Another 'Kate visits Gibbs'-story, but this time with a non-canon ending ;)
Very much KIBBS. Takes place just after ep "See No Evil".
Against the Grain
It was just a hunch that had made her come here. A gut feeling, nothing more.
"You know my door's always open."
It was his usual invitation he'd made earlier that evening. The one he made every time they had had a particularly nasty case, or when one of them was going through a rough time. The one where he reminded them that they needn't be alone if they didn't want to.
But that afternoon, Kate thought she had heard something else, hidden between the familiar lines.
They case they had been working on today was not something she considered disturbing as such. Sure, it had been an anxious and fast-paced few hours, and it was pretty disturbing that a man was capable of having his own wife and daughter abducted so he could steal millions from the government. But they had saved the day and to top it off, Gibbs had even seen through the scam and caught the SOB before he could make off with the money.
Case cracked, perpetrator behind bars, and no one had died. It was the best outcome they could have hoped for considering the circumstances.
So why had she heard a pleading tone hidden beneath Gibbs' invitation? Curiosity sufficiently recovering her courage, she turned the doorknob of his front door and let herself in.
She was greeted by the faint, dry smell of wood, and she took a moment to take it in. She loved that smell. Gibbs often carried it with him when he came in for work in the morning.
Then she quietly made her way into the living room. It was completely dark except for the moonlight coming through the open curtains. The pale glow was just enough to make out the furniture and keep herself from running into anything as she tried to make out where the entrance to the basement was. It wasn't that hard to find, though. The sliver of yellow light under the door showed her the way.
She opened the basement door as quietly as possible so she wouldn't disturb him. A pointless exercise, on second thought: her heels clicking on the stone floor would already have given away her presence. Just as well. She'd seen Gibbs on the shooting range, and the last thing she wanted was to startle him enough to pull his gun on her.
Poking her head through the doorway, she was greeted by the soft light of a single bulb, but noted the absence of the sound. The TV set in the corner was dark and muted. According to Tony it never was. She frowned. Gibbs wasn't working on his boat either. He was here, she knew, because she could smell fresh coffee between the scents of sawdust and paint stripper. But he wasn't moving about. For some reason that made her feel uneasy.
She was just about to step inside when…
"Come in, Kate."
Gibbs' deep voice boomed in the silence. He hadn't been talking loudly at all, but the suddenness had made her heart jump nonetheless. It took a second or two to get her breath back and get over the adrenaline rush, but then she made her way down the stairs and looked around.
She found him sitting on the workbench in the opposite corner, cradling a steaming mug in his hands.
"Hey," she greeted back with a smile. "How'd you know it was me?"
He nodded at her. "Leather and lilac."
"Ah." She was at a loss how he could have distinguished both her fragrance and the smell of her new coat between the myriad of scents that filled the basement, but just chalked it up to his uncanny Marine skills.
Silence reclaimed the room. Feeling a bit awkward, Kate occupied herself with getting out of her coat and hanging it on the stairway railing. In the corner of her eyes she could see him watch her go through the movements. He took another swig of his mug, but otherwise didn't react. Apparently he was waiting for her to take the initiative. That would figure, if he indeed expected her to have come for her own peace of mind.
So she nudged at the boat. "No sanding tonight?" she inquired just to get a conversation started.
Gibbs shook his head. "Nope." Then he finished the rest of his coffee in one go.
"Oh. Pity. I was going to ask if I could help you with your boat…" She pursed her lips. "But if you're not working on it tonight, how about I help you empty that bottle?"
He glanced at the bottle of bourbon beside him, and then arched a brow at her. "Sure?"
She sighed indignantly. "Regardless of what Tony says, I'm not a choir girl. I can hold my drink."
That made him smile, if only faintly. "We'll see," he said as he poured his mug half full of bourbon and handed it to her. Then he blew the dust from a spare mug and poured himself a double shot. "Cheers."
Taking in a mouthful, she immediately regretted it. Her face screwed up as the alcohol burned her tongue. She swallowed it all in one go, only to have her oesophagus scorched in the process. Through the coughs she found herself blinking back tears.
"Sip it, Kate. Little bits at a time." He sounded amused.
She coughed one more time and nodded. "I forgot…" But determined to prove Tony wrong, she continued drinking. In little sips this time.
As she peered over the edge of her mug, Kate couldn't shake the notion that the coffee had been a break between stronger beverages. Not that Gibbs was drunk. But he definitely wasn't his usual strict self. There was an air of melancholy about him. She'd noticed it before, but tonight it was particularly present.
"You okay, Gibbs?"
Half a year ago, she wouldn't have dreamed of asking him that. Before Ari, she had never even considered that her boss could lose himself, especially not in any kind of emotion. But the more she learned about him, the more clearly she could see that the rough and asocial side of him was only a part of the whole. The way he'd talked to the blind girl was proof that he did have a more sensitive side to him, too. And right now, she was beginning to believe her hunch about the invitation was right.
He stared ahead for while, and took another sip from his drink.
"Yeah. Yeah, I'm fine," he replied just when she was beginning to think he hadn't heard her.
She frowned. "You're lying," she told him as sincerely as she could.
"Am I? Your profiler training telling you that?" It was challenge, but she was ready for it.
"No," she replied in all honesty. "Just my gut feeling."
His eyes clouded over for a moment when he stared at some distant point again. She drank some more as she observed him more closely. He was acting so differently, so unlike her boss, that she felt seriously unnerved. And worried.
For several minutes she was eyeing him so intently that she startled when his head suddenly snapped up and he gazed at her with clear eyes.
"So why'd you come?"
She shrugged. "For you."
"Me?" He looked genuinely surprised, and a bit disgruntled. "What for?"
She shrugged again and looked away, suddenly feeling terribly self-conscious and silly. Her hunch, no matter how valid it had seemed moments ago, was now nothing more than a stupid romantic notion that had nothing to do with real life.
"You know, I just… Never mind," she bit, more at herself than at him. "I could tell… I thought I could tellthat today's case was harder on you than most others for some reason, and that maybe you might want some more intelligible company than a wooden frame tonight. But I… I guess I was wrong." She put the mug on the nearest ledge and turned to leave.
She had made it as far as the top of the stairs before she heard him call her.
Despite her inner devil yelling for him to go to hell for making her feel like a fool, she stopped to meet his gaze. "Yes?"
There was a hint of uneasiness in his eyes, as if he wasn't sure what to do with her attention now he had it. Eventually, after a few moments of silence, he spoke up.
Her anger dissipated almost instantly, making way for embarrassment. She ran her hand through her loose hair and smiled half-heartedly. "You're welcome." It was a bit of a deadpan answer, she realised, but right now she couldn't really think of anything better to say.
He cocked his head, barely looking at her now. "You, ah… you're still free to stay if you like."
There it was again. The same tone of voice she had heard this afternoon. And this time she was sure it wasn't her imagination.
She thoughtfully chewed her lip. "If there's still something left in the bottle…"
In reply, he refilled her mug and held it out to her until she came down. She saw him smirk in quiet amusement as she took the mug and drank from it, like a wild cat accepting a treat.
"Better," she mused. She looked at his face and wondered how she could make that smile reach his eyes. "So, still no sanding tonight?"
The smirk held. "Do you really want to spend tonight sanding?"
"You do it every night. Must be worth it then." She took another sip from her mug. "Unless of course you've got a better idea…"
"All right then, sanding it is." He got down from the workbench and picked up a sanding block. "Here," he said as he held it out to her with one hand and took her mug with the other. "C'mon. You wanted to sand; I'll teach you."
Complying as always when her boss gave her a direct order, she stepped up to him and allowed him to guide her hand as he made her carefully stroke the nearest wooden beam with the sanding block. He shifted slightly until he stood right behind her. With a jolt she could feel his body touching hers. She swallowed, trying to ignore the now unwillingly appearing flashbacks of the Philadelphia's emergency blow.
"That's it. With the grain," his deep voice rumbled softly in her ear.
She repeated the gentle movement countless times, until he finally told her to stop. Examining her work, he let his hand run over the smoothened wood, caressing it like a lover. She watched him in the semi-darkness, and imagined it was her body he was caressing instead.
Catching herself dreaming away, she became aware of how her face was glowing. Suddenly she was desperate for some more whiskey, if only so she could blame her red-hot cheeks on the alcohol instead of the intimate images shooting through her head. 'Not smart, Kate, not smart!' she berated herself. It was one thing to have such dreams while alone in your own bed, but to fantasize about your boss when he is standing this close to you… She bit her lip and willed her heart rate to go down before Gibbs would notice her excitement.
Hearing her name, she looked up. "Eh, yeah?"
"You're zoning out," Gibbs said as he gazed at her. "Bourbon getting to you already?"
She wanted to shake her head, but it became a shrug somewhere along the way. "Just a bit. Guess that stuff is stronger than I thought."
He chuckled. In the dim light she could just make out the fine wrinkles in the corner of his eyes.
"There's that," he said, stepping back to the workbench. "Plus you're tired as hell." He gave her an unusually kind look. "It's been a long day, Kate. Why don't you go get some sleep?"
She tilted her head. "Because I came here by car, and I just drank alcohol…" She stopped herself and slapped a hand over her mouth. "Oh, I'm so sorry, Gibbs. I should have thought of that!"
To her surprise, he actually looked amused rather than angry. "I doubt you've had enough to be legally drunk," he reasoned, "but it's best you don't drive anyway." He reached for his own drink. "You can take the guestroom. First floor, second door on the right."
"Thanks," she muttered, blushing for shame this time. "I'm not turning in before you do, though."
"That might be a while."
She smiled mischievously. "No problem. I've pulled all-nighters for you before."
In that brief moment his expression was unreadable, but then he turned to take a hammer and chisel from their pegs on the tool board, and began to work on another section of the boat frame.
For a long time she just watched him go about his business, sipping her drink and daydreaming about things she knew she shouldn't even be thinking about. But it was so hard not to. Professionally he might be a stubborn workaholic with all the sensitivity of an anvil, but between the lines he was also very caring and exceptionally charming. She recalled how he had flirted with Melissa Dorn when he interviewed her. God, she had been so jealous...
"Is it really that hard to believe, Kate, that I might be attractive to a woman?"
No, it wasn't. Not at all. He was extremely attractive to her, for one. She had fallen for him almost the instant she'd met him, even if she hadn't recognised the feeling as such until later. And it had never passed, even though there was no indication that the interest was mutual. He had flirted with her a bit at first - or at least what she considered to be flirting – until he'd thrown his infamous rule number 12 in her face. That had been the most painful rejection she had ever had, but it had done nothing to lessen her admiration for him. Or her desire...
Yet more forbidden thoughts rolled through her head as she continued to stare at him. After a while, though, he stopped chiselling to stretch his back. Tools still in his hands, he let his head hang back and tried to roll his rigid shoulders. Even from where she sat Kate could hear the nasty cracking sound of cramped muscles.
Moving on alcohol-enticed intuition alone, she got up, stepped up behind him and put her hands on his shoulders. She could feel the tension under her fingers as she began to massage him in slow, gentle circles.
At first he let her, but as his conscience caught up with him, he turned to protest.
"It's been a trying week, Gibbs," she said before he could open his mouth. "You deserve a little relaxation as much as the rest of us."
He didn't reply, but his protest died unspoken on his lips as he leaned into her touch. Encouraged by this show of confidence, Kate intensified her movements, pressing as hard as she dared to. His muscles were rock-hard and it took her quite some effort to loosen the tension. Occasionally he would grunt softly.
"Am I hurting you?"
Taking that reassurance as further encouragement, she continued despite her better moral judgement. Instinctively she didn't let her hands go any further than the seams of his t-shirt. But as her fingers explored every inch of his broad back, she found herself fantasizing what it would feel like to get the faded t-shirt out of the way and touch his bare skin. What he would look like underneath those worn working clothes…
The heat on her face was rising again. Edged on by the appreciative noises he made, she tentatively let her hands wander up to massage his neck. Much to her surprise he didn't object, and she could actually feel him relax under her touch. Maybe it was the effect of a few too many shots of bourbon that made him open up like this, but she didn't care. This was Gibbs. Inebriated or not, there was no way he'd let her do something he disapproved of.
By now her hands were moving slower, her fingers more deliberate. She brought her hands down again, tracing his spine before working outwards to his sides. Standing this close to him, she was barely able to contain the urge to lay her head against his back and pull him even closer. The skin of her arms even tingled at the thought of holding him. She had dreamed about this so often it hurt.
And then, through the rosy haze of alcohol and excitement, she took the risk and embraced him.
Intervention came swiftly. Without warning, his hands shot up like bullets from a gun and firmly grasped hers. "Kate..." It was barely more than a whisper, but it was unmistakeably a warning.
She licked her lips, her heart beating wildly. "Doesn't feel good?" she asked as innocently as possible.
Gibbs looked over his shoulder to meet her eyes. "Feels too good," he murmured. "And you know it."
Her heart almost stopped there and then. Caught red-handed – literally –, all she could do was stare back at him as she retrieved her hands. "I'm sorry, I didn't want to…"
"Don't apologise," he cut her off, facing her. "Not unless you mean it."
"I…" She swallowed hard. She considered lying, but knew that he would know if she did. "I…I wanted to," she finally confessed. "I just never intended to let you find out that I did… That I do…" She ended up staring at the ground, waiting for the hammer to fall.
But it didn't. Instead, strong fingers gently lifted her chin until she looked up.
"How long?" he asked, eyeing her intently.
She closed her eyes to hide from his gaze. "Since… since we met."
"Never had second thoughts?"
Now she did look at him. "I wouldn't have come here tonight if I had."
He seemed to see her sincerity, because he didn't ask any further. He just stared at her, his bright blue eyes a whirlpool of thoughts and feelings that she didn't dare place. But then he lifted her chin just a fraction higher.
"You were right," he whispered. "Today's case was…"
When he didn't finish his sentence, she instinctively tried to fill in the gap. "Emotional?" she tried. Well, it had been, for all of them.
From the look on his face she could tell that it wasn't the best description, but he nodded nonetheless.
"Something like that…" she heard him whisper as he leaned forward.
In hindsight she might have seen it coming, but in the spur of the moment, his kiss took her completely by surprise. Her eyes shot wide open, and for a full three seconds, she couldn't remember how to move. Gibbs was kissing her.
Gibbs was kissing her!
She was still dumbfounded when he released her slowly. He gazed at her and smiled, the first real smile all evening. It made her knees feel weak as butter. For a moment she wondered if she had fallen asleep and if this was a dream. It had to be, or…
She buried her face in his neck, yearning for intimacy, trying to hide her blush and trying to keep standing at the same time. Then she felt his arm wrap around her waist, supporting her, pulling her closer.
As she lifted her head, he met her lips with his. Now she was expecting it, she dared to return the kiss this time. His response was long and tantalising, his hand cupping her neck as he pressed her body against his.
"Are…are you sure this's allowed?' she whimpered as he kissed a trail from her jaw to her collar bone.
He stopped and raised his head to meet her eyes. "It is if this is what you want," he said, completely sincere despite his obvious desire.
"Oh, it is, it definitely is," she whispered, barely managing to keep a hold on herself.
He gently kissed her jaw line. "You know I can't guarantee it'll last," he warned.
"Says the man who's been married thrice," she chuckled. But then she took his face in her hands and looked deeply into his eyes. "I know it's risky. But I'm willing to take that risk if you are."
Seconds ticked by in silence. With their faces only inches apart, she could feel the warmth of his breath brushing her skin. He seemed to hesitate now, and for a moment she feared he would reject her once more. But then she saw the tiny smirk that appeared on his face as he leaned closer, and she heard his deep voice as he whispered in her ear.
"Better not let anyone find out, then."
'Wink wink, nudge nudge, say no more'. Yes, I'm leaving the rest of their night up to your imagination. And no, I'm not a prude. I'm just not very good at the more (ahem) detailed scenes, and I don't want to spoil your eyesight trying anyway ;P.
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