Title: Friction Burns
Characters: Tony, Ziva
Challenge: Romance
Rating: PG
Pairing: TIVA

Disclaimer: I am ghilliekitten, I own nothing

A/N - this is something I wrote for the romance skills challenge at NCIS fanfiction addiction ... well, I hope you enjoy and, or course, review and tell me what you think ...

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At the sound of the doorbell, Tony paused the movie she was watching and, trying to think of who would be coming by his apartment at this time of night, went and opened the door. His heart skipped a beat when he saw the almost black, slightly bushy hair of the woman standing at the door. She looked up, and Tony could see that she was crying.

"Tony" Ziva said, "I promised to tell you about those friction burns" Tony felt his heart stop. He knew what that meant and wondered what she was not telling him.

"Ziva, what's wrong?" he said, and ushered her into his apartment, turning off the TV with the remote. She walked with him into the living room and sat down next to him on the couch. "Ziva, what's wrong?" she sat there for a long moment, wiped the tears away with her sleeve and then she looked at him.

"He knows" she said, and he could tell that she was struggling to keep her voice level. "I do not know how but he knows… he knows that I..." but her voice broke and she never finished the sentence. He thought she would start to cry again, but she didn't. That's probably why she was crying. Whatever she did must have really, really upset her; I've never seen her cry before. I wonder what …

"Ziva, what's going on? If you tell me, maybe I could help you …"

"My father." She took a deep breath before continuing "He's recalling me to Israel. As director of Mossad he's given me a mission. But the thing is that I know that no matter if I accomplish this mission or not … in all probability I'll die trying." She said it so matter of factly, and seemed so accepting of that it surprised him, though he wasn't sure why.

"Why would your father give you a mission that would kill you?" Tony asked, but she didn't answer, and he was reminded of the only other time they had discussed her father when she didn't simply ignore him and walk past.

"We're not sharing!" she snapped.
"Come on, most embarrassing moment? First time you realized daddy wasn't perfect?" even though it was dark he could almost see the look she was giving him. That and her abrupt silence told him he had touched a very sensitive nerve.

"I came to say goodbye" she said. "I have to be at the airport to catch my flight to Tel Aviv in three hours."

"That still gives us some time" he stood up "We can still so something to make it so you don't have to leave. Jenny, or maybe Gibbs can …" he said in a rush taking his cell phone out of his pocket, wanting to call Gibbs, wanting to do something, anything he possibly could to keep her from leaving, no matter what the cost.

"No" she shook her head "There's nothing anyone can do now, not even Gibbs," he turned to face her.

"I can't do anything to help you?" She shook her head, and stood up as well, placing her hand on his hand, which still held his cell phone. It dropped with a quiet thud onto the carpet.

"No" there's nothing you could do that wouldn't be punishable by the loss of your career, your citizenship, and possibly your life. I won't, I can't ask that of you.

Looking back, Tony was never sure how or when she ended up in his arms. She felt so right, and when she kissed him, he wondered why he had never told her how he felt before. Was it a fear of rejection? He wished he had told her the first time they went under cover together, but he hadn't. He wished he had told her the time when Paula Cassidy had died and he realized, perhaps for the first time that life was too short not to tell those you love how you feel. But he hadn't told her even then – he had told Jeanne, pretending, wishing that he had been saying those words to Ziva. Here again it was painfully clear that life was too short, and he decided that he didn't want to add to his list of regrets. He would always wish he had told her sooner, but there was a big difference between that and not telling her at all.

"I'm sorry" she said, almost extracting herself from his arms. "I just didn't want to leave without letting you know how I feel"

"Don't be sorry" he folded his arms around her again. "I'm the one who should be sorry. I feel the same way, and I should have told you a long time ago – I love you, Ziva"

"I love you too, Tony."