Cliché
Rating: T
Disclaimer: I do not own NCIS, not even the DVDs.

AN: I wrote this many years ago. Three years ago, I do believe. In the span of those three years, I completely forgot this little piece of me existed. I hate that I got people excited about it being more than a one-shot, however, after much contemplation, I just do not want to add another chapter to it. I love the ending and can't imagine changing it. Also, I've made several changes (brought on by maturation in my personal life and also in my writing skill) to the actual story. Blah, blah, blah. I hate long ANs, hypocritical me. Thank you all for reading, and for reviewing (you know you want to).


Ziva crept through the shadows of the empty restaurant, hugging the wall like a lover. Luckily, the unsuspecting diners were smart enough to dine and dash when the first warning shots disrupted the comfortably quite atmosphere.

The dim mood lighting gave her enough cover as she slowly made her cautious trek toward the kitchen, and the armed suspect, Mark Zillenger. Briefly, she wondered where her backup was. She had called Tony the second she saw their target discreetly enter the crowded restaurant. He had assured her that he was already less than a block away. Where was he? He was supposed to have her six. But her back felt bare, cold, and vulnerable, even though it was pressed solidly against the wall.

She woke up this morning with a bad feeling clinging to her skin. She hoped it had nothing to do with the case. But the prickly feeling she was getting behind her eyelids told her differently.

Before she could make any more progress towards the back of the restaurant, a figure slipped through the swinging kitchen door. She was able to make out the definitive shape of a gun trained on her general location. The unsuspecting sound of gunfire made her gracefully drop to the floor and duck behind an upturned table.

From her hiding spot, she could see the silhouette of Zillenger slink back into the dining area, gun held firmly in hand. Slowly, oh so slowly, she crawled from behind the upturned table that she was using as a barrier. Zillenger didn't seem to notice where she had disappeared to; his eyes were desperately scanning the mess of destruction the panicked restaurant goers had created.

She was ready to make a move, take the shot. She had her faithful 9 mm Sig Sauer aimed square at his chest, her finger impatiently twitching against, but not pulling, the trigger, when the front door of the restaurant swung open allowing cool, crisp winter air and, unfortunately, a rather large sliver of light to enter. It was enough light for Zillenger to spot her. Within the blink of an eye, he had swiveled his revolver her way. The situation became nothing short of a standoff of willpower.

Fortunately, the silver lining to the dark cloud of light was the presence of Anthony DiNozzo, who had his own Sig trained on Zillenger. Two to one. The prickling died down just a hair. She liked her odds a lot better now that Tony was behind her.

His firm voice put a little more confidence in her backbone. "Drop your weapon, Zillenger. You know you won't make it out of this building alive if you don't."

Zillenger looked unphased as he pointed his gun from Ziva to Tony and back to rest on Ziva. Zillenger's nervous and fidgety demeanor created a small pocket of dread inside Tony's gut.

"C'mon. We don't want to shoot you. You haven't done anything. We know you didn't kill your wife. You can get out of this one scot-free with nothing more than a few misdemeanors," Tony warned, hoping to talk some sense into the man.

This bit of knowledge didn't seem to falter Zillenger's erratic behavior. Instead, he became even more hysterical.

"No, no, no, no, no. You're lying," Zillenger shot back frantically. "I-I don't have an alibi. My fingerprints, my DNA, whatever, was... was on the knife. No one will believe that I'm innocent."

Ziva did not like hysterics. Hysterical people were unstable people. Unstable people with loaded revolvers were trouble. And she screwed... hammered...uh, nailed this one right on the head. Before she was given the chance to think of a further course of action, Zillenger had squeezed the double trigger.

Ziva heard the dreadful sound of two shots, but not until after she felt the hot lead bullet rip through her shoulder and another one tear into her stomach. She hit the floor like bricks. Pain seared through her body. She couldn't focus on anything but the pain. She didn't even register the two other shots: Tony's double tap that penetrated Zillenger's heart.

Tony was beside her on his knees within a matter of seconds. She was grateful. His hands pressing down on her stomach and shoulder were like an anchor, keeping her from floating away. She grabbed at one of his hands and was a little baffled by how slick and warm they felt. If she were in her right mind she would realize that she was losing way too much blood. But right now his hand just felt like a warm blanket and a solid tether.

She managed to squeak out a single, "Tony." The moment was entirely too cliché for her liking. Her lying on the floor bleeding to death while the man she trusted most in the world tried his damnedest to save her. She felt like she was in one of Tony's movies. A Damsel in Distress.

"Hang on, Ziva. Please. Please. Just- keeping holding onto my hand," Tony said breathlessly. It took more effort than it should have to get the words past the lump that had suddenly made a home in his throat. With each ounce of blood that spilled out of her and onto the floor, soaking into his pant leg, the lump grew tenfold. It made it hard to swallow, hard to breathe.

He pulled out the cell phone from his coat pocket. His blood-slicked fingers fumbling with it for a moment before he was able to properly dial 911 for an ambulance dispatch.

Ziva tried to focus on staying awake, but for the life of her, literally, she just couldn't. She held on to Tony's hand as hard as she could. She didn't want him to leave her. She knew he wouldn't. The sharp taste of copper filled her mouth along with the thought that maybe she wouldn't be okay this time. That maybe this skittish little bastard Zillenger just might be her Grim Reaper. And that this might just be her "the end."

Hot, wet, embarrassing tears slid their way rather quickly down her temples. She felt Tony's other hand haphazardly wipe them away before going back to the task of staunching the heavy flow of blood seeping out of her broken body.

Her words trembled as they fell out of her mouth, along with a small amount of blood. "T-Tony, I'm scared." It was so out of character for her that it nearly broke his heart.

She didn't hear his comforting reply, the soothing words he whispered into her hair. Her mind was filled with silence and darkness. A curtain closing. A total cliché. Oh, how she hated clichés.

FINITO