Disclaimer: Not mine. But thanks for rubbing it in.

A/N: I hope this isn't too off character. Yes, Tony's the joker. But we all know that beneath the surface it's a different story. I've been sitting on this for a while, waiting for a story to shoehorn it into. But none of my stories on the go seem quite right, and I wanted to get it out there. I'd be interested to hear what you think.


Ziva David is not my girlfriend. She is not my wife or my de facto. We are not bound by any law, or exclusively joined in the eyes of our friends and colleagues. We don't share a house, pet or furniture. We've never given into temptation and slept together, and the handful of hot kisses we've shared in almost four years were to sell a cover, rather than to express romantic intentions.

But she is my partner. Not just at work, but in life. At work we always have each other's backs—in the field while the bad guys are shooting at us, and in the office when Gibbs is coming down from a caffeine high and is screaming randomly for information. She'll cover for me when I'm not where Gibbs thinks I'm supposed to be, and I'll put my name on an accident report when really it was her who was driving. Our skills and personalities are complementary, and we have a well-deserved reputation in the agency for being the best.

When we leave the office and return to what we can sometimes call regular life, the partnership gets stronger. I've never told her, but she is to me what other people might sappily call my significant other. She's that special person in my life. The one who keeps me anchored. The one I share all my good news with. The one I go to when I've fucked up and I don't know how to fix it. I trust exactly four people with my life, but she is the only one I'd trust with my heart.

For her, I would forsake all others—and if you knew anything about my past you'd know that's a big deal. I would walk through the fires of hell for her. I'd throw down for her any time, anywhere, no questions asked. I'd help her cover up her biggest mistakes, then hide her from the world and keep the wolves at bay. For Ziva, I would slay dragons.

There is no doubt that she's the best friend I've ever had. Her influence has made me grow up, and I did it without kicking and screaming. She made me realise that I wanted to be a better person, and that I was capable of making the change. She supported me and assured me when Gibbs went on hiatus. She watched out for me during the Jeanne shitstorm, even when I wouldn't let her within arm's reach.

In return, I try my best to give her what she needs. I'll still make a joke when she's angry and needs to calm down, but I've also leant to hold my tongue. I let her talk, and I let her stay silent. I let her be angry, I let her scream and I let her cry—all while holding her hand. I'll argue with her when she needs to be brought back to earth. I'll force her to face her demons, and I'll kick her ass if she tries to run away from them. Never in my life have I cared enough about another person to willingly bear the brunt of their anger, just to make them feel better.

Plain and simple, I love her. And I know she loves me too.

I know by the way she looks at me, and by the way it makes me feel excited and off balance. I know by her voice when she speaks to me in a deeper, quieter, more intimate tone than she uses with everyone else. I know by the way she finds reasons to touch me, just like I do with her. She'll let me stand right against her when we talk, or let me put my hand on her back. But I know if McGee tried she'd break his arm in three places. To get my attention on those rare occasions when she doesn't already have it, she prefers to touch my wrist or my arm instead of yelling my name. She's comfortable with me in a way she isn't with anyone else. Hell, she's so comfortable that she has no qualms about licking my face, in full view of the Director of NCIS, just to amuse herself.

How could I not love her?

But the thing that convinces me the most, not just of her feelings but also of my own, is how we cope with those restless nights during a case when we're so tired and yet still can't sleep. One of us will turn up at the other's house, unannounced, and the other will let them in without asking for an explanation. We'll spend the evening talking about nothing in particular, as long as it doesn't have to do with the case. Then, when the conversation runs out, we'll strip to our underwear, climb into bed together, and fall asleep wrapped around each other. It's not a sexual thing, and it doesn't happen often. It's just our own private support network. Like Gibbs has with his boat, or McGee has with his…actually, let's not think about that.

Her closeness reminds me that even if I do fuck up, she'll still have my back. That if I need help, I can ask her without feeling like an idiot. That during those cases when I doubt myself, or feel like I'm not getting anywhere, I'm not alone.

More than that, she reminds me that despite the death and pain we witness every day, there is goodness and beauty in the world. She gives me a reason to smile every day. She gives me hope that we're making a difference in people's lives. And she honestly makes me believe that despite my failings and flaws, I must be a pretty good guy to have someone like her by my side.

Ziva David may not be my girlfriend or wife, but for now, that's okay. Because I know for sure: she's my one in six billion.

The end.


Yes, I did paraphrase the final line from an X-Files episode. What of it???