AUTHOR: Ashleigh Anpilova
CHARACTER: Caitlin Todd
SUMMARY: Set after Yankee White. Kate thinks about Gibbs's offer of a job and considers whether she wants to work for NCIS on Gibbs's team.
WORD COUNT: 2,200
DISCLAIMER: I don't own these characters, nor am I making any money from them. I merely borrow them from time to time.
Kate let herself into her apartment and closed the door behind her; for a moment she leaned against it and closed her eyes. It had been a long day; it had been a long few days and a great deal had happened - not least that she had resigned from the Secret Service. Her days on Air Force One and protecting the President of the United States were over and now she had a choice to make.
She went into her bedroom stripped, tossed her regulation suit onto the bed rather than immediately hanging it up and went into the bathroom where she took a longer and hotter than usual shower, letting the water sluice over her body and hair, enjoying the way it ran down her body. It was as if it was doing more than cleaning her; she felt it was cleansing her, as if she was washing away her time with the Secret Service.
She stayed in the shower until the water began to run cold before she got out, wrapped herself in a large, fluffy towel (one of her few indulgences) wrapped a smaller towel around her hair and began to dry her body.
Twenty minutes later, her hair damp and hanging over her shoulders and dressed in comfortable yet fairly smart sweat-pants and a sweater she went into her kitchen and looked in the fridge to find that she'd failed to go to the store. Throwing caution and her on-again, off-again diet to the wind she called for a pizza and opened a bottle of red wine.
She went back to her lounge, sat down on the couch, tucked her legs under her and sipped her wine as she waited for the pizza to be delivered. For the first time since she'd leaned against her front door she made herself think about Gibbs's offer of a job working on his team working for NCIS - working for him.
Without consciously thinking about it, she leaned forward and opened a small box that always sat on her coffee table, a box no one had ever been allowed to ask about let alone look in - a box her sister didn't even know what it contained. She took out the small fairly firm, fluffy ball and held it in her hand and smiled. Her favorite brother had given it to her on the day she'd started school - 'for luck, Katie', he had told her, and from that day onwards whenever she'd taken an exam or had an interview or needed to make an important decision she had always made sure she had the ball with her.
It was crazy, something she should have given up years ago and yet she never had. There was something comforting about the ball, it fitted nicely into the palm of her hand now that she was an adult and it made her believe her brother was with her, helping her make her decision. She held the ball in one hand, squeezing it and enjoying how fluffy it still felt as she sipped her wine and began to analyze her options.
She was fairly sure, even given she had resigned from the Secret Service and the reasons she had left, that she would find it pretty easy to find another job, if not with one of the other agencies in DC then with a private firm. 'I used to protect the President' was a strong bargaining point, as such she didn't feel she had to accept the offer to work for Gibbs; she had other choices. What it all came down to was did she want to work for NCIS? Did she want to work for Gibbs and work with his team? She's met all the members of 'Team Gibbs' and she needed to decide if she could work with them.
Dr. Mallard - Ducky - was an interesting character. He was somewhat older than Kate thought was usual, even given the fact he wasn't an agent, to be working for a Federal agency; in fact she would have put him over retirement age.
She wondered if it was just his obvious extremely close friendship with Gibbs that allowed him to stay with NCIS. The more she thought about it, the more she doubted it, Gibbs was, after all, not the Director, he may be the senior agent, may be the longest standing agent, maybe the best agent, but that's all he was: an agent. So maybe Dr. Donald 'call me Ducky' Mallard was so good at his job, they agency didn't want to lose him. One thing she had picked up on very quickly was that you did not cross Ducky, you did not make fun of him, you did not put him down - not if you wished to carry on working for Gibbs you didn't.
And from what she has observed he was good at his job, he was very good at his job. He was smart, he was exceptionally intelligent, maybe even dangerously so, he knew people, she got a feeling he could read them maybe even better than she could. He was also more than a little old-fashioned, somewhat formal and a clear gentleman. He was the kind of man, Kate thought, who would open a door for a woman, even raise his hat to her, who lived and worked in an equal opportunities world but who didn't truly believe women were completely equal when it came to their ability to take care of themselves. Maybe some of it was down to him being British, but British or not Kate wasn't entirely certain she would enjoy working with him.
Not that she imagined she would see a great deal of him, she'd already seen enough to get the impression that while Team Gibbs all knew him and worked with him from time to time, it was Gibbs who had the most contact with him. Thus, maybe it wasn't important and, even though she was a woman who knew herself to be as good as any man, a woman who worked in what was still a man's world, a woman who was quite capable of taking care of herself, maybe it would be rather nice to occasionally be treated like a lady rather than just another of the boys.
She had liked Ducky, she'd liked him a great deal and she'd been reassured by him and his gentle manner, his skills and his intelligence, it was just that she wasn't certain she wanted that intellect and those soft blue eyes appraising her too carefully. But he was a nice man, he was a gentleman and they were few and far between. So yes, the more she thought about it the more she felt her concerns about working with Ducky were unfounded.
She put her glass down, glanced at the clock and sighed a little when she realized it hadn't been as long as she'd thought since she'd ordered pizza. She tossed the ball from hand to hand for a moment and turned her thoughts to Abby.
She had liked Abby from the moment she had met her - even though at first glance Abby was everything Kate wasn't, and all those tattoos . . . How could anyone have that number of tattoos? How could they have any at all? And yet somehow they had suited Abby; somehow Kate hadn't been as bothered by them as she had by seeing multiple tattoos on one person in the past. And it hadn't been just the vast array of tattoos that had shown Abby to be the complete opposite from Kate; it was also her style of dress, her Goth make-up and jewelry, even her hair style. There certainly hadn't been anyone even remotely like Abby Sciuto in the Secret Service.
She found herself wondering if Abby went to Court dressed in the way she dressed to go to the office and told herself she didn't; she wouldn't. Abby may be a Goth, dress strangely, have weird make-up and too many tattoos, but one thing that had also stood out was just how professional she was and how intelligent she was. She wasn't as intelligent as Ducky, but she was clearly far more intelligent and smart than she would have needed to be to do her job.
Kate saw in Abby a potential friend; in fact she saw her as quite easily becoming a very close friend. She saw her as someone who would take the time to help her on and off of the job, they had got on; they'd got on very well and Kate knew she'd welcome the opportunity of working with Abby again.
So that left Gibbs and DiNozzo - the two men who she'd be working with far more closely than she'd work with Ducky or Abby. They would be a three-person field team; she'd be coming into am established working relationship, the only woman and someone who had no background in naval matters. She'd be very green to start with and would no doubt end up with the jobs DiNozzo didn't want to do, and she'd have to learn quickly, not just about the job but about how to deal with DiNozzo.
Despite everything, despite how he had first treated her, despite his dismissive manner, the way he tended to talk down to some people, despite the fact she knew he would be a very tough person to please, a man who would give no quarter, a man who would expect her to be every bit as good an agent as a man, despite him, she was prepared to admit, scaring her just a little, Kate knew she could work for Gibbs. In many ways he was like every other man of his age and in his position - but in some ways she knew he was like no other man she had ever worked for or with. It would be a challenge; one she believed she was up for.
She was just about to turn her attention to the more problematic matter of whether she could work closely with DiNozzo when the doorbell rang. She put the ball she still held down onto the couch and hurried to the door, took the pizza, thanked the delivery boy, paid and tipped him.
Twenty minutes later she poured herself another half glass of wine, but the plate and knife and fork into the sink and filled it with water before taking the glass back to the couch, where she once more tucked her feet under her, picked up the ball and began to think about DiNozzo.
Could she, did she want to, word side by side, in close proximity on a day to day basis with Anthony DiNozzo? She honestly wasn't sure; he was everything she disliked in a man; he was sexist and she guessed quite possibly homophobic and even xenophobic - not to any extreme level, she had learned enough about Gibbs to know he'd never tolerate that kind of thing. He was almost certainly a bully, not a physical one, but the kind of man who enjoyed putting other people down, of playing pranks on them, of getting them to do the worst jobs, of using the fact he worked closely with Gibbs to make any newbie do all the worst jobs.
He was street smart, but not intelligent in the way Ducky and Abby and even Gibbs were intelligent. He thought far too much of himself, he'd make her life a misery and take pleasure in laughing at her and teasing her when she tripped up over terminology. He was good at his job, very good actually, but not quite as good as he clearly believed he was. He was good looking and knew it; she doubted he would date the same woman more than twice - if that. He spent a lot of money on clothes, no doubt liked fast cars and evenings out with the boys.
He really was everything she disliked. But he had one saving grace, one thing that reminded her of her favorite brother: he'd never let you down. He was capable of making life hell for you one minute, belittling you the next and being your strongest, most protective ally the next.
Yes, he'd laugh at her, he'd tease her, he'd no doubt resort to bathroom humor and she'd hate him for it. But the second she really need his help on or off of the job, he would be there - with no questions asked. Oddly enough she realized that if the day came when she needed to bury a body that of all the people on Team Gibbs, it would be DiNozzo she would go to to help her.
"Damn it," she murmured as the ball fell from her hand and rolled across the couch - it almost seemed to be watching her. "I like him; I actually like him."
And that was that; she had made her choice. She would join NCIS; she would join Team Gibbs. And the more she thought about it, the more she knew it was the right choice - the choice that would make her happy.