Disclaimer: NCIS and its characters belong to CBS and DPB. I own nothing. If I own them, do you think I'm gonna let Kate die?

A/N: So this is my first NCIS and Kibbs story. I don't know if the characters are written correctly or if I managed to mess them up (sorry if I did mess them up). Well, anyway, I hope you enjoy it.

Oh, by the way, this piece is not beta'ed as my precious beta is going to Australia (I'm happy for her) and I don't want to bother her. So all grammatical and spelling mistakes are mine and mine only. English is not my first language (not even my second or third, seriously) so I'm sorry if there are some weird phrasings and misplaced prepositions and all.

Okay, I'm gonna stop talking now. :)


It was a little early when NCIS Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs entered the bullpen, hot coffee in one hand. The office looked quite empty. Gibbs strode to his cubicle, sipping his steaming hot liquid without breaking a stride. He walked past his subordinate's desks and gave a lopsided smirk as his quick glance rested on a brunette already sitting on her own desk, reading some files on her lap.

"Morning, Kate," he finally greeted when Caitlin Todd didn't seem to give any indications of acknowledging his presence, which was quite unusual. He was a bit surprised when Kate only replied in a small nod, not raising her head to see him. He shrugged and took a sit at his desk. Kate seemed to be in a pretty bad mood and Gibbs didn't want to get involved – he knew better not to mess with women in bad mood. He let the young agent work – or whatever she was doing with the file – in peace; he had a lot of paperwork to do himself.

It was not until after eight that the other agents started to come and soon the office was filled with a buzz of light conversations about the weekend. Monday morning meant paperwork morning and nobody was that eager to start working. McGee arrived and greeted both of his colleagues, mumbling a slight apology for being late.

Kate didn't greet back – much to Gibbs' surprise. Still, the senior agent stopped himself for asking the former secret service if anything was wrong. If Kate didn't want to share what was bothering her; Gibbs thought it wasn't any of his business to delve into her personal problems – he had Tony to do it for the rest of the team.

Anthony DiNozzo arrived at about nine with a big grin on his face. Obviously the brown-haired man had had a good weekend. the grin was gone, though, the moment he saw Gibbs' dangerous glare.

"You are late!" the silver-haired agent stated, looking slightly annoyed.

Tony dropped his jacket on the back of his chair. "Good morning to you too, Boss," he said. The Italian sat on his chair without saying another word, ducking his head to start working on his reports. He groaned when he laid eyes on his workload – if there was anything Tony hated the most about his job, it was the paperwork. Well, there was another thing he hated – which was if he had loads of paperwork to do and the boss was around so he couldn't 'delegate' it to his co-worker (read: McGee). It didn't take long for the young agent to notice that his female co-worker hadn't said anything snarky towards him for being late. He peered over his file folder to see that Kate was deeply engrossed with her reading, head bowing low and his dark locks covering her face.

Tony looked around. McGee was – of course – working diligently at his desk; his brow was knitted in a deep furrow. The Italian scoffed, how boring, he thought. Then he glanced at the boss, who was also working on his computer. He smirked. Time to work.

"Oy, Kate!" he called her in a whisper. The woman didn't react. "Kate!" he said louder. When it seemed that the woman was going to ignore him just like that, Tony took a paperclip on his desk and threw it at Kate.

The small thing hit her head before falling soundlessly onto the floor. Tony braced himself for getting a loud yell or a payback throw, but he got none of it. Instead of yelling at him as she usually did, Kate continued on working. She didn't even lift her head to glare at him.

The reaction – or lack thereof – made Gibbs raised his eyebrows. Concern – if he didn't want to say 'worry' – began to creep into him. "Kate," he called out to her softly before he could stop himself. He rarely used that tone to speak with his team, and apparently it was enough to grab Kate's attention.

Slowly the brunette raised her head, tilting it sideway to face Gibbs. The senior agent was taken aback by her appearance, and before he could say anything, Tony had burst out laughing from his own desk.

The charming agent literally jumped to Kate's cubicle. "Setting new trends, Caitlin?" he teased. Kate was wearing very big shades that covered most of her face. "Seriously, woman, even Ugly Betty wears better glasses."

Kate pouted but she didn't say anything. She bowed her head back down, but she was a little late. Tony had managed to knock the shades off her before she could do it. The woman gasped and ducked her head even lower, trying her best to hide her face.

Her effort was in vain; Tony had caught a glimpse of her face and the man froze at the sight before him. "Kate, what happened to you?" he asked in shock. He reached out to lift Kate's chin but the woman slapped his hand off.

Gibbs and McGee rushed to Kate's cubicle, crowding her. The older agent knelt beside Kate's chair, resting one of his hands on the armrest. "Kate," he whispered. "Katie, look at me, please," he pleaded.

Even if Kate was stubborn, she couldn't ignore Gibbs' soft plead. She lifted her head a little, revealing a severe bruise on the left side of her cheek. Gibbs inhaled sharply when he saw the bruise. Anger built up at the pit of his stomach as the thought of somebody hurting Kate came to his mind. "Wha...?"

"I'm fine, Gibbs," Kate interrupted weakly, her voice was rough and she was avoiding Gibbs' stare.

"No, you're not!" Tony exclaimed. The young agent eyed his co-worker suspiciously as he also noticed the way she dressed up. The weather was quite warm but Kate was wearing her green cashmere turtleneck and one of her khakis pants. Without warning, Tony extended his hand and pulled the collar of Kate's shirt down, not much, but low enough to reveal another ugly bruise covering her neck, before the woman flinched away with a hitched breath.

"DiNozzo!" She protested. The brunette looked as if she was about to freak out and Gibbs stepped between them, shielding the young woman from both McGee and DiNozzo. Kate was still avoiding his gaze; she didn't see the fear in her boss' eyes as the older man raised his hand to touch her.

"Kate?" he asked her a silent question. He forced all scary scenarios that began to form in the back of his mind to go away. He could feel how tense Kate was when he put his hand on her arm. "Come on, Kate, let's go see Ducky," he managed to say without letting his emotion shown.

Kate looked at her boss incredulously but she followed his lead nonetheless. She glanced sideway as Tony called her name. The young agent handed Kate her shades back, smiling apologetically at her. Kate nodded and walked away.

.

The elevator ride was in awkward silence. Kate stood in one corner and kept her gaze down, fully aware of Gibbs' intense stare at her. The former marine didn't say anything, giving Kate all the space she needed, and she was grateful for it.

Gibbs wasn't angry. No, he was beyond angry. He was pissed. He gritted his teeth and balled his hands into fists to stop himself from shaking the small figure in front of him, asking for explanation. He was worried – scratch that, he was scared for her. But instead of doing so, Gibbs just stood opposite her – putting his best effort to gain some self control. Losing his patience now would be a fatal mistake. He didn't want to take that chance now. Not with Caitlin Todd.

The brunette was so deep in her own thoughts that she didn't realize that the elevator had stopped moving and Gibbs was standing at the door to keep it from closing back until after the older man said her name softly. Kate had never seen Gibbs like this before, and she felt a pang of sadness hit her. Suddenly she felt as if she was going to cry.

.

Ducky was talking idly with Palmer when the twosome entered autopsy. The medical examiner waved them to come closer. "Good morning Jethro, Caitlin. I was telling Mr. Palmer here about..."

"Palmer, I need to speak with Ducky," Gibbs interrupted. His hard gaze was fixed at Ducky.

The Scotsman gestured at his assistant to leave, sensing that this was something serious. "What's the matter, Jethro?" he asked, confused.

Gibbs waited for Palmer to exit the autopsy and for door to be fully closed before speaking in a low voice, "I need you to examine Kate." The pair of blue eyes glanced at the woman still standing by the door with her arm folded. He caught a questioning look in Ducky's eyes and he lowered his voice into a desperate whisper, "Please."

This was the second time in their long friendship that Ducky heard the agent said that word. The first time Ducky heard Gibbs said 'please' was when the man asked Caitlin if he could tag along in AFO; that was more than a couple of years ago. And now, the second time that six-letter word came out of the ex-marine's mouth, it was again about the attractive brunette. If Donald Mallard wanted to ask questions, he knew that it wasn't the right time.

"Caitlin dear, would you please come here?" he called out to Kate, pulling a chair as the woman advanced at them. He gasped in shock as he saw the bruise on the young woman's beautiful face and immediately grabbed a pair of gloves before touching the wound to examine it. "Goodness, Caitlin, what happened to you?" he asked.

Kate blushed at the attention and Ducky's soft pat on her shoulder brought tears to her eyes. She bit her lower lip, forcing the tears to stay where they were. She didn't want to cry there. Not in front of Gibbs! She reminded herself.

"Co... could you leave, please, Gibbs?" the brunette finally said. She didn't want Gibbs to see Ducky examining her; she knew that she would have to take off her shirt and she didn't want Gibbs to see her. Not this way, she thought.

Jethro Gibbs was going to argue when his blue eyes locked with the golden eyes before him and whatever argument he had had in his mind before was gone that instant. Kate's eyes were full of tears and a raw emotion he couldn't quite place. He could have sworn he saw a glimpse of embarrassment in those beautiful orbs and he felt a blow in his heart. "Sure," he croaked. He spun and walked to the door.

Ducky could see that Kate seemed to be relaxed a little when they were finally alone. Carefully the medical examiner checked up on the bruise on her cheek. "Did someone hit you, Caitlin?" he asked; it was a rhetorical question and they both knew it, so Kate said nothing. Ducky lifted one of Kate's arms and rolled up the sleeve a little to see some other bruises on her wrist and arm. He frowned and lifted the other arm and found similar wound on the marble skin. The man also noticed the scratches and bruises on her knuckles. He looked at Kate worriedly and decided not to ask or give any comments.

The former secret service knew what would come after the doctor had finished examining both her arms but she still couldn't help blushing when Ducky asked her to take her shirt off. She hesitated a moment but the older man assured her that she was safe with him.

Even when Kate had only lifted her shirt a little, Ducky could see the extent of bruising that covered her body. The medical examiner didn't say anything until after Kate finished taking her shirt off. The bruises on her side and chest weren't as glaring as the one he saw on her neck. It didn't take an expert to see that the discoloration on the neck was made by a person's hands – Kate was strangled. The Scotsman carefully touched the brunette's tender skin, apologizing every time he moved as Kate flinched away from the touch. Emotion filled his old voice as he told Caitlin that the woman could put her shirt back on. He swallowed hard when he saw the fear in the agent's eyes when he asked whether he could examine her legs or not.

A tear dropped from Kate's eye as Dr. Mallard said his request. "I am not going to hurt you, Caitlin," he whispered gently, as if talking to a scared child, lifting his hand to wipe the tear off of her cheek.

The tall woman was shaking as she let Ducky rolled her trousers up to her knees. The only bruising he could see was on both her ankles and he nodded grimly, rolling the material back down. He gave Kate a fatherly hug and kissed her hair. No question was asked.

Kate chocked up in trying to bite back her tears, but the woman managed not to cry. She let go of Ducky's warm embrace.

"Sit here, Caitlin, I'm going to talk with Jethro," the man told her. He had just walked a couple of steps when he remembered something and turned back. He reached for his keys and opened the top drawer of his desk. He smiled when he found what he was looking for. The older man took Kate's hand and put a bar of chocolate in it. He smiled at Kate's bewildered expression and walked to the door, leaving Kate staring at the chocolate bar in her hand.

.

"Is she okay, Duck?" Gibbs asked impatiently the moment he saw Ducky stepped out of the autopsy.

Ducky Mallard sighed. He noticed that Abby was there as well, and from the look on the young forensic expert's face, he knew that Gibbs had deliberately ignored her questions. "What happened to her, Jethro? Her body was covered in bruises – and from the look of it," he hesitated a second, "I think that she was strangled at some point; bare-handed."

Abby gasped when she heard it. She didn't wait for Ducky to finish; the Goth dashed into the autopsy to comfort her friend. Both men waited until the woman was out of earshot before continuing their conversation.

"She didn't tell you what happened?" Gibbs asked; frustration was evident in his voice.

"What, she didn't tell you?" Ducky asked back; surprised when Gibbs answered that he knew nothing about it either and thought that she had told Ducky during examination. "She didn't say a word. Not a single word," the medical examiner said. The older man looked at his friend with a worried expression. "If you ask me, Jethro, and I know you don't, I think we should take her to the hospital."

Gibbs ran his fingers through his hair warily. "She wouldn't want that. And I can't... I don't..." the senior agent was at loss of words. It pained him to think that somebody had hurt Kate – it pained him more to think that he wasn't there to protect his subordinate, his friend, his... – Gibbs stopped himself from thinking more about what Kate was for him. "How is she?" he couldn't help but ask again.

Ducky looked at Gibbs as if the agent had grown another head. But then he realized what he actually asked about. He nodded. "Her emotional state is worse than her physical wounds, if that's what you mean," he stated anxiously.

The special agent sighed. He started to walk to the autopsy when Ducky added, "Jethro, be gentle." The silver-haired man nodded and walked away. His shoulders sagged as if he was carrying heavy burden.

.

Kate drew in a surprised gasp when the sliding door opened with a loud hiss. Her eyes gleamed with panic and her body grew tense. She relaxed a little when she saw Gibbs enter the room with his usual long stride. She searched his eyes and was touched when she saw a hint of worry in his brilliant blue eyes when he looked at her – while at the same time she felt embarrassed to be looked at that way. The brunette had to raise her head when the tall man stopped in front of her, still eyeing her carefully. She could smell a hint of coffee and sawdust radiating from his body and she felt a bit safer in some way.

"Hey," he called ever so gently. "How are you feeling?"

"I'm fine, Gibbs," she managed to give a reply with a steady voice.

Gibbs raised his eyebrows, resisting the urge to say "The hell you are" to the young woman. She looked far from fine; she looked beat – literally – and she looked so lost. But Gibbs decided to play along if it could make her feel better – if it could make her feel more in control. "I know," was all he could say.

Abby glanced back and forth between the two agents. Somehow she felt as if she was interrupting something. The Goth cleared her throat. "I'm going back to the lab," she informed them. "I'll call you." She gave Kate a hug and a peck on the cheek before walking – or more like hopping – out of the autopsy, leaving Kate and Gibbs alone again in awkward silence.

"Gibbs... I..." Kate began, only to be interrupted by Gibbs' soft words.

"Come on, Kate, I'll take you home."

"I don't want to go home," replied Kate, lowering her gaze to her lap.

Once again Gibbs felt as if somebody kicked him on the stomach when he heard Kate's trembling voice. He closed his eyes for a moment before offering his hand to Kate. "I'll take you to my home," he whispered. Kate's head whipped upwards upon hearing his words. She looked uncertain and confused but the older man held his gaze, giving her all the assurance she needed. He felt somewhat nervous when Kate didn't move after a few seconds and he was actually relieved when the young woman finally lifted her hand and put it in his. Gibbs squeezed Kate's hand, feeling how small and how fragile this woman was. "Let's get you home," he said again.

Kate nodded, bowing her head low so her boss couldn't see the tears that fell from her eyes as the warmth of his hand seeped into her skin. She felt so loved; felt she was taken care of. The problem was – she wasn't sure if she deserved this kind of kindness.


A/N: I know this isn't a finished work. I just want to know if I write the characters right and everything before continuing it. Feedbacks will be greatly appreciated.

Thank you for reading.

Love, Red.