She could see him at the corner of her eye. If she just twitched her head a bit to the left she would see him fully. His silvercoloured hair, the twinkle in his eye, the frown above his eyes, that came from staying up too late and worrying about cases. Since the time Ari got away, the frown had only deepened. The fact that they were not allowed to touch him did not make the case better. It seemed as if Abby was the only one who could make him smile these days.
At the moment Kate felt nothing but anger towards him. The case they were working had run a dead end and the whole team felt the pressure building up. When the lead she and Tony had followed up had turned out to be yet a dead end Gibbs had lost it. He had accused them of spending more time teasing each other and playing than working, and had ended the tirade with a solid slap to the back head. The slap itself had not been so bad, she had experienced worse and the pain faded away quickly. It was the fact that he had lost control, accused her of putting quarrels with Tony over saving a little girl that had made her see red. She could see Tony wanted to say something as well, but he had obviously sensed the changed in her and had wistfully backed off. With ice in her voice she had calmly informed Gibbs that if he were to ever lay a hand on her again, he would have her resignation on his desk. And if he ever dared to accuse her of being unprofessional like that again she would personally burn his boat till there was nothing left but the screws...
From the day they had met she had felt the tension between them. That time on the submarine, when her body was pressed against his was nothing to be forgotten lightly. Feeling the hard muscles against her body. Being intoxicated by the special Gibbs smell. A blend of coffee, sawdust and something she couldn't put her finger on. The smirk on his face when she said wow afterwards. She could tell that he knew it wasn't the updraft she talked about, but she became somewhat annoyed when he joked about it in the other mans presence. If she were to be frank with herself she knew she would have kissed him if it hadn't been for the other man. She couldn't count how many nights she had spent awoke thinking about that time. Though she wasn't sure how Gibbs would react something said her that he wasn't all against the idea. The way he sometimes looked at her sent shivers down her spine…
Gibbs was furious. On the case, the kidnapper, Tony, Kate, the director but most of all on himself. He was not a man known for his patience, but he always remained in control. Over the years he had gained control over himself so he would not lose it like he did when he was younger. The moment his hand made contact with her head he knew he had made a mistake. He was not a man who allowed either excuses or apologies, but this case crept under his skin. The missing girl was the spitting image Kelly. She had disappeared one the day of Shannon and Kelly's murder. Her smile from the pictures haunted him wherever he went. When he slept, when he ate, when he worked, where he went, so did she. Her mother called in almost every hour to hear if they had found anything new even though he had told her that she would be the first to know. Her calls were the constant reminder that so far they had failed.
It had already been a week since she had disappeared from the Navy Yard. No one had seen anything; it was as if she had vanished into thin air. The only clue was the girl teddy bear that showed up three days after she had disappeared, in front of Gibbs house. On the paw of the bear they had found blood, which Abby had positive identified as the missing girls. That was the last clue they had found and their case was starting to get cold. Then when Tony and Kate had come back without anything he had snapped. He never slapped without reason nor did he put his team down in such a way. Especially Kate did not deserve that, he knew as well as any other that work always came first for agent Kate Todd and she would not jeopardise the case by playing around. It wasn't her fault that the lead had turned out useless; it was even he who had told them to follow up that lead. But she had been glorious in her anger. Not whining around like most women did, just sharp and concise. The boat threat he didn't take seriously, but her threat to resign had hit him below the belt. He could not imagine NCIS without Kate, but he knew that if he did lose it again he would also lose her. Perhaps she wouldn't resign, but just transfer to another team. He knew how much she loved coming to work every day. That walking through the doors at NCIS made her sigh with happiness every day because she felt she could contribute to the fight against evil. That she considered the team as her family and would do anything to save them. That she too suffered the lack of a social life outside work, but it didn't matter because she knew the streets was safer thanks to her and her team. He knew all this, but he also knew that if he sank that way in her eyes again she would not continue not matter what the costs were.
But no matter how what she thought of him she should have said what she said in private. If there was one thing he demanded from the people he worked with it was loyalty. He had no trouble with people who disagreed with him as long as they confronted him in private and didn't question his leadership in front of the others. He would not tolerate that someone undermined his leadership in public. He grunted.
-Kate! Elevator! Now!
Kate looked up and met his eyes with a stare that even would have made Mike Franks think twice before entering a secluded room with her. Gibbs however just got up and went straight pass her towards the elevator. After Gibbs ignored her stare she had nothing to do but follow him to the elevator. She saw Tony eying them both cautiously over his screen. Knowing he was torn between dying to hear what Gibbs was going to say to hear and praising the lord for not being the one stuck in the elevator with him she scowled at him.
As they entered the elevator they were both silent. Kate turned in time to see Gibbs slammed the button and the elevator went still. For a long moment they did nothing but stare at each other. Not many people would manage to keep it up, but Kate was furious not to mention stubborn, no way was she giving up. Gibbs was watching her stare back, her beautiful brown eyes that usually were filled with life was now dark and filled with anger. He could she was not backing down unless he gave her chance to.
-Kate I know I made a mistake today...
Slowly Kate blinked, if there was anything that could make her rage go away it was Gibbs telling her he was sorry. He would never break his own rules like that.
-However I will not apologise.
Her anger rushed up again. Of course you won't...
-I am the team leader. If you have any problems with how I run things you will speak to me in private. Though I may act irrational or you find my decisions wrong, you will ask to talk to me in private and then say it. However you will not undermine my authority in public. If this ever happen again be sure to remember that...
Gibbs thought he had given a pretty good summary, he even apologised to his agent, which he didn't often do. All in all things should go back to normal. He didn't catch up with the danger signals, her breath coming more rapidly and she fists closing together.
- So what you're basically saying is that I am the one who did wrong! Her voice went sky-high. You feel it's a bigger crime to let you know when you make a mistake like that than a slap on the back plus personal attacks on your team members! I can understand you are under a lot of pressure, but we all are. We haven't slept for days, constantly working our asses of to find this girl, none of us are letting you down and you act like this. You know as well as any other that we are all doing our best so don't you dare put us down like this! I have always admired you Gibbs. You were my hero. I respected you, did things I didn't find morally right to please you. You word was the law, I followed you rules, put up with your eternal huffs and puffs, your endlessly need for coffee that goes in front of everything. I never complained about the endless working hours because I knew that it helped people. But never before have I seen you act like this. You know as well as I that what you did was wrong. Embarrassing and humiliating me and Tony that way lead to nothing good. Snap out if it dammit! Be the man I know you are, cause I lo...
Kate stopped. Having not yet realised the gravity of her feelings before almost shouting them at the man she loved. Her hands covered her mouth as if she could take back what she said if she only held hard enough.
Gibbs was gobsmacked. Here was this beautiful woman who told him she loved him. Him, the old, grumpy agent with a gun in one hand and cup of coffee in the other. He watched her stutter and mumbling the evidence clear that she hadn't realised her feelings before almost shouting them at him.
-Gibbs, I was...I mean...It was no... I'm sorry.
-Never apologise, it's a sign of weakness.
She looked up at him and stared into his eyes. It seemed as if an eternity, but couldn't have been more than a few seconds. Then she jumped him and they rumbled against the wall. The blood rushing through her body was like nothing she had ever experienced before. She couldn't think, all she cared about was how her body moved against his. Their carnal instincts took over, no one cared about time or place, it was just two people uniting. He tasted of coffee and peppermint Kate managed to think before rushing her hands down his body. Overwhelmed with emotions and passion, it was like nothing she had experienced before.
Her smell intoxicated him. The sweet blend of raspberry and citrus made him loose his mind. He dragged her closer to him, trying to memorise every little bit of her as he took in her beauty. Feeling her small frame against is made him feel powerful and he wanted to protect her forever. The blood rushed to his brain and he almost couldn't breath.
Only when they couldn't get more air they stopped. As they realised what they had been doing both became more serious. Kate snuggled into his arms and he held protective around her. For a long time they just held on to each other. Neither speaking what they knew the other was thinking.
-This can't last, can it? She whispered.
-I don't know Katie. I don't know. Personal relationships between agents never do work out. And my own record with women shows nothing but catastrophes. Look at me, I am an old, grumpy man, who always works, never slows down and all I touch ends up in tragedy. You are still young with your whole life ahead of you; you should not have to be dragging around an old fool like me.
She dragged herself loose from him.
-Don't you dare blame it in the age. You know as well as me that that is not the problem here. He sighed. –Perhaps when all of this is over we can work it out? Take it slow and see how it goes?
-You're right she answered. When all of this is over I will make you dinner and then we can see how things turn out. For now we can just have peace? Just focus on getting this case solved and save that little girl. He nodded in agreement and held out his hand. –Friends? Friends she agreed and shook the hand.
As they came out from the elevators Tony eyed them carefully. Something was different about them. It would be wrong to use the word happy about them, no they seemed more content with the situation. Like something had fallen into place and they were ready to face the world again. He wondered how long it would last. He had never seen Gibbs this obsessed with a case before. He could tell it was about something else than just the little girl, something made this case personal for Gibbs and made him lose control like he never had before. He looked wondering at Kate, wondering what had happened inside the elevator. Her hair was somewhat messy and she looked a bit out of breath. He smirked; it looked like she told him what he deserved. Good work Kate. She hadn't deserved the cruel side of Gibbs; he knew that she took that a great more personal than he did. Over the years he had learned to define the difference between Gibbs's the barks and bites, but Kate had not yet had the pleasure of learning that. Though he joked around a lot and enjoyed annoying her he cared about her like a dear sister. He would always have her back and protect her, even from his boss. This time he had sensed her wanting to fight her own battle and therefore backed off. The way she stood up to him made him proud and he could see how much she had grown up since she came to NCIS. He desperately wanted to know what she had said to him in the elevator, cause whatever it was it must have worked. Gibbs looked calmer than for days and was clearly ready for getting somewhere with the case.
-Okay people, this time I want to hear what you think about this case? We will have a brainstorming about the case. We need a new angle if we want to bring this girl home to her parents. Kate, introduce the profile of the kidnapper one more time out load. Now everyone say what they think, do not stop to think about what you're gonna say, no one will judge you.
- The first think we know about our kidnapper is that he or her is very intelligent and organised. From statistic we have learned that most kidnappers in cases like this are men. The women who kidnap children, often does it for a more personal reason like taking their own children. To kidnap a little girl from a heavily guarded Navy Yard is a crime it takes time to plan. You will need money, the skills and a decent cover. From the look of it, it looks like an outside job, but performed by someone with a great deal of inside knowledge. People expect to be safe inside therefore it is rare to lock the doors. The kidnapper could walk right in and take her without leaving a trace. According her mother, Grace would never follow a stranger out so we conclude that she was taken by force. This is backed up by the fact that Abby found traces of chloroform in her pillow. It does not take a lot of strength to carry a little girl, but to do so fast will require some strength. It is likely that he is a man between 25-40, educated, probably military training and with a lot of resources. There have been speculations about paedophilia, but I think that is most unlikely. Paedophiles usually go for easier targets and avoid contact with the investigators to keep clear of suspicion. The teddy bear we found outside Gibbs house indicate that this is about more than sex.
- Money or power? McGee jumped in to Kate's speech.
- As we still haven't received a ransom note it is most likely about power. Someone wanted to hurt the Henryson's where it hurt the most. What is more terrifying than not knowing if your daughter is dead or alieve?
-But we have checked every person who might want to hurt this family. It was close to zero. Everyone liked them. They paid their taxes, was generally polite and kind, all in all a great family. As far as I can tell it seems as if they were picked on random, Tony finished.
- You are right about that Tony; there is no one we know about who could hold a grudge like that against them and cause them such pain.
-What if they are not trying to hurt the Henrisons?
Everyone turned and watched as Ducky came into the room.
-Have anyone of you ever checked the possibility that they could be trying to hurt someone else than them? They took a child from the Navy Yard so they knew the case would be assigned to NCIS. The victim is an old acquainted to Jethro so the first person the mother called to was him, making sure the case came to this team. And as that wasn't enough they left the girls bear in front of Jethro's house... What conclusion would you draw from this?
- They try to hurt one of us, McGee said quietly.
-Exactly! And by the look of you they manage to do it very well. None of you have slept for days, you rarely eat, bark at each other and you are working like dogs to catch these animals. I'd even go so far to say they targeted a specific person in this group, namely you Jethro. Could you think one person who wants to hurt you so bad that they would go through all this trouble to get to you?
Gibbs growled, Ari! That bastard!