Title: A reason to fight.

Summary: Ziva has a near death experience and meets a face from each agent's past. Who could it be? I think you'll be shocked!

Challenge: 'People You Meet in Heaven' Challenge that was initiated by Serendipity on NFA.

Rating: K+

Pairing: No established pair really. Suggested Tony/Ziva and McGee/?.

Disclaimer: I do not own anything of value, except my wild imagination.

References to: Dead Man Talking, Witness and South by Southwest.

Warning: It's a little different from things that I normally write, and may not make much sense since I am tired. DEAD PEOPLE ARE IN THIS FIC!

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NCIS had been investigating the suspicious death of an undercover NCIS agent posing as a marine who had been a drug lord. When he was killed, the drugs vanished, leaving team Gibbs to find them before they got distributed. They had found the drugs and the murderer, who was attempting to hand the drugs off to a buyer, at the marina. The buyer had come quietly, but the murderer? Not so much.

"Let her go Dawson!" Gibbs yelled at the suspect who was, at the moment, holding one of his agent's at gun point.

"I don't think so Gunny!" Paul Dawson yelled, the gun still pointed at Ziva's temple. "First, you have to do something for me! Give me back my drugs and let me go or she will die! I will put a bullet through this pretty face." He moved the gun so that it was under her chin.

"You know I can't do that Sergeant." Gibbs yelled back.

"Let her go!" Tony yelled, fear showing in both his voice and on his face.

Dawson's face melted into a sickening grin. "You her lover boy?"

"We're just partners!" Tony's eyes flicked to Ziva's face. Although her features were set, he could see that there was vast fear in her eyes.

"That's too bad. I might have let her live." Dawson said and before Tony, Gibbs or McGee knew it, he had hit her across the head with the butt of his gun and Ziva went limp in his arms. "Catch her if you can!" He taunted in a singsong voice and then dropped her into the dark and cold water of the marina.

"Ziva!" Tony yelled as he lunged forward. He quickly stripped off his coat and dove in after her. He heard gunfire from underneath the water and felt a splash above him. He glanced over his shoulder and saw Dawson's body falling deeper into the water. Tony then turned his attention back to his partner. He saw her dark silhouette laying on the bottom of the marina, feet away from him. He kicked his feet with all his might and quickly and easily reached her. He reached out and wrapped his arms around her waist, beginning to kick back up to the surface. Right when he thought he was going to run out of air, he burst through water and was met with the chilly air. "I got her!" He yelled.

"Here Tony." Gibbs and McGee reached under their fellow team mate's arms and pulled him, and Ziva, up onto the pier.

McGee put his head down on Ziva chest and felt for a pulse.

"You alright DiNozzo?" Gibbs asked, quickly shedding his jacket and handing it to the younger man.

Tony nodded and tried to catch his breath. "How's Ziva?"

"She's got no pulse!" McGee yelled and immediately began performing CPR and Gibbs pulled out his phone, quickly dialing 911.

--

Meanwhile:

Ziva opened her eyes and was surprised at the sight she saw. Instead of the marina, she saw a cemetery with rows and rows of stone headstones.

"You must be Ziva." A man standing in front of a headstone said, without even turning around.

"Yes." She answered uncertainly. "Who are you?"

The man turned around and stepped closer to her. "Chris Pacci." Ziva cast a quick glance at the head stone and was shocked to see that it bore the name: Christopher Pacci.

"You are dead?" She asked and Pacci nodded. "Am I…"

"Technically speaking, yes. Right now, you don't have a pulse." Ziva quickly put her fingers to her neck and was shocked to find that Pacci was speaking the truth.

"Why am I here?"

"I dunno." He answered with a shrug and started to walk.

"That is not a good enough answer!" Ziva yelled.

Pacci stopped in his tracks and turned around. "But it's the truth. Hey, sometimes the truth hurts. Take it from me."

"Why?" Ziva asked.

Pacci turned back around. "I was killed by being shot in the neck and then being disemboweled."

Ziva made a face of disgust.

"You, got off easily. You drowned. I've been told that it's just like falling asleep."

"Got off easily?" Ziva cried. "I do not want to die!"

Pacci turned around again. "Are you sure? Cuz even if there's a little part of you who doesn't care to live, that makes you not not want to die." Ziva went quiet. "You're going to be moving on soon, so can I ask you a favor?" Ziva nodded. "Can you tell Special Agent Gibbs that I said that it wasn't his fault?"

"Yes." Ziva whispered. "What was not Gibbs' fault?"

Pacci smiled. "That's for him to know, not you." He smiled and suddenly Ziva's vision became blurry until she blacked out. When she came to again, she came face to face with a beautiful young brunette.

"Hi." The woman said.

"Hello." Ziva looked around and noticed that she was in another cemetery. "Who are you?"

"I'm Erin Kendall." She stuck out her hand.

Ziva and Erin shook. "I'm Ziva David."

Erin nodded. "I know. I've been waiting for my turn to speak with you." She turned around and began to walk between one of the many rows of headstones.

"Waiting? So my drowning was planned?" Ziva asked as she ran to catch up wit Erin.

"Not exactly. I'd explain it to you, but it'd take longer than we have."

"Which is how long?" Ziva pried and Erin smiled.

"I'm not sure." She suddenly stopped walking and turned to face Ziva. "Have you ever been in love?"

This question caught Ziva off guard. "I think so." Erin nodded. "Have you ?"

"I thought I was, but then I was murdered." She frowned. "How is Special Agent McGee anyway?"

"McGee?" Ziva repeated, shocked that such a beautiful woman could fall for such a, a geek. "Well, he is fine."

Erin nodded. "Good. He deserves to be happy." She turned to Ziva again. "We had just met and I fell for him right away. I kind of got the feeling that he liked me to, but before anything could happen…" She trailed off. "If you like someone, you should tell them that. Don't wait until something bad happens."

Ziva nodded as she processed this. "You are right." Erin nodded.

"Oh, before I forget. Could you please tell Special Agent McGee that there wasn't anything he could have done to save me. That there wasn't a single thing he could have done to prevent Jeremy from killing me, or that sailor."

"I will." Ziva whispered and Erin smiled again.

"Thank you Ziva." Then Ziva's vision started to shake. "Keep fighting!" Erin yelled as an added though, and Ziva hoped that she'd be going home soon. When her vision finally cleared, she was met with the sight of another, older this time, woman.

"Hello Ziva!" The woman welcomed, pulling Ziva into a hug. "I am Mary Paddington-DiNozzo!"

Ziva stepped back in shock. "You are Tony's mother?"

"Anthony is my son, yes." She put her hand under Ziva's face. "My, aren't you pretty. My son sure does have good taste in women."

"Tony and I are not together. He does not even like me." Ziva quickly corrected.

"Au contraire my dear! My son likes you very much. I see the way he looks at you." She winked at Ziva. "It's a different look from all the other girls." She lent in close to Ziva and whispered in her ear. "And none of them are as pretty as you are." She giggled and stepped back. "Anthony dived in after you to save you! He wouldn't do that for just anyone! Not with his Ermeneglido Zenga suit, over priced Armani tie, Dolce Gabbana shirt and those fancy Gucci shoes! You are very special to him Ziva!"

"Do you really think so?" Ziva asked, on the brink of believing it herself.

"I know my son! You have to turn back! You have to give that relationship a chance!" The crazy woman seemed to have been replaced with a woman who was more in her mind. "And will you tell him something for me? Would you please tell him that no matter what the crazy things were that I did to him or had him do, no matter what my mental state was, I always knew that I loved him. Always." She gazed into the sky for a moment before turning her attention back to Ziva. "They've just about gotten you back. It's time to go!" She ran over to hug Ziva once more and Ziva felt a sudden warmth spread throughout her body.

--

Back in the land of the living:

"I've got a pulse!" A paramedic yelled and Tony let out a breath. "We've got to move her while she's stable." He said and together with his partner, they lifted the gurney up and into the back of the ambulance. "Anyone want to ride with her?"

"I will!" Tony yelled and jumped into the back of the ambulance.

"I'll call a secondary team to process the scene and to take the buyer into custody. We'll meet you there DiNozzo. Don't let her die." Gibbs said before the ambulance doors closed.

--

Hours later:

Gibbs, Tony and McGee had finally been allowed in to go and visit Ziva only after Gibbs had threatened the entire nursing staff. Although she was awake, Ziva was extremely tired as well as confused because of her encounters with the dead.

"Something happened." Ziva said, shattering the silence in the room.

"Yeah, you almost drowned." Tony replied, trying to lighten the mood.

Ziva smiled slightly. "That, and something else. When I was unconscious I," She hesitated, not knowing if she really should tell them about her meetings, "I met some people."

Confusion was on all three men's faces.

"Are you feeling alright?" McGee asked, getting out of his chair and ready to call the nurse.

"I feel fine." She lied, truthfully, her head was killing her. She turned to Gibbs. "Chris Pacci wants me to tell you that it wasn't your fault." Ziva studied Gibbs' reaction and noticed that his eyes widened slightly.

"Pacci?" McGee asked. "Who told you about Pacci?"

"Pacci himself." Ziva answered, noting that Tony and McGee's faces showed shock as well.

Gibbs nodded, not really sure what to say. He wanted to believe it, but he knew it wasn't logical. He didn't want to say the wrong thing out of fear that he might upset Ziva, so he kept his mouth shut.

Ziva then turned to McGee. "Erin Kendall cared deeply for you McGee, and she felt that you cared a great deal for her as well. She wanted you to know that there was absolutely nothing you could have done to save her or that sailor."

"You," McGee swallowed, "you talked to Erin?" Ziva nodded. "How was she?" He knew it was a dumb question, but he just couldn't help himself.

"She seemed happy." Was Ziva's truthful answer.

McGee nodded. "Good. She deserves to be happy."

Finally, Ziva turned to Tony. "Your mother would like you to know that she always loved you. Even when she was acting," Ziva searched for the exact word that Mary had used, "crazy, she always knew that she loved you." Tony swallowed the lump that was forming in his throat.

"Thanks Ziva. That means a lot." He ran a hand through his hair and turned around.

"Do any of you actually believe me?" She asked after a few moments of uncomfortable silence.

"I don't think anyone knew how I felt about Erin." McGee said. "I think I believe you." He finished slowly, and Tony nodded.

"I do too." They all looked at Gibbs.

"Don't tell Abby about this, this," he searched the air for a word that fit, "supernatural ghostly crap!" This statement caused the three agents to smile.

"I am tired." Ziva said trying to muffle a yawn.

"You should get some sleep Ziva, we're going to need to take your statement tomorrow." Tony said as he adjusted the blanket around his partner's body. She nodded sleepily and closed her eyes. When they were sure Ziva was asleep, each man sent a silent prayer up to their guardian angel, thanking them for saying whatever else it was that they said to Ziva and for giving their friend a reason to live.

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A/N: Did it make any sense? I apologize if it didn't. I'm exhausted. Please review!