Title: Don't Think Twice
Rating: T, adult themes, allusions to sex and violence.
Disclaimer: Characters belong to DPB et al. Lyrics are by Bob Dylan.
Summary: KIBBS. Kate comes to Gibbs for help on a private matter.
"It ain't no use in turnin' on your light, babe,
That light that I never knowed.
And it ain't no use in turnin' on your light, babe,
I'm on the dark side of the road.
Still, I wish there was somethin' you would do or say,
To try to make me change my mind and stay.
We never did too much talkin' anyway,
So, don't think twice, it's all right.
It ain't no use in callin' out my name, babe
Like you never did before.
And it ain't no use in callin' out my name, babe,
I can't hear you any more…..
I ain't sayin' you treated me unkind,
You coulda done better, but I don't mind,
You just kinda wasted my precious time,
But don't think twice, it's all right.
Jethro Gibbs is a mystery to her. He always has been from the moment they met. It's only recently though that that has started to bother her.
She never wanted something serious, but she has started to resent his reserve. She knows what they have is only casual, but she has started to doubt the wisdom of their arrangement.
When they met, the spark between them was instant and strong. He pursued her relentlessly. He was charming, determined and persistent. They both sensed what would happen if and when she acquiesced. And she did, of course, without much real resistance.
She took him to her bed on the first night he took her out. She's often regretted that -- and wondered whether things could've been different if they'd waited, if they'd tried to discover in one another something deeper.
But it's mere speculation. Her connection with Jethro Gibbs was always physical – never spiritual or cerebral. They rarely talked, even while in bed together. They never shouted each other's names in love or awe. They shared only scraps of their individual lives and tacitly avoided all talk of their respective histories and the wounds which had led them to this unorthodox union.
She used to feel safe with that distance. She used to crave the mystery that both of them retained. She was not ready to be known again, loved again. She was not prepared to love another man and loose him – especially a man like Jethro Gibbs.
In some ways, he was very like her late husband and in others, he was Patrick's complete opposite. That made him a safe choice. She was aware of that. She was aware of the underlying psychology behind both of their decisions. She was aware of her choices every step of the way and of what she was letting herself in for the longer she remained in this peculiar, sexual relationship with a man she knows she can never really have.
She has no one to blame but herself – and her continuing and catastrophic grief at having lost the one man who had known and loved her like no other.
A small, desperate part of her had wanted her relationship with Jethro to mean more. It had only been six months since Patrick's death when she met him. Part of her couldn't comprehend how she could be so easily seduced after such a relatively short mourning period.
It had to mean more than just physical release between two lonely strangers. She couldn't stand the thought that she could be so unfaithful to her beloved husband's memory. She couldn't understand herself behaving in a way that he would never have expected of her. It seemed to somehow diminish her love, her loss.
But it was amazing how quickly one's conscience was appeased with impaired rationale and staunch denial and senseless sex. Bit by bit, her grief slipped into the background, her new, disjointed life took over and her relationship with Jethro flourished in impassioned ignorance.
In the beginning, they saw quite a lot of each other. The sex was extraordinary, transporting. She left her body, she left her mind. She left her life and her grief so far behind that sometimes she cried when she returned.
But she kept going back for more -- she clung to this mysterious, tenacious man as her one escape, her carnal liberation.
Once, when she'd cried, he'd held her, all night. She'd woken in his bed, with tears still on her cheeks, a raging hangover and his strong arms enveloping her. Ashamed of her unintentional exposure, she'd slipped out of his arms, out of his bed and out of his house before he had woken, before he could show her any more care, before she could start wanting more from him.
These days, however, it was rare that they slept in the same bed. They both preferred their own beds, their space, their privacy. Jethro seemed to require her services or society less and less. It was not unusual now for him to not call for weeks on end. And when he did, all she did was sit in his basement and watch him build his precious boat. It was the only thing he would talk to her about, in devout and distant tones.
But he didn't seem to want her to touch him anymore. He didn't seem to relish her kiss or pay attention to her clothes and perfume the way he used to. He certainly didn't like her trying to take his clothes off and made no effort to remove hers.
In fact, he seemed entirely indifferent to her presence. As she watched him work on his boat, night after night, she got the distinct impression that it didn't matter whether she was present or not.
It didn't upset her too much. Men went through fazes and Jethro Gibbs was one of the strangest men she'd ever met. Except that the last time they had slept together had been very strained and unsettling.
He'd been so absorbed in his own mind. His actions were mechanical and detached and when he closed his eyes, she could've sworn he was shutting her out. His orgasm was almost violent in its intensity. She'd never seen him loose it so completely.
He moved over her with the force of an enraged animal, with the passion of a tormented man. He seemed utterly possessed for a moment, transported to and suspended in another place -- and while he was there, he had released the name of another woman in a wretched howl.
Afterwards, she didn't reproach him for it, or try to draw him out. As much as she wished to, she remained silent. She lay beside his sweaty, spent body, staring at the ceiling as her heart slowed. And while the question repeated over and over in her brain, she wouldn't let herself ask him who exactly 'Kate' was.
She knew he'd lost a wife. She knew he'd been unhappily married too many times. And her indifferent conclusion was that it was one of these women who possessed his brain while he possessed her body.
And though she recognized the disrespect and the injustice of it, she couldn't really blame him without blaming herself. She couldn't honestly say she hadn't done the same thing herself – imagined Pat's hands where Jethro's were, his mouth covering hers and his body occupying the space beside her in bed.
They were a terrible, reprehensible, damaged, pathetic pair of lovers – so she never said a word.
She pushed the incident from her mind and attempted to dismiss the desperate passion with which he'd called the other woman's name. This 'Kate' could mean anything or nothing to him – and frankly, she wasn't sure she wanted to know the truth.
But a week later, when they were out for a casual meal, Gibbs had gotten a phone call on his cell. It was obviously a work matter so she tuned out the conversation – until she heard that name again.
She looked up from her drink. His tone was different to when they were in bed though. He sounded harassed and irritated as he growled down the phone line at 'Kate'. Two minutes later, he apologized and left, telling her he was needed at work urgently.
She'd been surprised to hear from him a few days later. He phoned late at night to request a lift home from a crime scene, after the completion of a case. She nearly declined, retorting that she was not his constant chauffeur or personal slave. She actually had a life and work of her own to conduct.
But she didn't refuse. She went, hoping to get a glimpse of the agent he'd called 'Kate'. On the way, she'd chided herself for her curiosity, for her jealousy. After all, she was the only woman that Jethro Gibbs had taken to bed in the last three years. She was absolutely certain that he had been faithful to her during that time, despite the casual nature of their entanglement. And many men had fantasies about co-workers – it was completely natural. It didn't have to mean anything more.
But he'd dragged her into the problem by bringing this Kate person into bed with them, the only place where the outside world was not supposed to exist. And she wanted to see for herself the woman that could evoke such intense feeling in Jethro Gibbs – something she hadn't been able to do in three years as his lover.
When she pulled up to the curb, deliberately keeping her distance, she saw the usual huddle of NCIS jackets, standing by a large, white truck. Amongst three taller figures was a young woman. She'd seen her before, but had never paid much attention to her. She was small and slim with a conservative, capable air.
She didn't seem like the sort of woman who could create extraordinary passion in a man, but looks could be deceiving. Neither was she what she would've considered Jethro's type, but she was undoubtedly beautiful. Even from a distance, she could see that beneath the professional garb hid a pretty body, high cheekbones and sparkling eyes.
She watched as one of the men punched the other's arm, grinning widely. As they bickered back and forth, the female agent, standing next to Gibbs, took off her cap, absently letting her hair untwist and tumble about her shoulders. She noticed the way her older boss traced the movement from the corner of his eye, the way he furtively ran his gaze over her dark mane while she wasn't looking.
For a man of small gestures, this one was immense and prominent. If she wasn't sure before, she was now convinced that this was Jethro's Kate and that shouting her name at the height of his pleasure had been more than an irrational mistake or random fantasy.
Quickly, Jethro turned away, giving simultaneous headslaps to the squabbling boys and striding away to have a brief word with an older gentleman. Spotting her car across the road, he sent her a sharp, little nod, then without another word to his team, he headed in her direction.
He gave her the usual dispassionate peck on the cheek as he jumped into the passenger seat. Lately, she mused as she smiled over at him and turned the wheel, she might just as well be his sister.
As they drove down the street, she noticed the young brunette staring after them for a long moment. And, this time, she also noticed that Jethro glanced in the rear view mirror -- no doubt watching her retreating figure as she rounded on the other agents, yelling at them before brushing past and storming away.
She'd wondered whether to broach the subject with him but she couldn't work out how. It's true she's qualified in this area, but she can't help feeling she's just not the right person for him to talk to -- even if he would, which she doubts.
As it turns out, she's not the right person for him, in any respect, and probably never was. She can see that now. She should've known better, a woman of her age and education and experience. She should've thought ahead, past all the meaningless sex, to what she is feeling now. She always suspected he would find someone else, someone who actually needed him, someone who would let him in, someone he could open up to.
Something tells her he has found that someone and he doesn't even know it.
Downing the last of her drink, she resumes her search of his kitchen cabinets, looking for something vaguely edible. Actually, she's not that hungry. She's just avoiding going back to that stifling basement and his perpetual silence.
She slams the cupboard shut and pours herself another drink, just as she hears a tentative knock at the door. She knows that Jethro won't hear it from his favorite hibernation hole so she moves down the corridor and answers the door.
On the doorstep is the woman she has seen on a dozen street corners but never up close. The little brunette stands uncertainly, her arms wrapped around her body and her head lowered as she shifts from foot to foot. She looks surprised as she raises her face, for some reason wearing big, dark glasses, despite the late hour.
"Oh--" she says softly, her mouth working speechlessly, her chin quivering.
The redhead pauses, looking her over: "Are you looking for Jethro?"
She notices a fresh graze on the younger woman's cheek and caked blood on her knuckles as she crosses her arms over her chest. Her hair is a mess, her clothes ripped in places and her lip is split in one corner.
"Yes," she answers shakily: "I'm sorry, I…"
"You're hurt," she sighs softly, trying not to stare at the blood: "Please come in."
The brunette hesitates, glancing back towards her erratically parked car: "I--"
"Please--" she insists, putting a hand on her elbow and drawing her inside.
Kate steps in slowly, her head bowed, her body huddled. She glances around the vestibule for any sign of her boss. His house is obviously foreign to her by the awkward way she hovers near the door.
"You're Kate, aren't you?" the redhead asks carefully, closing the door behind her.
She nods and a few tears slip out from under the big sunglasses to trickle down her cheeks. She sniffs and raises her head, facing the other woman and meeting her gentle gaze.