As an NCIS fan I dutifully cheered and clapped at the season finale, but as a Tiva fan, I had to fight the childish urge to chuck the remote at the screen. After all, I DON'T own NCIS and therefore don't have money to burn on a new TV. (see how I worked that disclaimer in already? Done and done.)

So here's my tag. Tony has had to be the unnaturally calm and composed team member for the last couple of epis, but he's been simmering and needed an outlet. He came across even angrier in words than he did in my head, but I'm sticking to it because I think he has always had a flash-in-the-pan type temper (you're not in your country and neither is he!...Go ahead, DO IT! Season there was a great season finale….)

Anyways, it's purely my own Tiva catharsis, and I flagrantly abuse punctuation and grammar rules...but I liked how it came out and decided to share! Please let me know what you think!

(Picks up in the bullpen after Cobb takes EJ and Palmer)

He delivered his part of the update simply and without fuss: the injured agent would be okay. Gibbs' stare was piercing, but it quickly moved on to McGee as the younger man discussed cell phones and BOLOs and...


Tony was still half-listening to the conversation as the CIA chump chimed in, but the better part of his attention snapped to the lithe figure moving casually to lean behind him. He could feel her gaze burning a hole in the back of his head, but he refused to return it; to even acknowledge her miraculously continued existence at the moment. That was something better reserved for tonight when he could face his thoughts alone with a bottle of tequila. He instead tuned back in to the conversation as McGee mentioned SecNav.

"Uncle SecNav, she coulda mentioned that," he muttered, just for the sake of saying something.

The figure behind him spoke in soft, placating tones that reasoned and defended the omission. The mention of a relative in a place of power, in Tony's current state of mind, was enough to momentarily dislodge his pokerface. His shoulders tensed automatically at the thought of Director David, and he almost spit out a snide remark before he was able to swallow it back. She leaned in now; he could feel her warmth closer to his shoulder as she whispered.

"We'll find them."

She was moving away, but her words echoed deafeningly in his ears.

We'll find them.

Last night in the elevator.

I don't think I can take anymore.

When had she really started using contractions? He thought dumbly. How had he missed the chance to teasingly congratulate her on the final assimilation to American colloquialism?

And what if she died today and he had never noticed?

He rose suddenly, his chair banging into the file cabinet behind him, and the others looked up startled.

"I'll be in the head," he muttered to McGee, still avoiding her eyes, and all but ran from the bullpen.

The lukewarm water felt cold on his clammy skin, but he splashed handful after handful on his face. The pounding of blood in his ears sounded loud in the empty tiled bathroom, yet through the noise, he heard the door open quietly.

He looked up at her in the mirror and scowled. "Not now Ziva." His voice was harsher than intended, but he needed her to leave. He couldn't afford to see her right now while he was trying to regain his focus on the mission. His thoughts drifted again to the promise of a tequila bottle and self destruction waiting for him at home.

"Tony, you have to believe we will find them. I know you care for her…"

Tony let out an involuntary noise of annoyance, frustration and disbelief. He closed his eyes and dropped his head, shaking it slowly from side to side.

"You do," Ziva repeated softly, confusion clear in her voice as she tried to get a read on his mood.

"Yeah, yeah I do Ziva," he said, finally turning to look at her. His eyes were swimming with emotions that did not make sense. He looked...angry? "I care for EJ as a colleague and a friend and a sometimes lover. And I'm worried about her. But it's nothing…It's NOTHING compared to what I just -" he choked back the rest of the sentence, taking a deep breath. He pressed his lips firmly together and shook his head again, faster this time.

Ziva cocked her head to one side, studying him, the confusion still evident on her face. "Tony, I don't understand," she frowned, her face scrunching in frustration.

That did it. The fact that she still - somehow - could not see it even as she searched his eyes. That snapped the tenuous hold on his anger, and it boiled over instantly. "HOW CAN YOU NOT UNDERSTAND?" He roared incredulously. He did not feel sorry that he startled her; that she jumped and took an involuntary step back at his outburst. He was tempted to grab her by the shoulders and shake her, but some small part of his brain reminded him that she had, after all, had a rough day too.


"Tony, he was never going to kill me. I was just a decoy..." She had recovered from her surprise quickly and took a step towards Tony, reaching for his elbow. He yanked it away from her grasp.

"JUST a decoy?" She really must be trying to drive me off the fucking deep end. "Yesterday, you were crying, and broken, and scared." His voice was betraying him now, the anger burning out as quickly as it came. Agony seeped through his words in its place. "And I promised we'd catch him; that we'd get the monster."

"We did…" she pleaded, reaching for his arm again. He didn't have the energy to shake her off a second time.

"Hardly!" Tony was aiming for a disdainful scoff, but it came out as more of a strangled sob. "He was so fucking smug. I thought...I thought you were already gone."

He closed his eyes again, fighting for a few deep breaths against the tightness in his chest. She was silent in front of him, and he didn't know if she was waiting for him to continue or was simply speechless.

"How many more times and how many more ways do I have to lose you, Ziva David?" His voice was only a whisper now, but her face was inches from his; her hand sliding up his arm to grasp the side of his neck.

"Tony... I. Am. Okay." Her other hand reached up and cradled his cheek. "I am right here."

"You were right; there is always another monster," he continued as if he hadn't heard her. The gentle hand on his face was wiping at tears he didn't know were falling. "And they hone in on you like a fucking heat seeking missile every time. How many more of your murderers do I have to look in the eye?" Images tinged red flashed in his weary brain...Saleem with his Caf-Pow stained lips curling into a sneer...Cobb, a gentle smile crossing his face as he passively raised crimson hands...

"I'm sorry Tony," she whispered, tears in her own voice now. "I'm sorry…"

Tony took a shaky breath and leaned his forehead against hers, hands griping at her waist. "I can't live without you, Ziva," he choked out. "How many more times are you going to make me say it?"

Her arms were around him then; warm and safe and familiar. He followed suit, pulling her close and burrowing his face in her neck. He inhaled the scent that was so uniquely Ziva, trying not to recall a few hours earlier when he thought it would be lost forever.

It was several minutes before he regained some semblance of composure. She finally pulled back slightly to look into his eyes. They were red and still troubled, but his face had lost some of the haunted anguish from before. "I promise to stick around and be more careful so that you don't have to keep saying it, Tony."

He placed a hand on either side of her face and studied her for a long moment. His voice was hoarse when he finally spoke, but his mouth twitched with the hint of a smile.

"You're finally using contractions."

She grinned as he pulled her forward, their lips meeting in a gentle kiss.

I am working on a full casefic that picks up at the end of season 8 and continues forward, so check back soon!

Thank you for reading and please let me know your thoughts!