Ziva sits on her bed, next to the window. She exhales slowly, her breath fogging the glass. She smiles and writes the initials Z.D into the fog as it fades.

She can't stop thinking about him. Her masked stranger. Her Tony.

She had just met him, but she knew: This was no ordinary man. He was…something else entirely...

"Ziva!"

Ziva straightened. "Yes, father?"

"Come down here. Someone is here for you."

Ziva suddenly perks.

I wonder….

She runs downstairs, holding her dress, almost tripping.

"I'm here T-" She cuts herself off.

"Ziva, this is Ray." He said. A man with black hair and almost same-color eyes winks at her.

"Ziva." He says.

"What is he doing here?" Ziva asks point-blankly.

"Ziva….you are going to marry him." Eli says slowly.

It feels like a rug has been yanked out from under Ziva's feet.

Marriage? MARRIAGE?

No no no! I can't get MARRIED!

Automatically, her mind flashes to her masked stranger.

I can't get married.

I can't.

Unable to say anything, Ziva runs up the stairs. She runs right past her sister, who looks after Ziva with a concerned look.

"Zivaleh? Are you all right?" She questions, her identical brown eyes widening in concern.

Ziva runs to her room, and quickly shuts the door behind her. She falls on her bed, feeling helpless. She should have seen this coming. Ziva is a teenage girl, almost a lady, in the early 1800's. What the hell is she thinking?

She knew it would come, whether she wanted it to or not.

She slips into her nightgown, even thought the afternoon sun is still high in the sky.

"Ziva? Ziva, can we talk?" Her father's voice, seeming concerned, is heard from the other side of the door.

"What's there to talk about?" She asks coolly. "I'm getting married. I have no opinion, do I?"

"Ziva, you make it sound like-"

"Like it is. I state the plain truth." She says quietly. "Please, father, leave me alone."

"Ziva-"

"Leave me alone." She says pointedly. "Just go away."

Silence. Then, footsteps are heard, fading away with each thud. Suddenly, in their place, lighter footsteps are heard.

"Ziva? Ziva, it's me." A softer voice says. "Please, Ziva."

Ziva looks up, and walks to the door, leaning her head against it, before she turns the handle to let her sister in.

Tali comes in. She's only thirteen, but the genuine concern on her face was beyond her years.

"Ziva, what's wrong?" She asks, sitting next to Ziva on the bed.

"Nothing, Tali." She replies.

"I heard you say marriage. Ziva, is Aba making you marry someone?"

Ziva nods emotionlessly.

"Do you not want to marry him?"

Ziva shakes her head.

"Ziva, do you love someone else?"

"I-I don't know." Ziva says shakily. Tali puts her arms around her sister. "Zivaleh, you know I will support you, whatever." Tali sits up and kisses her sister's forehead.

"Tali!" Eli calls Ziva's sister. Tali looks at her.

"Be wise with your choices, Ziva. Please." Her sister leaves the room, leaving Ziva alone, who leans back, and falls asleep, right there.


CLACK…CLACK.

Ziva blinks groggily. It is nighttime, well late into the evening.

CLACK.

She gives a start, sitting up. She looks around. She hears another clack as a dark, small thing hits her balcony door. She slowly makes her way to the small balcony, confused. She opens her door, and looks over the edge. Down under the balcony is a man in a white, flowing shirt on a horse, holding a lantern, with ruffled brown hair and the greenest eyes, like the seas after the perfect storm-

"Tony!" She cries out. She suddenly covers her mouth, blushing.

"Ziva." He smiles. "Come down!"

She looks around. "But- I- I can't." She said.

"Are you sure?" He asks, sounding slightly anxious. "No- no exits or-or something?"

Finally, she sighs. "Fine. Watch out."

He steps aside. She leans over, swings over the side of the balcony, drops down and seizes the ledge, then gracefully swings down. Her feet hit the ground without a sound.

"Whoa, my ninja." Tony murmurs. The horse steps back slightly.

"Ninja?"

"Japanese term. It is a Japanese military mercenary. They are able-bodied and extremely agile. And that-" he gestures to the balcony and the wall "-was very ninja."

"Your ninja, hmm?" Ziva asks, walking alongside the horse, which she can now see is a solid roan. She runs over to the side of the house, to the field behind their home, opens a gate door, and leads an almost completely black horse out of the darkness. She jumps on it bareback.

"I belong to no one." She says, spurring the horse and galloping out of the gate.

Tony chuckles. "I like that. Playing hard-to-get is much more my style." He spurs his own and chases her down. She laughs, galloping ahead of him. He grins widely.

"You think you're going to win this race. Well, I beg to differ." Tony leans forward, and his horse plows ahead, coming right beside Ziva's midnight horse.

Ziva laughs again. She looks forward. "Are we supposed to be going somewhere?"

"Yes, actually." He says. "While we're out here, keep going until you see a white gate. Stop there and wait for me."

Ziva nods, and urges her horse again, her sharpened-eyes scanning the countryside for what Tony was talking about. After about five minutes, her eyes found it- a faded white gate, roses intertwined around the arch. She halts her horse, and jumps off. She ties her horse, and holds her forehead against the horse's. "Be good, Midnight." She says quietly. The horse nickers quietly, and Ziva smiles. She looks and sees Tony's roan horse trotting towards her. Tony jumps off and leads the horse beside Ziva's, also tying it up. "Come on." He says quietly. He takes her hand and runs under the arch. The two run along the dark path, which is lined and inset with stones. He keeps going, and finally Ziva asks "Where are we going, Tony?"

"To my favorite place." He replies vaguely, still running. She keeps up with him, her light feet hitting the stones with quiet light thuds.

Suddenly, Tony screeched to a stop.

"We're here." He said quietly.

She looks around. It is a garden, lit by a few lanterns. Around them are hedges, with roses intertwined into them. Tony picks one, blood red.

"Roses. They have thorns, to protect themselves. Usually, they hurt." He says, showing Ziva his finger, which has a small trickle of blood on the tip. "But they are truly beautiful." He places the rose on Ziva's hand. He took his hand and brushed back her hair.

"Tony." Ziva says. "You are something else entirely. Do you know that?"

"Well, my father did always say I was on the odd side, yes." Tony chuckled. Ziva rolled her eyes.

"I think meeting you was no accident." Ziva said, wandering around the garden.

"Fate does have its ways, I guess." Tony says. Suddenly, Ziva takes him, and presses her lips against his. She holds his head there, running her fingers through his tousled brown hair. It takes him a second before he reciprocated the kiss, licking her lips, begging for entrance. She opens her mouth to let him, letting the sensations wash over her in waves. His hands find the fabric of her nightgown, and he tugs at it. Ziva suddenly stops. She breaks the kiss, panting.

Tony realizes that she broke the kiss, and his eyes widen. "Oh, Ziva, I'm sorry-"

"No, Tony, it's okay." She says. "Just….not yet. Not here. Not now." She turns. The moon has given way to the pink and orange of the rising sun. "I have to go." She says, running out, Tony following her.


She climbs up the wall, and swings onto her balcony, waving goodbye to Tony. He winks, and spurs his horse. Ziva turns, and immediately comes face-to-face with Tali.

"Tali-" Ziva chokes.

"Do not worry, Zivaleh." She winks. "I can keep a secret."


Well? WELL?

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-Vi