A/N: I tossed this together while watching Judgement Day and waiting for my internet to decide to work again. Which sucks majorly, the fact the Internet is not working. *Sigh.* On a lighter note, if you're in the mood for something not Tiva (shocker, I know) I am co-writing a piece with Weasley's Revenge called The Problem With The Day, featuring Jibbs. So "bop" on over there if you like. :^) Kit.
DISCLAIMER: I have suckish Internet connection, not NCIS. Guess which I would rather have? If you guessed not the suckish Internet, you would be correct.
Tell Me Because There Is Not Enough Time
Tony: She died alone.
Ziva: We are all alone.
Tony: Yeah. Thanks for that. . . . I just mean, she never got married, never had any children. I never even heard her talk about it.
Tony: Paris . . . . That's when it must have happened.
Ziva: The two of them alone, in another world. . . .
Tony: Putting their lives in each others hands, every day.
Ziva: Not to mention the long nights.
Tony: It was inevitable.
Ziva: Nothing is inevitable.
The digital clock on the side table is blinking 3:36, the green numbers seeming so malignant in the news that they bear. The time they reveal, glowing softly, tauntingly.
My flight leaves at noon.
And his flight departs in five hours, a handful of time, really. And it's not enough. But it never is, is it? Never enough time to say everything that needs to be spoken, to touch everything that begs to be touched. Never enough time to grieve from a fallen friend, laid to rest not but twelve hours earlier.
There was not enough time for Jenny.
There is not enough time for me.
Or Abby. Or McGee. Or Ducky or Gibbs.
Gibbs. I know in my heart that he loved her, and I know how much she loved him. Because when the nights stretched on under a hot Egyptian moon, when the stakeouts grew tedious and traveling from points A to B stretched into countless hours, we would talk. And she would speak of him, her partner, the one that she so foolishly let go. And I do not think she ever forgave herself for that, the pain she caused her dear John. The haunting of the what ifs.
The haunting what ifs.
Haunting. I suppose that's what it comes down to. Lingering memories of unspoken promises, unasked questions, undreamed dreams. Hopes falling silent because time ran out and almost exceeded almost.
And then inevitability won out, just like it always does.
Tony shifts beside me, his hand seeking mine in the dim darkness of his living room. We're on his couch, the same couch that survived a summer of movies and pizza and teasing, the same couch that was always available when a case ran too long and I was too tired and my own apartment too far away.
He sits up, his thigh brushing my shin, his fingers skimming ankle. I uncurl myself from my end of the sofa, not bothering to straighten out my dress, indifferent of the wrinkles that I'm sure have creased themselves on the fabric of my dress.
Funeral clothes, I realize. We're still in our funeral clothes. I'm still in my black dress, Tony's still in his pressed pants and starched shirt. His tie is still loose around his neck, a grim noose.
I sit quietly next to him, our shoulders touching, fingers entwined. And I don't know if it is because we are partners and have been for the past three years, or if it is because we were both there, equally responsible for a death we had nothing to do with. The loss of a friend, of a leader. A fearless and valuable woman. But here we sit, he and I, two partners equally innocent, equally guilty, side by side.
I've said my goodbyes to McGee, my accent thick and voice wavering, as I thanked him profusely for everything he had done for me, siding with me, accepting me, shaving several minutes off my daily commute. And I've said my goodbyes to Abby, wiping away the tears that trail down her pale cheeks, streaks of black mascara and sorrow. I hugged her and held her and she hugged me, so very hard it hurt, but that was okay.
I said goodbye to Gibbs, but I didn't say a word. I didn't need to because he knew. He always knew. And he brushed the tear off my cheeks with his thumb, pressing a kiss to my temple. Telling me to be good, to be brave, to please be safe. Ziver.
I have been saying goodbye to Tony now for the past five hours, sitting in the dark with him, silent. But our silence speaks volumes as it always does.
And I will miss this. This comforting homey feeling that had been glaringly absent. This wholeness. Him.
He startles me, his fingers brushing my cheek in the darkness, his palm, rough and warm on my face. I turn to him, tilting my head, reaching out to touch him in turn. My hand caressing his face, the coarseness of the stubble shadowing his jaw. His skin is damp under my fingertips and my own eyes well up.
But I refuse to cry anymore and blink them rapidly back.
"Crying isn't a sign of weakness," he tells me, my words of an earlier hour echoing from his lips. But what he says next is utterly genuine and totally his own: "It's a sign of being human."
And a single traitor tear breaches its barrier, slipping silently down my face. Followed by another. And another. And another. And another. Saline droplets trekking down my cheeks, rolling off my chin, falling wetly on my lap.
And then Tony's thumb brushes across my cheeks again, one then the other, wiping the tears that have washed down my face.
And he takes a shaking breath and I know we are both grieving, wounds of loss wide and raw and open, and our pain is communal, a shared current connecting us. So I lean forward and bury my nose in the crook of his neck, slackening against his chest, weeping silently into his shoulder, the wetness of my tears seeping through his shirt. And his arms wrap loosely around my waist and we're clinging to each other because at this moment in time we are the other's only constant in our continuously revolving world -our world which at the moment is spinning counterclockwise.
"Tell me," he whispers softly. "Tell me anything. Anything at all, anything about you. I never asked Jenny, never asked Kate. Never really mattered to me, I guess. But right, right now it seems so damn important to know. . . . Jenny never talked about the life she lived before I new her. . . . She never had a family of her own, you know? She had Gibbs, sometime, but then what? I don't know. I just don't know." He is rambling because he is so lost and the future is so imminent.
The sad thing is he is right. I have no idea what Jenny ever wanted. Or Ari. Nor do I know what Tony wants or Gibbs, or even McGee. And I'll never know. Because I never asked. Because it never mattered. Because once upon a time I kept my distance, remaining detached, avoiding dependency and staying aloof. Because my independence and detachment and distance kept emotional bond from forming, kept unnecessary pain at bay. . . . I had been foolish and naïve in thinking that these things, these seemingly inconsequential facts about people who should mean nothing to me, would remain as so.
But Jenny is gone with more questions than answers and it hurts so very much.
"I fight for peace, Tony. For the well-fare of my friends, my country. I do what I do so my children might live the life I never had. And I did want a family, maybe I still do, someday, but now I do not think that is possible . . . . I want to find a home somewhere, Tony. A permanent home. Maybe. I honestly do not know. . . . My favorite color is green because green symbolizes life and that is something that seems so absent as of late. And I had a cat when I lived in Ramat Aviv. I was terrified of the dark when I was little. And I want to go to Hawaii, where it's warm and sunny and far away," my voice was hoarse from crying, but soft, my breath fanning across his neck. And I told him these things so that when I boarded that plane in a few hours I would not be so alone.
Jenny never came back from Los Angeles.
And I may never come back from Israel. But at least now someone knows, at least now my dreams and memories will not end with just me.
And Anthony DiNozzo is my partner and I have nothing to give him that will last. So I lend him this little bit of knowledge so when we never meet again, he'll know. He'll know what he never got the chance to know with Jenny, with Kate.
Because time is fleeting and never enough.