A/N-I had an idea, I ran with it. This is a story that I very much enjoyed writing, and I'm very happy with the result. Not much to say except this is a Tiva piece that takes place sometime in the indeterminate future (maybe a few years down the road from where we are now or possibly even sooner). Lastly, this piece is dedicated to M E Wofford. This was inspired from some of the discussions that we've had, so thanks for the great conversation!
The blasts of gunfire rang in their ears as they began to realize the inevitable. There was nowhere left to go, nowhere left to run. It had been a trap, and they had fallen for it. Taking refuge in a windowless concrete room with no door (their only option at the time) had turned into a nightmare of a situation. Tony and Ziva took up position on one side of the doorway, Gibbs on the other. The three fired around their respective corners, but their attackers, a group of roughly ten men, were advancing quickly down the hallway of the abandoned warehouse. And the situation was about to head in the direction of "Dire".
"I'm running out of bullets here, Boss," Tony exclaimed, unloading more rounds toward the men. "So am I," grunted Gibbs. "Me as well," affirmed Ziva from Tony's side. It was like a similar scenario from years past: Holed up in a shipping container with nowhere to go, ammo depleting. The only difference was that Gibbs was with them this time, and no one was coming to their aid. As Tony reloaded, he glanced in Ziva's direction. She had that look on her face that said she was struggling to make a decision.
He couldn't fathom what she was thinking of until she had unloaded another clip. Her features seemed to clear, and he thought he saw her make a small nod to herself as if she had decided on something. And sure enough, her face gained that determined look that sent the message that nothing was going to stop her from doing what she intended. And Tony knew that when Ziva set her mind to something, her resolution could not be swayed.
"I must take care of something before they kill us," she said plainly as she retrieved another clip from her waist. Tony looked at her aghast. "Now? If you hadn't noticed we're kind of in the middle of a situation at the momen-"
His words were cut off as Ziva's lips met his. She cupped his cheek in her left hand, the one not holding her gun, as he looked with confusion and astonishment into her eyes. It was small, almost just a chaste kiss on the lips. It was hurried and devoid of any of the romance or magic one would expect from a first kiss, but somehow, it seemed very fitting. And it was all Ziva felt was needed.
She quickly broke away and reloaded her weapon. "Going down in a fire of glory, as they say," she declared with a fierce smile. "No regrets." He was so stunned, so shocked, he didn't even correct the idiomatic mistake as she returned to firing around the corner.
"Y-yeah..." Tony stammered, clearing his throat. Loading the last ammo he had into his gun, he looked across the way to Gibbs. Their fearless leader was still shooting, but Tony could've sworn he saw a smirk cross his face. So he set his own features and leaned around his partner, unloading his final clip. He quickly looked at Ziva's face, that same look of fiery determination still on it as she fired her weapon.
Suddenly, there was the sound of a second cacophony of gunfire, and the three of them immediately ducked back into the room. It wouldn't be until later that Ziva would remember how Tony's arm had instinctively wrapped around her waist as he pulled her around the corner. The three of them exchanged looks of confusion as the shooting ceased, the remnants of gunfire still ringing in the air.
McGee suddenly appeared around the corner, concern on his face. "You guys okay? Anyone hurt?" Speechless, they peered around him to look down the hallway. Their attackers were on the ground, some stirring, some not. A contingent of NCIS agents stood over them, securing weapons and cuffing those who had surrendered.
"Looks like we got here just in time," he huffed with a satisfied smile on his face. Holstering his weapon, he answered in reply to their surprised faces. "Your phones' GPS coordinates. Oldest trick in the book."
She was sitting on the edge of an old loading dock as she watched Ducky and Palmer load up the assailants bodies. Tony, however, stood some distance behind her, leaning against a wall. Arms crossed, brow furrowed in deep thought, he did nothing but watch Ziva's back as she calmly took in the scene in front of her. He wasn't sure what he should do, what he should say. So he hung back, trying, but failing, to organize his thoughts.
He felt a light slap on the back of his head as Gibbs came up behind him. Tony didn't flinch, didn't move, didn't even take his eyes off of his partner's back. There was a brief pause before Gibbs calmly spoke to the back of his head. "Why are you over here," he said, tapping the wall behind him, "when she's over there?" Face still contorted in concentration, Tony merely shrugged, opting for silence.
Another lull. Then: "Whatever's holding you back? Any fears, or past screw-ups, or even me?" Gibbs said quietly. "Don't let any of that get in the way of you finding happiness. It only turns you into a bitter man." Tony turned in surprise toward his boss, confusion, and then understanding, crossing his face. He turned back to look at Ziva. "Be fearless," he heard Gibbs say with what Tony thought was a smirk in his voice. He gave him a small slap on the back before walking off toward the van. He spoke briefly with Ducky concerning the bodies, then yelled to McGee as he came up behind Tony. "We're done here, Tim. Nice work. I'll ride back with you, Tony and Ziva can bring the other car."
"Yes, Boss!" McGee answered as he passed the man still leaning against the wall. Before he could leave, Tony stopped him and said quietly, "I owe you one, Tim. We all do," he said nodding toward the group by the dock.
"Thanks," McGee replied, a little surprised, but proud just the same. "See you guys back at base," he said before walking off to join Gibbs. Palmer fired up the van and pulled out while Gibbs and McGee walked off around the corner toward the car. The area was now glaringly quiet as Tony continued to stand and Ziva continued to sit, still staring at the brick wall of another warehouse opposite them.
Be fearless, Tony thought resolutely. He unfolded his arms and walked over to stand at her side. They didn't speak, they didn't make eye contact. Tony just lowered himself with a grunt to sit beside her, his legs dangling beside her own. And still, nothing was said as they continued to stare into space. Unknowingly, they both assumed the same posture, leaning forward, elbows on their knees, hands folded in front of them.
Finally, Tony decided to break the silence. "Why is it that it always takes life-threatening situations for things like this to come out?" he asked conversationally. Ziva gave a small shrug and said in a matter-of-fact tone, "Because it is the type of people that we are. We thrive in chaos," she smiled. She glanced sideways at him before saying, "And...we are very stubborn people."
"Yes we are..." Tony sighed, looking at his hands. They lapsed into silence for another few moments before Ziva said abruptly, "I should not have done it. Caught you off guard in the middle of such a dangerous situation," she clarified in response to the look on Tony's face. "It was hardly the time or place for it," she said, looking straight ahead again. She smirked before saying, "I know: 'Do not apologize-'"
"'It's a sign of weakness,'" he finished for her, to which she gave him a small smile in response. "And, no. It was the perfect time. It was the only time." He absently started flexing his fingers, aware that Ziva was now looking at him. "Years ago, someone told me, 'Life is too short not to tell someone you love them if you do.'" He gave a quiet, almost humorless, laugh. "Words to live by, I suppose." His gaze still focused on his hands, he added, "I've made way too many mistakes in that area. FAR too many."
He finally looked up to meet her eyes. "We all have our own set of rules that we live by. Some are important, others aren't. But it's the unlabeled ones that tend to be the most meaningful. And they tend to be the ones that we accidentally forget the most often. You take things for granted without even realizing it," he said, dropping his gaze to what little space remained between them. "Sometimes you forget that what might be there one minute can be gone the next," he said softly.
Looking back into her eyes, he repeated, "Life is too short. And you can never predict what will come next. Especially in a job like ours. So absolutely not. It was the best possible time for it," he said firmly. She gave him a smile, her eyes softening a bit as she re-quoted herself: "No regrets," she said simply. Without really even thinking of it, they both wrapped their arms around each other, their heads resting on each others shoulders. After so many years of back-and-forth, jabs and innuendos, falling-outs and mendings, this was the quietest and most honest they had ever been with each other. And for the first time in a long time, a contentment spread through both of them at having the other in their arms without any pretext whatsoever. They sat like this for a while, no distractions breaking them apart, and no words passing their lips. Just taking in the other, physically and emotionally.
It wasn't until their surroundings had begun to darken, the day turning to sunset, that they finally lifted their heads and relinquished each other. They shared one last knowing look before Tony slipped off the loading dock and held his hand out to Ziva. She smiled and accepted the gesture, jumping down beside him. As they walked through the alley and out onto the empty street beyond, the last remnants of sun colored Ziva's face with an orange and golden hue. As they crossed to the car, Tony couldn't help but think that she was the epitome of a blaze of glory.
A/N-Thank you very much for your time, and I hope you enjoyed the story! Feel free to comment, review, or criticize. Until next time, happy reading!