A/N: Hey guys!
So I've been trying to find a great new plot to write about but I've been kind of at a dead end. So I wrote this long oneshot while we're all waiting for my "creative stifiling" to disappear. It takes you through Kill Ari up to Reunion, pulling out some of the most meaningful moments between Tony and Ziva as Tony remembers it all. It ends in a relatively open-ended manner--I won't extend this, I won't add chapters or sequels. It's just a little something.
That being said, this story is the first of mine to be inspired by a fanvid. I saw this video a few months back and it brought me to tears--I continued to come back to it time and time again--it truly is incredible. It's where I got this idea, and it sets the tone for the oneshot. I have the link in my profile, so watch it before you read this, or at least after. It's amazing. For those who are lazy (love you guys), the title of the video on Youtube is called "tony/ziva: for you". Seriously. It. Is. Amazing.
I also want to send a shoutout to my fabulous friend Doe from the CBS forums--you inspired a portion of this story (think: St. Anthony and Saharan) by a couple of your comments, and I couldn't get them out of my head, so I wrote them in. You're amazing Doe!
One last credit--Bravo my Lady Grace inspired the writing for this story--she inspired me to dig into the emptions, the scenery, the setting--everything. Her stories are always so beautiful, and it inspired me to try and write with more feeling and description, to try and write beautifully. I won't ever be able to reach your level of amazingness, but this is a start. Thanks for everything!
Disclaimer: I don't own NCIS and I don't own the video that inspired this... Hope you don't mind, BETTiExxREDSKULL! Your video is wonderful!
Alright guys, here you go. Enjoy!
PS: Thanks for the typo notifications--it's fixed now. :)
Until that day, Tony was no one at all. His mind was filled with meaningless dreams, thoughts of expensive red cars and overprice sunglasses, suits and women reminiscent of James Bond movies… It was all so worthless, so short and not there, until that day.
Until the day Ziva David came into his life, he was no one at all.
As he sat upon the C-130 flying out of Tel Aviv, as Gibbs walked onto the plane alone, thoughts ambushed his mind, now so heavy with memories of years gone by. He had changed so much. She had changed him.
"One short?" he asked Gibbs. His heart pound as he feared the one thing that had been in the back of his mind for years. What if she never comes back?
Gibbs didn't answer. He sent a thumbs-up to the pilot. "Good to go!" he called over the engines. Tony looked up to the ceiling, his thoughts running at 5,873 miles a minute.
It had been a hellish two days. Kate was dead at the hands of Ari. Gibbs was acting nice. Abby was all out of sorts. McGee had disappeared. And so here Tony sat, remembering Kate… If she could see him know, she'd probably dropkick him to the floor.
He glanced up. "Hi," he said, noticing someone was standing, a woman, watching him closely. "I was just--"
"Having phone sex?" she finished. Her eyes, big and brown and searching and knowing—they made him uncomfortable, and yet, they were mesmerizing.
"Phone sex?" he laughed nervously, searching for an excuse. "No… Ah, charades,"
"Charades? You mean like," she demonstrated.
"Never on the telephone,"
"Yeah, yeah… My partner and I were coming up with quotes for Saturday night,"
"You play charades on Saturday night?"
"To kill time before we go clubbing—who are you?"
"Ziva David," she said, pulling out ID. "Mossad,"
"You're Israeli," he realized.
"Very good, the way you made that connection—Mossad, Israeli," she said, walking away and turning to look at him. There was something, something about her.
"What can I do for you, Miss David?"
"Nothing. I'm here to see Agent Gibbs,"
"How do you know I'm not Gibbs?"
Ziva chuckled and made her way to McGee's desk, resting her head on a finger, elbow on the chair. "Gibbs," she said, knowing.
"He'll be back in an hour. Sure I can't help you?"
She clicked her tounge and shook her head just a little. "I don't think so,"
He looked at her and sighed. "We got off to a bad start. I'm Special Agent Tony DiNozzo. I wasn't playing charades, I was remembering my partner,"
"No," he sighed—she had caught him. "Yes… Look I'm not the only man who does it,"
"Oh, women do it too," she eyed him. "With handsome men," he began to walk away. "And even an occasional woman,"
"Now you're teasing me," Tony said as he sat down at his desk.
"Didn't your partner tease you?"
"Not about sex... Kate was kinda puritanical,"
"It didn't matter, I wasn't interested in her, we were partners," he said as she took off her headscarf, letting down her long brown curls. This woman, she was entrancing.
"She wasn't attractive?"
"She was, but not to me,"
"Then why did you imagine her naked?"
He smiled and shook his head. "Miss David, you can sit there and slouch provocatively for an hour if you'd like, or you can tell me what you need, and maybe I can help,"
Ziva stood. "You can't help because I'm here to stop Special Agent Gibbs from killing a Mossad officer,"
"I'd wish you luck, but I want him dead too,"
So much had changed since then. She had changed. He had changed. Their worlds had collided and she stayed. Ziva stayed for four years, laughing and investigating and watching and knowing so much more than it made him comfortable to think about.
Now he sat on the cargo plane, the engines drowning out the world, leaving him deaf amongst his own thoughts, his own regrets. And as he looked up at the ceiling, metal and wires and cables webbing about, only one phrase came back to him.
What have I done?
Ziva was an unusual woman. She was experienced in espionage, interrogation, weapons, fighting, the list went on for 5,873 miles—the one thing she wasn't talented in was driving.
From the night that they arrived back in DC, Tony would find his gaze drifting up every few minutes, slowly and hesitantly, to find a desk so empty before him.
Tony shut off the news report of the case they had just finished. He looked over at Ziva. "You picked a hell of a time to leave,"
Ziva checked her passport and plane ticket. "I will make it up to you,"
"Oh, hey, almost forgot," he rummaged through his drawer, pulling out a small neck pillow. "It's a long flight to Tel Aviv. If you want you can borrow this thing, you know," he snored, demonstrating. "Helps you sleep on the plane,"
Ziva smiled. "I'm flying first class,"
"Oh," he realized, his heart dropping. "Nevermind," He began shuffling papers around his desk, feeling stupid. He looked up at her finally. "Nesia'a tova,"
Ziva smiled curiously. "See you next week,"
"Yeah," he nodded as she walked out of the bullpen. His eyes followed her to the elevator, leaving him alone to his thoughts, the desk empty before him.
He held his cell phone in his hand, flipping it open and finding Ziva's name, his finger poised over the "talk" button as he deliberated over whether to call her or not. McGee sat across from him, silence alone between them.
Gibbs entered the squadroom and stood before Tony, almost expectantly.
"Guess she'll call when she's ready," Tony said, shutting his phone as his mind drifted to another time.
Tony could feel her eyes on him. Oh, how he had missed those eyes, so searching, so honest and real. "What?"
"You seem, ah, different," Ziva said, looking at him. Her hair was down once more, curly and hardly tame—he had always loved it that way, so wild and free. She hadn't worn it curly in such a long time. Then again, how could he know? He hadn't seen her for four terrible months.
"Taller? Hotter?" he joked.
Tony shifted uncomfortably, looking away from her. "Well, it's been over four months,"
"Still beating yourself up over Jenny?" she always knew.
"Not as much as I used to," he couldn't meet her eyes. He just couldn't.
"Drinking?" yes, she hadn't changed.
"Not as much as I used to,"
Ziva touched his arm to get his attention. "You could have called,"
Tony shivered at the memory.
"There were no survivors."
Those terrible words, the ones that brought the horrible truth to light, the truth he had been running from for months—they changed life as he knew it.
Ziva David was dead. She was gone, she had been for weeks.
He couldn't breathe, he couldn't sleep or work or eat or move.
"You jeprodized your career and for what?"
She was gone.
He had no chance, no way of telling her he was sorry for hurting her, for causing her so much pain. The woman who had seen more death than life in her world was sent into the face of it because of him.
Everything he had done, it was all for her.
He had changed for her.
He fought for her.
He went to confront Rivkin for her.
He broke protocol and went to question Ziva and risked his career for her.
He went to Israel and was interrogated by her father for her.
It was always for her.
And now she was gone, and he had no second chance, no way of seeing those eyes that read him so transparently, no way of conjuring up her suspicious smile or procure her putchered idioms. There was no way he would ever be able to hold her in his arms again, no way he could call her "Sweetcheeks" or "my ninja".
She was gone forever, and it was his fault.
If he had only fought harder, if he had only apologized sooner, then perhaps it would all be different.
But he couldn't change anything now.
She was gone.
"Rule number eleven, DiNozzo,"
"I would never date a co-worker, Boss, trust me. I mean, why would you even—oh, that's twelve,"
He had never expected to leave her there on that tarmac, to leave her 5,873 miles away with people who could only hurt her, who could only tear away the bit of life in her that she had left.
He was able to live thinking she was living in Israel.
He could live thinking she was on some exotic mission.
He could even live believing that she might be in some other man's arms at this very moment.
But he couldn't live knowing she was dead.
"But if Ziva knew something, I wanted to give her the chance to explain it to me,"
"You wanted to protect her,"
"If she needed it,"
But that could never happen. He couldn't protect her any more. Perhaps he never had. Ziva had always been self-sufficient, relying on the one person she could trust: herself. And there was a time that he thought she relied on him, but now, he knew he was wrong. She had never needed him, not until now.
But now, she couldn't be helped. She lay beneath the sea, the cool water spreading about. He didn't want to think of all the water-sunk bodies he had seen on Ducky's table. He couldn't think about her like that.
All he could remember were all his lost chances, the time he missed out because he was afraid.
"Do you ever think about soulmates?"
"They were on Decca, right? Big hit, mid-seventies? Sing a few bars, I'll get it,"
"You'll never get it,"
He should have run after her. He should have gathered her up in her arms and told her the truth. He should have dared to put himself out there, to risk his heart for once in his life.
And now it was too late.
Tony wasn't sure when it started, when the desire for vengeance first began. Perhaps it had been growing inside him all along, but it was not always directed toward Saleem Ulman.
Eli stole her life.
Ari was worthy of nothing.
Michael Rivkin had played her.
The three men in Ziva's life who loved her, betrayed her, and who she in the end lost. Ziva was always the one who suffered. It wasn't fair, it wasn't right. Those men, they took everything from her.
He hated them for it.
Now two of them were dead and one so far away, but they had still hurt her, and so he hated them. She deserved better, so much better.
But Saleem, he was alive, he was touchable, he had killed so many and would inevitably kill more. And worst of all, he was responsible for her death.
Ziva David had saved his life so many times.
From bad guys.
From becoming like his father.
He owed her his life. He owed her everything. If he could, he would give her the world.
Ziva would not die in vain.
And though nothing in this world could heal the scars upon his broken heart, he would fix this. He would change things. He would find Saleem. He would kill him. And if it was necessary, he would die too.
He owed her that much.
He was willing to give it all. And so he would.
It was an impossible thing.
Finding Saleem gave him purpose. Sitting in that chair, it gave him a goal. He knew what he had to do. He knew how it would end up.
Killing Saleem wouldn't bring back Ziva. It would never bring her back. She was lost forever, and until he made the decision to kill this man, he could not breathe, he could not live. But now he knew what he had to do. He had to make Ziva proud of him. He had to avenge her death.
But this… it was impossible.
Getting captured on purpose, finding Saleem, even being tortured—it was all in the plan. He expected it. Not even the truth serum brought him any surprise. He wasn't surprised when Saleem dragged in another prisoner, or when he forced them to choose who would live and who would die.
But as that black hood was lifted from the other prisoner's head, his world changed.
This, this shocked him. He was stunned. Once again, he could not breathe.
It was turned completely upside down… or perhaps, right side up.
There she was, sitting before him, surprise in her eyes, emotions swirling in her mind. Her hair was down and curly, like it had been so long ago, but not it was dirty. He face was covered in sweat and dirt and bruises and cuts. Her lips were cracked and dry.
Oh, he would never forget that moment. It was the moment that made him want to cry, the moment that changed everything.
"How was your summer?" he would ask her, lighthearted as he had always been despite his circumstances.
And she would ask him why he was here. And he would try to pass it off. But she saw right through it, like she always had.
"How long were you guys there?" Tony realized as the team walked away, having listened to his conversation with Jeanne. But Ziva stayed.
"Long enough," she said." So, you are getting a new roommate,"
"We're discussing it."
"What is there to discuss?"
"It's complicated." If only she knew.
"Complicated, complicated, complicated. You know, in America, I have noticed they use that word as a code for, 'If I explain it, you would not agree, therefore I will use the word 'complicated', and hopefully, you will stop asking.'"
"Yeah, that's pretty much it, and uh, chill. I'm gonna go see what Abby wants."
"Zee-vah. If you're gonna give me advice on dating, I'm gonna need to get something out of my system first, ok?" He conjured up a ferocious laughter before she interrupted him.
"Stop laughing, or I will hurt you," she warned." I know what you're doing. You're hiding behind all these jokes. And I know what you're hiding from."
"Really, what's that?"
"What everyone who is afraid to love hides from: getting hurt."
"It's not just me that I'm worried about hurting, Ziva."
"That's because you're a good person."
She always believed in him, even when he didn't, even in no one else would.
"Couldn't live without you, I guess," he could speak only the truth, the heartbroken truth. A ghost of a smile fell upon her lips.
It was an impossible thing, to see her sitting there before him, alive, breathing, there. She was real.
She wasn't dead.
He had his second chance.
She wasn't dead.
She was there, four feet from where he sat. It was unbelievable.
He went there to kill the man who had killed her, but that day, he left with her hand in his as he led her out of the camp, weak, but alive.
And it was all for her.
Tony remembered Tara easily. She was an old friend of Vance, whose husband was a suspect in Vance's suspicious case in the spring. He remembered it not because of her connection to the Director or because it was St. Patrick's day, but because of how quickly she figured out that he was missing something, and wasn't just his wallet.
He remembered telling her that St. Anthony was the saint you turned to when you lost something.
He remembered telling her that his dry spell was "Saharan".
Tony didn't make the connection until he was back home in DC, Ziva safe, having resigned from Mossad and now a full fleged NCIS Special Agent, such sweet words to his lips.
Later he would realize that he had lost something. Someone.
"Might be a little easier to find a new drummer for Spinal Tap. Ziva's not replaceable," Tony said.
"No, the one you lost," Saleem replied. "Then why aren't you looking for her?"
"If I could drag her back, I'd do it in a heartbeat. But that's impossible. Ziva David is dead."
After he found Ziva, the one he lost, in the Saharan desert, that's when he made the connection. He found it only slightly humorous, an ironic foreshadow of the future. But what made it not-so-humorous, what made his heart sink at the thought instead of lift in laughter, was the fact that even though she was back, even though she sat once more in front of him, her smirk available at any moment, things weren't the same.
It was inevitable, he supposed, that things would change—he had killed her boyfriend, she went through four months of torture with no hope, only to be resuced by the one man on the planet responsible for it all. Oh yeah, he got it. But then, Ziva had always said that nothing was inevitable…
"You have not listened to anything I have said," For the past three days she had been trying and failing to convince him that it wasn't his fault. That he wasn't to blame for Jenny's death. She was wrong.
"Well it's only been three years, I'm a slow learner,"
"And a slow healer," She said, sitting down on the edge of Ducky's desk. She could always read him with such ease, seeing more of him than he saw of himself. "You're crying over spilled… milk,"
"It's not milk that I spilled," He replied.
"Do not to this, Tony," She warned him, knowing the destruction it could lead to.
"Do what, blow my protection detail? Blow my undercover assignment?"
"Those sound like apologies," He replied by pulling out a glass for her, motioning for her to take a drink. She accepted reluctantly, only pouring the smallest bit of liquid into her glass.
"She died alone," Tony said thoughtfully as he held the glass in his hand.
"We are all alone,"
"Yeah thanks for that. I just mean she never got married, never had any children; never even heard her talk about it… Paris," He looked at her, and for a moment their eyes met before he looked off again. "That's when it must have happened,"
"The two of them alone, in another world,"
"Putting their lives in each other's hands every day," He was looking at her again, but she wouldn't look back. His words spoke of Gibbs and Jenny, but he wasn't. He was talking about them.
"Not to mention the long nights,"
"It was inevitable,"
"Nothing is inevitable," She finally met his eyes.
For the next four months aboard that metal-and-wire ship, he would replay this conversation in his mind, over and over and over and over again, because Jenny and Gibbs weren't the only two agents he had been speaking about.
Tony didn't realize until so many months later that Ziva was wrong, that some things in life were inevitable.
Tony DiNozzo was no one at all until she came into his life. He wanted everything, all which meant nothing.
He would remember her words, sharper than the knife she kept at her wait.
"Perhaps I would."
He would remember her faith in him.
"That's because you're a good person."
He would remember the look in her eyes, far too knowing.
"You could have called."
He would remember the emptiness.
And Tony would remember each time, so tender so painful so wrong so right. The roar of the engine would deafen the world for his heart to groan far too loudly. He would wonder, "What have I done?" He would know, he would know-know-know that it was all for her.
He would remember the loneliness.
"It's not normal."
He would remember the endless sting so deep in his soul.
"There were no survivors."
He would remember the hideous desire.
Sitting in that room, his eyes tired but his heart screaming at him, telling him to speak. He wouldn't fall asleep. He wouldn't give in. But instead, he would remember.
Do you ever think about soulmates?
That's because you're a good person.
Nothing is inevitable.
You could've called.
I don't want to talk about it.
He would remember the woman who brought him espresso in the rain. When everyone else wanted to move on, forget about the tragedy, he still remembered her like that. It had stuck with him throughout the tear-stained years.
"Israeli sense of duty."
He would remember her smile, sweeter than ever before.
"Couldn't live without you, I guess."
He would remember the truth.
"You have always had my back."
It had always been for her. He would kill for her, die for her—he had done one and nearly the other, all for her.
He wasn't sure what it was inside him that told him to. He told McGee it wasn't normal for her not to call. He told Gibbs it was because of an obligation. He told Vance it was because he was an interest, a threat. He told Saleem it was vengeance. He told her that it was because he couldn't live without her.
He didn't lie.
All those things, they were true, they were real, and they made him do it.
They just didn't explain why.
She would know before him, and he would think it was ironic. But she was always like that. She always knew, she always understood.
He would wonder if things would have been different if he had realized it long before in a time when they had their chance, or perhaps if they didn't.
And he would smile and tell her in a boyish way and he would be daring and he would find his lips upon hers, his necklace upon her collarbone from the Christmas before. And he would feel a little awkward but it would all pass within a moment as everything changed and they took their chance.
And he would continue to protect her and she him, and it would be as normal, but not so, and it would feel wonderful and comfortable and right and perfect. And he would kill for her, and he would still be willing to die for her, and she him.
And they would be called the "Dynamic Duo" in whispers with strange looks and relieved eyes.
And he would love her.
And she would love him.
And he would give it all.
And it would be for her.
What'd you think? Don't forget to review!