Last chapter! And yea, this is more Tiva-ish than angst-ish. But it's sad-ish nonetheless. You have been warned! :D
My last chance to give all my lovely readers and reviewers some candy, so HERE: *Gives you all the candy in the world for your support*. Thank you!
Enjoy, please review!
Ducky, McGee, and Palmer leave after two hours, and the silence in the room is a stark contrast to the noise that had occupied it just moments before. She doesn't mind either way. In the noise she has found companionship, and in the silence…she has Tony. Still by her side, still holding her hand like he might lose his way if he lets go.
She raises her eyebrows at him. "Why don't visiting hours apply to you?"
He shifts in his seat. "Might've uh…used my badge a little. Gibbs might've put in a few words."
She shakes her head and drops the subject. She can tell that he's still worried, even though she's laughed more today than she has for many past weeks. Telling her friends…has helped. And she knows that the journey is far from over, knows that there will be many more difficult days to come; but maybe they will pass easier with her friends there. Maybe.
She draws his hand up, resting it high on her stomach as she studies his fingers. "Thank you, Tony," she says, swallowing. If she is to start telling him how grateful she is for his being there, how grateful she is for him, she might not be able to stop from telling him that she loves him.
"For…being here. These past few weeks."
"We're partners, right?"
She moves her eyes up to study his face. "Tony…if you are here because of work duties, then I need to know, because I need to know how much I can rely on you for the…chemotherapy."
He tenses suddenly, his eyes widening. "Chemo. I forgot."
She ignores the sinking feeling in her heart; the one that tells her she relies on him anyway, even if she shouldn't. "It's okay. You don't need to be here for the chemo. I understand. Gibbs and Abby-"
"What? No. I want to be here!"
"No. Look, this is above and beyond your job description."
"I want to do it. I…need to do it. Ziva, you have to let me be here."
Something in her jolts at the pleading in his tone, and she nods miserably. So many fights left to win; she can't afford to pick one with Tony. Not right now. Especially not when she doesn't really want to win. "Okay."
"Unless you don't want me." An odd squeak leaves his throat, and her eyes fly up to his face again.
"Of course I want you. But I do not want you to feel obligated to do this as my partner because it will be very ugly. I will lose my hair and will be throwing up all the time…Tony, I expect you to be here, as a friend. But I do not w-want you to be doing this," she holds up their linked hands and drops it hopelessly back onto the bed, "because of a work partnership. It just isn't worth it." I am not worth it.
She ignores the tears that sting her eyes.
"But – but we're more than work partners. This is not about the job. I'm not here because of the job. If I were I'd be showing my badge off to the nurses outside and checking in with you once in a while. Not…you know, just sitting here."
She furrows her brows as she tries to make sense of what he's saying. First he says he's here because they're partners…then he says it's not about the job. Men. "So you're here…because of me?"
Another odd squeak leaves his throat. "Yes."
"I don't want to be an unnecessary burden to you, Tony."
"You'll be a worse burden…if I can't see you and know that you're okay."
She breathes out slowly and lowers her head. She knows he didn't mean it that way, but she can't decide which part hurts her more; the part where he thinks she could be more of a burden than she already is, or the part where he thinks she might not be okay in the end. And yes, sometimes she wonders if he thinks about her death too.
He lets go of her hand, and she tries hard not to mourn whatever it is that she really needs to mourn. But he surprises her by climbing into the dangerously creaking bed and settling down beside her. Before she can ask him what he's doing, he has her head on his chest and his arms around her.
She lies still, listening to the beating of his heart through the softness of his sweater. They've never done this before. They've had countless hugs by now, but they've never just lain there, cuddling. She resists the urge to press her cheek into him. It's something that she could get too used to.
"What are you doing?" she finally asks, not daring to look up at him because she doesn't know what unwanted answer she'll find in his eyes.
"Practising for chemo."
"You want…to…hold me…for chemo?"
"I want to know that you're okay. Holding you is a good way to check on your general status."
She snorts and presses her face into his sweater. It smells partly of detergent and partly of him. She really likes that smell. "It will lose its appeal when I go bald," she warns him nonetheless.
He stays so quiet that she ignores the sinking feeling she's developing again and starts debating the merits of drawing back. "Not when it's you," he eventually tells her, and his grip tightens protectively as he presses a kiss to her head. Her heart flutters.
She could really get used to this.
The end! I hope you guys enjoyed reading that :D it was my favourite chapter to write. I can't help it okay; my shipper heart beats strong.
A/N: [SCIENCE CONTENT] You don't have to read this if you're just here for the story; if you'd like to know something about ovarian cancer, read on!
Ovarian cancer, obviously, starts in the ovaries. It can attack other parts of the body through growing and invading other organs such as the fallopian tubes and the uterus; shedding (breaking off) and growing on other organs; or spreading through the lymphatic system or bloodstream to other organs.
There are four stages of ovarian cancer. In stage I, the cancer cells are found in/on one or both ovaries, and possibly in the fluid collected from the abdomen. In stage II, the cancer has spread to the fallopian tubes/uterus/other tissues in the pelvis. In stage III, cancer cells can be found in tissues outside the pelvis, and in regional lymph nodes. In stage IV, the cancer has spread to organs outside the pelvis and the abdomen, such as the liver and the lungs.
The American Cancer Society's most recent statistics show that ovarian cancer is the 9th most common cancer among women and the 5th in cancer deaths among women. A woman's lifetime chance of getting ovarian cancer is about 1 in 71 and her lifetime risk of dying from ovarian cancer is about 1 in 95.
Symptoms for ovarian cancer include pressure/pain in the abdomen or pelvis, a swollen abdomen, intestinal or bowel problems, and fatigue. These issues may not necessarily be caused by cancer, though.
And...yea, I'm done.
Sources: The website of the National Cancer Institute; the website of the American Cancer Society