A/N - There are a few songs that I've found that match a story or chapter already in progress but none until now that have inspired a full story. A long time ago the spark for this story was in my head but never made it out and was forgotten for years until a couple of days ago when I put this song on to cheer up a slightly discouraged daughter who loves to sing along with it.
This isn't my normal style but my normal style didn't really fit with what story developed. I've rarely experienced an obsession this strong to get a story written. It was an interesting experience.
Inspired by: Taylor Swift - Wildest Dreams.
Disclaimer: Anything NCIS LA not mine. Plot and OC I'll claim. Thanks to the creators etc for letting me play it their world.
He didn't hate the song.
It's just the memories that came with it were hard to handle. Hell, the song could've been written by her about them. Almost. Except there was no way that was possible.
The first time he'd heard it when he'd been driving one of Hetty's precious Jag's, with Sam in the passenger seat, the memories had hit him hard. If it hadn't been for Sam's quick reflexes with the hand brake and steering wheel, they'd have slammed into a wall.
It was the main reason he preferred cd's or mp3's rather than the radio. If he was in control it couldn't take him unexpectedly, like it had that day.
He didn't hate the song.
He just needed to listen to it alone. The memories were too vivid. They would take his breath away and rip his heart apart all over again. Even after all this time.
Deeks loved the song. Any other song he'd just shake his head and let Deeks get on with singing out loud. There'd been one time he'd been in the car with Deeks and Kensi - stuck in the back seat - when it had come on. He'd fought to hold the memories back. He really had. But he'd lost that fight. Ignoring the fact that they'd been doing sixty on the freeway, he'd undone his seat-belt, reached through the space between the front seats and punched the off button. He'd hit it so hard he'd had to pay to get it repaired.
He hadn't explained. They'd stopped at a set of traffic lights when they'd exited the freeway. He'd gotten out and walked for an hour. When Sam heard what happened he'd wanted him to explain about her to Kensi and Deeks. After all, it had happened before either of them had been a part of the team. They didn't know.
But he couldn't. This was their secret.
With the exception of Sam and Hetty, no one else knew what had happened between the two of them.
Kensi had been her replacement. After Sullivan had died Hetty had brought Kensi into their team. He knew why she'd chosen the junior agent rather than another senior one. She'd hoped that by having someone younger they'd avoid a repeat. She needn't have worried.
There were only a handful of times when he'd actually hated Gibbs and his rules. When he'd also hated himself for letting Gibbs' rules dictate his life. Those times all had to do with her. Those damn rules had cost him so much. Cost them so much time.
He remembered the day she'd joined the team. He'd been with Sam six months by then and Hetty had finally found a female agent to join them that she was satisfied would fit. She'd fitted. She'd matched in with him like they were made for each other. He knew, deep down, that it wouldn't just be a professional fit. He'd fought it hard from that very first day. Kept it professional even when the day had come that he'd seen something in her eyes that suggested she wouldn't mind at all if it got personal.
He remembered how it had finally started between them. His heart breaking with Hetty's words.
He remembered how it had ended. His heart shredded yet somehow still beating in his chest.
And, most importantly, he remembered every precious moment in between. All two and a half weeks of it. Precious and wonderful memories yet painful too as his heart was torn apart more with every passing day.
When Hetty had told them what was going on, he'd felt a sharp knife-like pain in his chest. He'd left the office, gone straight to her. Hetty's words had echoed in his ears the whole trip
She'd opened the door and, when she'd finally lifted her head to look at him, her eyes red and swollen, her face streaked with tear tracks, the pain in his chest had doubled. He'd stepped inside, closed the door and pulled her into his arms. She'd broken down, sobs had racked her body. He'd picked her up, taken her to the couch and held her close while she'd cried. Hers had been body-shuddering, heartbreaking and raw. He'd tried to hold back his, wanted to be strong for her. He hadn't been able to and his, though painful, silent and still, had been nowhere near as pain-filled as hers.
When she'd finally stopped he'd asked what she was going to do. She'd said there were so many things she'd wished she'd done but it was too late. She had only one real regret. He'd asked her what it was. Her answer had been in her eyes even before she'd said the words. He'd known. Because it was his too.
She'd said she regretted not being brave. Not letting him know she felt something for him. She'd straddled his lap, taken his face in both her hands and locked her eyes on his. She'd gently wiped away his tears that were on his cheeks with her thumbs, smiled then whispered, "I want to be brave." Then she'd kissed him as if he was her lifeline, her only hope of survival.
But then she was dying.
You couldn't see it yet but it was coming. The disease ravaging her body inside before it even showed on the surface. For now she seemed healthy. How much longer that would last neither of them knew. What they both did know was that all they had was here and now. One moment that they could hope would lead into another. There were no guarantees how many moments there would be.
When the kiss came to an end he'd asked about treatment. She'd shaken her head. Told him the cost was too high. The chance it would cure her was tiny and, even if it did, the possibility was strong that the treatment itself would would be too much to recover from. It would take away any time she had left to live the last of her life. He'd asked her what she wanted to do most. She'd smiled. Spend it with you. Date. Fun and boring normal things. Special things. Go away with him for the weekend. Her smile had changed when she'd clarified that she wanted it to be a wicked weekend Then she'd kissed him as if she were trying to give him a taste of what that weekend would be like.
Fresh tears had dropped from her eyes onto his cheeks, mingled with some new ones of his own. He'd stopped the kiss, slipped his hands into her hair and stared into her eyes. They had so little time but he'd do everything in his power to give her what she wanted.
He'd hope they were that lucky.
So he'd said, "Let's get out of town. Go away. Just you and me. We'll go on a date, get dressed up, whatever you want. I'll make it happen." She'd replied, "Even the wicked?" He'd finally smiled. It had been hard but somehow, from somewhere, he'd found the strength - for her. "Especially the wicked," he'd replied.
He'd called Hetty and told her he was taking some leave. Effective immediately. Hetty had asked when he'd be back. He'd glanced across the room at her, felt the tightness around his chest increase at the thought of the end that was coming. He'd told Hetty, "When it's done." Because he hadn't been able to say the words 'when she's gone'. It would make it too real. Right then it wasn't about the deadly shadow that was coming for her but about the light that they'd shine as brightly as they could, for as long as they could, before it did.
They'd walked out the door, hand in hand. No luggage. They shopped on the way. Brought everything they could possibly need; from clothes to food and some things wicked. He'd made her buy a nice dress for their date. They'd laughed, smiled, even danced a little through the shops. He'd done his best to make it fun for her. The shadow that loomed on the horizon occasionally managed to steal the light. Together they'd fought it back, did whatever it took to bring back the light.
He'd taken her to a cabin in the mountains. The cabin was Gibbs' west coast hideaway. He'd told him he could use it whenever he wanted to get away. It was perfect. Nobody to disturb them. A lake just a couple of hundred metres from the back door and the sunsets from the deck were breathtaking. He'd taken some photos of her in the pretty blue dress the night of their date. One in particular had been heartbreakingly beautiful. It would stay with him forever.
Their time away had been filled with as many memories as they could make. Ones filled with laughter, happiness, silly moments and even simple boring ones. Like she'd wanted.
They was an unspoken agreement between them. They'd refused to let any tears fall while they'd been away. He'd known when she was struggling because the wicked side to the weekend was what distracted her best when the tears had threatened. The heat and passion between the two of them had been hotter and wilder than anything he'd ever experienced. Perhaps the shadow haunting the edges of their little world had something to do with it. He preferred to think that it was just what would've been if he hadn't been so bloody stubborn all these months.
Their time away was cut short after six unforgettable days when she'd started struggling to breath after a swim in the lake. She hadn't wanted to go. Neither had he but the shadow had darkened their world too much and they both knew it was time - she'd needed more care than he could give her.
She'd managed another three days at home, spent most of it resting, before it had gotten so bad that the doctors had told them she needed to be admitted. She was fading fast. The damage inside making itself known and taking over her body far too quickly. There was no way they'd get anywhere near six weeks.
She'd spent a week in hospital, him by her side almost every moment, before she'd told him to leave her.
She didn't want him to watch her die. He didn't want to go. Protested but she'd begged him. He'd seen such pain in her eyes. Pain that had nothing to do with the enemy within and everything to do with the fact that she loved him and didn't want to put him through this. She'd wanted to save him that memory. She'd never voiced her love for him, as he'd never voiced his for her. It was like they were both trying to spare each other the added pain of knowing, really knowing, what they were losing. In actions though, they'd spoken volumes.
Hetty had promised him she wouldn't leave her alone. She'd be by her side the rest of the way. He'd wanted it to be him. He'd hated it had been Hetty. However he had left. Reluctantly and with his heart screaming at the additional pain leaving her lying there had created. It was the only thing he'd had left that he could do for her. Her final words to him after she'd kissed him goodbye were to remind him of the promise he'd made her when they'd been away. To not remember her like she was then but in her pretty dress at sunset. When she'd still had colour in her cheeks and a smile that had reached her eyes.
He'd promised, even though he doubted he would be able to keep it. He'd used every trick he'd learnt in his career to make sure she believed it. But he knew he wouldn't forget any of his time with her. Good, bad and otherwise.
He'd gone back to the cabin and sat on the deck, beer in hand, though it went untouched. He'd known Sam was out the front in his car. Known Sam had followed since the moment he'd left the hospital. It was nice. It was comforting that his partner also understood that he'd needed to be alone.
Hours had passed and he'd stayed there; same spot, same beer in hand, warm by then. He'd heard footsteps. Felt Sam sit next to him on the seat.
He'd nodded to let Sam know that he'd heard. The tears had come. He hadn't had the strength to fight them. Sam had placed a hand on his back. A small source of comfort to let him know he was there. He'd been grateful for the silent support. Particularly grateful that Sam hadn't asked questions or tried to get him to talk.
When the tears had finally stopped anger had taken over. He'd stood up abruptly and thrown the still full beer bottle against the nearest tree. The release hadn't been anywhere near enough for the anger and pain inside him. Sam had reached out to him and he'd turned on Sam. Started throwing punches and fighting. Sam had easily deflected all his attempts but never once tried to return them. Eventually exhaustion had set in and he'd collapsed and cried again, with Sam by this side. Just like he'd been for her that day when this had all started.
When the day of the funeral arrived Sam had ended up locking him and Hetty in a room. He'd barely spoken to Hetty since they'd come back from the mountains. She'd been there instead of him and he hated that with everything that was in him. He'd ranted at Hetty, wanted to know why.
"She didn't want you to see her like that," Hetty had said in a calmness that had done nothing but irritate him even more.
"Dammit Hetty, I was already watching her die. It's not like it was going to get much worse."
"She wanted to protect you." Still so damn calm.
"Then she was too late," he'd yelled . "Every time I looked at her in that hospital bed my heart tore to shreds. I didn't care how much it hurt me. I just wanted to be there for her. She wouldn't let me."
He'd watched the tears threaten to overflow from Hetty's eyes and he'd pushed on.
"Why Hetty? Why wouldn't she let me stay?" He'd screamed it at her, letting every sliver of pain he'd felt be heard in his words. "Why did you help her make me leave?"
Hetty had broken then and almost screamed the truth back at him. "She didn't want you to see her give up."
The words had stopped him in his tracks and, even to this day, he could clearly recall the conversation that followed. One that was more about what wasn't said than what was.
"She couldn't…" Hetty had stumbled over the words a little. "She couldn't do it anymore. She wanted it to stop."
It had taken a moment but realisation had dawned on him of what Hetty wasn't actually saying.
"She asked you…" He'd stopped, not able to say the words.
Hetty had nodded.
Hetty had nodded again.
Hetty had shaken her head. "No one will know," she'd whispered as the tears had finally overflowed from her eyes and slipped down her cheeks. "If it helps, it was peaceful for her. A simple cup of tea with a friend and then to sleep."
He'd stepped toward Hetty, drawn her into his arms. He'd felt a shudder go through her and had tightened his hold. That was how Sam had found them. With a nod of satisfaction Sam had guided them out and to their seats for the service.
He'd heard every word but his eyes had been focused on the photo of her. The heartbreakingly beautiful one in the blue dress with the sunset behind her. It hadn't been until it had been enlarged for this that he'd noticed that the sunlight had hit her hair in just the right way to create a halo.
It was that picture that helped him keep his final promise to her.
That picture he'd brought to mind every time the memories of the bad times had threatened to overwhelm him. Every time he'd dreamed about her; from the heartbreaking ones of the life they had lived to the wildest ones of 'what if'. What if that night had just been the start of a long, very long, life together.
That picture was what drove away the other images. The ones she hadn't wanted him to remember.
His angel in a nice dress, not exactly staring at the sunset though he had those photos too, but staring at him, with a smile that said everything that they hadn't been able to say because time had run out.
A/N - Thank you for taking the time to read this. Would love to hear what you think, and if you enjoyed it - though not exactly sure enjoy is the right world for this story.