It was dark when he arrived back at Navy Yard. He always planned it this way. Oh Gibbs might light heartedly say that he did his best work at night but truthfully, he didn't feel as alone when he was sitting here in the darkness as he did in his apartment with just his thoughts for company.

Alone...what a word that was. He'd been alone most of his life, not just since his father disowned him for not becoming a financial genius. Hell, if he really wanted to guess how long he'd been alone, he'd say it was just before his mother died.

He'd noticed that her drinking had increased, and her smoking habits but as a child he couldn't have said much or been heard especially in that household where shouting went on continually, one night to the next. He didn't know what all they were saying as Father usually had the door shut to his den when the fights were going on but he did know that they scared him with how loud it could get...and then how quiet it would be minutes later.

Alone...that hotel in Maui, for two whole days and Father hadn't even punished him for running up the credit card bill. He didn't know if the man even cared at that time or if the bimbo the older DiNozzo had been chasing had been worth the two days of room service that in this day and age would have landed the older man in jail for criminal negligence., the blown out knee that had ended a promising career in football or any other sport. His darling fiancé leaving him high and dry because she wanted a whole man and not a broken doll.

Philadelphia, Baltimore the other cops tended to leave him alone due to his unorthodox ways of doing things, of looking at things, of not always going by the book.

Alone...Then he'd met Gibbs, and that amazing first head smack. He'd been shocked by it, and almost retaliated in kind when he'd seen the look in his Boss's eyes. It hadn't been meant to hurt or to maim; it had been as Gibbs called it, "A wake up call." There was a thinly veiled amount of caring in those blue eyes and for the first time in years he hadn't felt alone.

Alone...He remembered his first Abby hug and how he'd found it hard to socialize with her at first. He'd been a bit put off, not by her Gothic appearance but how open and exuberant she was. She reminded him literally of the Energizer bunny by how she was always hopping from this computer to the next or that train of thought to the next while he struggled just to understand what she was saying. One look at Gibbs told him that the older man had the same problem in understanding her which is why he always had to tell her to explain it to them in terms they could understand. And the fact that she could turn to that mindset so easily really blew him away.

Alone...His first meeting with Ducky. Tony didn't mind that the older man was a Medical Examiner; it was the older man's never ending verboseness, the fact that Ducky could put a story to almost every case they had and not one case being the same as the next came close to scaring him and yet he almost admired him for that particular trait too.

Alone...why did it have to hurt so badly? He looked down at Ziva's desk and remembered when Kate had sat there. Kate and being on board Air Force One. He'd always remember that experience. He might not have met or protected the President, but he'd been on that plane and he still had the photographs to prove it. But then, Kate had died and that feeling that sense of incredible loss, of being alone had visited him again.

Alone...he looked at Tim's desk, remembering when the younger man had been greener than anyone he could ever imagine. Meeting him at Norfolk had brought a surge of something to Tony that he still didn't want to think about and yet when he was here, he couldn't help but wonder if it had been a sense of protectiveness. Even when he'd been in college, he didn't think he'd been that naïve. How had Tim made it through not just MIT but Johns Hopkins, not to mention FLETC and still been that wet behind the ears made Tony wonder sometimes just what kind of upbringing Tim had actually had. The weird thing was, Tony never tried to dig much deeper than the surface.

Alone...he stared sadly at Ziva's desk and can't help but wonder if she ever felt this way. She was even more adept than he was at hiding her feelings and the fact that she was being sent away, due to a mistake on his part made him feel more alone than ever.

Alone...and then there was Jimmy. His autopsy gremlin was strange, but in a good way. Kind of like that weird little kid who when he's there you wonder why he's there but when he's not you wonder why and if anything was wrong.

Alone...he glared up at the empty office, shouting silently at not just Vance for separating all of the team and sending them to different corners of the world but also at Jenny Sheppard for leading them into this predicament. How dared she go to her death and leave them like this? For setting them up like this? She had to have known that Vance would do something to tear them apart...

Alone...and yet was he really? Gibbs and the team they don't make him feel empty like he did when he was a child and as he looked around the velvety darkness that was the bull pen, the squad room, he came to the silent realization that this was more than just a work room; it was also his family room. This was his family now. Not by blood maybe, but by something better. Something...stronger.

Sighing, he picked up his backpack and slung it over his shoulder. He glanced around the room once more, not noticing the darkness but seeing in his mind's eye, the familiar faces hard at work, now separated by circumstances beyond their control and wondered when he'll be able to see his friends, his family again.