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Author's Chapter Notes:
I hated the end. I Hated the end. Grrr. Because I would have slashed them. Canon is a terrible thing!
Tony groaned when he woke, managing to open one red, bloodshot eye and squint around his bedroom.

Empty. She had already left for her morning shift. He hated it when she did that, left without waking him. He hadn't worked up the guts to tell her how much it bugged him yet, he nevertheless harbored an unreasonable resentment that she hadn't somehow ~known~.

Really, he shouldn't have been all that surprised. He hadn't been a sound sleeper at the best of times, not since he'd been in grade school and, lucky him, discovered the wonderful world of nightmares, but last night had been really bad. Far worse than usual. Because it was real. It had happened.

He rarely had nightmares when he slept with someone. Anyone. In fact when he started to have them he took it for a signal the relationship was on it's way out. He hoped he was wrong this time. He...almost loved Jeanne. But...he'd had a nightmare. With her in the bed next to him. That wasn't good.

Every time he closed his eyes he saw the face of the dying man. The face of the man who was trying to tell him something. It was on the tip of John's tongue, and Tony was leaning down, listening when he saw the light go out of the other man's eyes. And with it left whatever he was trying to say. All that was left, a body sprawled like a broken doll.

Tony remembered how it felt, a gout of blood spewing out of the wound, welling up between his fingers, out over his hands, running onto the ground. The last sigh of breath leaving. Then the prickle of something indefinable, something electric, traveling up his hands and into his arms. Something not...normal. He'd had people die on him before. People he cared about and people he didn't give a shit about. The electric shock-y thing...wasn't normal.

Tony had woken up out of a sound sleep last night, seeing John there, right in front of him, close enough to touch. He'd reached out, his fingers extended, straining for a last inch beyond, needing to touch Carson and when he was that close, when he was almost touching the dark hair, the wet cheek, the bloody chest, John began to fade, like threads of mist evaporating.

Tony called out John's name. Over and over again. Jeanne, awakened by the noise Tony was making, had held him, soothed him. Murmuring to him that she was there.

Each time Tony had puzzled over it, what did she mean she was there? She wasn't there, it was Tony...and it was John. Bleeding out. Dying, out of reach. No matter how Tony called for him, asking him to stay, John died.

Tony lifted his hands and pressed the heels of his palms over his eyes, kicking his feet hard into the mattress, jolting it, punctuating each of the three words. "God. Damn. It!"

Now he understood, figured it out. It was the french pronunciation of Jeanne. John. Jeanne. John. She had thought Tony was calling ~her~. It made sense now. Tony hated it. Hated that she thought he was calling out for her. Hated her taking what belonged to John. She was taking what had been ~his~, John's.

And she had left without saying goodbye.

He sighed. It wasn't fair of him to be mad about that, especially considering that it was usually he who was called out in the middle of a date. Called away out of the bed they were sharing. Diverted when he was on the way to meet her by a new case. She had let him make all his apologies and forgiven him. So why did he still feel the sharp green sprout of resentment growing in his own breast?

Enough of the self-indulgent crap. He was being a jerk.

He yawned, pushed up off of the bed, and went in search of coffee. Then halfway across the bedroom changed his destination and went into the bathroom. Standing in front of the commode, listening absently to the churning, bubbling sound of his urine hitting the water, he grimaced. Last night had been a bitch.

He'd really cared about Carson. Feeling an odd camaraderie with the man. As if they shared more than a few hours of acquaintance. If things had been different they could have ended up friends. Maybe....Tony was surprised at how painful the thought was. John was one of the rare people Tony actually wanted to get to know better. Now he was gone.

He'd had to watch the man's life fade out of his eyes. Out of those...beautiful eyes. Eyes that had telegraphed so much emotion while they were in the trailer together. Christ.

OK, that was weird, because when did Tony DiNozzo admit a man had beautiful eyes? Well aside from Gibbs. And he hadn't said it loud enough for anyone to hear it, he wasn't crazy. So that didn't count, did it?

Tony jerked up his pajamas, stepped over to the sink and washed his hands, the movements rough, rushed. He dried them, refusing to look into the mirror over the sink and see the freaked out look in his own eyes.

He headed out to the kitchen. Coffee. Caffeine. The pot was a third full, a note from Jeanne propped up on the counter next to it.

Tony let his eyes skim past the note, turned it over, hiding the words. Not that he needed to, she really did write like a doctor. Illegible. He'd read it later, if he could. Not now.

He poured. Sipped. Damn she made good coffee. Not even Gibbs would turn his nose up at it. Tony had no idea what made her brew better than his own. The same pot, the same grounds, the same water. Hers just tasted ten times better. If he had any smarts at all, he'd marry her for her coffee.

He lunged for the sink.

Two minutes later he was done. Strings of saliva hanging from his mouth. Gingerly he turned on the tap, letting the water run cool, rinsed out his mouth and washed his face, drying it on a wad of paper towels.

He poured the rest of the pot down the sink.

Sitting in front of the computer he turned it on, waiting for it to warm up. He typed, then frowned. There was a new jpg file. He hadn't downloaded anything new. If Abby or McGee had sent it to him it would have been in an email, not downloaded. The hair on the back of his neck stood up as ghostly fingers touched his nape. He had a bad feeling about it.

Bad feeling or not, he clicked on the new icon. Then he sat back and watched the screen fill. Confusion hit him like a bat between the legs. He grunted, knees slamming shut. What the hell?

John's face filled his screen, Tony couldn't tear his eyes away. John...the ache in his chest grew, nearly overwhelming. He reached out, touched the screen with trembling fingertips. Oh, god, John.

The smell of the alley, of blood assailed him. The feel of all that blood pouring out over his hands as he tried to hold it inside the man who lay sprawled over the filthy ground.

"Hold on." Loudly so John could hear." Then more quietly. "Don't leave...." Tony heard himself say, and unsaid..."me." Which made no sense at all.

"Don't leave me." Tony said out loud. And again. "Don't leave me." He'd wanted the chance to know John Carson better. He'd wanted to understand the man who could look at him like that. He wanted to know what that crackle between them could be. Might have been.

A picture of John. John's ghost? On his computer. Abby would think it was cool, but what he wanted to know was how had it gotten there? It wasn't until then he saw that there was another person in the picture. A woman. Tony stared at her face, unable to comprehend. Stared. Trying to add things up. Trying to...

Oh. God. No. NO. Jeanne and John. Benoit and Carson. John, talking

about his love, the one who got away, looking at Tony, all the feelings trapped in his eyes. All the pain. As he looked at Tony, as that indefinable something passed between them. John had loved Benoit. John had known, somehow that Tony was with her, the woman he'd loved.

Tony bent over and gripped his stomach. There was nothing left inside to come out, but he gagged, trying to throw up any way. Over and over. Heaving.

Shit. He lowered himself to the floor, his head so floaty he knew he'd pass out if he stayed upright. He curled himself onto his side, both arms wrapped around his body.
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