AFTER THE STORM
A sequel to A Raging Storm.
DiNozzo waits to see what Jeanne will say to him.
An established relationship story.
Written: June 2009. Word count: 1,000.
"Jeanne. I lied." That's what he says. Three words. Not a long speech. No lengthy explanation. Just three simple words.
She stands there looking at him. Except he's not sure she is looking at him, she appears to be looking through him. He tries to stop himself from sagging visibly at her reaction. He never should have come here. He should have known she'd never forgive him.
Despite now being inside, he feels wetter than when he was out in the rain. He can feel the water dripping down his face and down the back of his neck. He can feel the water seeping through his coat. He should go. There's no point waiting any longer. She isn't going to say anything. She isn't going to answer him. She isn't going to suddenly look at him. He'll go.
For another minute or two he waits. But still she says nothing. Still she doesn't look at him. He admits defeat. He's failed. Anthony DiNozzo has failed. Except by failing he no longer knows who he is. He's still not sure he is Anthony DiNozzo; not the Anthony DiNozzo he wants to be. He'd hoped that by seeing her, speaking to her, explaining to her, even if she didn't forgive him he'd get himself back. But now -
But it doesn't matter. He'll go. He'll return to the States. To NCIS. To the team. And he'll try to find himself. Or maybe he won't. Maybe he'll move on. He's been with Gibbs longer than he's ever stayed in a job before. Maybe it's time to move on. Maybe that way he'll find himself again. Yes, that's what he'll do.
He turns to go, hesitating for just a moment wondering if he should say anything else. But there's nothing else he can say. He can't even say 'goodbye'. He starts to walk, aware that his shoes have let water in. He reaches the end of the corridor.
"Wait." Her voice stops him. It's flat, distant, weary, but it is her voice.
He doesn't turn around. He can't. He doesn't want to look at her. She stopped him. It's up to her now.
The silence is deafening and he is getting wetter and colder. He shrugs his soaking coat more tightly around him, hoping to find a modicum of warmth, or dryness. But there is none.
"What did you lie about?"
He sighs. "Do you really want to know?" Still he doesn't turn around.
He's wet. He's cold. He's exhausted. He's hungry. He's thirsty. Does he really want to do this? Even if he tells her the truth, will she believe him? Will she forgive him? He can talk his way out of anything, anything that doesn't matter. But even now, with the opening she's given him, he doesn't know what to say.
He closes his eyes. "The last thing I told you. It was a lie."
She says nothing.
And suddenly he's had enough. He turns around. "Jeanne, I'm wet. I'm cold. Either tell me to get the hell out of here or let me come in and get dry."
She nods. "I'll get you a towel." She goes back into the apartment.
He follows her, closing the door behind him, wiping his feet on the doormat. He doesn't know whether to wait where he is or go further into the apartment.
"Here." She hands him a large towel.
"Thanks." He wipes his face and begins to rub his hair.
"Give me your coat."
After a second he tugs it off, aware now that his sweater is also wet. She sees it and frowns. For a moment he thinks she's going to say something, but instead she just stalks away with his coat.
Moments later she returns. She stands in front of him, arms folded. "Well?"
"Why did you lie?"
Now the moment has arrived, he wishes he'd thought the whole thing through, worked out what he would say, rather than just turning up on her doorstep. Before he can answer her the absurdity of the situation hits him. He has travelled all this way to see her and he's standing in her hall cold and dripping water. "Can I at least come and sit down?"
For a moment he thinks she'll say 'no'. But then she nods, turns and leads him into another room. It's warm, well furnished but lacking in anything remotely personal. Without waiting for her to invite him to do so, he sinks down into an armchair. Moments later she sits on the edge of the couch and just looks at him.
And suddenly he knows why he hadn't planned what to say, because what he has to say has to sound real, has to sound genuine and a prepared speech never does. "I lied to you because I thought it was the best thing for you. For me. For both of us," he adds softly.
Her stare is intense as she studies him. "Go on."
"Jeanne. I lied about who I was. I lied about the reason we got together. I lied about what I did. I wasn't meant to fall in love with you, but I did."
"You did, or Tony DiNardo did?"
"I did. But I didn't think it was enough. I'm not Tony DiNardo; I'm Anthony DiNozzo. And I thought what I did, why I did it, my part in what happened to your father, would always come between us. So I lied to you. I lied to you because I thought you'd be happier with me out of your life."
"And now?" Her voice is low, she gives nothing away.
"Now I know I shouldn't have lied. Jeanne, since that day I've -" he breaks off. There's no point going into what's happened since he lied. Not until he knows one thing.
He reaches across the gap that is between them and takes her hand. "Jeanne," he says. "Can you forgive me?"
LINKS TO ALL STORIES IN THIS SERIES
A Raging Storm
After The Storm
Who Are You?
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