Disclaimer: Does NCIS belong to me? Nay.
Hi everyone! LAST CHAPTER! I meant to get this out sooner, but I started a new job and goaiejgpagjsweapjwjemjga it sucks. Anyway, as I said, this is the final chapter so enjoy it for what it's worth! Thank you to everyone who showed support along the way! It feels good to complete a story :)
It's been two days since she got back from Stillwater, eyes a little brighter, step a little looser. Ready. Okay maybe.
Sixteen days since she stood at his grave with something that tasted like solace, sixteen days since she had her last conversation with Shavit. Sixteen days since she left for both a beginning, and an end.
Nineteen days since she was released from the hospital, trying to recover from more than just a physical wound. Twenty-three days since she arrived, bleeding into and out of everything.
Twenty-four days since she stumbled around his basement, drunk and stupid. But so very honest.
Twenty-six days since she pressed a gun into her father's head, hand steady but heart shaking with the fear that everything she gave was never enough. Twenty-six days since Hadar showed up at her door confirming that her distrust was warranted.
Twenty-seven days since she skipped his funeral to track down his killer, a man hardly worthy of the rage of the lethal Ziva David. Twenty-seven days since she found out he died for simply doing his job off the clock.
Twenty-eight days since she went to his apartment, searching for anything. Everything. Just searching.
Twenty-nine days since she let someone beat the shit out of her solely because she could not do it herself. Twenty-nine days since she was practically suspended for it.
Thirty days since Gibbs dragged her away from her own vomit because she could not stand the fact that he was gone too.
And thirty days since Tony was murdered right in front of her.
Yet, and it certainly qualified as an epic yet, she was here, alive and breathing, if not healing. Here, with dull orange glow of the walls, the steady stream of ringing phones and the hush of conversing people.
Her desk remains organized except for a few loose papers, exactly the way she left when she was forced to take her leave all those days ago. Untouched, but waiting. Empty but full of something else entirely.
Somehow it feels like home.
"Morning," calls out McGee from across the bullpen, smiling briefly from behind his considerably earned position as senior field agent. She would rather, even gladly, have Tim occupy the desk then have its vacancy glaring at her everyday. It fits him, and he it.
Another thing that just feels right.
She had already seen him when they met for dinner after she and Abby returned from their trip, so their greeting is friendly but didn't hold the sort of relief and warmth that it had that weekend. Still, she is glad to see him.
And really, that's the best way to describe it. Not everything had to be so complicated, not after everything.
She nods and smiles, dropping her bag behind the desk and taking a seat. She raises an eyebrow at the other presence in the room.
Someone, an unfamiliar face, is leaning back in his chair as he sits at McGee's old desk, studiously reading over a case file. He is tall with dark features, sporting a military-style haircut and a just visible tattoo on the back of his neck as he absentmindedly spins his chair just barely from side to side.
The scene reminds her of another time, another place. Almost another world.
McGee clears his throat, turning to the other man.
"Uh, Ziva this is Special Agent Holmes, our new Probie," he says easily, an air of amusement of once again being able to dub someone else as the newbie. "And Holmes this is Special Agent Ziva David."
The man named Holmes rose from his chair and wore a small but naturally crooked smile, extending a firm hand.
"Pleasure to meet you. Someone told me you're a bit of a legend here."
She returns his little half-smile and handshake, still surprised at his presence but going along with it.
"You must be mistaking me with Gibbs."
"Heard that too."
She nodded and returned to her seat, taking a moment to just sit and observe in her chair, still thoroughly enjoying being back at work. Holmes was still hovering in front of her desk.
"Something I can help you with?" she asks, not entirely sincere, but not entirely biting either.
He shrugs, leaning over the edge a little bit.
"Just wondering where you got that," he says curiously but confidently, pointing to the letter opener that had been so precious to Tony. No one ever asked her if she wanted it. She just had it now. Natural almost.
Before she got a chance to answer he brought a hand down to pick it up, but something interrupted him halfway.
"I wouldn't do that if I were you," warned McGee, not taking his eyes off his computer. "She could kill you with just about anything on that desk."
Ziva smirked, eying him with feigned interest. Holmes retracted his hand, cocking an eyebrow at her.
"Something tells me you didn't learn that kind of thing from FLETC."
Already on his way to becoming a good investigator. Tim concealed a smile from behind his monitor.
"I used to be Mossad," responded Ziva, voice a little tighter than intended. Still not the best of subjects.
Holmes released a low breath that sounded something like a whistle, exchanging a non-returned glance between the other two agents.
"Damn. Used to be?"
He stared at her as if expecting her to continue, then frowned deeply when he realized she was just continuing her work, pen scratching away at the paperwork.
"So you would probably kick my ass if I asked you how you ended up here?"
Not because she is determined to hide it, or because it is so dark in its nature, but because her ending up here is more of a gradual chain of loss and disillusionment, and not something described by a concrete cause and effect. Lines can be traced, but in the end you realize it has been happening your entire life.
Time does not have a beginning or an end, a here or a there. It just happens.
"Right, sorry. Not my place."
True, it really isn't, at least (definitely) not yet, but he is off on the right foot if he has the decency to realize such things. And it was clear he was still very thoroughly a military man, and on Team Gibbs that had to count for something.
"Hey Holmes," called McGee, trying to loosen the stiffened moment. "Since I can see that you've diligently filled out those incident reports, why don't you get us some coffee?"
He turned, eyes calm but jaw clenched slightly. Waited for only a second before speaking.
"Look I know I'm new here but does that really make it necessary for me to be your errand boy?"
Tim grinned knowingly, features tinted with amusement as he stopped what he was doing to have his little confrontation with the newest junior field agent.
"I did it when I was a Probie."
"Well that was then. This is now. Things change."
Well he was certainly right about that.
And she knows it without ever having to really think about it. McGee tilts his neck, considering.
"Maybe. But you still have to get the coffee."
"I got the Chinese on Friday."
"Only after I had to chase you down and tell you to do it."
"Because Abby locked me in the evidence locker. On purpose."
"I warned you."
"Plus you left me at a crime scene."
"That was Gibbs."
Holmes's eyes darkened a little bit, unimpressed.
"Of course it was."
"Alright fine, you get the coffee this one more time and we'll call it even. Truce?" he asks fairly, extending a hand over his desk to clasp with Holmes.
The other agent eyes him warily, but finally takes a step forward and returns the shake.
They drop their hands and Holmes returns to his desk, plopping down in his chair and booting up his computer, intending to check up on a few things before he runs out to fulfill his last duty as "errand boy".
The other two work silently on whatever is available for them to do, until suddenly the whole atmosphere shifts.
"Oh come on! Seriously?"
Holmes is glaring heatedly at McGee as he dramatically shoves his hands, whose fingers are glued viciously to the keyboard, up in the air as a challenge.
Ziva, whose head had been down as she pored over something on her desk, loudly burst out laughing and the sound is so unfamiliar and so perfectly there that even Holmes, in his frustration, picks up on the value of it. Unique and true, like all the weight she does and ever has carried.
Tim just smiles into his desk, stealing only a furtive glance at the woman across the room. Plain and simple, like so many other things, it is nice to see her back like this.
When Gibbs reappears and finds his ex-liaison cracking up, his senior field agent trying to hide his smile, and the new Probie trying furiously to unstick himself from his keyboard, he hesitates for only a second before striding to his desk without a word and the tiniest of smirks.
He lets them be.
Because really, with them, in the ebb and flow of things, in the matters of faith, that is the way it always works.
It just happens.
Four days later, in the approaching dusk of a cool November night, they wait on the dusty wood of the docks.
The marina lies on an inlet a few miles west of the Washington Harbor, usually reserved for smaller boats and people that just needed a convenient space for whatever they had. Tonight, they are the only ones on the pier, appreciating the glassy depth of the Potomac and the clearish pale blue of the fading autumn sky.
Gibbs had asked her to come early in the week, and neither had said any more about it until he arrived at her apartment to pick her up less than an hour ago. And even then, they hadn't really talked much.
Though between them, silence was neither a punishment nor a crime.
His boat rests in front of them, tied to the dock but bobbing loosely on the surface of the water. In its completion it is nothing short of beautiful, with crisp white sails and glossy honey-brown stain streaked over the sanded smooth wood.
The name is painted elegantly in black on the hull of the starboard side: Caitlin.
It isn't necessarily what was expected or perfectly fitted to the timeline of things, but Gibbs had yet to coin one of his creations after her, and just as Tony and Ziva were constantly linked in life, he and Kate would be forever linked in death. Somehow, it fits.
Plus Anthony was a weak name for a boat anyway. And DiNozzo was just strange.
The man on the dock carefully steps onto the deck, not bothering to invite his companion to do the same because she follows his lead without so much as a glance of hesitation. Together, in equal silence, they set up the mini-table and their makeshift meal (takeout and their good friend Jim Beam).
Both realize the rarity of these moments of congruity, but neither acknowledges it.
Gibbs is the first to speak, mentioning something about the case they had wrapped up earlier that afternoon. After that the conversation is easy and flows freely, ranging from harmless discussion to topics of a more personal nature. Difficult as it may have been, the words that fell had no edge and no implications.
Somewhere in the middle Ziva mentions the very first time she met Tony, with all of his humor and his seriousness blended together in a blaze of him.
It is not the first time he is brought up nor will it be the last time that night. But with the low hum of riverside sounds, the sweet scent of wet wood and liquor, and the shimmer of the dull orange skyline, in that moment, it makes perfect sense.
Things change. People move on.
She understood it then, she understands it now. Doesn't think it, just feels it glittering with the waves and lingering in his gaze.
It's been thirty-four days since Tony was murdered right in front of her.
But she is Ziva David, and she is here. Alive.
Not everything is complicated and not everything is simple, but the fact remains. She is here, she is breathing. Wounded, but standing. Alive. Still here.
Infinitely, honestly, she knows.
It just feels right.
And there it is - the end! Gracias to everyone for reading! Leave a last review and be on your way! Adios!