A/N Okay, now that I've returned from the dead, here's another Hobbit Killer story! Yaaaaaaaaaaaay! Anywho, this is another AU type, "What if" story kind of similar to my other fic, "Witch Hunt and Kill." This one takes place during the episode, "Kill Ari II," so, if you haven't seen it: 1. Where have you been? And 2. Watch it before you read this, or it will make no sense whatsoever.

It's Ziva based again, but this one has a lot of Tony. It could even be seen as Tiva if you squint, though is mostly a friendship fic.

Hopefully, I'll be done editing a few of my other stories soon, so there'll be more coming, but, until then, please enjoy, "The Wrong Conclusion."

Tony sat in his apartment, staring at the suit that was ready to be worn at the funeral of his partner sitting on his bed. The NCIS agent knew he should head to the airfield to catch the jet to the service, but something was holding him back, and it wasn't just a reluctance to see his friend put in the ground. Gibbs had called earlier and told Tony to not hold up the flight if the team leader didn't make it.

Knowing that Gibbs wouldn't let anything get in the way of taking out Ari, the young agent feared his boss would go too far and get himself killed.

Tony was also worried about the implications of the conversation Gibbs had shared with Ziva before everyone left NCIS for the day. He knew it had something to do with Ari, but he wasn't sure if Gibbs was playing Ziva, if she was playing him, or if they were actually working together. Tony doubted the latter. Gibbs wasn't exactly known for his ability to trust strangers, and Tony found it unlikely he would put his trust in another Mossad Officer after Ari had tried to destroy them.

The second option also seemed unlikely. It was hard for Tony to imagine anyone being able to pull the wool over Gibbs's eyes. But then again…Ari had seemed to have a talent for being a step ahead, perhaps Ziva shared in that skill.

The most likely option was that Gibbs was playing Ziva. The problem with that option was Ziva was trained to detect deception. If she found out Gibbs was tricking her, things might turn ugly quickly.

Tony had tried calling, but Gibbs's cell was turned off, and his hard line was busy. He knew that his boss wouldn't want him interfering, but Tony just couldn't shake his fear. The team had just lost Kate. They couldn't lose Gibbs.

It was with this resolute thought, that Tony stood from his seat on his bed, and grabbed his SIG as he threw on a jacket and left the apartment. He was going to make sure Gibbs didn't miss Kate's funeral; damn the head slaps awaiting him.

Getting into his car, Tony realized that he had no idea where Gibbs was. Going by his gut, the Special Agent quickly made the decision to head to Gibbs's house, hoping that his boss would retreat to the familiar setting of the basement before performing whatever crazed act of revenge he had planned.

Tony breathed a sigh of relief when he saw Gibbs's truck parked outside of his house and a couple of lights on inside. It looked like he'd made it in time. Getting out of the car, Tony took a casual look around the block and noticed something. Parked two houses away from Gibbs's home was a plain dark sedan with tinted windows and smoke coming out of the tailpipe.

Suddenly wary, Tony drew his weapon in a fluid and practiced motion. He crouched as he made his way to Gibbs's house, his pulse thrumming madly in his throat and chest. The stress was putting undue pressure on his recently healed lungs, and Tony could feel the muscles in his diaphragm clenching under the slight pain.

The young agent was about to open the door, when a gunshot echoed throughout the house.

"Gibbs!" he yelled, kicking in the door and leveling his gun.

The first sight Tony was confronted with was Ziva David crouched by the basement stairs, a gun in hand. She looked surprised to see him.

Taking advantage of Ziva's distraction, and knowing that he'd probably not survive if he allowed her to regain her bearings, Tony quickly fired three rounds without taking the time to aim properly.

The first bullet glanced across the thin woman's ribcage, only taking a minimal amount of flesh with it. The second managed to bury itself in her abdomen in the stomach area. The third was more accurate and made its way into her chest.

Ziva stood for a moment, just staring at him. For the rest of his life, Tony would never forget her eyes in that moment. They were wide with surprise, glazed from pain, and held the most overwhelming sadness Tony had ever seen. She blinked slowly as though she were about to settle down to sleep after a long, rewarding day. Instead, she fell, sliding down a couple stairs in the process.

Tony took a step forward when he heard footsteps racing up the stairs. Raising his gun again, Tony was about to call for the approaching party to stop when Gibbs appeared.

"Boss!" sighed Tony with relief. "I thought you were…"

"WHAT THE HELL DID YOU DO, DINOZZO" Tony stopped speaking abruptly when Gibbs's angry voice struck him.

Looking on in numb shock, Tony watched as Gibbs lent over the young woman, hauling her into a better position as he checked for any signs of life. Finding a pulse on her throat, Gibbs quickly yanked out his cell phone. "Special Agent Gibbs, NCIS," Gibbs spoke sharply into phone. "I need paramedics for a multiple gunshot wound victim immediately."

Tony carefully approached Gibbs and Ziva while Gibbs gave his address and Ziva's description to the operator. "Boss," Tony tentatively ventured when Gibbs hung up. "What's going on? I heard a gun shot and thought…" Tony trailed off as he looked at the bleeding woman.

Gibbs looked at him angrily for a moment as he shrugged off his jacket and pressed it against Ziva's chest wound. "She was helping me, DiNozzo!" yelled Gibbs angrily. "She took out Ari when he was going to kill me!"

Tony stared at Gibbs, not comprehending what he was saying. "But she was here to help Ari, not you."

"She was here to reveal the truth. When it wasn't what she expected, she acted for the greater good and took out a fellow officer to save someone she had never met before. And you shot her for it!" Any further tirades from Gibbs were cut off when Ziva released a choked cough, spraying the air before her in a mist of blood as she struggled to breath. Gibbs quickly rolled her onto her side so she wouldn't choke to death. Looking to Tony, he commanded, "DiNozzo! Get something to stem the bleeding and help me, dammit!"

Tony quickly moved to obey, the implication of what had just happened sinking in. As he pressed a relatively clean dishrag to the wound in Ziva's stomach, Tony was struck with just how young Ziva was. She was gorgeous, of course, and he knew that she had lived through more than most adults twice her age. But now…suddenly…she wasn't so intimidating anymore.

No more words were shared between the two men as they pressed saturated cloths to wounds given courtesy of a government issue SIG Sauer. When the EMTs finally came, the silence had become all-consuming. Both men had filled it with private thoughts of guilt. Tony was silently screaming at himself for jumping to conclusions and shooting an innocent woman, while Gibbs berated himself for having Ziva do his dirty work for him, and being too mysterious about his plans. He should have told Tony to stay away and get to Kate's funeral. Instead, Tony had only done what he was trained to do, investigate.

After Ziva was loaded into the ambulance both men just stood in front of Gibbs's house. It wasn't until one of the paramedics asked if someone would ride with her that Gibbs finally made a move to climb into the back. Tony was able to catch a glimpse of the ex-marine gently cradling Ziva's hand before the doors were closed.

"We're taking her to Bethesda, if you want to follow" one paramedic said to Tony before jumping into the driver's seat. The ambulance pealed out with sirens blaring soon after, and Tony was left standing in front of Gibbs's house.

Not feeling comfortable enough to follow right away, Tony instead made his way into his boss's home, eyes combing over the scene of the crime. In an almost automated motion, Tony went down to the basement, avoiding the bloodstains where Ziva had lain. It was in the dark cellar next to the unfinished skeleton of Gibbs's boat that Tony found Ari's body. The terrorist's arms and legs were slightly spread while blood pooled from a hole in the forehead of his shocked face that bore an eerie resemblance to Kate. Tony's face took on a momentary expression of disgust. It was both amazingly appropriate and insulting that the bastard should die the same way Kate did.

After looking around, Tony decided that Gibbs probably wouldn't want him doing anything unless Gibbs told him to, so there was really no further reason for him to be there. Knowing he could no longer stall, Tony slowly made his way to the classic mustang he had treated himself to after he got out of the hospital.

Tony had been to Bethesda Hospital on several occasions for investigations and, most recently, as a patient, but it somehow felt even more foreboding now than it did then. He couldn't stop thinking about the brief encounters he'd shared with Ziva.

Ziva had been a good sport throughout her time with them. She knew they were working to opposite ends, but she was always courteous and seemed to understand where they were coming from. The story she told about her sister only reaffirmed that opinion. Really, the only time she got a little antagonistic was when it came to verbally defending Ari from Gibbs's attacks. At the time, Tony thought Ziva was only covering for Ari, but now that he thought back. Tony realized that Ziva had honestly believed Ari was still on their side.

Tony rubbed his eyes as the hospital's bright florescent lighting burned his tired eyes after the dark of the rainy night. Stopping a moment to adjust, Tony's eyes quickly keyed in on the reception desk. "Excuse me?" The nurse looked up at him. "I'm looking for a Ziva David. She was brought in with multiple gunshot wounds."

The nurse typed in the name, quickly finding the information. "Are you family?" she asked skeptically. The hospital wasn't fond of allowing just anyone to know the locations of gunshot victims.

Instead of answering the question, Tony simply took out his badge showed his ID.

The nurse's demeanor immediately changed. "Of course, Sir. She's in surgery now, but you can wait in the trauma waiting room around the corner. There's another agent already there."

Tony nodded. "Thank you," was all he said before following the directed route.

The waiting room looked as much like a waiting room as possible. Rows of small, barely padded chairs were in unmovable lines, constrained by the heavy metal beams to which they were all connected. A large TV hung from the ceiling in every corner of the room, each on a different channel. The only one with sound was tuned in to Sponge Bob. A family sat huddled together in a corner, the small children's eyes glued to the glowing television while several of the adults wiped at tears in the corners of their eyes.

Tony was surprised when he didn't see Gibbs angrily pacing up and down the rows of chairs. After confirming that his boss wasn't in any of the seats either, Tony decided to see if there was a coffee machine nearby.

Following the sign for the vending machines, Tony found that his instincts were correct. Gibbs was leaning against the wall across from the machines, staring at the cup of coffee in his hand.

"I hate hospital coffee." Gibbs surprised Tony by speaking. "It's just hot coffee flavored water. They might as well call it tea." Gibbs then promptly took a long sip from the Styrofoam cup in his hand.

Tony didn't know how to respond. He didn't know if he should respond to Gibbs's non sequitur, or apologize. Knowing how Gibbs felt about apologies, and that any stupid comments on his end would probably earn him a head slap or worse, Tony elected to remain silent.

Gibbs finished off his coffee in a hearty gulp. He tossed the cup in the garbage before once again approaching the coffee machine. "Want one?" he asked Tony as he took out his money clip, which Tony noticed was primarily made up of one-dollar bills.

Still wary, Tony responded. "Sure," he said hesitantly. When a cup of hot liquid was shoved in his hand, Tony grew even more confused. "Boss?"

Gibbs sighed, grabbing his own cup of coffee. "It wasn't your fault, Tony." Gibbs voice was resigned. "I shouldn't have used Ziva that way, and I should have told you my plan."

Tony shook his head. He knew Gibbs was already feeling guilty about Kate. He didn't need to add to that. "No. I should have trusted you, Boss, and I should have waited before pulling the trigger. It's just…I thought it was you that she shot."

"I know, Tony," said Gibbs. In a very un-Gibbs moment, the team leader slowly slid to the floor and leaned against the wall. Hesitantly, Tony followed, trying not to cringe when he felt the grime on his designer pants. When Gibbs spoke again, it was with a deep sense of resignation. "It doesn't matter now whose fault it was. That's not going to make a difference in whether Ziva lives or dies."

Knowing that it wouldn't be much better, but desperate to get off the current topic, Tony asked, "What do you want to do with Ari?"

Gibbs huffed, letting out an excess of air built up. "I'll take care of that." Looking at his watch, Gibbs turned to Tony. "What time is the plane supposed to leave?"

"2300," said Tony, a little caught off guard by the change in topic. "Why?"

"I think you should make sure you're on it. Kate would never forgive us if we both missed her funeral." If Tony was going to protest, it was killed by the look Gibbs gave him. "That wasn't a suggestion, DiNozzo."

Gibbs spoke with a finality that had become familiar to Tony in his years with NCIS. The younger agent still had a lot of things he felt he needed to say, and he wanted to know what Gibbs planned to do next, but he knew when to do what Gibbs said. After all, not listening to Gibbs had caused all this.

"Okay," said Tony, awkwardly making it to his feet. He walked away a few steps before he turned around. "Are you sure?"

Gibbs actually cracked a little smile. "Yes, Tony. I'm sure." Tony nodded, about to turn back when he stopped again, mouth open to ask another question. Gibbs stopped him. "I'll be there as soon as I can with an update on Ziva's condition."

This seemed to satisfy Tony who once again headed for the exit. Gibb chuckled to himself when he saw his agent violently attempt to brush the dirt from his pants.

It was a little over an hour later when a surgeon found him with a report on Ziva's condition.

Tony stood over Kate's coffin, memories of their friendship flashing through his mind as he gently placed a rose on the American flag that had been draped over the box containing his dear friend and partner.

As he stood off to the side, Tony noticed Gibbs make a hasty entrance at the back of the line behind the Director. The two shared a few words spoken too softly for Tony to hear them. The Director looked at Gibbs incredulously for a moment, and retreated away from the others after giving her condolences to Kate's parents. Gibbs followed her, motioning for Tony to join them.

"What is this all about, Jethro?" were the first words out of Jenny's mouth. "You said we have a problem."

Gibbs replied in a low voice. "Ari is dead, but there was a complication."

"Which was?" Jenny didn't appear to be in the mood for a runaround.

Gibbs sighed. He really didn't want to share this with Jen after she told him about her relationship with Ziva, but he knew he had to. "Ziva was helping me…"

"Wait," said Jenny with disbelief. "Ziva was helping you? Why would she do that?"

"Let's just say I made her an offer she couldn't refuse." Gibbs was getting irritated. He glared at Tony, daring him to even say the words "Godfather." When he was sure Tony would stay silent, Gibbs continued. "Agent DiNozzo and I had a misunderstanding about her being on our side, and, unfortunately, Ziva ended up on the wrong end of DiNozzo's gun."

"WHAT?" Jenny was torn between fury, shock, and gut-wrenching fear. Needing to channel the torrent of emotions, she turned to Tony. "YOU SHOT HER?"

The other people at the funeral turned at her shout, and Gibbs quickly summed up that the setting for the current conversation was less than appropriate. "Come on," he said, grabbing Jen's arm and motioning for Tony to follow. "Let's finish this back in DC."

Jenny allowed him to lead her for a few steps before she forcibly removed herself from his grip. "Wait," she said, seeming to have come a little more into her senses. "Is…is she…?" Jenny couldn't bring herself to finish the sentence.

At her question, Tony turned his attention to Gibbs. He had been trying to bring himself to ask the same thing.

"Her attending physician said she's doing well. They're keeping a close watch on her, but, if she keeps healing at this rate, chances are she'll recover enough to resume field work."

"Really?" Jenny didn't seem convinced. "One of our Navy doctors cleared Ziva to go back to espionage and assassinations for Mossad?"

"No," said Gibbs, tired from the night before, and worn out from the stress. "But he did clear her to work for NCIS."

"Excuse me?" Jen and Tony both looked confused.

"Don't worry," said Gibbs, a little levity entering his voice. "I'll explain on the plane."

Several Months Later…

Tony slowly trudged down the, in his opinion, over lit hallways of NCIS, his head aching as he forced himself to confront work that Monday after battling indigestion from Fat Al's Burrito Shack the entire night. He felt like he was hung-over, but had missed the fun part of actually being drunk first.

"Ugh, I hate Mondays," Tony groaned as he pulled a mug full of water and a toothbrush out, hoping to make himself look presentable by the time Gibbs showed up.

"I do too, the nurses at Bethesda would always choose that day to complain about their boyfriends to me for some reason."

Tony spun around violently in surprise. "Ziva!" he cried when he saw the young woman sitting on top of his former partner's desk. "You're out of the hospital!"

Ziva smiled at his reaction. "Hello, Tony. How was your weekend?" The nonchalant question may have seemed odd considering that she was speaking to the man who had just shot her only a few months ago, but that wasn't the whole story.

After Tony got back to Washington, his first order of business was apologizing to Ziva. She had actually been very forgiving…after she'd threatened him with multiple and very painful sounding deaths if he ever even thought of pointing a gun at her again. The two had started talking, and, soon enough, a friendship was formed.

On Tony's third visit, Ziva had dropped the bomb about Ari being her brother. She had already told Gibbs, and decided she might as well tell Tony. Tony was surprised, but it just made him admire her more. She killed her own brother to protect Gibbs. Nothing Tony would ever do could make up for the debt he owed her for that.

Tony's visits had been one of the few things Ziva could look forward to while stuck in an American Naval hospital. She had elected to stay at Bethesda for her treatment when Gibbs offered her a job at NCIS shortly after she'd regained consciousness. She had agreed out of a need to escape the Mossad lifestyle, and a fear that she would be permanently removed from Mossad fieldwork after her injuries, and no longer be able to combat terrorism. Gibbs had reassured her she would be a field agent at NCIS, and, as long as she felt she was doing good, Ziva thought it was a worthwhile occupation. He had also told her that he, Jenny, and Tony would not mention what happened in the basement without her permission. For this, she was extremely grateful. She wanted neither the pity, nor suspicion that would result from such a story becoming general knowledge.

And now, here she was.

"I thought you'd be recovering at home for at least a week after you got out." Tony's eyes combed over Ziva, looking for any sign of weakness that would make her unsuitable for work.

Ziva shrugged. "Director Shepard said I could come in today."

"Did Gibbs?" Tony asked, having a good idea what the answer would be.

"Well..."

"No, I didn't." Gibbs made a well-timed entrance, cutting off Ziva before she could continue. Gibbs sent his newest agent a glare that lacked its usual heat. "But since I was overruled, Ziva will be joining us today."

Ziva gave Tony a triumphant smirk.

"But only as an observer." With that said, Gibbs promptly left the squad room again, making his way to MTAC.

Tony laughed as Ziva instantly deflated.

It was at this time that McGee walked in with a tray of coffee. The probationary agent stopped dead when he saw Ziva sitting on Kate's desk. No one had told him Ziva would be joining the team.

"Ziva?" he asked with surprise, his jaw hanging slightly agape. "What are you doing here?"

"At the moment, McGee," said Ziva slyly as she hopped off the desk and approached the NCIS Special Agent. "Taking your coffee." With a quick jerk of her arm, Ziva had acquired one of the two coffee cups. She then rounded her new desk and took a seat.

Tony took advantage of McGee's distraction, and quickly claimed a hot beverage for himself. "Thanks, Probie." Tony then smirked in Ziva's direction. "Officer David," he called her attention to him. Raising his coffee cup in a toast, Tony firmly declared. "This is the beginning of a beautiful friendship."

END

As always with any author, please read and review!

Peace,

Hobbit Killer