A/N—This is simply a piece to pair with Ziva's session with Rachel in "A Man Walks into a Bar". I tried to follow that same kind of feeling of jumpy memories and flashbacks, while at the same time, letting it be an almost purely introspective piece: It's a look at the loss in her life and how it has affected her as a person. Please enjoy :)

"I want...something...permanent. Something that can't be taken away."

She feels as if there hasn't been much of anything in her life that has had any sort of permanence. Sometimes she feels as if nearly everything has been a loss, an endless cycle of give-and-take of which seems to always favor "Give" rather than "Take". So, Loss is not new to her. On the contrary, its ever presence in her life has taught her how everything can be swiftly and brutally taken away from her.

"After Tali's death...all I wanted was revenge."

And she did want revenge. It seems unfair that of all those people caught in the blast, Fate would choose to count her younger sister among the dead. A person who, unlike herself, was incapable of hurting another human being. She was taken far before her time in an act of violence that could not have been prevented. She was furious, angry at the state of the world in which she lived. How could they do this, take the life of such an innocent? Yes, she wanted to exact revenge against those responsible.

So she detaches herself. She is teaching herself to keep an emotional distance from nearly everything and everyone. She becomes focused with single-minded purpose on the missions she is given. In doing so, she hopes she is doing her part to make sure her sister did not die in vain. There exist evil men in this world, and she does her best to right that wrong by playing her part in ridding the earth of them. She does this, not only for Tali, but for the countless others who've been taken and for the many more left behind.

"You had orders to kill your brother..."

Loss comes again in the death of her brother Ari, downed by her own hands, her bullet ripping through his body. And it is ironic that even when she has control over the course of a situation, she feels helpless. Because even when she is "in control", she still has none.

Is it cruel that she had to kill her own brother? Could she blame her father, the one who ordered that it be done? Part of her says, "Yes". But then, part of her says, "No". She accepted the mission to do so, she pulled the trigger. Why even try to place blame? Wasn't it simply an unavoidable action, a course that needed to be taken, given the circumstances?

But did he deserve to die? She mostly thinks, "Yes"; she would not have taken his life if she thought otherwise. Even so, he was family. And now, its number has dwindled by that much more. Once again, she has lost a sibling in an act of violence, another casualty of the war in which her country has fought for so many years. She feels that, surely, this may never end.

"Your liaison position with NCIS is being terminated. You're going home."

"Complacency". That's what she should call it. She had become so used to living and working in the United States, she had, at times, forgotten that she belonged to an entirely different, and far more violent, world. It had been so long since that unwelcome intruder known as "Loss" had visited her. Why she thought it had finally decided to leave her be, she does not know.

Admittedly, this is not nearly on the same level as losing a sibling. Even so, she feels a gaping hole open up in her once again. He says she's going home. But where is home? Hasn't NCIS been her home for the past three years? Isn't this place populated by people she's grown to care deeply for? What "home" is she going back to? The patterns of her history are reestablishing themselves. And she is once again thrown into that world of death and bombs, to which she herself nearly becomes a victim. She can't help but think of the pain her sister might have felt as the blast pushes itself through a shady Moroccan bar.

"You loved him..."

"I guess I'll never know."

So did she? Though she couldn't bare to admit this, least of all to herself, she feels that the answer is, truthfully, "No". So why does she feel so strongly about his death? Is it because she felt that a more serious relationship was something she could keep for herself, something that could have been permanent? She feels guilty even thinking it. Guilty because of the pain and trouble her selfishness has caused. And she finds it ironic that the things in her life that should actually be permanent are the loss of the people around around her: Her sister, her brother, her lover, and now, by cause-and-effect (and her own stubbornness), her partner.

So she regresses, yet again, to her close-off self. She goes back to focusing entirely on her mission, to separating herself emotionally from others. And, with great regret, she realizes that the role of the detached killer is the only one she's ever been proficient at occupying.

"Stuck in a chair. Constant pain. Unable to do the simplest things without help. At the mercy of others."

And here is where she loses everything. Her freedom, her home (wherever "Home" was, she doesn't know), her friends, and the trust of her partner, one of the few good men she has known. And now, she may even lose her life, anonymously and without fanfare. This seems to be the way of her existence.

Everything. Every part of her body screams in pain and protest. She thinks, surely, this must be Hell. Unending torment mixed with unending guilt. The only thing that makes her know that she is, in fact, still alive is her torturous thirst and hunger. She feels certain that she wouldn't feel these things in death, in Heaven or in Hell. Still, she keeps pushing herself, wills herself to live just one day longer. In hope of rescue? She doesn't know this either. But what she does know is that she can't find it in herself to give up, no matter the circumstances. She feels that doing so would cause her far more anguish than she's ever felt so far, killing her earlier than the act of dieing itself.

"'I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion, so help me God.'"

A Reversal of Fortune? Is that what this can be called? Perhaps this is something that can finally be "permanent". Perhaps here, in the country she can now rightfully call her own, she can find what she's been searching for the whole time: Some predictability and control over her own life. Even so, she worries whether or not it will all be taken away from her like so many other things.

She is more cautious than ever, more afraid now than she's ever been because she feels that she is finding permanence. She knows that she has far more to lose, and this scares her. The last time she felt comfortable with the life she was living, she lost everything. So she wears a smile, bides her time, and wonders when everything will be stripped from her once again. Still, more than anything, she hopes that Permanence will finally choose to favor her.

"Is that too much to ask?"

And she hopes it's not. She hopes she can permanently find Better. She hopes that she can attain a life that doesn't take so much, but a life that she can give freely, if she so chooses. She could say that Fate has sought her unjustly, that the amount of loss she has had to endure isn't the Norm. But she won't. She knows that life isn't always fair. That it doesn't target her specifically, that this is just the way some things have, unfortunately, fallen into place. No, she does not feel bitter. She simply continues to hope for the better.

"There are some souls who have forever known Loss, their constant and unwelcome companion. Let they be the ones who have Hope."-Unknown

A/N—Thank you very much for taking the time to read. Comments, criticisms, and reviews are greatly appreciated. Until next time, happy reading :)