A/N: Tag to Shabbat Shalom, so SPOILERish. Hopefully this will continue with a taggish piece for tomorrow night's episode as well. I kinda played with a different format, each numeral is a 100 word drabble done for each character ((I. Gibbs)(II. McGee)(III. Ziva)(IV. Tony)(V. Vance)). Keep the peace and much love, Kit.
DISCLAIMER: If it were mine, there would have been one less casualty.
You don't know what to expect (though experience whispers it will be nothing good). So you watch as she shakes McGee, demanding answers he's unwilling to give, and you know you were right in anticipating the worst case scenario (the validation lacks comfort).
McGee looks pale and horrified as he stares at Ziva's retreating back, and you can't help the chill that settles deep in the pit of your stomach. Wordlessly, you both follow in her wake, aware that you're likely about to be swept out to sea.
You wonder if she'll be able (willing) to tread water once again.
You thought you had seen every facet of her emotional spectrum: the relaxingly playful, the carefully composed, the terrifyingly violent. You thought you had been doing this job long enough to have seen every range of human response to tragedy.
You thought wrong.
The sounds that are currently being wrenched from Ziva's throat are unprecedented in your memory. This is grief: stripped down, bare, and unapologetic.
You're vaguely aware of Gibbs standing beside you, watching the scene unfolding with a crestfallen gaze that belies a deep familiarization with decades-old heartache.
You wonder if he notices the bloodlust in Tony's eyes.
The Vance children are motherless, their father a widower, and you an orphan, completely alone.
It's ironic, you think, that you're the last one left. Your mother (the victim of war), your sister (the casualty of war), your brother (the soldier of war), and your father (the pursuer of war) –they are gone. And you (the prisoner of war) are (miraculously, cruelly, unintentionally) still (for now) breathing (fighting, raging, slowly dying).
You wonder if you can walk away from it all, break the cycle of unending revenge.
You realize you don't have a choice.
You never even had a chance.
You were first on scene and, probably, the first to put the dots together: She wasn't at the table, because if she was, then she wouldn't be alive.
Once again, Eli David has endangered his daughter (your partner).
She's sobbing and choking and murmuring words you don't understand, and you feel your throat tighten and your eyes sting. So you focus her pain and your terror (terror at the thought of losing her, of being too late, of no survivors) and you become mad.
She's a woman who believes she's nothing left.
And you're a man with nothing to lose.
You want to rant and rave at God, at the universe, at Gibbs, who's staring at you with the understanding of a man who has stood where you stand and has lost what you're losing. You don't have time to entertain the thought of building boats in your basement (you don't have time to remind yourself that you have no basement). You're too busy reliving the moment that you realized the love of your life was bleeding out right before your eyes.
You took this job to protect what you loved most in this world.
And oh how you failed.