Disclaimer: I don't own anything, and I don't make any money with it.

The difference between having lost and never having had the chance to have

It was a normal day at NCIS, or whatever you want to call normal there. Gibbs and his team were busy doing paperwork, or should at least be. As always, Tony got bored with that part of his job after a good hour, so he was busying himself throwing paper balls at McGee. Somehow he didn't dare throwing any at Ziva, she seemed to be in an even worse mood today, and Tony didn't intent on dying a painful death any time soon.

When Gibbs' phone started to ring, Tony was actually excited that he would get something productive to do.(McGee was also relieved, that Tony would get something productive to do) Then on second thought, Tony wondered what that actually said about his character, since a phone call like that usually meant that somebody was missing, hurt or even dead.

On their way to the crime scene, Gibbs informed his team about the case: a woman had called the police to tell them that she had just witnessed a murder of a sailor. It appeared that two men were having a rather heated conversation, when she came by on her walk through the park. One way took his gun, shot the other man and ran away.

At the crime scene, only one police car was present to secure the scene, since it was clearly an NCIS case. Gibbs ordered Ziva and McGee to go take photos and make sketches and then wait until Ducky would arrive. He and Tony would go talk to the witness and get rid of that police car.

"DiNozzo, you talk to the witness, but behave"

Grinning, Tony made his way to the woman leaning against a nearby bench, when he suddenly stopped and was sure he had just had a hard attack. That woman in her early 30's, beautiful long black hair, mocca skin and was just really petite; caught eye of Tony, took a moment to really look at him and then froze herself. Gibbs was just done with the police officer and came their way when he noticed their strange look. He was just about to growl something at DiNozzo(that must be one of his many ex-girlfriends), when both got into motion again. The woman showed a slight, shy smile on her face when she moved forward and was taken into a warm embrace by his senior field agent.

"DiNozzo, is this your new technique for questioning witnesses?" Gibbs asked, rather unamused.

A little startled, and more then a bit emotionally shaken, Tony quickly tried to come back to his special agent mode and said:

"Ah, Gibbs, I was just getting started. This is Maria Espinoza. Maria, this is my boss, Special Agent Gibbs."

The woman nodded at Gibbs, and one could see that she was still rather shaken by what she had seen only a few minutes ago.

"Actually Tony, it's Sanchez now. You remember Carlos, right. We got married four years ago."

She nearly sounded embarrassed, as if she should have Tony long time ago. But Tony smiled at her and congratulated her for her marriage. Wanting to get going with the investigation, Gibbs decided to stop this little reunion and began questioning her about the murder.

"Alright Mrs. Sanchez, can you tell us exactly what happened here?"

"Of course. I was just walking around the park a bit, I had some time before my next lecture, and I was told the park was really beautiful. Anyway, I just came around those bushes over there, when I heard two men yelling at each other. I slowed down to take a look first, I don't like to get into the middle of a fight. They were pushing each other around, but I couldn't really hear what they were saying. Then suddenly one took a gun and pointed it at the other one. I just turned around, I didn't want to see it, then I heard a shot. When I looked back again, the shooter was gone, so I ran over to the other man, but I couldn't find a pulse. Then I called the police with my cell."

When she was finished telling what she had seen, she was slightly crying, and Tony just to her into his arms.

"Can you tell us what the shooter looked like?"

She took a moment to think about it, and then said:

"He looked military or navy as well, he was wearing a uniform. You know Tony, one of those that Andrew used to wear, the same colors."

"Oh yeah, I remember Andrew. Then our shooter should be a petty officer, Gibbs"

"Alright, you check out our sailor's workplace and roommates, take McGee with you. Mrs. Sanchez, I would need you to come back with us to the office and give an official statement, and later maybe identify the shooter."

"Of course, but I'm only in DC till the end of the week."

"I promise you, this case will be closed by then!" Gibbs said and headed back to the car, where Ziva was already waiting. Ducky had confirmed the fatal gunshot wound and had already left with the body. Maria took place in the backseat of the car, and Gibbs actually drove rather moderate in regard of their passenger.

Half an hour later, Gibbs had taken Maria's statement and was now waiting for results from Ducky and Abby. Ziva was digging into their victim's personal file and finances, while Tony and McGee were still at the quest of that ominous petty officer. Maria Sanchez was waiting in the break room, in case they would find the murderer soon, so she could get over with identifying him. Also, she wanted to wait for Tony to return, she wanted to talk to him, since she hadn't seen him for years.

When Gibbs was already close to being frustrated with doing nothing but waiting, and needing another coffee, his phone started to ring.

"Gibbs"

"Hey boss, it's DiNozzo. I think we have something. All the people we questioned here said that our sailor here had a few problems with a certain Petty Officer Daniel Head. They don't know what these problems were about, but Head didn't show up at work today. McGee and I are heading for his apartment now."

"Okay, but no stupid stunts, that guy is armed!"

"Oh boss, I didn't know you care…", but Gibbs had then already hung up. He needed coffee.

He went to the break room, where he remembered he had left Mrs. Sanchez. Getting his coffee, he informed her that they had a suspect and that she probably wouldn't need to stay for much longer. She seemed relieved, but still concerned about something. Then she asked:

"How is Tony doing? Is he alright?"

"Of course he is, you've seen him this morning. They will just pick up the suspect, no need to worry."

"That's not what I mean Agent Gibbs. I mean personally, is he happy?"

Now that question surprised Gibbs, actually he hadn't thought any of Tony's affairs were concerned about him emotionally. And then, he didn't quite know how to answer that question. Tony was alright, but was he happy? He always said he was fine, but that didn't really mean anything.

"Tony is doing fine ma'am. He had a difficult year (or years), we all had, but he's doing fine. Why do you ask? You don't seem to have close contact with him, when he doesn't even know that you're married. Then, I don't think he has close contact to any of his ex-girlfriends."

At that, Maria started laughing out loud.

"You think I'm his ex Agent Gibbs? Please, Tony and I were never more then just friends. And he was dating my sister Isabella."

"And you don't have a grudge on him for breaking her heart?" Gibbs joked.

But suddenly Maria's eyes turned sad and she said in a very serious, sad tone:

"Actually, I think it was her that broke his heart…But let's not talk about Tony behind his back, he would not appreciate it."

And with that, the conversation was over.

Leaving the subject alone, Gibbs took his coffee and went back to his desk.

Only a few minutes later, the elevator doors opened and Tony and McGee got out, with a Petty Officer Head between them, in handcuffs. Gibbs' eyes went to his senior field agent, realizing DiNozzo was slightly limping.

"McGee, take the Petty Officer to interrogation room 2. DiNozzo, what the hell happened?" Gibbs' harsh tone couldn't quite hide the concern for his agent and friend.

"Well, our friend here decided it was fun to play tag with two federal agents. Of course McGee wasn't all that excited about that idea. But I caught up with him and jumped the guy. Unfortunately, that idiot had to fight back and, well, I landed a little harsh on my knee Gibbs, that's all."

With a smile, Tony wanted to go to his desk and start working on his report, but Gibbs just glared at him and sent him down to see Ducky. Of course DiNozzo wanted to protest that he was fine, but the look on Gibbs' face made him forget about that immediately.

Then Gibbs sent Ziva to get Maria ready to identify the shooter and went to the observation room to take a look at the suspect.

McGee was already waiting for the rest of the team when Gibbs came in. Their suspect looked rather scared; it wouldn't take long to break him. Then Ziva and Maria entered; Maria seemed really relieved that it would be over soon. She took a look at the man in the other room and confirmed without hesitation that this was the man she saw in the park that morning.

"Alright, thank you Mrs. Sanchez. Agent McGee will take your statement and then you are free to go." Gibbs said.

McGee lead the woman out on the corridor, where Tony just came their way back from Ducky, still limping a bit, and Maria's expression immediately turned concerned.

"Tony, what happened? Are you hurt?"

Tony just smiled at her and waved her off.

"I just fell and landed on my knee, nothing to worry about, okay?"

"Does it still bother you?" she asked with a suddenly sad tone.

"Only when I fall on it!" he smiled, but his eyes showed the same sadness.

McGee felt embarrassed to stand there, like an intruder, but then Tony said:

"You go with McGee here, but wait for me; I'll be up in a few minutes as well. I think we should have dinner tonight. Alright?"

"I think that's a good idea, Tony."

Then he left and went to join Ziva and Gibbs.

McGee really wanted to ask how they knew each other, but then he decided against it. It was none of his business. Maybe Abby would know, she knew nearly everything about Tony.

An hour later, all four agents were again at their desks, writing the report. Maria had left a while ago, leaving the name of her hotel for Tony to make arrangements for dinner. Petty Officer Head admitted having shot their victim. He said he was just so confused and angry, he didn't know what he was doing. He had borrowed money from the victim to buy drugs, but then he threatened to inform the cops of his addiction if he didn't get his money back till the end of the week. He panicked and shot him. Always the same, isn't it?

Gibbs was thinking the same; he just couldn't understand how people can throw their lives away like that for drugs. All that had ever mattered in his life were his wife and daughter. God, he missed them, but at least he had their memories. He wished everyone would one day find that special person in his life and start a family. It certainly was the best thing that ever happened to him. God, when did he become such a romantic fool?

"Here you go boss"

Tony was offering him his report, a bit amused by his boss' dreamy look. He just wanted to leave. He has never ever been this early finished with his report.

"Okay, see you tomorrow DiNozzo!" Gibbs said, shaking his head over his colleague. He would really like to know what was going on between Tony and Maria, or her sister Isabella. But somehow he was sure, Tony wouldn't tell him.

Shortly after Tony had left, Ducky and Abby came into the bullpen to say good night.

"Oh hey, where is Tony?" Abby asked, a bit disappointed.

"He already left, has a date with our witness." Ziva said.

"Yeah, they seemed to know each other. Do you know who she is Abby? Her name was Maria Sanchez." "Or Espinoza" Gibbs added.

At that name, Abby's happy face slightly changed. She looked sad and maybe concerned. She seemed to be debating with herself whether or not to tell them what she knew. Tony had told her in secret, and only because he was pretty drunk.

"Spill it Abby!" Gibbs growled. Far too curious to wait.

"Okay, okay, but really, no word to Tony, he told me in secret. And that only because he was drunk. So no comments about it to him, you got that?"

Everyone nodded, waiting to finally hear what this was all about.

"I don't know every detail, okay? Tony and Isabella, Maria's sister, were a couple when he was in college. She was already a bit older, and not in college anymore. I think he said she was a singer or something. But she must have been beautiful, he said she had the softest skin ever. In Tony's final year at college, they got engaged, they wanted to get married after his graduation. And then Isabella got pregnant."

"Don't tell me they broke up because of that" Gibbs interrupted, anger clear.

"God no Gibbs, Tony isn't like that, you should know better. I mean, they wanted to get married after all. Tony said he was scared to hell, but also really happy. They had already decided for names they could give the baby. They wanted to celebrate after one of Isabella's concerts when it happened."

Everyone looked at her, wanting her to continue. What happened?

"Some guys apparently didn't like seeing a white guy going out with a dark skinned woman. They thought it would be fun to beat some reason into them with a baseball bat. Of course Tony tried to protect her, and that was the end of his pro basketball career. Unfortunately, that also prevented him from being able to defend himself and Isabella anymore. He had to watch her die…"

Seeing the tears in her eyes, Gibbs rushed over to her and took her in his arms, trying to calm himself down as well. Nobody knew what to say to that. So that's what Maria meant with Isabella breaking Tony's heart.

That night, no one of the best NCIS team could sleep. Somehow, with Tony dating another woman every week, nobody expected that kind of past. Or it was exactly what to expect. Anyhow, everyone was just confused and terribly sad for their friend.

Gibbs was yet spending another night with his boat, remembering his life with Shannon and Kelly, and how happy it makes him to still have at least those memories.

Tony never got to make those memories with his family.

The End