A/N: Okay, so I started college! Whoop-whoop! But, that means everything is still a little bit chaotic and therefore I do not know when I will get a chance to update Til Death Do Us Part -but it should be soon. Ish. Anyway, this is a tag to the Missionary Position, and was written around the original airdate only I'm just now publishing it -only I can't remember why I didn't put it up way back when. Whatever. Much love, keep the peace, always and forever, Kit!
DISCLAIMER: Broke college student.
THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS
She's leaning against the balcony railing, enjoying the light breeze that steals silently through the humid night air. There's a cricket nearby and its lullaby keeps her company, providing a soothing soundtrack to her tumultuous thoughts.
She hears the door behind her slide open, the soft whisper as it moves against the threshold, barely disturbing the surrounding hush. Monique closes the door just as carefully before joining Ziva at the balustrade.
The older woman folds her hands together and braces her forearms on the rail, mirroring Ziva's stance as they both gaze out into golden pricked midnight. Minutes trickle past and the cricket's chirping waxes and wanes, fading into emptiness, and Ziva misses the distraction.
"You are different," Monique says suddenly, disturbing the silence. "You are happy."
And Ziva nods, pondering, her gaze never straying from the darkness ahead. After a few heartbeats she finally says, "Yes, I am."
And it is Monique's turn to nod. "That was not a question, but an observation."
Ziva's lips twitch upward in the ghost of a grin. "And that was not answer, but an agreement."
She can practically hear Monique smirk. "I am glad for you," she continues, disregarding the younger woman's quip. "You deserve happiness, Ziva David."
Ziva's smile fades and she falls silent for a while as the ghosts of regret and what-if settle around the terrace. Finally, she asks softly, "You do not think I am weak?"
"Why would I think you are weak?" Monique asks, genuinely perplexed. "What you did was strong –so strong. I wish I had been brave enough to make that change, to leave. Ziva, my heart is glad you did not choose this life."
"You know as well as I do that you never had a choice, Monique," she says. Then, in a quiet voice, she adds, "I never had a choice."
"No," Monique agrees gently, "You didn't. But I, Ziva, I could have walked away, and I did, once, but I walked back." She turns to study the younger woman's profile and Ziva can practically feel her gaze. "Don't walk back, Ziva," she tells her seriously. "Don't you dare so much as to look back."
"I have no intention of doing so," Ziva reassures her with a small smile. "Besides," she continues softly, "I can never go back."
"I turned my back on my homeland, Monique. I know that I cannot go back. I have made peace with that truth."
The conversation lulls and Ziva half expects the other woman to retreat back into the suite. True to nature, however, Monique remains, continuing her scrutiny of the darkened city sprawled below them.
"I do not think you are weak –especially for walking away," she says slowly, as if she's considering each word carefully. "Anyway, you have a family now. You're allowed to be weak, to be vulnerable . . . Because someone is always going to be watching your back. Cherish that, Zivaleh. Treasure that. Especially that partner of yours," she adds, nudging Ziva's shoulder with her own.
And Ziva sighs in mild exasperation. "Tony."
"He is . . . something else," she concedes ambiguously, but Monique will have none of that.
"How long?" she asks, shifting away from the heaviness that still hangs in the air in favor of lighthearted gossip.
Ziva offers a feeble attempt at diversion: "How long what?"
"Oh, don't play coy –you know you are a terrible liar," Monique chastises, shaking a teasing finger at Ziva. "You and Tony. There is something there."
Ziva practically throws her hands in the air. "Why does everyone say that?" she demands. "I do not see it."
Monique snorts. "Oh, Ziva. Please. You see it –hell, I bet even the Mayans saw it coming. You just don't want to admit it."
Ziva stiffens. "Maybe I just don't want to open up myself to hurt?"
Monique shakes her head. "That is a pitiful argument," she accuses gently.
"Is it?" Ziva demands, her fingers tensing with frustration. "After Michael? After . . . Ray? Are my qualms that irrational?"
Monique waits patiently for her sudden agitation to ebb before countering kindly, "I do not think you believe that, Ziva. You have worked with Tony, what? Seven years? Eight? That is an awfully long time to harbor ulterior motives. Don't you trust him?"
"Of course I trust him! It isn't he who is the problem –it is me! What if I am just . . . We could ruin everything."
"You could," Monique concedes. "But you won't. I can see the way he looks at you."
"He knows too much."
"So this isn't about trust. You've confided in him."
"No. Yes. Maybe. Tony . . . Tony is like a bloodhound, yes? He sniffs around until he finds what he is looking for. There are no kept secrets around that man. Or Gibbs," she mutters as an afterthought.
"The handsome Marine," Monique says appreciatively, grinning.
"You do know who he is, don't you?" Ziva asks, casting a sideways glance at her friend. But Monique's silence only confirms her ignorance on the matter. "Leroy Jethro Gibbs," she repeats slowly, enunciating every syllable carefully. "Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs." And Ziva knows the instant that the dots click into space.
"Dios mio!" Monique gasps, gaping at her in disbelief. "No! Jenny's Gibbs?"
Ziva nods, biting the inside of her cheek to curb her smile.
"Damn," Monique murmurs, gazing back through the darkness. Then, "You know, it was her biggest regret in life."
Ziva blinks, caught off guard. "What was?"
"Letting him get away. She loved him but she was too scared."
"She had many regrets, Monique."
"But you cannot deny that she took that one to her grave. Don't not take that chance with Tony, Ziva. Don't deny yourself that. You have enough regrets in this life."
"I owe them my life."
"Tony and Gibbs."
Ziva nods. "Yes."
"Tony," Monique says, and everything is falling together. "He was the one, wasn't he? The man who tracked down Ulmaan. He saved your life."
"Yes." And it is an admission uttered on a breath.
Monique nods sagely, finally understanding. "My advice? Do what makes you happy. Don't dwell on the dead and the things we cannot change. Death, Ziva, death and misery you can always find, but life and love, those are fleeting. Let someone be your safe place to land, let yourself have the family you always wanted. Please, do not do what I have done, what Jenny did. Do not deny yourself happiness. I am proud of you, my love, so damn proud."