A/N: Sorry for the delay in updating again. This is the final chapter! More swearing and some violence here. Enjoy!
Why can't she see? We are so alike. I have studied her and become just like her, all to prove my loyalty to her. And yet, she says I do not understand.
"You are not a killer," she tells me, and I want to just slash into her precious McGee's throat right now, just to prove her wrong. "Killing one person in rage and jealousy does not make you a killer." I want to ask if that gives me permission to kill McGee, then, if it won't count, anyway, but then I catch the look she's giving him, like she's trying to give him a message.
"Hey! You two better not be . . . exchanging some secret code or something." I'm not stupid. That look meant something.
Ziva suddenly looks back at me and bursts out laughing. Laughing! Like this is all some kind of joke! We'll see how hard she's laughing when McGee's blood is spurting out of his carotid artery and onto her beautiful face, turning her into some sort of princess from hell, her beauty only intensified by the sticky liquid running off her cheeks, maybe into her open mouth. Oh yes.
"You are a truly delusional little man," she says once she's finished laughing, and her words are like venom straight from a snake's mouth, spitting and poisonous. But I've had my shots and while the words sting, I do not die, and I know her intent was not to kill. I can see it in her eyes. She wants to love me.
I shake my head. "No . . . no, I would never . . ." I can't let her do this. Clench my jaw, hold tighter to McGee. Her eyes flicker - perhaps she was waiting for it, anticipating her partner's death, looking forward to him being out of the picture so the two of us could be together at last. "I . . ."
"Do not say you love me." She shudders. Shudders? Surely she can't be disgusted by the idea? Why would anyone? To be loved unconditionally, so much that someone would kill to be with you . . . that must be the most flattering thing that could happen. Even if she does not reciprocate. Yet.
"What can I do?" She has reduced me to this, to begging her to tell me how I can win her heart. If I didn't have a knife at her partner's throat, if this weren't such an urgent situation, I would be on my knees, groveling at her feet. "What can I do to make you love me?"
She gives me a strange look. It is as though she cannot believe I would ask her such a question. Perhaps I do not need to be. Perhaps . . . she is already able to love me. She has seen my devotion and . . .
Nothing? Does that mean . . . I have succeeded?
"Real love cannot be forced into existence. I will never love you."
What? No . . . She has to be lying . . . No, it's all because of him. "No!" I scream, and I feel the blood cut off to my fingertips as I squeeze the knife harder. "No! You're lying! You're not telling the truth! You asked for it, you asked for it . . ."
The knife tip pierces McGee's throat and the rich burgundy that seeps out excites me. Oh, yes. You asked for it. Precious fucking Special Agent McGee. Not so great now, are you? No, no - you're as good as dead. And Ziva, yes, Ziva - she's all mine now. Mine! We'll be together forever!
"You will soon be regretting that decision," Ziva says and I raise my eyes to hers. Oh, her eyes are blazing. She wants me. Oh, yes, she wants me. She wants to rip off my clothes and fuck me while her partner slowly lays bleeding out on the floor, his last vision before dying being Ziva riding me. Oh, yeah . . .
"Shh, it's okay," I soothe, knowing she is just leery about expressing her true feelings while her partner is standing there. I smile. "Don't worry about him. It'll be fine."
"Not for you," she says.
What? What's that . . . Ahhhh! The bitch stabbed me! Oh, oh God . . . my-my chest, my poor beating heart . . . But Ziva . . . The knife, my knife . . . McGee was supposed to die, not me . . .
"No, no . . . Wasn't . . . No . . ." Can't talk straight. My voice . . . blood in my mouth . . . salty, and iron . . . "Not me . . ."
Too weak . . . falling . . . No . . . "He . . . Not supposed to happen like this . .."
Getting dark . . . no. . . I love you, Ziva . . .
Close my eyes and sleep . . .
She stares down at the still warm body, blood trickling out onto Tim's once spotless floor. The threat has been removed, the terrorism stopped, yet Ziva somehow does not feel any more at ease. She is still clutching her own knife in her hand, squeezing, knuckles white. He didn't even see it coming. He was too distracted by his feelings for her, the images of what their life together would be like, playing out in front of his blank gaze like a film, a horror movie.
The sound of Tim's voice causes Ziva to drop the knife. It clatters to the floor, echoing hollowly through the otherwise silent apartment. She looks up at him, her face haunted.
"Ziva?" Tim repeats, this time as a question.
Her eyes fall to his neck, on the cut there, and she is suddenly aware again, and concerned. "Are you okay?" she asks, moving towards him.
He holds up a hand to bar her advance and leaves the other hand over the wound. "It's just a scratch, Ziva. I'll be fine."
She nods, seemingly satisfied with his answer. Her gaze then falls to the floor again, landing on Aron's body. She is looking at his eyes, trying to understand . . . Why her? What was it about her that drew him to her? And what pushed him over the edge? Tim could have died . . . because of her.
She lets out a small gasp as Tim touches her arm, her eyes flickering back to his, wide with surprise and the realization of what has happened. The blood on his fingers . . . the body on the floor . . . oh, God. She simply stares at him, her eyes unfocused, as she begins to process the situation.
And then, she is aware of warmth, of arms circled around her, a gentle but enveloping touch, and the first tear rushes down her cheek. That is all it takes, and she clutches and claws at Tim's shirt, his back and shoulders, as she sobs and sobs, soaking him with her tears.
He is patient and comforting, though he is bleeding, and scared himself. It does not matter. It isn't her fault. And it's all over now. She is safe. They are safe. Nothing will happen now. His heart is twisting in his chest, wrung into a painful knot, as he thinks about how this could have ended had Ziva not been so brave.
"You did the right thing," he murmurs into her hair, his voice cracking. He is close to tears himself. He knows they need to call Gibbs, to tell him about what happened, that there is a dead man on his living room floor, killed by Ziva . . . but they are both so fragile right now. He doesn't know if they can face seeing Gibbs.
Ziva's sobs slow, until she is merely breathing heavily, still pawing absently at his back. The room smells of thick iron, the metallic scent of blood, and they both are aware that time is running away from them and they need to contact someone as soon as possible.
Suddenly Ziva feels herself being pulled away and reacts, freezing in place. Tim lets out a soft sigh.
"It's okay, Ziva. I'm just taking you into the bedroom."
It is then she seems to remember she is an NCIS agent, someone who sees death on a daily basis and who herself has killed many men. She removes herself from Tim's touch, her expression professional steel. "No," she says. "We have to call Gibbs. We need to take care of the body."
She does not miss the look on Tim's face as she speaks, the sad expression of disbelief and disappointment. She swallows heavily and reaches into her pocket for her cell phone, her fingers trembling as she flips it open and tries to dial.
Then, Tim's warm hand is covering hers and she looks up, trying to hide her fear. "It's okay," he says. "It's over. Let me call Gibbs."
She lifts her hand to his neck, bringing his hand covering it down so she can see the damage. "Will you be okay?" she asks, her voice softer than earlier, and it takes all Tim's willpower to not give in to his emotions, to not take her in his arms again and cover her in continuous reassurances that everything will be fine.
Instead, he nods and removes her curious fingers from his neck, holding onto her hand a little longer than necessary before releasing it and taking out his own cell phone. He presses the speed dial for Gibbs and holds the phone to his ear, watching Ziva as the phone rings and then as he speaks to Gibbs. She is staring at Aron's body again and Tim knows, can see at this moment, that there is so much to Ziva he had never seen before, and she is just as affected as anyone else.
He finishes the call and returns the phone to his pocket, then speaks, catching Ziva's attention. "Gibbs is on his way. He's calling Ducky and Tony, too."
She nods at his words, then finds her arms around him again, her face nestled against his heart, as he is saying, "I'm so sorry, Ziva. I'm so sorry."
And they remain standing like that until Gibbs arrives, then Ducky and Palmer, and Tony soon thereafter. It is a bustle of activity from then, the scene being documented and the body zipped into a body bag to be removed from the apartment.
Gibbs walks over to the agents after examining the body. "You two gonna be okay?" he asks quietly, and Tim looks to Ziva, who nods quickly.
"Yes, Gibbs," she says. "We have each other's backs, McGee and I."
Gibbs nods. "Why don't you two go to Ziva's and get some sleep."
"Boss?" Tim asks, confused.
"There's nothing more you can do here." He looks to the door, where Ducky and Palmer are wheeling Aron's body out, then looks at them again. "I know you two will watch out for each other."
"Yes, Boss," Tim says, and retreats to his bedroom to pack a suitcase to take to Ziva's. They leave shortly thereafter, Tim's hand resting protectively on Ziva's back, and Tony and Gibbs are left in the room.
It is silent for a moment, then Tony asks, "Why'd he do it, Boss?"
"Because he thought he loved her, DiNozzo," Gibbs replies, staring at the spot Aron had been. "He did it in the name of love."