"Get out of here, Ziva. Go! Back to the rendezvous point. I will catch up. That's an order!" he grunted as he struggled to stand up. The bullet had really winded him. Thank goodness for the vest.

"Shut up, Tony. I am not leaving you. Lie down." At this point in time, her order carried more weight than his. She ripped open his shirt and frantically pulled at the Kevlar vest. The bullet had somehow found a path through the narrow join in the material. His arm had been extended and the bullet had nestled itself in the soft flesh at the side of his chest. Who knows how close it was to the lung. It was a once in a lifetime shot. The kind that cuts a lifetime short.

Tony, still unaware of the extent of his injury, began to protest.

"Hey, this is an expensive shirt, Ziva. You ripped buttons off!"

An eerie calmness came over her. He did not know. Should she tell him? Risk him panicking? He had to know. He had a right. "Tony' you have been shot." She said, years of training enabling her to keep the emotion from her voice.

"I know I have been shot." He answered angrily. "Now, will you let me up so I can breathe and we can go before the bastards come back?"

She had to make him understand. "Tony, you must stay still. I am sorry." She held up her hand for him to see. It was stained red and shone morbidly in the airfield's security lighting.

"Crap." He suddenly felt it. The survival response of his body gave in to the screaming nerves and he could feel it. It was not as bad as he might have expected though.

"McGee has called the ambulance. It will be here in just a few minutes, Tony. Hold on, Ok?"

"Of course." He could see the panic in her eyes now. It mirrored the panic which was building inside him. "Of course." He repeated. "I am not ready to…There is too much that I have not…"

"Shh" she soothed. "Save your strength." Another order from his junior agent. For once he did not mind. It was probably because he knew deep down that she was right. Or maybe it was the way she was stroking his forehead, keeping the demons in his mind at bay.

The demons in her own mind were not so easy to suppress. She remembered the last time she had seen him like this. Lying, bloodied, pained. She had drawn her gun on him. It had been instinct, her training. She did it as she opened the door. But she did not lower it when she saw who it was. The scene before had stopped her. It had not been the last time she drew her gun on him. She closed her eyes and tried to block out the memory of their confrontation in Tel- Aviv. He had asked her if she loved Michael and she answered angrily that she would never know. She would not be making that mistake again.

It was like he could read her mind. Despite his condition and increasing pain, he knew her so well.

"Still think my ass is worthless?" he asked, a pained grin on his darkened face.

She looked up. How did he know? Of course. He always knew. He could read her like no one else.

"I have never regretted anything more." She said softly.

She remembered the night, her apartment, her lover dying on the floor. Her partner doubled over with pain, the gun still in his hand. She had ignored Tony then, and held Michael as they waited for the ambulance. She had said very little in that time. Just held him. Ashamed of herself and the tiny hint of relief she tried to suppress.

"You plan on ending every year like this, David?" he asked, wincing as she pressed harder on his wound. "Holding a dying man in your arms? It is déjà vu. All over again " He could not resist..

"No, Tony. It is not. History will not repeat tonight." She promised to herself as much as to him. "You will not die. I will not let you. There are too many things…Things you do not know."

He looked into her eyes, the panic gone. "I know" he whispered. "And I…"he grunted as a wave of pain swept over him. "I lo…" his words were lost in her lips as she softly kissed him for the first time. Perhaps for the last time. He closed his eyes, willing the feeling, burning every sensation of her mouth on his into his memory.

"You will not die, Tony, because I will not let you." She said firmly. It was time. She knew it as surely, it was as real to her as his blood on her hands. "Because I have come to know that it is I who can not live without you."