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by: ksl (Send Feedback)

Series: - No Series - #1
Chapters: 001 Word Count: 2588
Rating: TEEN
Character(s): Tony DiNozzo
Category(ies): Episode Related
Pairing(s): - No Pairing -
Episode(s): 5-01 Bury Your Dead
Summary: Tony need help dealing with events of Bury Your Dead.

Author Notes: This is a companion piece to Music and Memories and Con Affecto. Not really a sequel but an original character reappears, and there is a musical theme throughout.

Chapters: 1

Adagio---A tempo having slow movement; restful at ease.

Tony wasn’t sure what he was doing in front of Patty O’Malley’s Pub at ten o’clock in the morning. It wasn’t like he didn’t have booze at home. It was too early to drink, but given that he hadn’t been to bed yet, that hardly seemed important. And he had his own piano, a beautiful instrument that was technically superior to the battered, ring stained upright he’d played the last time he’d visited this bar. Unfortunately, his apartment wasn’t where he wanted to be and the lovely instrument he owned wasn’t what he wanted to play. Unsure of what it was he did want, Tony ended up driving most of the night to find himself squinting in the bright light, staring at the heavy oak door of O’Malley’s.

By all rights the place was probably locked. Mid-morning didn’t normally qualify as business hours for a bar. Tony tried the door anyway, smiling to himself when it opened easily.

He sighed softly in relief as he stepped within the cool, dark interior. For all its lack of warmth and light, the bar still felt more comfortable, more welcoming, than the sunny day outside. Maybe it just suited his somber mood better.

Like it was during his last visit, the place was essentially empty….except for the bartender. She was just as he remembered her---youthful, unlined face belying the age her short gray hair seemed to imply, lean without being skinny. Her dark blue t-shirt, with its ‘V’ neckline gave a discreet glimpse of her cleavage, while the short sleeves made it easy to make out the detail of the Celtic tattoo on her forearm.

She was behind the bar, polishing glasses. She looked up when the door closed behind Tony, announcing his presence. He expected her to say something along the lines of ‘we’re closed’ when she looked up to see him standing there, and he struggled to summon enough charm to convince her to let him stay.

“Well, hello there, laddie.” She smiled at him, warm hazel eyes beckoning him closer. Her lilting accent gave her voice a pleasant quality. “It’s nice to see you again.”

Tony blinked. He’d only been here once, months ago, for less than an hour. “You remember me?” He winced internally at the note of suspicion in his voice. Too damn many secrets of late made him edgy and distrustful.

“I’ve forgotten many faces in my time. More than a few names.” She shrugged one shoulder gracefully, either oblivious to or politely ignoring his tone. “But a musician of your caliber…well, they tend to leave an indelible mark.”

People usually remembered him for his looks, his charm, or his job. He’d never met anyone who remembered him for his talent as a musician. Given that so few people knew he could play at all, much less so well, it really wasn’t surprising no one remembered him for it.

He stepped up to the bar, sitting tiredly on a stool. He considered ordering something. It would justify his being there and make it harder to throw him out. Not that the bartender seemed inclined to tell him to get out. She’d have never let him sit down if that was the case. Before he could figure out what he wanted, she set two shot glasses on the bar. She reached for a bottle of aged, single malt scotch and poured a shot into each glass.

“Bad day?”

Tony snorted, fingers idly stroking the glass in front of him. Bad day was a bit of an understatement. “Worst day of my life.”

“So far.”

“What?” Tony frowned, not sure he heard her correctly.

“Worst day so far.” She patted his forearm lightly. “You’re not dead yet. Could be worse days than this ahead.”

He scowled. Not exactly a cheery thought. “Is that supposed to be comforting?”

“No. Just honest.” She ran her fingers through her short, gray hair, ruffling the spikes in a move that was obviously not a nervous gesture but more of a long ingrained habit.

The color of her hair reminded him of Gibbs for a moment, and Tony wondered if he should call his boss and tell him he wouldn’t be in today. He dismissed the thought a second later. He just wasn’t interested in dealing with the cold shoulder he’d probably get for having kept his undercover assignment a secret. He was under orders. That should count for something, but it hadn’t carried much weight the last time. Gibbs had seemed relieved to find he was alive…but Tony wasn’t sure he was relieved enough to cut him any slack. If Gibbs was going to be pissy, Tony preferred to avoid him for the moment. He’d deal with anything or anyone job related when he’d gotten his head on straight.

“If it helps, you likely haven’t had the best day of your life yet either.”

Tony rolled his eyes. “No, that doesn’t help.”

“Usually doesn’t.” She agreed philosophically. “But it is worth remembering that shadows are the product of sunshine.”

It struck him as odd at first that her calm, non-judgmental response should make him feel better. Until he realized, unlike his team, she wasn’t trying to figure out how to fix the problem, or console him, or overly worried about him, or dismissive of his feelings. She was stating a fact of life as she saw it. That was...refreshing.

She sipped her drink. “You want to talk about it?”

“Not really.” He downed the shot, enjoying the burn. It was the first thing he could honestly say he’d felt since finding Jeanne’s apartment empty. Everything was numb.

“Might help to talk.”

“Probably.” He gave her a wry smile. How the hell was he supposed to explain it when he didn’t have the words? It wasn’t just his love life, it was a case. He couldn’t share the details with her, and he didn’t want to lie. He’d done enough of that lately to last him a lifetime.

She nodded toward the piano. “When gripping grief the heart doth wound, and doleful dumps the mind oppresses, then music, with her silver sound, with speedy help doth lend redresses.”

He arched an eyebrow. “Shakespeare?”

“I like him.” She shrugged, giving him a bashful smile, before pouring him another shot. “And he’s right about music. My piano spoke well for you the last time you were here.”

He pursed his lips, eyes drawn to the upright. He longed to play, but he still hesitated. The music he felt like making wasn’t anything like what she’d heard him play the last time.

“You sure you don’t mind—“

“I don’t mind.” She made a graceful, inviting gesture toward the piano.

Tony took his glass with him as he headed for the piano. He wasn’t certain why this one appealed so much. He’d always preferred a baby grand, something with greater resonance and tonal quality. Like his piano, this upright had something in it that worked for him. Maybe it was better made than others he’d tried. Maybe it was the acoustics of the bar. Maybe it was years of exposure to smoke and alcohol.

Tony decided it didn’t matter as he set his glass on the top and sat down on the bench. He carefully lifted the keyboard cover. The instrument was sturdy enough that being so gentle wasn’t truly required, but Tony’s old teacher would have bloodied his knuckles for handling it any other way. He smiled softly. What he wouldn’t give to have her still around to keep him in line.

He ran through a few warm up exercises. He was surprised by how stiff his fingers felt before remembering he had been up nearly two days and had driven for several hours. A little stiffness was to be expected.

Tony closed his eyes. He didn’t need to see to play. No formal composition, no memorized piece seemed quite right. He just let his emotions direct his fingers. Sorrow, loss, anger and disappointment found their outlet in the music. The intensity of his emotions was underscored by how softly he played.

As an original work, with so much dark emotion inspiring it, the music should have sounded discordant, harsh and jarring, but it didn’t. Tony was surprised to find the melody line was smooth despite his chaotic approach. In spite of that, or perhaps because of it, what he played wasn’t pleasant to listen to. It reminded Tony of biting into an unripe apple---sharp, bitter and hard. It was painful…and it was perfect.

In his home, the music would have been out of place. His home was a sanctuary; neat, warm and comfortable. It was a refuge from the ugliness of the world. There he made music that was lighter, freer. But in an empty bar, this caustic, cathartic composition didn’t feel out of place. O’Malley’s wasn’t ugly or cold, but the dark wood and empty room absorbed the echoes of desolation, desperation and despair, holding them easily. If a church could embody the sacred, Tony figured it only made sense a bar could embrace pain and loss.

He let the song end, raising a hand to wipe away a few tears he hadn’t realized escaped while he played. He wasn’t sure he actually felt better, but at least he no longer felt numb.

The bartender sat down on the bench next to him. Tony could feel the warmth emanating from her, unconsciously leaning closer to her. She wrapped an arm around him, and laid her head on his shoulder.

The one armed hug was nothing like Abby’s enthusiastic displays of affection. And it wasn’t something Tony would normally have accepted from a stranger. Yet, from this woman, it felt right. It was an empathetic offer of consolation made by someone who seemed to know exactly how he’d felt. The gesture made him feel less like he was broken and would never be whole.

When she started to hum softly, Tony couldn’t quite place the song. She moved her hand to pick out a melody, and Tony instinctively followed her. The soft, gentle, repetitive tune was a sharp contrast to what he’d played only moments ago. As he got a better feel for the music, she began to sing, relinquishing the keyboard to him.

He recognized the song as a lullaby. Tony had been five the last time he’d heard anyone sing one. It reminded him of better days.

She finished singing, and kissed his cheek. “Thank you.”

Tony looked at her in surprise. “I think I should be thanking you.”

She chuckled. “Mutual thanks then.”

He laughed. “That works.”

Tony was caught off guard by a yawn, belatedly raising his hand to cover his mouth. He finally felt like he might be able to sleep if he lay down. He should head back. He looked to the door. It seemed so damn far away. Driving back seemed like too much effort to consider.

Tony sighed. He had to go back. There was too much unsettled, too many secrets to deal with for him to just walk away. And the niggling little hope that Jeanne might still give him a chance to explain simply wouldn’t leave him alone.

“There is a cot in the back if you’d like catch a few winks.” She bumped his shoulder with her own. “Looks like you could do with a bit of rest before you head back to where you came from.”

He stared at her. How had she known what he was thinking? And why would she offer a stranger a place to sleep? He opened his mouth to ask but what came out was, “You don’t even know my name.”

She raised both eyebrows. “Your point?”

“I could be an axe murderer for all you know.”

She snorted delicately. “That you have the potential to be dangerous, I have no doubt.” Hazel eyes met green. “But I do not need to know your name to know a good man when I see one.”

Tony felt his face warm, and looked away. “Not everyone would agree with you there.”

“That you are a good man, or that I would need to know your name to be able to make such a judgment of your character?”


“Most people are idiots.” She made a meaningless hand gesture as though wiping his answer away. “All of us are more than our name or job would indicate. They are not the sum of our character.”

She grinned. “I could still sing no matter what I did for a living. Just like you can play the piano. Bad people can sing and play…but it takes good people to do either well.” She stood up. “And I would still be me whether I tended bar or taught school. I would be me whether my name was Alice or Eleanor.”

Tony felt his jaw drop open. Why is it she could see that but Jeanne couldn’t? He’d lied about his name, what he did for a living, where he lived. But about what really mattered, he’d told her the truth.

He smiled, recovering a bit of his composure. “Is your name Alice or Eleanor?”

“Neither.” She laughed, holding out her hand. “My name is Bridget.”

His hand dwarfed hers, but Tony was quick to note that hers was strong and firm. He placed a quick kiss on the back of her knuckles. “Tony.”

“Hello, Tony.”

“Hello, Bridget.”

She pointed to the back. “Through the door and to your left if you would like to abuse my hospitality.”

“Thank you.”

“As I told you before…You are welcome any time.” She made a shooing motion. “Off with you now. I’ll wake you in a few hours, all right?”

Tony nodded, making his way through the back door. If anyone asked later, he knew he’d never be able explain why he’d accepted her offer so easily. Nor would he be able to convey how much better felt than he had before walking through the front door. What he did know, was if anyone asked, he wasn’t going to mention coming to O’Malley’s. That was one secret he had no intention of sharing.

The lullaby Bridget sings is All Through The Night. The lyrics are:

Sleep my child and peace attend thee,
All through the night
Guardian angels God will send thee,
All through the night
Soft the drowsy hours are creeping
Hill and vale in slumber sleeping,
I my loving vigil keeping
All through the night.

While the moon her watch is keeping
All through the night
While the weary world is sleeping
All through the night
O\'er they spirit gently stealing
Visions of delight revealing
Breathes a pure and holy feeling
All through the night.

Love, to thee my thoughts are turning
All through the night
All for thee my heart is yearning,
All through the night.
Though sad fate our lives may sever
Parting will not last forever,
There\'s a hope that leaves me never,
All through the night.

Chapters: 1

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