Disclaimers: NCIS, the rights to the show and its characters do not belong to me. No money was made by this.
A/N: English is not my native language. So please forgive me my grammar and spelling mistakes.
Pairing: none really, simple Tony/Ziva friendship
Spoilers: Season 6 finale Aliyah, the first episodes of Season 7, up to and including Child's Play, kind of AU
Summary: "It hurt her every time she reached up and encountered only her bare skin but not the familiar feel and weight of her necklace."
It had taken him quite some time to figure it out. Something was different, something about her had changed. Not that she wore her hair open, not that she had gone back to straightening it, not that it was now longer than he remembered. It wasn't her eyes, either. It wasn't the constant moisture in them, or how empty they were at times, or the way her smiles would not reach them. Her voice had changed, too, it was softer, more feminine, and how she frequently apologized and thanked them for things that never had required a "thank you" before. But that wasn't it, either. It was something more subtle, and even though he could not put his finger on it, he knew it was there. He knew from the way McGee would watch her with a look of concentration on his face, as if he was looking for something but could not find it, as if he could not figure out the answer to a riddle when it was in plain sight.
She felt naked. More than she had in the months in Somalia. There she had had other things to worry about. But now that she was back, it was painfully obvious to her. It hurt her every time she reached up and encountered only her bare skin but not the familiar feel and weight of her necklace. He had ripped it from her, just as they had been ripped from her. And she felt naked without the comfort and protection the necklace had always provided.
He noticed that sometimes, she would touch her throat. Like she was feeling for something and was surprised when it wasn't there. He thought she was searching for wounds at first. Because he himself had seen the way that bastard had pressed his knife to her throat. But his assumption did not fit the hollow and sometimes almost pained expression she always got when she didn't find any wounds or marks at her throat.
Then, one time in interrogation observation, it hit him like a ton of bricks. They were watching Gibbs interview a girl whose sister, a Petty Officer in the Navy had gone missing. Out of the corner of his eyes, he saw her reach up again, and was caught by surprise when the familiar sparkle did not come. She had never had an obvious tell, not one she had never been able to suppress. But when they dealt with female teenagers, she had always briefly touched her necklace, as if in remembrance. And as he turned his head in the quiet room and traced her neck with his eyes, he did not find the familiar golden necklace with her Star of David. She turned her head and raised an eyebrow in silent questioning. And he asked her. The sentence was easy to form.
Where's your necklace?
Four words. Three and a half because he had used a contraction. But they were enough to make her withdraw from him completely. He practically saw the blinds being drawn as her face became an empty mask and she turned back to the two occupants of the room behind the one-way mirror. But he had seen the small flicker of pain in her eyes, and he knew.
He knew that bastard had taken it, and now it was lost somewhere in Somalia, and she would never get it back.
A week passed, and she almost thought he would let it slide. That he thought it was her decision of not wearing it any longer. She should have known better. When she came in to work, the three of them were already there. Gibbs had gone to see the director, McGee was clicking though crime scene photographs, and he was typing up a report that no doubt had needed to be done yesterday. Even though the three of them were in, it was not hard to figure out from who the black box on her desk had come.
She sat down slowly and opened it, already knowing what she would find. There, on a velvet cushion, lay a Silver Star of David. Its surface was smooth, not like the one she had had before. It reminded her of the one Sarah had worn when she had slipped her Ari's passport.
Slowly, she took it from its box and held it by the necklace, watching as the light reflected off the metallic surface. Her mind jumped back twenty years in time, to sun dancing over the golden surface of her Star of David and the smile on her sister's lips as Ari helped her put the new necklace on. The voice echoed in her mind.
I picked it out all by mysshelf. Do you like it, Zivaleh?
She had said yes. But that had been a lie. She had loved it. It had been the best present she had gotten for her Bat Mitzvah. The chain had been short, but she had not minded. It had been perfect.
A year later, when she had decked a boy for picking on her angel sister and her lisp, the chain had broken. And her mother had not chided her like she always did when she got into physical fights. She had just given her a longer chain for the pendant, and kissed her forehead.
Three years, eight months, one week and four days later, she had stood on a destroyed market, staring at the burned out remains of the bus her sister had taken to town. From then she had only taken of her necklace when work demanded it. Every single time her finger had brushed against it, memories had come flooding back. Memories that had been ripped away when the chain broke in Somalia.
She carefully placed the new necklace back in its box and put it in her desk drawer. Not wearing her old necklace was not her decision, but not wearing a replacement was. Because it did not feel right. No one had been able to completely fill the void in her hear that been there ever since her little sister had died. She was irreplaceable. Just like her necklace was.
The day after he had gotten her the new necklace, she came to work, wearing a silver locket. It remained there, usually tucked away safely under her clothes. It took a year before she took it off and handed it over to him. He carefully traced the Hebrew inscription she told him was her name before opening it.
On the right half, there was a picture of a young girl laughing into the camera. Black and white, it almost looked like a frozen frame of a memory long ago. It was her dead sister, he knew even before she told him.
On the left side was a colored miniature picture of the team taken on Christmas back when Jenny had still been with them, when things were still great between them, before it had started to go so horribly wrong.
And as he looked at the smiling faces of their younger selves, he found that maybe, this was better than the Star of David. Because this way, he always was close to her heart, no matter how far apart they physically were.
A/N2: I've been wearing the same necklace for three years now (unlike Ziva's, it's not a religious one, but a miniature replica of the Phaistos Disc), and someone asked me what it meant. They meant the inscription on it, but it got me thinking on what it meant to me, why I was wearing it, and why even though I will replace it with a different one that goes better with my outfit for special occasions, I still go back to my disc-necklace as soon as I can.
Review? Pretty please?
September 2, 2010: merely exchanged the chapter with one that has intact break markers because fanfictiondotnet took out my old ones.