This one is gigantic! Biggest Chapter Ever :) Thank you all for reading! Much love!
This story was written to three songs you may wish to download if you don't have and want to experience the way it was written. The first is the song at the Opera - "Nessun Dorma", The second for the Proposal Scene is "A Thousand Years- Part 2" by Christina Perri as a duet and the third and final song, was "Apologize" by One Republic for Liat and Malachi scene. This entire story was actually written to a pretty amazing soundtrack :) Hope you enjoy at least the last bits of it. I think it really adds to the feel here, especially!
Friday was a regular workday with no further information about their mysterious boat killer. Gibbs had shared his thoughts about Cruz's potential involvement with the rest of the team as well as the information that Rachel Cohen had been 14 weeks pregnant at the time of her death. As expected, both Liat and Ziva had taken the news hard.
When Liat had disappeared for a while, Ziva began looking for her and found her in Autopsy. Standing alone, looking down at Rachel's body.
"This could have easily been me, Ziva." Liat spoke quietly when Ziva walked up beside her and stood there in silence with her. "Our babies would have been due around the same time." She sniffled and a few tears began to roll down her cheeks.
Ziva didn't say anything, just wrapped her arm around Liat's waist and pulled her into a side hug as they look down at Rachel. There were no words and I'm sorry seemed so hollow.
"I think I'm going to resign from Mossad." Liat finally spoke nodding with a more confidant feeling. "I can't be in the field anymore and risk this baby." The news this morning had mounted more evidence for making that decision. Rachel's death coupled with the fact that she was pregnant brought the harsh reality home that having both a career in the field for Mossad and being a mother were impossible to do without failing one or both. If Rachel and Noah had been aware that Rachel was pregnant, it likely played a large part in how they were so easily subdued by the enemy in their need to protect each other and the baby. They had made decisions they would otherwise never have made. Compromising their training for their emotional responses and responsibilities to their child. She knew she could not be effective as both and didn't want her child to potentially grow up without their parent if something should happen to her in the line of duty.
"You don't want to even speak with Malachi about possibly staying on as the permanent Mossad Liaison to NCIS?" Ziva asked with heart starting to pound knowing what a massive decision this was and also finding herself a bit fearful of Liat leaving when her position was over. She understood Liat's reasoning's for not being able to be in the field anymore, but if given the chance to stay on with Mossad in another capacity she would have expected her to take it knowing Liat's love of country and agency.
"No," Liat shook her head, reaching down to stroke Rachel's hair back with more tears falling, "We have spoken about Malachi already using his Authority over me to order me into things of a personal nature. I cannot take the risk of him continuing to do that, especially once he knows I'm pregnant. I need to be free from his control at least in the Mossad capacity if I'm going to be able to keep this child safe."
Ziva nodded in understanding, having heard more then the others even, understanding Hebrew, how Malachi was already blurring the lines between his professional and personal relationships by threatening Liat with orders to get her to speak or do things she wouldn't normally agree to if not for one of his Officers.
"So now what?" Ziva asked realizing that things would be changing soon.
"I am making plans to go back to Israel on Sunday." Liat sniffled and saw Ziva's eyes widen considerably at how soon that was. "I need to speak with Asa face to face. Tell him the truth about what happened with Malachi before he left and the baby. I cannot marry him under false pretenses. He deserves better then that."
"Will you be coming back then?" Ziva asked trying to keep the hurt and anxiety from her voice at not having Liat around anymore.
"Yes, I will come back. I gave you my Aliyah, Ziva," Liat reached for Ziva's hand and squeezed it, "I will finish this with you. I promise."
"What about the baby? I don't want you in the field either now." Ziva countered appreciating the support but also protective of Liat and the baby now.
"I will do whatever else I can to help you given my new limitations." Liat sniffled and smiled again, wiping at a fallen tear.
"Are you going to tell Malachi about resigning? About the baby?" Ziva asked curiously wondering how this new development would change that situation.
"Not right now. At least not about the baby." Liat shook her head, "I am going to delay that as long as possible. If I resign first it will be better. He won't have any authority left over me to dictate my choices."
"Do you know what you will do after you resign?" Ziva asked knowing what a life altering moment that was having done so herself.
"Not yet. I need to speak with Asa first." Liat wiped at another tear, "I can't imagine he will want to still marry me having the child of another man. One he has to work with as the Mossad Liaison." She shook her head and felt another welling of tears at the thought of losing him too. "I don't know." She paused with a small smile looking at Ziva, "Agent Gibbs offered me the opportunity to join your team full time, Ziva. To become a Special Agent like you."
"He did?" Ziva asked smiling more brightly and loving the man even more if that were possible. She loved this idea. "We'd love to have you."
"I will think about it." Liat nodded giving it more serious consideration now. "But I cannot really plan anything too far into the future until I speak with Asa. He is my first priority."
"I understand. You have time." Ziva nodded softly with a smile hopeful smile. "I've gotten used to having you around, Liat." She added quietly, "I will miss you."
"I will miss you too, Ziva." Liat answered honestly knowing she would. She leaned over and placed a light kiss to Rachel's forehead, stroking her hair back once more and saying goodbye.
They walked quietly out of autopsy still holding hands as they got into the elevator with Ziva knowing how difficult it was on Liat to say goodbye to her friends in the Cohens.
"If you're leaving already on Sunday, we should spend the day together tomorrow." Ziva suggested knowing that time was limited now with her. "We can have a Girls Day. Tony won't mind. I'm sure he'd love a Boys Day with McGee and Malachi if he's leaving on Sunday as well."
"Okay." Liat smiled through her tears liking the idea as it actually helped their plans for Ziva on Saturday evening as well as sounded like a fun idea.
"I'll have Tony drop me off at our place tomorrow late morning. We can do brunch. I'll ask Abby and E.J. to meet us there around the same time." Ziva suggested with a smile.
"We should get Mani Pedis…and our hair done. Just make it a full blown Girl Extravaganza." Liat suggested with a sneaky smile at how this would also help their agenda.
"I think that sounds wonderful. A day at the spa and pampered with hair and nails. Perfect." Ziva smiled widely liking the idea even more. "We should invite Agent Borin and Breena." She smiled thinking of the two other women from their party last night they'd had such a good time with.
"Sounds perfect." Liat smiled trying to hold back her smile that Ziva was the one suggesting all the plans that would actually make their day easier in getting ready for her surprise evening.
When they relayed this plan to Tony and McGee, the men's eyes lit up with smiles as well, sharing a knowing look with Liat at how easily Ziva was going along with the plan, even being the one to suggest it. Surprising her was going easier then they'd anticipated.
Before leaving work that evening, Tony made a quick stop to Abby's Lab where she, Palmer and Ducky were already waiting for their secret meeting.
"So everything is set for tomorrow evening?" He asked the other three quietly and anxiously.
"Yes," Abby smiled widely, "Midway through the opera, we'll start getting the rest ready. Everything is in and looks perfect."
"I love these Clandestine Missions." Palmer smiled more widely remembering the last one he had to be talked into when saving Ziva from being framed. "Dr. Mallard and I rarely get the chance to get in on the action. This will be fun."
"We're greatly looking forward to helping, Anthony." Ducky smiled at Tony, "Thank you for asking us to be a part of such a special occasion."
"I can't imagine doing it any other way." Tony smiled feeling himself getting choked up, "You guys are our family. You've been there with us since the beginning. Helping Ziva and I both… we wouldn't be here today with you. So thank you, all of you… for helping to make this possible." It was the truth. Each and everyone of them had helped either he or Ziva at some point and time over the last seven years find their way towards each other and he loved them all dearly in one way or the other.
"We love you, Tony." Abby smiled feeling tears well in her eyes, "And we love, Ziva. We are happy, that you're finally happy."
Tony didn't say anything, just grabbed her and hugged her tightly and then pulled Palmer and Ducky into the embrace as well. "I love you guys too." He added and they all chuckled at the way he said it.
"Okay," He pulled back and took a breath, "So the flowers, the candles, the music, the-" He started rattling of their list.
"Tony, we got this." Abby cut him off smiling. "It will be perfect."
Tony took another deep breath and smiled. "Okay." He nodded, "So you're going over to the Ninja Pad tomorrow morning," He looked at Abby confirming she was indeed going over to Ziva and Liat's apartment, "And bringing Breena with you?"
"Yes." Abby nodded with a small smile, "Now I'm the one taking one for the team, Tony." She shook her head, "A whole day at the spa having my hair and nails done is not my idea of fun really."
"I know, Abs." Tony laughed softly with a thankful smile, "But I appreciate it greatly."
"And you really do owe Timmy and I for trashing his birthday dinner. He was really looking forward to having Ziva cook dinner." She gave him a stern look with crossed arms over her chest, "Do you have any idea how much thought and preparation Ziva and I put into that meal and evening? And then you just threw it out the window?"
"I know, I know." Tony held his hands up in mock surrender feeling badly about that. He'd trashed McGee's birthday on a whim to try and cover his own mistake and nerves. "I will make it up to McAbby, I promise." He winked at her.
"You better." Abby nodded sharply and then smiled.
"And you two," he looked to Palmer and Ducky, "Will meet me at Gibbs after I drop off Ziva, correct?" He needed confirmation to make sure everything went according to plan.
"Yes. We will be there." Ducky assured him with a hand to his forearm, "Everything will go according to plan, Tony. Just try to breathe." He smiled at how nervous Tony already was.
"Biggest moment of my life, Ducky. I need to make sure its perfect." Tony smiled feeling his palms already sweating.
"If you could finally tell Ziva that you loved her…after nearly 7 years of holding back, I would think that everything else would seem easy in comparison my Dear Boy." Ducky smiled chuckling softly and making the others smile.
"You would think," Tony admitted that should be true, "I'm just too excited I guess. Ziva and I have been together without actually being together for so long… I just can't wait to get to the next step and the next and the next." He rambled on thinking about the future.
"Do you think you'll have a long engagement?" Palmer asked with a smile and intrigued hearing Tony say how anxious he was to move forward into the future with Ziva now after so many years spent dancing around.
"I hope not." Tony answered honestly with a smile, "I'd marry her tonight if I could. I hate being away from her. It literally aches to wake up to an empty bed and fall asleep by myself now. I'd never believe that was possible before Ziva."
"Aww," Abby smiled with a rush of new tears hearing Tony's adoration of Ziva she always knew was there. "I'm a great wedding planner you know. We can make it happen just as quickly as this engagement if need be."
Tony laughed softly, "I know, Abs. You're a miracle worker of all things and I'm sure Ziva will take you up on that offer if we decide to have a wedding."
"What do you mean if you decide to have a wedding? Of course you're having a wedding!" Abby nearly shouted in panic and shock.
"She sort of mentioned in the past she'd rather elope." Tony shrugged having agreed with Ziva then but now he wasn't so sure. He liked the idea of being surrounded by your friends and family, the people who loved you wishing you well.
"There will be no eloping for you two! Do you have any idea how long the rest of us have waited for that day? And then you'd just go and rob us of actually witnessing you say I do! No, you will have a wedding Anthony DiNozzo Junior and that will be the end of all this eloping business!" Abby stamped her foot and huffed.
"Whoa Abs," Tony laughed softly with wide eyes to see she actually meant it with the fire in her eyes, "I haven't even asked her to marry me yet. Let's not get too far ahead. She might still say No after all." He added in a teasing tone and hoping that wouldn't be the case.
"She's not going to say No, Tony." Abby shook her head with a soft smile and more tears, "Ziva has been waiting for you for years. The first time I ever saw her crying over how she felt about you was after hearing you tell Jeanne you loved her on the phone for the first time. Ziva told me that it felt like her heart stopped to hear you say that to someone else." Abby sniffled revealing this bit of truth and watched the shock of such news register on the other's faces. "I found her in the bathroom like that, just crying and it freaked me out… cuz, well it was Ziva! Hardcore kickass take no prisoners Ziva just crying silently in the bathroom and she looked so fragile in that moment. She tried to brush it off but I forced it out of her."
"That was a long time ago." Tony whispered thinking about it and remembering Ziva telling him that she first realized how in love with him she actually was when he was seeing Jeanne. To hear the moment that broke her heart was painful, knowing how it felt. Because he'd felt the same thing years later when he tried to tell her how he felt and Ray interrupted them with his call.
"I remember that time as well." Ducky nodded with a sad expression, "Ziva and I sharing drinks at the bar. She had been so upset that you were out with Jeanne and it was the first time, I suggested that perhaps her upset was stemming from something more in her feelings then simple partnership." He remembered well, an intoxicated Ziva angrily getting Tony's voicemail when he was to meet her at the bar and made comment that he always avoided her calls when he was with 'her.' The her in question had been Jeanne.
"She was pretty crazy during that whole thing." Palmer added having his own story to tell in regards to Ziva then, "She'd invite McGee and I over for dinner like always but she couldn't stop talking about what was going on with you. First, it was her fear that something was medically wrong with you and kept asking me questions about what I knew and then, after finding out about Jeanne," He shook his head sadly, "I was pretty heartbreaking to watch her realization that she was in love with you but couldn't tell you."
Tony's mind suddenly flew back in time during that time period, having a conversation with Ziva and asking her if 'she'd ever lied to someone she loved?' He had been speaking of lying to Jeanne but he now saw Ziva's answer for what it was. She had been speaking about him when she answered, 'Yes… they never found out.' He could see the look on her face and in her eyes as clear as day now of what she felt for him. And then flashing forward to their moment in the elevator when they were arguing over why she attacked the Marines, coming to his defense and both had said they were tired of pretending. He'd modified it quickly by saying he was referring to the politics of the situation when Ziva had made no such modifiers about what she meant.
"God, I messed up." He shook his head realizing how much of the blame he actually held for their not being together for so long. Ziva had been ready far before him and her words the night he'd finally made love to her for the first time began making even more sense, 'I've waited a long time for this…' Longer then she should have had to, he thought shaking his head. He would be rectifying that for the rest of his life by not making her wait on him again. "No more wasting the good and taking her for granted." He took a deep breath and gave them a small smile, reminding himself of what was important now. "That's why I need this to be perfect. She deserves that from me. She's waited long enough."
"It will be perfect, Tony." Abby smiled hugging him again, "And you deserve this too."
Saturday morning had finally come and Ziva was now lying on top of Tony on the couch as they watched Kuch Kuch Hota Hai together. The Bollywood film that had been part of their' past and slowly become one of their favorites for that very reason. They'd never gotten to it the night they originally intended to watch it, spending the night making love for the first time instead. But eventually at some point that weekend when they needed to rest, they had found themselves in a similar position watching it for the first time together.
Tony was playing with her long hair stretching down her back and fanning over her naked skin. A blanket wrapped around their lower extremities to ward off the chill but relying mostly on body heat to keep them warm.
Ziva was content to lay sprawled over him with ear over his heart and mesmerized by his hands dancing around delicately in her hair and on her back.
Tony's finger tip traced along one of the long thin scars stretching around Ziva's lower rib cage that resembled a large cat scratch with big claws, his mind flashing to what they'd looked like fresh from the images in her folder and then pushed it away. What had happened to her had been ugly, but to him she was never more beautiful. The scars on her body only made her more beautiful in his eyes knowing what she'd endured and survived and he only loved her more for it. She looked absolutely perfect to him lying sprawled over his body. Perfect.
"You're so beautiful, Zi." Tony whispered quietly against the top of her head, "I still can't believe you're here… and real." He smiled at her when she pulled back to look at him. "You're perfect."
"I'm not perfect, Tony." Ziva smiled softly propping herself up on his chest slightly and looking down at him on folded arms over his chest. Her chin resting on her arms. "The scars are less then perfect." She added having been keenly aware of where his fingers had been tracing.
"You're wrong, Ziva." He shook his head softly, staring intently into her eyes, "You're perfect…with the scars. You are you… and I only love you more for them. They remind me of how strong you are. How resilient and how much I love you and never…ever, want to lose you again. In my eyes, they only add to your already beautiful makeup." He reached up to brush a stray hair from her eyes.
Ziva's eyes were filling with unshed tears and a small smile spread across her face, "As long as I'm beautiful to you, Tony, I don't care what anyone else thinks."
Tony smiled more widely to hear her say that. She only cared about being beautiful just for him. "Well as much as it pleases me to hear you say that, Ziva David…that I'm the one you want to impress. I can assure you, you have done that well and many times over without even trying." He paused, "And for the record, you are incredibly beautiful scars and all not only to me, but to anyone who sees you." He reached up to cup the side of her face, "You shouldn't be worried about hiding them."
Ziva sighed thinking about Malachi and how comfortable he was in his own skin, not caring who saw his own scars so similar to her own. "Malachi doesn't seem bothered for others to see." She conveyed her thoughts almost wishing she had his ability to be so carefree about it.
"Did you think they took anything away from how good looking he was in those tight little black boxer briefs of his?" Tony smirked with a teasing tone, trying to make her smile and keep this otherwise painful discussion light. "I'm not blind, Zi. I can admit the guy has a body the women drool over."
"Not this woman." She smiled back at him seeing the flash of jealousy in his eyes and slight discomfort in self-doubt.
"Yeah well, you're stuck with this Dough Boy, so I guess-" He tried to make fun of himself and Ziva silenced him with a finger to his lips.
"Don't." She looked at him intently with finger lingering against his mouth, "Don't do that. You are perfect, Tony. Just the way you are. I love every inch of you." She knew he was masking those feelings as he always had by joking about it.
"You love the chub, Ms. David?" He asked with a slanted disbelieving eyebrow feeling self-conscious.
"I do." She smiled unfolding her arms to sit back on him and run her hands down his sides, "I've been with hard bodied men most of my life, Tony."
"Oh gee, thanks." Tony countered not really wanting to hear that part and making Ziva laugh.
"Let me finish." She shook her head and tweaked his side, "It was the nature of being in my business." Ziva sighed thinking about the spy life of incredibly fit assassins. "I love you just the way you are. I honestly think you are perfect and I love the squish." She dug her fingers into his soft sides. "You are by no means fat, Tony. Not even close. You are one of the most solidly muscular men I've ever known." She smiled down at him, "But what I love…is how cuddly you are and I wouldn't change a thing about you. You are beautiful, Tony." She leaned back down again, refolding her arms over his chest and looking into his eyes so close to her face, "You are mine. Finally." She added with a soft smile.
"And you are mine." He leaned up and kissed her with a smile, "Finally."
"We should likely put clothes on. You need to drop me home soon." She smiled at him feeling his hand snaking up her side and knowing that would only lead to further delays with where that would end up.
Tony sighed dramatically, "If you insist." He smiled teasing her and pulled her back down for one more kiss before they pry themselves apart to get ready for the day.
"I'm going to have to admit, that was actually fun. More fun then I expected." Abby smiled as they all walked back into the Ninja Pad as Tony had called Ziva and Liat's apartment. A day being pampered at the spa and having their hair and nails done was surprisingly a good time.
"Well Abby, I think you look gorgeous." Ziva answered her with a radiant smile taking in Abby's appearance. Her hair had been pulled up and done like a 1950s housewife in a French twist with perfect make-up to match and in true Abby fashion, had her nails done in black with tiny rhinestone diamonds embedded into the tips giving it just enough sparkle.
"McGee won't be able to contain himself this evening when he sees you." Ziva teased.
"I think the same can be said for you Ziva." E.J. smiled at how incredibly beautiful Ziva already looked with just her hair and make up done for the evening and having no idea what else was to come.
Ziva smiled at her, thinking about she and Tony's earlier discussion and his comments about how beautiful he thought she was. The warm tingly feeling was taking over again at knowing he wanted only her and she hoped to please him.
"I think we all look rather ravishing." Breena smiled pouring them all a glass of wine.
"Agreed!" They all chimed in and laughed, clinking their glasses of wine and taking a celebratory sip.
"Well we can't let this beautifying go to waste." E.J. smiled shaking her head and looking at the clock. It was time to start getting ready.
"What did you have in mind?" Ziva asked with a growing smile, enjoying this day immensely and spending time with friends.
"We need to go out for a night on the town. Pretty Woman style, ladies." E.J. smiled sharing a look with Liat. "A group of beautiful women all out together. The men of D.C. won't know what hit them."
"To where?" Ziva asked thinking this sounded fun but having no idea where to go.
"Tony told me, about the Opera." Liat answered quietly with a small smile, knowing the significance of it for Ziva with her sister, "About your sister, Tali and that you missed it last Fall. We should go tonight. All of us." She looked around at all the women surrounding Ziva, "I know that we can never take the place of your sister, Ziva…but, it might be nice to go as your honorary sisters for the evening if you'd have us?"
Ziva was too moved to speak, completely stunned and not expecting this at all. She was moved to tears.
"Don't cry; it will ruin your makeup." Liat smiled teasing her and brushing away the single tear that began to roll down Ziva's cheek.
The comment making Ziva laugh softly and shake her head in awe, "I would be honored if you'd like to accompany me. I think Tali would have agreed and enjoyed this too." She answered quietly thinking about her sister and having such fun with this group of women as well. "But it's far too late to get tickets for tonight. It's Opening Night after all…Puccini's Turandot sold out months ago. I already checked." She had looked for tickets the moment she heard it was going to be performed on this years schedule at the Kennedy Center and to her dismay, Sold Out within hours.
"Actually, Tony bought you tickets. Months ago." Abby added with a smile further stunning Ziva and playing along with the plan, "He said he bought them right after you told him about Tali and the Opera and that it had been Sold Out that evening. He wanted to surprise you with them."
"Tony… bought the tickets?" Ziva asked slowly looking around at all the smiling faces, so moved by the gesture that she slowly had to blink back her tears. He'd remembered and knew how important it was to her enough to plan this far ahead; months in advance.
"Yes," Abby smiled with a head nod, "He bought enough for us all. Thought you may want some Girly Company knowing this had been a sister's thing as he said. He bought a whole Box Section worth of tickets."
Ziva took a deep breath shaking her head softly at the gesture, "Oh wow…" She exhaled in disbelief looking at them all and realizing he must have spent a fortune to do so and get those kinds of seats.
"So are we going?" Liat asked with a hopeful smile, "I've never been to the Opera. I have always wanted to go." She added hoping to manipulate Ziva's into saying yes to further their plan. She knew Ziva wouldn't deny her this as she was leaving tomorrow and only Ziva knew that information.
"Yes," Ziva nodded sniffling back tears with a raging smile and filled with more love then she could imagine for Tony in this moment to do something so thoughtful and with such great meaning to her. Surrounding her with her surrogate sisterhood in honor of Tali's love of the Opera. She only wished she could also share the experience with him.
"Then let's get ready!" E.J. clasped her hands together with a big smile.
"We don't have anything to wear." Ziva realized with wide-eyes, knowing that to attend the Opera meant to wear incredibly beautiful gowns which they hadn't prepared for.
"Problem has already been taken care of." Abby smiled quite proud of herself, "While we were out, McGee dropped all of our dresses off in your bedroom. They should be there waiting now." She smiled at the look on Ziva's face.
"You are all very sneaky." Ziva smiled realizing that this day had been planned around her and she hadn't realized it, believing she had come up with the idea. "You may have dresses waiting but what will I wear?"
"That has been taken care of as well." Liat smiled softly, "Tony picked out a gown and sent it over with ours."
"He did?" Ziva asked slightly surprised at something else he'd done for her to make this special.
"It's gorgeous. You're going to love it." Abby smiled happily bouncing with excitement at how well this was all falling together, "He has amazing taste in clothing as we all know." She nodded and they agreed with smile and nods as well.
"Okay… then I guess we should start getting ready. The limo will be here in a little under an hour to collect us." E.J. looked at the clock on the wall and further stunned Ziva with that information at how quickly this was happening. They were mostly ready, all they had left to do was get dressed and some minor touchups. "Tony thought of everything, Ziva." She answered the unasked question with a smile, "He wanted to make this night very special for you."
"I'm starting to realize that." Ziva answered quietly feeling more tears in her eyes as she smiled, "He amazes me."
"He loves you." E.J. smiled, "Now let's get ready!"
"Oh my God, Ziva… you look," Agent Borin shook her head with a smile and gasped softly, as did they all, when Ziva stepped out of the bedroom having been the last to change into her dress. "You look like a Goddess." She added as they stare wide-eyed at Ziva. The dress combined with her long hair flowing so beautifully around her shoulders. "Tony has impeccable taste is right."
"It's not too much?" Ziva asked feeling suddenly very self-conscious and also very aware now of Tony's comments this morning and what he'd said about her scars. This dress was cut low enough in the back that her scars would be visible and had her heart pounding.
The dress was a creamy white and looked like it belonged to a Goddess in shape, color and design. Cut low in a deep V in the front, exposing just the right amount of cleavage and slightly further down. The fabric coming together over her shoulders with glistening sliver and iridescent sparkling clasps and strips of the same fabric weaving across her bodice accentuating her curves. The sleeveless fashion was exposing the length of her arms and enough shoulder to be incredibly sexy. It came together at her waist and then flowed down the length of her body, dancing around her heels and when she walked, exposing a dangerous amount of thigh through the slit in the flows.
"Turn around, let us see the back." Liat motioned her to turn and Ziva hesitated.
"You can see them in this dress." Ziva spoke quietly feeling incredibly vulnerable and yet beautiful at the same time. The scar down her chest from Open Heart surgery was one thing. Torture scars were another.
"See what?" E.J. asked with brows knitting in confusion.
"Your scars?" Liat guessed having been one of the only ones to ever see them on Ziva's naked body. Ziva nodded and the others swallowed hard knowing they were about to see them. "Ziva, you are incredibly beautiful…one of my most gorgeous women I have ever seen and those scars…take nothing away from that." Liat stepped forward reaching for her hand, "Just let us see."
Ziva took a deep breath and turned around, biting her lip nervously as she exposed them for the first time in public. The back of her dress was cut nearly all the way to her hips and exposed the majority of her back. Her long hair had danced over the majority of the skin leaving just the lower back mostly exposed. Her bullet hole from Bodnar's attempt on her life was now a small round point of puckered flesh while the scars around her ribcage reminded them of something they'd just recently seen.
They smiled through welling tears to see these scars, looking exactly like what they'd seen on Malachi the day he sparred with Ziva. They had taken nothing away from how handsome he was and the same held true for Ziva's. The dress was incredible and Ziva in it, was nothing but breathtaking. Even with the scars.
"You have absolutely…nothing… to be ashamed of." Agent Borin smiled at her as the big sister of the group, "Ziva, you look amazing." She paused, "I could only ever hope to look a tenth of how gorgeous you look right now." She smiled trying to bring one to Ziva's nervous eyes.
"Breathtaking." E.J. smiled through her teary eyes, understanding even more now what Ziva had been through and how amazing she was to survive and come out so beautiful, not just in looks but in her very being, inside and out.
"Tony must agree to have chosen this dress." Abby nodded with teary eyes as well, "You look more beautiful then I have ever seen, Ziva…and that is saying something." She smiled with a small laugh, having seen Ziva dressed up on many occasions. "I only wish Tony could see you in this." She smiled playing along and finally bringing a smile to Ziva's face with this comment. "He wouldn't be able to breathe."
"We must take a photo!" Liat smiled remembering they were supposed to be capturing this for Tony. "Group photo!" She motioned for Abby to get the camera and set it up for a self-portrait of them all.
They all smiled and laughed as the flash went off and gathered their things.
"The limo is outside." Abby announced looking out the window and seeing it waiting below. Smiling widely when she saw the line of black SUVS that were parked a block away and waiting to follow, knowing this surprise was going to be good. "We need to go!"
They all shuffled out the door looking immaculate and breathtaking in their gowns. When they reached the ground they covertly shuffled Ziva to the front of the group and watched her stop completely with wide-eyes at seeing Gibbs, in a tuxedo with a bow tie emerge from the front Passenger Seat and smile at her.
"Gibbs…" She whispered breathlessly to see him and completely stunned while the others raging smiles began taking over.
Gibbs didn't say anything as he began walking towards the back door of the limo and opening it.
First McGee popped out with a smile, wearing a tuxedo as well and stood off to the side with Gibbs and Ziva gasped again, her hand going to her mouth and tears welling her eyes in confusion and disbelief at what was happening as she watched, Palmer and then Ducky and even Malachi and Agent Fornell, all emerging from the car. All dressed immaculately themselves in tuxedoes with bow ties and lined up next to Gibbs with raging smiles as they looked at her.
Ziva's heart began to pound when she looked back towards the door expecting and hoping to see one more man emerge. When Tony stood and smiled at her, wearing a tux and a gorgeous bouquet of red roses in hand, she gasped again and new tears filled her eyes. Her hand covering her mouth to keep from crying out as she couldn't contain the smiles to see him walking towards her. He looked breathtakingly handsome to her. His hair freshly cut and slightly slicked back, he looked like James Bond she thought and laughed softly thinking he would like that description.
Tony had to remember to breathe at the sight of her. He'd never in his life seen her looking more beautiful then she did right now. "There are no words…to properly convey how incredibly beautiful you are, Ziva David." He spoke quietly when he was standing before her.
"What is all this?" She asked with a nervous smile to hear his compliment and see the look of love and desire in his eyes; her voice shaking with emotion.
"This…Ziva," He smiled handing over the roses, "Is us embracing the here and now…not wasting the good and taking nothing for granted." He paused extending his arm for her to hold onto, "Tonight, we're going to celebrate our life and our love," He was speaking quietly and just to her, "With the people who love us most." He smiled and earned one from her through her tear-filled eyes, "I know the Opera means a great deal to you because of your sister." He smiled cupping her face with one hand and unable to stop smiling at how incredibly beautiful she was, "That you normally go alone…but we are your family now and… at lo levad, Ziva." He whispered and she held back a cry hearing those words of you are not alone in Hebrew. "Not anymore." He shook his head, "Not ever again."
"And everyone is going?" She asked in the same whisper through her emotional voice still in shock and disbelief as the tears continued to form and roll down her cheeks. Feeling an overwhelming amount of love in this moment from them all.
Tony nodded with a smile, still holding her face, "In order to make this happen…given our current situation," He sobered realizing the danger still around them with Bodnar, "I needed to make sure you'd be safe. They are coming not only as those who love us, but also to protect you. Your very own, well armed," He smiled with a soft laugh, "Security Team."
Ziva shook her head in disbelief with a smile looking from Tony to all the faces standing back from them with raging smiles of their own. "How did you manage to pull this off?" She asked bewildered that he was able to get this by her.
"I have my ways, Ziva." Tony smiled his devilish grin.
"This is what you were hiding the other day…when you were rambling." She realized with her smile growing more brightly at figuring it out.
"Guilty." Tony smiled with a soft laugh that of course, she'd piece it together. "I'm sorry. McGee really did want you to cook for his party. I ruined his birthday to keep this a surprise."
"Aww," Ziva smiled shaking her head with thankful eyes flashing to McGee who was smiling at them with nothing but love and pride.
"We should get going." He smiled at her, extending his hand toward the waiting car.
"How will we all fit?" Ziva asked as they approached the door, which Gibbs was still holding open with a wide smile.
"They are coming in different vehicles. You and I are the only two riding back here. Boss will be in the front with the driver." Tony answered with a smile and nod of appreciation towards Gibbs. "He's our Lead Security man this evening."
"Ziver," Gibbs finally addressed her with a slight head sway and tears building in his eyes he was struggling to contain, "You look so beautiful." He smiled speaking quietly with pride in his eyes and voice.
Ziva felt more tears welling in her eyes to see those in his and hear what he'd said and reached out quickly to kiss his cheek, hugging him to her that he would be a part of this. "I love you." She whispered against his ear, kissing his cheek again and pulling back with a raging smile, "Thank you." She nodded in appreciation as well for his help in making this night possible.
"You're more then welcome." He nodded in response and ushered them inside.
When everyone was situated they began the drive towards the Kennedy Center with each of the armored SUVS forming a barrier of protection around the limo as they drove. In addition to the Federal Agents attending as Security this evening, Malachi's own personal security was also being used in helping to ensure that Ziva was in maximum safety for as long as Malachi was with the group, his team also protected whom he was with and that included Ziva. He was happy to help when Gibbs asked, finding a night at the Opera much more enjoyable then being punched in the throat.
The others filed out before Gibbs opened the door to the limo once they'd arrived. Tony stepped out first, extending his hand to Ziva and helped her out.
Ziva couldn't help but smile looking around at all their faces, and then back to Tony who looked so impossibly handsome she was having trouble breathing herself. "You look like James Bond, Tony. Very handsome." She told him taking his arm as he escorted her inside the building.
"Oh good," He sighed with a smile and nervousness, "That was the look I was going for." He chuckled softly making Ziva laugh with his facial gestures trying to pull of the suave smooth look, "I guess that makes you my Bond Girl, then huh?" His comment only made her laugh more shaking her head. "You'd make the most incredibly hot Bond Girl, Zi. Definitely." He nodded visualizing that image now.
"I think you're biased, Tony." She shook her head with a smile looking down and feeling the warm tingle coming over her again at how beautiful he managed to make her feel with just the slightest comments and the way he looked at her.
"No. I'm honest, remember." He smiled remembering her comment from last year after speaking with Wendy, that he was honest with everyone but himself. He had liked to believe that even that was changing. "You are gorgeous and I am the luckiest guy in the world right now that you're on my arm." He whispered leaning over with mouth near her ear, "Don't you see…all eyes are on you." He smiled seeing her tense slightly at realizing that was the truth. Everyone was watching their entrance with stunned expressions and then slow smiles, "You're the most beautiful woman here."
Her eyes flashed up to meet his and smile, loving the man beside her more and more every minute.
They took their seats in the Box with only Liat and Malachi sitting in the rows behind them. They had it mostly to themselves. Gibbs had strategically positioned everyone else in various areas of the theatre where they could keep eyes on all activity. Palmer, Ducky, Breena and Abby were mostly there just to be apart of the evening while the others with training were put to work in pairs. McGee and E.J. had paired up and were sitting to the left with Gibbs and Agent Borin to the right. Fornell was on a roaming patrol while Malachi's guards stood vigil outside the Box Seats and performed their normal security measures with him inside. Liat and Malachi were the trained assassins staying with Ziva as the closest points of protection, though they sat on opposite sides, stealing glances at each other as they took their seats and the Opera was about to begin. The President and First Lady were in the House for Opening Night which only added to their security benefit and Gibbs could only hope that nothing would go wrong this evening.
"They look incredible." Borin smiled using her Opera glasses to look at Tony and Ziva across the theatre sitting side by side.
The comment, only made Gibbs smile wider using his own glasses to do the same and look at them. The smile on Ziva's face nearly brought tears to his eyes again to see how much this meant to her and the way she would look at Tony beside her.
"This is truly amazing." She added with a soft smile looking around and seeing that Tony and Ziva were sitting just one box over from the President and First Lady. "How in the world did you manage to get these tickets, Gibbs?" She asked quietly in wonder.
"Friends in high places," He smiled happy to have been able to pull it off. "The Sec Nav gave us all his tickets when we explained what this evening was all about." He shook his head, "Turns out Jarvis is more of a romantic then we could have imagined." He chuckled softly.
The lights went down and the Opera began. Everyone's eyes darting around for any threats while stealing glances to the stage and occasionally back to Tony and Ziva to see their reactions to the love story unfolding before them. When the actor on stage began to sing Nessun Dorma, each and everyone of them had tears in their eyes listening to the song and comparing the situation to the one happening this evening. A song of longing and hope that love would eventually win out for the man trying to win the heart of the princess and make her his own bride.
The tears were dripping off of Ziva's cheeks in steady streams when Tony glanced over and he couldn't resist kissing her during the songs climatic finish. Feeling the tears burning his own eyes with how much he loved the woman beside him. He thought of all the nights he'd gone to sleep, lying in bed and restless thinking about her and a life with her for so many years. And now here she was, sitting beside him looking more beautiful then he'd ever known and looking at him with such intense love in her own eyes that never shut up, he laughed softly, just for him. He had to kiss her.
Liat was also crying at the scene on the stage and the one before them watching Tony and Ziva's reaction and then to his kissing her during the beautiful climax of the song. She felt Malachi's eyes on her and turned her head, for the first time holding his gaze through bleary tear filled eyes unable to help herself. To her great surprise, she was stunned to see that Malachi too, had tears in his eyes looking back at her; having never before seen him like this and looking at her in such a way with actual tears in his eyes. The intensity of his gaze she had seen the night he'd made love to her and she knew he was trying to convey the same thoughts to her now with the same look. He tore his eyes away first, blinking back his tears and swallowing hard.
When the Opera ended and a thunderous round of applause surged through the theatre at the immaculate performance, Tony couldn't stop his own tears seeing the smile on Ziva's face and happy tears in her eyes for once.
"Tony," She shook her head with a smile so moved she was finding it difficult to speak, "This was simply amazing." Ziva took hold of his hands once they were back in the limo and just the two of them, "I love you more then words could ever say. That you would do this for me… know how much it means to me…thank you."
"I will do anything for you, Ziva David." He smiled cupping her face with one hand and knowing that was true. "Go to the ends of the earth…just to see you smile." He added with tears in his eyes and a soft laugh when she did knowing how true that statement was in how far he'd gone to find her in Africa. "Ani ohev otach." He kissed her savoring the moment and the feeling, committing it to memory as something he never wanted to forget as long as he lived.
"So now where to?" Ziva asked when they pulled apart, realizing they were going somewhere and curious what other surprises were in store for the evening.
"Well, it's a surprise too." Tony answered taking a deep breath and feeling his nerves starting to rattle. He only hoped that Ducky, Palmer, Abby and Breena, who had all ducked out of the Opera early without Ziva' noticing, were ready for them. "Ziva, I need you to trust me."
"Okay…" She answered with a slanted eyebrow and smile of curiosity, "Why?"
"Because I'm going to blindfold you." He spoke quietly seeing her tense immediately when he pulled the soft satin blindfold from his tuxedo pocket. "I know how much this scares you." He swallowed hard knowing that it reminded her of her torture, "But please…trust me. I won't let anything happen to you." He looked at her intently and smiled, "This will be a good surprise, I promise."
Ziva took a nervous breath of her own, squeezing his hand and nodding softly in agreement, trusting him even if this scared her. She tried to remember as Tony tied the band of soft fabric around her eyes, that the last time she had been forced into darkness with the hood by Saleem, that when it was ripped off, came the best surprise of her life. Tony. Sitting before her with a smile on his face and rescuing her from hell. She reached for his hand the moment he had finished, holding tightly and not wanting to let go.
Tony could only stare at her with nothing but love, seeing how much she was trusting him in spite of this scaring her. How beautiful she looked and how anxious and excited he was that this was actually happening. When the car stopped, he stepped out with Gibbs winking at him in a supportive gesture as he held his hands out to Ziva.
"Please…follow me." Tony spoke quietly leading her by the hand carefully from the parking garage to the elevator. He took a deep breath when the door closed, leaving Gibbs on the other side smiling widely at them and giving a Tony a proud smile and nod of encouragement.
Gibbs began quickly moving around to the stairwell to head them off unable to stop smiling himself.
"Okay, Ziva." Tony spoke quietly reaching up to untie her blindfold as the elevator began to move.
Ziva gasped the moment it was removed to see they were in their elevator at NCIS. Only now it was completely wallpapered with large photos of both she and Tony as babies and children and their early years bringing immediate butterflies and smiles to see them. "Tony, what is this?" She asked breathless looking around and feeling tears prick her eyes and wonder at where he'd found some of these. Photos she hadn't seen in years, "How did you find these?"
"These are the photos of our lives before." Tony smiled holding tightly to her hand, and taking them all in with her. "My favorite." He smiled with hand brushing over the one of her running nearly naked on the beach as a toddler and they both laughed nervously.
"Before what, Tony?" She asked breathless repeating what he'd said and feeling her heart start to pound with the way he was looking at her and then thinking of the evening in its entirety.
Tony felt the elevator coming to a stop and smiled, "Life before we met each other, Ziva." As soon as he was done speaking the elevator doors opened to their floor from work.
A song was immediately drifting into the elevator as Ziva stood with pounding heart looking out into the mostly darkened room with a soft glow and seeing the first poster-sized photo on display before them from the first day they'd met.
Ziva recognized the song the moment it began to play, 'A Thousand Years' and felt the immediate butterflies in her stomach listening to the first words and what this could mean.
The day we met
Frozen I held my breath
Right from the start
Knew I'd found the home for
My heart beats fast
Colors and promises
How to be brave
How can I love when I'm afraid
To fall, but watching you stand alone
All of my doubt suddenly goes away somehow
"Tony…" She finally spoke in barely above a whisper looking over at him. He greeted her with a huge smile and tear filled eyes, kissing their entwined hands and motioning her forward.
One step closer…
Ziva gasped with immediate tears holding back a sob to see their entire floor at NCIS was bathed in soft candle light with candles and roses in vases everywhere with petals scattered all over the floor. The entire office space was covered in hundreds of varying enlarged photos on display of she and Tony and with the people they loved from the all the years they'd worked together.
I have died everyday
Waiting for you
Darling, don't be afraid
I have loved you for a
I'll love you for a
Ziva's hand immediately going to cover her mouth and biting back a sob to see the people she loved all standing with smiles around their desk space as Tony led her towards them. Their smiles bright, the tears in their eyes as they stood proud and tall looking on with nothing but love in their eyes.
Time stands still
Beauty in all she is
I will be brave
I will not let anything
What's standing in front of me
Every hour has come to this
One step closer
Tony finding himself surprised with new tears to see that Gibbs had pulled a fast one on him as well and standing right beside his surrogate father, was his real father. Senior was standing beside Gibbs in a tuxedo with raging smile and tears in his eyes of pride and beside him, Schmeil. Their' whole family there to witness this moment and be a part of it.
I have died everyday
Waiting for you
Darling, don't be afraid
I have loved you for a
I'll love you for a
Tony smiled at all of them and then turned Ziva to face him standing exactly between their desks. "This is where it all began, Zi." He smiled taking both of her hands into his, "The first moment I saw you…was right here." He smiled looking at her trying to blink back his tears, "From the moment I saw you, I thought you were the most beautiful and exotic creature I'd ever laid eyes upon. You managed to get under my skin in less then 30 seconds," He laughed softly and she did too with rivers of silent tears already coursing down her cheeks, "And there you've remained for the last seven years." He heard the others chuckle softly around them and his smile grew at that truth, "We were strangers then…but there was something about you that was different. You scared me. Made me afraid of the way I felt around you… and for you. You were intimidating and I wasn't used to that." He shook his head softly with a smile, "We met because of some incredibly tragic circumstances." He felt more tears welling thinking about Kate and Ari and his eyes caught sight of the one photo of he and Kate with McGee and Gibbs standing as a team just before her death. Kate was smiling back at him as though she were giving her blessing and he smiled, "Everything we'd done in our lives brought us to that moment and I can't help but feel that it was meant to be." He smiled reaching up to brush the tears from her cheek with one hand, "You made me crazy as your partner." He shook his head laughing softly, "And I know I annoyed you." Another chuckle was heard from their audience, "And poor McGee and Gibbs," He shook his head with a smile looking towards to the two men standing near their desks, "Bore the brunt of our chaotic relationship for years, having front row seats… And then we became friends." He smiled and so did she. "And every day I began to fall a little bit more in love with you, Ziva. We both fought it, afraid of what would happen and caused each other enough pain for a thousand years in the process. But with every heartbreak, it brought us that much closer to each other."
And all along I believed, I would find you
Time has brought your heart to me
I have loved you for a thousand years
I'll love you for a thousand more
I'll love you for a thousand more
One step closer
"This room has been at the center of everything we've gone through together and separately for the last seven years. It's been the stage for our fights, and arguments, for our silent treatments and brooding looks," He smiled through his tears, "Through our laughter and smiles, through our teasing banter and witty comebacks. For all the longing looks of wanting more and being too afraid to admit it. It's where we broke each others hearts with others, and where we helped mend them again. Where we've learned the most devastating news and also the most wonderful. Our timing was never right before, Ziva…but it's perfect now." He smiled more widely and kneeled before her causing a surge of tears to flood forth from Ziva and the spectators to see him getting down on one knee.
I have died everyday
Waiting for you
Darling, don't be afraid
I have loved you for a
I'll love you for a
"Twice... I thought I lost you forever. The first time, I realized I couldn't live without you." He held back a small cry and smiled at her, "and the second, I realized I didn't want to. You asked me once about soul mates, Ziva. I gave you my typical flippant answer trying to deflect how I felt for you as I wasn't ready to face it myself. What I should have said, is that yes, Ziva, I do believe there is that one person out there that is meant just for you. Who understands you better then you understand yourself. Who loves you beyond all reason or logic. Who makes you face your flaws and helps you to grow from them. The person you can't live without. The one you'd never want to. I love every inch of you. I love that you make me crazy." He smiled and laughed softly, "I love that you know just what to say even if at times, I don't want to hear it… I need to. You love me, for being the class clown." He smiled remembering that statement and getting her to smile, "You, Ziva David, got under my skin the first moment we met and remained there…because you are my soul mate." He smiled feeling new tears forming in his eyes, "You were everything I always needed and was looking for…sitting right across from me… at these desks for the last seven years. The love of my life."
And all along I believed, I would find you
Time has brought your heart to me
I have loved you for a thousand years
I'll love you for a thousand more
"Nothing ever worked out with anyone else because it wasn't meant to. We were meant to be, Ziva and the moment we stopped fighting it…everything finally began to feel right. The way it was always meant to be. I can't stand that my heart literally aches to be away from you now," He admitted and saw the tears flowing more freely from her eyes, "I don't feel whole when I'm not with you." He paused with a smile, "The Rules of Engagement… to never waste good… and don't take anything for granted."
Tony reached into his jacket and pulled out the most beautiful ring holding it between them and making her smile and cry even more, "I intend to follow those rules until the day I die. Never wasting a moment our time together…remembering how lucky we are to have this chance to make it right. I will cherish you and our love in all the ways it has always deserved…but not always given." He smiled taking a breath, "I will never take you for granted again. I want to fall asleep and wake up next to you every night and day for the rest of our lives. I want to be everything you need and I promise, to keep working at being the man you deserve. Ani ohev otach, Ziva David. At lo levad. Never again, will you be alone… if you will do me the greatest honor of my life… and become not only partner on the job…but my partner in life. Ziva, will you marry me?"
Ziva could barely breathe through her smile and tears and nodded, "Yes, Tony… I will marry you." She answered and he slid the ring on her finger with a raging smile, standing and then pulling her into his arms, kissing her deeply while everyone cheered and clapped. "I love you, so much." She cried in happiness holding his face and resting her forehead with his gracing his lips with quick kisses and then holding onto his neck tightly when he lifted her up and spun her around in his happiness.
Everyone else was crying and smiling as they continued to cheer and clap. Each stepping up to offer their congratulations and hug them tightly.
"You were all in on this?" Ziva shook her head still surprised looking at them all when the congratulations had been given, looking around at them and all the work that had been put into this evening. Her eyes filling with happy tears to see their smiling faces and the memories in the photos of what had brought she and Tony together. From the crazy poses with the bear at the Smithsonian on their first case together, to the ones with Director Shepard that made her cry and then laugh to see even one of her wearing the bikini that Tony had taken in LA and kept on the ship during their months apart, had all been displayed as part of their photographic journey to get to this moment. "Thank you." She smiled at them all with more tears spilling forth. "This is the best day of my life." She answered honestly starting a new round of tears from them all. "I love you. All of you. Thank you for being my family."
Tony kissed her head and Gibbs reached forward, grabbing her forearm and pulling her into his chest, holding her tightly and hugging her while she cried. "I love you, Ziver. You deserve every happiness in this life." He whispered against her ear, "And Tony deserves you too." He smiled at Tony and gave him a wink of support. "You'll take care of each other…as you always have."
After everyone sat down for their private catered dinner, sitting amongst the photos and candle light, everyone began sharing their favorite Ziva and Tony moments that brought them to this place, bringing forth a great deal of laughter and more tears.
Liat needed a moment and stepped away while everyone began mingling around, looking around the immense space at all of the images like a photo gallery.
Malachi walked up beside her with a glass of champagne, extending it to her, "A peace offering." He smiled trying to get her to accept.
"No thank you." Liat declined turning her attention back to the series of photos and taking a breath to be so near him after such an emotionally charged evening.
"You aren't drinking?" He cocked his head to the side, noting that was strange for her and realizing he hadn't see her drink at all this evening or at the party the other night either, "You didn't drink at McGee's birthday either. Why?"
"Because I need to keep my wits about me when you're around," She flashed her dark eyes to him, covering with a bit of truth and he smiled with his ego getting the best of him as she knew it would.
"I don't know… I think perhaps we could both stand to loosen up a little. Let our guards down again." He hinted setting the second champagne glass down with a smile thinking about the last time they'd done that and made love that night.
"I am thinking of resigning, Malachi." Liat spoke in a quiet voice, deciding it was now or never as they were both going their separate ways in the morning.
Malachi stood stone still with wide-eyes of disbelief and Liat knew they needed to move or cause a scene soon. She began walking towards the far side of the room, away from everyone else and Malachi followed as she expected.
"How can you resign? All you have ever wanted, all we have ever wanted was to be the top! The ones calling the shots in Mossad." He protested quietly feeling out of control to lose her completely.
"It's not worth it to me anymore. I can't do it, Malachi. Keep putting my trust so blindly into the hands of others. Not after what happened to Ziva." Liat shook her head, staring out the windows at the river and city lights.
"You can trust me! I am in charge now and I would never do that to you." He was trying but failing to hold back his emotions.
"How can you say that and be sure? Do you think Director David started out thinking he would end up killing the women he loved to get better access to his children to turn them into his projects, in his quest for power and control?" She flashed her dark eyes towards him, whisper shouting and thankful for the loud party music now covering their voices.
"You don't start out that way… you become that way and we were already becoming that way! You blindly followed your Orders from Director David to take Ziva into that camp! Not knowing they were using you to send her to hell! And again, you followed Orders to lie and try to frame her for what happened on the Damocles, not knowing they were using you, to again bring her back just to send her into that hell! They manipulated your need to please and rise in the ranks just as they did to me! I could just as easily been the one they had raped and tortured to create the next level assassin, just as easily as Ziva! I was on the List, Malachi!" That information scared the hell out of her, "If Director David hadn't shut the program down because of Ziva… I was on that List! What happened to her would have happened to me! And to you! You were on that List as well! It's not worth it!"
"But it's not like that anymore. I am in charge and you can trust me, Liat! I would never hurt you!" Malachi tried to reach for her arm and get her to face him and she pulled back.
"You already have!" She broke free from his grasp, shaking her head sadly, "How can I trust you with my life… if I cannot trust you with my heart? I loved you for years, Malachi. And I told you so, only to have you throw it back in my face as if that love were nothing. If my heart means so little to you, why would my life mean any more? At some point in the future, I could end up being like Ziva's mother was to Director David…someone you once loved and had a family with only to become a burden that stands in your way and am expendable. You love your career more. You made that clear, I understand. But I want no part of this anymore. There is nothing left for me in Mossad. I want more in life then rising in the ranks to become the best in an agency and way of life I no longer believe in." She cried and silent tears rolled down her cheeks.
"Two and a half months with Ziva and you're thinking like her now." Malachi couldn't believe the transformation Liat had made.
"Yes, perhaps because we've both had our hearts broken by the Directors of Mossad; our hearts sacrificed in the name of duty and power. Ziva walked away from the same duty and power because she realized it wasn't worth the sacrifices. Her love for Tony meant more then Mossad." She waved her arm around to the photos and their current surroundings celebrating Tony and Ziva's love and engagement.
"Her love for those who loved her, meant more then power she would hold as Director of Mossad. Her father sacrificed everything in his life…his love, his wife, his children and for what? What legacy does he leave behind? His protégé in Illan Bodnar who ended up killing him for that same power? Who is trying to kill Ziva in his wanting to be at the top? She doesn't even want the power and still he feels the need to kill her and for what? Some ridiculous need for revenge he's wasted his entire life on, waiting to extract from her? How many years have we all wasted waiting on revenge?" She asked and watched his shoulders slump, "Too many. To sacrifice Mossad Officers lives and then avenge their deaths? A waste. Perhaps if we spent more time protecting those lives we'd spend less time waiting on revenge and our wars wouldn't take such a toll. I have already lost my whole family to such a vengeful war. And it has given me nothing in return. What has Mossad ever given you, Malachi?" She cried shaking her head and trying to hold back from sobbing.
"It gave me you." He answered quietly with a soft smile trying to hold back his own tears.
"And you gave me away for Mossad…" She answered just as quickly, stating the truth, "So in the end, it has given you nothing. You go and be happy with your new power, Director Ben-Gidon. I hope it was worth sacrificing our love over and the life we could have had together. It certainly wasn't for Director David…or Illan. At least Ziva was smart enough to walk away. Realizing what was more important." She sniffled and took a breath, "Stop having me followed. You've already begun to abuse your authority for personal use...following me, ordering me around when it doesn't warrant… you are already becoming Director David. I want no part of it. Leave me alone, Malachi. Leave me alone." She looked deeply into his eyes and began walking away.
"Liat, I love you." He called after her quietly feeling a desperation he had never known before.
Liat stopped short and inhaled a sob, turning around to face him at finally hearing those words. "It is too late, Malachi." She answered through ragged breath and more tears raining down her cheeks that hearing him say this didn't change their situation. He was still the Director of Mossad and she was still second place to that career. "Not every love story," She bit back a sob looking at him, "Has a happy ending." She turned back around and walked away, leaving him to stand there watching her go.
The End of Book One: Never Waste Good…
Picks right back up again in Book Two: Take Nothing For Granted.
A snippet of what's coming in Book Two:
"Forget it C.I. Ray, Ziva wants nothing to do with you! She's not going to talk to you or listen to anything you have to say!" Tony fired back across the interrogation table sick of the man's demands to speak to Ziva. "Nothing you can say will change her mind!"
Ziva was tense watching from behind the two-way glass, her arms wrapping around herself to see Tony and Ray facing off on the other side.
"Then tell her… I need to speak with her about her sister," Ray countered in desperation, "Tell her, I have something she needs to know about Tali."
Ziva felt her heartbeat stolen and the breath sucked from her body to hear Ray speak of her sister. Her mind suddenly running wild with what that could mean and what he knew. She didn't wait for Tony to answer for her and bolted out of the door and into the Interrogation Room where they sat. She looked directly at Ray with chest pounding and terrified to know, but had to ask, "What do you know about my sister?"
Book Two is up! Go find it! :)
AN: This next book is going to be extremely different than the first. It goes completely AU and in its own way. I split the books into two, for a reason. REPEAT the second book will NOT follow the canon NCIS storyline, it goes AU.