DISCLAIMER: NCIS and its characters are the property of CBS, no infringement intended.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: The "He" being Ari.
SPOILERS: Bete Noire

Even After
By Geonn


He was larger than life, looming over her with that patronizing grin. The gun in his hand. Gerald was bleeding in the corner, Ducky cowering on the floor with his hands behind his head. She could still feel the terrorist's hands on her, searching for a weapon.

He'd made her take off her shoes. She had been surprised by the demand, even more surprised at how vulnerable it made her feel. The man scared Gibbs, which increased the terror he caused in her.

She sat on the couch, watching the window and waiting for the sunshine to start to appear. The weatherman had been right on the past few days, off by only a minute or two in general. The bedroom door opened with a quiet squeak and she looked up, waiting until Abby appeared in the shadows of the hall. "Hey," she said quietly. "I woke up and you weren't there. That's been happening a lot lately."

"I know," Kate said softly. "I'm sorry, I just... I can't..."

"I understand," Abby said. She walked to the couch and sat on the floor in front of Kate, crossing her legs and holding her feet as she looked up at the other woman. "I'm glad you're staying here, though."

"Did you need a guard dog?" Kate asked, attempting humor.

Abby smirked. "No. Because it means you don't hate me."

Kate frowned. "Why would I hate you?"

Abby shrugged, picking at her big toenail. Finally she softly said, "Because it should have been me. If I hadn't been such a coward, you wouldn't have had to go down to autopsy. You wouldn't have been taken hostage by that... lunatic."

"But you would have," Kate said.

"I don't care."

"I do," Kate said. She got off the couch, kneeling in front of Abby and putting her hands on the other woman's thighs. "Those few hours were hell. I wouldn't wish them on anyone. Especially not you, Abs. If going through it myself means I spared you, then... I'm proud to have done it. Doesn't mean I won't be scarred, but..."

Abby smiled. "There's the rub... because I would go through it if it meant you wouldn't have to."

Kate leaned in and lightly brushed Abby's lips with her own, bending down and kissing her shoulder. Abby sighed, her exhale pushing strands of Kate's hair around her ear. "Kate... will you come to bed?"

Kate closed her eyes. "I'm... afraid that if I sleep, I'll see him."

"You told me you didn't have nightmares."

"I've never been this scared of someone before," Kate whispered. "He's still out there, Abby."

"I know. But I'm in here. You think he's going to risk coming after me?" She kissed Kate's cheek and got to her feet, pulling Kate up with her. "Come on. I'll hold you until you fall asleep."

"Even after?" Kate asked, letting Abby walk her into the darkness.

"Yeah," Abby promised. "Even after."

The End

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