Written for the NFA Give Me Giva . . . Maybe Challenge
Genre: Drama, Action, Tragedy
Characters: Ziva, mostly, but with appearances by Tony, McGee and Gibbs
Parings: Giva . . . kinda . . . slightly . . . maybe
Warnings: Character death
Word Count: 3,959 words
A/N Thanks to my fantastic beta, Jems, for his hard work. You're a star.
She had lost count of the number of times she'd heard a burst of gunfire, but with the most recent assault echoing in her ears, Ziva wished that she'd never come to work that morning. She sighed inaudibly from her position behind two wooden crates as another burst of gunfire echoed throughout the warehouse.
Ziva had really thought she'd gotten rid of these kinds of events after she left Mossad, but, as Ziva knew all too well, there was never going to be an escape from the never-ending violence. So she did what she was trained to do, and that was fight.
Peeking out from behind her currently safe crates, she spotted a man with middle-eastern feature sweeping the warehouse with an automatic rifle. Ziva smiled sadly to herself. The idiot hadn't even noticed she was there. So she aimed, hands steadying the gun. And then, pop. The terrorist finally noticed that he was not alone, in the split second before Ziva's bullet collided with his forehead.
She crept from her crouched position, aiming her gun squarely at the terrorist as she inched her way over to him. He was dead, obviously, but his gun was not, so doing as any trained soldier would do, Ziva picked up the rifle and swung it onto her should. After all, it was only fair that she levelled the playing field a little.
Ziva moved quietly, almost invisibly, from that particular room in the warehouse, careful to sweep her surroundings as she did so. She wondered how the rest of the team was faring, once the gun battle had started, she'd been separated from the others. Groaning inwardly, Ziva didn't like their chances.
This group of warehouses was the headquarters of a terrorist organisation, something they unfortunately hadn't realised until they'd blundered into one of their "death to America" meetings. There had to be, what, twenty men here, all trained by some of the scariest and most deadly people on the planet. They had enough firepower to wipe out the small NCIS team ten times over, something Ziva would rather not think about.
'Gibbs, maybe,' she mused. Gibbs had been a Marine; he would be able to give as good as he got and actually think strategically, as these terrorist soldiers would. McGee and Tony on the other hand, they weren't experienced in assaults of this scale. If there had been, say, a few terrorists, maybe; but not with twenty-odd heavily armed men.
As she pushed through the plastic sheet that was draped over a doorframe, she looked up and muttered a short prayer in Hebrew, something that she had been accustomed to do while she was with Mossad. She hoped, really hoped, that they would all get out of here alive. Ziva couldn't, no wouldn't, deal with losing team members again . . . she'd done enough of that in her lifetime already.
Ziva slid behind another group of crates, keeping her back firmly against the wall. The writing on one of the crates caught her eye. It was in Arabic, but she knew what it said, 'Explosives.' Ziva laughed darkly to herself, not only did she have to worry about getting gunned down, there was a possibility of bombs, or at least terrorists with a last resort of opening these boxes and blowing them all into oblivion. It really was just getting better and better.
She stayed in that position for a moment, until now she hadn't realised she was panting heavily. Suddenly, a burst of pain shot through her arm and, for a second, she'd thought she'd been shot. But then she realised that there had been no telltale gunshot to accompany the pain, so Ziva looked down, and grimaced.
There was a nice graze along her shoulder, clearly made by a bullet that missed. The blood around it had caked, so it had been there for a little while, probably since the first round of gunfire. Ziva hadn't noticed until now, but she had done that before . . . been injured and not noticed until later; adrenaline could be a wicked painkiller.
Ziva touched it gingerly, and when it didn't start bleeding again, she left it. There was not much she could do about it, given her current situation, so she would be better off not worrying about it. It was only a graze and it wouldn't kill her, but being distracted would, so she ordered her mind to forget about the graze, and the pain.
After somewhat effectively blocking out the pain, Ziva heard another burst of gunfire, but unfortunately, this time is sounded like it was on top of her. Gripping her gun, she peered through a gap between the crates and saw three men similar to the one she had taken out earlier. She couldn't see what they had been firing at, and Ziva did not know if this was a good thing or not.
Like before, Ziva lined up her gun and aimed. She was taking a risk, by using her Sig and not the sub-machine gun that would have most likely taken out all three men, but sub-machine gun fire was a lot louder and could potentially attract more attention. So Ziva took her chance with the Sig, and hoped that her training would be enough to take out the men before they got to her.
Ziva fired, taking out the eldest looking terrorist, and the one she perceived as being the greatest threat. He toppled backwards, the action and the sound of the gunshot attracting the attention of the other two. They waved their weapons around, yelling angrily in Arabic. Then one of them spotted her and pointed her out to the other. So much for her hiding place.
Ziva sighed. 'Here goes nothing.'
Ziva rose from her position, ready to aim and fire at the first terrorist that came into her view. But before Ziva could get another round off, the youngest of the men fell in a hail of gunfire. The attention of the remaining terrorist immediately flew to the newcomer. The terrorist looked at the men on the ground and then back to the newcomer, yelling something in Arabic. This allowed Ziva to manoeuvre herself into a better position. She noted that she could probably escape from the situation while the terrorist's attention was occupied, but there was no way she was going to leave whoever had just taken down the other terrorist.
As she moved to a better firing position, she caught the eye of the figure, taking note of the black NCIS jacket and familiar grin of her partner. Ziva could hear him say, "NCIS! Drop the weapon!"
But Ziva knew better than Tony DiNozzo did, and aimed her gun at the terrorist's head; there was no way he was giving himself up. But as her finger tightened on the trigger, he acted first. Ziva could only watch, frozen, in pure horror as the terrorist squeezed his trigger and let out a hail of bullets, all directed at her partner.
Tony fell, and Ziva had to keep herself from crying out. He lay still, arms and legs splayed out to the side. There was no movement, and Ziva feared the worst.
'No . . .'
But then, that fear turned to rage as she spun around angrily and emptied the rest of her clip into the remaining terrorist. He, too, fell with a thud, but Ziva took no notice of the dead terrorist; they were better dead, in her book. Instead, she rushed over to her fallen teammate, kneeling at his side and trying to assess his injuries.
Tony had taken about four bullets, all centred on his torso. Blood was pouring out of the wounds and seeing him like this almost made Ziva panic. She could not see where one injury ended and the next one stared, the blood was coming too heavily and too fast. Ziva gripped at his neck, and found a faint pulse. She gave a half-smile, Anthony DiNozzo was not that easily defeated. She turned her attention back to his wounds, trying to figure out where to start, but failing completely. It was as if though her training had flown out the window.
But she tried, oh, she tried. She pressed her hands against what she thought were the wounds. But it did nothing. The blood was still pouring out, staining her hands red. Then she yelped as a hand snaked its way around her wrist. Ziva looked up at Tony's face and saw his pain-filled eyes flicker open.
Looking at her weakly, he ordered just as weakly, "Stop." He coughed and struggled to get that next lot of air into his lungs. "Just . . . stop."
"What?" Ziva's eyes darted back and forth between his injuries and his face. "What? No!"
"The s-shots," he gasped, a thin line of blood trickling out of his mouth, "would have attracted a-attention." He shuddered as his other arm jerked uselessly.
It took him a moment to get enough strength to say, "Go. Y-you have to go." Tony looked at her with pleading eyes. "M-more will c-come. It-t will g-get dangerous-s." He gasped and his eyes fluttered shut.
"Tony!" It was like her worst nightmare was coming true. "Oh, no you don't." Ziva reached out and slapped Tony across the face, prompting the fallen agent to crack open one eye.
"You do not get to die on me today, Anthony DiNozzo," she barked angrily.
Tony managed a lopsided smile. "I'm afraid you don't have any say, sweetcheeks," he replied weakly. "Please, just go." He fell silent for a second and then murmured, "I'm not g-going to make i-it. So like hell am I g-gonna allow my p-partner to stay and l-look after someone with n-no hope." Ziva was about to argue when Tony squeezed her wrist and said, "Please, Ziva, for me. You'll b-be a much better h-help out there, n-not looking after m-me."
"I do not leave any of my men behind," Ziva snapped firmly.
"But you are not leaving me behind," Tony stuttered and squeezed her arm. "You're just going a-away for a little w-while." He was getting weaker and it was getting harder to speak.
There was a burst of gunfire that sounded as if it were close by. Tony gave Ziva a weak 'told you so' look and then turned away. Ziva was torn. If she stayed, then she would be severely outnumbered, but if she left, Tony would bleed out.
Tony saw her hesitation and sighed, coughing in pain as he did so. "Get g-going, ya . . . crazy . . . ch-chick, go . . . now," he directed, coughing. "If you don't . . ." He let the weak threat hang between them.
Ziva closed her eyes briefly before opening them again. She knew Tony was right; deep down she knew there was little hope for him. But there was still hope for her, and hope for Gibbs and McGee. It would be betraying them if she did not back them up, yet Ziva would be betraying Tony by leaving him. As a soldier, she knew what she had to do, but as Ziva, she hated herself for it.
She bent over and kissed Tony briefly on the lips. "I will come back for you," she said, determined.
"I never d-doubted that," Tony murmured in return. "Now . . . g-go."
Ziva stood as Tony squeezed her wrist lightly one last time. "Go get 'em, tiger," he croaked before gasping in pain.
Shooting her fallen partner one last pained look, she scrambled to her feet and swung the rifle that had fallen onto her shoulder. Ziva muttered a few words in Hebrew to which Tony smiled weakly. Then she turned, turning her back on her partner, and hating it. Ziva took a deep breath before pushing through the plastic that Tony had previously come through.
She didn't look back.
Ziva managed to avoid any more terrorists for the next ten minutes. Yes, she heard the gunfire, but she did not see any in person. This annoyed her, as for the last ten minutes, Ziva had been trying to convince herself that leaving Tony was the right thing to do. No, not the right thing, but the only thing. She tried to tell herself that this was what she was trained to do; she was an assassin and an operative. But it didn't make the pain she felt in her chest any less hurtful. It was plain and simple; Ziva had left her man behind and it had hurt, more than it would have if it had been five years ago.
She sighed dejectedly. This entire fiasco was going to hell. Ziva knew there was no way that the three NCIS agents could handle their current situation; she could only hope that their back up arrived sooner rather than later.
Ziva checked her gun; she was observing a new part of the warehouse complex. So far, she had not seen any sign of the enemy, or her allies. But Ziva knew she was on borrowed time, it was only a matter of time before she encountered another group of terrorists.
And this time they came as Ziva was distracted. She had just turned a corner, but she was only half thinking about the possibility that she could be jumped. In that first moment, Ziva cursed herself; she should have had her full attention on the battle at hand. But this was all the lone terrorist needed; before she could even say a word, Ziva was sprawled on the ground, breathing heavily.
Her weapons clattered from her hands and she watched as they were kicked out of reach. Ziva looked up at the young terrorist, and found herself staring down the barrel of a gun. She groaned inwardly, but maybe she could use the fact that the terrorist hadn't shot her yet to her advantage. Even unarmed, Ziva knew she had a fair chance of getting out of the situation relatively unscathed. She was exceptional at unarmed combat.
"What are you?" the terrorist was yelling in Arabic. "Identify."
"I am NCIS, federal agent," Ziva replied bitterly in Arabic and then lashed out. She placed a well aimed kick in the one area where it was bound to hurt. The terrorist fell to his knees; he might have been a highly trained hostile, but he was still a man.
Ziva smirked and sprung to her feet. She aimed another blow to his chest and the terrorist toppled over; and Ziva almost felt sorry for the young man, almost. Ziva rocked back on the balls of her feet as the terrorist finally regained his senses and jumped to his.
Like Ziva, he had lost his weapon, but unlike Ziva, it was at his feet. Cursing, he reached down to pick it up, but Ziva was quicker and shoved the man backwards. They both fell to the ground. Ziva immediately manoeuvred herself so that she was using her weight to pin the terrorist. But he was stronger and lashed out at her chest.
She gasped and toppled backwards. The terrorist used this to his advantage and picked up the gun. He aimed it squarely at her head and squeezed the trigger. The shot went wild as Ziva scissor-kicked the gun out of the terrorists hands from her position on the floor.
Jumping to her feet, Ziva shoved the man backwards and backed him up against one of the warehouse walls. She glared at him, but found herself wavering as she looked him in the eye. He was no way innocent, but still there was something innocent about his eyes.
But then he swore and spat in her face. As Ziva flinched and turned her face away, the terrorist used this to spin her around, changing positions. He pressed against her, his hand coming to a rest on the base of her throat. He lent into her ear.
"Now how does it feel?" he whispered in English, pressing his hand a little harder against her throat. "We could have fun, you and me." His eyes gleamed with predatory glee and Ziva shuddered.
"Go to hell," Ziva replied in a deadly tone.
She struck his chest, sending him to the ground once again. This time, Ziva didn't waste a single moment, and while the terrorist was down, she went for the kill shot. Before the terrorist had time to reach, Ziva's hands were on his throat and with a simple twist, and a subconscious pang of guilt, she heard it snap.
Ziva stood up and looked bitterly at her handiwork. She may have been one of the best at unarmed combat, but it didn't mean she had to like it. His dead eyes were staring back at her and she sighed. Ziva shook her head, it had to be done. It was kill or be killed.
But then, a faint noise caught her attention. At first, it was just a small moan, but then, she heard it.
"Ziva . . ." The almost inaudible sound echoed through the warehouse. Ziva spun around and did a double take when she saw the figure huddled in the corner, hand pressed to his stomach. Ziva blinked twice; she had been so focused on her altercation with the terrorist, she had failed to see Timothy McGee pressed up against the wall.
"McGee!" she exclaimed and hurried over to the fallen man. "McGee," she repeated as she dropped to her knees.
"Ziva," he also repeated, looking at her weakly as he spat out the blood that oozed from his mouth.
"Where are you hurt?" she asked, going into survival mode. "Anywhere else besides your stomach?
McGee shook his head. "Nope, just there." He tried to say it without pain, but Ziva could hear it in his voice.
"How long have you been like this?" Ziva asked, placing her hands on top of his and pressing down.
McGee shrugged, but then winced in pain, spitting more blood from his mouth. "Dunno," he replied hoarsely. "Awhile, I think." He paused, and then noted softly, "You killed that guy with your bare hands."
Ziva sighed. "Yes, McGee, I did." She looked at him, and felt more than a little hurt as a look of disappointment flickered across McGee's face.
She was silent, and then spoke, saying, "There was no choice, McGee."
"There are always choices," McGee gasped in reply as a wave of pain hit him; the blood began to flow a lot more freely from his mouth. Ziva gripped his hands tightly.
"Not all the time." Ziva looked at him sadly. "Sometimes we have no choice at all."
"I guess," McGee replied, his words slurring together, blood trickling out of his mouth. He paused. "I-I think this is it . . ."
"It for what?" Ziva looked confused.
"Dying. Kicking the bucket. Six feet under. Biting the dust," McGee tried to make a joke of it, but it fell on flat ears.
Ziva looked pained. "What? No!" She thought back to Tony. "I can get you out of here."
"I am sure you can," McGee agreed weakly. He grinned a bloody smile as more blood left his mouth. "But it's too late." He gasped and his body shuddered violently.
"McGee, no. You gotta stay with me." She removed her hands from his stomach and cradled him in her arms, ignoring the blood now staining her clothes. "Please." She had already lost one today, she couldn't lose another.
"I'm sorry," he gasped as blood continued to ooze from his mouth, and she watched as the light flickered from his eyes and he fell still.
"McGee?" she tried, almost desperately. "Tim?" She got no response, only the lifeless eyes of Timothy McGee staring back at her.
She shivered, but refused to allow herself to mourn for what she had lost. There was still a battle, and once all the bastards were dead, then she finally might be able to comprehend what she had lost today. Ziva, however, did allow herself another minute with McGee's still warm body, before gently laying him on the cold cement and getting to her feet.
"You have nothing to be sorry for," Ziva said softly, her last words to him. "It is I who has many things to be sorry for." She turned, and went to pick up her fallen weapons.
And as with Tony, she didn't look back.
Ziva was unsure how much time had passed when she heard the long awaited arrival of their back-up, a Special Reaction Team. She sighed with relief, although she was in no way happy. Ziva knew now that it was over; SRTs were trained to deal with these kinds of situations.
She scurried from her current warehouse in an attempt to find her way back to where it had all began, their car. As Ziva darted and weaved her way through the boxes, she could hear the gunfire of the SRT. She was still on high alert; she could not predict when a terrorist might show himself.
But in the end, she needn't worry.
Finally, after who knows how long, Ziva stumbled out of the warehouse complex and into the bright sunlight. She raised her arm to shield herself from it as she heard, "Armed police, drop your weapons."
Suddenly, Ziva felt too tired to protest, so dropped her Sig and the borrowed machine gun to the ground. She put her hands in the air to show that she surrendered.
"Keep your hands where I can see them," one of the SRT men ordered and Ziva complied.
The three military police officers advanced on her, but were halted when a voice cried out, "Wait, she is one of mine."
Ziva's eyes snapped to the familiar voice and saw Gibbs running towards her and the SRT men. He didn't look to bad, all things considered; just a thin streak of blood running down his face and a slight limp. The SRT men followed behind.
"Ziva." He sounded panicked, a very rare occurrence for Agent Gibbs. "Ziva."
"Gibbs," she replied weakly once he reached her. She looked to the ground.
"Ziva," Gibbs said for the third time. "What the hell happened?"
"I . . ." Ziva opened her mouth to explain, but found that she couldn't say anything. Suddenly, Ziva felt a warm hand on her arm and cheek, lifting her face to meet his.
They looked at each other for a moment, before Gibbs broke the silence by saying, "Tony? McGee?"
Ziva looked at Gibbs and was angry with herself when she felt the tears welling up. She shook her head as she did not trust herself to say anything.
Gibbs faltered and knew by the look in her eyes what had happened to the other half of his team. "You sure?"
"I saw," Ziva murmured and nodded. "I am so sorry . . ."
"Not your fault, Ziva," Gibbs said firmly, still posed in the same position. "Not your fault."
Ziva shook her head. "I should have . . ."
"There was nothing you could have done," he told her firmly and then did something very out of character that it shocked her almost back to reality; he pulled her into a hug.
They stood like that for a minute, with Ziva pressed to Gibbs' chest.
Then she spoke softly, "What do we do now?"
Gibbs sighed. "We do what we always do. We keep going. We move forward."
"But how?" In all his time of knowing her, Gibbs didn't think he'd ever heard Ziva sound so childlike and innocent.
"We will figure that out along the way," Gibbs declared, and looked Ziva in the eye, "together."