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PostPosted: Thu Dec 24, 2015 1:40 pm 
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Title: One Year Later
Characters: Gibbs, Tony
Genre: Angst
Rating: FR13
Summary: It's been a year since Kate died. Gibbs is thinking about her.

~*~

One year. Leroy Jethro Gibbs looked at his watch. Okay, technically, it'd been 364 days, 22 hours and approximately 20 minutes since Caitlin Todd was brutally murdered. A grimace marred Gibbs' almost-chapped lips. He closed his eyes and relived that moment all over again. Kate's laughter, the sound of the gunshot, Tony looking around wildly after the shot, Kate's blood splashed violently over his face. For a moment Gibbs could see his own horror; he, too, looking around wildly, trying to find the shooter.

The hours following were a blur. He'd missed her from moment one of her death. It haunted him, woke him up sometimes at night. Never would he forget that moment. Never would he forget how he felt. Forever would he regret not being the one who put a bullet between that bastard's eyes.

Now, even one year later, he still hadn't made peace with her death. With her. He thought about her a lot and even more so this week, today. He wished he wasn't at work. He just wanted to drown himself in bourbon and forget, at least for a little while. He couldn't but that didn't mean he didn't want to.

He glanced over at Tim and Tony. Both men had been unusually quiet that day, especially Tony. No doubt in his mind that both of them remembered what today was. Ziva was behaving normally. He had no doubt she had no emotional investment in the day, probably didn't even realize what day it was. Maybe it was better for Ziva to not acknowledge that one year ago today, her half-brother sealed his own fate by killing one of his own, by killing the one woman he thought might've been a good match for him after three disastrous marriages.

He never told Kate the truth.

He never lied either.

He just never told her he cared. He thought about the times he'd lay awake at night and think about her, fantasize about her. He never told her how much he wanted her in his home, in his bed, in his life.

Now, he's glad he didn't. If he'd loved her and lost her the way he had lost Shannon, he wouldn't have been able to continue on. He might've eaten a bullet after all. Of course, that all hinged on what she had felt for him, if anything. He never knew, and he never asked. Sometimes he sensed she might be as attracted to him as he was to her but they never talked about it, never acknowledged it overtly.

For all he knew, she thought he was just a hard-ass bastard and would never have given him the time of day if he wasn't her boss. Still, the attraction had been there. He'd sensed it, but they never crossed that line.

Really though, he didn't know exactly how she felt. She'd stayed with Tony when he contracted the plague even when she should've left. Maybe she'd realized she was in love with him. They bickered so much, he was never sure exactly what she thought or felt about Tony. Hell, she called him on his crap almost as much as she called Tony on his. So much left unsaid that he didn't know, and doubted he ever would.

He picked up his coffee and drained it before tossing the cup in the trash. He wished he could go to her grave and talk to her but she was buried in Indiana and he was in DC and that just wasn't going to happen, at least not anytime soon. Maybe next time they got a weekend off call…

Gibbs sighed. He really shouldn't be thinking about her. There were cases to review, paperwork to be completed. He should be thinking about everything else except her but he couldn't help it. As much as losing her had hurt, he wasn't broken, but the guilt, the regret, the what might've-been still had power over him. Even knowing it would fade over time didn't help. He wished she hadn't died not knowing that someone loved her, even if she couldn't return the feelings. At the time though, he wasn't ready to acknowledge it aloud. He wasn't ready to open his heart and love someone again. If he'd told her then and if she had returned his feelings, she might've just ended up the fourth ex-Mrs. Gibbs. She deserved better than that, better than him.

That is, if on the off-chance she had cared about him too. He'd never know.

A flash of memory crossed his mind and he remembered her griping about the losers she seemed to attract. He always wondered about that. How could a beautiful, intelligent, sassy and strong woman attract so many losers? It didn't make sense to him then and even now, a year later, it still made no sense.

In that moment he felt eyes on him and he looked up. From across their section of the bullpen, Tony looked over at him, a thoughtful look on his face. Their eyes met and held for a moment as their mutual pain collided in an unguarded moment. Gibbs jerked his head slightly to the elevator and broke the eye contact to get up.

"Going for coffee. DiNozzo, you're with me."

Neither spoke as they descended the elevator and then walked to the coffee shop. It wasn't until after they returned with their coffees that Tony stopped them before entering the building.

"She was a good woman, Boss."

Gibbs looked over at Tony, and for once, the man didn't even try to hide his pain. Tony never talked about Kate. Never acknowledged how he felt but even he couldn't summon a joke to hide this. Gibbs studied Tony a moment. He looked tired, like he hadn't slept well the night before. Tony smiled a little self-deprecatingly. "Can't stop thinking about her. She…" he trailed off, and bit his lower lip, like he had said more than he intended.

"Did you love her, Tony?"

Tony sighed. "Maybe…a little. I don't know. Things changed after I was sick. I sensed things were different but we got so caught up in cases, the bomb, the hunt for Ari, there was no time to think about anything else or talk about it or anything. And then she was gone. I didn't know what to think. Still don't. Will never know."

That confirmed something for Gibbs and some turmoil in the back of his mind calmed him. Kate liked to flirt with him, but underneath it all, maybe she had realized her feelings for Tony, they just didn't get a chance to acknowledge them. That felt…right…somehow. She and Tony were closer in age, would've had a chance at a future together if she hadn't been killed. He was just a surly bastard with nothing to offer her except a lot of heartache. Just ask any of his exes.

"You loved her." The words brought Gibbs out of his reverie and his eyes shot back to Tony's, the glare forming before he had time to think about it. "Don't glare at me, Gibbs. Not about this. I can see it. You loved her and never told her."

Gibbs huffed and let it go but he neither denied or acknowledged Tony's words. "We need to get back to work." He headed toward the elevator.

Once in the elevator, as soon as the doors closed, Tony glanced over. "If it helps, I know she at least had a crush on you. She never would've told you though. Too afraid of a repeat of what happened in the Secret Service."

Gibbs flipped the elevator switch. "And how the hell would you know, DiNozzo?"

Tony shrugged. "Come on, Boss, you two used to flirt off-and-on. I saw the looks you gave her when she wasn't looking and I saw the looks she gave you when you weren't. It was kind of obvious. She always had this look of fear though, she was determined you couldn't know. She didn't want to screw up again."

There were times, like now, that Tony's ability to read people was really annoying even though he valued that ability as much.

"You don't have to say anything, Boss. I know you miss her even if you're too stubborn to admit it."

Gibbs snorted and flipped the elevator switch again. He wouldn't have said anything anyway, but he wouldn't insult Tony by denying the truth in his words.

Gibbs turned to Tony. "She stayed with you when the doctors thought she should leave."

Tony swallowed hard and Gibbs saw tears pool in his eyes. He blinked furiously, quickly. When Tony spoke, his voice was thick with emotion. "She pushed you out of the way, would've taken the bullet for you."

Tears filled Gibbs' eyes at that and they just looked at each other a minute. Tony swallowed hard. "Maybe she loved both of us?"

It was eerie how sometimes Tony's thoughts echoed his own as he had thought something similar earlier. Gibbs sighed. "Maybe." The elevator doors opened and Gibbs stepped off, Tony right behind him.

Tony's words were quiet. "She never flirted with me the way she did with you."

That broke the tension and Gibbs laughed. "She never bickered with me the way she did with you."

"She tried, but you wouldn't bicker back."

Gibbs grunted an acknowledgement but they had returned to their section of the bullpen and Gibbs wasn't going to have that conversation in front of Tim and Ziva. He could barely believe he was having it with Tony. He sat down at his desk and as he did he glanced over at Tony. Tony saw him and held up his cup of coffee, as though in a toast. Gibbs held his up, both silently acknowledging that they were drinking to Kate.

~Fin~

This story was written as a Christmas gift for Sarah (Flootzavut). She and I have often discussed the dynamics between Kate and Gibbs and Kate and Tony and how her death would affect them. One morning I had a dream about Kate and Gibbs that inspired this story and I thought of Sarah the whole time I was writing it. Sarah has already read it so now I'm posting it publicly.

Thank you to Chelsea (K9Lasko) for the beta, and suggestions.

Feel free to leave comments in this thread.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 24, 2015 5:59 pm 
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Name: Sarah
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This was such a lovely surprise :hug2col: :kisscheek: sad but lovely!

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 24, 2015 6:14 pm 
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Such a lovely scene. I'm afraid I never really saw Kate with either of them, but this works with what the show gave us, and I'd like to think this happened.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 24, 2015 6:43 pm 
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Yeah, it is sad because losing Kate sucked, but I like to think something good came out of her death by strengthening the bond of friendship between Tony and Gibbs. Wasn't portrayed in canon really, but my headcanon runs with it.

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