Final chapter. I hope you've all enjoyed my "Halloween" NCIS story. Thanks for all the kind reviews. Next time I think I'll do a Christmas story. Christmas elves have to be easier to deal with than the gremlins who inhabited this story and made it so difficult to upload!
Summer of '46
Abby pounced on them when they walked out of the elevator. They were just a little late. Tony had made good on his breakfast offer. Abby gave Ziva a bone-crushing hug which Ziva endured stoically until her eyes began to bug out then Tony took pity and made Abby let go.
"Abs, let her breathe."
"Oh yeah, sorry, Ziva. I'm happy you're back. Not that you left, but you weren't really here. Well, you were but not totally. Oh, I'm just glad you're back!"
Abby went to hug her again and Tony grabbed her arm.
"Whoa. Let us put our stuff down before you start again."
"Okay, Tony. Oh! I got something to tell you about the case. Gibbs is up in MTAC. As soon as he comes down I wanna tell everyone at once. McGee's here too. Let me call Ducky and have him come up. DON'T LEAVE!"
Ziva and Tony looked at each other and then moved to their desks. McGee looked up as he heard them.
"Hey guys. You feeling better today, Ziva? That whole Anna Stein thing - really weird, hunh?"
Tony had a sudden thought.
"Probie, if I see this in your next book I am going to make you so sorry."
McGee held up his hands.
"No way, Tony. Not to worry. Too unbelievable even for fiction."
Ziva frowned and opened her mouth to speak. Tony beat her to it.
"Just remember, Probie. Not a word."
The elevator dinged and Abby and Ducky got out. The M.E. immediately came over to Ziva, reaching out to touch her forehead. Ziva jerked away.
"How are you today, my dear girl? I must say you look better than the last time I saw you. Are you eating and drinking enough?"
Ziva gave a soft laugh.
"Tony is trying to fatten me up. He keeps ordering the same thing for me he orders for himself."
Ducky look at DiNozzo, his eyebrows raised.
"I just want to make sure she eats enough, Ducky. I mean everyone likes pancakes, eggs, bacon, hash browns, orange juice, and coffee for breakfast, right?"
Ducky and Ziva exchanged smiles.
Suddenly Abby squealed from where she stood by McGee's desk.
"Gibbs, hurry up, get down here. I wanna tell everybody something about the case. We've been waiting on you forever!"
Gibbs smiled and shook his head.
"Abby, I've been in MTAC for 15 minutes."
He came and sat down at his desk. Everyone waited.
"Well?" he said. "What ya got, Abs?"
She pulled a necklace from her pocket and held it high for all of them to see. A simple gold-link chain with a Star of David on it.
Ziva walked over to Abby and reached up to touch the necklace.
"It's like mine."
She reached up and held her own Star of David while still touching the one Abby dangled.
'Exactly like yours! That's my point. I found it in the navy nurse clutch bag brought in as evidence. It was hidden in a little pocket that had kind of rotted together over the years. Do you know how rare it was for anyone to wear a Star of David back in 1946?"
She looked around but nobody answered her.
"Well, very rare! For Anna to have one and one exactly like Ziva's, that's just beyond chance."
"She's right, you know?" Ducky said. "That soon after the war…well, the Star of David is what the Nazis made their Jewish prisoners wear as a sign of their Jewishness, their lack of worth in the Third Reich, marking them as enemies. It was considered a sign of shame. It wasn't until the new state of Israel came into being that the Star of David once again became a proud emblem of a thriving nation; something it hadn't been in almost 2000 years. They raised it as their standard for all to see."
"Right, Ducky! Don't you guys see? It's the connection. It's how Anna came to possess Ziva. "
Abby looked for approval from her coworkers.
"Are you sure this was Anna's purse, Abby?" asked McGee.
"Yeah, I'm sure, Tim. Would I be saying it if I wasn't sure?"
She gave him a dirty look.
"Her initials are stitched inside in the lining. I wonder why she would take the necklace off? The clasp wasn't broken or anything."
Ziva let Anna's necklace drop from her fingers but kept tight hold of her own Star of David. Tony walked to stand by her.
"She took it off so she wouldn't offend Mrs. Randolph," Ziva said. "She wanted to make nice with Ray's mother, the Jew hater."
Ziva turned and walked to her desk and sat down. She turned on her computer and turned so her back was to the rest of them. Tony felt eyes on him and turned to see Gibbs giving him the stare. Abruptly Gibbs stood and motioned Tony to follow him. McGee shot him a look of sympathy and Abby and Ducky stood silent.
As soon as the elevator doors closed Gibbs hit the stop button.
"She ready to come back to work, DiNozzo?"
His boss' pale blue eyes bore into his. He couldn't lie.
"I think so, Boss. She's still a little upset about everything. But we had a long talk this morning and she seems to be doing okay."
Gibbs kept up the stare.
"Look, I know you don't believe in ghosts, Boss, but with all that happened, all Ziva did, the things she said to me; I gotta tell you, it just about makes a believer out of me. So yeah, she might have some fallout from it for a while but it shouldn't interfere with her work."
Gibbs nodded and pushed the start button.
"However," Tony had to add as the doors opened, "if we get any cases involving anti-Semitism over the next few weeks I'd let Ziva stay behind."
"Right," Gibbs said.
The two of them walked back into the squadroom. Everyone was pretty much still in the same positions as when they'd left except Abby who now perched her behind on the edge of Gibbs' desk.
Gibbs sat down and picked up a piece of paper, pulling it from under Abby's butt. He put on his reading glasses.
"Ducky, Mrs. Matz has asked you to release the bones of Anna Stein and her baby to this mortuary service."
He handed the paper to the M.E.
"But of course, Jethro. That poor young woman and her baby are long overdue to be laid to rest."
Their boss looked around at them.
"This funeral home will also be arranging the internment of Rayburn Randolph. I spoke with Mrs. Matz and Mr. Randolph's attorney who is also his estate executor. Mr. Randolph and the skeletons of Anna Stein and their baby will all be buried in one casket in the family plot reserved for Anna. We are all invited to attend."
Ziva stood up from her desk and came to Gibbs'.
"You arranged this, Gibbs? Since last night?"
Ziva bent down and gave him a hard, quick hug and a kiss on the cheek.
"Thank you, Gibbs," Tony heard her whisper to Gibbs whose cheeks might have turned the slightest bit pink.
Tony smiled at him. Abby jumped up off his desk and ran around and tried to kill him with her hug. McGee said, "Quick work, Boss."
Ducky just gave him a sly look. He had helped Jethro gather all the contact information last night.
"The service will be held day after tomorrow at 10 a.m. I expect everyone invited to attend."
They all looked at Gibbs as if expecting more. He stood up from his desk.
"If you don't have anything to do…"
All of them, even Ducky, rushed to avoid doing whatever Gibbs was about to say.
Tony stood between Ziva and Abby. Gibbs, Ducky and McGee stood behind them. Mrs. Matz, who had come back from Atlanta with her two grandsons their mother having been delivered of a 9-pound baby girl, sat with the boys next to the flower-covered coffin. Her son and another daughter and their spouses sat nearby. A rabbi and an Episcopalian priest stood side by side having just delivered joint services. Now it was time for the final prayers before the coffin with what remained of three human beings was lowered into the ground.
Tony closed his eyes and bent his head and as he did he felt Ziva's hand brush his. He took her hand in his and squeezed. She squeezed back and left their hands joined. The rabbi concluded his prayers in Hebrew and then the priest began. Soothing words for a sad occasion. He spoke about how the love between a Jewish girl and a Christian man in a time when such a thing was not easily accepted showed the way for all. The way to peace.
The last amen was said. The rabbi spoke to the few gathered there.
"Mrs. Matz would like to thank you all for coming. Unfortunately, she has to fly back to Atlanta in a few hours so there will be no gathering, as indeed is the Jewish tradition. She wishes the blessings of God on you all."
The team went as a group over to Mrs. Matz. She shook each one of their hands.
"Thank you all for bringing my aunt and her baby home. And Ray too. She loved him so much. It's only right they finally be together."
She dried her eyes one more time, gathered her brood and left. Gibbs and his team started back toward the cars they had come in. Ducky and Gibbs in one, Abby and McGee in another and Ziva and Tony in his Mustang. They all headed back to the office.
Tony looked at Ziva out of the corner of his eye. She had on a dark blue dress with a short skirt that emphasized her small waist and long legs. She had worn a scarf over her head during the ceremony but now she removed it and shook her hair out. He wanted to touch her soft hair, feel it on his fingers but not now. They hadn't had much chance to talk again in the last 2 days. He was waiting for the right moment.
"Ziva," he said.
"Ziva, I…" he stopped. He wasn't sure what he wanted to say.
"Tony, you have something to say."
He nodded but still didn't say anything. Then he tried again.
"The funeral didn't upset you did it?"
She looked out the window.
"No, no it did not. Anna left me 3 days ago. And Rayburn Randolph died 3 days ago. Their story here finally ended. I can only hope the story will continue for them elsewhere."
She was silent for a few minutes and Tony didn't say anything either. He kept driving, glancing at her now and then.
She spoke again in a smaller voice.
"Do you think their story will continue?"
He heard the sadness, saw her shoulders slump. He reached over and took her hand much as he had at the funeral, only this time he didn't squeeze. He just rubbed his thumb slowly, gently over her palm. As he thought of an answer he moved their entwined hands over until they were resting on his thigh.
"Yeah," he said after a bit. "I think their story will continue. Not sure where or how but it's already lasted through deaths, wars, betrayals, and ghostly possession. I think their story is strong enough to continue in whatever the afterlife is."
She looked at their joined hands and then at his face. He smiled at her. She smiled back.
He looked back at the road and they finished their trip in comfortable silence. They were almost back at the Navy Yard when he spoke again.
"You know, I've been thinking. I've bought you a lot of meals recently. I think you need to cook supper for me soon."
He could hear the laughter in her voice.
"Oh you do? And how soon would that be, Agent DiNozzo?"
"How about maybe Friday night? I've got a great movie we can watch too. HIGH SPIRITS. It's kind of stupid but lots of fun with wonderful actors being silly. A young Liam Neeson plays an Irish ghost with a gas problem."
She laughed. A genuine laugh. He knew the gassy Irishman would get to her.
"Oh, I must see this movie, Tony. Neeson's character will remind me of you, yes?"
"I said Irish not Italian, Zee-vah."
They continued bickering back and forth while he parked the car and they got out. Just before they walked into the building Ziva moved in front of him, blocking his way. He stopped. Didn't have much choice unless he wanted to run her down.
"What?" he asked.
"Thank you, Tony."
And because she was in heels she didn't even have to stand on tiptoe to kiss him. Still not a passionate kiss. No wait, it was passionate just not lustful. The kiss was full of shared pain and sorrow and maybe even love. No lust. Not this time. She moved away and then linked her arm in his. They walked in side by side. Tony couldn't have stopped smiling even if he had wanted to.