"She's not just going to walk in through that door and into your life." The words are echoing around my head like a line from one of my dumb ass movies. She had been wrong of course. Dana did just walk into my life. She was everything that I expected. Beautiful, intelligent, sure of herself. Despite everything. As if it were some kind of dream, she just walked into my life. Then walked right back out again.
Why is it that every time I meet a woman who I can see myself spending more than one night with, the great screenwriter in the sky conspires to keep us apart? And when did more than one night become my aim? Why do I have so many questions these days? Questions but no answers. Questions only bring more questions. Well, I am tired of questions. But I can't stop asking questions because I am afraid of the answers.
When did more than one night become my aim? Well it had not been my intention. My 'task' was to make a woman fall in love with me. Let me into her confidence. Trust me. I did my job very well. Too well. I got myself in too deep. I broke Rule 10 in the biggest way. I got myself so involved that I almost lost my life. And I hurt someone who I had genuinely come to care for. I did not love her. She did not deserve it.
I have thought about her a lot tonight. I guess it was the emotion, the involvement, the sneaking around that brought it all back. Brought back the months of hiding my intentions from my team mates. From one team mate in particular. She knew I was falling into something that I would not be able to get myself out of. She could see me being dragged under and she tried to hold me up but I pushed her away. I shut her out and would not let her help me. She was there for me though. She had my 6 every moment of the year when I spend every moment lying to her. To all of them.
She was there for me today. It was different this time though. It was like she could see right through me. It like she could tell that I needed this. I needed to make the save. I needed for it to turn out ok this time. Nobody gets hurt, nobody almost dies. Of course that is not what happened. That is never how it happens.
I know I scared them today. Hell, I scared myself today. Everything I thought, everything I felt was so intense. It was like there was an invisible force driving me to solve this case. It was as if some magical solution would be released if I could just find Dana and keep her safe. As if it would some how fix me. I know it sounds crazy. I know nothing can 'fix' me and the things I did. The things I let happen. Lying here, the harsh green numbers by my bed shining 0300, and it feels like the last two days were a dream. Someone else's life. A movie.
A movie. Ha, yeah that's it. Ironic, isn't it. That my life would be like a movie. If I had the choice it would be a babe-heavy Bond over a black and white drama. But I guess irony works differently. I hadn't realised how unlike myself I had become yesterday until she stepped up and found my movie for me.
"I'm surprised you did not call me Laura." she said. I tried not to be disappointed that it was her. But I was. I did not think I would ever be disappointed that it was her again but time has dulled that. "1944. Gene Tierney, Dana Andrews." As if I did not know.
I wanted to scream at her. "I KNOW THE FILM. Of course I know the film. I LIVED IT. For four months I lived it. I WAS that detective. I met Laura and she came back to me. YOU came back to me! But it hasn't gone according to the script!" I didn't scream these things at her. Time has dulled it.
"You making a film reference. Go Figure" I had said sarcastically. I don't know why I was trying to hurt her. Maybe I just hoped it would make me feel better.
But she was not put off by me. She could see the signs. She knew that I was getting myself in too deep again. I was Rule 10ing myself again. This time she would give me exactly enough space. Say exactly what should be said.
"Tony, this is a murder investigation, ok? This is not a movie. Dana hutton is missing and may be dead like her brother. She's not just going to walk in through that door and into your life." she said, with just enough emphasis and force to make herself heard.
"She's not just going to walk in through that door and into your life." Around and around in my brain. She's not just going to walk BACK through that door and BACK into your life. How many times had I told myself that? How many times had I tried to force myself believe it. At least three dozen times a day to begin with. Every time I heard the 'ding' of the elevator I would look up, hoping. I didn't even realise I was doing it. I didn't realise how many times I flicked open my phone to check for missed calls that I knew I had not not missed either. McGee saw. McGee saw and McGee knew what I was thinking. How I blamed myself. MeGee and the boss. You can't hide anything in this place.
"She's not just going to walk back through that door and back into your life. This is not a movie." She was wrong about that. Well, not this time. This time it was not a movie. But it had been. It had been an ironic, perfect replica of the exact film she referred to. She was gone. Dead. It was not until that was a reality that I realised how many little things I missed. The way she rolled her neck when she was stressed or tired. The way she wrinkled her nose and tilted her head to the side when she was confused or ticked off at me. The sarcastic little smile she used to show my macho antics did not impress her. The gentle brushing of her arm in the elevator, the truck, on the stairs. The way she leaned closer than she needed to. There were a hundred little things that she did every day and I had gotten used to them all. I had fallen in love with them all.
Then they were gone, and I loved them even more.
She was gone.
And I lost it. I could not control my anger and my guilt. If you ever ask me if I sat around in the dark watching depressing old movies, I will deny it. But you know I did. I don't know how the boss managed to keep me in line as long as he did but eventually I just snapped. I refused to sit back and get on with my life. I wanted revenge. I wanted to look into his cold, dead eyes and spit on his corpse. It would never be enough but it would be a start.
So we went. Not to investigate her murder but to avenge it. Like a crazy western, we rode off into the desert to get ourselves caught by terrorists. Unbelievable! The plan of course was flawless. We played him like a cheap deck of cards. He had us right where we wanted to be. Except for the tiny ace he had up his dirty prison-camp sleeve.
He brought her out and pulled the hood off her head. I was sure I was dreaming. Her face was not 4 feet from me and so real that it had to be a dream. Then she spoke. I fought the serum in my blood and the confusion in my mind. I swear my heart actually stopped beating. She was alive! Nothing else mattered from that point on except getting her out of there and keeping her safe. It was like the guy-version of a happy ending.
My heart was soaring, my adrenaline pumping. I loved her, she was alive. It was all going to be ok. The movie ended. Credits rolled.
Real life came back and the day to day pressed in from all sides. I was afraid again. The things I had realised, the things I had admitted to myself were huge and filled me. But they also seemed somehow small and pale in the light of day. They seemed insignificant next to the things I suspect she has been through. I kept my feelings to myself and the moment passed. I missed my cue.
And I am chicken shit scared.
Scared I will mess up. Scared I will blow the whole thing. If you asked me, if she asked me this I would deny it of course. But I am pretty sure I am in denial. I am bailing water, trying to keep the USS DiNozzo afloat. The USS DiNozzo does not stay in dry dock!
But now it seems that it does. Since I got a taste of what is possible, I have wanted more. Sure it was all fake but it felt good. Safe. Comfortable. It felt like buying a house and growing old. Now I know this is what I want and it terrifies me. And I know who I want it with and that terrifies me even more. I am stuck here, too changed to go back to my old ways and not quite ready, afraid to push too ahead too hard. I waited too long. Too much time has passed. I can't bring it all up now. She is moving on. I am trying to move on. I don't think there is anything that can bring that moment back again.