Ellie stared at the dark ceiling, her mind running wild preventing her from sleeping like she should have been doing. Jake who was fast asleep beside her had drifted off three hours ago but she just couldn't get her mind to settle enough.
Tomorrow she had a decision to make.
Tomorrow she has to decide if she wanted to take up Agent Gibbs' offer and be a liaison for NCIS and be placed on his team.
There would be a lot of changes if she did. A new work space, new work environment in general, new people, new rules most likely, she wouldn't have that sandwich shop she loved in walking distance for lunch, no more snack machines that held some of her favorites, then probably the biggest thing of all..Jake. Sure she'd still be part of NSA but things would change. There would be no seeing Jake any time of the day, no going out for lunch together, and she knew there'd be things he no longer could share.
Finally after another hour her eyes slid shut, but her mind still kept going.
She stared with wide eyes at the woman who claimed her name was Karla standing in front of her.
Ellie's head spun.
She had woken up with a start, only to find herself standing in the middle of a large completely white room, so bright that it barely even looked like a room. Karla had suddenly appeared next to her when she was looking around frantically.
And now Ellie had just been told that Karla was there to help her with the decision to join NCIS or not, that she would show Ellie her future if she said yes to the offer.
Obviously she was dreaming..but she for some reason believed in the words Karla was speaking to her.
Ellie agreed. It wasn't very logical..but her head hurt and if it helped her decide then why not?
"One last thing." Karla told her, a white door suddenly appearing behind her making Ellie jump a little. What even was this place? Was it all really just a made up dream in her head? God was it possible to get a migraine in a dream? "When you wake up, you won't remember any of what I'm about to show you, you'll remember your decision but not why."
She bit her lip but nodded, a small ball of excitement growing in her stomach.
Karla smiled at her and opened the door, motioning for Ellie to walk through first.
They went through scene after scene of Ellie's future life with NCIS, each door they went through pushing Ellie more into a decision. Agent Gibbs' team seemed to become a second family to her and her life seemed pretty great if not for a few struggles with her and Jake's marriage, but Ellie was sure they could work through it. They loved each other after all.
Or so she thought.
Ellie felt a tear fall as she watched. If she stayed with Jake, he would cheat and act like it was fixable, like her heart didn't get ripped in two and then stomped on. She would have never thought her amazing sweet Jake was capable of doing that to her, to them. Then as that thought passed, the anger came.
No she wouldn't let that stop her from her saying yes like she was wanting to so far. It would hurt like hell when it happened..but she wouldn't say no to Agent Gibbs' offer to try and save a marriage to Jake, a man who she now knew wasn't who she thought she married, a man who was capable of ruining them like he did.
Because honestly, fuck Jake Malloy.
Karla watched her closely the whole time, but Ellie pretended not to see the concerned and curious looks in her eyes. She seemed to be studying Ellie, but this was just a dream why would Karla who wasn't even real care?
Ellie continued to watch as her marriage ended, as Benham Parsa came back into her life causing a chill to run down her spine, as he wreaked havoc and caused Delilah to become paralyzed and hurt McGee emotionally, Gibbs getting shot, finding out Ziva was dead, the hunt for who killed her, Tony's hurt and rage, finding out about Tali, Tony leaving..
All of it was a blur until two new agents joined the team, then it seemed as if everything slowed down just a little more.
Alex Quinn would become another friend to her along with the mysterious closed off Nick Torres.
Ellie for some reason as she watched herself with this Nick guy felt a little flutter in her stomach, she figured it had to be nerves. This man was so much like the boys who bullied her in school but yet..something different.
Scenes flashed before her, moments with the team, cases, but Ellie was focused on Qasim. She felt an odd sort of detachment from it, knowing she herself was still in love with Jake no matter her knowledge of the future at the moment. She could easily see why her future self fell for the man. He was genuine, sweet, kind, hardworking, smart, handsome, and he seemed to like her for her.
Ellie's heart leapt into her throat when Qasim proposed.
"Did I- what?" Ellie said helplessly as she spun to look at Karla.
Karla who was making a face at the scene quickly schooled her features but Ellie saw it. It wasn't a disgusted face, more like she was uncomfortable watching it.
Her heart that leapt seconds ago fell right back down but this time into her stomach. Something bad was coming.
"You'll see Ellie.." She whispered, giving her a sad smile.
She almost wanted to say she was done, that she didn't want to see anymore pain and sadness. But she nodded instead and they continued.
As Kai Chen came in, that bad feeling in her grew. And she was only proven right as she watched with watery eyes and a hand over her heart.
Tears slid down her cheeks watching herself go through it all. Qasim getting shot, the hospital and having to say goodbye, the rage and revenge she so badly wanted, going off the reservation to take care of Chen, the pain that while he was gone..she never got to tell Qasim her answer.
At some point Ellie had stopped crying but her cheeks were still wet and stained. She watched herself slowly heal, the joy and happiness as McGee and Delilah got married soon after finding out they were expecting, the worry and scare as Nick came back without Gibbs and McGee, the stressfulness of the months they were missing where she was stressed and barely slept, but Ellie watched with squinted eyes as she and Nick became closer during it.
Whatever she could see growing between them only grew more after they returned. She gaped as she opened up to Nick about the bullying, and she found herself gasping out loud when she kissed him undercover and stared with wide eyes and an odd fractionation when that changed everything.
Flirting and looks grew, touches, even jealousy.
Ellie felt like she was watching one of her romance movies of these two opposites slowly but surely falling in love despite being different. Sometimes she would forget this was her future.
For a moment she forgott all about it though as more losses came. Abby in the hospital being lucky she survived and then her leaving..but Reeves or Clay as her future self called him, is what sent the pang through her and made more tears fall. Everything involving Nick seemed to blur for a bit, making it to where she barely noticed the trip they took together for three days to try and heal while cutting the outside world off electronically.
But it all came back into focus not too long after they got Vance back, when she watched Nick angry and struggling with something all leading up to them sitting on her doorstep talking about Reeves.
And again it seemed to change things.
Ellie stared intently as she almost got shot, followed by her and Nick taking care of a baby. Her heart warmed seeing this man she came to know in an odd way care for the baby with a fondness in his eyes and with a gentle touch so different from his normal rough ways.
That warmth turned to cold as this man named Boyd came into her life and she let him, she was tempted to smack her own self watching the jealousy from Nick and then finally the hurt that was so obvious.
Then Ziva happened. Ellie's jaw dropped as she went against Gibbs, believed in a woman so deeply that she hadn't even met, almost died again in that lake, and finally finding the message left from Ziva. Ellie's stomach clenched watching herself struggle with hiding the secret.
Ellie wasn't prepared for all that happened next as she tried to process everything else.
Nick getting drugged, getting set up in so many ways, his struggle of doubt creeping in, the weight on his shoulders, and a crushing blow as she practically told him she thinks he could have done it under the influence. She knew why she said it and could understand it..but that Ellie wasn't her yet, so instead she found herself hurting for the man whose eyes watered just slightly and pain flashing in them. Ellie once again wanted to smack herself by the end of it. She watched herself watch him walk away and up the stairs, a hand over her mouth in shock at herself for being so heartless about his situation and feelings. He had obviously been hurting and mentally exhausted yet she had joked and discounted his hurt.
Her heart sank after seeing how he had changed in general and with her. It was an odd feeling..this Ellie wasn't her just yet but she weirdly enough was still craving his little touches, looks, and flirting.
Then the turmoil with hurricane Ziva happened and again things changed, except this time they went back to normal and Ellie found herself smiling.
"Are you ready Ellie?"
She jumped, spinning around to look at Karla..who she had completely forgotten was there as she was absorbed in everything.
"It's just about over..I'll show you some last things, and then it's time to make your decision." Karla smiled, grabbing hold of Ellie's hand.
Ellie breathed in deeply but nodded.
It happened quickly before her eyes. Her putting his lollipop in her mouth, the in unison good night sweet dreams I love you, and finally the note he had written her. Ellie didn't see what was in it..but she had witnessed herself blushing with a large grin on her face as she read it before holding it against her chest.
Her eyes watered with happiness as things shifted and the obvious feelings grew so much more until Ellie was watching herself get kissed by Nick in front of her door, his hands cupping her face and her own wrapped around his waist.
And then it all went black.
"Wait what?" Ellie blinked at Karla.
Karla grinned. "Well I can't show you everything..but that right there is the beginning of the end for your story."
"You mean..Nick and I-"
"Are your happy ending?" Karla chuckled. "Yes."
"Wow this is all so crazy." She sighed and ran a hand through her hair. "But honestly..I knew my decision a long time ago." Ellie smiled. "I'm saying yes to Gibbs' offer."
Karla nodded with a smile. "I kind of figured."
"I've known since I first saw how they became a second family to me..and Jake doing what he did only sealed it." Ellie shrugged, but then her cheeks went slightly pink. "But um..my future seems pretty great despite all the pain and chaos leading up to it."
Throwing her head back and laughing, Karla pulled on Ellie's hand leading her back towards the white door. "I can only guess why." She teased, making Ellie's cheeks color more.
"Well this is where I leave you." Karla told her coming to a stop.
Ellie breathed out shakily. "So I won't even remember you?"
Karla smiled softly, something flashed in her eyes like she was keeping a secret. "Not right away!"
"Wait wha-" Ellie couldn't even finish her sentence or really process the fact Karla told her she would remember her at some point before Karla winked at her and pushed her through the door.
She fell through with a gasp.
Ellie awoke with a gasp, sitting straight up quickly as her heart raced wildly in her chest.
There was a rustling of blankets beside her as Jake sat up wiping at his eyes. "Are you okay Ellie?"
She swallowed and shook her head to try and clear the fog in her mind. "Um yeah, I guess it was some dream."
Ellie smiled to herself as she walked the length of the shelf full of pictures in Nick's living room. He had recently moved into this new apartment after an incident with a neighbor from his old one, but this was her first time seeing it since they had been so busy with cases and if not they were spending nights at her place.
It had been only a week since their kiss in front of her door, and already she knew things would work out. She hadn't been this happy in so long, and she could see he felt the same.
A smile came to her lips as she trailed her fingers along the frame holding a picture of them at the Palmer's 4th of July party. His apartment now was a huge transformation from his old one. This one it was clear to see he put effort into it..wanted to make it home. Furniture, rugs, things hanging on the walls, and then the shelf of pictures displaying his life. Most of it was the team mixed with Lucia and Amanda, a picture of his mom, him with a group of guys she thinks he went to highschool with-
Ellie stopped short, picking up a picture of a beautiful woman with a younger Nick beside her. Both of them were grinning at the camera, Nick's arm tossed lazily around her shoulders.
For some reason a name beginning with a K flashed through her mind.
"What are you looking at?" Nick asked her, walking over to her after placing the chinese food he had just brought in on the coffee table.
He wrapped his arms around her from behind, Ellie relaxed back into him and showed him the picture.
"You know who that is."
Ellie furrowed her eyebrows. "I do?"
"Yeah." Nick chuckled lightly. "That's Sofia."
"Oh!" Ellie whacked her hand against her forehead making him laugh. "Hey it's not my fault! I know about Sofia, but I never saw a picture before."
"That's true." Nick said with a slight hum, his arms tightening around her slightly making her lips turn up a little.
But that name came to her mind again, and Ellie felt the question tumble out of her mouth before she could stop herself. "This is probably a weird thing to ask but what's Sofia's middle name?"
She could practically feel the raised eyebrow look he was giving her. "Karla, why?"
Ellie had to bite her tongue hard to keep from gasping.
"So I won't even remember you?"
Karla smiled softly, something flashed in her eyes like she was keeping a secret. "Not right away!"
And just like that..Ellie remembered it all.
Karla who was actually Sofia showing Ellie her future, all the emotions, the way she felt about Nick in the beginning with those flutters she thought were nerves but now she knew what it really was..
Nick and her were meant to end up here. She was meant to be here.
"Ellie? You okay?".
Placing the frame back down gently, she turned around in his hold, draping her arms loosely around his neck. "I'm perfect." She said softly.
Nick studied her a little before nodding. "Whatever you say weirdo."
She rolled her eyes, giving the back of his head a little tap. "Shut up and let's eat, I'm starving!"
"Of course." He chuckled.
Hours later as Ellie sleepily leaned against Nick heading towards his bedroom, she glanced at Sofia's picture when they passed by.
Ellie smiled, curling into Nick more making him press a kiss to her head.
Thank you for showing me my path to him, Sofia.