Another Moment

Disclaimer: Nope not mine, not a one. =(

Rating: T

Spoilers: None

Summary: ONE SHOT Going home to an empty house. Maybe it doesn't always have to be that way. KIBBS

Author's Note: Another something I found during the computer clearout and have been meaning to improve and upload.


As usual, he is the last one to leave the office. He shuts down his computer while glancing around the squad room, dimly lit by one glowing lamp- his. No surprise there, it is a Friday night after all. And while all his fellow agents are out getting drunk or spending time with their families, he is sitting at work, his mind still full of the case they had wrapped up that afternoon.

Street lights fly past his car window as he speeds through the near empty streets. At the traffic lights, he sees two lovers walking hand in hand. They're probably heading home for the night. He doesn't think he has anything to go home for, except perhaps to shower, pull on a change of clothes and work on his boat.

Too soon he pulls up to his eerily still house. It sits quietly in the dark, no signs of life to be seen. He remembers a time when he would look forward to returning home, to a house full of a laughter and happiness. Sitting around the dinner table, watching TV on the couch… That domestic scene is something he hasn't had in over a decade. Not since Shannon, not since Kelly.

His life could have been one stupid coincidence after another, but Gibbs believes that there is no such thing. He's had chances that he didn't take, women he didn't really love. Perhaps if he'd done things the right way, made an effort, he'd have a family again. Children who would run into his arms when he comes home at night and children to tuck into bed. He'd have a wife who loves him for who he is and who he would hold until they fall asleep.

But he doesn't.

The staircase looks long and narrow as he ascends its steps. The floorboards creak in all the familiar places, second step, fifth step, eighth step. And he is at the top, staring down the corridor that leads to his bedroom.

The room is dark when he opens the door, the only thing illuminating it is the faint light from outside the window. For a moment, he forgets to breathe and his heart forgets to beat because there, against his blue encased pillows is a halo of brown. The covers rise and fall softly as the person under them slumbers on. He has never seen a more perfect sight.

He slowly walks to his side of the bed. He lowers himself to the mattress, trying not to jolt the bed. Gently, he pulls back the duvet.

And there she is.

Angel.

Perfect.

In sleep, she loses that tough exterior that she presents at work. She is vulnerable and almost childlike. Her hair is tousled and her lips exhibit a faint pout.

Somewhere in the back of his mind, he wonders why she is here, in his bed. During the short length of their fledgling relationship (if you can even call it that), they had never spent the entire night together. He always goes to her. They make love and he leaves during the night.

He does this because it makes it easier to keep her at a distance, because she is a strong and intelligent woman with soft brown eyes and a beautiful smile. She is the one that makes him believe, sometimes, that maybe things aren't so bad after all. But he's been let down too often and burned just a little too much. Too old, too grumpy, too jaded. And he can't forget all those times when he has found that the woman sharing his bed wasn't quite what he thought she would be. In his mind, this beautiful woman sleeping in his bed deserves a hell of a lot more than damaged goods.

She chooses this moment to open her eyes. She smiles hesitantly when she sees him.

"Hi."

"Hey." He replies softly.

"I uh, I tried to wait for you… but…" Her voice is husky and low, still holding traces of sleep.

He shifts nervously. "It's alright. You haven't slept much the past few days." It's true, he worked his team hard over this case.

"I… I thought you might want some company tonight. I bought food, it's in the kitchen and-"

"Kate." He cuts her off, trying to inject a force of authority into his voice. "Go home."

Even to his ears it sounds more like a plea than an order.

But she doesn't back down. No, his Katie always speaks her mind, challenges him at every turn.

"It won't be any different to all the other times."

But they both know it will be. Because this is too close, too personal. She is here, in his space. If he lets her in now, he knows there will be no turning back.

His heart screams out for him to love her, his body demands that he holds her in his arms. But his head is full of those past failures and insecurities. The barriers and walls he has built around himself cannot be penetrated, or can they? Is it possible that somehow this extraordinary little brunette has wiggled her way past his many defences and into his well guarded heart?

"Let's just eat, ok? And we'll take it from there."

Her voice is light and he knows she's taking it slow for him. He's known for some time now that she's hoping for something more out of this 'thing' they have. He knows deep down she wants a wedding ring, three children and a house with a white picket fence, but he is sure that she would give it all up in a heartbeat if he said that it wasn't what he wanted.

Somehow, she manages to convince him and suddenly they are sitting on the couch, a selection from the Chinese take away spread out in front of them. She is wearing one of his NIS t-shirts that is far too big for her tiny body. He has a strange feeling swelling up in his chest when he sees her like this.

Intimate.

Domestic.

Impulsively, he reaches out to tuck a silky strand of hair behind her ear. She rewards him with a dazzling smile and the wall crumbles just a little bit more.

Then the insecurities come flooding back, the same ones he has been battling every day since they had started this.

What the hell would a beautiful, talented girl like her see in him?

He'd see her small pale hands moving over his body. Her skin- perfect, smooth and flawless. Then he'd see his skin. Those places where the years haven't been kind and where his chest hair has almost completely turned grey. He has wrinkles, lots of them, each detailing a little more pain and marking a few more passing years of his life.

He knew that if they did continue doing this, there was a huge chance that some day he'd leave her a very young widow, or a jaded young woman who wound up being an old marine's ex-wife number 4.

He'd break her heart, he'd tell himself. Somewhere down the line he'd screw up, just like he did in his previous marriages. He'd-

As if she knew exactly what was running through his mind, she puts a delicate hand on his cheek and turns his attention towards her. Then, without saying a word, she gently holds a morsel of chicken and rice to his mouth.

Tender.

Caring.

He once told her that eyes can lie, but not hers, not to him. In them now, he sees the wealth of emotion that she tries to swallow down so that he won't feel obliged to return the sentiment.

She shouldn't have to hold back anything, he suddenly thinks. She shouldn't have to hide, not from him. And yet she feels the need to protect him, but from what? From her? From himself? He doesn't know the answer, to those and many other questions that frequently haunt him about them.

His hands, brought into action subconsciously, reach out blindly for her and he vaguely registers the shock on her face as he pulls her snugly into his side. With his face buried in her hair, he takes a deep breath.

Sweet.

Familiar.

She knows that cases like this always hit him hard. He knows that despite no obvious show of understanding, she knows exactly what is plaguing him, and the mere thought of someone knowing him as well as that is terrifying as hell. But comforting, in an odd way.

So he just sits and holds her. Time passes and neither move.

FIN