Standard disclaimers apply.
Kate twisted the split ends of her hair between her fingers as she watched Ziva. The Mossad agent was talking with McGee while they waited for Gibbs to come out of the Director's office, lean over the railing and tell them they could go home. Kate's eyes narrowed and she said, "She'll do."
A grin stretched across Tony's teeth, making the swollen skin over his frontal bone ache. "You'll do," he paraphrased. "Gibbs said that."
Ziva turned around. "Did you say something Tony?"
"I finished my report," Tony said, standing and throwing a packet of papers onto Gibbs' desk. "Have you filed your paperwork?"
"Yes," answered Ziva.
"Don't be stupid Tony," answered Kate.
Tony sat on the edge of his desk, and kicked his Italian leather heels against the wood. Kate stood in front of the plasma screen, looking more like a projection than a person.
"What are you looking at, Tony?" asked McGee.
"The plasma screen."
"It's turned off."
"I know," Tony said absentmindedly. "Do you think the Director would let us watch a movie in MTAC again? I want to watch A Beautiful Mind," he looked at Kate. "Or Fight Club."
"Fight Club is a classic," said Abby, coming out of the elevator. "This first rule of Fight Club is..."
"You think any movie with a Pixie's song in the soundtrack is a classic," said Tony. "1999 by David Fincher. Starring Edward Norton, Helena Bonham Carter and Brad Pitt." Tony paused. "I have a lot in common with Tyler Durden. We both want to change the world. We both have strong jaw bones."
"The suspect hit you harder than I thought," said Gibbs, coming down the staircase behind Kate.
Tony smiled his best movie star smile, "You don't think I look like Brad Pitt, Boss?"
"I think you're crazy, Dinozzo. Have you finished your paperwork?"
"It's on your desk."
"Then get out of here," Gibbs said.
Ziva picked up her SIG Sauer, and McGee started pulling on his overcoat as he walked towards the elevator. Abby followed McGee, but Tony forgot to move because he was watching Kate. She didn't have a gun or a coat. She didn't have anything but the clothes she'd been wearing the last time Tony saw her. White pants, a black shirt. She wasn't wearing her bullet proof vest, but the red beaded rosary she had been buried with hung around her neck.
"Dinozzo," said Gibbs. "How's your head?"
"I'm fine," said Tony, standing up and reaching for his coat.
"Do you have a headache? Nausea? Double vision?"
"No concussion, Boss. I blacked out for less than a minute."
Gibbs didn't answer and Tony didn't meet his eyes. Instead he said, "Did you know that a movie screen is dark in between each frame of film? For every hour of film you watch, you're sitting in darkness for twenty minutes."
"No," Gibbs said. "I didn't know that. Go home, Tony. Get a good night's sleep."
Kate leaned against the metal wall of the elevator and lifted the rosary from her collarbone so that the fluorescent lights overhead shone through the beads and tinted her skin rose.
"How is this going to end?" Tony asked.
Kate didn't look up. "Sick of me already?"
"Liar," she accused.
"There's no difference, Dinozzo."
In his car, Tony said, "In The Sixth Sense, the audience didn't know Bruce Willis was a ghost until the end of the film, but I saw you die." He repeated his question. "How is this going to end?"
"This isn't a movie," she said.
Tony didn't answer.
"If it was a movie, it wouldn't be The Sixth Sense. I'm not a ghost. You have peduncular hallucinosis."
"Cause by temporary damage to the midbrain and the pons," said Tony, laughing. "I dated a doctor."
"I'm an anthropomorphic manifestation of your psychological issues, Dinozzo. I know everything you know," she said.
"Then what am I thinking right now?" Tony asked, crossing his arms.
"You're imagining me naked again."
"Good guess," he said.
"You look like hell, Dinozzo."
"Good to see you too, Boss," said Tony, sitting down, and hitting the power button on his computer. Kate sat on the floor, in front of his desk. She crossed her legs underneath her body.
"He's right," she said helpfully.
Tony didn't argue with either of them. Kate had kept him awake all night, talking about nothing he could remember. He was lying. Acting.
He remembered Kate talking about dust.
"If you dust in a circular motion, you won't leave streaks," she had said, looking at his coffee table. Tony didn't even drink coffee.
"You can clean my apartment if you want to," said Tony. He stepped over the DVD cases that littered his floor. He hadn't been expecting company. His mother had taught him that it's polite to call before you visit someone.
"I couldn't call you, Tony," Kate had said, straightening the pillows on his couch. "There's no telephone in your midbrain."
He remembered Kate talking about religion.
He had ignored her, out of habit, until she had said, "God."
He had laughed. "God is as bad as I am," he had said. "He's making everything up off the top of his head. He doesn't have a concept of plot, his characters are one dimensional and he needs a ghost writer."
"Tony," she had said.
"Ghost writer," he had laughed again. "Get it?"
"I told you, I'm not a ghost."
"Yeah, yeah, yeah," he had looked away. "Peduncular hallucinosis. Yeah, whatever."
She had kept him awake all night, but she didn't have shadows under her eyes, she didn't have a bruised forehead, she didn't have a bullet hole in her face.
Tony looked up and saw Gibbs watching him.
"How are you feeling, Dinozzo?" Gibbs repeated.
"Bored," Tony said. "Do you think we'll get a case today? I'm not saying I want someone to die, but a theft or drug deal would be nice."
Gibbs didn't answer. After a minute of silence the elevator doors opened, and Ziva stepped into the office, followed by McGee.
Tony bent over his paperwork, and wrote for a minute or an hour or twenty minutes of darkness. He didn't open his mouth because he didn't want to talk to Kate. He couldn't see her over the piles of folders stacked on his desk, but he could still hear her.
"What are you doing?" she asked.
"Ignoring you," Tony lied. Acted.
"What?" Ziva asked.
"I was thinking out loud," Tony said. "I'm trying to construct a psychological profile of a cold case suspect."
"Don't you think you're the one who needs a psychologist, Dinozzo?" asked Kate.
"Do you need help?" asked Ziva.
"No," Tony said to both of them.
After Kate's laughter died away, the only sounds were the movement of paper and the compression of computer keys. The soundtrack of minutiae stretched across the agents' desks, filling the almost empty space between them. Kate uncrossed her legs and crossed them again.
"Yeah," said Tony. "Yeah, I need help. I'm bad at psychology. Kate is the profiler."
The soundtrack altered as McGee stopped typing. "What?" he asked.
"I said, Kate was the profiler."
McGee's fingers didn't move.
"What was the suspect's relationship with the victim?" asked Ziva.
Tony didn't answer.
"It is a murder case, is it not?"
"He worked with her," said Tony.
Gibbs put down the folder he had been reading.
"Was he interrogated?" asked Ziva.
"Yes, but he lied. Acted."
"How did he act?" Ziva asked, narrowing her eyes in confusion.
"Angry," Kate suggested.
"Angry," Tony agreed.
"With the victim?"
He stood on the rooftop and said, "You did good," to the almost empty air. His last words to Kate. "You did good."
"You didn't," she said.
He stood on the ground, in front of her grave.
"Go away, Kate," he said.
"I am not Kate," he heard, and he turned to see Ziva standing behind him.
"You followed me?" he asked.
Kate didn't say anything.
He stood in the office, behind the staircase, off stage. Every time he entered a room, the people in it stopped talking. Tony was getting his cues mixed up. He wasn't going to win an Academy Award for Best Liar. Actor.
Kate asked him, "Is Ziva a good agent?"
"She's better than me," he said.
"Could she have saved me?"
Tony punched Kate in the face, and he saw his knuckles hit her mouth, but instead of feeling teeth and lips he felt the wall behind her. Tony would not have hurt Kate if someone shoved a gun in his face, but this wasn't Kate, and this wasn't a movie. This was his head, and as a rule, getting hit in the head was good for Tony.
"Dinozzo," said Gibbs.
Tony turned around and saw Gibbs, Ziva and McGee standing behind him, looking at his hand. His knuckle bones had broken the flesh and rose abrasions were framed by discolored skin that was going to bruise.
"I know what this looks like," said Tony, smiling his best movie star smile. "But the wall started it."
Tony sat on the edge of his desk, and Gibbs stood in front of him, wrapping his knuckles in gauze. Tony didn't know where Ziva and McGee were. Gibbs' calloused hands were careful, holding Tony's wrist as he wound the bandage. Tony's pulse under his fingers.
"It was my fault," Tony said.
Gibbs didn't have to ask what he was talking about.
Tony took a breath and said, "I should have died. I was on the roof with her. She had already taken one bullet for you, and," he laughed, more out of habit than anything else, "That's the Senior Field Agent's job."
"I was on the roof with her, too," Gibbs said in a sotto voice. "Should I have died?"
"There is," Gibbs said, holding Tony's wrist, his pulse, his heartbeat in his hands, "No difference between you and me."
"Go to MTAC," said Gibbs.
"Does the Director want to talk to me?"
"No. The Director is out of the country. Go to MTAC."
Kate was waiting for Tony in MTAC. She was on the screen, in two dimensions, interrogating a suspect.
"This is a movie," Tony said.
"Yes," Ziva answered.
Tony sat down next to the Mossad agent. He looked at her profile, flickering in the light of the movie screen. He said, "She shouldn't have died." He said, "She was young, and beautiful, and too smart to believe a single word that came out of my mouth."
"Did you love her, Tony?"
Kate sat down on his other side. She asked him, "Did you love me, Tony?"
"No," Tony said, not lying. Not acting. "But I could have."
Kate left MTAC, closing the door behind her. Tony, and Ziva watched the movie for a minute or an hour or twenty minutes of darkness.