A/N: Sorry for the delay in putting this up, I just needed a couple days' break from posting. I wanted to thank you all so much for the crazy amount of reviews for Beyond Limits, And The Walls Came Tumbling Down, To Live Without Regrets, and Elevator Honesty. You astound and humble me every time with your response and I hope you know I appreciate every single comment. Thank you. Now I promise you I really didn't want to write this, I blame it all on the evil plot leprechauns who refused to let me quit no matter how much I wanted to. I have no idea what kind of response this is going to get, but I hope you'll all give it a fair shot. I'll try and put up one chapter a day, I think there's 7 or 8 altogether. Thanks :) ~Aliyah
Ziva was sitting on the floor building a block tower with two and a half year old Isaiah when Gibbs walked in the door wearing a haunted look she'd only seen once before. Her heart squeezed and she stood up, telling Siah softly in Hebrew that Mommy would be right back. Siah looked up and waved when he saw the silver haired former Marine standing in the doorway.
"Hi Grampa!" the little boy said cheerfully, turning back to his blocks.
Ziva joined her boss in the hallway and met his eyes. "Tell me."
Gibbs dragged a hand down his face and rested the other one on her shoulder. "Tony-" he started, and shock mingled with fear leapt into Ziva's eyes.
The man swallowed. "He's gone Ziva."
Her brow furrowed. "Gone where Gibbs?" she demanded. Even after ten years in America some things still were taken very literally.
"No. He-he died today Ziver." She froze for a moment before tears flooded her eyes and Gibbs' words came quicker. "At the suspect's house...they were waiting for us...I'm so sorry."
"No!" Ziva shouted, drawing Siah's attention. She lowered her voice. "No. Tony is careful, he is always careful now. He wears his vest-"
"It was a high caliber round Ziva," Gibbs explained, "even body armour couldn't stop it."
"No." It was a whimper this time and she looked at the rings sparkling on her left hand. "He cannot be Gibbs. Tony would not leave me, he would not leave his son."
She collapsed and Gibbs caught her in his arms. "You and that little boy were the last things on his mind," he whispered, trying not to see Tony sprawled on the floor, blood pooling under his body as he grasped at Gibbs' arm, struggling to get the words out.
Then his eyes fell closed and his struggles ceased and Gibbs slapped his hat on the floor hard. "Dang it DiNozzo! You did not have permission to die! Do you hear me?"
But yelling did nothing to bring his senior field agent back and all Gibbs could think of was the moment he'd have to tell Tony's wife that her husband was never coming home. The woman who, just like Abby, had become his daughter over the last several years.
Gibbs rocked Ziva gently, running his hand down her hair over and over. "He didn't want to leave Ziva, I know he didn't want to leave." Breaking Rule #6 was easy to do for her, but he would've given anything to not need to say those words. "I'm sorry, I'm so sorry."
Sobs wracked her body and Gibbs knew he'd never seen Ziva cry like that before. "I should have been there Gibbs," her words were muffled against his shirt. "I am supposed to have his back."
Gibbs didn't have any words for her, nothing would make this better. Suddenly a small hand on his leg brought his attention down.
"Grampa?" Siah asked, looking scared and confused. "Mommy? What wrong?"
Ziva tore herself from Gibbs' embrace, wiping at her tears as she knelt before her son. Her dark curls and Tony's green eyes...looking at the little boy she and Tony had longed for and loved started her tears again. She gathered Siah against her chest and held in her arms the life she and her husband had created out of their love for each other. A love she would never know again. Siah was all she had left of Tony and that realization made Ziva hold him even tighter.
Her son squirmed, not wanting to be confined, too little to know that his mother needed his comfort now. Ziva let go and watched as Siah went to Gibbs for his hug and she stood up, looking at them both before she bolted out the front door. Gibbs didn't bother calling her back, knowing that just like in any other crisis, Ziva needed to run. Instead he held the little boy that Tony had loved and lived for and watched her flee from a grief she would probably carry to her grave. Tony and Ziva had been soulmates and something like that couldn't be replaced.
Ziva ran. She ran hard and fast away from the little house in the quiet neighbourhood where she and Tony had settled to start a family. Away from the news that had stopped her world, away from the loss that was digging in thousands of tiny claws and tearing at her heart. Lungs burning and muscles screaming, Ziva pushed through the pain that didn't even compare to the anguish in her soul and ran, flashes of her life with Tony hitting her with every step. SNAP! Her and Tony's first kiss not undercover, the moment that she knew just being friends was no longer an option. SNAP! Tony taking her dancing, and dropping to one knee on the ballroom floor, holding out the little blue box that would change their lives forever. SNAP! Their wedding day and a picture someone took of Tony sweeping her into his arms, the biggest grin she'd ever seen plastered on his face.
There were more, each one sending the claws a little deeper as tears Ziva didn't even feel streamed down her face. Their wedding night and how his love was conveyed so deeply in every tender touch. Their first big fight and how he made her listen to his side and refused to let her walk away. Three full years together before Ziva discovered she was pregnant, and the joy in Tony's face the first time he held his son. Working together, raising a family, and each night spent in the shelter of her husband's arms.
The memories were too much and Ziva stumbled, screaming out a loss so deep she couldn't see the bottom, not caring who heard. Somewhere in an empty park, she collapsed on the frosty ground against a tree, crying until she had no strength left. Never again would she feel her husband's arms around her while she slept. Never again would she see the teasing glint she loved in his beautiful green eyes. Never again would he kiss her lips like he'd done before walking out the door today, or whisper 'I love you' over and over in her ear as he'd done last night and this morning, and every night and day before this one. Never again would he play with Siah or rock him to sleep or cuddle him on the couch. He couldn't take him swimming or push him on the swing, or watch him go down the slide, his favourite thing to do at the park. Tony, the man to whom she had given every part of herself, was dead. Never again would Ziva know a love like that.
It was hours later before Ziva finally dragged herself home, and it scared Gibbs to see the dead look in her eyes. No light in them at all until she picked up her son and settled him on her hip. "Take us to see Tony," she requested, her voice flat. "We want to say goodbye."
Knowing he couldn't argue with that, Gibbs nodded and grabbed his keys. There was only silence the whole way back to NCIS. Gibbs flashed his badge at the door and stood with Ziva and Siah as they rode the elevator down to Autopsy. Ducky, having anticipated a visit, had Tony cleaned up and ready for viewing, his body covered by a white sheet. When Ziva walked in holding Siah, Ducky, Jimmy, and Gibbs filed out, waiting by the elevator to give her a moment of privacy. Ziva stood still beside her husband's body. He was too motionless to look like he was only sleeping, but his son was too young to realize that.
Leaning over, he patted Tony's shoulder. "Wake up Daddy!" the little boy urged. Then he frowned. "Mommy, he cold."
Ziva laid her palm against Tony's cheek, his cold skin giving her the chills. But she shook them away. "Kiss Daddy goodbye," she whispered to Siah, holding him beside Tony's face.
Obediently Siah pressed his little lips to Tony's cheek. Then he looked at Ziva. "Daddy not coming home?"
She shook her head, feeling tears prick at her eyes again. "No tatelah, Daddy is not coming home." The child's face puckered and he started to cry. Ziva rested her head against his and rubbed his back. "I am sorry Siah."
"Want my daddy!" he demanded.
"I know." Ziva's voice broke. "I want him too." Then she took her son out of the room and handed him to Gibbs. "Take him to Abby," she said, "I would like to stay with Tony." Ziva eyed Ducky. "Doctor?"
"Of course, my dear." Ducky took her hand. "Stay as long as you like."
Ziva walked back into the cold room and ran her fingers through Tony's hair. "You were not supposed to leave," she said softly. Gently, her fingertips traced the contours of his beloved face. Her hand ghosted over his covered chest, the reality of the truth enforced when there was no familiar heartbeat under her palm. She leaned over to rest her head next to his. "What are we going to do without you?"
Humming a Hebrew hymn, Ziva took in her husband's features one last time. She lightly touched her lips to his, a few of her silent tears falling on his cheeks. The lack of response convinced her that he truly was dead. Tony, her Tony, could never be that close and not touch her. "My heart will always be yours ahava. I love you." Then she left and as she walked away, Ziva DiNozzo never looked back.
Tony was buried two days later, and it brought no comfort to his grieving wife that his killer lay in a cold drawer in Autopsy with more than one bullet in him. After a month, Ziva went back to her maiden name, not wanting to see her loss every time she signed her name or introduced herself. But after six years of being Ziva DiNozzo, David felt foreign on the end of her pen and rolling off her tongue. And it didn't really help, because she was reminded her loss every morning she woke up to an empty bed or whenever she looked into her son's green eyes. She swore he looked more like Tony every day.
That same week she enrolled Siah in daycare and returned from her leave of absence to take her place on the team again. Out of respect it was two months before the director started forwarding personnel files to Agent Gibbs, and a month after that before a new agent got assigned to their team.
But with Tony gone, nothing was the same. The new guy learned quickly, followed orders, and occasionally tried joking around, though it was clear no one appreciated that. There were no more headslaps and no teasing. Ziva never spoke unless it was absolutely necessary, Gibbs grew more withdrawn except with the girls and his grandson, and McGee did his job and kept his explanations to a minimum. Abby's music eventually came back on, and her hair fell into pigtails instead of buns. But the heart of their team was gone.
Each night Ziva left work in time to pick Siah up from daycare, and went back to the apartment where they had moved two months after the funeral. It was close to Gibbs and work, and away from the little yellow house full of broken memories and shattered dreams. Then she poured what was left of her heart into loving, caring for, and raising Tony's son. And that was their life for a long, long time.
Ziva only laughed for Siah, only smiled when he walked into a room. Everything else was meaningless except for him. On weekends they spent a lot of time with Gibbs. He carved toys for Siah and taught him to throw a football and hit a baseball. As Siah grew, their Saturdays were spent in the backyard playing catch or shooting hoops in the driveway. Tony had been a jock, and she'd heard more than a few stories about his high school and college days, so it shouldn't've surprised Ziva that his son was good at almost every sport he tried.
Wherever Siah was, Ziva sat nearby with a glass of water or iced tea and watched, her eyes never leaving the little boy that was her life. That was what they did, day in and day out, week after week, month after month. However, four and a half years later, the year Siah turned seven, in the midst of the quiet routine that kept Ziva sane, with the memory of Tony never far from her heart or her eyes as Siah quickly became his mirror image, something happened that would change everything.
Shalise40 (BL) - Thanks :) No, even if this made you wonder, no one else will ever find out where Chaya came from. Glad you liked it :)
Emma (BL) - I'm always glad to see a name :) Thank you, I'm glad this lived up to all the hype. Always glad to hear people like my stories. I try to reply to as many reviews as I can. Thanks for leaving them! :)
Sarah (TLWR) - Thank you :) I tried to just expand on the episodes rather than rewrite them. haha...me too, those bikini pictures are one thing that never seem to die. Glad you liked Tony's comments. lol...I just had to do something with elope, since that word seemed to mean an awful lot more than they said during the wedding conversation. Tony, in these stories, is so easy to fall in love with. I wonder if there's real guys out there like that? Thanks for reviewing! :)
Sarah (EH) - I think a 2 hour premier would've been amazing, but with NCIS I'll always take what I can get. I'm glad you liked the chapter. I was hoping the story about Ziva's fear would be realistic. I was super surprised that Eli called, but I guess it's nice to know he cares. Thanks for reviewing! :)
Guest 9/28/12 . chapter 1
Cheryl here. I totally agree with your A/N. I also wanted to see the immediate aftermath of our team. I also found it completely unbelievable that no one was hurt. Abby seemed to be getting treated for something on the right side of her neck, but later on I couldn't even see a bandaid and she hugged Ziva on that side which probably would've hurt had there been a fresh cut there. Tim's piece of glass just needed stitches, and Gibbs had the spot of blood on his forehead. That's it! Especially if they were doing timeshifts, they could've had someone (or more than one - Ziva and McGee seem to be the concensus of posy 9x24 stories) down for that first segment, and better by the July 10th segment. Also, the first FBI part was stupid. If Dearing was to be gotten with extreme predjudice, that female agent should've killed him on the street where they were talking- she knew who he was and the street was deserted except for them.
This story was okay but not as intense as what I am used to from you. It was more narrative - like watching them from above as opposed to being in it with the characters. I only felt "in it" in the beginning, with T & Z's conversation. You keep writing, and I will keep reading.
Cheryl (EH) - That's a good point, not that I wanted anyone to get hurt, but it seemed likely. Oh, was there another date between May and September? I must've missed that, I was too busy sitting on the edge of my seat. I'll have to watch again to see that. Good point about the FBI lady. Glad to hear you're sticking around, thanks for reviewing!