Conversations With Caitlin


By Lizabeth S Tucker

Tony's visits had always been in the daytime, either in the early dawn as the sun peeked over the line of trees on the gentle hills surrounding the cemetery or in the late afternoon when the shadows reached out long fingers to touch the various headstones dotting the landscape. This visit was different, held in the dark, the night a thick blanket over the cemetery.

He stumbled to his knees, catching himself on Kate's headstone. "Sorry. Guess I should've bought a flashlight. Didn't realize it would be so dark." He shivered. "Or cold."

He sniffed. "Got some big news for ya, Katie."

"You're drunk, DiNozzo." Kate appeared, sitting on the top of her headstone, glowing slightly in the dark.

Tony shook his head. "Nope. Wish I was, but I'm just…I was gonna say feelin' no pain, but I am. Feelin' pain, I mean."

Kate peered into Tony's face. "What is it? What happened?"

"Gibbs is gone," Tony replied.

"Gone? He's dead?"

Tony waved his hands about as he spoke. "No! No, no, not dead. Gone. He quit!"

"Are you sure you're not having alcohol-based hallucinations? Gibbs would never quit," she scoffed.

The slightly inebriated Special Agent snorted. "Did so! He handed me his badge and his gun and the team and left."

"But…where would he go? And why?"

"Because he doesn't know us anymore, not really," Tony replied. "And as to where? You'll never guess, not in a million years."

"Well, I guess that let's out his basement." Kate floated to the ground beside Tony, earning an appreciative grin.

"You're getting' good at that."

"Thanks. What do you mean he doesn't know any of you? How about an explanation?"

"Not sure I can."

"Try, DiNozzo."

Curling his legs under himself, Tony began to speak. "See, Gibbs was supposed to meet this undercover agent on a ship, but there was an explosion and he got hurt real bad. We didn't…" He took a deep, shuddery breath. "Damn, Kate, when I saw him, I thought he was dead."

"Oh, Tony, I'm sorry."

"Gibbs was in a coma for days. Then when he came out of it, fifteen years of his life had been wiped clean."

"What are you talking about?"

"Amnesia, Kate. He didn't remember us, he didn't even remember Ducky. He thought he was still a Marine in Desert Storm."

Kate's light dimmed.

"By the time he got his memory back, or at least enough to realize that one of our ships were rigged to explode, it was too late. SecNav let it happen."

"Gibbs must've been furious. But furious enough to quit?"

"Yep." Tony reached into his jacket, pulling out a flask.

"That isn't going to solve anything," Kate said.

"Maybe not in the long run, but it'll do for now." He twisted the cap open and tipped his head back to swallow deeply. He wiped his mouth with his jacket sleeve.

Kate frowned. "You keep that up and you'll be hurting tomorrow."

"Save the lectures, I'm not in the mood for them."

"So are you planning to tell me where Gibbs is going or just drink yourself blind?"

"He's headed to Mexico to live on the beach with his old boss."

"Gibbs? What's he gonna do there?"

"Drink beer, doze in a hammock, pick up girls, nothing."

"He'll go out of his mind with boredom in a week."

"I don't know, Kate. He's not the same man." Tony got to his feet, weaving slightly.

"You're in no condition to drive yourself home, Tony."

"Yeah, well, you don't see a lot of taxis waiting for pickups at a cemetery."

"Especially this close to midnight." Kate's brown eyes twinkled. "That's why they invented the cell phone."

Tony blinked in surprise. "Oh." He grinned sheepishly. "I forgot."

"Way too much alcohol."

Tony felt himself enveloped in a cool light as Kate hugged him. "Thanks for listening, Katie."

"Really too much to drink if you're thanking me."

Tony chuckled. "Maybe so, but I do mean it."

"Yeah, I know you do. Go home, DiNozzo, get some sleep. Things will look better in the morning." She considered that, then corrected her estimate. "Okay, maybe you'll feel better by late afternoon."

Giving a cheery wave, Tony tried to walk back to where his car was parked and use his cell phone to call a cab at the same time, with limited success at both.

Kate shook her head in fond exasperation, muttering softly. "Can't chew gum and walk at the same time either. Even when sober," she said as she faded from sight.

December 2006