Sooo….I did not manage to get this posted before the finale. I tried. Really, I did, but it just wasn't meant to be. However, I'm glad we were given a finale that has not left me feeling traumatized and in need of therapy.

Disclaimer: if they were mine, I would be writing for the show. For money. Lots of money.

Last chapter, folks! Enjoy.

A special thank you to M E Wofford for the endless support. It is much appreciated!

She waits.

Moving restlessly through the dark wings, she forces a serene expression to play across her features in an attempt to disguise that she is pacing in nervous anticipation. Studying the music from beneath hooded eyes, she hums the alto line to herself while scanning the cavernous backstage area from the periphery of her sight line. She absently moves to finger the ring on her left hand for comfort, but then remembers that she did not wear it in an attempt to draw Laurent to her.

She knows the minute his presence invades the radius in which she feels safe. Her eyes prickle and her skin itches as the heat of adrenaline courses through her veins alerting her to his arrival. She does not need to turn around to know that he is close. She straightens her shoulders and raises her chin, locking her jaw in quiet defiance.

For a shattering moment, she thinks that maybe this is one mission she can not complete. An emotion so child-like and frantic streaks through her and she wonders - just for a moment - what it might have felt like to have her father's arms around her. Protecting her and keeping her safe.

And just as quickly, she forces the thought aside. Taking a deep breath, she raises herself to her full height, but even with heels, this man is much larger than she. Although hyper-vigilant, she slips into a persona she has perfected since before she could remember. A coy smile and a wink from a pretty face. Rulers of nations have fallen for less.

So she slips the mask into place as one would a custom made glove.

She exudes sex and she breathes power and she knows that this persona is irresistible, particularly to the narcissistic sociopath invading her sense of well being. Forcing any and all other emotion aside, she focuses on the mission at hand.

Glancing over her shoulder, she catches his eye. Her lips form in a sexy smirk and she glances away, the very picture of demure innocence.

She doesn't need to think it through, she's traveled this road before. Knows the cost and what is at stake.

She knows that her personal involvement is irrelevant.

She has captured his attention effectively and sends him another smile as she joins the other altos preparing to go onstage for the fourth movement. He finds her at the end of the line.

"I do not believe that we have met, mademoiselle, however you look familiar."

Her breath catches, but years of training allow her to maintain a relaxed composure when she smiles sweetly and gives him a flippant answer complete with a practiced French accent.

"I am sure you say that to all of the ladies, monsieur."

"Ah, you are French," he comments appreciatively, "you must join me for a drink at the reception after the performance."

Her blood runs cold and for the second time this evening she questions her ability to play out this role. But she is a soldier, she reminds herself, and she has faced more powerful men than this one. Swallowing past the lump in her throat, she says, "That would be lovely."

Laurent is waiting when the performance is over. Holding his arm out to her, he tucks her hand in the crook of his elbow. In his other hand is a leather briefcase containing what Ziva assumes is a sizable amount of cash.

"I hope that you do not mind, but I have a quick business transaction to complete before the celebrations begin."

"Of course not," Ziva murmurs sweetly.

He leads her behind the building where several vans and trucks are parked, mostly likely housing a variety of music, sound and electrical equipment. And a collection of weapons. Two men are waiting by one of the vans.

"Please wait here, cherie, I will return in a brief moment."

Ziva spots Tony and the rest of their team approaching from both sides of the alley behind the concert hall dressed in all black. She waits until Laurent hands the briefcase to one of the men before she approaches.

"Monsieur Laurent," Ziva bites out. Gone is the shy choir girl flirting in the wings. Considering the types of men with whom Laurent conducts business, it is no surprise that he realizes she is more dangerous than she first appeared.

"Who are you?"

"Ziva DiNozzo," she replies before she moves with incredible speed, simultaneously pulling her knife from beneath the skirt of her dress and shoving him forcefully against the white van at his back as Tony's team surrounds them. The other two men are easily overpowered and hand cuffed while Tony and Agent Becker keep their weapons trained on Laurent

Leaning toward him and pressing the sharp point of the knife into the tender flesh, she draws a droplet of blood before retreating to trail the knife slowly down his throat along the jugular.

Suddenly, her calm, composed demeanor disappears and she slams her forearm against his throat shoving him once more against the cool metal of the van.

"You may remember meeting me in Africa. I was once Ziva David, daughter of Mossad Director Eli David," she growled at him.

"Should we intervene, Agent DiNozzo?" Agent Becker asked quietly.

"No, she will not kill him," Tony replied in an equally low voice, "she has too much to lose."

Pressing her arm tighter against his throat, she hissed at him, "Saleem gave me to you as a gift. Do you remember?"

His eyes bugged out of his head as the lack of oxygen caused black spots to dance in front of his eyes. Summoning up the last of his strength, he pushed Ziva away as his arm swung in a wide arc crashing into the left side of her head. Stunned, her vision blurred but she forced herself to remain upright.

She sees vague recognition glitter in his eyes as he realizes that he not only knows her, he has violated her in the worst way.

She reacts without thinking and slams her fist into his jaw in a swift uppercut. Laurent dropped like a stone to the ground and Ziva followed, falling to her knees beside him. She grabbed his shirt, pulling him up by the fabric as she continued to yell at him.

"Do you remember?"

Tony approached her carefully and slowly.


She didn't respond. Kneeling next to her, he gently pulled her fists from Laurent's shirt.

"It's over, Ziva. He's unconscious."

She finally turned her head and stares at him wide eyed. In an instant, she scrambled to her feet and stumbled away from the vans and the crime scene beginning to take shape around her.

"Agent Becker," Tony called, "please take this man into custody when he wakes up. Can you handle this? I need to see to my wife."

"Will she be alright?"

"Yes, I think she will."

Tony races after Ziva as she makes her way clumsily down the alley, stopping to empty the contents of her stomach beside the garbage dumpster. He wraps his arms around her as she finished heaving. He didn't say anything just held her for a moment.

He leaves her briefly to give directions to Becker, placing the situation in his capable hands before he took Ziva back to the hotel.

She did not speak as he removed her dress and buried her chilled form beneath the heavy blankets of the bed. Climbing in beside her, he wrapped her tightly in his embrace and lent her his warmth as the tremors began and shook her body.

He kissed her temple and breathed into her ear, "It is over, Ziva. You never got to kill Saleem and you did not get to kill Laurent, but I am so proud of you tonight."

"It is over," she echoed hollowly, "but I let him live."

And suddenly, the idea of his blood on her hands was too much.

And she knew she had made the right decision.


Bastille Day - July 14th

The sound of fireworks rumbled as the sky lit up in a spectacular rainbow of smoky color. Ziva and Tony, looking very much like tourists dressed in summer attire, sat at a small table in front of a café sharing a bottle of wine.

A warm glow flowed easily between them. Ziva leaned back in her chair.

"Are you disappointed that we did not attempt to fight the crowds to watch the fireworks at the Eiffel Tower?"

"No, this is perfect."

"Do you think you would like to stay in Paris after our contract is up, Tony?" she asked curiously.

"We still have two years, Ziva."

"I know, I am just asking."

"Honestly, I think I would like to go back to DC after this. What do you think?"

"I was hoping you would say that."

She raised her wine glass in a toast, "Here is to the next two years of adventure before settling down."

Tony grinned as he clinked his glass against hers and then took a long swallow.

"Now, Tony, I have a surprise for you."

She fished inside of her bag and produced a deck of cards. She set up a game of Speed, a game that brought them close so long ago, a game that they hadn't played in as long as Tony could remember.

"For old time's sake," she explained.

He smiled his mega watt smile. She smiled back just as brightly.

And then she thoroughly kicked his ass at cards.

C'est la vie.

It's French for something.

A/N: I actually found myself in Paris on Bastille Day in 2007. It wasn't planned that way, but it was absolutely one of the coolest experiences of my entire life. I highly recommend it. =)

Thank you for reading and sharing this journey with me. I hope you enjoyed this story.

And thank God nothing happened to jeopardize Ziva's citizenship in the finale. Whew! I was worried. I'm really mad at Gibbs for missing it, but hopefully he will make it up to her. I've already forgiven Tony.

Feel free to leave me some love! It makes the world go 'round!