DISCLAIMER: NCIS and its characters are the property of CBS, no infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Title is from a Bruce Springsteen song.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
SPOILERS: "Twilight," "Kill Ari, Part Two"

Further on Down the Road
By Geonn


When I was seven, my parents used to take us down to this little beach near our home. It was a good three or four hour drive, so I'd stare out the window and play guessing games about the little towns we passed. One was called Stoneybrook and brought to mind images of a tranquil stream, round-headed rock sticking up through the surface, surrounded by trees. In reality, the town seemed to be comprised of bargain warehouses and flea markets. As with most things, I preferred my own reality.

All I remember about those driving trips were those little towns, speeding past my window, there and gone. All that was left of them were these silhouettes on the glass, etchings in my mind, the made-up citizens going about the fictional lives. I loved them, loved thinking about who they were and what they were doing when I wasn't around to think up lives for them.

I hadn't thought of those trips in ages, but walking from the cemetery with Gibbs and Shepard, I couldn't help but connect it.

Caitlin Todd, Kate, my Kate...

She'd felt so real, so there, I had never put it together. Now, though, it was obvious. She was merely passing through my life like those towns. A brief glimpse through a car window, the only difference being I wouldn't get to see her again on the ride home. I would never see her again, which made our time together even more special.

I can't believe she was here and gone in under two years. I felt her impact on me as surely as if she'd left fingerprints all over my skin, reminders that she had existed, that we had been what we were.

Making her all the more special was that she was real. She had existed. Her smile, her laugh, her sense of humor and her tears all existed outside of my memory. They were in photographs, they were in a carelessly forgotten blazer than now hangs in my closet, they were all around me. The way her nose wrinkled when she shook her head, the way she looked me straight-on when she thought I was trying to push her over the edge.

Kate was an innocent in the best sense of the word. The way she trembled in my arms? I'll never forget that. The way she cried after our first time? It's burned into my memory. Kate lives on, like a ghost, hanging just out of sight, smiling at me, encouraging me to go on, to move on.

Kate's gone. I have to keep saying it or I'll stop believing it. The way she burst into my life, enveloped me with all she was and then she's suddenly gone? No, uh-uh, no way. I won't accept that I'll never see her again... that's unacceptable. I'll see her. Until then, there's another town coming up. And another one after that. Soon, we'll get to the beach and it'll be beautiful.

I'll see Kate again, further on down the road. I'm gonna enjoy the ride until then.

The End

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