DISCLAIMER: NCIS is not mine. However, if in the extremely rare event (that has a 0% chance of happening) that Don B, wants out, I'll be the first in line!
"You coward," Tony cursed himself as he willed his legs to take a single step forward, but they wouldn't budge. For the past half hour, he'd been trying to do it. One little step could cure him; cure the entire world of so many problems.
Peeking over the cliff, he drew in a deep breath as he watched the strong current crashing into the jagged rocks below. "Come on, Anthony! Just do it!" No one was there to hear him yell at himself.
It wasn't like anyone would really miss him. His father would get the news and then simply live on with his life. After a week or two, the team would also forget about him. He'd be replaced just as Kate was. Maybe McGee would get the senior field agent slot. He deserved it. Then there'd be a new probie on the team, and the name Anthony DiNozzo would just be a carving on some slab of rock...if they found his body.
Closing his eyes, Tony pushed forward with all of his weight, losing his balance to gravity. He didn't even feel the impact as his body crashed into the cold water.
A hand lightly slapped Tony's cheek. "Wake up, DiNozzo! Come on, get up!" The voice was vaguely familiar.
"Am I dead?" Tony asked without opening his eyes.
"Then go away," he muttered. "Come back when I'm gone."
"I can't do that, Tony."
Exhaling, Tony opened one eye. His vision was slowly returning from blurry to normal, but even then he shook his head as saw the person kneeling over him.
"Good, you're awake!"
"...Kate?" Ignoring the nausea, Tony sat up. "But...you're dead...?"
"And I'm not?"
Tony laughed to himself. "Oh I get it. I know why you're here."
"Do you?" Kate stood up, folding her arms. "Tell me then."
"You saw me on the cliff."
Kate nodded. "I did. You tried to kill yourself."
Tony held up a hand. "Hold it right there. If you're gonna give me some Catholic speech about--"
"I want to," Kate admitted, "but I'm not here for that."
"What for, then?"
Behind them, a bell rang out. Tony slowly got to his feet, noticing for the first time that they were at some playground by a school. About a hundred or so children were running outside, wearing white polo uniforms with khaki pants.
"Where are we?"
"Weston Elementary School."
Tony's eyebrows rose. "Weston? Why?"
Kate ignored his question. "Come on." She led him around the place, avoiding the running children that were playing tag or catch. "Do you recognize anyone?"
Tony was about to shake his head when he noticed a short blonde. "Hey! That's Jake! Jake Irwin!" He approached the boy, waving his hand, but Jake didn't seem to acknowledge him. "Jake! What's up, man? Jake?"
Kate folded her arms. "Come on, Tony. After all of those movie references you tortured me with, you can't make one now?"
Tony smiled. "A Christmas Carol. Jake can't see me." He continued to observe the boy as he waited in line for a swing. "I haven't seen him since--"
"--you were eleven." Kate finished.
"Yeah. Looks just like I remember him though. We were best friends since pre-school!"
"Oh no!" Tony's heart sank as he heard someone call his friend's name.
"What is it?" Kate watched as Tony searched around for the source of the voice.
Four boys were approaching Jake, who realized they were coming.
"School bullies?" Kate guessed.
"Yeah. Led by the notorious imbecilic idiot, Henry." Tony pointed towards the tallest one with medium black hair.
Jake took off running, abandoning his spot in line.
"Where you goin'?" Henry laughed. The four of them chased after him.
"Come on." Tony led Kate, running after the boys. With his longer legs, he was able to keep up easily.
Henry and his brothers tripped Jake, letting him fall to the ground. They circled him, laughing.
"What's wrong, Jakey?" Henry taunted. "Don't wanna say hi to me?"
"Go away, dirtbag!" Henry yelled.
"That's no way to treat your superiors!" One of the brothers yelled.
Henry laughed. "Hold him down, guys!"
"No!" Jake struggled against the boys, kicking out and moving his arms. "Help! Help!"
"Why isn't anybody helping him?" Tony demanded. He waved his arms around at an adult supervisor, trying to get their attention. "Hey! Help him! He's about to get slammed! Are you blind!" He looked at Kate. "They're not doing anything!"
Kate sighed. "Don't you remember, Tony? This is your memory."
A dark-haired boy tackled Henry into the dirt. They rolled around, getting grass stains and dirt onto their white shirts. They stopped when Henry was on his back and the boy was sitting on top of him, holding him down.
"No way," Tony whispered.
"You were so cute, Tony!" Kate exclaimed. "Now, you're..."
"Get off of me, DiNozzo!" Henry yelled.
"Not until you learn to leave people alone, you imbecilic idiot!"
Kate rolled her eyes. "Wow, Tony."
"Guys!" Henry yelled. "Get him off me!"
The Paxtons left Jake and pulled little Tony off of their brother. They pulled him back, holding him in front of Henry.
"You stupid DiNozzo!" "Stupid!" "Idiot!"
Little Tony didn't even struggle against the other boys. He just stared up at Henry; his emerald eyes full of hate and anger. He spat at Henry's feet. "One day, you're gonna learn that you're truly an imbecilic idiot, Henry. And I'll be the one to prove it to you."
The boys laughed and began pushing little Tony around in a circle. When an adult supervisor came at them, yelling, they pushed him down and ran off.
Everything around them froze.
"Is that it?"
Kate nodded, hesitating for a moment. "That's it. Do you remember what happened afterwards?"
"I didn't check, Tony. I want you to tell me."
Tony inhaled. "My dad was furious for fighting with the Paxtons. Mr. Paxton was one of my dad's business associates. He withdrew after today."
"That's all your dad cared about?"
"But what about the fact that you were bullied as a child?"
"Is that uncommon?" Tony asked.
"No, it's just--"
"I'm not like Henry. I don't bully McGee."
"But the way you've always acted--"
"I put away people like that." Tony explained. "During my first year as a cop, I put Henry away for anything I could pin on him. Why would I wanna be like them?"
"You tell me. They're selfish, rude, cruel---"
"Have I been like that?"
"What did you kust do before you woke up with me, Tony? You tried to kill yourself! You're crazy in thinking that nobody will miss you! Of course they will! After you left for Rhode Island, Jake was the daily target for the Paxtons until he moved away in the tenth grade! He missed you!"
"Let's just move on," Tony pleaded. "How're we gonna do this? Are we gonna fly through time or what?"
"It doesn't always worked like that, Tony. Besides, I'm done for now."
Tony gave her a sad look. "You're leaving?"
"You don't want me to?"
"Of course not!" He reached out for her hand, but went right through it. "But you're a ghost...you're not real. I'm probably just imagining all of this."
Kate gave her friend a sad smile. "People never forget a special person that touched their lives, Tony. Think about that, okay? Promise me?"
Tony sighed, blinking back a few tears. "I promise." He kept his eyes closed, no wanting her to see him cry. Just blinking them back wasn't going to stop them this time. When he opened his eyes, a little girl was standing in front of him.
Her big blue eyes were staring up at him, and she was smiling. "Hi." She held out her hand.
"...You can see me?"
"Of course I can!"
"But...oh, you're a ghost!" Tony took her small hand in his, surprised that he could hold onto it.
The little girl laughed. "Are you ready to leave this place, Mr. DiNozzo?"
Tony nodded. "It's Tony. Yeah, let's get outta here."
"Okay." The little girl didn't move. She only continued looking up at him.
Then slowly, the scenery around them began to fade. The school disappeared along with the frozen familiar faces. It all disappeared until the two of them were standing in an empty, white room.
Tony laughed. "Where are we, the mental ward of Bethesda?"
The little girl shook her head. "No. We're not there yet."
The white room quickly morphed into a lively bar with beautiful waitresses passing out drinks, loud music, dancing, and drinking.
Tony jumped when he saw where they were. "Aren't you a little too young to be in a bar?"
The girl laughed. "I'm not really here!"
"Oh yeah." Tony joined in her laughter. "I forgot. But what're we doing here?" He saw the bar name on a glass cup full of beer. "Jackson's Place? I've never been here before!"
"Look!" The girl pointed at six people huddled in a booth at the far corner of the room. "Recognize them?"
Tony followed her finger, slouching when he saw the familiar faces of Gibbs, Ducky, McGee, Palmer, Abby, and Ziva. "This is the present, right?" He asked.
"Yes." The girl led him by the hand to the table, standing before it. "Look how much they're talking."
"Yeah. Because I'm not there," Tony added.
"McGee, did you get Tony on his cell?" Gibbs asked.
"Uh, no. It goes straight to voicemail, Boss."
"Maybe he was feeling sick?" Abby guessed. "After Palmer caught that bug, everyone's been calling in."
"Hey! It was a slight cold!"
Ducky laughed. "It was more than that, Mr. Palmer."
"You probably got Tony sick!" Ziva said. "He was looking kind of...blue today."
Tony smiled, looking down at the girl. "She gets things wrong alot."
"Sick people don't look blue, Ziva," McGee said.
"They're either green, or really red," Abby added.
"Maybe we should go check on him then?" Gibbs suggested.
"You sure we should bother him?" Ducky asked. "What if the poor boy wants to be left alone?"
"Thank you, Ducky!" Tony said. He felt a light slap on his arm.
"We can go now. Come on." Abby pulled everyone out of the booth, slamming down a tip on the table. "Let's go."
The bar scene froze.
"I don't see what I'm supposed to get," Tony admitted. "Can you please tell me?"
The little girl sat him down at the empty booth. "This is the bar down the street from NCIS."
"And so now, they're going to your apartment."
The girl waited for him to piece things together. "Do you get it?"
Tony thought for a moment. "Just because they think I'm sick, doesn't mean anything."
"Think, Tony. When they go to your house, they're gonna take the street that you always take. The one that goes by the cliff....where your car currently is...where you left it."
"Are they there now?"
The scenery morphed into the empty, dark cliffside where Tony's car was waiting to be found.
"I jumped already?"
"Yes." The girl pointed. "There's the team."
Tony watched as two cars came to a stop beside his car. Every one was stepping out once they realized it was Tony's car.
"Tony!" Abby yelled. "Tony? You okay?"
The six of them neared the empty vehicle.
"Boss, I don't see him!" McGee yelled. The panic in his voice was clearly heard. "The car's empty!"
Gibbs brought over a flashight from his car. "Hey! DiNozzo!" He waved it around, trying to find his senior field agent. "Where are you?"
Everyone else joined in the shouting.
Abby looked like she would cry soon."What if he's unconscious? What if he fell?"
"He wouldn't fall, Abigail," Ducky assured her. "He's not clumsy."
"Hate to disagree with you there, Ducky," Tony whispered, watching Abby panic.
"Tony!" Abby called out again. "Come on! Come here!"
"Why do you put your team down?" The girl suddenly asked. Her eyes were wet with tears that were collecting together. She looked up at him, waiting for an answer.
The question caught him off guard. "It's the truth. They don't know me. They don't understand--"
"Then talk to them!" The girl cried. "You said so yourself many times that these people are your family! You never put family down! You never...screw them over!"
Tony's eyes widened. "Screw 'em over? Wait, what's--"
"And why would you want to die? Huh?" The girl leaned against Tony's car, wiping away her falling tears. "Who would wanna leave such a great family behind?"
Tony felt an immediate pang of guilt. It was easier in front of Kate, but this was a little girl he didn't even know! Quietly, he went next to her, leaning against his car as well.
The girl sniffed. "When I died...I left someone behind... ...but I had no choice to stay or go. My mommy said that it wouldn't always be like that. She said I'd get to see my daddy again."
"Daddy?" Tony asked.
"And now, " the girl continued. "You're about to break his heart."
"Gibbs! I found him!" Ziva yelled from the cliff.
"Wait, who's your--Is it Gibbs? Gibbs is your dad? Are you Kelly?" Tony looked up at his boss, who was rushing over towards Ziva. He pushed past everyone else who was there, shining his flashlight below into the cold waters.
"There!" Ziva pointed at a small silhouette bobbing up and down in the cold waves.
"DiNozzo!" Gibbs shouted. "Tony!"
Tony ran over to watch with them. He saw Abby's face buried in her hands, the sound of her bawling made him sway. "Abby? Abs?" He reached for her. "I'm right here. Don't worry. I'm here!"
"She can't hear you," Kelly said. "Remember?"
Tony waved his arms wildly in front of his team. "Guys! I'm here! Probie, help Abby! Hey!"
"I'm going in after him!" Gibbs decided, dumping his flashlight into Palmer's hand.
"Jethro, the water's much to cold!" Ducky insisted. "And it's a miracle that Tony survived the fall. Look at all of those rocks at the bottom!"
"I don't care, Duck!" Gibbs said, searching for a spot where he could jump in. "Right now, he needs help. He needs us! I'm not about to let him be alone!"
Tony watched helplessly as Gibbs dove into the water. After he disappeared, the scene froze. "Wait, what happened? What happened!? Is he okay?" He turned to Kelly, but she was gone. "Kelly! Hey! Is he okay?"
"I wouldn't be so sure," a thick accent replied.
Tony turned at the thick accent. Anger boiled in his veins when he saw the familiar face that he hoped never to see again. "Ari."
"It's Agent Tony DiNozzo," Tony corrected bitterly. "What the hell are you doing here? I don't care about you. Go away!"
"I can't do that." Ari walked closer, smiling. "And you can't hurt me. I'm already dead."
Tony smiled. "I'm glad Gibbs got you."
Ari nodded. "Too bad he didn't get you in time."
"What?" Tony hadn't realized that the scenery had changed once more, into a cemetery. It was now morning, and the sun was out, shining on a wooden casket carried by four men. "Is this my--"
"Gibbs got to you, but you were already gone."
As the casket got closer, Tony could see who was carrying it: Gibbs, Palmer, McGee, and Ducky.
"Put it down right here," the pastor instructed.
"Wait, how come there's a pastor?" Tony asked Ari. "It was suicide."
"The team wanted you to be put to rest properly. Ducky made your death look like you were killed in an accident when a truck whammed your car off the cliff."
Tony swallowed. "He did that?"
"Yes. Look at him now."
Gibbs was standing beside the pastor, in the spot where his father should've been standing. "I met Tony when he was just a cop in Baltimore." He smiled. "I was investigating the death of a Marine, and Tony was ordered to keep me out of the loop...But Tony knew better." Gibbs laughed. "I think he broke every rule that his chief set for him, and so I hired him. Not because he broke rules, but because I saw the spirit he had. He was willing to go all the way to catch the bad guy. Not once have I ever regretted taking him with me in the field....He...a-always had my back..." He looked down at the closed casket. "I'm sad to say that I didn't have his..."
Tony was deeply engrossed in the eulogy, he didn't care about the tears rolling down his cheeks. "Gibbs...cares?"
Ari stood beside him. "What do you think? Do you think he just made all of that up to say at your funeral? No...he meant that."
"And look around. Look who else has wet eyes." Ari pointed out.
Tony rotated, looking at everyone who was present: Gibbs, Ziva, Ducky, McGee, Abby, Palmer, Vance, other NCIS agents, Cynthia, the NCIS mail delivery guy, some neighbors he thought always hated him, the little boy who ding-dong-ditched his house every week, some cousins he hadn't seen in years, Jacob Irwin, some agents from previous jobs, Fornell, Kort...
"That's...alot of people," Tony admitted. "Wow."
"See? You were cared about, and it took your death for you to realize it." Ari sighed. "Do not be like me, Tony."
"Don't worry. I don't plan on it."
"No.....My father raised me to be a double agent...he never showed me the love a father should show his son."
"I gotcha on that," Tony put in.
Ari continued. "I hurt many people, you included...and I have realized my errors...but if I could go back, I'd tell Ziva I was sorry."
"I betrayed her trust. She was my little sister. She and Tali were the only ones who treated me like a person...and I still chose to go down the wrong path and give in to my father's wishes. You, on the other hand, have the option."
Tony was watching the funeral continue. "How's that?"
"You can go back. You have a chance to undo all of this."
Ari turned to leave. "By living. Live your life, Tony. Go back and live it. I'm sorry."
The funeral faded away along with the bright sun. In a flash, the sky was covered with layers of thick gray clouds. The wind picked up violently, chilling Tony's skin to the bones. Instead of a sheet of rain falling, the sky opened with no abandon. It literally dropped an oceans-worth of water at a single time, engulfing Tony in it.
Tony opened his eyes, gasping in for a breath of sweet air. He looked around, confused. He was still in the water. He was alive!
On the cliff, he could see a beam of light scanning the water around him.
"DiNozzoooooooo!" He heard Abby yell. "Tooooooooonnnnnyyyy!"
Treading water, Tony yelled back. "I'm here! Guys, I'm here! I'm back!"
"Gibbs!" He heard Ziva yell. "There he is!"
Tony felt the strong beam of light hit him on the face. Fighting against the current, he swam back towards shore, knowing there had to be at least one place he could get up to by the cliff. At a rough estimate, he guessed he was probably around a hundred meters away.
As he reached the rocks after what must've been ten long minutes, Tony pulled himself out of the water, shivering as the cool air hit him. In minutes, the team had arrived down there.
Before anyone had the chance to say anything, Tony pulled everyone into a hug, not caring that he got them wet. "I'm sorry."
A/N: So, what'd you think? I'm trying not to post new stories until they're done. That being said, I'm finishing my old stories so I can post them up at a single time.