He had not intended the day to end this way. Not that he was not ultimately happier with this outcome, but considering how deep he had sunk, it was all he could do to just to claw his head to the surface. He had not yet dared take that first gulp of air that truly signified he would go on living.

It really was a lot of sand. A lot of sand and a lot of nothing. He had thought to himself that trying to find one person, one who was adept at hiding and moving about at that, was like trying to find a needle in a haystack. Or a pin. Because a pin really was just as hard to find as a needle. And deep down, he held to the knowledge that at the end of this day, when he found the damn needle, he would find his pin. One way or another.

The pin was like the kind of pin that marks a location on a map. That grounds you. Some colours show where you have been, others where you want to go and one shining beacon that shows where your home is. Well his home pin had fallen off the map, and the others had soon followed. His world turned upside down. He didn't make plans anymore.

His homing pin. The pin that had made its way into his heart so deeply that he had spent the last few months slowly sinking from regret to guilt. Then more guilt. He was good at guilt. Then there was the hopelessness. Then knowledge that he had two choices. Move on or give up.

He chose give up.

What a normal man would consider the consequences of his actions today, was what he desired. What was usually a worst-case scenario result was for him intended.

But not before he achieved one final act of bravery. Perhaps his only one. The most purposeful thing he could achieve with what was left of his guilt ridden, pin-less life.

He talked and riddled and went in circles, dancing a verbal waltz with his captor. Even under the influence, the movie references flowed easily from his lips and his tongue lashed out. If he could have remembered it later, he would have been proud of himself. He taunted and agitated. He did what he did best, this time with intent to frustrate. Despite the drugs that flowed through his veins, this day was going to be on his terms.

And it had been.

Even when his captor walked into the room and unceremoniously threw the person into the chair opposite him he did not care. The threat of one of them talking and one of them dying meant nothing to him. There would be no discussion on the matter with whoever it was under that hood. He knew that for once, he would be silent.

Then in the blink of an eye, his world was right way up again. He frowned and blinked again. Damn those drugs could do funny things to a man. But no. This was real. She was really there. His breath hitched and it was like the first tiny sign of letting life back into himself. And he said the first thing that came into his head. "So, how was your summer?"

It was so typically him. Light, shallow wit that attempted to mask the enormity of what was coursing through his entire being.

Because as bad as his summer had been (and he did not think it was possible it could have been any worse), he knew hers had been unspeakably horrific. Literally. She did not speak for many long moments.

Although all perfectly clear at the time, later the details of the following minutes would be nothing more to him than a blur. But what was said was nothing compared to what he felt. He would remember how he felt for the rest of his life. The fact that suddenly he again wanted to have a 'rest of his life'. The butterflies that were not truth-serum, the clamps releasing from his heart and allowing his lifeblood to flow through him again.

He remembered some things. She asked him why he was there and he said something about not living without her. Well, it was true. It had been figurative to begin with but then the need to make it literal had become overwhelming.

She had told him that he would tell their captor what he wanted to know. She had made her peace. She was willing, no, she was ready to die. Later it would strike him as ironic. Because he also wanted to die so here they were arguing over who had to live. And because to give in to her request and let her die would leave him in exactly the same position he had been in five minutes ago. Except things were no longer the same. Now that position was unacceptable.

She really had changed the whole plan. In that instant, he decided that it was worth the fight. As far as he had given up, perhaps because he had felt what it was like to be at the very bottom, he now knew just what there was to live for. Just for now he would have to have determination and life enough for both of them. Because now, on this day, none of them were going to die.

The rest of it is a blank to him. He can't remember how they got out of there. He still feels a tiny but of resentment that he does not remember seeing their captor die.

But the life he sees every day, before him, sitting at the desk across from him, more than makes up for that.

And he knows that it will take time. That she has been through a lot. But then, so has he. And as crushed and destroyed as his heart was while she was gone, he knows that her spirit was crushed even more. Unspeakably so.

Maybe one day they will talk about it. But it will be ok if they do not.

Because they will always have that moment. The one where she realized that there was a hope of a future and he realized that his future could, would, have her in it.

No, he had not expected the day to end like this. He had not even dared dream it or hope it. But he was more than happy with the outcome.

A/N: Yeah, so I don't own NCIS. Just my insane brain… Also, I highly recommend that you watch the scene where Saleem brings Ziva into the room with Tony many times and watch Tony's face in slow motion. The way he gives nothing away until the baddies walk out, then smile :)