Disclaimer – I don't own NCIS
Author's Note – If you can, read this song whilst listening to Beyonce's – Halo. It was the inspiration for this story and I was listening it when I was writing this. Please let me know what you think.
Tony woke up in a cold sweat. That was the fourth night in a row he had dreamt about her. So many years after she had gone. Three years, three hundred and sixty four days. He turned to the clock on his bedside table. Three years, three hundred and sixty four days, 21 hours, forty minutes. Not that he was counting. Somehow he just knew.
He could hear Kate's voice echo around his head. Pain prickled behind his eyes as silent tears threatened to escape. Tony punched himself in the soft top of his arm. Now he really had something to cry about. The miniature dog collar Abby had gave him the day before dug into his arm, piercing his flesh. He muttered out loud
But he knew why. The bracelet had been one that Kate had worn once, to a party Abby had begged her to go to. Abby knew this time of year Tony needed something. Something he could hold and touch.
Tony was a tactile man. He needed to have a physical connection to something. Tony knew that. That was why he took every opportunity to get into bed with all the girls he could.
Girls? Tony could hear Kate's disapproving tone fill his ears. Sorry, women. Tony muttered his reply from years before. He smiled sadly at the image of Kate in the shower next to him, soap suds her only clothing.
Tony. Stop thinking about me like that.
But my mother didn't raise me to respect women, Kate.
He rolled over and hugged his pillow.
I respected you.
He watched himself sit down in his desk chair at work, staring purposefully across at Kate's desk. Or was it Ziva's desk. Kate's desk. The neat paper piles and perfectly arranged stationary. It was all Kate. And then there she was. Standing in front of him, like he had always wanted to see her. Games and fanciful situations flew through his mind as her skirt flew up. Marilyn Monroe, that photograph. Some like it hot. Let's make love. Great movies.
I never think about you that way. Only out loud. It doesn't make sense, does it, Kate. Men think after they do. You know that. Knew that.
I still know that, Tony.
You almost sound like you're really here.
Tony lifted himself off his pillow, like a push up, looking around. Kate sat in the corner of his bedroom, sitting with her legs folded. She was wearing the same suit she had on the first day they met on Air Force One.
You know what, Tony?
What, Kate. Just what is it that you want to tell me?
She snuggled back into the chair with a cute cheery smile. Tony remembered that smile. Kate would use it when she got something her way. Or at least when something didn't go Tony's way.
Tony dropped back into his pillow, smothering his face.
Go away, Kate. Please.
Are you going to talk to a dead person like that, DiNozzo?
Tony replayed the short sound Kate made when she said the z's in his name. Or some s's. It was comforting, but disconcerting. It made it so real, like she really was there.
You're not there, Kate. I can't offend you.
Sure you can.
But you aren't real.
Of course I'm real. You met me. I worked with you for two years. I spent a day with you in isolation when you had the plague. Don't you tell me I'm not real.
Tony closes his eyes and rolled over. She was real. She had been real. But not anymore. Not right now. He opened his eyes and stared at the ceiling, watching the fan spin slowly. Dark hair moved into his line of sight, so he closed his eyes again.
Did you know that when you try and ignore things, you clench your teeth? You should stop doing that.
What, stop ignoring things that aren't there?
No, stop clenching your teeth. It could crack them. Think of the dental bills for all those new crowns.
Thanks for the tip. Can't you leave me alone now?
Kate shook her head and crawled over Tony's still body. She lay down next to him, on her side, propping her head up with her hand. Tony could have sworn he felt the bed move, spreading out under the weight of another person. The sheets seemed to be pulled tauter.
What do you want, Kate? Why are you here?
I'm here because you want me to be here. Just like last time.
Tony rolled onto his side to face her. Tentatively, he reached out to touch her on the shoulder.
He recoiled sharply. He knew what would happen if he tried to touch her. She would leave. But Tony wanted her to leave. But he didn't. He went to touch her again, reaching straight through her. His hand flew through the air with out hitting the person that should have been there. Kate started to grow pale, like she was fading away. She was, Tony realised. Kate's body started to look less solid, and Tony could swear he could see his drawers through her.
Sorry, Kate. I… I didn't mean it.
He reached out again to try and drag her back to reality, or at least the reality he was experiencing for the moment. She disappeared completely; the last expression Tony saw on her face was a tiny glare. Tony whimpered and pulled his arms back to his bare chest, hugging himself. Slowly, he dropped back into his pillow, still lying on his side. He pulled his knees up to his chest, then pushed them away a little. He refused to curl into a ball. No way was she getting the satisfaction of seeing Tony weep like a child. He curled up into a ball again, allowing himself to cry. Kate wasn't there. She couldn't see him. No one would know.
I never thought I'd see the day that I made you cry, Tony.
Tony slowed his breathing, but continued to cry silently into his pillow.
You left me, Kate.
I know. But I came back. I always do now.
Kate now wore a set of dark blue pyjamas, with a Bethesda emblem on the breast. She stroked Tony's back and ran her fingers over his bare skin.
Why can I feel you?
Tony hurt inside. She was teasing him, he was teasing himself.
You just can. Don't worry about it.
She slipped under the sheet and hugged him with one arm. The other arm slid over his shoulder and her fingers knotted into his hair. Tony relaxed his muscles and allowed his legs to fall away from his chest. He wanted to lie with her as long as he could, even though it wasn't real, even though it would hurt even more when she left again. He didn't want to disturb the content silence, but he needed to know something.
Will you always come back? Every year?
Maybe. If you don't forget me.
I can't forget you.
Then why did you say that..
Shut up, Tony.
He did. For once in his life he shared a bed with a woman and didn't want sex. Didn't expect it, nor did he think about it. It was strange. He knew he had never been in love with the girls he dated. He had loved the moment, wanted it to go on, like he wanted a pizza to never end. But he knew that loving someone didn't have anything to do with wanting a longer moment. It was about wanting the moment again. Kate had died too fast. Tony hated to think it, but she was there one second and gone the next. It sounded like a terrible cliché, but it was different. He didn't have the time to tell Kate that he loved her when she was alive.
You have the time now, Tony.
She knew what he was thinking. She was his own thoughts after all.
Oh I'm Caitlyn to you now. Don't do it Tony. Don't change the memory. Get on with it.
Ok, Kate. I loved you. But I don't want to anymore. I don't know what to do with it. I can't hug you, can't kiss you. I can't even tell you to your face.
I know, I know. I know you know! Not helpful, Kate!
Hey don't get angry at me. You are angry at yourself. I am you.
That's the problem.
Kate got up from the bed and walked to the blinds. Light was emanating from the edges, showing that the early morning sun was up. She tugged at the strings and the sun burst into the room. Tony shielded his eyes with his hand, and blinked away the water in his eyes. He could see Kate's silhouette surrounded by blinding light. It looked as though she was an angel, with a halo and the presence of purity.
That's what I thought you should have looked like.
Maybe that's what I do look like. Maybe I did get to go to heaven and become and angel.
I hope so.
She dropped the blinds roughly, and the room fell into darkness again. The light had tattooed shapes into Tony's eyes, leaving the imprint of a bright Kate, surrounded in pure black. He blinked furiously to regain his sight, to remove the painful pictures emblazoned in his vision.
What do you want, DiNozzo?
He could hear her voice close to his ear.
Do you want to stop loving me?
No. Yes. No. Yes. Yes I do. It hurts.
It hurts you to bring me back all the time, but you do it anyway. Why?
For the chance to just see you again.
Can't pictures do the job?
No. Pictures can't touch you. Not like you are now.
Kate was stroking her soft fingers along Tony's stubbled chin. She ran her finger over his forehead, and kissed him lightly where her fingers had just been.
See, Kate? Even in my dreams I still can't bring myself to actually kiss you.
I know. And you know that the real me knew.
Well I just told you, so you do.
She rested her hand on his chest, watching it beat in time with Tony's heart.
I'm going now, Tony.
Do you have to? I still love you. I still want to see you.
No you don't. You haven't seen me in…
She looked over at the clock.
In four years. I think that is enough time, don't you?
He shrugged, the tears threatening to return.
Don't torture yourself anymore Tony. You're not doing anyone, not you, not the real Kate, any favours.
Kate looked at him sadly.
I'll miss this. This was fun. It took you four years after I died to say you loved me. And I was here to hear it.
No you weren't Kate. You're not the real Kate.
Don't be so sure DiNozzo.
She smiled and pulled away from him, fading from sight. As she disappeared, a tiny rim of gold light hovered over her head, like a halo.