The Power of Choice

Summary: What if Kate never died? What if Ziva was added to their team anyway? When Tony is in a terrible accident, will he be forced to make his choice? Oh but of course, it could never be that simple. Tate and Tiva.

"I think this is the longest he has ever gone without talking," Kate said, staring at Tony, who was at his desk with his head resting in his hands and his eyes shut.

"I think you're right, Kate," Ziva said, now staring too. "Are you sure he's not asleep?"

"I know how to find out." Kate crept over to Tony, holding her open water bottle over his head.

"No, don't do it," Ziva yelled. "He's been through hell today. He chased that guy for ten blocks and nearly got shot. Twice."

"You're right. Tony, I'm not wearing any underwear today," she said, trying to mess with him. McGee, who was at his own desk, was silently enjoying the fun.

"I'm not asleep, you loon," he said, not moving.

Kate sat back down at her desk. "Sorry."

Tony was exhausted. He could not even think straight he was that tired. Aside from what he had done that afternoon, he hadn't been sleeping properly. He had this lingering feeling that there was something missing from his life, but what was it?

"Anything on the location of our suspect?" Gibbs said, entering the room with coffee cup in hand, as he had done a thousand times before.

"Nothing, Gibbs," Kate answered.

"What about his cell phone?"

"It's turned off, but his last call was made three hours ago to his wife. I traced it to a hotel in Georgetown and they said he left in his own car about ten minutes later," McGee told him.

"Think the wife is involved?" Gibbs replied.

"I doubt it," Ziva answered. "If she were then she would be hidden too, right?"

Gibbs nodded. "DiNozzo, go home, take a shower and a nap. You need it."

Tony walked out of the bullpen and to his car in a zombie-like fashion. His determined nature convinced him he was alert enough to drive, but of course, he was wrong.

It all seemed to happen in slow motion. It only took a second for his eyes to close behind his sunglasses and for the car to swerve across the road. He heard the screech of the tyre tracks, saw a blur of colours and felt the impacts shatter his body. That was it.

For once, Ziva's insane driving, which was even scarier than Gibbs', had been put to good use. After hearing from local LEOs about Tony's car, they raced to the scene. It did not look good.

The dusk was upon them, and their main sources of light were the police car sirens as there was no moon that night. Tony had been rushed to hospital just minutes after the crash, as an ambulance had been passing by at the time.

Ziva and Kate had no idea why they were at the crash when Tony was in a hospital somewhere, possibly dying. Gibbs wasn't even asking, just listening to the officer tell him about the crash, which had obviously been accidental. Ziva couldn't take any more of it.

"Where is Tony?" she barked at the young officer.

"Excuse me, ma'am?" he replied.

"Anthony DiNozzo, the man who owns this vehicle. Where is he?"

"Oh, I forget the name of the hospital," he said. Ziva clenched her teeth and her fists and Kate put a hand on her shoulder.

"But here's the address," he finished, handing them a piece of paper.

Ziva snatched it from him and leapt into the car, stabbing the ignition with the key several times before successfully starting the engine. Kate sprinted over to her, after telling Gibbs they would be back later. She was worried about Ziva.

The two females were very close, especially after Ziva had saved Kate's life just as Ari Haswari was about to shoot her, pulling the trigger on her own brother. She trusted Ziva with her life as a result of this, and was confused at her irrational reaction. Ziva usually kept herself together so well.

"Ziva, what's up?" she demanded.

"In case you haven't noticed," she hissed. "Tony is in a critical condition."

"We don't know that, Ziva. He might just have a broken arm or something. He's lived through a lot of crap over the years, I'm sure he's fine."

"We don't know that either. Look, Tony may not be my partner, in fact he is nobody's partner, but I care about him."

"What makes you think I don't? And Tony is both of our partners, just like McGee is and like you're mine. We are all part of the same team, we are all partners. I'll admit it's unorthodox, but that's the way Gibbs likes it."

"I know you care about him every bit as much as I do, Kate," Ziva whispered as they came to a halt at a red light. "And don't take this the wrong way, but I don't think you would understand how I would feel if we lost him. No one does."

"Even if I don't, Ziva," Kate said, touching Ziva's hand. "I feel the same way."

"I just can't lose him." Tears were pouring down her cheeks now. "There is so much that would go left unsaid. And while I have no intention of saying it anytime soon, I want it to be said one day."

Kate just nodded as Ziva maintained her warrior status and stomped on the gas pedal. It was only minutes before the pair were making their way past hospital rooms to intensive care, where Tony DiNozzo's mangled, bruised, cut, broken but somehow still beautiful body lay. For a moment they assumed the worst, but then they heard the wheezing of his breath, heard his heartbeat on the monitors, saw the wires and tubes sticking into him.

"Make sure his heart rate stays low," a nurse told them firmly. "If it rises, call someone."

They rushed to his sides, each of them grabbing a hand and squeezing it tightly. A heavily medicated and somewhat unconscious Tony summoned all his strength and squeezed right back. He had his two favourite girls in the world at his sides. Suddenly he didn't feel quite as bad as he did before.