I can remember the exact moment I knew my life was spiralling out of control. I was sitting in my apartment watching Rear Window, one of Hitchcock’s greatest movies, and I fell asleep. I wasn’t tired; fact was nothing outside of work could hold my interest, not since she left. When I followed her to Israel I was sure she’d come back with me; she’d given up so much to be a part of our team, to become a US citizen, I couldn’t understand how she could walk away. All the way home I tried to figure out where I’d gone wrong, why she had to go; couldn’t make sense of it then, still can’t.
When I finally made myself believe she wasn’t coming back, I did everything I could to come to terms with her not being here, guess I thought I could deal with it by working, whatever else goes wrong in my life I’ve always had my work. We were busy, being one light on the team meant there was plenty to do, and while I was working I was good, least I thought I was...Only when I got home everything felt wrong, I had no energy, no interest in anything outside the job. Hadn’t even replaced my car, what was the point, where was I going except the Navy Yard and home? I put on a DVD every night, most times I knew the movie so well I barely had to watch, just used it as background noise, should have realised right then how serious things were; movies had always been my refuge, good times or bad I could find comfort in a movie. If I was feeling good I always felt better, and if I was feeling bad I could lose myself in the story, the characters, the skill of the director, the music; there was always something to help me forget. Not now, since she’d gone nothing felt the same, nothing felt right; my whole life was darker, I was falling and didn’t know how to stop.
They knew something was wrong, Gibbs wouldn’t say anything, it’s not his style, but he knew. Tim, he tried to get me to talk, open up about her, how could we be open about our feelings when we couldn’t even say her name?
Tim called me every night, asked me to go out, or to meet up for a movie night; I didn’t always answer so he stopped calling, didn’t stop asking though. He sent text messages; guess it wasn’t so painful if I didn’t answer a text, not as personal as ignoring a call. I couldn’t talk to him, he was too close, and even though he didn’t say it, I know he missed her too, felt betrayed that she hadn’t talked to him; he kept it to himself but I could see the hurt and yet I still didn’t talk with him, couldn’t, not without him seeing how bad things were with me.
The night I fell asleep watching Rear Window was the night I started searching the internet, I put in some of the things I was feeling; I couldn’t believe what I found...depression...I always thought that was something only weaklings had, not armed federal agents who’d faced death more than once. Shows how wrong I was, I was sick, am sick, and reading how other men had faced the same problems I was trying to ignore, and how they found strength by sharing their problems with others, it got me thinking. I was feeling so bad I knew I had to open up to someone, but I couldn’t face admitting my weakness to any one of my friends, they’d never see me the same way if I told them the truth. I found a support group here in DC and after a shaky start, still didn’t find it easy to talk about the mess my life had become even to a bunch of strangers, I started to relax.
Over time I started to really listen to the other group members, and to trust them enough to open up about who I was and how I’d become the man I am today. Joining the group, understanding there are other men out there hiding who they really are, how they feel when they’re trying to live a life like ‘normal’ people; it made me feel I can keep myself from falling back into the deep despair I was feeling after Ziva...see, I can think of her, of her name without falling apart, I say her name every day now, when I feed the goldfish, I always say hi to both of them, Kate seems happier, if a goldfish can be happy, now she has a friend...friends...
I picked up my cell, opened up the latest text message. ‘Kurosawa festival opens tonight, how about a movie and a drink?’ I shook my head, why was he still asking, after so many weeks why didn’t he give up on me? I knew the answer, it’s the same reason I wouldn’t give up on him if he was in trouble; it’s what friends do.
Thing was, I just wasn’t in the mood for a movie, I needed to rediscover my love for the silver screen, I wasn’t ready, not yet, but there was something...
I hit speed dial and heard the surprise in his voice when he answered. “Tony, it’s late I wasn’t expecting to hear from you.”
Late? I checked my watch, 11.30, way too late to catch a movie. “I hadn’t noticed the time, sorry Tim, I’ll call tomorrow.”
“No! It’s fine, I’m still on my computer, no reason for an early night when we have a weekend off.”
“Aren’t you seeing the lovely Delilah?”
“She’s visiting with her family...Tony, how are you doing?”
I smiled, ever since he’d found out about the support group Tim had been treating me like I was going to break any minute. “Better; Tim, if you have nothing planned tomorrow...there are a few car dealerships I’ve been meaning to visit; I was thinking looking for a new car would be more fun if I had some company.”
“You’re asking me to look at cars with you? Are you sure you’re okay Tony, this is McGee remember?”
“I feel better than I have in a long time, and don’t try pretending you know nothing about cars McPorsche.”
I could hear him laughing. “Yeah, well I don’t have the Porsche any longer; I’m not so cool these days.”
“You’re cool enough for me Tim, what do you say, ready to help me find my dream machine?”
There was a long silence and I wondered if I’d left it too long to answer one of his messages, had he decided I wasn’t worth the effort, that I’d shut him out when I needed help?
“Tim, you still there?”
“Any time you need me Tony, any time.”