Short one-shot of what could have been at the end of "Revenge" [10x22, because I'm suffering from Cote-Denial-Syndrome (is that what it's called?)].

Also, movie quotes explained DiNozzo-style at the end.



The word runs through his mind like a train, chugging along with guilt and fueling him with its anger. How could he have left her alone? He should have known she would take her car, he should have known she would go after him alone.

They spot her Mini, red and empty, and the fuming flames on the docks that match his mood. Bodnar's dangerous-trained by the best, as well. He's not sure if he's worried about her or if he's scared of what she's capable of. At times, he can never tell with her; but he can always read her. It's himself he can't read, that he can't decipher.

They're about to board the ship, to catch Bodnar or save him or save her, ultimately; when she steps off onto the planks and down on the dock. She is not alone. She pushes in front a bruised Ilan, a look of rage and defeat etched into the wrinkles of his face, the furrowed eyebrows.

The relief he feels is not permanent. Her hair is out of place, her face is dark and one side of her face is purple, as well as her neck. Gibbs is angry, and wrenches Bodnar out of her hands. "Don't you ever do that again, David," he says sternly, but she nods and can read his anxiety behind his anger.

McGee volunteers silently to tell the dockmaster that they're federal agents; that everyone and everything is under control. Before he knows it himself, he is walking toward her defeated slump, arms down and chest sighing with exhaustion. His fingers itch to feel her skin, olive and purple now. So he is satisfied-his hand elevates toward her, like a magnet that has a gravitational pull specialized only for him, and his fingers dance into her curls, soft and brown underneath his rough, callused hand. He tussles them, and she does not resist; and instead, offers a small smile.

"You alright, Ziva?"

She nods, then hesitates. "I am fine," she says, but even she is unconvinced when her voice cracks at the end. He decides to ignore it.

"Magic words," he says, and they both know he does not believe her, that he can always see through her facade.

"Tony, I-" She chokes, and that is it, this is the last straw; and he cannot handle living without her, without telling her the truth before it's too late, with them chasing every criminal off the street and painting a target on their backs each time they pull out their badges.

In one motion, she is up in his chest and in the warm comfort of his arms, and her tears are salty and wet against his shirt. She smells of sweat and exhaustion and destruction, he smells of worry and disaster and love.

"I know," he whispers, and it is enough-she knows that he does. He knows she did not mean to kill him when she arrived, and that she didn't; he knows that with this arrest and non-execution that their work over the past eight years has done something for her; and he knows that she is not alright, but that she is almost there.

"I'm glad, Ziva."

Her eyes turn up in surprise as she pulls away to observe her partner-in a moment, he is seeping with anger and anxiety, the next he is a different color and tone; waiting to be explored like a passage of music on ivory keys.

"You didn't kill him."

Clarity. Like when the music clears, and the pedal lifts, and the climax is reached and a moment of passionate clarity is performed, and the audience understands what the artist is communicating; the intimacy of one's soul imbedded in melody.

He is glad she did not kill a murderer, a thief, a terrorist.

He is proud of her, more than she ever wished her father would be.

Somehow, her heart lifts into a moment of truth: that she should find peace within herself because of defying her father's last gift. His murderer, and the satisfaction of placing metal cuffs onto his wrists.

"The difference between I and my this."

Her voice is rich and thick with emotion, though he is an expert at reading all her layers of guilt and love and compassion.

"Revenge, for Eli...means death. For means something much worse, and yet better."

Prison is where a man can pay for his sins and pine away at the walls, never to escape. Or, he can realize the depth of his choices, and redeem himself.

"I think," Tony replies, "It's the excitement only a free man can feel. A free man at a start of a long journey whose conclusion is uncertain."

Her eyebrows raise, her eyes holding a teasing glance (still, despite the tears).

He shrugs. "Shawshank."

Her smile approves. "I hope."

"I think it's the excitement only a free man can feel. A free man at a start of a long journey whose conclusion is uncertain." and "I hope." are both quotes from the ending narration by Red (Morgan Freeman) at the end of The Shawshank Redemption(1994, Tim Robbins, Morgan Freeman).