So, obviously, this story has been a little revamped. It occurred to me that Ziva and Tony had a lot to face in the coming chapters, so I'm gearing up for an entire international saga that will span a few months as well as a few countries. Are you all up for it? It will most likely be getting pretty lengthy, but I can promise in all honesty that there will be plenty of TIVA. ;)
So, here it is! I hope you enjoy.
Part One: Israel
The dry Israeli air should be a comfort, I know. I am home, where my family is and where I have grown up and come to serve my country. It is my country that I am serving now, standing atop this building in the mid-afternoon sun. I have to believe this. Tony is standing a few feet away from me, his unkempt hair moving in the wind. The mouth I have come to know so well is pressed into a grim line, summing our situation up with one dispassionate motion. I can see his anxiety in the way he holds his shoulders, but I can just as easily see the regret.
"You killed him," I say, my voice quiet and cold. It is a tone that I have rarely used with this man; my partner, and my best friend. "You were suspicious, jealous, and you killed him for no other reason."
"In my home, Tony," I say emphatically, ignoring the sudden constriction of my chest. "You cannot see what that means to anyone other than yourself, and for that I am deeply sorry."
"Is that why we're here, Zee?" he asks, and the fond use of my nickname is like a slap in the face, "Because you're sorry?"
"No, it is not," I say with all honesty. In truth, I wish it was. I cannot force myself to say the words quite yet, but they are waiting for me to accept them. Sooner rather than later, I know. Tony does not respond but holds his ground exactly the way I knew he would. Tony feels more than most; remorse is something to which he has become very accustomed. It is not remorse, though, that has pulled at the lines around his mouth. It is something far more complicated, and it is something that he and I have always shared.
"Tell me, Ziva," he says softly, his voice drifting back to me on the breeze. I hear the heartbreak in his voice and I brace myself against it, knowing it would be all too easy now to get swept away with him.
"My father… the director," I correct, knowing that my feelings toward Eli David right now are far less than familial, "Has ordered me to finish what Michael started the night you fought in my apartment. To…" God, I cannot say the words. I must say the words. "… Kill you."
I expect his jaw to drop and his eyes to widen. I expect him to start producing excuses and screaming in fear and disbelief, but none of those things happen. He simply shuffles his feet a little wider apart and faces me with hard eyes that are much older than his years. I stand down from nothing and no one, but the sight scares me. Complacency is hardly a trait that Tony embraces, now or ever. I hate that he is so calm and my hands are shaking.
"Say something, Tony," I seethe, "Anything."
"There's nothing left to say, Ziva," he says cryptically, "And even if I did, it wouldn't make any difference."
"You should be angry!" I shout, feeling my self control begin to slip away. "You should feel scared or betrayed! You should hate me!"
"Well, I don't. I could never hate you," he replies, and we both know that this has made my assignment harder on me. I am having a hard enough time as it is to do what my father has instructed me to do without Tony accepting the entire situation as fate or some misguided necessity. He believes that he is right, but he also believes that I am doing what I feel I need to do. I do not know which part of that makes this harder for me to accept.
Out of a need to justify myself, I step forward and shove him a little. His shoulder goes back and he winces from his injuries—the ones Michael gave him, I realize with a shudder—but his feet stay exactly in place. I repeat the motion and he gives me the same resigned look.
"Fight back, Tony," I say and it almost sounds like a plea. Almost. "Fight me back."
He shakes his head.
"You have to!" I scream desperately.
"I could never fight you," he says, staring directly into my eyes. He sees all the fear and doubt there; I know he must. He sees it, but he does not use it.
I wish he would.
"Do it!" I say, this time pushing him a little harder. "Hit me!"
"Ugh!" I groan and this time I shove him for real, his eyes registering the beginnings of surprise as he falls backwards onto the hot pavement. I am on him within a second of him hitting the ground, my knees straddling either side of his torso. Before I am entirely sure what I am doing, my gun is off my hip and in my hand. My fingers move nimbly on the weapon and then the safety is off, the muzzle jammed into his chest. Tony does not move, but when his eyes reach mine he does not seem nearly so calm. For a moment I think I see a question there, in his eyes, perhaps fear or uncertainty… but it could just be my guilt.
"They are my father's orders," I say, unsure of who it is that I am really trying to convince.
"I know you, Ziva," he tells me, "And you don't follow anyone's orders but your own."
"Why are you so calm?" I ask, my voice barely a whisper. "Could you really believe that it would end this way? That mine would be the last face you saw on this earth?"
"I'd always hoped it would be your face I saw before I finally kicked the bucket," he tells me and I close my eyes, "Today, tomorrow, or fifty years from now."
"Do not do this," I beg, the gun quivering in my unsteady hands.
"But if you're asking if I knew that I would die this way, then the answer is no," he says honestly and dares to rest his heavy palm on my knee. The heat from the contact is almost scalding. "I never expected to die at the hands of someone I love."
"Please, Tony," I say but my voice slips into the wind to be carried away. I hear his harsh breathing and my own, and I hear my father's voice berating me for allowing Tony to walk away from Michael's murder entirely unscathed. I feel Michael's arms around me and his alcohol-ridden breath on my cheek, and the way his eyes stared blankly at my carpet while his blood seeped into it. The anger has almost returned, righteous in all its fury and circumstance, but then Tony's face is there.
His goofy smile when he makes fun of Tim, and the way he hugs Abby when she cries. I hear all his dumb movie quotes and ridiculous film trivia. I hear the sound his head makes when Gibbs slaps him, and the way his voice gets just a little happier when he is exaggerating the syllables of my name to annoy me. I remember his touch, and the he held me when we were undercover together all those long years ago. I remember the misery in his eyes when I found him knee-deep in Ducky's liquor, drinking Jenny's death away. I drank with him, I recall with a wry smile… we talked of inevitability.
I will the memories away, but they will not go.
I scream, hurt and angry, and push the barrel of my weapon harder into his chest, ignoring his hiss of pain. I almost pull the trigger, but then the barrel is moving itself up and away from Tony. Firing blindly into the sky, I empty the magazine in fourteen angry bursts before throwing the gun a few feet away and rolling off of him. It lands a few feet away, and I wait for Tony to get up and retrieve it. He does not move.
I lie on my back and put my hands over my face, finally giving in to the hot tears that had been steadily building since I arrived in Israel to realize what my father expected of me. I would rather that he had killed me, I realize, because I cannot kill Tony. I had never thought myself capable, and now I realize that it is entirely true.
"I am sorry, Tony," I say through the sobs that are now racking my body. "I am so sorry."