Going to Be Okay

By ProfessorElk

Disclaimer: The NCIS characters mentioned below are not mine and no profit has been made in the writing or posting of this story.

Summary: The eyes themselves were dulled and deadened, the usual spark of interest and intrigue with the world, the excitement over figuring out life's many puzzles, blatantly absent. He would never admit it aloud, but that frightened him more than knowing where his agent was.

Spoilers: Set around 11x13 "Double Back"

Part I

"Yeah, Gibbs." He ignored DiNozzo's expectant look as he held his flip phone to his ear. His eyes narrowed as the voice began to speak on the other end of the line, and he could feel his agent's curious gaze upon him as he retreated behind his desk in the bullpen to retrieve his keys and wallet. He disconnected the call without as much as a goodbye by flipping the device closed before slipping it in his pocket, banging the metal drawers of his desk closed with more force than necessary.

"We got a call out, Boss?" DiNozzo was practically salivating at a chance to get out of the Navy Yard, his eagerness apparent in his voice as the agent began to reach for his gear.

"No," he responded as he rounded his desk, heading for the elevators.

"You get a tip on Parsa?" DiNozzo called after him.

He pressed the call button for the elevator and waited for the car to ascend, the faint yellow light from the button softly illuminating the darkened squad room. He was tired, his eyes ached from staring at video footage and computer screens, and he had a splitting headache from trying to track down a man who seemed to have virtually disappeared. He sighed in frustration. He did not have time to deal with this crap in addition to everything else that was going on.

"Help Bishop," he instructed his senior field agent, gesturing to the mess of papers strewn across the floor, the woman in question seated in the middle of the chaos. "You find that bastard."

The elevator arrived with a ding, the doors opening to reveal a mercifully empty car. He entered, turning just in time to see DiNozzo's baffled expression before the doors closed. He allowed himself a moment to savor the quiet in the brief ride downstairs, the stainless steel interior plates serving as a mirror, showing him how exhausted he actually was. He rubbed a hand tiredly down his face, bringing the hand back up to massage his forehead and swipe across the bottoms of his eyes, the ache abating for just a moment before returning with a vengeance. A detour to the diner to get coffee was definitely in order.

He raised a hand in a wave to the night guard on his way to the agency sedan parking lot, breathing in the fresh, crisp night air after he exited through the automatic doors. It was a clear night, no snow clouds in the sky, and despite the light pollution, he could make out the faintest twinkling of stars. He inhaled deeply, feeling slightly rejuvenated.

He did not bother to turn on the car radio as he drove. All the news stations were still covering the attack on the gala and he did not want to listen to people blather on about things they did not understand. He could turn on music, but he did not want to further aggravate his growing headache. The traffic was light, given the late hour, and he arrived at his destination far more quickly than the usual six minutes from the Navy Yard.

The parking lot was empty, and he pulled into a space with relative ease, turning off the ignition without exiting the car. The darkness could not hide the blandness of the building before him, the glow of the streetlamps failing to brighten the tan walls. He could see light hidden behind the four-story walls of windows, but they were tinted so the light was muted and faint. There was such a difference between the NCIS headquarter building, the cheery red bricks bright and seemingly alive no matter the occasion. There was no such warmth here, but he really should not have been expecting it to be, either.

Sighing to himself to avoid putting off the inevitable, he exited the navy blue sedan, the slam of the car door echoing off the surrounding buildings in the concrete jungle on a near silent street. A siren from a nearby squad car pierced the otherwise silent night, and he jumped at the unexpected noise. Frustrated with himself for being so easily startled, he decided that two coffees were definitely in order after this was over.

The automatic doors swished open as they sensed his arrival, the night guard looking up from behind the desk at the noise. It was slightly more alive inside than out, people milling around the lobby, a teen seated on the plush chairs, fiddling with his phone while a woman desperately was pleading with another worker behind the desk to fulfill her undetermined request.

He reached inside his trench's interior pocket to procure his badge and credentials, flashing them to the available man behind the desk. The bulky man squinted at the small print, finally finding what he was looking for. The man's eyes swept upward until the two were looking each other in the eye, silently sizing up the other man before them.

"You're supposed to go on right back," the security guard reported. "Through the double doors, to the right. Right past the desk. Can't miss it."

He nodded his thanks, stepping away from the desk to go through the metal detectors, which would lead him to the back rooms. He waited wordlessly for the machine to do its scan, only moving forward when the lights along the device's perimeter lit up in green, signaling he was free to go through. The security guard waved him on, unlocking the double doors with an audible beep.

He turned the handle easily and pushed the door open, the mechanism locking behind him with a click. He walked down the narrow hallway confidently, not needing the sign instructing him where to go. He had been here too many times before for that to be necessary.

The personnel at the desk waved him back when they saw him approach, most likely alerted by the guard in the front of his arrival. He was buzzed through one more set of doors leading him down a short, well-lit hallway. His shoes tapped against the linoleum as he slowly walked down the walkway, taking his time to look within each cell. Most were empty, and the occupants of the others barely looked up at him from their positions on metal cots as he passed. He came up short of what he was looking for until he came upon the last cell, as far away as possible from the others, one wall shared with an empty cell, the other, the wall of the building. He stopped to examine the cell's occupant using the light from the hallway, the person on the other side of the metal wall not looking up from his hunched seated position on his cot. The man was resting his head in his hands, his elbows placed upon his knees. He knew the man was aware of his presence, but he waited for acknowledgement, knowing that it would eventually come.

Threading his arms through the metal bars, resting them against the horizontal bar connecting the vertical ones, he leaned forward, gripping his left wrist with his right hand. He stayed silent as he studied the man for an indiscernible amount of time, waiting.

He had allowed his mind to wander, going back to the case and what they could have missed, when his thoughts were interrupted with a lengthy sigh. He refocused on the man in front of him, the other person beginning to shift in his seat.

Hands falling away from his face, elbows still braced against his knees, the man looked up and met his eyes. "Hey Boss."

a/n: Hope you enjoyed the first part of this little ficlet! More will be coming soon. Thank you so much for taking the time to read my work – I always so greatly appreciate it!

As a side note, I was experiencing problems with the site when I updated the final chapter of True Measure of Friendship. I persevered and it is now posted, if you are interested :)