Here we go, a second chapter! This takes place a year after the first chapter. It's written cause...I forgot to mark the story as 'complete' and ended up with a few requests for continuation. Lol. A quick note before we go on to the story: Don't diss the story before you're done reading it; things are not what they seem.
Faint sunlight filters through the windows, falling upon her and lighting up her gown. White, of course; he should have expected that with her respect for tradition. Floor-length and simple. Somehow it just seems to radiate her personality.
And she herself looks beautiful, just like she always does. She has curled her hair for the first time in a long time; it runs down her back in gentle waves. That seems to radiate her personality, too. She is not one for beaded buns or anything as fancy.
She is beaming, wider than he has ever seen her smile before. How has he never known that she could look so stunning beyond belief?
The priest is beaming too, about to unite two persons in a bond that will change their lives forever. In a corner of the hall the rabbi stands, ready to do the same afterwards.
"Please repeat after me," the beaming priest says. "I, Ray Cruz-"
And the man he has lost her to repeats the words he will never forget. "I, Ray Cruz-"
"Take you Ziva David, for my wife-"
"Take you Ziva David, for my wife-"
Seven words more than he ever had the chance to say to her.
"To have and to hold from this day forward; for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health-"
He does not notice when tears start to stream down his face.
"Until death do us part."
And he finds that he cannot stay there. Cannot watch her pledge her commitment, her loyalty, her love to someone else for the rest of her life. He gets up and storms down the aisle, not caring that everyone is staring at him. It is not like he can see them through the blur of his tears anyway. He feels her gaze burn into his back.
He jerks awake with a yelp, flat on his back as his eyes fly open in the darkness. His hand immediately reaches out for her, and thank God her strong fingers clasp around it tightly, unlike the other nights when he is left torturing himself, until she calls, with whether it is just a nightmare.
He feels the covers move as she shifts closer to him. She does not let go of his hand until she is lying right next to him, and has rested her other hand on his chest to assure him of her presence. "It is alright. I am here."
"Ziva." His voice breaks as he rolls onto his side and throws his arm over her, crushing her to him desperately. He buries his nose in her hair and brushes his lips against her forehead feverishly; and oh he knows it is just a nightmare, but how he has missed her. How he has missed her so very much.
She lies still until he loosens his grip a little. And then her hand finds its way to his face; runs across his cheek lightly. "You were crying."
He makes a nervous noise. "Weird. I never cry when I'm awake." He leaves out the fact that he has been having the nightmare for more than a week, and that whenever he has it he ends up crying in his sleep. He does not mention that he has not cried that much – awake or asleep – in almost eleven years.
She seems to know anyway. The first part, at least. "This is not the first time you have had this nightmare."
He exhales slowly. "No, it's not."
"When did it start?"
"A couple of days after you left for that mission."
"Oh. Do you always…cry when you have it?"
"Sort…of. Not so much at first. It keeps getting worse."
"What is it about?"
He swallows. "You."
She pauses. "I make you cry?"
"Not exactly. Well, the circumstances just involve you."
"It's hard for me to explain, Zi."
She blinks as she tries to figure out what to say next. "The matters of the heart usually are."
"Yeah." And how on Earth is he to tell her that he is afraid of losing her? I want to marry you, Ziva David, spend the rest of my life with you. But I'm afraid you'll laugh in my face and leave. If she did not ridicule him for it he would himself.
It is almost as if she can sense his thoughts, because she looks at him seriously and says, "I will not judge."
He sighs. He has to tell her sometime. "Promise?"
"I promise, Tony."
He searches her eyes. Will she ever again look at him so trustingly? Will she ever again look at him, for that matter? "I was engaged once…to be married. Before I came to NCIS."
She stiffens almost imperceptibly, and he braces himself. That way it will not be so difficult when she disentangles herself from him to say goodbye. That way he will not have to beg her to stay.
"What happened?" she asks quietly, and he wonders why she has not even rolled out of his arms yet.
"She left me. Said she'd found another guy who was more suitable for her. And I…she…" he trails off, because even old wounds sting a little when the scars are picked at.
"How do I come into this?"
"In the nightmare…you're marrying Ray. And I'm…I'm just sitting there and having to watch you…" he cuts off because he starts to panic a little that this is a dream after all, and that the nightmare is the reality.
"Tony, I am still here," she reminds him gently, and he gulps back his rising fear. "And I am not going anywhere."
"I need you to stay, Zi. Please." It is not until he says it that he realizes he truly needs it, because he really cannot live without her. Staying alive is one thing. Living is another. And he knows, just knows, that he will never live again if she decides to go because he has simply never loved anyone like he does her.
"I do not want to be anywhere else."
How can she love him that much? "How can you...know what you know about me and not mind?"
She smiles slightly. "I was almost in the same situation, yes?"
"Yeah, but 'almost' is the operative word here."
"Tony, it does not matter. We both know that we have been in love with others before this. But we are both here now, and that is what matters. I do not dwell on past loves or wish for future ones because I have someone to love right now, and that is enough for me. You are enough for me. And I hope…that I am enough for you too."
"You're more than enough. You're…" He cannot possibly express how much more. "Ziva…marry me."
He takes a deep breath. "I mean, I know. The proper way to do it is with the ring, the expensive dinner, and the down-on-one-knee. And I've screwed it up. Oh my God. Forget I said anything."
"Tony." He can hear a hint of laughter in her voice. "You have not screwed it up. But…are you sure? I mean, I really am not going to leave. Just because you had that nightmare-"
"It's not that. I've been thinking about it for a long time. When you left for that mission I thought I wanted to surprise you and...ask you when you came back. But the nightmares started and I just kept freaking out. I couldn't figure out how to propose 'cause…I don't know what the right way is, Zi. I hadn't used the right way with the other woman – Wendy. And I'm past her but…it's different. I mean it's you. I can never get past you. Even with the Damocles…" He blinks away his tears before he continues.
"I went to the jeweller's. Spent hours looking for the perfect ring; they must've thought I had a screw loose with the way I was picking at everything. I found it in the end." He gazes tiredly at her. "But I still don't know what the right way is. I still don't know how to ask you to marry me."
She presses a gentle kiss to his lips. "Maybe you have just found the right way."
"By speaking from your heart. Tony, I do not need an expensive dinner or a long speech. I do not even need a ring. All I need is for you to mean it when you ask me to marry you."
"Then yes, I want to marry you."
"You do?" His whole person suddenly feels a lot lighter.
"More than I can tell you."
She does not have the chance to say anything else before he has crushed her to him again. "Ziva?"
"Yes?" her muffled voice replies.
He hesitates, and then asks almost shyly, "Can I still give you the ring?"
She laughs against his chest. "Please."
He turns over and retrieves the box from the drawer of his bedside table. Opening the box slowly, he hears her breath catch as she glimpses the ring that he thinks just seems to radiate her personality. It is the perfect ring for the perfect woman. Taking it out, he picks up her hand and slips it onto her finger.
And it is a perfect fit.
I hope you all enjoyed it! Please forgive any factual errors, because I tried my best but I don't have much experience in these areas. And please leave a review on your way out! :)