Title: Maybe He'd Fade Into The Background

Summary: Merry Chrimbo/Happy New Year, Al (FadeIntoTheBackground), sorry I'm so late, and it's not the greatest quality ever. Tony has been injured, his colleagues have drifted away, and he is left to lament.

Disclaimer: I won nothing but half of an insinuated Lisa.

A/N: *laughs manically* this can be taken as Teanne, Tisa (high-five, Hayley?), or Tiva, 'fraid, Tate and Taula are ruled out by... well, spoilers

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Special agent Anthony DiNozzo sat at his desk feeling - as he only too often did these days - useless. There was great tumult around him, typical of the federal agency main office. People yelling instructions back and forth, Doctor James Palmer bemoaning the fact that some people do not appreciate that certain tasks take time, agents grabbing their badges and weapons and chasing after their 'boss' in a rush. DiNozzo remembered when he had been a part of all that. Not now. Now he was left here to rot. Lame and useless but with nowhere better to be. It seemed like a hundred years since Gibbs had retired; since Ziva had left; since McGee's move to Los Angeles where Abby had eventually followed.

Nostalgia.

What was the reason he was still in this job despite being utterly immobile?

It reminded him of those times.

Of the endless teasing of Timothy McGee, the flirtatious banter with Kate Todd and Ziva David, of Abby's hugs and Ducky's stories. Maybe... perhaps, if he stayed long enough it would all come back to him, he laughed bitterly.

Maybe he could read extracts of Gemcity's latest literary exploit, pointing out where it differed from the 'true story' with Ziva's assistance. Maybe it would not be the ever stressed Doctor Palmer who checked upon his mental well-being, but the staple-stealing Doctor Mallard. Maybe when Kate distracted him into making some inadvisable comment, Gibbs' hand would crack around the back of his skull. Maybe Ziva would smile with that mischievous glint, which made Tony uncomfortably nervous, across the bullpen. Or maybe, he slammed his desk in frustration, gaining only an aching hand and a worried look from a young agent nearby, someone might e-mail him. It was like the moment he had had his accident he had begun to fade into the background. People became embarrassed to talk with him... they found it awkward. The braver told him he had changed. McGee, once in a blue moon, would send an e-mail with a standard layout – work, needs advice on a case, book idea, and a film he had seen recently that Tony should 'check out' - Gibbs and Ducks were no longer in a position in which they were capable of making even the most feeble attempt at contact. The only one who visited, who brightened up his inbox on a regular basis was his former forensic scientist. She sent photos and news of her family, an Abbified account of day-to-day life. She would even come down once a month; every couple of months perhaps. The accident had changed him more than physically. They were right. He was a shadow of the Tony DiNozzo who had once occupied this spot.

That Tony DiNozzo had been the epitome of 'full-of-life', grasped every second he could and jumped at every chance for something new. Tony DiNozzo would have been doing, not pining a life that he had once had. That Tony DiNozzo had been a 'player, and that Tony DiNozzo had someone to love.

Behind him a dark haired woman stood watching the crippled agent staring in fury at the air before him. And as she looked at him; she did not see a wheelchair, she did not see a shadow.

She saw Tony.

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A/N2: And the winds blow, Hayley. Thanks to OutCold, for sorting some of this over MSN for me and sending it to me.