A/N: Tiva through the years – AU with some moments of entwined canon
He'll always remember the day being too bright, the sky too blue, the clouds too white.
He remembers her singing Britney Spears in the shower: beautiful, alive, affronted by his presence in the bathroom.
Today, he'll crack a smile. Tonight, he'll shed some tears.
He places the red rose on the pile that has accumulated on her casket and moves to the side, and fully means to wait for the rest of the team.
It's the black shadow he spies about a hundred yards away that changes his mind. And the pinned back curls.
He's moving before he can think twice about it, before Abby has reached the casket, before McGee can reach where he stands, crosses the distance between where he stands and the black smear that tries to duck away behind a tree.
"Hey!" he calls when he gets close enough. Her face is angled toward the ground, away from him. A small voice in his head tells him to let it go, let her go. "Hey," he says again, closer, voice hard. She looks up at him. "Why are you here?" he demands, fire in his words. This is not right – Ziva David should not be here, at this funeral, not anywhere near the team's private moments of grief.
This is not right. Ziva David should not be here, at this funeral, with wet, red-rimmed eyes and a pale face.
"I owed her my respects and my apologies for my brother's mistakes. And my apologies for my own mistakes." Ziva straightens her back and sets her face and blinks. It appears as though she has pressed the reset button, save for the grief in her eyes telling him that this is much more personal than simply paying respects to a woman she never knew. He thinks of streetlights and rain and coffee and pizza and a story about a lost little sister. Not so different than his own grief, really. "I am sorry, Tony."
"You shouldn't have come," he tells her because he doesn't know how to pack his grief away like she seems to do.
Ziva nods her head once.
He watches her back as she walks away and he feels as though he's lived this moment a million times before.
The bourbon does nothing for him except get him half-drunk and completely surly. Or as surly as he can be when sitting alone his apartment, but he can almost see the cartoon-swirl of dark, stormy thoughts in his brain. He briefly considers taking it as his cue to stop drinking, but then he thinks of Gibbs running away to Mexico without a goodbye, the weight of a team without a leader on his shoulders, and Jenny's own lost looking eyes as she asks, "Well, Tony, are you up for it?"
Storm clouds only exist in his mind, though, because outside there is what might be most beautiful sunset he's ever seen. He narrows his eyes against the bright, colorful light streaming in through the glass and takes another sip. He's not quite sure how he managed to tell her he could do it. But here he sits, the new team leader.
The sunset has faded from bright and beautiful to a more calming lavender-blue and Tony is just about to pour himself another few fingers when there is a knock at his door.
He pulls himself to stand on both feet and feels the immediate headrush of drunken momentum.
God help Gibbs if he's at the door. God help him if he isn't.
He rips the door open with a grace that sends the pile of papers and books and files and a vase teetering on the table next to it crashing to the floor.
"What was that?" Before he can process it, Ziva has already stepped by him to examine the debris. "You broke a vase, DiNozzo," she says in a way that makes him think they should be photographing the shards like a body at a crime scene. "Do you have a broom?"
"Kitchen." He moves to lean against the door, almost falling as it slams closed with his weight. He steadies, only to find that Ziva has braced him with hands on his shoulder and waist.
"You smell like bourbon," she notes, face too close to his.
"You smell like… something good." The small smile she favors him is returned with a loose and lopsided grin of his own before the cartoon storm clouds invade his vision again. "Why are you here?" he grumbles.
"I figured you might be drinking and you should not have to do so alone."
"You shouldn't have come," he tells her, but his palm brushes her cheek before his fingers tease their way into her hair.
"I am sorry that Gibbs left, Tony," she murmurs, leaning in his touch. "But I am not sorry to hear that you are the new team leader."
"Who told you that?"
Ziva's fingers clutch the fabric his t-shirt at his waist and her eyes flick to his lips. "Jenny."
"You shouldn't have come," Tony says again.
"I will miss him, too."
"I can't do this, Ziva," he tells her. "I'll fuck it up."
"No, you will not," Ziva tells him sternly. "We will not let you. We believe in you."
"McGee believes in me?" Tony challenges with a weak chuckle.
"Maybe not," Ziva hedges. "But he will." Tony closed his eyes and took a breath. "I already do."
"You shouldn't have –" Tony begins to say for a third time, but Ziva's lips sealing over his cut him off.
"Do not say it if you do not mean it," she warns him. "Do you want me to leave?"
Tony shakes his head, cartoon clouds and bourbon bleary brain clearing.
"Okay," she says and kisses him again.
When she slips her tongue into his mouth, he can't shake the vision of the sunset disappearing into darkness.
There is Roy.
There is Jeanne.
There is bullet that almost shoots through Ziva David.
The dark circles under her eyes look like black eyes and make his own eyes ache. The tear stains down her cheeks are troublesome. The way she acts like a cornered, frightened animal is even more troublesome. The way she lets Michael touch her is terrifying.
He silently wills his fist not to shake as he raps against her door.
The sight of her hooded eyes when she opens the door is only a shade less intimidating than he imagined looking down the barrel of her gun would be.
"Tony, why are you here?" Her voice is heavy and tired and aching.
"Looking for you."
"I wish you wouldn't," she tells him and moves to close the door. His hand stops it and he is glad that it's only the daggers of her glare that stab into him.
"Hey," his voice drops. Beneath the florescent glare of the hallway's overhead lights and the darkness of her apartment, Ziva looks like a ghost. "Promise me you won't torture yourself over this."
She nods once and closes the door.
Jenny is killed.
Ziva is sent to Israel.
Tony is made Agent Afloat.
"Promise me you won't torture yourself over this," she requests when he opens the apartment door.
They both leave in the morning and Tony can't manage the curt nod she has always been able to present perfectly in times of trouble.
There is a bottle of whiskey on his coffee table, an open suitcase on his couch, and jazz floating through the air from his stereo.
She steps beyond him into his apartment in a way that has always seemed so easy for her to do. She screws the cap back onto the bottle of whiskey and he grumbles in protest until she cuts him off: "Dance with me."
"What?" he gapes at her.
"Dance with me," she repeats. He doesn't move. She steps into him and croons quietly into his ear, "I'm glad there's you."
He holds her close and though the sway isn't much of a dance as much as it is a clinging hug, he prays that this time isn't the last time.
"Tony, why are you here?"
"Couldn't live without you, I guess."
He can't fix the past, but he can give her the opera.
Judging by the look on her face, it's a good step toward the future.
There is a club in Berlin and when he hears the song, he takes it as a sign. It's not the same version from the night in his apartment and the lights around them are different than they were before – they are different than before – but he decides to make a move before it all goes wrong. Regardless of what happens within the next few hours, if he can put her mind at ease for a few minutes while furthering her emotionally-driven mission, then he will.
It takes some coaxing, but when Ziva looks at him with warm eyes and an open face, he wouldn't trade it for all the classic movies in the world.
It's funny the things we decide are worth something.
He's still not sure how or when an emoticon, an invitation to visit her, and an "xo" deteriorate into a harsh "Why are you here?" once he actually finds her in Israel, but she should know that he would never give her up that easily.
Not once did he ever think he would have to be the one to walk away.
The necklace she leaves in his jacket sits like a promise in his desk, waiting to be made good.
The sand is hot beneath his bare feet. A sheen of sweat has coated his readily burning skin and his eyes squint against the sun, even beneath his dark lenses. A much needed breeze passes over him.
"Target acquired," he murmurs to himself while taking sure steps across the sand.
"Tony? What –are you here?"
The joyous, albeit shocked, smile on her face should be enough. But when it comes to Ziva David, there's never enough for him.
"Of course I'm here – I told you I'd be."
She wraps herself around him, presses her face into his neck, clinging despite the heat. "I guess I didn't think it would really happen," she confesses.
"Hell, high-water, or the Gibbs stare couldn't keep me from you, sweetheart."
"I missed you," she whispers.
"You have no idea," he chuckles and pulls away just enough to rest his forehead against hers.
"Are we really going to do this?" Ziva asks, fingers gripping the fabric of his shirt.
Tony cups Ziva's face in his hands and smiles. "You were incredibly brave to make a decision that was best for you. Now I have to be brave, too."
"Leaving Gibbs and McGee and –"
"Is difficult," he interrupts. "They're family. But, Ziva, I've been racking my brain for the right thing to do since I left you on that tarmac. This," he presses a kiss to her lips, "is a good start."
Ziva closes her eyes and inhales what Tony hopes is a centering breath. "How do you never give up on me?"
"You know I can never give up a fight." He smiles at her. "I've got something for you." From his pocket he fishes out her necklace and a piece of paper.
With a grateful smile, she accepts the necklace, fingers closing over it in her palm. "What else do you have?"
"Vance gave me a list of locations where I could fill the vacancy of my choice. Some pretty great places for you to explore or dance or bag groceries or do whatever you want to do and all of them seem to be good to me –"
"I love you."
"I was hoping you'd say that," he tells her. "So, what do you say? Wanna take a look at the list?"
"Why don't we just enjoy Jamaica for a few hours and then later decide on the future," Ziva suggests, free fingers twining with his.
"Sounds like a deal," he presses a kiss to her hand. "What's first? Drinks? Dining? A swim? I already dropped by bags off at the hotel."
"I was thinking we should go back to the suite," she tells him pointedly, bumping her shoulder against his.
"I love you," he says.
As they make their way back across the sand and back to the hotel, he swears he hears their song playing through the island breeze.