Disclaimer: As surprising as it may seem, I don't own anything. Or anyone for that matter.
Just something that came to my mind during a 6-hour long train trip after listening to Jason Mraz 's Please Don't Tell Her.
Set somewhere in the second half of season 8. References to Judgement Day (5x18), Truth or Consequences (7x01) and Reunion (7x02).
Please don't dare tell her what I've become
Please don't mention all the attention I have drawn
Please don't bother cause she'll feel guilty when I'm gone
Because I'm crazy like the rest of us
But I'm crazier when I'm next to her
- Jason Mraz – Please Don't Tell Her
"I miss you too, Ray."
He listens to her speaking softly through the phone with an affectionate, almost shy voice and he can't help but feel a pang of jealousy and hurt when he notices the small smile on her face as she whispers her goodbyes.
He suddenly realizes that not once has she told him that she had missed him. She hadn't told him when the team was broken apart and she was sent back to Israel while he was sailing the seven seas as an Agent afloat. She had not told him when she came back from Somalia either…
It's not like she had to do it though; she didn't really need to say it out loud. It was another of the many things that they seemed to be able to say without exchanging a word. It had always been some sort of relief for him actually, not having to voice anything of the sort, because let's be honest, they were not exactly too comfortable with confessions to begin with, let alone confessions that may involve feelings of any kind.
And yet, hearing her tell someone else - hearing her tell him - makes his chest constrict in a strangely painful way. At that moment, he becomes aware of how much he would have loved hearing these words from her at least once. He would have loved knowing that she had thought about him when they were oceans apart, it would have warmed his heart to know that in spite of every fight and every ordeal they had been through, she still felt a little alone and a little empty when he wasn't around. He knows it's terribly selfish of him to think like that. Selfish and rather hypocritical too.
Because he never told her either.
He never told her about the times when he had been the one to look at the empty chair and desk across the room and felt the weight of her absence crushing him, suffocating him, until the rest of the world disappeared and all he could see was the void she had left behind.
He never told her about the hours he had spent at his desk after they had left her in Israel, staring at the emptiness in front of him, wondering if she would ever come back, if she still hated him or if she would ever forgive him.
He never told her either about how his life had lost all meaning the moment he was told she was most certainly gone forever.
His mind starts drifting to these dark times again and he feels his heart beat a little faster thinking about what her reaction would be if she knew how many times he had called McGee for a ride home from the bar down the street because he was too drunk to drive by himself.
He is suddenly anxious that in spite of the fact that he had made her swear to never let Ziva know about it, Abby would snap and tell her friend about that time when after a difficult case, her absence had been so unbearable that he had lost it and thrown his fist in the metal wall of the elevator just to feel something, only managing to cut his knuckles open and bruise his right hand so nastily he couldn't use it for a week.
He hopes nobody will ever tell her about the pathetic mess he had become after the news of her alleged death came. He was the shadow of himself, if not even less than that. He still doesn't remember half the things that happened in the few weeks that followed. It is still all a blur, the pain had been numbing somehow, plunging him in some sort of self-induced coma for weeks that he had only woken up from when his pain of losing her was replaced by the raging need to avenge her. While most people go through the 5 different stages of grief, he had only gone through 3: shock had almost immediately been replaced by pain until the pain had become rage completed by the unquenchable thirst for revenge that had led him to a suicide mission of his own after he had decided that death was the only way to make it all stop.
He was aware of all the attention he had drawn at that time. Although they never said anything to him directly, he could see the team's worried looks and notice how they stopped in the middle of their hushed conversations whenever he entered the room. Looking back at it, he feels terrible for having put them through this; he knows they were probably as affected by Ziva's fate as he was. He just couldn't help it. It was the only way he had found to deal with the guilt and the pain gnawing at him with every breath he took.
It would have been easy to tell her how much he had missed her and to just let her know that living without her had been such a nightmare that even only trying to almost killed him. He had been meaning to tell her the day she confronted him in the men's room a few days after they had gotten her back from Africa but before he could even figure out how to say all this, she had started to apologize and he had realized that she needed to do it to be able to move on. If there's one thing he had learnt about Ziva over the years, it was that although she's usually the one telling people to accept their mistakes, learn to live with them and take lessons from them, she can also be very stubborn and a bit of a masochist when it comes to taking the responsibility of her own faults. So he hadn't said a word, letting her make her mea culpa and wordlessly giving her the forgiveness she was seeking from him. That was when he decided that she could never know. He didn't want her to bear the responsibility of what had happened to him and feel guilty about this too. The last thing she needed was yet another thing to beat herself up about.
She hangs up the phone and shots him a quick glance and a smile over her screen before getting back to work. He returns the smile and he knows that she's expecting him to come up with some wise-ass comment on her phone conversation. But he doesn't. Deep down, he's just glad someone misses her somewhere and can actually tell her without making a huge deal of it. So maybe he would never get to tell her about how much he needs her in his life, how she keeps him from going crazy at times or how he will always do everything he can to make sure they're never apart again, but seeing the carefree, happy look on her face now, he just knows that it would be worth it.