Spoilers: Designated Target (5.08) and Truth or Consequences (7.01)

Disclaimer: I don't own it—it would probably less awesome if I did, so we're lucky.

A/N: I was watching "Designated Target" last night and was completely struck by the contrasting parallels between Thomas & Sayda and Tony & Ziva. This basically jumps from the end of Designated Target to Truth or Consequences…hopefully in a good way. This is my first NCIS fic, so be nice and review!

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It was a shocking blow to Ziva's temporarily deconstructed notions of the world that Thomas could leave Sayda so readily--that he could move on so seamlessly after learning that the woman he had once regarded as his soulmate had been murdered. She rationalized that it was impossible to expect devotion beyond death--it would be unhealthy to remain in the past forever. But something in the way that Sayda spoke about Thomas--her devotion to him after so many years--had given Ziva hope that she hadn't felt since childhood.

But, as the car drove Sayda and her broken heart back to the city, Ziva had lost that hope. It was then that Tony had looked her in the eye, piecing together a silent promise as he stopped in front of her. He hadn't known then what consequences would come of it, but he knew that, in some way, it was necessary. And as he studied the pained expression on her face with feigned stoicism, he recited those promises to himself with all the conviction he could gather.

I promise to love you more than that.

At the time, she would have classified his look on the sidewalk as taunting: trying to prove to her that the reason he didn't get soulmates was not because he was dense, but because they weren't real. Her heart had sunk in that moment, briefly accepting that, by all accounts, he was right. Soulmates didn't exist.

Have you found your soulmate?...you'll know when you do. She had missed the realization that shone in his eyes as he turned away from her.

I promise I will never stop looking for you, even when the rest of the world tells me that I've lost you.

The news of the fate of the Damocles and its crew had hit him hard. His stomach had been unsettled for days as though it were a physical blow. The lump in his throat left him speechless. The weight in his heart kept his body in place. Foolish pride kept the emotions at bay.

The rest of the world was a blur of empty words and actions. It did not feel as though she was gone. And he would not--could not--accept it just because Gibbs told him that it was true.

It was the first time in his life that he had refused to concede to Gibbs.

I promise I will fight for you--I will cross oceans and brave deserts and trespass boldly for you.

He sat here now, bound and dehydrated, in the desert of Somalia just two years after making those promises outside of the Zuri household. Their captors dragged a frail-looking, hooded form into the room and Tony felt his heart leap with dread and anticipation.

When Ziva opened her eyes and surveyed the room with confusion, Tony recalled the promises she hadn't known he'd made to her, and so when she questioned, he answered silently and steadfastly with those promises, while on the outside he stammered for adequate words.

"Out of everyone in the world who could have found me, it had to be you?"

I promise to love you more than that.

He fumbled for words that matched his thoughts, fighting the effects of the injection. Fighting to keep his secret. He finally managed a pithy, "You're welcome."

"You thought I was dead?"

I promise I will never stop looking for you, even when the rest of the world tells me that I've lost you.

The words caught in his throat as he thought of that day. The strength he attempted to muster failed him as his words came out like a whisper, "Oh...Oh yeah."

The severity of the complications lingering in the air between them felt as though it took up all the extra air in the room. For the first time in months, it was not due to jealousy or accusations or persistent tension. It was that Ziva was ready--and wanted--to give up, to die. Even what little hope he had to offer her was not enough. The brief spark in her eyes died as quickly as it had been lit. They had taken the fight out of her.

"Ziva, can you fight?" he tested. She looked up at him, her big brown eyes hopeless and rimmed with vulnerability that he had scarcely seen run free across her features. He had never seen her look so defeated.

If she wouldn't fight for herself, then he would just have to do it for her.

I promise I will fight for you--I will cross oceans and brave deserts and trespass boldly for you.

Two years ago, as he watched Thomas return to his life as though Sayda had not reentered it, he stole a glance at Ziva from across the lawn. In the four of them, he saw contrast.

As Thomas walked away from Sayda, Tony stepped toward Ziva.

As Thomas had been able to move on from Sayda, he knew he would never be able to leave Ziva behind.

As Thomas broke his promise, Tony made his.

I promise to love you more than that. I promise I will never stop looking for you, even when the rest of the world tells me that I've lost you. I promise I will fight for you--I will cross oceans and brave deserts and trespass boldly for you. I promise.

The End.

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