A/N I started writing this a few months ago (right after losing my dad), so it's kind of messy.
I got the idea while listening to the song "The Dance" by Garth Brooks, which is a beautiful song (apparently it's often played at funerals as well.)
Hope you like it.
Ziva sat in the front row, looking up at the occasional person who walked in front of her, offering their condolences, She'd nod at them, then resume staring at the box in front of her.
This was the third worst day.
Ziva got up and quickly walked to the door, not wanting the knocking to wake Ariella.
She opened the door to find Gibbs, McGee, Abby and Ducky standing there. She took one look at their identical expressions and knew something was wrong. "What has happened?"
Gibbs stepped forwards and took both her hands in his. "Come here. Sit," he said softly, leading her back to the couch. The action unnerved Ziva even further, even though she knew this wasn't a time for normal behavior.
"There's been an accident," Gibbs said, still holding her hands. The others had gathered behind her silently. "Tony's dead."
For a split second, she was still. Six words. That's all Gibbs had said. Six words.
Then she began breathing again. Short, gasping breaths escaped her as she tried to hold them in. Tears welled up in her eyes and began falling.
"Ziva, Ziva," Gibbs said, still grasping her hands as is preventing her from running away. "Ziva, say something."
Ziva saw that now everyone was crying, but not as obviously as she was. But she didn't care. Her partner, her best friend, her husband, was dead?
"Oh my God," she choked out, just managing to form the words. "Tony..."
Gibbs let go of one of her hands to wipe his eyes briefly. Abby turned to cry into McGee's shoulder, while Ducky just stood behind them as if in shock.
"He was driving back from Shenandoah Park," Gibbs said slowly, keeping his voice controlled. "Single vehicle collision with a tree."
Ziva could just imagine what Tony would have said if he'd heard that - "Looks like the tree won."
"What...what..." Ziva couldn't speak. What was she supposed to do now? How was she supposed to react?
"Abby," Gibbs said quietly. Abby walked around and took his place as he stood up. Ziva gripped her hands as Abby pulled her into a hug.
"McGee," Gibbs said in the same tone. McGee nodded and put his hand on Ziva's shoulder.
"I'm just going to check Ariella," he whispered before walking down the hall.
Ziva just cried some more into Abby's neck.
"Ziva," Ducky said. Ziva jumped, startled. "Sorry. But it's time to move."
Ziva blinked, noticing that everyone around her was moving. "The service?"
"It's over," Ducky said gently. He took her hand and led her to the car. "Abby has Ariella in here already."
"Thank you," Ziva replied. She still couldn't take her eyes off of the pine box in the hearse in front of them.
Ziva heard another cry of pain from the kitchen. "Something wrong?"
After more grumbling, Tony collapsed onto the couch next to her. "Careful," she warned, moving her hands to her stomach.
"Baby-proofing is hard!" he explained, running his hands through his hair. "That little girl better be grateful for this."
"I am sure she will be," Ziva mused. "Especially because she will never be able to swallow cleaning products or put knives into electrical sockets or-"
"Yeah, alright," Tony said, silencing her by putting his hand over her mouth. "Point taken."
Ziva smiled and pulled his hand down. "Thank you."
Tony leaned in and kissed her, putting his free hand on her cheek. "I love you."
Ziva smiled even more. "I love you too."
Abby sat with Ziva in the kitchen as she gave Ariella her bottle. It was a day after they'd heard the news about Tony.
"You want a go?" Abby offered. Ziva shook her head, concentrating on opening the mail.
So many cards. Endless messages of support and love, all for her and her daughter.
She'd give anything to have her husband back.
She pushed her hair back over her shoulders. "Where's Gibbs?"
"He's with McGee at NCIS sorting out some things," Abby replied. "Ziva-"
"I should have known something was wrong," Ziva said. "He was late coming home from work. He hasn't been late since we had Ariella-"
"Ziva, he was thinking about you," Abby said suddenly. Ziva stared at her. "When...when it happened. He was thinking about you and his little girl."
"How do you know this?" Ziva asked.
"I was talking to him...right before the crash. I'd called him about some evidence and we ended up talking about you because he was on his way home."
Tears began flowing down Ziva's face again, but she ignored them. "And...what did...what did he say?"
"He just kept saying how lucky he was that he had you...how much he loved you...how he thought everything was going perfectly for you guys..."
Ziva laughed despite the tears. "He really was the perfect one."
"Yeah, he was."
Ziva thought for a moment. "This is all just..." she paused, searching for words. "...this is all just so unfair. We've only been married for two years, we've had Ariella for five months...we're known each other for-"
"Nearly 12 years," Abby finished. "I know."
"To have it end like this?" Ziva continued. "Over? Just like that?"
"It is just so unfair!"
"Can I say something?" Abby asked timidly. Ziva nodded. "You were so lucky to have him for those 12 years. So so lucky. Not everyone can have the happiness you guys had."
Ziva sniffed and took the baby from Abby's arms. "I woke up this morning thinking it was all a dream, that he would be right beside me, watching me sleep like he always did. But he wasn't. He won't ever be there."
"I know," Abby said as she watched Ziva crumble again. "I know."
That was the second worst day.
After arriving home from the funeral, Ziva put Ariella to bed before wandering through the house.
Tony's thing were still lying on the benches and tables, as if their owner would just walk in and use them again. His wallet, which he always forgot, sat aimlessly beside the door, having been dumped there as Tony had returned home from work.
Throughout the house Ziva saw memories, ghosts of them together. Dancing around the kitchen…coming home with their baby girl…disastrously installing a ceiling fan before calling in a professional...coming home from their honeymoon still riding high on the cloud of happiness.
And it all ended the second his car impacted on the tree.
It was an accident, Gibbs has told her. Just an accident. No-one was at fault, no-one was to blame. Just a freak occurrence of events.
Ziva wasn't one for believing in fate, but she considered Tony to be her exception. Sure, there had been times when he had driven her crazy, times when he'd hurt her with his words, but they seemed a lifetime ago now. He'd made her so happy, and that was what mattered.
"What are you doing?" Ziva said as she walked into the squadroom.
Tony looked up from her desk guiltily. "Nothing?"
"Why are you at my desk?"
Ziva shook her head. "Back to your desk," she instructed, just like a mother, but there was nothing parental about the way he quickly held her hand as he walked past.
Ziva arranged her things behind her desk before noticing the small, dark red box next to her keyboard.
She looked over at Tony, who was now hiding behind his chair.
Ziva arranged her things behind her desk before noticing the small, dark red box next to her keyboard. She looked over at Tony, who was now hiding behind his chair.
Smirking, Ziva went over and sat next to him. "I think you left this on my desk."
"No I didn't." Ziva tossed the box between her hands until Tony snatched it from her. "Don't play with it."
"And what is it?"
Sighing, Tony slowly pulled the lid back to reveal a gold ring with a single diamond set in the middle.
"Tony," Ziva breathed. She'd been expecting earrings or even a new necklace chair…not a ring. "Is this a proposal?" she asked, just to be sure.
"Okay, you know I don't do the whole romantic thing. Our first date?"
"At a restaurant you asked me to. Our first weekend away?"
"Israel, to visit your family, which again was you idea."
Ziva pressed her hand against his mouth, something which was a frequent occurrence. "You organized our apartment so we could move it together. You organized the Secret Santa for our team so you could cheat and get me something. You snuck those roses into my gym locker every Thursday…and now you're proposing?"
Tony removed her hand. "Yeah, okay, I'm charming," he said, feigning blushing. They both stood up before he knelt back down. "Marry me, Ziva."
Ziva laughed slightly as she twisted her engagement ring on her finger, which was still nestled next to her wedding ring. Tony's ring hung around her neck, on a separate chain to her Star of David.
Tony hadn't always been conventional, but still she loved him beyond belief.
The apartment was silent. Ariella was sleeping peacefully in the other room.
Ziva breathed slowly, closing her eyes. In her mind, she pictured them together, dancing around the kitchen, and in that moment, that one moment, she knew she'd be alright.
He'd always be there.
A/N Didn't turn out the way I planned it to, but oh well. Finished kind of quickly.
I really advise you to listen to "The Dance" – it's really good.
Thanks for reading!