Kate's Last

They say, the wise men do, that when you die, your life flashes before your eyes. A last remembrance of who you are to see you through to the other side.

There had been no time for that; no time to relive her junior prom, or her twenty-fifth birthday. She didn't recall her promotion to Air Force One, or working for NCIS, which under the circumstances seemed a far more important occurrence in her life.

No, for her, there'd been only the briefest moment to recollect, before Ari's bullet tore through her skull, taking her memories with it.

She was grateful; even for a span of time so infinitesimal that it was immeasurable by mere mortals. She was grateful because something in her had started, not in chronological order, like she'd expected, but with the most important memory:

His laughter. His laugh that was twice as beautiful when he laughed at her.

Her mind had just enough time to conjure up the image of him, his head thrown back, mouth wide open. He leaned back in his chair with his feet propped up on his desk. His hands were laced behind his head, tangled with his thick, dark hair. He wore one of his ridiculously expensive suits, cut to emphasize his resemblance to a young George Peppard.

She didn't know if that moment had ever occurred, precisely the way she remembered, or if the time she'd spent knowing and loving him had allowed her to craft it from an assortment of her favorite memories. She'd never know that answer, but she wasn't upset, so long as she had the memory.

Idly, for there was nothing but idle time in this place, she wondered about the choices that bring us to the place we are, or were, in her case. If she'd never had an affair with Timothy Kerry, she would have been free of her vow to never date a co-worker again. On the other hand, she would not have left The Secret Service, would never have accepted the job at NCIS, and might possibly still be alive.

She also wouldn't have known him. Sometimes, it is impossible to unwind the curses and the blessings in our lives.

Perhaps, she reflected, the knowing and the loving was more important than the having.

Perhaps, if she'd known her career at NCIS, as well as her life, would be cut so short, she wouldn't have made herself stick so stringently to the rules.

Perhaps the love she felt for him wouldn't have been as perfect if it had been acknowledged.

Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps.

The song prompted a new memory; she wore a red dress, he wore a pinstriped suit and fedora. They sambaed in a dark, smoky club, looking deeply into one another's eyes. As the song ended, she leaned forward, her lips near his ear.

"There are two of them, armed," she whispered. The memory dissipated. Had that ever happened? Had they ever danced while undercover, both of them telling themselves they weren't attracted to each other and that they were focused on the job, knowing they were lying to themselves? It was getting harder and harder to tell.

Having led a full life with few regrets made it easier to let go. She regretted that her death was orchestrated solely to bring pain to the people she cared about.

She regretted not having the chance to say goodbye. At least the people who loved her had the opportunity to say goodbye to her. She wished she could watch as they gathered around her remains and fumbled for the right thing to say, or the right gesture to make. She loved them all for the little tokens they would offer up to her memory. She wished she could take them; remembering was becoming more difficult the longer she was separated from them. The only memory that wasn't fading was his laughter.

It was enough see her through to the other side.

Author's Note:

Just a quick little idea I had between classes. I typed it up here in the library, and uploaded it, just for the writing experience. I hope you enjoyed the few minutes it took to read this little one-shot. If you have a moment, please review. I'm always open for constructive criticism; it's how we grow as authors.