Author's Notes: I don't quite know where this came from. I wanted to write a postTwilight piece featuring Tony and some of the guys from JAG, and this is what came out over the past few hours (It's after 3:30am right now). Either way, enjoy and pleae review.
Summary: It's one year after The Death, and Tony has come to say his last goodbyes to Kate.
Disclaimer: I own NOTHING! Not Tony, Kate, Gibbs, or anybody else from NCIS, any of the guys from JAG, and definitely not Professor Dumbledore! Darn it.
Thanks Kate Part 1 of 1
The adjoining plots in the Columbia Gardens Cemetery had been quietly purchased one day in mid-June. The only reason that salesperson remembered selling the plots was because the youngish man had insisted that they be near Arlington National Cemetery, and because there was a look in his eyes that caused the middle-aged David Smythe a great deal of worry:
He looked broken. The polite man who had merely flashed a tiny smile at the receptionist reminded David of a diamond that had a tiny hairline stress fracture appear in the very heart of it. It was why David hadn't protested when the young man had made his unusual request. Young people in their early thirties weren't supposed to be worrying about things like their own mortality, and since he looked to be the picture of perfect health, David could only assume that he had lost somebody close to him suddenly and brutally.
When they were done, the man thanked David quietly and showed himself out.
David Smythe hoped that he wouldn't see young Anthony DiNozzo's coffin for a long, long time to come.
At the end of September, a gravestone appeared on the left plot. Aside from the fact that it had been carved out of black marble, it was simple and square, and the men who placed it found themselves pausing for a moment to reflect on what it said. It was rumored that the person it had been intended for had been buried out of the state, but her friends and family nearby had wanted something they could visit everyday if they wanted to. Either way, they were paid to laid the gravestones and not gossip on who was or wasn't supposed to be laid beneath them.
Throughout the fall and winter seasons, the gravestone only had one visitor: a dark-haired man in his early thirties who brought a single red rose and laid it at the base of the headstone. He rarely stayed longer than a few minutes, but the cemetery's female staff often remarked on the gorgeous man who always looked so solemn when he arrived and left with a hint of a smile on his face.
On the first anniversary of The Death, Tony DiNozzo called in sick to the office, unsurprised to hear a new level of gruffness in Gibbs' voice as he was reminded of the memorial party Abby and Ducky had organized for that evening and had told Gibbs that he was hosting, case or no case. Gibbs told Tony that he was expected to be in extra early the next day, a caveat Tony agreed to without argument.
Tony's first stop of the day was the florist's where he picked up a dozen red roses, plus one. His next was the warehouse near Norfolk where Kate's life had been stolen. He placed a single flower in the exact spot where she'd been killed and stared at the stain her blood had created in the concrete with his hands buried in his pockets. After an hour-long vigil, Tony straightened with a weary sigh and left without a backward glance.
Tony wasn't sure what his feelings for Kate were. He knew he loved her, that much was certain, but he didn't know if it was the platonic love like he shared with Abby, or if it was the forever kind of love that featured prominently in her movie collection. A year after she'd been taken from them he still wasn't sure, but he would have appreciated the chance to find out.
With an exhausted swipe of his hand across his eyes, Tony quickly nixed that train of thought. He'd been kept up all night with nightmares, centering around Kate and that goddamned Ari. In one, he'd been the one stabbed with a scalpel – not instantly fatal, oh no – and as he lay in a quickly spreading pool of his own blood, watching helplessly as Kate screamed, Ari had lifted Tony's own Sig Sauer and shot her square between the eyes. He'd been forced to watch as her eyes went from horrified to glazed over with death in an instant and Ari had stood by and laughed when it became Tony's turn to scream. And that wasn't the worst of them.
Tony suppressed a shudder at the remembered horror and tried to nip that train of thought in the bud as well. As Professor Dumbledore had wisely said, "It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live."
His next and last stop of the day was at the Columbia Gardens Cemetery, and, roses in hand, he walked the well-remembered path to the plot and headstone that he had paid for out of his trust fund – a source of money left to him by a beloved grandmother, and one his father couldn't touch. Tony had refused to touch the money for years, except to buy himself a new car, but to use it to honor her memory seemed like a better idea.
He laid the twelve roses – one for every month she'd been gone – at the base of the headstone and read the inscription once more. He'd agonized for days over the exact wording and it had suddenly come to him in a burst of inspiration that he just knew she had something to do with.
In Loving Memory of
Special Agent Caitlin Todd
Killed in the Line of Duty,
Her Light was stolen from us too soon.
Her sacrifice will never be forgotten.
Rest in Peace, Kate,
We'll take it from here.
"Hi, Kate," he said quietly. "It's been a hell of a year, hasn't it?" For an instant, he thought he saw her perched on top of the headstone, legs primly crossed so he couldn't peek up the skirt of her demure business suit, smiling impishly at him, with that soft exasperated look she reserved solely for him. "I miss you, Kate. There are days that I'll be reporting to Gibbs and I'll turn to get your input or to listen to whatever smart-ass remark you've come up with, and you're not there, and I have to remind myself that you'll never make fun of me again." He sighed, a smile briefly crossing his lips as the memory of all the times she had made fun of him crossed his brain in a little parade. "I never thought I'd miss that, but I do. Ziva's okay in her own way, but she doesn't understand me, not like you did."
Tony was silent for a few minutes, deep in his own memories, so it was no surprise that he didn't hear the people approaching until there was a voice behind him: "Is this a private party, or can anyone join?"
Startled, Tony spun, hand automatically going to his gun before he recognized the group of people before him. Lieutenant Commander Bud Roberts and his wife, Harriet, headed up the sizable contingent of people all in dress uniform. Beyond them, he recognized Captain Harm Rabb, Jr., and his new wife, Lieutenant Colonel Sarah Mackenzie-Rabb, Commander Sturgis Turner, Retired Rear Admiral AJ Chegwidden, Petty Officer Jennifer Coates, and a few more faces that he recognized but couldn't put names to at the moment. They all carried a single pink rose.
Hand-in-hand, the Robertses moved forward slowly. "We're sorry we couldn't make it to the funeral last year, things were a little crazy around the office."
In a little daze, Tony shook their hands and accepted the kiss Harriet pressed to his cheek. He turned to watch as they solemnly placed their roses next to the ones he had laid down and retreated a few steps.
The Rabbs were next; Tony spared a glance for the gleaming wedding set on the Colonel's left hand and summoned up a genuine smile for them. "I'd heard. Congratulations." He paused, considering, then added, "And, uh, no hard feelings about that whole, trying to get you convicted of murder thing, right?"
Rabb threw back his head and laughed, extending his hand to be shaken. "No, no hard feelings. You were only doing your job; I can't fault you for that. I'm only sorry I made everything so difficult for you to glean the truth."
"Well, you thought you were protecting somebody that needed it. I can't blame you for the sentiment, but the actions need a little work."
Rabb chuckled again. "True enough." Mackenzie shook Tony's hand as well, and he graciously accepted the kiss she placed on his cheek as well.
"My condolences," Turner said. "She was a hell of an agent."
"She was a hell of woman, period," Tony corrected.
"That she was." Turner moved off to join his friends, and Tony quietly greeted the rest of the people who had come to pay their respects to a woman who had been killed protecting their brethren.
The JAGs stood in a straight line, facing the headstone, and saluted it in unison. From not to far away, a single bugler played the slow, mournful notes of Taps. As the last note faded into silence, the military personnel relaxed and moved forward, one-by-one and in pairs, to gently touch the headstone and softly thank her for all she had done, both for them, personally and professionally, and for the Navy and Marine Corps.
Not ten minutes after they'd arrived, the JAGs left, each shaking Tony's hand and whispering their condolences. Soon, only Bud, Harriet, Rabb, and Mackenzie remained. Rabb handed him a business card with phone numbers and an address. "We expect you to stay in touch," Mackenzie admonished teasingly. "Whatever you need, day or night, even if it's just somebody to talk to, you call." Bud handed him another card and repeated the sentiment.
"Thank you," Tony said. It was the only thing he could say, really, what with the way his throat was closing up. "You didn't have to come all the way from London," he added to Rabb and Mackenzie after a moment.
"We would have been in Indiana for the actual funeral," Mackenzie replied, "but unfortunately life interfered."
"Doesn't it always?" Tony asked rhetorically.
"Take care of yourself," they told him, and left as quietly as they'd arrived.
Tony turned back to face the headstone and smiled genuinely. He had a party to crash. Maybe he'd freak Gibbs out and plant a lit candle under his boat for old times' sake.
She appeared again, perched on top like before, for only a tiny instant. "I don't know how you did it, Kate. But thanks."
Tony read the inscribed words once more and turned away, back towards the cemetery entrance. Phantom fingers entwined with his and he felt a whisper of a kiss ghost across his cheek. Her amused chuckle followed him across the lawn and he knew it wasn't just his imagination when she called after him, "I've always got your six, Tony."
Tony saw her frequently over the years – usually when he was about to do something stupid and foolhardy. Sometimes she appeared while he was interrogating a suspect, sometimes in Abby's lab, sometimes in the squad room, but every time she pointed out something that would bring all the pieces together and everything would become clear. He knew part of the reason she was doing it was to better help him irritate Ziva. He caught her making faces at the Mossad officer more than once, and she always laughed and faded away.
However much she helped with the brainwork, Kate always saved Tony's ass in the field. More than once, she pointed out where the crazies with the ugly weapons were hiding. Some days she appeared and would watch with amusement as they searched a suspect's house, looking for that crucial piece of physical evidence that would tie everything together, while he ignored her, intent on finding it for himself. On the rare occasion that he actually did manage to find it without her help she always stayed long enough to grin proudly and give him a thumbs-up.
Either way, he never discredited her advice.
On the second anniversary of her death she appeared in his living room, a place she'd never before ventured. With a stomach full of beer – his lousy attempt at cauterizing the re-opened wound – he asked her why she hadn't simply moved on, rested in peace, whatever. The only person who deserved that more than her was Gibbs, after all. She'd given him that patented look of hers, like he was the dumbest thing on the planet for asking, and simply responded, "I'm needed here. It's as simple as that."
It took a while, but Tony eventually stopped looking for her everywhere. She was around, keeping his back, and that became enough. She never stayed long enough for a conversation – in fact, she rarely spoke at all. But, no matter what, every time he thanked her, her translucent fingers would gently trace his cheek and ghostly lips would place a kiss on his forehead. She always said the same thing:
"I've always got your six, Tony."
And she did.