Disclaimer: All characters and events in this story are fictitious, and any similarity to a real person, living or dead is entirely coincidental and unintended by the author. I'm just borrowing the characters…so don't sue.

In my world Kate still lives…

The devil you know



A gut feeling

"So when do we meet her?" Kate asked, keeping her face devoid of any emotion. Tony lifted his head from the table, glanced around to check if Gibbs wasn't around. Satisfied that they were alone he focused tired eyes on her.


"The woman who had been keeping you up at night. It had to be a woman, right? Even you can't be that stupid to be fooled twice."

Tony gave Kate a smirk. "Unlike you, Kate, I have a social life. Now if you don't mind, I have work to do."

"And you have been working hard for, oh, I should say the last thirty minutes. If Gibbs finds out…"

"Finds out what?"

"That Tony has a social life," Kate answered glibly, watching as Gibbs made his way towards his desk. "And according to Tony, I have none."

Tony stuck his tongue out at her. She ignored it, instead trying to read Gibbs. He was distracted. Usually he would have replied by now. Gibbs grunted something intangible and then downed the last of his coffee before binning the cup.

"Tony, where's McGee?"

"Home, Boss. He's got Bronchitis and Ducky had booked him off for the week."

Gibbs again just grunted. Kate eyed her boss with growing concern. She caught Tony's eye and he just shrugged before picking up a folder and moving towards Gibbs' desk.

"I've finished typing up the report for the Schuler case. It should be open and shut, Boss."

Gibbs looked up to glare at Tony. Grabbing the report, he dumped it into the same bin as his coffee cup.

Tony couldn't hide his surprise. Kate frowned, watching the interaction with concern.

"Uh, Boss. You just tossed my report in the bin."


"And I'm sure there's a very good reason for you doing that." Tony said, wondering how he was going to fish the report out of the bin without Gibbs finding out. "Uhm, Boss. What is the reason for throwing my report in the bin?"

Tony didn't back away from Gibb's glare.

"Because I don't believe that the case is closed. It's too easy."

"We've had easy cases before, Gibbs. What's so different about this one?" Kate asked, standing next to Tony. Gibbs shifted his icy blue gaze from Tony to hers when he answered curtly, "Because my gut says so."


A day earlier

Shouts and heavy footsteps echoed across the street. Pedestrians turned towards where the action was taking place, drawn towards it like moths to a light. A young man rounded the corner at full speed and narrowly avoided being struck by a Dodge. Slamming the hood, he gave a panicked look towards the side street he had just come from before setting off again. An older man rounded the corner more cautiously. Spotting the fugitive, he screamed after him to stop. All it did was to increase the effort the man put in to escape.

"Why do they always run," Gibbs muttered under his breath. His determined face belayed his words and he indicated to Tony to cut across.

"Kate, can you hear me."

"Loud and clear."

Panting slightly as he ran in the direction the man had taken, he continued with his instructions.

"He's moving down Market Street. Cut him off at Jefferson."

Happy with the affirmative, he shouted another warning for the man to stop. As all the times previously, he was ignored. The man suddenly swerved, turning into an alley.

"Kate, stay where you are. Tony, with me."

The commands came quickly and effortlessly. Leaning against the wall, he shifted forward slightly, glancing quickly down the alley. Tony's loud breaths filled his ear and he shifted down, making himself smaller as he eased around the wall.

Just as he thought. A dead end. Schuler would have no choice but to go through them.

"See anything, Boss." Tony whispered, his eyes darting around the dimly lit street, strewn with refuse, boxes and two dumpsters. He shook his head, his eyes scanning the surrounding area. He took another careful step forward, careful where he put his feet.

They split, Tony taking the left side while he continued down the right.

"Schuler, there's nowhere to go. Come out with your hands where we can see them."

Silence greeted the request. Kicking at a pile of boxes, he moved past when he was satisfied that the man wasn't hiding underneath them. Tony stretched slowly to his full height, his eyes following his gun as he looked into the first of the dumpsters. Shaking his head, he moved forwards.

Tony's stomach churned. He hated situations like this. The chance that something could go wrong was very real. Watching Gibbs moving forward, he kept his eyes and ears open for the slightest indication of where the man could be hiding. When Gibbs stopped, his body tight with tension, Tony moved forward again.


His whisper carried towards Gibbs and he indicated the window by his side. Gibbs could make out the broken shards. Moving stealthily forward, he peered at the opening. Blood streaked the jagged edges, still moist. The darkness inside was almost complete.

They had no choice. They had to go in.

"Kate," he whispered softly, "his in the second building from you. I want you to station men at the front and back entrances."

He looked at Tony, seeing the same determination there. He nodded and they quickly and efficiently cleared as best they could the remaining glass from the frame. Tony kept watch as he slowly lowered himself. He let go, dropping the last few feet. Immediately, he stepped away, his gun scanning the area.

The loud thud from Tony's drop made him winch. He could barely see the darkened spots that were paced out on the cement floor, leading away from the window.

"He's hurt."

Tony nodded, then meeting Gibbs' eyes briefly before focusing back on the far side of the floor. A door stood slightly ajar, a small sliver of light almost blinding in the darkness of the room. Unconsciously, they split up, moving steadily forward, following the trail.

The door beckoned. At Gibbs' nod, Tony pulled the door open. The older man glanced into the hallway, noticing the only way out was the stairs and another open door at the top. The blood trail stood out more clearly in the light. It led upwards. They followed.

Like a frightened animal, Schuler raced towards the top. He ignored logic, all he wanted was to get as high as possible. The pain in his side was a fiery red, pulsating with each step he took. In his terror, he ignored the steadily flowing blood. He slammed the last door open and found himself on the roof. He ran, checking the sides of the building.

There were no fire exits.

A voice interrupted his thoughts again. He looked up, noticing the older man that had chased him. A sob tore from his body, when he noticed the second gunman.

"It's over. Get on your knees, with your hands behind your head."

"Why. So that you can shoot me," he cried, tears flowing down his cheeks.

"No, son. Why do you think we'll shoot you," Gibbs asked instead, keeping close watch on the man in front of him.

"They said…they said that you never take prisoners."

Gibbs took a step forward, trying to calm the increasingly agitated man. "Who said?"

"The voices."

"Gibbs," Tony warned quietly, his full attention on Schuler who had taken a step closer to the edge of the building.

"I know," Gibbs returned out of the corner of his mouth. "What voices?" he asked calmly, moving towards his right, trying to keep Schuler's attention on him so that Tony could move closer.

"They're everywhere. They watch everything we do. Everything," Schuler whispered conspiratorially, his eyes trying to keep both Gibbs and Tony in sight. He took another step backwards.

"Schuler," Gibbs commanded, waiting until the man's eyes settled on him. "I want you tell me more about these voices."

"No.no.no.no…you can't make me. They will be angry."

Tony took two steps closer, steadily closing the gap between them.

"But if they're voices, they can't hurt you." Gibbs said, trying to reason with Schuler, trying to keep his attention on him. Schuler lost all colour in his face. His eyes widened with fear when he looked beyond Gibbs. He raised his arms, as if warding off an enemy only he could see.

"I won't tell. I promise. Please…," he whispered frantically, taking another step backwards. Gibbs looked behind him and saw nothing, his attention immediately back to the crying man in front of him.

"Who do you see, Schuler," he barked, purposefully hardening his voice in the hope that the man would focus away from his phantoms.

"I understand."

Those words did not lessen Tony's sinking feeling of dread. He was four steps away from him when Schuler turned towards him, his eyes clear. He smiled sadly and then took his last step backwards.

Tony jumped, his hand grabbing for the man's shirt. His finger tips scratched Schuler's shirt but he was too late. He could only watch in disbelief as his hand clutched empty air while the space that had been occupied by a living, breathing human being was forever empty.

What was really really eerie in his mind was the fact that Schuler didn't make a sound on his way down before the loud thud echoed upwards to indicate that he had finally ended his torment


That was the only emotion Gibbs expressed.


Reviews are really welcome. ;-)