By Gunnery Sergeant
A/N: AU, starts in season 6, well before the last four episodes. In fact I've the feeling this story wouldn't have been written this way had I known what a SOB Eli David really is!
Ziva David looked out of the window as the airplane taking her away from America and back to Israel gained height.
She kept looking down until she could no longer see soil and water, just clouds.
Only then she leaned against the back of her seat and while she stared straight ahead, fought the wave of sadness that threatened to overwhelm her.
Unlike eleven months before, when Ziva had returned to Israel after her position as liaison officer with NCIS had abruptly terminated in the wake of Jenny Shepard's death, this time she hadn't been sent away or recalled home against her will.
Ziva had left Washington because she had been offered a promotion inside the Mossad and she had decided to accept it.
She had left because she could no longer bear to spend day after day near a man she desperately loved but could never be hers. She had left because she was afraid the next time she would have found herself alone in the elevator with Leroy Jethro Gibbs, she would have ended slamming him against the wall and kissing him within an inch of his life.
Ziva was too tired to fight her feelings. Tired of hopelessly waiting to see if Gibbs looked at her with more than the gruff affection he bestowed to all the members of his team. Too tired to be jealous of all the kisses he gave Abby—something that always made her feel bad, because Abby was a sweet woman and a dear friend, and she didn't deserve to be the target of her rage.
Only one person knew of her unrequited love for their boss—Tony.
Nosey, exasperating and caring Tony knew. He had known since the time Gibbs had retired in Mexico and they had met once a week in Ziva's apartment as they looked for a way to make their boss return home.
She had confessed her love for Gibbs one night they had had one too many drinks. Afterward, she had dreaded Tony would tease her to death and make jokes about her feelings, but he had never done it.
Anthony DiNozzo might act like as if he was an overgrown frat-boy, with no respect for his colleagues' private lives and interested only in bedding as many women as he could; but in reality, he could be very sensitive when he wanted to, and he had known Ziva's hopeless love was something serious that couldn't be mocked.
The only times he had touched the topic had been to spur Ziva to act on her love for Gibbs, but she had always refused. So Tony had stopped insisting and just offered her a shoulder she could—metaphorically– cry on when Hollis Mann had appeared.
The CID colonel hadn't been around for as long as Ziva had feared—a fear that had made her blurt comments about Mann being Gibbs' future fourth ex-wife, comments that had amused Tony and scandalized McGee.
In truth, Ziva had never been really jealous of Hollis Mann, because she knew the army colonel wasn't the woman she would have to compete with if she was to reveal her feelings to Gibbs.
That woman wasn't Hollis or Jenny or Stephanie, the last of Gibbs' ex-wives and one he seemed to be still fond of. That woman wasn't Kate Todd either, despite what Ari had believed.
That woman was Shannon Gibbs, the love he had tried – and failed – to replace with his string of red-haired ex-wives and former lovers. Ziva had known there had been no way she could compete and win against a ghost and idolized memories, not to mention Gibbs' infamous rule number twelve against relationship between co-workers.
Thus, when her father's offer of promotion had arrived, she had decided to accept it.
Surrender wasn't in Ziva's genetic make-up – she was Jewish, and her people had been fighting for centuries to survive – but tactical retreat when necessary was.
She had always wanted to have a family, to have a husband and children, and she knew she would never find a man to build it with if she kept on working with Gibbs and dreaming of something that would never be.
As the plane finally levelled at cruise-height, Ziva closed her eyes, and let her tears fall.
Goodbye my friends.
Goodbye my love.