|Category||Het >> Gibbs/Kate|
|Genre||Established relationship, Alternate Universe|
|Summary||"She knew him before she jumped in, and that is a huge comfort to him. He doesn't have to be fake with her." Kate-Gibbs PWP.|
|Author's notes||Stream of consciousness. I hate William Faulkner for using it, and here I am, doing it myself.|
|Status||This story is completed|
DISCLAIMER: Not mine. If they were, would Kate be dead? (bares fangs)
AUTHOR'S WARNING: Stream of consciousness. I hate William Faulkner for using it, and here I am, doing it myself. eek.
SUMMARY: "She knew him before she jumped in, and that is a huge comfort to him. He doesn't have to be fake with her." Kate-Gibbs PWP.
Gibbs unlocks the front door and steps into the foyer, making sure to shut and to lock the front door behind him. He tosses his coat haphazardly over the small table and continues inside. He hears the hum of the TV, volume on low, inside.
He's about to call out to Kate when he sees his wife. For a moment he tenses, wondering why she doesn't move, and then he sees the rise and fall of her chest, peaceful and soft. She's asleep.
She sits at the edge of the sofa, one hand propping up her chin, a book open on the sofa's arm. The floor lamp shining over her book gives her hair a warm glow. Her legs are tucked underneath her, and she's wrapped in the large, heavy afghan her grandmother had made for them as a wedding present. (Kate is always cold.) The afghan isn't so thick or large to hide the swell of her belly underneath, though, and the other clue is her free hand, resting lightly on top.
She is due in a month.
x x x x x
If anyone had told Gibbs ten years ago about his, he would have laughed. Or glared, depending on his mood. He didn't like presents that required thought, he didn't believe romance between agents worked (Jenny Shepard was enough to prove that), he didn't believe in dating coworkers. And he still doesn't.
Except, well, here he is.
He just isn't sure how he got here and doubts she knows, either. Even now, no matter how much he thinks about it, he can't find where he was inequitable in handing out assignments. He didn't always leave McGee to Tony; he'd sent Kate to go on a stakeout of Petty Officer Horlacher's apartment with Tony, and let him take her along to Paraguay.
When he bought (and brought) her coffee, he always had a work-related reason. And meals were always business meals: they talked about cases. Those post-case outings Kate always insisted Tony ask Gibbs to go with them on - see, they were group deals. McGee was there, Tony was there, sometimes even Ducky and Abby, and he would never bring any of them along with him if he were doing, well, the official definition of "dating". He couldn't help it if Ducky left fairly early, afraid to leave his mother too long by herself, and if Tony and Abby got a little too drunk and crazy (the crazy not necessarily coming AFTER the drunk) and poor McGee felt obliged to haul them home. It wasn't his doing.
Somewhere along the way, she stopped having a problem with him drinking her coffee and her water, and then had as little problem picking food off his plate as he did hers. The familiarity she had developed became strangely comforting.
Then one day they were in some department store, waiting to interview someone about a murdered Marine, and Kate was suddenly commenting on a particular polo shirt and how it brought out his eyes. His look didn't daunt her, either.
She was choosing clothes for him. It was disorienting.
It wasn't just her. He'd come by once - just to deliver a file she'd left, he told himself. The broken shelf she'd removed and left leaning against her bookcase had prompted him to come three days later with his hand tools. She insisted he didn't have to, but the delighted and grateful look on her face when he put in the refurbished shelf....
She never asked; her pride was such that she wouldn't ask for that kind of help from him. She never left a favor unreturned, either; her pride was such that she wouldn't let him come to fix something for her and leave it go at that. Homemade cookies, lunch, dinner in return for the refinished coffee table, the wicker chair, and so on.
"It wouldn't be right," she had insisted the first time, "for you to do all this and me, nothing." He doesn't want her to think that he expected anything from her; he didn't. He just wanted to help her. He knows, though, she doesn't like to be in debt to anyone, and so he allowed it then. That was the sole reason why he had stayed to enjoy her cooking (well, that and the fact that she was a good cook and a good baker). So he told himself.
After awhile he found himself secretly wishing something else broke in her home, just so he could go over.
He couldn't stop his mouth from moving when he saw her researching cars and provided some unsolicited advice on choosing a new car. She had been surprised but masked it well, and then pressed him for more information. Two days later she had looked almost nervous when she asked him to go with her to buy a car. She knew which one she wanted and the price she was going to negotiate down to, but she had asked him anyway, joking, "If you glare at them, then maybe it will go faster." Well, she muttered, "That and Tony would make too big a deal out of it."
The little voice screamed at him that choosing a car with a woman, he might as well buy her a ring. Against his better judgment he went along.
x x x x x
Kate is strong and independent and doesn't fear him. He's a strong personality, he knows it, but he doesn't need to watch his every step to make sure he doesn't dominate her, because it'll never happen. He'd told Morrow "she's got balls", and he meant it; she's also got brains. She alone had figured out his ruse in Air Force One and then called him on it.
(Director Morrow transferred her to another team fairly early, something both he and Kate balked at when it happened. He couldn't understand why Morrow would break up his team like that, and the man had given a rather generic excuse about the other team needing experience and maturity.
He wonders now if his boss had seen something going on and wanted to prevent anyone from breaking the rules (which would have happened as he was Kate's boss), so he acted first to separate them professionally. The most disturbing implication of that thought is.... Well, if Morrow saw it, did anyone else?
Kate's now working with Balboa and Cassie and Axelrod. Balboa came bouncing into their office just a month or so ago, and if he didn't know better, he would have thought the younger agent came to gloat.
Seems Kate had used her pregnancy to their advantage: she had used his stand-by trick to get fingerprints - a drink of water from a glass. They had a suspect almost from the get-go, but they could never get the fingerprints they so desperately needed. He was careful...until Kate trapped him. Her display of back spasms and swollen ankles had had them all worried - and let the suspect's guard down. He brought her a glass of water...and suddenly she was fine, pouring the water out onto the floor and dumping the glass into an evidence bag as she smirked at the suspect.)
He doesn't have to worry about whether she's angry with him, because if it's serious, she shows it; he doesn't have to worry about trying to be the all-protective boss, or the know-it-all investigator and model agent. He doesn't have to pretend to be saccharinely charming when he's frustrated, and he doesn't have to make half-hearted attempts at being romantic on Valentine's Day when he's tracking a child molester.
He doesn't have to be fake with her.
x x x x x
He missed their anniversay the second year they were married - he managed a call to her between interrogations of a serial rapist and killer, and that was it. He had been unbearable, he knew, and now he was missing their anniversary. She had sounded disappointed but quiet. They had only spoken just a few words over those few days.
He had gone home two days later, his heart constricting, his insides twisting and flip-flopping, a bouquet of flowers in shaking hands. He was sure when he opened the door that night, he would find her things gone. He could see in his mind's eye her rings sitting on the kitchen tabletop. That's what always happened.
He could barely turn the key in the lock.
He found her folding laundry - including his - and watching a sitcom. He stood, stunned, as she greeted him with a peck on the cheek and a gentle, "Did you nail him?" as if he had just been gone for a day, as if he hadn't entirely ignored their anniversary. He'd handed her the flowers dumbly, and even her surprised delight hadn't fully registered with him. He saw a brief flash on her hand - the rings were still there on her left ring finger. That evening he ate leftovers of their anniversary dinner as she sat across from him, listening to him tell about the interrogation. It almost felt like it wasn't him sitting there, talking. The real him was still standing at the doorway, slack-jawed and stunned.
She was still there. He hadn't been able to drive her off.
He'd spent that entire weekend trying to make it up her. He did everything "romantic" he could think of and everything he thought she'd like - and she did like it. They were sitting in Filomena's, having ice cream, her rare indulgence. She sat across from him, her eyes dancing, and that's when she told him, ever so softly and gently, that there was nothing he had to make up for.
He'd sat there, stunned, a spoonful of ice cream half-way up to his mouth. Her voice was tinged with the laughter he so loved, and she cocked her head to the side. She read him like an open book, and he knew it. She went on, and he heard all his thoughts and fears coming out of her mouth: his fear of finding another woman killed, his nightmares of her as the killer's next victim. His fear of coming home and finding her gone. Her hand was soft and warm, covering his suddenly clammy one.
She still surprises him with how well she knows him.
She took a spoonful of his chocolate ice cream. "'Course, this was all sweet," she smiled teasingly, her eyes sparkling at him.
With his wives, it was always the flowers and the chocolates and the "swept off my feet" thing. He knows Kate likes it, but she doesn't live for it, and suddenly he feels so much more relieved. She doesn't expect more out of him than what he is.
He doesn't have to be fake with her.
He doubts she knows just how comforting he finds the evidence of her around his house - the made-up living room, with her flair for style; the actual sets of matching bowls and plates and small dishes; a closet that actually has paper towels, tissues, and napkins. (He admits that, except when he was married, he never really considered them different.) The pantyhose she has drying in the bathroom. The first time he saw that, just a few weeks after they were married, it startled him; he'd forgotten, really, what it was like to have a woman in the house. Now, though, it's just another sign that she is not planning to leave him - like all the others did.
Down in the basement, by his boat, a big NCIS sweatshirt - smelling faintly of her.
It makes him feel safe. There's a comforting rest with Kate like he didn't have with his other wives. She knows him in all his pissed-off glory, she has seen him at his worst, and she hasn't left. She knew him before she jumped in, and she is staying - and that is a huge comfort to him.
He guesses that, although she won't ever say it, she finds that same comfort in him.
x x x x x
He looks at her, so peaceful, and feels the keys in his hand dig into his palm. He never used to lock his front door, but he does now - he even put in brand new locks. No one will get in now that she lives there also. For sure, no one will ever get to his child, either.
He'd wanted children in his first marriage - before he came home from his float in the Med to find his wife with another man. After that, he didn't trust himself anymore. The fear of hurting them if he and his wife split up was overwhelming, and crazy, sports-equipment-toting redheads screaming as they ran after him only confirmed him in his decision. He wanted children so badly, but he was not going to have them just to satisfy his own desire for children, not when they would be hurt. He wouldn't have that on his conscience.
He and Kate are past the five year mark, and now into their seventh year, and the only itch he gets is from the flannel bedding Kate uses in winter because she's always so cold.
He knows they're having a daughter. He hates surprises, period, and Kate likes only nice surprises - and buying boy clothes only to find out the child's a girl is NOT a nice surprise. She likes to be prepared - they have that in common, among other things. Both like to be in the know.
x x x x x
That's why it's been the millionth time this year he's tried to trace how he and Kate ended up here, now, and he still isn't sure. Everything he expected and everything he had done in the typical "dating" thing, which had led to his first three marriages, he never did here.
Everything he fears, too, he hasn't seen here, and he suspects it's because of Kate's conscious effort to do otherwise.
She had to be the reason why in seven years of marriage he's never slept on the couch, unless it was the both of them accidentally falling asleep in front of the TV. He is always grateful for that - not because he minds, but because of what it means. They will fight, and Kate gets angry with him, and often with good reason, but she never orders him to stay away from her, never throws him out. Sure, there have been a few times where they slept far apart in the bed after an argument, but she never chases him away.
He knows that she knows about his last marriage, and the months he spent on the living room sofa. Tony blabbed it out during the Thorne case. Still: "Are you sure it's OK with you?" she had asked gently when they had first considered buying a pullout sofa bed. (Her family had to sleep somewhere when they visited.) There had been a tiny part of him that wasn't OK with it, a tiny part of him that kept thinking how the sofa bed had just been the stepping stone to his last divorce. But as she looked at him, her soft question showing that she knew how deeply he'd been hurt with that, he was suddenly OK.
Kate expresses her anger at him, but she won't use his deepest fears against him.
He used to buy flowers, buy chocolates, do all that lovey-dovey crap as a means to an end: to win some woman's heart, or to keep it. Kate doesn't ask much of him - just that he not break her trust, the vow he made to her. She doesn't ask for romantic walks, or flowers, or a huge diamond, and suddenly he wants to give her all those things. He's more secure with her than he's ever been, and he has no NEED of doing all those things, but suddenly more than ever he wants to.
He's trying harder to learn to talk things out with her. (That's the hardest.) He's trying not to shut her out when he's fixated on a case, and he's slowly getting over his fear of seeming weak in front of her. He KNOWS he's become obsessed with getting home on time at the end of the day - he had stood behind an unwitting, unknowing Tony as he gushed to Abby about it a few years ago. Boss' marrying Kate was the best thing to happen to any of them, the younger man had exulted. He actually had two weekends off in a row and went skydiving, something which would have never happened when Boss had been - "When I was what?" he asked, giving Tony a stony look when the agent turned around, cringing at having been caught.
x x x x x
The padre he'd talked to after his second divorce, the same who had done his and Kate's premarital counseling, just chuckles now, a knowing look in his eye when they show up at church on Sundays. Love isn't to be fallen into as though it were a black hole, and love isn't about flowers and chocolates and feeling obliged to do things, he'd said. It wasn't even a feeling. It was tougher, harder, more robust than merely feeling happy. Gibbs dismissed it then as nonsense. After all, the man wasn't even allowed to be married.
"How long are you going to stand there?" comes a soft voice, scattering his thoughts. Gibbs looks up to see her smiling sleepily at him. He stands rooted to the floor, all the thoughts just swirling around and around his head, and all he can manage is a soft smile at her.
She looks puzzled for a moment, then a little nervous. She tugs the afghan around her more tightly and carefully untucks her legs, moving slowly towards him. "Are you OK?" she asks, her slim hand coming out from under the afghan to rest on his forearm. "Jethro?"
"I'm fine," he says quietly.
She studies him a moment and accepts his answer, giving him a smile of her own. "Did you get the confession you wanted?" she asks as she reaches up to peck him on the cheek.
He pulls her into his arms and gives her a long, lingering kiss, taking care not to hurt her or his unborn daughter. He thinks that, for the first time, he actually loves someone. He's not IN love WITH someone, and he's not in love with the idea of being married and he's not in love with the idea of being in love. Gibbs knows for the first time that he finally loves the woman who is his wife; he isn't sure what he was doing before those other times.
(The padre, although he would never do it, would have had every right to tell him "Told you so.")
He spent so much time backing away from what he perceived was all the romantic hokey stuff that he backed right into a happy, simple married life with a woman he never thought he'd want: a strong-willed brunette who still sleeps with her gun, even now. There are still days he's not entirely convinced it's not a prolonged dream he's having.
When they pull apart, she looks at him with a surprised, puzzled expression. "I'll take that as a 'yes'," she replies teasingly, still obviously thinking about her question about his interrogation. When he just smiles at her again, she shakes her head. "Are you sure you're OK?"
He pulls the afghan more tightly around her shoulders. He smiles enigmatically at her, and she looks at him, puzzled, but doesn't press. "Very much so," he murmurs.