Disclaimer: I don't own anything of the series NCIS and its characters. This is all done just for fun. The title of this story is from a song by "Within Temptation"

This is set after the events seen in episode 8 of season 8 "Enemies Foreign". I did not take into account anything of the following ep 9 - I did not watch it. So take this as a sort of AU.

*** THE TRUTH BENEATH THE ROSE ***

"Well. He was his bodyguard and his right hand. This could've happened any time." Mossad agent Malachy commented with as much sensitivity as if the topic was a squeezed mosquito. Ziva stared down at the coffin in front of them. Her face was a mask of willpower.

Keep your face hard as a stone in the valley of Kidron.

Of course, she was a professional. Of course, she had lost more than one colleague, friend, family member in the ongoing struggle in Israel and abroad. Of course, she knew an enemy's bullet or bomb could hit anytime - and most of all at the least was different, though.

Keep your heart and your soul hidden.

Amit Hadar was dead! Only two days ago, he had been so very alive. Her mind wandered back despite all her effort to lock this away…

...

… A hurting white neon light flooded the NCIS central. Except for Ziva and Amit, the corridor was empty. Only the scent of some freshly brewed coffee reminded at the officer who just had passed by. He moved the latch of the next door. Finding the room open, they vanished inside, and he grasped her in a tight embrace.

"The briefing…" Ziva started, an angry timbre in her voice. It was not directed against him, but the world in general and her situation in particular.

"…starts only in 20 minutes," Amit finished her sentence and bowed down to kiss her. "Plenty of time."

"I'm so tired of this masquerade!" She felt like shouting her annoyance into the whole world, even more because it ruined the tiny bit of pleasure they were just about to steal. "I want to walk out and tell everyone!"

Amit silenced her with another kiss.

"There can be no other way. Your father would have killed me, preferably he would do it himself," he answered with low voice, after he had released her.

"Why can't we just leave?" It was a superfluous question. The sole thought was insane! She had to say it, at least! To accuse the world, the agencies and politics of their injustice!

"Neither of us can. We knew that from the very beginning."

"I can't go on like this! I'm a human being, not a robot functioning in terms of loyalties! I want you, Amit, and not only for a quickie in between two briefings! Dammit!"

Almost angry, Ziva fought to get his shirt open. The fingers of her right hand touched a mark on his skin, she had never sensed at this spot before. "Where did you get that?" she whispered.

"A little shootout in Beirut some months ago. Don't worry."

"See? I didn't even know you were in Beirut! One day, you'll die somewhere, and I don't get the information!"

Amit cupped her face and traced her features, seeing her as clear in his mind as if it was the brightest of days. "I love you. No distance, no time on earth will change that." They embraced again. "Stop thinking now about what never can be… let us take what we can have."

Their kisses grew deep and intense, while their hands caressed each other in a desperate hunger. When his lips traveled down her neck, Ziva wrapped her legs around his hips. Finally, she stopped thinking. The otherwise so relentless destiny granted them oblivion at least, for the moment…

...

Words splashed against Ziva's ears. Their content eluded her. She stared at the now opened rear doors of the car; then down at the coffin again. Memories fluttered through her mind and came to a halt at the day she and Amit met. They had known each other since her childhood – but this had been a different thing! That day almost one year ago, they had argued and eventually fought. She had been mad about something her father had ordered (and Amit executed) and was more than glad to vent her frustration somewhere. In the end, they had crouched on the floor, trying to catch their breath and – laughing. Half an hour later they were making love in Amit's car. One of the craziest relationships in Ziva's life so far had started.

She saluted mechanically, when the coffin was lifted into the car. When the doors slammed shut, she flinched. A part of her still could not believe, that he was gone for good. The car started to move. Ziva's hand closed tightly around the ring, she had buried in her trouser's pocket.

...

…"Take this!" Amit pressed a tiny metallic capsule into Ziva's hand.

"What's that?"

"Something I want you to open in case something happens to me."

The faint lighting from the street immersed his figure in a bluish shine. His face was serene and his expression well controlled. However, Ziva understood. This was not only a precaution. Her lover knew that a certain situation would come up for sure. "Amit-"

"Keep your face hard as a stone in the valley of Kidron," he reminded her. "Keep your heart and your soul hidden." The words had been their pledge, their mutual vow ever since. They had become a shielding mantra.

They redressed in all haste and in silence. He shot a glance at his watch. "We have to hurry. You go first; I'll follow within the next five minutes!"

...

Ziva stepped to the central's entrance and needed all her effort to keep the pace with the others, to answer the words they mumbled. Her father was alive and safe and Amit was dead. She felt dead herself! And there was no one on earth she could turn to, tell everything and find comfort. It was far too dangerous after all she knew now.
She had opened the capsule shortly after the incident in the supposed safe house; after Amit had been found dead…

...

"…When you read this, my beloved, I will be no longer alive - or in prison facing my death sentence. However, I want you to understand why I did what I did…"

Locked in her apartment, Ziva sat on her bed, shocked from the just got news. Her hands holding the letter trembled.

"…Our country needs peace. Our people and the Palestinians need peace. A true, honest, lasting peace to rebuild what both sides have shattered during the last decades. Our organization's goal is to keep our people safe. However, this premise has been disregarded in the very work of the Mossad quite often. We must not continue like this…"

She was too appalled to cry. With every word, her old world crumbled further, and what would she find in the ruins?

"…There has to be a change both in tactics as in objects, in order to fulfill our duty. I tried to do my best during the past couple of years, only to see every little sprout trampled by your father's efforts again. My love, I'm very sad it evolved that way, but you know your father, and you know I would not have chosen this direction, if I had seen the slightest chance for another solution. However, there was none, and I could not close my eyes any further. My obligation is to our country and its people. I am no traitor. Neither to Israel, nor to the Mossad, nor to you. I can only hope you'll understand my motives. But I trust your intelligence and compassion…"

Ziva stood up, walked to the window and glanced outside. It rained. People hurried along the streets, and the traffic rolled on. Like always. Unchanged, as if nothing at all had happened.

"…I've planned this for several months. I tried to minimize collateral damage as much as possible. As you read this letter, something went wrong. Maybe I was betrayed by the people I had to confide in, maybe I just miscalculated. I want you to know, if everything had worked out as planned…"

Without realizing it, Ziva cried after all. She could not read further. The paper fell down on the floor, and her tears dropped on the ring she had found on the bottom of the capsule.

She did not know how long she stood there like frozen. When the telephone rang and one of her colleagues from NCIS reported, she managed to sound normal. After promising to be there in the central as soon as possible, she went to the bathroom and burned the compromising letter. Every word was etched in her memory…

...

…The entrance doors closed behind Ziva and the others. Maybe I was betrayed. If this had been the case, she would find the responsible, sooner or later. She lifted her chin and pressed her lips together. Left hand still in her pocket, she had slipped the ring onto her finger.