Disclaimer: They are not mine. I'd do anything to keep Kate on the show if it were mine, don't you think? *sobs silently* Eh, the title isn't mine, either. I kind of stole, I meant, borrowed it from Dixie Chick's song "Easy Silence" (you should listen to it! AMAZING song!)
A/N: Err...this is actually my third (fourth? fifth?) attempt writing a Kibbs story, but the other stories are still sitting nicely in my hard drive. Like I have mentioned on the disclaimer up there, the story is sorta kinda 'developed' from the song "Easy Silence" that I heard earlier this morning, and I couldn't seem to put the muses to rest.
Anyway, so here it is. This work is un-betaed (thanks to my fellow Kibbster, Passionate_Cec', who suggested me to try and post it) so all mistakes are mine and mine only.
Before I shut up, though, I have to dedicate this to my faithful and hardworking beta, Auraya-of-the-White. You're awesome, girl! *sends half a bar of virtual dark chocolate* You know where the other half is ;)
*ahem* Okay, I'm shutting up now. I hope you enjoy this.
Kate Todd gathered her stuff with a hollow look in her eyes. She couldn't think; she didn't want to think. She had made a huge mistake, an unforgivable decision that cost a child her life. Images of the earlier events of the day flashed before her and sounds – the noises and the screams resounded in her ears.
"Kate," a soft voice called out her name. Kate's head whipped upwards and she saw McGee. The younger man stood awkwardly across her desk. "I..." he hesitated. The blank look she threw him had stopped him from saying what he had intended to say. "Eh... -Good night, Kate," he said instead. McGee decided that it wasn't the right time; that there was no right word he could say to her then.
"Good night, Tim," Kate replied earnestly. She stepped forward and leaned in to give McGee a hug. The man returned her embrace and patted her on the back before letting go. Kate smiled. McGee was a very sweet man and she was grateful to have the chance to know him.
"Do you want to grab a drink?" he offered. He wasn't planning on going anywhere after such a long day, but he hoped that Kate got the message that she had a friend if she wanted to talk.
Kate shook her head solemnly. "Thank you, McGee, but I just want to go home now," she declined. McGee didn't say anything. He nodded understandingly and left her alone.
The brunette glanced around the empty office. DiNozzo had left early for his date and god only knew where Gibbs was – his computer and desk lamp were still on but he was nowhere to be seen. She felt so alone.
She sat down on her chair; she closed her eyes and leaned back. She couldn't get rid of the images in her head – the images of how the killer had managed to grab one of the girls right before Kate pulled the trigger, of how it had been too late for her to stop, of how she had watched in horror as the bullet – her bullet – pierced the girl on the chest, of how she had witnessed life leaving the small body before her, and of how she had seen light fading from the pair of little green eyes. Kate gasped and she opened her eyes in a violent jerk; the green eyes seemed to be looking at her accusingly, blaming her for what had happened. She looked around and stopped in tracks when her eyes caught a glimpse of a tall figure standing at the cubicle next to hers.
A pair of icy blue eyes was gazing at her. "Gibbs," the name rolled out of her tongue in a whisper. She had wanted to see her boss, but now that he was in front of her she didn't know what to say and she didn't know if she wanted to hear whatever it was Gibbs had to say – if he had anything to say at all.
Gibbs shut down his computer and switched off the lamp on his desk wordlessly. He approached Kate, who was still sitting down and tugged at her elbow. "Come on, I'll drive you home," he said kindly. He waited for the woman to move and was surprised when Kate didn't argue back on his offer. He noticed the dullness in her usually expressive eyes and he sighed inwardly.
They drove in silence. Gibbs occasionally stole a glance at the small frame sitting next to him. Kate was staring out into the dark, her face not facing him. Even in the darkness, Gibbs could sense how tense his agent was. He could see the outline of her body curled up in her seat with both hands clutching at the seatbelt as if hanging for dear life. Gibbs wasn't speeding; even if he was, Kate had never clutched the seatbelt the way she did now.
They reached Kate's apartment in no time as there was little traffic. Gibbs parked carefully on the sideway and unbuckled his seatbelt. Kate didn't make an attempt to move. She just sat still as if not knowing where she was. Gibbs contemplated for a second. Kate's silence spoke her fear and anxiety louder than her words did and he decided that it wouldn't be wise to let her be alone. He fastened his seatbelt and started the ignitions. He drove away and saw a glimpse of relief in Kate's face as they were moving away from her apartment building.
Gibbs took her to his house. It was the only logical choice; she didn't want to go home and he couldn't leave her wandering on the streets – he knew that it was exactly what she was going to do if he had left her at her apartment earlier. She followed Gibbs into the house. He told her to make herself at home and he left her to change into something more comfortable.
Kate looked around at the large but relatively empty living room and suddenly she felt so small. The voices and the images had stopped torturing her during the drive home with Gibbs, but now that she was left by herself they rushed back and she was overwhelmed by guilt.
She felt weak on the knees when she attempted to step forward – she was paralyzed by remorse. She took a deep breath in effort to fight the emotional wave that swept through her but she failed to hold on. When Kate opened her mouth to breathe, a sob escaped her lips. The female agent slumped down to the wooden floor and buried her face in her hands. She cried bitterly without making a single noise. Her heart broke into pieces from guilt and regret. She couldn't forget the accusing look from the girls' mother; couldn't forget the betrayed look on the dead girl's eyes. Kate Todd was broken inside.
The hazel-eyed woman didn't know how long she had been crying on the floor when she felt a pair of strong hand lift her up, carried her to the couch, and softly pulled her into a warm embrace. Kate leaned into the touch and cried even harder when Gibbs rocked her back and forth soothingly, his hand stroking her back. There were no words of comfort being said; there was only silence – and Kate was grateful for it. She couldn't bear hearing him tell her that everything was her fault. She didn't want to hear the lie.
They stayed in the same position long after Kate's sob had subsided. Gibbs let her head rest on the crook of his shoulder. He pressed his cheek on Kate's hair and breathed in the sweet scent of her shampoo. Gibbs placed a soft kiss on her head.
The small gesture brought Kate back to tears. A drop of tear fell from her eye to Gibbs' shirt. She lifted her hand and wiped her eye. She was tired. Subconsciously Kate snuggled closer to her boss, enjoying the warmth radiating from his muscular body. She could hear the steady beating of Gibbs' heart and she could smell a trace of coffee on his shirt. The brunette felt so weird for finding solace in the silence and in the steady sound of her boss' heartbeat but she didn't want to think about it now.
Her mind was still a messy knot, but Gibbs' presence seemed to have a calming effect on her. Her eyes drooped sleepily. When she finally allowed her eyes to close she didn't see the pair of green eyes staring at her and she let out a sigh.
After a while, Gibbs felt Kate shifted and nestled comfortably on his chest. Somehow her arm had found its way and circled his waist, her weight pressing on him completely. He cocked his head to the side to get a better look at her and saw that Kate's eyes were closed, her breathing steady. Moving carefully as not to wake her up, Gibbs reached out to the side of the couch and grabbed a small blanket on the farther side of the couch. Somehow he was able to drape the soft material over Kate's body without moving too much.
Gibbs kept awake for some time, thinking about the day's events. One way or another, his thought always wandered back to the same subject – Kate. He pinched the bridge of his nose. Subliminally, he drew Kate closer to him, even though their proximity didn't give any more room for them to get any closer. Soon, he fell asleep.
When Gibbs woke up the next morning, Kate was nowhere to be seen. Gibbs frowned; it had been so long since he slept so well that he didn't hear anything. He couldn't believe that he didn't feel Kate move away. The man yawned. His back and neck were stiff from sleeping in an uncomfortable position, but it was something he had been used to from the time when he was still in the corps, so he wasn't going to complain. He looked around and listened closely, expecting someone – a brown-haired someone – to walk into the living room, but he didn't see or hear any sign of anyone present in the house other than himself. The only prove that someone was there the previous night was the second mug of coffee on the wooden table – untouched. Gibbs took the cold coffee and walked to the kitchen. As he moved, he realized that there was something different about the air he was breathing. He sucked in a couple of deep breath. The hard lines on his face softened visibly when he recognized what it was; it was Kate's sense that filled his senses.
It was a little late when finally Gibbs arrived at the office. He could only see McGee in the bullpen, typing his report seriously that he wasn't aware of his surroundings. Tony was late again, as usual; nothing new about that. There was no sign of Kate anywhere. Her car was parked up front but of course it was there; Gibbs took her home last night.
The former marine was about to open his mouth to ask McGee if he had seen Kate that morning when he laid his eyes on a tall white paper cup on her desk. He picked it up. It was still hot and smelled of strong coffee, just the way he liked it. Gibbs smiled and took a long sip, relaxing as the first drop of hot liquid touched his lip. Then he regarded a piece of paper on the desk; it was right under the cup before he removed the thing. He elevated the paper and distinguished the handwriting in an instant; it was neat and small. Only Kate wrote like that in the office. He read the simple text:
Thank you for keeping the world at bay for me.
A smile broke across the usually gruff man's face. Anytime, Katie, he replied in his head, anytime.
A/N Thank you for reading. I hope you enjoyed the ride :)