From the author's desk: So this is a fic won by Fingersnaps on the NFA Forums during our Help Haiti auction back in spring. The prompt I was given was Tim in isolation, with the added request of seeing the team help Tim come out of said isolation.

The chapters are extremely short, as I was also sort of experimenting with my narration style, so please don't let the small word count fool you. That's how it's supposed to be.

I hope you all enjoy this!

Disclaimer: NCIS and its characters are the property of Donald P. Bellisario and his associates. This was written strictly for non-profitable entertainment purposes. All original characters are mine to claim.

Warning!: Minor character death. Tissues strongly suggested.

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For Both of Us
by
dreamsweetmydear

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Part I

"Hey, I'm at the restaurant. Where are you? Let me know if you're running late."

He unlocks the door to his apartment, and walks through the threshold in a daze. Mechanically, he drops the keys and wallet on his writing desk, and moves slowly into his room.

His dog comes to him, gently nuzzling his hand. The dog knows something is wrong with his master when he doesn't respond with the customary rub behind the dog's ears.

"…This isn't like you. Why aren't you answering your phone? I'm getting really worried…"

He isn't aware of much of anything, too lost in fragmented thoughts of pain, and grief, and death.

He doesn't understand how this happened.

"Hello?"
"Is this Agent—"
"Yes that's me. Who is this?"
"Sir, I'm calling from Washington Adventist Hospital—"
"What happened to Sarah? Is she all right?"
"…Sir, you should probably come as quickly as possible."

He walks into his bedroom, his dog following him faithfully as he goes to the far corner of the room and sits down, curling himself into the space as much as his 6'1" frame will allow.

He breathes slowly, steadily. One. Two. Three. His breath catches at the fourth, and he exhales shudderingly before breathing in again.

A sob breaks partway through on the sixth before he bites down hard on his lip, while his shoulders tremble and his eyes squeeze shut, her image waiting for him there.

"I'm not going to make it, am I?" she whispers, her gaze heavy with pain.
He feels his eyes stinging. "No." His voice cracks.
"Help me," she pleads, her eyes wet with tears and the fear of the unknown, of death.
"I can't. Not this time," he says, his voice breaking, and his vision blurs.

He feels the presence of his dog nearby, and wraps his arms around the beast, burying his face in the warm fur of his pet.

Her hand is warm and small in his, and he laces his fingers with hers.
"I'm scared," she says, and tears roll down her cheeks.
"I know. Try not to be," he whispers, gently thumbing the salt water from beneath her eyes.
He squeezes his eyes shut, keeping his own tears from falling anymore.
He has to be brave for her, and thinks of those he's lost already.

His body aches with tears, with loss. This shouldn't have happened. This didn't happen. It's just a bad dream.

His world is shattered, a million little pieces at his feet.

"I have friends on the other side, remember?" he tells her. "They'll take care of you."
He knows his smile is tremulous, but is thankful when he is rewarded with s similar smile.
"Tell me about them again," she asks. "So I'll know them when I see them."
And he speaks of his dead friends, fighting to keep his voice steady as her eyes begin to droop.

He isn't aware of when his grip slips from around his pet, and when he falls to his side, consumed by the memory of his last moments with her, their last goodnight—the exact moment his heart cracked, splintered, and crumbled into tiny, lost, aching pieces.

"Go to sleep," he tells her. "I'll be right here."
"I love you," she whispers.
"I love you too," he murmurs back, stroking her hair, kissing her forehead. "Sweet dreams."
"Sweet dreams," she mumbles back as she drifts into sleep.
It's not long before the heart monitor flatlines.

"Why? Why did it have to be you?" he cries brokenly in the corner, eventually drifting off into an exhausted sleep.