Finally! internet cooperation!
It's finally quiet in my house. The footsteps and voices above me have seized for the night. That means everyone's asleep.
It's kind of like a tradition here. On the anniversary of her death, we get together and share stories and talk to one another on a more personal note. It was hard at first, the emotions still raw. But as the saying goes time heals all wounds.
Remind me to kill whoever said that.
It's a lie. Time does not heal wounds. If anything they only scab over. I put the bottle of bourbon to my lips and let the sweet liquid trickle down my throat. I was there when she was shot. She died to save me. Me of all people. I wouldn't have done it if I were her. We're only as good as what our bulletproof vests don't cover.
"Would you please stop blaming yourself," That voice sounds so familiar. I look to the bottom of the stairs and there she stands, bracing herself against the post. "How many years has it been Gibbs?" She asks me.
"Four Kate." I say.
"Yeah, and you still blame yourself. Do us all a favor and don't" She rolls her eyes.
"Us?" I ask, swishing the bottle around before gulping down more of it.
"Yeah, you know who I'm talking about. Stop blaming yourself. It's pretty sad to watch" Kate responds. She is so beautiful even in the harsh basement light. I'm glad to see that the bullet hole in her forehead has healed. What am I saying? She's dead. She's been dead for years now. Stone cold dead. What is she doing here then? I drink more bourbon. Maybe she'll stay longer.
"Why are you here?" I ask, when I can form coherent sentences. Kate looks at me and strides over to the boat; finally finished she runs her fingers over it and stops at the name.
"Kate. Cute name for a boat" She smiles. "I personally like the Shannon the best. Although the Kelly was a good one. Are you going to make the Jen after you get this one out of here?" She looks at me.
"You didn't answer my question." I state, not looking at her because if I do she might go away.
"You didn't answer mine. If you must know, I'm here on orders." She says.
"Who's?" I ask, intrigued at something of an afterlife.
"That I can't disclose without a warrant. But I can tell you that you need to stop moping down here. It's depressing," She says to me, her arms crossing.
"It's what I do Kate" I shrug.
"Go upstairs and get some sleep." She says before smiling to herself at what seems to be an inside joke to her. "We're glad you do this Gibbs"
"Do what?" I chug more bourbon and hope she stays longer.
"Get together with your team. It's nice to see them all together outside of work." She looks to me. For the first time tonight I look into her eyes. It's as if I can see the wall behind her as I gaze into them, but at the same time her soul is behind them. "Keep what's important to you close. They," She points up to the ceiling. "Are your family now Gibbs. Weather you like it or not. They are the ones that you should name boats after" I am silent as I process this. Maybe she's right. Although I definitely don't want to be steering "The DiNozzo" anytime soon. Then something clicks in my brain which is hard to believe because it feels like it's swimming in alcohol.
"Wait, you said "we" before." I say, looking at her, I want to touch her but I can't bring myself to do it. What if she disappears?
"Yes, we. Jen, Shannon, Kelly, me, Michelle we're all there." Kate smiles, and then looks at her wrist at the invisible watch. "It's time for me to go. I only get to be down here a brief while." She looks at me with sadness.
"Can I just ask one more question?" I ask because I don't want to see her go. Not now, not ever, I want her back. She shouldn't have died.
"Sure, but I have a blackjack game soon with Special Agent Langer." She says, I can't help but laugh a little.
"Is it nice there?" I ask. I know I'm drunk and that was probably a stupid question.
"It is nice there. But you don't want to come." She asserts the last line as if she read the brief thought that entered my mind. "No, it's not your time yet." She says with a curl of her lips. "But I can tell you, it'll come sooner if you keep drinking like that" I smile a bit; she knows that won't change at all. "So go to bed Gibbs." She starts to disappear. "Even with all the knowledge I could want I still can't figure out how you get that damn boat out of your basement…" She slowly fades away as she mutters to herself.
So I am in the basement once again. My bourbon, my boat and I. But I am not alone, for upstairs I know is where I am needed. My life is up those stairs and life goes on. But it's nice for a few moments, just to sit down here, to drink and make time slow itself down.
I stumble up the stairs to the top where I turn off the light. I look into the darkness for a while. The boat and the bourbon will be here for me when I get back, they'll be here the next day too, and the next day and the next. But it's the people that are sleeping in my living room right now is what I need to treasure the most.
Although that would best be done sober.