Feelings

(Last Name universe)

Natalie looked around her office at BE, the one she had shared for so long with Jared. It seemed strange now. They hadn't really worked there together that often, especially not after Nash's death. No, after the other man had died she had been focused on Jessica and her overwhelming guilt and the family had been focused on getting BE back from Dorian. No one would have ever thought, never mind believed, that the fight had been staged and gone drastically wrong. After all, who could have known that Nash and Jared where both minions of Mitch's. They were supposed to be the men who would win the Buchanan girls' hearts. Nash, who didn't care if Jessica had D.I.D., and Jared, who had charmed and conned his way into the family and into the empty crater left in her heart by John, no, the two couldn't have been in cohoots. Couldn't have been planning to destroy them from the inside, and although she was tempted to believe that Nash had eventually fallen for her fair haired sister, she couldn't allow herself to believe that Jared had done anything but used her.

No, he wouldn't have pressed her to go through with those DNA tests. He wouldn't have led her on the merry chase. He wouldn't have pushed and pulled at her heart. "Damnit!" she muttered as she picked up the picture of the two of them on his desk and slammed it against its side, watching the glass shatter along with any of her illusions of their so called great love that she still held onto.

"You ok, Mrs. Banks?" a security guard asked as he came in carrying a couple of boxes she had requested.

"Yeah. I just dropped a frame," she responded straightening and pushing her hair out of her face. "You can put those boxes on Jared's desk, I'll call when I need someone to help me get them to my car."

"Sure thing, m'am," he said as he put the boxes where she indicated and slid out without another word.

Simultaniously rolling her eyes and her shoulders, Natalie set about cleaning out her desk. Pictures of her and Asa. Of her with her siblings. Of her with the kids. A handful of files.

It wasn't much.

And the desk wasn't empty.

It still had pictures of her with John hidden in it and others of her with Jared. Taking them out she stared at them and then, quickly, she pulled them out of the expensive frames that held them and tore them into pieces, enjoying the play of colors as they drifted into the garbage can next to her desk like confetti. Exhaling, she placed the frames in the box and scanned the room. Was there really anything else she wanted from here, she wondered?

The office was decorated by BE with little traces of her, the personal touches, she realized now, were more from Jared then her. Those she could easily leave behind for Charlie or someone else to have. Comfortable with her decision, she reached for the phone to call for someone to take her nearly empty boxes to her car before she headed to her father's office.

In her head, she started to mentally rehearse how she was going to tell him why she was leaving Landview. She knew he wouldn't object to her needing time away from a place that held so many memories of heartache, but how to bring up the topic of one Leroy Jethro Gibbs? If it were Asa and not Clint, she knew there would be worry followed by a harty laugh and an "as long as you're sure," with an added threat towards certain parts of the man's anatomy- possibly involving her grandfather's infamous riffle; her father was another matter.

It seemed a life time ago that she had first met him with Christian at the airport. When he had promised her that he'd be there for her when she needed him and would love her. When he had told her that he waited to come because he had thought that that was what she had wanted.

When she had believed he was as capable of loving her as much as the girl he had raised given the chance.

Well, she was over that illusion as well. She knew Clint cared for her, and possibly in his own way he had come to love her. However, she would never be 'his little girl.' No, that position was reserved for Jessica and always would be. And for a while she had been content to pretend that in someway she was someone else's little girl. There had been Ben, and then Bo. But Nash's death had shattered her illusion of her Uncle as a father figure. Natalie Balsom-Gibbs would never be anyone's little girl.

That was something she'd have to learn to deal with.

In the meantime, she still had to either convince Clint to allow her to work from the home she'd be moving into outside of DC, with her coming in when she had no choice, or to walk away from BE in the capacity she now served. "Well, I sure as hell know which option he'll probally pick," she muttered.

Biting her bottom lip, she moved to Jared's desk to make sure that there were no traces of his deceit in it. Not that she wanted to protect his name. She could care less what people thought of her dead husband. Hell, she'd even continue to go along with the hoax that he died a hero if it also protected Nash's image so that Bre would never have to question whether her father had loved her mother. Whether she was just a pawn in the game Mitch continually played with the family.

No, her beloved niece deserved more than that- more than she herself had ever had, and she would die to protect her from that sort of hurt or worse.

In fact, wasn't that her job? She wondered to herself as she started to rummage in Jared's desk. To step in and take care of Bre with no thank yous or care? To then be pushed aside for some stranger her sister hired so that she could pretend she was better in statue and health than Natalie.

Because Jess was intregrated now, wasn't she? That meant she didn't have to apologize for what she had done to her sister. And she had paid by the loss of Chloe. It didn't matter that Natalie almost died at the blonde's alter's hand. Didn't matter that she still had nightmares, and probally always would. That she couldn't stand going into dark basements because she felt the walls closing in. No, Jess was whole again and she could swoop in and pretend to be a good mother for a few days before handing off Bre to a servant and occasionally visit with her.

Cursing, Natalie fell into Jared's chair.

Bre was the one thing she felt bad about when it came to leaving. She knew full well that she was the only constant in the little girl's life, but what could she do about it?

"Mom and Brody will take care of her," she said to reassure herself, although not quite believing it. She still had her fears when it came to Jess and how her supposed alters came about and how that could happen to Bre, but how could she voice them and make Vikki feel even more guilty for what her twin went through as a child?

"Damnit, Natalie, focus," she reprimanded herself. "Find anything that ties Nash and Jared to Mitch and get rid of it. Do it for her sake. Even your own, because lord knows the family won't believe you didn't know or have a clue. Then leave. Talk to Clint. Make a plan…"