Of course I don't own any of the original characters, stories, concepts etc. of NCIS or otherwise, they belong to their respective owners. However, any characters and/or storylines that I have created for this story are mine.

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A/N: As someone who never was a fan of seeing two characters dance around each other for years (or more correctly season after season), this just came to me after seeing 'Nine Lives'. It is set about a week after the episode.

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Window of Opportunity

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It had closed.

When I had returned from my vacation, it had taken me only a few moments back at the office to notice that something was off. Something had changed in my absence. The atmosphere felt so completely different, it just was impossible to miss. Yet it still had taken me the best of the morning to figure out what exactly had changed. But then, suddenly I just had known.

His sad looks were gone!

Anybody who didn't know him quite as well as I do wouldn't have noticed the slightest difference about him. He was just too proud to let anybody see him as anything else than the charming stud he had pretended to be for all those years. I am the only one he let close enough to see the real him.

No, I corrected myself, I had been the only person with that privilege.

In retrospective he had held on longer than I could have ever expected him to. Of course, I could just go and try to justify the walls I had put up between us after his return with my own desire not to be hurt. Still I had known, and accepted, that I would hurt him in the process.

And now it wouldn't take long until he would go back to having several dates a week, though I knew that would only be temporary. A stopgap on the way to something else. I knew he had changed. I had loved the man he had been before that and now I loved the man he had turned into even more. He was the man that I needed. It hurt me to realize that he soon would change his choice of women for the better. He soon would have more than one date with the same woman and at some point he actually would find a person he would be able to commit to.

I realized that I wouldn't be that person and for that I have no one to blame but myself. How do you deal with that?