Anthony DiNozzo was not a religious man. Sure, as an Italian, that automatically made him Catholic, and as a child he would obligingly go to mass with his mother. When he was a small boy, he would sit on the floor, surrounded by coloring books, contented to color under the pews until the service was over. When he grew to be older, his mother made him pay attention, and he even briefly served as a choir boy.
That all changed when his mother died. His father had never been religious about going to church. Only on Christmas and Easter would he show his face, sitting in the pew next to his mother, giving Anthony looks if he was anything less than perfect.
In his college years, Anthony would attend on Christmas and Easter, like his father had. But that all changed when he moved to NCIS.
The first time we was in church voluntarily was after Pacci had been murdered. He had considered the man to be a friend, they would occasionally meet up for pickup games with a few other agents in the park on the weekend. Some weekends they would go to a sports bar and watch the football game, Pacci was an Ohio State fan too. After they had closed the case Tony went to the Catholic Church closest to NCIS. He lit a candle.
The second time he attended church voluntarily was after Kate died. He went before the case was closed. He found a quite hour and disappeared. He highly doubted that anyone had noticed. He had allowed himself to cry, that night. His partner had died. Her blood had sprayed across his face, her final smile forever haunting her memory. Although he had never acted like it, he loved her like a sister and had always felt protective of her. He lit a candle.
The third time was after Paula died. The morning after he told Jeanne he loved her he went to the Catholic church closest to their apartment. He sat in the pew for hours, contemplating his friend's death. She had encouraged him to love, and had been impressed to find out that he was capable of it. He was sad that she was gone, taken so quickly. He lit a candle.
The fourth time was after Jenny died. Before returning home to pack, he went to the church. He sat, for an hour, contemplating all the ways he was responsible for the team's current predicament. This was his fault; he caused this, all for a few hours of pleasure. He lit a candle.
The final straw came when Gibbs delivered the news. i"There were no survivors."/i He sat in the church all day, wondering where they'd gone wrong, and now, she was gone, without so much as a goodbye. It hurt, and it was worse than any physical pain that Tony had ever experienced. That was when he realized, he had loved her, as much as a man could love a woman like her. He could have been her everything, and instead, he ended up being her enemy, because he cared too much, and he let that get in the way, like Jeanne. He lit a candle; and he stopped caring.
He allowed the world to pass him by. He stopped listening, he stopped smiling, he stopped living. And he returned to church everyday to light iher/i candle. He knew that if she was alive she wouldn't understand the significance behind it, but it was one of the only things that made him feel even slightly better.
And then they went to Africa; and she was alive. She was broken, battered, and beaten, but she was ialive/i. And that was all that mattered to him. He started living again. His life started to have more meaning. iShe/i as in her proper place again, at the desk across from his. It was the little things that meant the most, though. Seeing her smile, a real smile. Her bantering and quipping with him, like old times. And, the pain was gone.
She found him one night, in the church. He no longer came here to light a candle in her memory, but rather to give thanks that she was alive, safe and sound. He was kneeling in a pew, his head bent, eyes closed, and she slid in next to him quietly.
"Abby told me." She said quietly, facing forward, staring at the stained glass window high above the altar. He lifted his head and looked at her.
"Abby told you what?" he asked.
"That you lit a candle for me, I don't understand much about Catholicism, but I understand that lighting a candle is significant."
"I was praying for you."
"You thought I was dead. What was the point of praying?"
"I prayed that you were happy. I prayed that I could move on. When I thought you died…" he trailed off. "It was like I broke inside. Nothing mattered," he whispered. She blinked tears out of her eyes and placed her hand over his. He was looking down at the floor.
"I'm glad someone cared enough to do that for me," she said quietly. He looked at her, and before he knew what happened, he leaned over and placed his lips on hers, softly, gently. They kissed for a moment, and only for a moment, before they pulled away.
"Let's go," he said, standing up. He went to walk to the door, but she grabbed his arm and stopped him.
"I want you to light my candle." So Anthony DiNozzo lit a candle, for her, and while he did, he sent of a prayer of thanks, for bringing Ziva David into his life.