"I'm tired of pretending," he said.

"So am I," she replied. Regret, frustration—it suffocated the oxygen out of the small elevator.

The elevator reached its floor. "It's dinner theater for an audience of one. Let the curtain go down." He walked out.

Feeling defeated, Ziva David sighed. She could feel her heart drop to her stomach. Normally strong, inside and out, these emotions were an uncommon occurrence. But he did this to her. He seemed to play with her mind, confuse her. If only he knew. She hadn't only been talking about the politics of the job they both loved, but about the way she felt, and she had hoped he had meant it the same way. Had the elevator not opened, she wondered, where would the conversation have gone? Their chance was gone once again. Over the past four years Ziva had repeatedly tried to hint to him about her feelings for him, for Tony DiNozzo. It seemed that whenever they got to talk seriously about anything, the conversation was always cut short before it got to that point.

Those moments of tension, those gazes she so often felt from him, he times when they confided in one another—that was what kept her hoping that he felt the same way. Despite his tendency to act childish, Ziva loved him more deeply than she ever had loved anyone else. She would never admit it, but she adored his childish antics. They made him all the more easy to love. And his smile, oh, his smile. It could melt the Arctic, and it had certainly begun to melt her icy heart that first day she met him. Tony had changed that summer they were apart. While he still joked with the team and sent sarcastic comments McGee's way, he seemed older to her. He had grown up so much as an agent afloat. He had grown softer and yet tougher all at once. It was then that the looks they shared began to mean more. It was then they both realized what was truly going on inside of them.

It was exhausting, she thought, to always have to be the strong one. When everything around her was chaos, she believed it to be her job to stay sane, to hold it all together. She had been trained to stay as calm and rational as she could; but Tony wasn't like this. He didn't always follow orders. He had a temper. He was just, so… wonderful.

And what would her father think if he were to hear about this? Marriage to an American NCIS agent was most definitely not in his plans for her, let alone any kind of relationship with such a man. She was the last of his children. Disappointing him was the last thing she wanted to do. He had never fully approved of becoming Mossad, despite the fact that he was the director of the whole organization. Ziva had already disappointed him once. She wasn't sure if she could do it again.

Ziva thought back to Roy. She had fallen in love with him too, but then he died. Only a few months earlier Tony had been reassigned to the sea, and she was sent back to Israel. It was a heart wrenching four months. Ziva remembered seeing him again for the first time. Her heart beat had grown faster with every minute since she and Gibbs had stepped onto the plane. And seeing him again, it was like she had become whole once more.

Ziva wasn't the kind to depend on a man, or on anyone for that matter. She could hold her own, fight for herself. But Tony had a knack for finding ways to make her knees go weak. And she knew that one of these days, he'd crack a hole in the invisible wall she surrounded herself with. After that, it'd all be over.