Present

.::.

"Death leaves a heartache no one can heal,
love leaves a memory no one can steal."

-From a headstone in Ireland.

.::.

"Ma'am, would you like something else?" the waitress asked politely as she cleaned up the remainders of Ziva's previous orders.

"No thank you," Ziva gave a weak smile and tipped the waitress a generous amount. Her eyes panned out towards the street, watching people walk by, how carefree they all looked. She shied away from the transparent divider and flipped her phone open to check the time.

1524.

Her eyes returned to stare out the glass; they'd be arriving anytime now. Abby had taken AJ out for a "field trip" as she had liked to call it, to the zoo. Her vision flickered from the fairly busy street towards the insides of the café that she now sat in. It was empty for the most part, except for her and another lady in the corner reading the newspaper.

She gave a rough sigh as she waited for them, tapping her feet against the wooden floorboard relentlessly. The eyes behind the newspaper peeped up and eyed at Ziva's feet disapprovingly. Ziva calmed her foot and settled with gazing idly at the sky that was free of rippled clouds.

Out of the monotonous blue a disturbance of colours materialized, almost as if from thin air. It was a hummingbird no doubt, Ziva had read about it in books but never had she saw one amidst the DC sky. It was amazing how it could flap its wings so quickly that it created wavers of air around it. It's delicately structured frame sustained its position in the air and its mirror like eyes seemed to stare back at her, mocking her in a way.

How amazing it would be to be able to fly to conquer the air, Ziva thought. Sure there were planes that could tick that off the list for you, but to sustain flight by pure human strength, to defy gravity and laugh at it in the face; that was what she thought being free felt like.

And she had felt it once, but inevitably like everything does, it died. She was blessed with something that a human was never supposed to understand or comprehend and that was why she had fallen and now suffered from its consequences.

She'd took that risk where she exchanged her heart and everything with it for that feeling of freedom and liberty, however long it had lasted. But she would never change that, it had given her the chance to live, the chance to wonder. Love had given that to her, though first came the reward then the cost of it.

"Ima!" she hadn't even noticed the door open until AJ hopped onto her legs.

"Heyyy! How was your trip to the zoo?" she picked him up in her arms and his legs came up to straggle around her waist.

"It was great! Aunt Abby showed me everything in the zoo, we saw monkeys and elephants!" she laughed at his juvenility.

"And what was your favourite animal?"

"I think that'd be the snake," Abby joined in and sat down opposite the two, "he spent most of the time in the reptile sanctuary."

"Thanks Abby," Ziva gave her a comforting smile.

"Oh no problems! Anytime! Hey look I'd love to stay, but I've gotta head home," Abby gathered her stuff and rose, "I'll see you soon." And just like that she was gone.

"Are you hungry AJ?" He responded with a nod, "and what would you like?"

"Pasta!" she laughed at that, he'd always had a thing for Italian dishes.

"Want Ima to cook or we go to a restaurant?" he pondered for a moment, bringing his finger to his lips as he decided.

"Ima cook!" she readjusted him on her hip and downed the last of her coffee, then exited the café.

.::.

"AJ! Dinner is ready!" Ziva announced from the kitchen and a few moments later the little tyke bounced into the kitchen with so much energy that he could put Abby to shame, "you grab the forks." He did as he was told and pulled out two forks from the drawers then raced into the dining room.

There was a peaceful stillness between the two as they chowed down the spaghetti. And she couldn't help but watch him as he twirled the fork around the strings of pasta then place them in his mouth, and how his eyes came up to meet hers from time to time.

Those eyes that resembled so much of Tony's, and just like his they morphed from the deep depths of green to a near blue. It was like looking at Tony every time those big round orbs looked up at her. She gave a complacent smile and rubbed the sauce from the corners of his mouth.

"So what did you have lunch today?"

"Aunt Abby got us fish and chips and hot dogs, she had two corndogs too, I don't know why but she loves them," he spoke through mouthfuls of food.

"Sounds delicious, what do you want to do after dinner?"

"Movie!" there wasn't a single thought to his answer; he'd loved movies ever since she could remember.

"Well you have many, which one do you want to watch?"

"I'll surprise you!" he said as he finished off the last of his pasta then disappeared into the living room. Ziva cleaned up and washed the dishes before she joined him in front of the TV. She plunked down on the soft cushions and hugged him to her side as they watched the movie.

They weren't half way through the movie before AJ had fallen sound asleep. She ran her fingers through his hair, and took a moment to relish the silkiness of his curls against her skin. His body was cradled in her hands as she carried him towards his room. She placed him cautiously onto his bed, careful not to stir him from his sleep.

She turned to leave but stopped at the door to watch him and savor his presence for as long as she could. She exhaled a shaky breath and switched off the light, the door was half closed when she heard his voice.

"Ima…" she poked her head back into the room.

"Yes?"

"Can you sing that song you sang to Abba?" and she felt like telling him no, that it would just drag up sad memories and she didn't want him to see her cry. But she couldn't deny his plea, so instead she walked towards his bed and sat against the wall. She couldn't even bring herself to turn on the lights. The words fell quietly off her lips smoothly as she sang the little prayer.

El malei rachamim,
shokhen ba-m'romim,
ha-m'tzei m'nuchah n'khonah,
tachat kanfei ha-sh'khinah,
b'ma'alot k'doshim u't'horim,
c'zohar ha-rakiah maz'hirim,
l'nishmot yakireinu u'k'dosheinu,
she-hal'khu l'olamam,
Ana ba'al ha-rachamim ha-s'tirem b'tzel k'nafekha l'olamim,
u-tz'ror bitz'ror ha-chayim et nishmatam,
Adonai hu nachalatam v'yanuchu b'shalom al mish'kabam
V'nomar: Amayn.

She refrained herself from shuddering from the tears that had fallen. She gave him a final kiss on the head before she closed the door and retired to her own bedroom.

She was flat on her back after she brushed her teeth and slipped into the pajamas. She curled up into a small ball like she did every night, and fought the tears that had already fallen from her face. She missed the hands that she'd grown so familiar to being secured around her, and the warmth and affection that she had said good night to every night. Through her soft sniffles she hadn't noticed AJ had snuck into her room, something that Tony had said he'd acquired from her.

"Ima?" she couldn't find the voice to respond her son.

"Ima?" and she envied how he could illustrate such passion and understanding at such a tender age, "I miss Abba too."

She gathered him in his arms and held onto him, because he was the closest thing that resembled Tony and she just needed it at that moment.

"Abba is very proud of you…"

.::.

A/N: Yes… that is the end… a sad ending. If the Hebrew song has any mistakes, please excuse me I do not have any knowledge of the language or the song (P.S It is the song she sang to Ari in Gibbs' basement).

This story did a lot better than I could've ever dreamt of, smashed the half a century mark on the reviews so for that I thank you for following me through this long incredible journey.

Leave a review, favourite lines? Favourite chapter?

Honorable mentions to:

Alidiabin
NCIS-EW-HP-Gleek
tivamcabby5
Anonymous033
DiNUTZzo
abercrombieluvr10

You guys kept me writing and finishing this piece! Be on a look out, after I come back from my holiday I'll be starting a new fluff multi-chap. A drastic change I know… hehe

Until next time my friends!

-Ash.