got together is coming up and she thinks he deserves a little gesture of appreciation, a token of affection, of recognition for all he's given her.
She puts a great deal of care and attention into the flowers she chooses, the combination of colors and scents, making sure that the bouquet she sends is designed specifically for the Gibbs she knows. Both the politician and soldier that she knows at work and the lover and friend she knows in private.
When the flowers arrive in a blue and silver box late one afternoon, Gibbs is away from his desk. She makes a good show of looking mildly curious, while McGee peers over warily and watches Tony pounce on the gift.
"Who would send Gibbs flowers?" he snorts, examining the arrival from all angles.
"Maybe he did someone a favor," Kate suggests from her desk, feigning disinterest.
"He's hardly a flower kinda guy," he balks, discovering an envelope and holding it up to the light.
"Maybe..." pouts McGee, standing up at his desk and peering over at Tony's indiscreet investigation of the curiosity: "-- one of his ex-wives sent them."
"If they did they're probably poisoned," Tony mutters, peeping inside the envelope at the card. "Blank!" he announces, irritated: "-- why would you send a card only to leave it blank?" he asks, with a mystified tone.
"Gee, I don't know," Kate retorts with a shrug: "-- maybe they didn't want their private correspondence read by the wrong person, DiNozzo."
Tony pulls a face at her and shoves the card back into the flowers. He's turning towards her with a comeback on his tongue, when his spine tingles with awareness and he freezes in place.
"Someone sent you flowers, Boss," he offers over his shoulder, petrified.
"I can see that, DiNozzo," Gibbs growls, directly behind him, and emitting deadly vibes.
Tony skitters away before he can score a slap to the back of the head and Kate turns back to her work, with a smile.
Gibbs makes sure the other agents are focused on their work before turning to examine the elaborate and beautiful display of flowers sitting so conspicuously on his desk. With his back to the other men, he chances a furtive look in her direction.
Kate keeps her head lowered and eyes bent on her work, but she cannot help the involuntary lift of her lips. From the corner of her eye, she notices Gibbs pick up the card and open it – he pauses, then slowly slips it into his breast pocket.
When she hears a knock on her door at just past eight that night, she knows who it is. This was now routine, the night after they'd wrapped a case. It might be sooner or it might be very, very much later, but he would eventually turn up at her door. And he would always stay till morning.
She pads to the door, in her slippers and robe, carrying her coffee with her, and opens up for him. He stands there, awkwardly clutching the box brimming with flowers she'd sent him earlier, a bewildered expression on his face.
"You sent me flowers?" he states incredulously, without introduction or gratitude.
"You're welcome, Gibbs" she smiles sweetly, not miffed in the least: "I'm flattered that you noticed."
She shoots him a self-satisfied look and heads for the kitchen, thinking about how he must've looked exiting the bullpen carrying the flowers and trying not to be noticed.
Glancing back, she sees him swing the door shut and trail behind her, wagging his head at the floor. She has confused him, surprised him. Men send women flowers, not the other way round and not in anything other than corny romance novels and not for any other reason than that they've done something wrong.
She's trying, bit by bit, to re-build in Gibbs a sense of romance, a sense of occasion, a sense of unconditional giving. And bit by bit, he's learning. It's a slow process but the rewards, she expects, are patently obvious.
She is rather pleased by her gift but when she turns to face him, he is sitting at the kitchen table, having deposited the flowers there and is staring grimly at the floor.
"Kate," he says slowly and carefully: "I know that you know -- If word got out--"
She brings him a cup of coffee and sits with him at the table, as he struggles to find his words.
His eyes rise to her face and his voice becomes more insistent: "If DiNozzo had found out--"
"Relax, Gibbs," she smiles and leans in, linking her fingers with his: "I wouldn't be any kind of agent if I couldn't order flowers without Tony being able to find out who they were from, now would I?"
"No," he admits and watches the movement of his thumb stroking over hers very slowly. He knows she's better than that; he knows she grasps the risk of their situation completely and would've done everything to cover her tracks.
"I just wanted…" her voice trials off and she pauses momentarily to try to put her finger on what exactly inspired her to this seemingly unsuited gesture. Her head drops to the side as she studies him and says rather shyly: "I wanted to give you something that no one else ever has."
He looks at her for a long moment and squeezes her hand tighter. She takes a sip of coffee and leans back in her chair, redirecting her gaze to the beautiful flowers on her table.
"Do you like them?" she asks, wishing for a little acknowledgment for the effort she's gone to.
He turns his eye on them and chuffs. "I guess so…" he nods diffidently. "They smell good," he admits and she smiles, knowingly.
Gibbs is very sensitive to smell, like a bloodhound -- and it's something she kept in mind when choosing the assortment for him. He has become a little obsessed lately with identifying the scents and lotions that she uses, whether it's through sniffing at each bottle in her bathroom or investigating them via her skin.
She watches him take a long sip of coffee and his hand slips out of hers. Drawing in a deep breath, he reaches slowly into his breast pocket and pulls out the little white card. It has the florists' insignia on it just like she said it would. She'd specifically asked that they include a card – not just to reference the conversation they'd had during the recent case, but also so that Gibbs understood that with the flowers came a message. The gift was simply the prelude.
"So…" he muses, curiously: "…why the blank card?"
He studies her for a moment intently, and she takes pleasure in his unswerving appraisal. He makes her feel like the most fascinating woman on earth.
He cocks his head to one side, holding up the card between two fingers: "Why no message?"
She plants both her elbows on the table and leans in close, running her eyes idly over his face. She smiles finally: "You make me speechless."
He laughs softly and she cannot help but rise from her chair and move closer to him. She sits sideways on his lap and slides her arms up around his shoulders. He accepts her willingly, opening his arms and wrapping them around her. He takes another deep breath and she feels him relax perceptively at their proximity.
Their relationship had been much more difficult for him to accept and adjust to than her. The risk might seem bigger to her in a way, but it had required a much greater leap of faith for him.
Things had been a little strange at work for a while. At first, he'd barely seemed to be able to look her in the eye – something she'd tried not to take too personally. But he was gradually getting used to the idea. He was becoming accustomed to seeing her in this dual role of agent/colleague on the one hand and lover/friend on the other.
If anything, at work, they'd become more focused -- not less as they'd both feared. Their new involvement had brought them both a calmness around each other that used to be filled by an underlying tension. Their mutual understanding had developed into a strong silent communication that made working together both successful and effortless.
Kate twists in his arms and plucks a yellow rose from the bouquet on the table, inserting it into his lapel and patting it into place.
Gibbs seems completely uninterested in the flowers now and much more interested in her situation in his lap, which is exactly how it should be and exactly how she wants it.
His mind is a one-track wonder. She does not always have his absolute attention and never will; but when they are together like this, she knows that he is with her, completely and wholly.
She understood from the very beginning that, if it was going to work between them, she would have to accept that a large percentage of Gibbs' energy, focus and attention belonged to his work.
The fact that she gets to work with him, and the fact that she is just as committed to her job, helps to alleviate pressure on their personal relationship. They're two of a kind and what they create together works well, in its own mysterious way.
Her hands smooth over the shoulders of his jacket and her eyes wander over the landscape of his clothed chest. "I do…have a message for you," she assures him in a slow, suggestive tone. She meets his eyes. "A present…I wanted to deliver it in person, though," she adds, tucking her hair behind her ear and trying to look innocent.
The corner of his mouth lifts as he gazes at her: "Really?" he muses, as one hand slips beneath the collar of her robe to trace the line of her neck down to her shoulder.
She studies him with a puckered brow and tells him seriously: "It's sort of hard to put into words."
"Is it now?" he humors her softly, pulling her closer into him.
She leans in slowly and kisses him, only very lightly, the movement of her lips across his barely tangible, but the hint of skin, the mingling of warm breath, the promise of intimacy, achingly palpable.
"Mmm," she hums in the affirmative, pulling back and beginning to unbutton his shirt: "It will, however….require your complete attention…." she frowns up at him briefly: "and I know you don't like that."
She sees his eyes sparkle and smirk, as he recognizes her attempt to once again prove him wrong, dispute his opinion, change his mind. He loves that she even tries.
"Believe me, Kate" he mutters, watching interestedly as she moves his shirt aside and progresses onto his belt buckle: "— right at this moment, you have my unparalleled attention."
"I'm so pleased," she smiles smugly, leaning in to whisper against his lips: "Then … take me into the bedroom--" she pauses for effect and kisses him once: "-- and you can unwrap your present, Agent Gibbs."
She puts her arms around him and waits for him to lift her up and carry her off. One of her secret pleasures is being swept up in Gibbs' strong arms, like some fairytale princess. Part of her is ashamed of this aspect of herself, while another part of her just loves the feeling of being held tightly in powerful arms, of being cherished and sheltered and cared for. But Gibbs, it seems, has other ideas tonight.
"Bedroom?" he repeats doubtfully, as if she's out of her mind for even thinking of traveling that far.
He rises, lifting her easily: "No," he states and unceremoniously plonks her down on the table.
"I want to unwrap you right here," he demands, impatiently pulling at the tie of her robe.
She should've known she could only tease and dare him for so long, before Gibbs' inherent dominant streak would flare up and engulf her.
"Gibbs --?" she whines, incredulously, despite his obvious determination. "Here?" she questions, uncertainly.
It was hardly the most romantic of settings. However spontaneous it might appear, the table was cold beneath her and the light completely unforgiving.
He pushes his lips against hers once, firm and obstinate: "Right here, Katie," he murmurs: "Right here…right now."
Insistent hands are inside her robe, warm lips on hers again and the most she can do is push aside their coffee cups and the box of flowers before her back is against the cold wood and she ceases to care at all. Gibbs keeps calling her 'Katie', his mouth is all over her skin and his body covering hers, making irresistible promises and creating a delicious fire that warms her from within.
They eventually make it to the bed.
Following a short, but mind-blowing session on the kitchen table, they retired to a hot shower to relieve their exhausted bodies. By the time they'd stepped out again, the water was cold and Gibbs had managed to blow to smitherines a further dozen or so of her precious brain cells.
Sprawled on the couch, they'd re-charged on Chinese leftovers, before moving into the bedroom so she could return the favor.
After round three of the night, they lie limp and tangled, a fine sheen of perspiration covering their bodies. They listen to their labored breaths calm and silence take over the dim bedroom.
Kate's eyes are closed as she combs her fingers lazily through Gibbs' hair, his head heavy on her breast, his breath wet on her skin.
"Caitlin…" he breathes after a long silence.
Sometimes he will call her that – give her her full name when he's serious. It's always when they are together like this and alone. As if to differentiate between the sharp "Kate" he calls her at work. She likes the acknowledgement of her true name. She likes that he distinguishes between the woman she is in his arms and the agent she is in their work.
Of course, occasionally, he calls her "Katie" – which is somewhere between the two and encompasses both her roles -- but he reserves that for special moments.
She thinks he uses it so rarely because he is so totally aware of the intoxicating effect it has on her. When he calls her that, she'd pretty much do anything for him; whether it's looking up differences between two planes in the President's command or making love to him on top of her kitchen table.
When he calls her that, she'd do it all and more – all he has to do is ask. Caitlin, Kate or Katie will willingly, trustingly oblige.
"Yeah?" she answers, shifting under him slightly.
He snoozes for a long moment then finally tells her sleepily: "I think I like gifts that require attention..."
A slow smile stretches across her face: "Good," she murmurs, eyes still closed. "I'll have to remember that," she adds, making a mental note to send him something amazing on his birthday.
"Caitlin," he says again, with a heavy sigh.
"Mmm?" she answers, half-consciously.
He leaves another long pause before saying with great difficulty: "You already….give me…what no one else has."
She opens her eyes, hazily and gazes down at him, his face hidden from her view. He doesn't talk easily about his feelings and it touches her that he's expressed such a sweet sentiment, despite his formidable reticence and despite his awkwardness with the language.
She lifts her heavy head and places a tender kiss on his hair line. Of course, she gives him what no one else has. She has no choice. She loves him like no one else has and always will.
"I love you," she whispers and drops her head back to the pillow.
They haven't said the words to each other often and when they do, it's only in the heat of their union when everything seems like a dream.
Saying them in the still aftermath of reality seems more significant and somehow more risky. She knows she isn't saying anything that they each haven't thought about. Their relationship is a serious one – they wouldn't have embarked on it if they didn't harbor feelings for each other beyond the superficial, beyond the ordinary.
But they'd never truly voiced that truth.
The words feel good on her tongue, sound good in the air around them and she has no idea how much she'd wanted to say them till then. Relief and joy swells through her body at the simple but brave endearment.
Gibbs lies still and silent, breathing against her and as his silence stretches on she closes her eyes tightly and tells herself that it's okay if he can't say the words to her right now, if he can't say them out loud. She knows in her heart how he feels about her – he shows her and tells her in so many other ways exactly how he loves her – and that can be enough.
Her fingers resume their lazy caressing of his scalp but after a moment she feels him pull away and move. He shifts up her body slowly and puts his cheek against hers. She smiles faintly as he nuzzles against her repeatedly, his stubble scratching her skin pleasantly, his breath warm in her ear.
"Kaaaatie?" he drawls, still rubbing their cheeks together gently.
"What?" she sulks playfully, refusing to open her eyes.
A warm, wonderful arm snakes around her waist and he gives her cheek a soft kiss.
"I love you too, baby," he whispers evocatively in her ear.
She smiles suddenly and opens her eyes, stroking the arm around her waist and turning her head to meet his gaze.
He leans in and kisses her with heart-breaking, heart-melting, heart-mending tenderness and then snuggles back against her breast again like the child that he is not. He pulls the covers up and over them and Kate reaches out to turn off the bedside lamp, her hands returning immediately to lie gently on his back while he sleeps.
The following Saturday, she is enjoying a leisurely morning at home, one of the few in recent months that she hasn't had to rush off to work. She is curled up on the sofa, half listening to the news and contemplating all the washing she really should start on, when there is a knock at her door.
Shuffling over, she opens it to find an enormous arrangement of flowers, with a delivery boy underneath them, struggling for air. Ferns and exotic birds of paradise stick up and out in every direction, framing the poor boy's pimply face.
"Caitlin Todd?" he asks awkwardly.
"Yes," she answers and allows him to enter.
"Where would you like these, Ma'am?" he asks, juggling the miniature forest. She leads him into the kitchen where he gratefully dumps the delivery. Kate stares at it, astonished, admiring the intricate construction and noticing that it includes all her favorite flowers – how had he known?
"Ms Todd?" says the kid, shoving a little notepad at her and hinting at her to sign. She does, distractedly, still eying the present and feeling her girly head go dizzy and her woman's body go buzz.
She loves getting flowers. The only time she's recently had the pleasure, is from Tony, and that turned out to be less than pleasant. Even back then, she's sure Gibbs noted her delighted response. Never let it be said that he's slow on the uptake.
The boy leaves and she turns as he shuts the door behind him, thinking she really should've tipped the bringer of such a heavenly gift. Instead she resolves on showering all her gratitude and delight on the man that had no doubt sent them.
She runs back into the living room and snatches up the cordless phone. She's returning to the kitchen, to the flowers on her table, and about to dial Gibbs' number when the phone rings in her hand. She answers it on the first ring.
"Did you get them?" he asks immediately.
She grins delightedly: "Yes, and they're beautiful, Gibbs. Thankyou."
She leans in to smell the roses and spots a red card amongst the foliage.
"You're welcome," Gibbs rumbles in a pleased tone as she plucks out the card and opens it up. She smiles, finding it as suggestively blank as she'd expected it would be.
"When do I get my message?" she asks mischievously, turning the card over in her fingers.
There is a loud knock at her door and she turns, phone still at her ear, and strides over to answer it again.
"Right now," Gibbs says into his phone, standing on her threshold.
He disconnects his cell and puts it away and she mirrors the action with her phone.
His blue eyes pin hers and she knows her entire Saturday is a write-off. The washing will have to wait – Gibbs has got something infinitely more enjoyable in mind. A broad smile of anticipation spreads gradually across her face.
She grabs hold of his jacket and pulls him inside swiftly, arching up to meet his mouth as it descends. She needs to claim her message; and if the display in her kitchen is any indication, it's going to be a very detailed, very lengthy, very involved process. And she's up for every last bit.
Gibbs hauls her up against his body and she wraps her arms and legs around him, feeling like a little barnacle clinging to a big, strong rock -- her rock. It's hardly the princess lift she loves but she's not complaining.
"You didn't have to, you know," she tells him, softly, looking deep into blue, familiar eyes.
"I know," he answers softly and kisses her lingeringly: "I wanted to."
"Oh, Gibbs…" she muses, against his mouth, the corners of her own lifting with instant satisfaction: "You're learning."