So this story is very long overdue for an update, I think that's mainly because I didn't know where to take this chapter, and now that I have had a bit of a refreshing break, I know where to take this chapter. Sadly though this is the end of the story, but I do hope you like the conclusion to it.
It's been eight months.
A very long and emotional eight months since he left.
He calls her once a week, on Sundays at 6pm like clockwork. Sometimes they would talk for a few minutes, other weeks they would talk for hours. And she knows that every week the one thing she looked forward to most was that phone conversation with him.
Sometimes they talked about random things, like what was in the news, other times they would talk about where he was and what he was doing. Then there would be the particular conversations she always let roll around in her mind for the entire week, the ones where he would talk about past memories.
He had slowly started to remember things here and there.
Sometimes it was silly things like what colour socks he wore every Monday in college, but there were other days when he would talk about important things, like Baltimore, meeting Gibbs for the first time. Meeting her.
He was a little cloudy on their first meeting, but he'd remembered most of it. And the day he told her how he remembered their first meeting, was the day she really thought things could truly go back to how they once were. Something she had prayed for since the last moment she saw him.
He told her about his travels and where he had gone, what he'd begun to search for. When his memories started coming back to him he moved to where those memories had taken place, searching for the familiar surroundings and then more would come to him.
He'd spent some time in his home town, a little bit in Ohio, before moving onto Philadelphia. A month ago he'd been in Baltimore. However since then he hadn't spoken of moving onto another destination as of yet, and she knows why. He's either still in Baltimore, or as her gut suspects, he's moved onto DC but he hasn't mentioned it because he knows she'll come looking.
She's thought about looking for him, more than once, getting Tim to 'ping' his phone, but she doesn't. She knows that if he's this close, she can wait for him that extra bit longer before he reaches his return. He's told her more than a few times, that no matter what happens he's coming back to her. And she holds onto that thought every day, waiting for that promise to become true.
In Tony's absence she and Tim have become closer, and she is so grateful to have Tim there for her. She's not going to lie, she has struggled with this a lot. Having a job like she does and having to deal with the love of her life running around the country trying to find himself while being so far away from her grip, it kind of messes with a girls emotions.
She hasn't really talked to Gibbs much about Tony being gone, she finds it harder to face her boss when it comes to that personal relationship. She doesn't know why exactly, maybe because he's always had rules about the sort of thing they are doing and she cannot bring herself to face him about it, even if the lines to those rules are all but nothing because he's no longer at NCIS.
There was only one moment when Gibbs ever said anything to her about it, and she knows it was because he saw her crack, and he knew exactly why she had cracked on that particular case.
There was a marine who had run away from his wife, faking his own death in the process, and if a man running away from his lover hadn't been enough to crack her, something else did. No one but her knew exactly what was said that made her break, and only Tim and Gibbs had seen it happen.
When the marine was arrested and he face his wife for the last time, she'd said to him something that hit Ziva hard, making her crack and it let the emotions crumble out as soon as she'd escaped everyone's eyes. The wife had said,
"You promised me to trust you, always? Remember?"
And just like that, the wave of feelings had hit her and Tim and Gibbs had seen it one her face before she disappeared. Gibbs had made Tim track her phone to find her and when they found her in Tony's old apartment sitting on the floor in front of the couch, in the dark, it was by far the most upset Gibbs had ever seen the woman he thinks of as a daughter.
When he tried to ask her what was wrong as he sat on the floor next to her, she just shook her head and said it was nothing. But the look in her eyes said otherwise, that and the tearstains on her cheeks.
Tony had told her to trust him, and he'd promised.
Gibbs had reached out and put an arm around her shoulders, pulling her close before he whispered in her ear.
"He's coming back for you Ziva" he'd said and how he knew exactly what to say and what she was thinking, was beyond her. Maybe Tony had said something to Gibbs that would make him think that, but would he really? Old Tony, maybe not, new Tony, definitely.
That was the only thing he'd said to her about it and they'd left it at that. Neither he nor Tim brought up the situation again and it was left at that.
When she thinks about it now she overreacted, and she never told Tony about it on their phone conversation that week either. She was tempted, but in the end that incident would stay known to her and her two partners, but not her lover. He doesn't need to know how fragile he truly makes her.
Because he does, so much. Sure she talks to him on the phone once a week and she knows he has promises and things are going places, it's just hard when she doesn't get to see him, doesn't get to kiss him, hold him. Because those things assure her, she would have him in her arms and she wouldn't let him escape her grip again.
She's stuck here in this park, one that she spends a lot of her time thinking in, it's why these thoughts grow in her head about Tony so strongly right in this minute. She does a lot of thinking here in this park, she's just always found it peaceful and it lets her mind escape. Especially today when the sun is high and the people stroll past, some happy, some sad, some confused and some of them with their head up high, ready to take on the world.
She likes watching them, watching as their lives take a new day of steps in the path to wherever it is their life is going to take them. She wonders if any of them watch her like she does them, watch as she takes steps into her future. She wonders if they can tell she doesn't know where that future leads.
"Is this seat taken?" a voice asks, and she doesn't see the face to the voice as her head is turned away. However her heart stops at the soft rumble of the male voice she hears every week, the one she misses so dearly.
She turns to look to him and she sees him smile at her, a bright smile, a smile she knows is going to shape her future. The man right in front of her will shape her future in any direction he steps, and she knows she will follow it blindly.
"Tony" she whispers quietly, his name always felt so comfortable on her tongue, and there's never been a day where it's felt as good as it does coming from her than today. She stands, somehow she's not too sure because she still felt frozen in shock and her arms go around him and pull him close, and no, she's not going to let go.
His arms tighten around her and his breath tickles her neck as he realises a deep sigh. A sigh that feels like you're finally home where you belong.
"I've missed you so much" he tells her, still not letting her go at all. Her throat chokes with tears that threaten to spill any moment now.
"Missing you was the hardest thing I have ever had to do" she returns to him, pulling back a little to look up at him. To make sure his beautiful blue eyes are really in front of him and this isn't just her imagination.
"Leaving you was the hardest thing I ever had to do" he says, bringing a hand up to her cheek. He looks at her, like he never wants to let his gaze leave her and his smile is warm and he is exactly how she remembered. "And I'll never do it again" he adds and her heart grows warm and a tear escapes. The part of her that had been missing, feels finally returned, overdue.
"You're staying?" she asks, because she needs to know, needs to know he's not going to slip from her grip again.
"Permanently" he says, and there is something in his eyes with that comment. His commitment is so strong, so frightening in that one word. But she is taking this head on because she loves him, no matter how much commitment to people had always troubled her.
That is when she leans up and steals something from him that she had craved since the morning he left, a kiss. The kiss was passionate and it was sad, it was all emotions rolled into one and her heart skips a beat because heck, she loves this man to no end and he's all hers to have and to hold. Permanently.
"How did you find me here?" she asks as she leans back, a little curious. The smile he beams at her makes her return the gesture, because right now she is one of those happy people she watches in the park.
"I remember you mentioning it last year, and I've been walking here lately, when I saw you sitting there, I just knew this was the moment, I knew that I was ready to come back" he said, his face never failing to be the happiest she's seen it since his accident. The time apart had been hard, but it seems as though it was worth it.
"You remember that? It was such a little thing, hardly an important memory" she explains, running her hand into his hair because she had always loved doing that, and she missed it.
"I remember a lot of things" he smiles even more, so much she didn't think it was even possible to smile that much.
He remembers a lot? Has peace finally found them again? Because they have waited long enough.
He remembers, just like he used to. Sure things are different after all that has happened, but her old Tony is in there, along with the new Tony.
"There is one thing I remember more than anything" he says when she just looks up at him and smiles in bliss.
"What is that?" she asks, happier than she has ever been in her life.
"That I've loved you for a very long time, and I don't ever plan on stopping" he tells her, glassy eyes because he's just that happy, and so is she. Finally they have the good luck on their side, finally the world is going to give them a fair chance at love for the first time in nine years.
He remembers the past they had, the present, and hopefully now that he's found his balance they can work on a future together. She knows it will be the kind future she's always dreamed about.
It may not be long, but hopefully it's a short and sweet way to end this story, because I see this as the good send off for this story.
Thank you for reading my story, I do hope you enjoyed it, as always I very much enjoy writing them.