Another tag. Trying something different.
An entire summer has almost come and past, but their goodbyes in the squad room seem like yesterday.
May crashes into June with exhilarating force; with their leader's approval, they hit the ground running without stop through two weeks of cross country traveling and undercover investigating.
Day in and day out; alone, yet together.
Before she knows it, two weeks have long since passed. June has faded into July, then suddenly it's not July anymore, and she resurfaces momentarily one morning in August as they gulp down coffee and he scans the day's paper. The passage of time jumps out at her in bold, formal ink, and she's left wondering just where it all went, and if this chase will ever end.
But the chase ends here.
She and her partner had traveled far and wide, chasing the ghost of a man who they both hold accountable for the nightmares that plague her.
They never talk about it, but they don't have to.
He's no stranger to what lies waiting for her after day retreats and the darkness falls. It's a struggle he's familiar with; A struggle he lives with, too. And if she's surprised they share a similar secret, she keeps it hidden well.
Tony has demons of his own. Of that, she has learned.
And it's this that serves as their pretext for seeking one another's embrace; each and every night since they've been AWOL. It doesn't chase away their nightmares completely, but they're as good at pretending as they are lying to themselves. If it means another night sharing each other's space, breath, and warmth, it's easily overlooked.
They're so close to crossing the already blurred line that they no longer can see it; they're standing atop it. Have been for far too long. Of all the reasons for why the two of them have yet to make the final leap, one in particular stands out in stark contrast among the rest during times like this; When things are dangerously close to going oh so wrong. This denial they continue to perpetuate serves to protect them if something happens. When something happens. They have deluded themselves into believing that as long as the final line remains uncrossed, they will be saved from the devastating heartbreak of losing each one another. As though neither of them won't be broken beyond repair if the unthinkable happens anyway.
Lying to themselves is something they've both mastered.
She's desperate to be the one behind the trigger, and oh, does he know it. But he's acutely aware that if they ever take the final leap together, it's paramount she's not holding the smoking gun in the end. That neither of them are. The end game he has planned so carefully for, wished for so desperately, will never exist. But she's wrapped up in a haze of revenge and it's getting harder to break through it. He sees what they stand to lose; He just needs to make her see it too.
He's been chasing her this summer as desperately as she chases Bodnar.
Before Eli, before Vance's wife, before Bodnar, he'd believed this chase was almost over. The finish line was in sight, and each day one less step was left.
But she had always been nearly impossible to reach.
With every step that brings her closer to Bodnar, it's one more away from him.
He's done it once before though, and he knows he'll do it again.
He will follow her to the end.
He'd never needed to worry.
It doesn't happen quite the way he fears. Or the way he was prepared for.
Bodnar smiles wickedly from across the rooftop, five steps away from the ladder that will be his escape if she doesn't act now. Her senses are on hyper-alert, the grip on her weapon stronger and steadier than it's ever been before. She glances toward her right; Her partner's eyes are wide, and she spares a brief second to feel surprised that they're lit with such uncertainty.
Why does he continue to underestimate her?
With a final calming breathe, Ziva swings her weapon toward the man that stands above her bruised and battered partner, gun trained on his head.
The shot echoes in the air, and she's beside him almost before the man has crumbled to the ground. Her partner makes grunts of protest as she kneels down to hastily untie the restraints on his wrists. But she doesn't spare a glance behind her; She knows Bodnar is long gone.
As if there would ever be a choice when it came to her partner.
She needs Bodnar removed from this earth like she needs air to breathe.
But breathing would no longer mean anything without him.
She will always need Tony more.