"It's September 29th." Devin's voice was soft music that amalgamated effortlessly with the gentle symphony of crickets and trickling water that filled the air. Selina looked up at him.
"I know," she replied. "It's hard to forget."
"Fifteen years. That's a… long time," he said, stating the blatantly obvious. Selina smiled and squeezed his hand, gently kicking her feet back and forth in the water and initiating ripples in the otherwise placid pool.
"I know, sweetie. I know."
Devin wrapped his arm around her as he felt her shiver. The night was chilly and she was only wearing a light t-shirt. She tucked her head into his chest. They were sitting at the edge of the pool on Devin's back patio, bathed in moonlight.
"This anniversary has gotten easier over the years. But even though it is the day of my rescue, it is sometimes the day when I remember the pain the most. The day of our rescue was… not an entirely happy day," she reminded him, subconsciously reaching up and stroking the faint scar that ran down her cheek.
"It has faded," he observed, reaching up to take her raised hand in his own.
"It will always be there," she objected, shaking her head.
"But it has faded," he repeated, "And even if it will never truly be as unblemished as before, it doesn't make you not beautiful." The implicit double entendre did not slip her notice.
"Are we talking physical or mental here, Doc?" she teased.
"Both," he replied seriously. She brought his hand to her mouth and kissed it.
"I should not still be stuck on this," she sighed.
"Beautiful, it was eight years of your life. Not to mention your childhood. Most people would have completely fallen apart; sunken into some deep depression. But you? You didn't. You are still here, in high spirits, healing, and safe. You will never forget what happened, Selina, but you will move on. You have moved on."
"It doesn't feel like it," she admitted.
"Look around you! Look at the life you've built! You've been to college, and not just any college, mind you, a damn good University! You have a family and you've published a book and—"
"I have you," she added. Devin smiled.
"And you have me," he agreed. "You have put it behind you. You're never going to be able to forget about it, but you don't let it rule your life."
"I feel like I talk about it too much," she confessed.
"I will always listen," he promised.
"You can not promise that," Selina assured him. "Always is a long time. No one wants to be stuck with me that long."
"I beg to differ," he objected.
"What are you talking about?"
Devin just smiled mischievously and stood up. Selina frowned, clutching his hand.
"Where are you going?" she protested.
"I'll be right back," he promised, before disappearing through the sliding doors. Selina laid back on the ground, her feet still in the water, and gazed at the sky. The moon was bright and full, and the memory of the day she met Ziva was fresh in her mind. I was named for that beautiful orb, she thought. 'The moon is radiant. It reflects light from those around it and shines for all to see. It is you,' Ziva had said. Selina smiled.
She was jostled from her memories by the sound of the sliding door opening once again. Devin slipped out of it, an object clenched in his closed fist. Selina stood up to meet him.
"What is it?" she asked, reaching for his hand. He withdrew it.
"Ah, ah, ah," he admonished, grinning wildly, "Be patient. I'm getting to it."
"You know I hate surprises," she reminded him as he used his free hand to guide her along the edge of the pool.
"Humor me, just this once," he responded, coming to halt at a spot near the volleyball net.
"Why am I standing here?"
"This is where we met," he reminded her. He took her shoulders and planted her on the spot before backing up a few steps.
"What are you doing?" she asked, laughing.
"I'm proving that I will always be there for you," he replied.
As he got down on one knee, Devin studied Selina's face. The amusement on her face turned to confusion, then to shock, then to understanding. A huge grin spread across her face as he opened his fist. The moonlight reflected off of the single diamond imbedded in the silver band clutched between his fingers. He held it out in front of him.
"I never want to leave your side. I want to be there during the ups and downs and support you throughout your life. I love you, so, Selina DiNozzo-David, will you do me the utmost honor of marrying me?" Devin proposed. His face held all of the honesty and love in the world.
"Of course," Selina replied, tears gathering in her eyes. She extended her shaking left hand and Devin easily slid the ring on it.
"Now you can have new memories associated with September 29th. Happier ones," Devin told her. She did not reply, just continued to stare at the band on her finger. "If it's not the right size, we can go and have it fixed—" Devin began, but Selina silenced him with a long, heartfelt kiss.
"It's perfect. You're perfect. Thank you," she told him, joining hands.
"Anything for you, beautiful. Anything for you."
"Devin and I are getting married."
At her words, a broad grin spread across Ziva's face.
"I wondered when this would happen," she replied, "Congratulations, tateleh. I am so happy for you two." Her arm reached out and snaked around her daughter's shoulders, pulling her into an embrace.
Selina raised her eyebrows and took a sip of her coffee. "You are not surprised?"
"All I can say is I am surprised he waited this long to propose. He's had the ring for six months now," Ziva admitted. Selina choked on her coffee.
"He asked Tony for permission around… Easter, I think it was. But he already had the ring, and he had every intention of marrying you regardless, so he wasn't really asking so much as telling. Tony and I have been waiting for him to pop the question for what feels like ages," Ziva explained.
"I take it you approve," Selina chuckled slyly.
"Of Devin? You know I do! I love that boy," Ziva reminded her daughter. Selina frowned.
"Man. He's twenty-four, Ziva," she corrected.
"I am nearly fifty, tateleh. Twenty-four is a boy to me," Ziva joked.
"You don't look a day over thirty," Selina teased.
Ziva just laughed in good humor. "You flatter me." Selina did not say anything in response, but instead sank into silence and watched the children playing on the playground and the people running on the track. She leaned back in the park bench. "What's wrong?" Ziva inquired.
"I am worried, Ima. For our… honeymoon," Selina admitted. Ziva frowned, understanding her daughter's real issue.
"He will not expect you to do anything you do not want to," she assured her daughter.
"But it is not fair to him! We will be married, that is what honeymoons are for—" Selina protested.
"No. That is what people today think honeymoons are for. And it is true, that is what most people use them for. But it is really just about spending time together, alone," Ziva corrected.
"Look, I know this is a really, really awkward and personal question, but on your honeymoon, did you…" Selina trailed off, knowing by her mother's face that she understood.
"Yes," Ziva confessed, nervously taking a swig from the coffee cup in her hand.
"Was it… hard… for you? Was it scary?" Selina asked. Ziva swallowed.
"I will not lie to you. It was very scary at first, and I… That was not my first time. This… this would be your first time. I am not going to tell you that it will be easy or not stressful or not bring back memories. I had flashbacks at first, but… Everyone is different, tateleh. I cannot tell you what to expect. If you truly want to do it on your honeymoon, I suggest to take it slowly. Test the waters. This is uncharted territory for— I hope— both of you, and you want to be able to enjoy your first time."
"I am not sure if I ever want to do it," Selina revealed. Ziva just held her daughter close.
"I know that it feels like the scariest thing in the world. But as long as you remember that it is Devin, the man," Ziva was sure to acknowledge the distinction, "that you love, you should be okay. Just make sure that Devin knows how you feel about all of this. You are in this together. From now on, you will always be in everything together."
Selina smiled her thanks, and again comfortable silence elapsed. It was a few minutes of people watching later that she remembered what she had wanted to tell Ziva.
"He proposed on the 29th," she told her mother. Ziva's brows furrowed.
"Why? Did he say?"
"Well, I had admitted to him before that, even though we were rescued on the 29th, the day did not bring back happy memories," Selina confessed, again reaching her hand up to feel the scar on her cheek. "He said that he did it so that I could have happier memories associated with that day."
Ziva smiled softly. "Clever bo— man." Selina reciprocated, chuckling lightly.
"He is. It was very thoughtful of him. Of course, I get the feeling it was completely spontaneous, though."
"Is that right?"
"Yeah. I wasn't really having a good day. I was doubting my worth and I wasn't exactly in a happy place. I think he just didn't like seeing me so down, and when I told him that I didn't believe anyone would want to be stuck with me for the rest of my life, I think he snapped. He ran inside, got the ring, pulled me ten feet along the pool edge to the place we first met, got down on one knee, and handed me the ring while simultaneously pouring his heart out," Selina replied matter-of-factly, giving a little shrug.
"You are one lucky young woman," Ziva responded, shaking her head slightly.
"So are you," Selina insisted. Ziva smiled.
Truthfully, luck only had a little to do with it. The luck had gotten them out of Somalia alive (even though that was not as much luck as that was dedication on the part of their family). The luck brought them together, although a reasonable case could be made that that was not luck, but fate. Every little variable was, luckily, in the absolutely perfect place. If any little thing had been altered, their life might not have been the same as it was that day, which was perfect.
After their rescue, however, luck had hardly a thing to do with it. They got to where they were now by sheer dedication and strength. After all they had been through, it would have been easy to give up. Any lesser person would have.
Together, however, they overcame their fears, uncertainties, and conquered all of the numerous challenges that were thrown at them.
Ziva and Selina, beyond being brought together, were not very lucky people. They had experienced far more than their share of unfortunate events. If anything, they were extremely unlucky. But their life was solely what they— and their loved ones— made it. Now, because of their great dedication and perseverance, their life was finally peaceful.
The demons will not go away for either of them, but, as well as the physical scars, they have faded with time. This was not the end of their story; there was still much healing to be done. However, Selina and Ziva would continue to fight, because that was what they did. That's what they had always done.
Over the years, Ziva had gone from an emotionless killer to a loving mother, and Selina had grown from a young girl whose innocence was so cruelly corrupted to a beautiful young woman about to start a family. Everything that had happened in their life had happened for a reason. Even the most unfortunate of events molded them both into the people they wanted to be.
They were happy.
A/N: I hope you all enjoyed and that this wrapped it up nicely! The epilogue will pick up with the honeymoon and then go from there (hopefully not for very long). Thank you all so much for sticking with this story! It really means so much to me. This has been an incredibly great ride and I am so thrilled that you wonderful people chose to stick with it. It has been almost exactly ten months. 82 chapters. I spent approx. 1.5 hours on each, which means I've spent 123 hours of my life writing this story. You would not believe how emotionally attached I am to it. It is sad to see it go.
Now: I must credit some people. First, to Zivafan2481 for reviewing every single chapter. I cannot tell you how much that means to me. As well, NazChick, Aunt Jo, and Tiva Lovah, thank you guys so much for reviewing so frequently and being here from the beginning (if I missed anyone please tell me). I wish I could credit you all, but this A/N is long enough. So here we are:
Thank you to Vi, Nazchick, Lyss, ninjaninja, Summer95, Shy Chey, Aunt Jo, Zivafan2481, Tiva lovah, GraceEmily, Liraeyn, aquasm, TShirtBoppin'Strawberry and AliyahNCIS for reviewing the last chapter.
As one last request from me, since this is the last chapter, please review! It would be really cool (even though it's unrealistic, considering I would need 51 reviews and I average about 10 per chapter) if we could reach 700!
Now, for the last time, thank you everybody:) Goodbye.