Author: dizzy - in - the - izzy
Disclaimer: I do not own anything you recognize.
Summary: With five stages of grief to go through, it takes a while to finally reach acceptance.
A/N: So, I had this idea about three days ago, and I honestly wanted to write something that didn't have a typical 'happy ending' and stuff. I also wanted to write something non-fluffy and semi-sad, so this is what came about. It follows the team, so no specific character is marked, and has slight shippings (well, maybe not slight for one, but whateves'). Each stage of grief is marked by a quote in italics and a break line. Just so you know. (...) is a break in time.
A few things before you read:
One, I tried to keep this story as factual as possible. I used own personal experience and Google to help me with this, because I wanted to keep it as real as possible.
Two, this story takes place over about seven months. I added in some time markers in the story, and they should help to indicate time and place. This honestly just floats in time.
Warning: Cancer, character death, and just all around saddness. Can't say you weren't warned.
Denial is not a river in Africa.
The team sat around the phone, listening as Ziva spoke. They couldn't believe their ears, so they were silent. She sounded just enough in control of her emotions, and everyone knew if they said anything that slight control would fail. Gibbs told her she didn't need to rush to get back, as their cases were being diverted to another team. They heard her take a deep breath, and then she said her good-bye. The all too familiar click rang over the speakerphone, and Abby pressed the off button.
Everyone looked around, trying to gauge each other's reactions. There was a silent understanding that no one would say anything. And no one did. No one even made a sound. They all stared at each other, wondering what to do. Sometime during their staring, Abby had begun to cry. Her silent tears fell down her face, and she didn't move to wipe them away. Palmer and McGee looked at each other, and then put their arms around Abby.
It wasn't until Vance walked down to tell them all to go home that they began to talk. In fact, right after Vance began to speak Abby's voice was audible.
"This isn't real." She mumbled, pinching her arm. Her tears made it hard to pinch the skin, and McGee gently pulled her hands away from her body. He held them both in one hand, silently telling her she wasn't dreaming. Palmer let go of Abby now, allowing his shoulders to slump and his head to hang.
"This isn't happening!" Abby's voice scared everyone on the floor, and McGee didn't even try to hold her still. She got up, marching over to the elevator. She disappeared inside, and it didn't take a genius to figure out the elevator wasn't going far.
"Tony can't have lung cancer." Palmer said quietly, and Ducky put his hand on his friends back. No one said anything to challenge Palmer's statement. Gibbs shook his head, getting up slowly. He suddenly felt old, and tired. He could see it in Ducky's eyes as well.
"McGee, go wait for Abby to reemerge from the elevator. Make sure she doesn't hurt herself."
Gibbs knew Abby wouldn't do anything on purpose, but just to be safe…
McGee moved over to the elevator, leaving his spot next to his boss's desk. He leaned his body against the wall, letting his eyes shut. He could hear, somewhere in the elevator shaft, Abby crying, but he couldn't get to her. He felt bad. Now, more than ever, it seemed, she needed someone to comfort her. He didn't try to get to her though, because if she wanted to be alone, he'd let her.
On the other hand, he wished she were in the middle of the bullpen, denying it. He couldn't believe it himself.
Tony… lung cancer?
Taking a deep breath, McGee tried to steady himself as he heard the elevator move again.
Ziva sat in the doctor's office, listening to everything he said. She didn't comprehend much, but she was listening closely. She heard the terms "chemo" and "radiation" mixed in with his jumble, but she wasn't sure in what context. When the doctor looked like he was wrapping up his speech, she nodded and stood to shake his hand. He allowed her to go back into Tony's room, where she found him laying in the hospital bed, asleep.
It was probably for the better, because he needed it.
It had taken a lot of persuasion on Ziva's part to get Tony to the doctors. She'd noticed a decline in his health, especially the weight loss. He had tried to hide the coughing, but eventually it got to be so much that Ziva became concerned. There were a couple days when McGee, Ziva, and Abby debated whether it was just a cold, but when blood appeared, they had their answer.
Now, Tony lay in the hospital bed, two blankets over him and the pillows up at an angle. Ziva moved over to the chair next to his head, sitting down with a sigh. She looked at Tony, watching as he took in oxygen through a tube near his nose.
She couldn't help but see his reaction to the doctors news in her mind, and fresh tears threatened her. She kept them back though, insisting that she could cry later. Just like (she was sure) Tony was doing as well. He'd kept a straight face, nodding as the doctor explained. He didn't even look down when Ziva had squeezed his hand. When the doctor had left, he'd looked confused. He had kept mumbling over and over "How could this happen to me?" until finally Ziva left because she couldn't take it.
That, and she needed to call the team.
Now, she watched him sleep. She wondered what was going through his brain, because she knew what was going through hers. If there was one thing she never expected, it was for Tony to get lung cancer. She expected him to outlive them all, in a twist of fate.
No, she said to herself, he isn't going to die.
She looked up as the nurse entered, with forms. She smiled as the nurse handed them to her, ignoring the obvious sympathetic look. It wasn't Ziva's fault that she was listed as an emergency contact on Tony's health insurance. Gibbs was too. But, Gibbs had to stay in the office. He'd given Tony and Ziva the day off, so Ziva could drag Tony to the hospital.
And now, she'd have to deal with everything.
She started to read the paperwork, and she once again had to collect herself. She felt her phone vibrate, but ignored it as the kept reading.
No, she said again to herself, he isn't going to die.
Anger fuels fear.
Tony didn't like hospitals, to say the least. He didn't like the smell, the feelings, or the looks. He had never enjoyed coming to the hospital as a child, and as he got older, his experiences with hospitals worsened.
Now, he sat in the bed, trying to make sense of his situation. He didn't enjoy sitting in the bed, with only the TV to watch. He shifted his body, trying to get comfortable against the pillows. His chest was hurting again, and he couldn't find a way to lay without being in pain. He was just getting comfortable when the door opened, and in walked a familiar face.
"Hey Abby." He said, and Abby smiled at him. She walked over to the bed, hugging him in an instant. Tony smiled, glad she'd finally got time to come see him. He'd been in the hospital for a month now, dealing with chest pain, fatigue and his cough.
"How do you feel?" Abby asked, and Tony shrugged. A surgical mask muffled her voice, and Tony tilted his head.
"I have a cold." She said, and Tony smiled. He patted the bed near his legs, and Abby sat down.
"My chest still hurts." Tony said, and he could see Abby's frown. She reached up and touched his cheek, and then her eyes got wider.
"I almost forgot!"
Abby grabbed her bag off the chair and began to search the inside. Tony rested back on the bed, taking deep breaths from the tube in his nose. He watched as Abby pulled out a rather large card, handing it to Tony with joy.
"What's this?" Tony asked, and Abby smiled.
"A group of kids came through my lab the other day, and they asked why I had a lung cancer ribbon on my wall. I told them about you, and then they made this card for you. They even got Vance to sign it."
"Why did you have a group of kids in your lab?"
"Another school tour thing. They are always so nice." Abby said, watching as Tony opened the card. He smiled at the childish handwriting. He read every signature, and every good word. He smiled at Vance's, right near the bottom. He shut the card, reaching over and placing it on the nightstand. Two bears and a bar of chocolate already sat there.
"Thanks, Abby." Tony said, smiling at her. Abby kept her eyes on Tony, her gaze penetrating. Tony shut his eyes as the dull pain in his chest became more intense. When he opened his eyes, he saw that Abby was crying.
"Whoa, Abs. What's wrong?" He asked, reaching forward to touch her arm. She got up off the bed though, her body shaking as she began to cry harder. Tony suddenly felt awful, but he couldn't move.
"You! You're so calm and collected. It's like you've already accepted what's going on. How can you? This is cancer! It's awful! Oh my gosh, you are just calm and collected and…" She trailed off, and Tony knew she was done. He watched as she calmed herself back down and moved over to his bed.
"I'm scared, Abby. Just as or more than you are. But I can't fight it."
"No, you have to fight it! You can't let it beat you."
"I know Abby! I mean that I can't fight the fact that I have it. I can't change what's happening. I have to deal with it, and if that means being totally calm and accepting… so be it."
Abby hadn't moved since Tony had began talking, because his tone scared her. Carefully, she sat down in the chair next to his bed and took a deep breath. She looked up at Tony as he once again lay back on the bed, and she bit her lip. She was about to say something when she realized that Tony had nodded off, and she decided to let him be. She gathered her things slowly, and lifted her surgical mask to kiss his forehead before leaving.
Ziva walked off the elevator, moving slowly towards autopsy. She waited for the doors to open, moving through them quietly. Ducky was sitting at his desk, going over paperwork. Gibbs' team may not have had any cases, but Ducky was still dealing with dead bodies.
Palmer looked up when he realized Ziva was there, and he evaporated out the door. He didn't do it to be mean. He had been avoiding everyone (minus Ducky) since Tony had been diagnosed. He spent his days in the dark of the autopsy, and Ziva only knew of once when he went and saw Tony.
"How are you my dear?" Ducky said as Ziva walked over to him. She shrugged, grabbing a stool and sitting down. She looked at Ducky, watching as he read over his paperwork. She had come down here because she knew she could trust Ducky to be calm.
"I am alright."
Ducky stopped looking over the file in his hand, and looked at Ziva. His eyes were soft, yet serious. He wasn't going to take her answer, because he knew it wasn't true.
"My perception of alright is not what I see in front of me."
Ziva didn't feel the smile, and she dipped her head. She could feel the stress in her back, and rolled her shoulders to relieve the pain.
"I… I do not know how to describe how I am."
Ducky put down the file, turning to face Ziva better. He reached through her thick of hair and pushed her chin up so she was looking at him. He frowned at the wetness in her eyes.
"What is it, Ziva?" He asked, and she shook her head. She rubbed her eyes, before taking a deep breath.
"It is safe to say we are all scared, yes?" Ducky nodded at Ziva, watching, as her eyes got darker. She was the one person who had been with Tony the most, and Ducky knew she had the most emotions pent up.
"Why does it have to happen to him? Why? It is not fair!"
"You sound like Abigail."
"Maybe because she's right! Maybe because… because she seems to be the only one to show some objection to what is happening."
"You are showing me some right now."
Ziva looked at Ducky, all of the words that were lined up in her mouth disappearing. She tried to form more, but only came up with a blank. Taking a deep breath, she slumped against the wall. Ducky picked up his file again, finding where he stopped. He saw Ziva shift, and then her elbow was on his desk and her chin was in her hand.
"I'm sorry Ducky. I should not have done that."
"I do not mind. I feel that it is a good alternative to you crying yourself to sleep at night, or exploding at Anthony."
"I would not do that to Tony."
Ducky put down his file again, and looked right at Ziva.
"I know you wouldn't. That is why I am always here."
Ziva felt a couple tears roll down her cheek, and she smiled at the lightened feeling in her chest.
Ducky just smiled.
Gibbs walked the familiar route, moving down the hallway to the chemo room. He smiled at the elder nurse that sat at the desk, before he entered the sitting room. The room was relatively empty, besides one women whom Gibbs knew had breast cancer and Tony. Tony sat at the far end, a blanket over his body and his eyes glued on the TV. Upon looking, Gibbs saw Ziva's bag in the chair next to Tony's, and didn't feel any surprise at all.
Gibbs shook his head as he picked up Ziva's bag, setting it in his lap as he sat down.
"I'm not 'boss' right now." Gibbs said quietly, and Tony smiled to himself. Gibbs sat back in the chair, getting himself comfortable. Tony pulled the blanket farther up his body, and Gibbs grabbed it as it slipped down his sweater. It didn't take a genius to realize how much weight Tony had lost, and as Gibbs pulled up the blanket, he was reminded again.
Gibbs nodded, sitting back again and looking at the television. The nurses always had the news on, but Tony had easily gotten the remote. He now watched whatever he wanted to watch, but on mute. Subtitles were on the screen, or headphone jacks were available. Tony, today it seemed, didn't want to use headphones.
"How are you feeling today?"
Tony changed the channel, his fingers moving over the remote buttons. He stopped on a channel playing 'The Sopranos' and left it there.
"Why does everyone ask me that?"
Tony's eyes told Gibbs everything, and he nodded. Gently, Gibbs reached over and put his hand on Tony's shoulder. Gibbs saw Tony swallow.
"Because we care."
Gibbs gave Tony's shoulder one squeeze, before letting go and looking back at the TV. Tony did the same, making his chair lean back farther to see well.
"My doctor said that the chemo I'm receiving could give me longer. But, it's experimental… so…"
Gibbs looked over at Tony, and handed him a tissue as he coughed slightly. Tony refused, wiping his mouth off with the back of his hand. He offered a small smile to his boss.
"It's worth a shot, right?" Tony said, and Gibbs nodded. He didn't want to say what he was thinking, so he defaulted to nodding.
The machine behind Tony beeped, and he looked over his shoulder. The nurse suddenly appeared, and she moved around them. She didn't talk as she looked over the IV and machine, her fingers moving quickly.
"You've got an hour and a half left." She said, and Tony nodded.
"Is there anything I can get you, or are you all set?" The nurse asked, and Tony shook his head.
"I'm fine. But thank you."
The nurse offered him a smile before going over to check on the other woman. Gibbs looked around, noticing that Ziva hadn't returned from wherever she was. He didn't get a chance to ask before Tony answered.
"I asked Ziva if she could get me some hot chocolate. I can't taste it, but she needed some fresh air."
Gibbs felt a lump in his throat, and pushed it down with a swallow. There was something sad in Tony's voice, and Gibbs didn't dare put a name to it.
"She sits with you the whole time."
Tony nodded at the statement, changing the channel again.
"She tells me about the cases you guys have. They don't sound very interesting." Gibbs chuckled, and Tony smiled.
"Vance… has been diverting cases onto other teams. We don't have as many cases as usual. He offered to let Abby get an assistant, but… after Chip."
Tony laughed, his blanket falling off his shoulders. Gibbs watched as he pulled the blanket back up, settling again into the cushions.
"I don't blame her." Tony responded finally, putting the remote on the table between the chairs. Gibbs saw Tony's face light up, and he turned around to see Ziva walking over. She had three cups in her hands, and Gibbs moved so she could put the cups on the table. She moved the cups around the table, and Tony picked up his hot chocolate.
"Hi Gibbs. When did you get here?" She said, picking up her cup and taking a long drink. Gibbs stood up and offered Ziva his seat, and she unceremoniously collapsed into the cushions.
"Not long ago." He said as he watched her shift to get comfortable.
"Vance still hasn't given us a case."
Gibbs nodded, and Ziva sighed. She relaxed back into the chair, and rolled her eyes. Gibbs looked between them, and decided that it was his time to go.
He reached down to touch Tony's shoulder, and Tony looked up.
"Feel better. And you can always call."
Tony nodded, pulling his hand out of the blanket to touch Gibbs' hand.
Gibbs smiled at him, and nodded at Ziva. He moved away from the pair and out of the chemo room. Ziva watched him go, before looking back at Tony. She picked up her bag, reaching inside and grabbing her headphones. She handed them to Tony, and he smiled at her. He plugged the headphones in, resting back and shutting his eyes. Ziva sat back in the chair, grabbing her book and opening it to where her bookmark was. She'd almost finished her book, as she'd spent so much time in the chemo room.
Ziva reached over and squeezed Tony's hand, smiling when she realized he was asleep.
Depression is the inability to construct a future
McGee ran through the empty bullpen, grabbing Ziva's emergency bag before taking the stairs. He heard his phone ring again, but he ignored it until he reached the bottom floor. He ran towards his car, unlocking it in a hurry. He was in his car when the phone rang again, and he answered it.
"Abby, I'm on my way." He said hurriedly, and he heard mumbling on the other end. He then heard Abby yelling something.
"Well, hurry!" She said, and he nodded. He hung up his phone before pulling out of the parking garage and breaking every traffic law to get to the hospital. When he got there, he quickly made his way through the hallway after hallway. It took him a couple minutes to figure out where Ziva was at, and then he finally walked through the right door. Ducky, Palmer and Vance were all sitting there, and they all looked up at him together.
Ducky gestured to the seat across from him, and McGee slumped down into the chair.
"What did I miss?"
"Just Abigail freaking out." Ducky explained, taking Ziva's bag from McGee. There was some quiet before McGee sat up straight.
"Does Tony know what's going on?" He asked, and Palmer nodded.
"That's why Abby was freaking out." He said, as if it were common knowledge.
"The doctors said that, when the baby is delivered, Tony can be wheeled down."
McGee sighed, relaxing back into the chair.
"Good. That'll make him feel better."
The waiting room went quiet again, leaving the four men in their own minds. Palmer got up after a while, leaving. It was twenty minutes before he came back, with three waters. He handed them to his companions, and then pulled a chocolate bar out of his pocket.
Palmer looked over at Ducky, to see him holding out his hand. With a slight smile, Palmer broke off pieces of the chocolate and passed it around.
McGee and Palmer were playing war with cards found on the magazine table when Abby marched into the room. They all stood up, and she smiled a huge smile. She wrapped her arms around McGee's neck and squealed.
"Abby! What is it?" Palmer demanded, and Abby let go of McGee. She had tears on her face.
"It's a girl. An adorable baby girl."
Everyone (even the people who had come into the waiting room two hours ago) smiled and let out a sigh of relief. Ducky moved forward, putting his hands on Abby's shoulders.
"Has Tony seen her yet?"
Abby shook her head, wiping away more tears. She looked at the clock.
"She was born ten minutes ago. They are checking her over now."
"Can we go see Ziva?" Vance asked, and Abby shrugged.
"I think so. Let's go see."
The five of them moved out of the waiting room, and down towards Ziva's room. Abby lead the way, her boots squeaking as she tried to quicken her pace. McGee grabbed her hand, making her slow down. When they reached Ziva's room, they found Gibbs outside. He still had on his scrubs, but he was pulling them off slowly.
"They're checking Ziva out now."
"Did she name the baby?" Abby and McGee asked together, and they nudged each other. Gibbs shrugged, folding his hospital gown over his arm. He moved out of the way as a doctor walked out of Ziva's room, and he smiled at all of them.
"Are you here for Miss David?" When they all nodded, the doctor looked down the hall.
"Well, her baby is being cleaned and checked out at the moment. You'll be allowed to go in soon."
Everyone thanked him as he walked away, and Abby let out a tired sigh. She moved around the hallway, looking at the door. A nurse walked out, and moved down the hall. She disappeared into a door, and she came back out four minutes later when a small bundle. Abby perked up, watching as the nurse walked down the hall to Ziva's room.
"Oh, there she is!" Abby said, walking backwards and nearly tripping. She jumped up, and was surprised to see Tony sitting there in a wheel chair. The nurse had put a beanie on his head, and he was wrapped in a million blankets, but he was there. Everyone moved out of the way to let Tony into Ziva's room, and then they waited. Abby ran her fingers over her cheeks as more tears rolled down her them.
It was ten more minutes of waiting before the nurse opened the door and allowed them all inside. Each was told to be quiet, and they obliged as they walked in. Ziva was lying, asleep, on her bed, and Tony was sitting near her head. The baby was lying in the small crib, a sight of beauty, but Tony's eyes were on Ziva. Abby walked over and wrapped her arms around Tony's shoulders, resting her ear against his head.
"What are you naming her?"
Tony looked up at the baby, a small smile crossing his face. He had lost so much weight that he almost looked haunting, but everyone knew he was happy.
No one spoke as they watched Tony look at baby Grace, his green eyes showing a slight glimmer of hope. Abby moved away from him, and over to where McGee stood. She wrapped her arms around his torso, silent tears flowing down her face.
She didn't look up, but she could have sworn she felt a couple tears fall onto her nose that weren't her own.
To live in the hearts we leave behind is not to die.
Ducky and Gibbs sat in Gibbs' basement, two glasses of bourbon poured. They hadn't spoken much, and neither felt the need to. Gibbs got up, walking across the basement and finding his other bottle of bourbon.
"What did Abigail say she was doing tonight?" Ducky asked as Gibbs walked back, and he shrugged.
"She said she was going to let Ziva have a night alone with Grace."
"That's good. Ziva needs a quiet night after the past two weeks." Gibbs huffed.
"More like the past seven months."
Ducky nodded, taking a sip of the bourbon. He let out a long sigh, before shaking his head.
"Do you believe in an afterlife?"
Gibbs wrinkled his nose as he drank.
"Hell, I don't know Duck."
Ducky didn't go on with his point, but Gibbs knew what he was going to say anyway. They looked at each other, before taking another drink each. Gibbs didn't refill their glasses, as he was pretty sure they didn't really need anymore. They'd only had one glass each, but they weren't in the mood to drink their feelings. Just to sit and talk.
Gibbs raised his glass quietly, and Ducky followed. Gibbs didn't say anything for a moment, but when he did, Ducky could hear the sadness in his voice.
"To Grace." He said, and Ducky smiled sadly.
"To Grace." He echoed softly.
Ziva laid in her own bed, in her own apartment, soft piano music playing. She had a million thoughts running through her head, causing restful sleep to evade her. Though, she didn't mind. She was dissecting every moment over the past seven months, making sure that each stuck. She was also remembering every moment since she'd come to America, glad they were still fresh in her mind. She took a deep breath, her brain fogged. She found one of her favorite moments, and latched onto it.
She had been sitting in Tony's hospital room, her hands folded over her stomach. She'd been watching Tony sleep, trying to figure out the right words to say to him. When he'd finally woken up, instead of the well formulated sentence she'd come up with, she had told him outright that she was pregnant. And, even though he was waiting for test results (the test results), his face lit up and he'd looked happier than ever.
No matter how hard she tried, Ziva couldn't bring herself away from that memory. She smiled whenever she thought about it, and she'd been thinking about it a lot. There were other nice memories, but that one stuck in her mind.
The soft sounds of a baby sleeping made Ziva look down, and she smiled again.
Grace had been curled up on Ziva's pillow since Ziva had put her there, and Ziva couldn't have been happier. The past couple of days, with the funeral, had been stressful and tiring. Now, Ziva laid back and relaxed.
"Hey Grace." Ziva said, stroking her daughter's cheek affectionately. Grace didn't do anything, as she was deep in sleep now. Ziva's vision was fogged, but she didn't make a move to push the tears away. The lump in her throat was too great now, and she didn't care if she cried here.
"You know, you have your father's nose." Ziva spoke in a low whisper, as the lump made it hard to talk.
"He loved you."
Ziva had to stop talking, but she kept her eyes open to stare at Grace. The child didn't even know yet of the sadness that surrounded her birthday. Tony had, after all, passed away just one week after Grace came into the world.
Ziva smiled as Grace flexed her hand. There was something about her peacefulness that made Ziva want to be a child again. The ease with which Grace slept… it made Ziva slightly jealous.
Smiling, Ziva picked up Grace and moved her to her crib. She stirred at first, but then Ziva stroked her cheek again and she fell back to sleep. Ziva stood there for a moment, remembering the look on Tony's face as he held Grace for the last time. He'd looked so happy, and Ziva knew he passed away in peace.
Shutting off the lamp, the star set up over Grace's crib lit up. Ziva didn't like it much, but Grace seemed entertained by it.
Ziva moved back over to her bed, turning her wet pillow over before lying down.
She didn't expect acceptance and peace to happen overnight, as she'd never expected herself to fully accept Tony's diagnoses in time. She knew it took time to accept things, and she had just begun to accept it when he had started to decline. Though it may have taken seven months, she'd gotten there.
To Ziva, there was a glimmer of hope.
And that hope lay, peacefully, asleep in her crib.
A/N: Reviews would be greatly appreciated. My muse and I are tired lately, and any sort of writing is a miracle.