"He's nosy, it comes with the job, and besides, he enjoys her artwork. Of course he's going to look. It would be strange if he didn't."

Gibbs finds a sketchbook of Kate's, and is surprised by the contents. Unashamedly Kibbs.

Rated: FR15
Categories: Het, Het > Gibbs/Kate
Genre: Angst, Character Study, Fluff, Romance, UST
Warnings: None
Challenges: Just a Kiss Challenge
Challenges: Just a Kiss Challenge
Series: None

still life

Afterward, he's not sure how it happened. Kate's usually private - he's tempted to say paranoid - about her sketchbooks, and she doesn't exactly invite people to snoop around in her belongings.

Why she'd leave a sketchbook, any sketchbook, just lying around where anybody could pick it up and flip through it... he doesn't really get it.

Why she'd be so careless with this sketchbook...

He's nosy, it comes with the job, and besides, he enjoys her artwork. Of course he's going to look. It would be strange if he didn't.

The contents are more or less as expected, to start with. Most of Kate's portraits are done to order, likenesses for BOLOs or to put in the facial rec database, and what's left in any given sketchbook, once the criminals and victims and suspects have gone, are pictures of her friends and family, and of the team, whom she pretty much considers both.

It's kind of fun to peruse.

She's good at capturing them in unguarded moments, better than he'd ever realised. Tony looking unusually pensive. Abby signing 'I love you'. Ducky leaning over as if he's about to whisper a secret in his latest corpse's ear. She does everything from close ups of eyes to full length group pictures, and they're all good.

Their team forms the bulk of her work, but he finds plenty of other faces he recognises. Pacci in happier days, a quick study of Paula Cassidy, friends from the FBI and the Secret Service. A tender portrait of Ernie Yost, with 'RIP' and the date of his funeral pencilled in later.

There's even a sketch of Morrow, which seems less finished than some of her other drawings but captures the man more accurately in a few sharp lines than any photograph ever could.

In fact, as he leafs through, he's pretty sure the entire rogue's gallery is here, with only one glaring omission. He doesn't know how to react, how to feel about it, as he stares at a picture of Tim and Jimmy sharing a joke; what it says that he can't find himself on any of these pages, not even incidentally. He's conspicuously absent, and it's... surprisingly hurtful.

It's not as if he thought she'd devote pages and pages to him, but she's drawn the team many times, as well as plenty of people she doesn't even know that well, so why not him? It seems strangely unfair, and he frowns at the book like it's its fault he's not featured. He reminds himself she's apparently not given to self-portraiture, either. So it's likely not an intentional slight.

He lets the pages slip through his fingers and sighs. It's not as if this is her only sketchbook, and really, why does he care? He shouldn't, he really shouldn't care this much. It definitely shouldn't make him sad.

He's not sure what makes him flip to the back, let alone why he expects to find anything at all except blank white pages, and he doesn't at first. Then it occurs to him to turn the book over, and he discovers he was looking at the wrong side. He rests the book on his desk, since the sturdy cardboard of the back cover is no longer helping him, and opens it to the last page, and the drawing there.

It's him. Which isn't especially surprising, is almost a relief, but he's not sure why it's squirrelled away like some big secret, why he's separate from everyone else. Then he turns to the next page, and there he is again.

By the sixth page, he's no longer surprised to find yet another angle of himself, and he's no longer paranoid she refuses to draw him.

In fact, as he flips through the pages, he's surprised and fascinated and a little delighted. Not just by how many times she's drawn him, but with the obvious affection in each picture.

He doesn't know if he smiles more than he realises or if Kate just likes drawing him that way, but he can't help noticing most of them have him smiling or grinning or at least have his eyes crinkling at the corners. He never expected to find so many pictures of himself, but even if he had, he would've expected them to be mostly of him working, serious, often in a bad mood or yelling at someone about something. Kate apparently doesn't see him as quite the grumpy Gus she teases him for being, a revelation which makes him unreasonably happy.

He turns another page, then gulps. Again, it's unmistakably him, but he can't figure out when and where she drew it. It's a back view, his head and neck and down to his shoulder blades, but this time she's drawn him shirtless, and he can't help but gape, incredulous. The detail is almost photorealistic. He shakes his head and turns quickly past it, unable to deal with the dozens of questions it poses, though he barely registers the next couple of pages.

Then he stops short, because his brain can't parse what he's now seeing.

There's simply no explanation for this one other than her imagination. Because even if he was the kind of person who'd leave his curtains open at night, he's sure Kate would not be the kind to skulk around outside and spy on him.

So a close up picture of his face with his head thrown back, mouth open, eyes closed, his expression unmistakably ecstasy, well... the only logical explanation is that Kate spent serious time and effort imagining what he might look like when he comes. And then she drew it. In detail.

It's a thought which has him staring at the page in wonder, confusion and considerable arousal. Hell, it has him thinking he needs to go home and reenact this scene, because the idea Kate pictured it so vividly and then put it down on paper is... overwhelming.

He stares at it for a long while. It looks so real. The effort she's put into recreating an imagined moment is astounding. Eventually he shakes his head and forces himself to turn the page.

His mind is still teeming with questions (how is it possible she's drawn him so often? does she use photographs for reference? does she simply know his face and body this well? spend this much time and attention on him?), but most of the drawings are innocent enough.

Close ups of him pensive or smiling, laughing or thinking, or just of his eyes, staring out of the page with startling intensity. Quickly scribbled but nonetheless recognisable studies of him working crime scenes. A carefully polished portrait of him signing something to Abby with a grin. One of him asleep at his desk which he thinks she might well have drawn from life, given the crazy hair and the open mouth. At least she didn't add drool or note down the sound effects.

There are a few more that stop him dead.

A nude. Not just his shoulders or his chest or his back this time, but totally naked. Drying his hair, turned three quarters away from her. Full length, his ass and legs obviously strong and well-muscled in her imagination. Maybe she saw one time, in shared quarters? Or saw enough to guess the rest. He doesn't inspect himself in the mirror this closely, doesn't know exactly how accurate this is as a back view, but whether it's what she's imagined, what she's seen, a little of both, it suggests she has an interest far beyond the professional.

He imagines her working on this, her clever fingers drawing and smudging and carefully shading his naked body, and has to swallow hard.

Would it be unbelievably inappropriate to ask her if she wanted to draw him from life sometime? He has a suspicion it could work real well as foreplay... And he's kind of sick of appropriate when it comes to Kate.

Most of the risqué ones have been thinly scattered amongst the everyday scenes, so he's really not expecting another on the very next page.

This must be from her imagination. There's surely no way Kate has seen him stark naked, chest, legs, stomach, crotch, and he didn't know a thing about it. Surely. It's just not credible. Right?

His face is hidden, pressed into the arm which is keeping him propped up, and with his other hand he's touching himself, and it's a total mind fuck.

When he found the first portrait, part of him considered cornering her to ask why exactly her portraits of him were relegated to the back of her sketchpad, why she felt the need to hide them.

With each startling discovering, it's become less of a possibility, but there's no way he can start the conversation now he knows she's drawn him masturbating. It'd be more realistic to just grab her and kiss her and hope she reciprocates than to attempt an actual conversation about this.

(Though grabbing her and kissing her is a plan he's definitely coming around to in his head.)

He wonders what possessed her. He supposes she's fallen against him or he's pushed her to the ground and to safety enough she knows he's packing heat, but he still can't get over finding out Kate sat down and drew him naked at all. Even the one of his shoulders was surprising enough, never mind the full length.

He would never have imagined his sweet, innocent Catholic Katie Todd was secretly drawing him naked, drawing him pleasuring himself, giving him an impressive erection to play with.

Even though he's sure the more intimate pictures are largely imagined, he feels both flattered and oddly exposed. God knows he's done exactly this often enough, sought release, thinking of her.

He's more or less committed to doing it again when he gets home tonight, assuming he can walk straight enough to make it to his car, can see straight enough to safely drive home. His mind may be confused, but his body is just aching and desperate and wants her.

And it's almost like she'll be watching him, which admittedly doesn't help the whole blood flow situation.

She may not have seen him do it, but he feels like she might as well have. She has him decidedly at a disadvantage. And he's oh so interested in tipping the scales back in his favour.

There are a half dozen more pictures, and none of them are as raw or shocking, though one of the last ones captures his attention in an entirely different and even more intimate way.

It's another unfinished or maybe just minimalist one. The lines are light, the drawing has an oddly delicate quality. There's little shading or shaping, yet the subject matter is quite obvious. And... painfully beautiful, actually.

He's not sure which surprises him more, finding pictures of himself naked, of his face in the throes of an orgasm, or finding this; a simple yet heartfelt study of himself - kissing Kate.

Again, he can't help noticing there's the suggestion of a smile on both their faces. Her fingers are soft on his cheek, both their mouths are slightly open, and he has the impression it's the kind of kiss which could turn into raw passion or mutual laughter in the blink of an eye. The kind of kiss he'd be lucky to share with anyone. And it's drawn with incredible care.

The whole picture speaks of tenderness and romance and love, and he can't get over it. He knew Kate was quite the artist, but pictures for BOLOs have never given him this insight into how much feeling she's capable of injecting into a likeness, nor what an incredible imagination she has. He finds himself touching the portrait, tracing the lines of her face.

And he can't squash the upswell of hope, of a different but even more powerful kind of desire.

He flips through the pages again, pausing here and there to look wonderingly at the many ways Kate's drawn him, the many ways she's seen and imagined him. But he's drawn back to the kiss.

None of her other pictures, at the front or the back of her sketch pad, include her. There are no self portraits, there's nowhere she's even added herself in the background.

The one time she's drawn herself, he's kissing her. Kissing her in a way he never imagined she might want him to. Kissing her how he's longed to do for far too long.

He looks at it, stares at it, absorbs it. Then, without another thought but with a renewed sense of purpose, he closes the sketchpad, tucks it carefully into his bag as he gets up, and whips out his cellphone as he heads for the elevator.

She answers as the doors slide closed, and he flips the emergency brake to give himself all the privacy he can muster.

"Kate. Can I come by? Somethin' I wanted to ask you."

She sounds surprised, but not nervous, readily agrees, and when he ends the call and the elevator starts moving again, he realises he's smiling like he just won the lottery.

Oh, he has a bunch of questions for Caitlin Todd tonight. He's not sure how many of them he's gonna manage out loud. But he has a really good feeling all her answers will be yes.

~ fin ~

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