A/N: Set in Season 9, after episode 16.

Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters, they belong to DPB and CBS.

Author's Note: Reposted. Hope y'all enjoy!


If there was one lesson Ziva David had learned from the many that life had passed to her in its cruel talons it was that what's done is done. Nothing could change what she did; what she didn't do; the mistakes she made; didn't make, and should have made. One cannot change the past, no matter how much one wants to, and one should not waste away on the past when there is a tomorrow just over the horizon.

Of course, one does learn from one's mistakes, but at times like these, it was difficult to see the glass as half full when, much like its companions on the countertop, it was completely empty.

Maybe the worst thing was the bizarre sense of déjà vu. She had lived it all before. She knew how the story ended, and she somehow couldn't stop herself from sticking around to see all over again; to see herself get hurt all over again.

Perhaps it was possible that fate was taunting her. She knew what life had handed her was fortunate but at times she felt as if her heart was a play-thing. She wondered if she had anything left to rely on.

Ziva thought she could get through it. She thought she would be able to shut herself off from the world and wait until the pain subsided – or at least until it numbed her enough that she could forget it was there. But she couldn't do that now. She couldn't drop anything and volunteer for the next overseas assignment that came along. Maybe fourteen years ago, things would have been different, but she wasn't disposable anymore. She ran away last time, but that was before Ari went rogue, before NCIS, and before she came to learn the true meaning of mishpakha – family.

She wished sometimes that she could just catch a break, somewhere. She wished that when she finally had enough courage to let someone in through the walls surrounding her emotions that they wouldn't send in a Trojan horse. It reminded her why those walls were there in the first place.

But perhaps there was more than one lesson to be learned here, she considered:

Anything, or anyone, that makes you question your judgement is not worth trusting.

And what might have been the most important of all:

It is never just another case.

The old, clunky, and probably broken elevator made a definite 'ding' as its doors parted on NCIS's third floor. As usual, Tim and Tony were sitting quietly (well, as quiet as those two can be when they are in the same room). Ziva smirked amusedly at their banter and silently made her way to her own desk.

"Good morning, Ziva," Tony said, though his voice rang with silent victory. He had obviously said something he believed was very clever to McGee, who evidently had had no comeback. His eyes were bright like a ten-year-old who's up to something and he wore a smug grin.

"Morning, Tony," she replied with the biggest smile she could muster on a Monday morning. She never did like Mondays. "McGee," she added.

Tony leant back in his chair, one leg crossed over the other. He held his pen between his teeth and that smug grin of his grew wider as he stared at the obviously exasperated McGee. He was begging for attention; calling for her to ask what it was he had done to make Tim so very quiet.

"Why are you so cheerful this morning?" she asked him, though would be lying if she said she had really cared.

"I got a visit from Fred from accounting when I got in this morning," he said, and his voice sounded as if a visit from Fred from accounting was some kind of honour.

"You mean the one who's making you pay thousands of dollars in payments you were not charged every year?" Ziva asked, lifting an eyebrow.

His smile faltered. She had always had the ability to back him into a corner like that. But he persisted with his story. "Yeah…he came up here to tell me that Director Vance has offered me a raise."

"Congratulations, Tony," she said simply, switching her computer on. She was happy for him, despite his irritating pride.

"I'm a shoe-in for Agent of the Year this year if there aren't any huge screw-ups. At least not any that we can't lie about to Vance."

She smirked. "It is February, Tony. Perhaps you shouldn't be so sure of yourself. I would hate to see you set yourself up for disappointment."

He tilted his head upward, looking down his nose at her with a sly smile. "And why would I be disappointed, Agent David?"

"Because," she replied, pulling a white envelope from her purse. "I got a raise too."

He didn't reply, but gave her what was a cross between a sneer and a pout before Gibbs joined them.

"You won't, David, if you brag about it," they all heard him say as he strolled into the bullpen like any other morning, coffee in hand, case on his mind.

Ziva sat up straight and looked sheepish as the grin returned once again to Tony's face. "Got a case, Boss?" he asked complacently.

"Yeah," Gibbs said, barely stopping as he picked up the keys to the van and tossing them to McGee. "We got a dead Navy Admiral in Virginia." It wasn't necessary after all these years, but Gibbs for some reason felt the need to add the command, "Gear up."

The Admiral's house was large, with huge, spotless windows across the front and a white rose garden. There was a Mercedes in the drive and an American flag waved and flapped wildly in the winter wind, suspended on a tall white pole.

"Nice house," McGee commented, staring at its double-storey height as he grabbed the gear from the back of the MCRT truck.

"Nice neighbourhood," Tony added, looking around. Almost every house was as big as the Admiral's, if not bigger. They all had immaculate gardens and lawns, clean windows and a few even had the white picket fence. "American Dream much? Right down to the fence."

"I still do not understand you Americans' fascination with picket fences. They do nothing," Ziva said, a slight grunt in her voice as she lifted a rather heavy bag out of the van and came to stand beside her fellow agent and Senior Agent.

"You can't say 'you Americans'. Ziva, you're one of us, remember?" he reminded her, a grin resting on his lips.

She turned towards him, one eyebrow raised. "I may be an American citizen, but I highly doubt that I will have a white picket fence surrounding my yard any time soon."

McGee squinted. "You live in an apartment."

"Future yard, then," she said. "They do nothing. They can be easily climbed over and you can see through them, hence they provide none of the uses a fence should."

Satisfied she had made good points, she followed Gibbs into the house. McGee looked at Tony, who was still in a somewhat mesmerised state, staring at the flag.

"I think she won that," the younger man said.

Tony grimaced. "I don't care. You don't insult the American Dream." He walked towards the house, and McGee followed suit with a roll of his eyes.

A/N: Just chapter one guys. I'll keep re/posting it soon. Review!