A/N: In my Conversations With Caitlin universe, Kate Todd is buried somewhere in the D.C./Baltimore area, allowing the various team members to visit her when they need her.

Conversations With Caitlin: Judgment Day

By Lizabeth S. Tucker

Tony DiNozzo had packed up his desk and stored the boxes with a weeping Abby Sciuto. He didn't feel able to keep up his usual smiling mask, so all he did was give her a hug, hiding his face for a long moment in the crook of her neck. He knew his Abby would understand. She was one of the few who ever saw past the façade, Gibbs and Ducky being the other two.

He then arranged for his bills to be paid automatically from his bank account before going to his apartment to close it up. His tour as Agent Afloat was scheduled for at least 6 months, possibly longer according to new Director Leon Vance. A knock on the door signaled the arrival of his ride to the airport.

"Boss. C'mon in. I'm almost ready, just have to finish filling out these change of address forms for the post office. You sure you don't mind sorting through my mail?"

"I'd have told you if I did." Gibbs leaned back against the kitchen counter while Tony scribbled notes on a pad of paper.

"I hate to ask you, but can you keep an eye on things here? I've shut off the air conditioning to keep the bills low, but it'll need airing out every so often."

"I'll take care of it." Not a man who dealt with emotions easily, he found himself trying to think of what to say. "You're gonna be okay, Tony."

"Not like I haven't had to start over before." He handed the forms to Gibbs who slipped them into his inside jacket pocket. Grabbing his luggage, Tony looked around the room.

"You'll be back."

Tony shrugged. "Maybe." He held the front door open for Gibbs, following and locking the door and deadbolt securely before handing the keys to the older man. "My car is in the covered parking area."

"I'll have it brought to my house for safekeeping while you're gone."

"Appreciate it." Tony threw his bag in the back seat of Gibbs' car and slouched in the front. "Boss, can we make a stop?"


Tony ducked his head, a flush rising to his cheeks. "If you don't mind. I just need to…I want to say goodbye."

"DiNozzo, you're coming back." But Gibbs still turned to the quiet road to the cemetery. They had lots of time before Tony's plane left for the West Coast.

At the tree-lined lawns, Gibbs looked at his agent. "I'll wait here. Don't be too long."

"I won't." Tony's usually loping stride was now stiff with weariness and grief. He struggled to keep his emotions in check until he arrived at the warm marble headstone which marked his former partner's resting place. He touched it gently, resting his fingers on the grey stone. "Hey, Katie. Sorry I couldn't bring flowers, I didn't have the time. This visit will have to be a fast one."

He sighed deeply. "I just wanted to come and say goodbye before I shipped out. Maybe ask a favor, if I could."

"Where do you think you're going, Tony?" Kate's form was ethereal in the bright afternoon sun.

"I've been assigned Agent Afloat for the USS Ronald Reagan. She cruises the Pacific, so I won't be back for…quite a while." If ever, he thought.

"I don't understand. You took a promotion?"

"No, it's more punishment. I don't have time to get into it now," he quickly said when he saw the confusion on Kate's face.

She wasn't happy, but didn't push for an answer. "You said you wanted a favor?"

"I don't know if you can, but if you could, would you watch over Ziva? She's going back to Israel and I don't think it is entirely safe for her there."

"Ziva is leaving as well? Tony, what the heck is going on?"

Tony heard the horn of Gibbs' car blow and smiled sadly. "Short story? The new director has split the team up. Only Gibbs is still in place. Even Tim is being moved to Cyber Crimes, although at least he gets to stay in D.C."

"But that isn't…new director? And why is Gibbs letting that happen?"

The horn blew again and Tony kissed his hand and pressed it against the headstone. "He has no choice. Jen is dead because I screwed up. I've gotta go. Take care of everyone, willya?" Tony went running to where Gibbs awaited him, ignoring the tears welling in his eyes.

He couldn't let the loneliness and sadness overwhelm him. Not yet. There would be time on the plane. He had more than enough money to indulge in liquid comfort on the six hour flight to Los Angeles.

October 2008