"I would sooner die than take off this necklace."

My aunt put it around my neck when I was thirteen. It is a symbol of your faith, she told me. It was supposed to be sacred and pure and represent what was good in this world. It was a symbol of a faithful and loving God. After I joined Mossad, it became even more than that. It was a symbol of duty and unity. It represented those I fought alongside for the greater good of Israel. It spoke of our right to exist and be a people in our own land and to not be forced to fear death at every turn. When we lost Tali, its value changed again. It represented the cost of keeping hope alive in a world where everything could disappear in a heartbeat. It meant I fought the evil that would destroy such precious innocence with all of the strength of my heart.

I first began to question its meaning the night I killed Ari but I found a way to believe that it symbolized everything about me that he had betrayed. It meant I was not like the monster he had become. It was on the Damocles when I finally realized that part of that monster, the part that brought death and destruction to everyone it touched, did live in me. It had been forced into my heart long before I wore the symbol around my neck.

When I said I would die before I took it off, I meant it. I went to Saleem's camp not only to kill him but to finally destroy my heart as well. I thought I failed at both. Gibbs killed Saleem for me. Now he has shown me that the monster is dead as well. Maybe it died when Saleem tore its brand from my throat. Maybe it died when the hood came off and I believed two of the people I love the most in this world would die because of me and, instead, they saved me. Maybe it died when I wrote to Eli and told him that I was no longer his. Maybe it died when Gibbs told Malachai that Eli could not have me. I do not know for certain when or how it died. I am only certain that I finally knew it was dead when Gibbs told me I never had a choice and that the death in my heart had been there because of Eli. Gibbs says that part of me died in Somalia and I believe him.

Someone finally asked about my missing necklace today. Tony said he thinks my neck looks bare without it. No, I tell him, it finally looks free. Gibbs agrees.