Well here you guys go =] Im not quite sure if I like how this chapter turned out...I even wrote it like three times to see if I could get a better feel for it...but thats for you guys to decide if its any good.

Thank you so much for the kind reviews everyone!

Enjoy!

Oh and in my world Jenny never died so she is in this =]


Beep.

Beep.

Beep.

That's odd...

Beep.

Beep.

Beep.

Why did the afterlife sound like a hospital?

Beep.

Beep.

Beep.

What the hell?

Tony pryed open his eyes. The bright lights he was met with caused him to squint, but finally his vision cleared.

He was indeed in a hospital.

And somehow his heart was still beating.

Somehow he was alive.

Only one thought took precedence in his mind though.

Ziva.

Without even thinking about the consequences, Tony attempted to sit up, but was quickly struck down by an agonizing pain that ripped through his chest. Oh yeah...

Tony let out a soft growl as he pulled up the blanket that lay over him and lifted his head just enough to inspect his chest.

Two things were evident-

One: There was no metal protruding from his chest. That was definitely a plus.

Two: He was wearing nothing but white bandages on his chest. Lots and lots of bandages stopping just above his waistline. Below that he was wearing a black pair of athletic shorts that went a little bit past his knees.

Tony let out a low groan as he shifted positions. Fighting through the pain, Tony struggled to get off the hospital bed. He had to find her. He needed to find her. He needed to know she was okay.

"Lay down, DiNozzo."

Tony jumped at the sound of Gibbs' voice. The older agent had been sitting quietly next to his bed, waiting for him to come out of his comatose state.

"Oh...Hey...Boss..." Tony grinned weakly, falling back against his pillow.

Gibbs said nothing for a few minutes, making Tony shift awkwardly under his hard gaze.

Suddenly, Gibbs' eyes softened slightly. He looked tired, like he hadnt slept in a long while. Maybe he hadnt.

"You gave us quite a scare, Tony."

"Yeah...m'sorry..." Tony lowered his eyes.

"Rule number six, DiNozzo. Never apologize, its a sign of weakness. And from what these doctors have been telling us, you are no weak man."

Tony was shocked by Gibbs' words and the caring tone his voice held. He had always viewed Gibbs as his surrogate father, though he would never admit it. He still wasnt expecting Gibbs to be like this though.

"Boss...how am I still alive?"

Gibbs sighed and leaned back in his chair.

"You were still barely hanging on when they found you. The doctors say that when the shrapnel pierced your heart, it acted more or less like a plug, allowing your heart to pump just barely enough blood to keep you alive. It took them damn near an entire day to put you back together once they got you here. They say its a miracle that your still alive. It was like something wasnt letting you die."

Tony took a deep breath before letting it out slowly, allowing what Gibbs had just told him to sink in. The thought that he had been hanging by half of a thread made him go slightly light-headed. He had been that close to being seperated from everything he loved in this world. It was a staggering thought.

"How long have I been out?"

"Five days."

Tony gaped at his boss. Five days? He didnt even have time to think about what he was saying before the two syllables of her name popped out of his mouth.

"Ziva?"

Gibbs just smirked knowingly. How did he always know everything?

"She's fine. She was pretty shaken up when we found her but we eventually got her to calm down and explain to us what happened. After that we couldnt convince her to leave your side. I think she's only left this damn hospital five times, once every day, to shower and change, and even then she hasnt been gone for more than an hour at most."

Tony couldnt help but smile.

"Where is she now?"

"She fell asleep beside you on the bed about two hours ago. I had McGee and Abby take her home. I told them to keep her there as long as possible. She needs rest."

Tony nodded and then hesitated for a second before asking his next question, unsure if he wanted to know the answer to it.

"Was she hurt bad?"

"She was a little banged up. Her left arm took the worst of it but nothing too severe. The doctor looked her over, cleaned her up, and cleared her to leave that day."

They said nothing for a minute or so before Gibbs spoke again.

"She says you saved her. She says even though you knew you were dying you still found the strength to protect her from that killer."

Tony's eyes fell to the blanket on top of him, "Yeah..."

"By the way, that was some stunt you pulled, writing on her arm like that. I think that was what shook her up more than anything. Not to mention you broke rule number twelve. But considering her arm said 'I love you too' I'm gonna go ahead and assume it was Ziva who broke it first..."

"Oh...heh...you saw that..." Tony muttered sheepishly, glancing at his boss out of the corner of his eye.

"Yeah, remind me to kick both of you asses later..." Gibbs' eyes narrowed slightly as he stared the wounded agent down, but then he gave a sly smile, "But I suppose I could let it slide...just this once."

It took Tony a moment to register what Gibbs said, before he grinned his signature DiNozzo grin.

"Thanks Boss," he knew not to say anything more. He didnt want to push his luck.

"Dont make me regret this...I swear I catch you guys grab-assing at work once and I'll head-slap you guys into the next week."

Tony winced but at the same time grinned, "Got it, Boss."

It went quiet for a few minutes again after that, that is, until a third person entered the room.

Director Sheppard walked into the room, eyes trained on the floor. She looked almost as tired as Gibbs did. The proud director looked as though she had been crying recently, but was doing a good job of hiding it. She spoke without even looking up.

"Jeth, why dont you go home and get some rest...I'll let you know if he-"

"Wakes up?" Gibbs finished her sentence, a knowing smirk returning to his face.

The Director of NCIS finally looked up to see Tony and Gibbs smiling at her.

"Tony!" Jenny smiled as she rushed to his bedside and stood beside Gibbs.

"How are you feeling?" she asked Tony in an almost motherly way, placing her hand on top of his.

Tony smiled. Like with Gibbs, he had always seen Jenny as his surrogate mother. It was really nice to have her there.

"Kinda like I was blown up...but I'm alright. I- ..."

"GIBBS!"

All of the occupants of the room jumped (even Gibbs, much to Tony's surprise) jumped at the loud sound, but then smiled knowing who the voice belonged to.

"Ziva."

"Gibbs, I do NOT need to be treated as a small child! I did NOT need someone to take me home just because-" The Isreali ninja froze in mid-sentence as she rounded the corner to the entrance of the hospital room. The sight of Tony awake, sitting up in his bed, seemed to have completely paralyzed her.

Less than a second later, McGee and Abby slid into view of through the doorway, both panting as if they had ran a marathon.

"Sorry, Boss...She's really fast when she's pissed..." McGee panted before looking up to see what had stopped his ninja friend dead in her tracks. What he saw made him grin. "Tony."

Abby immeadiately rushed past all of her friends straight to Tony, throwing her arms around him when she reached him. The force of the hug caused Tony to grunt in pain. Everyone gasped and tensed, worried that the young gothic scientist had injured him worse but relaxed when they saw him wrap his arms around Abby and pull her closer.

"Sorry, Abs. Didn't mean to worry you..."

She laughed, though she had tears in her eyes, "Worry me? You scared the hell outta me! I think all of you need to get safer jobs!"

Tony smiled and replied softly, "We've been over this, Abby. If we had safer jobs we wouldnt get to see you everyday."

Abby left out a small huff, "Yeah, well...whatever..."

After Abby released Tony, McGee stepped forward next, placing his hand on his wounded friend's shoulder.

"You really had us worried there, Tony. I'm glad your okay." Tim shrugged before adding, "It would have been way to quiet at work without you."

"I knew you guys would miss me," Tony grinned again.

They all smiled knowing it was true. They were a family. One hell of a dysfunctional family, but a family none the less.

It fell silent again, and oddly enough, Tony didnt feel that it was awkward at all. He was just happy that everyone he cared about was safe.

Suddenly, Gibbs cleared his throat, "Come on, let's let him get some rest. We have reports to file anyway. Ziva, stay with him and make sure he doesnt try to sneak out before the doctor clears him."

With that, four out of the six people in the room stood up, said their good-byes to their friend, and left. Gibbs was the last out the door and briefly stopped to stand next to Ziva, who had been standing silently just inside the door the whole time, staring at the man . He whispered something in her ear that made her divert her eyes toward ground, a slight pink tinge filling up her cheeks, before he kissing the side of her head softly and leaving.

Silence. This time it was awkward. Niether really knew what to say, so both sat quietly and waited for the other to speak, Tony staring up at the ceiling, Ziva staring down at the floor.

It remained this way for several more minutes before Tony finally shifted nervously and opened his mouth to speak but Ziva beat him to it.

"Why?"

Tony got a confused look on his face. Their eyes finally locked as she spoke again, her voice barely above a whisper.

"Why did you continue to fight even though you knew you were dying?"

Tony sucked in a deep breath before letting it out slowly. He knew what the answer was. It was the same answer it had always been everytime he had risked everything for her.

"I thought I already told you, Ziva...I can't live without you."

"And what about me, Tony? Did you ever maybe think that I cant live without you? Did that ever intersect your mind?" Her tone held what at first appeared to be anger, but he could see right through it. He could see it in her eyes that she emotion that fueled her outburst wasnt anger. She was scared. Scared of losing him.

"I think you mean 'cross' my mind..."Tony muttered softly, correcting her out of habit, and instantly regreted it.

"It does not matter!"

Tony stared at her for a moment, then he softly responded.

"I didnt know you were in love with me until you told me that day...I didnt know you felt the same way about me as I do about you..." Tony's lips curved ever so slightly into a smile as he watched his partner turn her head away from him, the slight pinkness returning to her cheeks as he spoke the word 'love'.

Without looking at him, she spoke again, her voice mixed with the many conflicting emotions that were reflected in her eyes.

"How could you not have known?..."

Tony felt as though his heart was bleeding again. Squeezing his eyes shut as hard as he could for a second, he opened his eyes to find her staring at him with a very evident pain in her eyes. Unaware of what else to say or do, he gestured for her to come sit on the bed beside him.

He gave her a pleading look when she hesitated and smiled when she finally gave in. She sat on the side of the hospital bed, facing the wall to his left and away from him.

Tony sighed again.

Gathering his strength, he removed the blanket from his lower half, and shifted his entire body so that his chest pressed her back and his legs rested on either side of her smaller frame. It was an intimate position and he knew it, but he was pleasently surprised when she didnt pull away.

He felt her tense as he wrapped his arms around her waist, but after a moment she relaxed and even leaned back against him. They remained in this position for what seemed like hours, which in reality was only a few minutes before Ziva spoke again.

"Did you mean what you..." she swallowed as the word caught in her throat, "...wrote...on my arm?"

He got a confused look on his face. He thought he'd made that quite clear already.

"Yeah...of course I did..." He pressed his lips gently against the exposed skin on her shoulder, smiling as the simple act caused her to shiver, before asking,"...Did you mean what you said?"

She took in a slightly shaky breath before nodding.

"Yes."

He felt as though his wounded heart had skippped a few beats as she spoke that one word. She really did love him...

Keeping one arm firmly wrapped around her waist, Tony reached out with his other one and grabbed her hand, intertwining their fingers, before pressing the back of her hand to his lips. He grinned again, delighted at the fact that she was trembling at his mere touch.

Tony let out a contented sigh and closed his eyes as he let his left cheek rest against her left shoulder. He felt her relax as well, as she let her head fall back against his right shoulder.

I could get used to this...

Suddenly he felt her start to pull away, though it seemed she was reluctant to do so.

"I-I should go, Tony...and you should rest."

Trapping her in his arms, he pulled her back down as she tried to stand up.

"Tony..."

"Stay...just stay with me."

Ziva let out an exhausted sigh in defeat. She knew there was no way of getting out of staying with him, though truthfully she really didnt want to leave anyway.

"Just for tonight, Tony."

Tony grinned, knowing very well that he'd be able to convince her to do the same the next night, as well as the night after that, and for how ever long it took until he was released.

Laying back in the bed, Tony and Ziva shifted until they were comfortable, which ended in both of them lying on their sides, Tony's arms wrapped protectively around Ziva's waist, her hands resting on top of his on her stomach.

They both rested contently as they dozed to the rhythmic sound of Tony's heartbeats which were displayed by the soft beeping of the heart moniter above their heads.

Before they fell asleep, Tony softly kissed the side of Ziva's head.

"I love you, Zi."

"I love you too, Tony."

He grinned. He didnt think he would ever stop loving hearing her say that.

And all it took was ten seconds for their lives to change for ever.


Hope you guys enjoyed!

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