Hello again.

Sorry it's been so long, but the past week has been tough. Family issues + feeling ill (it's swine flu, I swear, but no one seems to believe me) + a ridiculous amount of school work = less time for writing fics. For this, I apologise, but I'm being completely truthful when I say not updating on stuff makes me as unhappy/annoyed/impatient as it does to any of you :)

Just to let you know: I haven't given up on Oh My Word, it will be updated sometime over the weekend, probably more than once, but I really really wanted to write this one and it's the first thing I've done since last Saturday, I think.

OK. Now the important bit. Warnings (ugh, I know).

WARNING: CHARACTER DEATH, NO HAPPY ENDING. Apart from that, there's no sex, little violence, I don't think any swearing, MUCH angst, moderate alcohol, tiny amount of gore, lots of damn fine Tiva moments.

I know. I'm sorry. And this isn't even the depressing one I've been threatening to write for like three weeks now! It's an entirely separate one. Sigh.

OK. Plan of action (for those who want to know): I'm gonna concentrate on Oh My Word from now on, and that will never have a distinct ending, I don't think, so if people want to suggest new words, then that's great. I still haven't worked my way through AG's amazing list (SO much love) but it WILL get done, whatever you suggest. BUT, when I have sufficient free time, I'm hopefully going to start working on something longer and possibly even slightly plot-centric (I know, it's a shocker). It will still be Tiva, because I seem physically incapable of writing anything else, but it'll be more about the team and friendships and developing romance and such.

Moving on. This one is something that came to me whilst I was sitting here thinking about finishing my A-Level English coursework (apparently it needs INTENSIVE restructuring, bleurgh, no thank you. NCIS, instead? why yes, I think I will) and although when I started I imagined it having a happier ending...I'm sorry, folks. Like I said before – it really, really doesn't.

Notes: Everything in this, apart from a couple of final scenes, which I made up (but one of them, I took into account a spoiler we've heard about this seasons Christmas episode and wrote what I'd like to happen, so it's kind of true, maybe) is taken directly from NCIS (specifically, seasons 3 – 7). Hopefully, you'll get all references. Some are possibly clearer than others. It's from both Tony and Ziva's POV's (I love the word POV, when you say it out loud, povpovpov) and I actually really like it, partly because I'm a sucker for the stuff that makes you want to cry :)

Disclaimer: If this happens in the actual show, I will kill all the NCIS writers, directors and producers, stick their heads on spikes and write the word Tiva over and over in their blood. I promise you this. But, as it stands, it hasn't happened yet and NCIS isn't mine.

As always: Bravo hearts reviews.

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He Would Have Said It Then

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The first time was phone sex and coffee and pizza.

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He was stood in the rain and it was dripping down through his hair and it reminded him of the blood of a woman he adored that he had scrubbed off his face just a day ago. The night was not still, but it did not matter, because he was, and that is all there was to it.

She stood next to him, smiling and slouching and offering espresso and it was just another way in which he had failed. He tried not to look at her. Something about her.

He could have said it then.

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The second time was in a little metal box.

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She was proud and beautiful and certain it wasn't her fault. And then she was stupid, shot metal at metal, death at death, and the feel of her pulsing body on his was almost enough. He made flippant jokes about foreign films and dynamite and carpet burns, and suddenly the sting of her rejection hurt far more than he ever expected.

He could have said it then, but suddenly he didn't want to.

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The third time was the first night she came to him, and was cinema and uncertainty.

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He was terrified. Eyes glinting an angry, frightened green and his jaw tight and his bones trembling. She had placed a hand on his back and moved it in soft, slow circles and murmured to him in an accent thicker than usual and he wondered whether this was the first time he had seen her tender and breakable. He thought about kissing her, but didn't. They put on a movie, climbed into each others arms, and did not laugh but stayed there.

They both could have said it, but they'd said far too much already, and the tears were far too close for comfort.

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The fourth time was angry and taut.

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She pulled the recorder off her stomach and he tried to focus on her ingenuity rather than her sweet and golden skin but it was hard, so hard. She met his eyes with something blazing, and it might have been resent and it might have been wanting. He drove her home that evening, after Gibbs just left, and tried to start so many conversations and suddenly, nothing seemed right. You should've trusted me was petulant and childish. Why did you call Gibbs? was confrontational and aggressive. I was so worried about you was just too true, and she wouldn't know what to do with it. She invited him in and they watched a film in silence.

Saying it was a million miles from her tongue, and right on the tip of his.

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The fiifth time was too late.

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He was already in love.

She could not say it. She would not be that cruel.

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The sixth time was burnt out cars and a lovely letter-opener.

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She balanced it on the tip of her finger and smiled at him as though she'd always known it wasn't true. It couldn't be, because he was who he was, and who he was would not die. Who he was would not explode into absence with a ticking heart and a shout of fire.

They both should have said it then.

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The seventh time was a bullet across the cheek and sleepless eyes and flinching.

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He thought she was so pretty, but the look in her pretty eyes broke his heart and the words her pretty lips did not speak made him falter. He thought she was so pretty, and he wanted to say it more than anything, but she woke in another man's arms.

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The eighth time was a punch to the gut.

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She fell into him when he answered the door and he could do nothing but kiss her hair and forehead and temple whilst she sobbed. All there was in his mind was red hair and red blood and dead eyes and it wasn't even fractured, it wasn't even broken, it was simply gone, and there was nothing he could do but hold her.

He said it to her sleeping eyes, he whispered it gently, and in the morning he clung to her so tightly and cried against the wall until nothing was left.

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The ninth time was curly hair and a dead man's clothes and a photograph.

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She looked the same as ever, same as always, and for the first time in quite a while he realised that he was getting old and she was still so young underneath it all. It made him wary and so when she said you could have called he didn't say it.

He could have, but he didn't.

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The tenth time there is a plane and a man in a frame.

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He smiles and stutters it out and it's wrong, it's so wrong, but she smiles back anyway, see you next week, and she walks away from him, and it doesn't feel right.

They both try to say it in time, but the doors bing! shut and she's gone.

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The eleventh time was a closet and a bleeding lip and another little metal box.

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He smacked buttons and slammed hands and she told him to calm down and he turned on her. She gave as good as she got, as good as she could, but it wasn't good enough, and they knew it so completely. He accused her and she shouted back desperate words that he didn't hear. He said he was tired of pretending, and she said so am I, and then he left her in the elevator, lonely and aching and wrong.

She almost said it, because she thought it was what he meant.

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The twelfth time was a gun and a heart and a dead man.

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The heat penetrated, like her anger, only her anger was deeper and pulsing and the heat was flat and dead on his skin. She turned around – white shirt, black eyes – and she told him perhaps I would and that was it, it was gone, whatever there may have been, with the blink of those robbed eyes and the desperate quivering of lips that would not be kissed, not by him, it ended.

It almost spilled out of his mouth, but she left him.

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The thirteenth time was grimy tears and honesty.

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The hood was removed, sudden, quiet, no drum roll, just her. Sweat, blood, dirt and sobbing, and it covered her face and he thought she was beautiful, and she sat in fragments in a chair like his. His words were too cruel, but he saw what they did to her, and they didn't do anything. There was nothing left to bruise.

He would have said it if she'd asked. Unwilling and spiteful, but he would have said it, and he would have meant every word.

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The fourteenth time was a goat, some words and a kiss.

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She placed her hand on his cheek and her lips on the other and he stayed still as a statue, marble and cold. Something unsure and pleading in her trembling smile made him silent. He left her with unfinished eyes.

He didn't say it, because she couldn't hear it, not yet.

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The fifteenth time was a nickname, a coffee and a sneaky blue trick.

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It tasted good, and it distracted him from the tension dripping from his words. I say it with love. Maybe it was true, or maybe she was reading too much into it. Whatever she thought, the smile that parted her lips was pretty, and he wanted to see more of them.

He was about to say it, and then caught sight of his reflection in his computer monitor, and all hell broke loose, and in the midst of childish tantrum, he heard her laugh, and it was sweet on his skin.

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The sixteenth time was Chad and assassins and settling down.

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She was fixing her hair when he barged in and started talking about her blood and her first thought was he looks so very pretty when he's angry and then he locked the door and her eyes could not resist his, and it wasn't anger she met there, it was jealousy, and so she taunted him like the old times, he stood too close and she laughed in his face and he joined her, and they talked about Texas and brute force, and she left him thinking by the sink.

He wanted to say it then but she called him a brother and it stung and rang true.

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The seventeenth time was a teardrop and a snowflake and a golden, golden star.

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That week, she was quiet, and they all knew why. He thought back to last Christmas, to hugs and easy smiles and It's a Wonderful Life and how he drove her home, afterwards, and kissed her on the cheek and she laughed low in her throat at his joke, invited him in and they got drunk and danced to festive music under soft lights and it was lovely.

With this year's kiss, he felt the wetness under his lips, started the car, and did not say anything.

She followed him, mute, lost, out of the warm, into the grass. Sat on the bench with him and felt his blood heat hers. He put his arm around her and without a word she sank into his embrace and the snow started falling and the tears started falling, and after so long, so many days of bare flesh, he pulled a little silver box out of his pocket and handed it to her awkwardly, shyly, a boy again.

The brilliant gold reflected back in her shining eyes and made them soft and adoring again.

This time, he got a word out, forced it through his teeth, but her lips were too gentle and her gaze too curious and the Star of David – Ziva David – was hanging too pretty around her neck. So when she said What, Tony? What did you want to tell me? he just shakes his head and smiles and says Happy Christmas, sweetcheeks, and she says it back.

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The eighteenth time there is blood.

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There is a cry of warning, a bang, and she falls before his eyes. A gasp, clotted and bubbling, and it drips from her mouth and puddles under the wound and her eyes are just so terrified. And there's nothing he can do but scream and sob, and he can't do that, he won't, because she needs him to be Tony.

There is no one else, and there won't be. He tries to call an ambulance, but there is no signal and they both know if he leaves her now it'll be forever. He plugs the scarlet hole in her chest with his desperate fingers and her blood stains them, the stench of copper fills the air. The dead body across from them watches with disinterest. She tries to smile, and her breathing grows rapid and frantic. She is not scared to die, but she is utterly afraid to leave him.

Phone sex coffee pizza a little metal box cinema uncertainty angry taut too late burnt out cars a lovely letter-opener a bullet across the cheek sleepless eyes flinching a punch to the gut curly hair dead man's clothes a photograph a closet a bleeding lip another little metal box a gun a heart a dead man grimy tears honesty a goat some words a kiss a nickname a coffee a sneaky blue trick Chad assassins settling down a teardrop a snowflake a golden, golden star.

They all lead towards this moment.

And as she slows and stops, and he cradles what she was, and his breaking heart beats on and leaves hers far behind, he knows it with certainty.

It was a Friday, and her eyes were tired and happy. She sat across from him and wore a green top and cargo pants and her hair down curly. He sent her a paper plane, an email and a dirty joke and she laughed at all three. They talk about being children, and she tells him she was born on a Thursday and he tells her she has far to go, and she smiles back abstract love and tells him in a quiet and thoughtful voice that she thinks she might already be there, and then light dims and night falls and she tells him goodnight in her sweet little way and he watches her leave, like always. Just another day, just another week of her.

He would have said it then, with the tired happy eyes and the green top and curls, the rude joke and flying paper and little ding of a message, the memories and riddles and the way she said goodbye, her eyes and lips and smile and laugh, her knives and scars and magnificent soul, he would have said it then.

He would have said it then.

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Fin.

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I'm sorry, guys. I really am.

Clearly not sorry enough to not post it.

But, remember, it WILL NOT HAPPEN.

Love Bravo.