He heard everything and nothing. The tiniest sound was magnified while intense conversations were white noise in his ears. The constant tick of Eric typing on his keyboard hammered at his mind, but he couldn’t make sense of the string of words Callen was speaking. Time barely moved and he was afraid to. He wanted Sam to tell him it was over, but he wouldn’t look at him for fear of what he might see in his still haunted eyes. He was the one who understood, and it was Sam who finally touched his shoulder and told him she was safe. His world could move again, but he still couldn’t breathe. He said nothing at all as he sought some sort of release from the terrifying fear that had so rattled him. His world was not in this room. His world was far away and out of reach. But as Sam gently reminded him, she was coming back.
That’s when he broke. Sam understood and nodded toward the door. With blurring eyes he finally moved, rushing out to find somewhere to be alone with the wild thoughts he couldn’t still. What were they doing? How could they keep doing this thing that today had almost stopped their hearts from beating?
It had been Hetty who had told him about the roof. After that horrible day at the hospital when Kensi had told him she didn’t need his help and didn’t want it, Hetty had shown him the back stairs. He could see the ocean from up here, but tonight the sea was just a strip of blackness, and that somehow seemed appropriate. He would find no solace from it tonight.
The city glittered, but it was cold and as stark as his fear. The emptiness he’d felt after her phone call had turned to anger and then to a fear so deep that he felt it had forever changed him. When she’d ended their call it was if he had already lost her. She had chosen the job over them. He knew he shouldn’t fault her for that. It was who she was. Neither one would ever shirk their duty, especially Kensi. But, it made him wonder. Where did their love fall in all this? Of course she chose to save the world. He was proud of her for doing that, but he felt that their love for one another was somehow diminished by that constant need to do what their jobs demanded. How could two people’s love be more important than saving the world? And yet it was for him. What he was afraid of was that it wasn’t for her.
He had searched his entire life for something that would make his life worthwhile. Along the way he’d hope to find happiness, but never expected to find them both in one person. He had committed himself completely to her, and yet there had been barriers he’d had to fight through, unforeseen events that had almost destroyed the delicate balance between them. Their love had prevailed despite everything. Would it survive this? Could he survive watching her face danger every single day? It was cruel, that feeling of helplessness he’d experienced as he’d waited to find out if she would be coming back to him. He had given no thought to the wider world, because she was his world, the only one who really mattered to him. What did that say about him?
He’d heard her approach, but he couldn’t look at her, so he fell back on a stale comment about grilled cheese. How stupid had that argument been? He felt the sting of tears again and dared to look at her in spite of them. A small remnant of anger remained as she struggled to voice her doubts about what the day had meant for them. Those doubts surprised him, but she offered no solution. Maybe she couldn’t. He couldn’t either.
He felt drained, exhausted from simply surviving. He knew that was a selfish thought, because he could only imagine how tired she must be after what she’d gone through. And yet, he still didn’t reach for her, his mind turning once again to Sam and the loss he had suffered. He confessed he wasn’t strong enough to go through that kind of pain, and yet when he looked at her he knew he could never walk away from her. She was everything for him, and he hated feeling as if he would be destroyed if he lost her.
“Because you’re my world,” he choked out.
She moved to embrace him and her arms pulled him close and in that moment nothing mattered but her and their love.
“You’re mine,” she said.
He held her and kissed her, wanting the everyday world to disappear, and when she whispered his own words back to him he clung to her, his heart full of fear and never ending love.
“You’re my world.”