Hey everbody! So, FINAL CHAPTER!! I know, I know, it's kind of abrupt, but I feel that this is the end....Plus I'm about to start school again, so I wanted to finish this before I do....I don't wanna become too busy and forget about it. :)

A lot of you have been reviewing, and I thank you for that, but not everyone. Since this is the very last chapter, could you all please try and review? Even if you say you hate the ending haha, i still want to hear your thoughts. If I am convinced that you all liked it, then I'll make another NCIS fic in time...but you gotta let me know! :D

So thank you to everyone who have been reviewing and had favoritedt this story or just anything to give me a confidence boost. This is my first fic, and i'm happy that some of you have really enjoyed it. So...drum roll please....HeRE Is ThE LaSt ChApTeR! :D

Ch.9

* "I'm tired of pretending."

"So am I."

The words echoed in Tony's head over and over again. He may have been unconscious, and undoubtedly in pain...but he couldn't force the words out of his head. The image of that day...of that moment in time. He remembered everything about that brutal day in his life...including that moment in the elevator between him and Ziva. Why hadn't he realized it sooner? The double-meaning...the underlying message...the truth. No, that couldn't be...of course it couldn't be. Tony tried to deny to himself that he felt strong feelings for his partner...but he was over that now. He knew he had feelings for Ziva. But he was already sure she didn't feel the same about him...there was no way...was there? *

***************************************************************************

Gibbs and McGee stood in Ziva's hospital room...staring at her motionless body. The doctors still hadn't given them much information about her condition, or Tony's for that matter, but they both knew she had it worse. A long silence fell in the room, when finally McGee spoke up.

"So...do you think she's gonna be okay? I mean, you know....I know she's going to survive. Ziva's strong, I know that...I just meant...," His attempt to break the silence failed, for the room became quiet again. Gibbs only nodded, not looking up from Ziva. After just standing there in silence for what seemed to be an eternity for both of them, Gibbs spoke up.

"Abby's on her way, so she should be here any minute. I'm going back to the office to finish this." On that note McGee nodded his head, and Gibbs left the room.

***************************************************************************

Coming from Ziva's room only moments before, McGee entered Tony's room. Moving to stand by his bedside, he sighed and walked over. Tony had woken up in the last hour he'd been in the hospital...even though he had a concussion and several other small injuries, all he cared about was Ziva. He asked for her, moaned her name, and even yelled for her once....it was obvious he cared for her. At least, more than he let on.

McGee sat down in the chair beside Tony and stared at him in sympathy.

"I told you Tony, always listen to the boss. Yet you don't listen...and I'm the brains, so I definitely know what I'm talking about more than you. Okay, so that didn't make as much sense as it did in my head...what I mean is, just...you never listen. Which is probably why you're the senior field agent, you listen to your gut...believe it or not, you actually saved Ziva's life tonight, Tony. I don't know if I would have been able to do what you did..." Thanking the fact that Tony hadn't heard his sudden heart-to-heart speech, McGee took a sip of his coffee....at least, he thought it had been his coffee.

"Oh God!," McGee practically spat out his entire mouthful of coffee on Tony, but managed to swallow it down. McGee got up and threw the cheap, plastic coffee cup in the trash can on the other side of the room. "Of course that had to have been Gibbs' coffee...God the man has horrible taste in his beverage's." McGee turned around to have Abby practically tackle him to the tile floor.

"McGee! Ducky wanted to come, but he got stuck with that asshole's body." She breathed out. It disgusted her to even speak of Mikhail, the one who had made Ziva...and even Tony suffer so much. She gripped him a tight hold for a few minutes, when finally he pushed her away so he would able to breathe.

"Sorry...so uh, how are they?" She turned in the doorway to see Tony lying on his bed, a bandage wrapped around head and a few cuts and bruises along his body. "Oh God," She whispered, "Oh God!" She ran over to Tony's bed, gently caressing his cheek. "McGee, what happened?" McGee opened his mouth to speak, but Abby cut him off. "No, scratch that. I don't wanna know...I just-Hold on. What about Ziva? Oh God! She must have it worse than him...but it can't be too bad, right? I mean, it's Ziva. The crazy Israeli chick who-" Her sentence trailed off, and she just looked up at McGee with sorrowful eyes.

"Come on, Abby. I'll take you to see Ziva. She's just down the hall." He reached out his hand and waited for her to take it. Just as she reached for it, she heard a muffled moan from behind her. She gasped and quickly spun around to see Tony's eyes slowly open.

"Tony! Thank God!" She hugged him tightly, then loosened her grip remembering how he much pain he must still be in.

"I feel like hell," His voice was barely a whisper, then his eyes widened and his faint voice grew higher, "Ziva. Where is she? How is she? Is she..." McGee and Abby realized that he didn't know if Ziva was alive or dead, so McGee quickly reassured him.

"Tony, calm down. Ziva's alive...she'll be okay. She has a mild concussion and a few broken ribs. She's cut up in a few places, but it looks worse than it is. When we first got here, her breathing was irregular, but the doctors managed to stabilize her. So everything will be fine." McGee immediately saw Tony's face change from worry to relief.

"I...can I see her?" Tony looked up to McGee and Abby with hopeful eyes. McGee sighed.

"Tony, maybe you shouldn't be up and about just yet. You need to rest-"

"McGee, please. It's...it's Ziva." With only those few words, both McGee and Abby understood. They knew how Tony and Ziva felt for each other, even if they themselves didn't yet.

"Alright, fine. But let's make it quick. Not too sure I wanna piss off the nurse just yet." McGee playfully smiled at Tony, and with Abby's help, pulled him up from the bed.

****************************************************************************

Tony and Abby sat next to Ziva, who still lay unconscious. McGee had been outside the room talking to Gibbs on his cell phone for a few minutes, when he finally walked back in. Tony and Abby both turned to look at him, expecting an explanation from him as soon as they had discovered it was Gibbs who called.

McGee took a deep breath and sat down in an empty chair next to Abby. "Okay, short version: Gibbs got Dimino to talk, which isn't really a surprise, and found out why Mikhail Xavier was out for Ziva in the first place. Basically, a grudge against her father. Dimino took the job simply for the money." Tony tore his eyes away from Ziva and to McGee again to question him.

"But why did Dimino shoot...Mikhail?" He said the last word slowly, his face turning to anger and disgust.

"Well, apparently sometime during all this, Xavier talked to Dimino and told him he was gonna take down the amount of money he had promised to give him....said it was because Dimino "was supposed to take care of any outside influences that could get in the way of their operation..."

Both Tony and Abby wore a confused look on their faces, and McGee continued to explain. "Meaning you, Tony. If you hadn't of come, who knows what would have happened to Ziva. You got in the way, and Xavier blamed Dimino for it. So Dimino shot him, then when we charged in, Dimino realized there was no way out, so he tried to shoot me so I would shoot him first, killing him. He actually tried to take the easy way out. Anyway, Gibbs is taking Dimino in as we speak." McGee let out a deep breath, and Tony and Abby only stared at him with open mouths. They were both about to say something, when they heard Ziva let out a soft moan. Tony felt her hand come to life in his, and he held it even tighter.

"Ziva...Oh, thank God." It was Tony thanking the higher powers this time and not Abby, who just sat there with a relieved smile on her face. Ziva's voice seemed low and scratchy, so Tony handed her a glass of water. She gulped almost the whole glass down, and handed it back to Tony.

"Thank you...So, how long was I out?"

"Only a few hours," McGee reassured her. Abby smiled again.

"It's really good to see awake, Ziva." McGee nodded in agreement and Tony only squeezed her hand again. McGee then mentally kicked himself and lightly tugged on Abby's arm.

"Um, Abby? How about you come with me to get some drinks from the vending machine down the hall? On the way back we can get the nurse and tell her Ziva's awake." Abby looked at him questioningly, then she understood.

"Oh, yeah, sure. We'll be right back Ziva." She smiled at Ziva, and then turned to Tony and her smile grew wider. Once they were out of the room, Tony looked Ziva in the eyes, wondering where to begin. He just wanted to tell her how glad he was to have her awake...alive even. How disappointed he was that Ziva hadn't come to him about the situation...how much he loved her. He just couldn't find the words for any of that, so he spoke the first thing that came to mind.

"So...how are you feeling? You look terrible," He teased her. In truth, he always thought she looked beautiful, but he could never say that, at least to her face.

"I am...alright. I will survive, at least. Thanks to you." She let out a small smile, and stared deep in Tony's eyes.

"Well, I did my part. I'm just glad you're okay...I...." He found himself at a loss of words, not sure if he should say what he was he was about to confess.

"You...what?"

"I...I'm just not sure what I would've done if...you know, somethinghadhappenedtoyou." He let the last part of his sentence out fairly quick, so that Ziva wouldn't be able to understand. He broke his eye contact with hers, looking down at his fidgeting hands in his lap.

"What?" Tony looked back up into Ziva's eyes. He decided to just let it all out in that moment. It's now or never, he thought.

"Ziva...I, I'm not really sure of the right way to say this, so I'm just gonna lay it all on the table...I care about you, a lot. You're not only my partner, Zi, you're more than that...you're my friend who I can talk to with just about anything, you're my safety-net who I know will always have my back...you're-"

"Tony, I, I am not sure what you are trying to say..."

"What I am trying to say, Ziva, is that I have feelings for you. I, I don' t know how else to say it." Ziva let a small smile escape her lips...she'd been waiting for Tony to say that for a long time now.

"I do too, Tony." Tony had been prepared for anything she might have responded with. A, 'Sorry Tony, but I don't feel that way about you." Or her classic 'There are rules, Tony, and we must respect them. That definitely goes against the rules. And maybe even a, "Are you insane?! Get away from me!" But he sure wasn't prepared for that.

"You what?" Was all he could manage to choke out. She let out a small laugh.

"Do not act like you are audibly handicapped, Tony. You heard me. I do too."

He smiled at her and slowly caressed her hair and then her cheek. He lent down and gave her a small, but passionate kiss on the lips. He started to pull away, afraid to hurt her even more, when she pulled him into another kiss. This one was longer, and had more force and need. Both out of breath, and unable to form words, let alone thoughts, they rested their forehead's against each other. Once he steadied his breathing, Tony whispered to her ear.

"Now, I'll say this again, and say it the way I should have said it before....I'm definitely tired of pretending." Ziva let out a small chuckle and steadied her breathing so she could respond with,

"So am I."

The End. :)