Disclaimer: I don't own NCIS.
Spoilers: There's no real spoiler to any episode, since it goes AU after 10x22 "Revenge," but it can be considered a spoiler to the Bodnar arc before that point.
Dedication: To the-hard-believer on Tumblr, whose faith in me humbles.
This is an AU story, as previously stated :P it's also, like my previous fics, completely angsty. The idea itself belongs to the-hard-believer; I have just brought it to fruition. I hope you enjoy!
P.S. I have an announcement to make regarding the deletion of my old fics to neaten my profile; please read the A/N at the bottom for more information. Thank you!
"It is really happening."
The words, spoken quietly by a hoarse voice inside the dimly lit excuse for an office, reverberated through Tony's skull and made his eyes ache. He backed up and sat down heavily onto the floor. The elevator walls were rapidly closing in on them.
Ziva looked at him. "It is really happening," she repeated. "There is nothing you can do but accept it."
Tony narrowed his eyes. "I stood inside Observation watching him interrogate you for an hour." His voice, too, was hoarse. "It was the hardest thing I've ever had to do in my life."
She shrugged and took a deep breath before dropping down opposite him. "I cannot pretend that the things I do … do not have consequences, Tony."
"You knew this would happen."
"A part of me expected it, yes."
"A part of you expected to go to jail? 'Cause that's what's gonna happen now if nothing changes, Ziva."
"If that is my fate, then so be it."
"Your fate?" Tony spat. "Ziva, that's crazy. You don't deserve to go to jail. It was self-defence!"
"There is no proof that it was." Her eyes drilled into his. "You have my word for it, and yes, it is nice that you trust me enough to believe me, but I do not think the jury will hold me in that same regard. They will look at the evidence, and there is no evidence that he hadn't been pushed into toppling over the railing. There is only evidence that I had disobeyed orders not to interfere with a federal investigation and had taken matters into my own hands by sneaking off without the knowledge of others, setting fire to the cargo of a ship, and using that opportunity of a diversion to fight with the man who had murdered my father."
"But…" Tony tried again, only to find that words failed him. You're Ziva—you would never harm someone wilfully wouldn't hold up in court; he knew that as well as she did. For once in their lives, Ziva David was truly in trouble.
"It is happening." The third time sounded so final. She reached out, her fingertips a light, glancing caress on the back of his well-worn hand. "It is time to let me go."
He clenched his fist. "Elope with me."
"W-What?" she stammered, open-mouthed and wide-eyed.
He gaped right back at her, more than a little stunned himself. He hadn't the faintest inkling where the words had come from—'Elope with me'? Seriously?—but he couldn't regret what he had said. He couldn't. It was stupid and reckless and impulsive and god, he could already feel his cheeks burning and his eyes tearing up, but at the end of the day, the idea of having her behind bars was what really tore a hole through him.
He couldn't let her go.
Please, he couldn't.
She was calling his name, her eyes flitting about like she was already gathering her thoughts to answer him, so he interrupted her. "Elope with me," he insisted, and his voice shook and his lips quivered. "Please, Ziva. We could make a life out of this. We could—we could do something. Haven't you always wondered what life on a tropical island would be like? We could find somewhere—"
"Tony, this is real life."
"So?" He tried to ignore the way her serious and dark, dark eyes burnt into him.
"So, we would be fugitives. We would have to change our identities, our appearances—I would have to change my accent and give up everything I ever stood for. I would not be able to be Israeli-American anymore; it would be too easy to detect. And you—you would have nothing but me."
"I am prepared for that."
"Well, I am not." She shifted closer, her knees pressing to the outside of his calves as she entwined her fingers with his. "Do you know one of the things I admire most about you, Tony? It is your passion as a cop; your eagerness to save the world. We fail a lot of the time—I admit that. But you never give up, and I do not want you to give up now. Not for me. I came to this country because I believed in something, and that 'something' is peace, justice, equality for all. The—the system may be failing me now, but I will not fail the system by making a dishonest man out of you. You—and this country—matter too much to me for that."
He hated the way she looked so beseechingly at him. "But what about…" What about me?
She shook her head, and his throat closed up on him. "You should move on."
"I do not want you to have to sit in front of my jail cell every day trying to figure out how to make sense of what we won't have now—and won't be having for a very long time."
"We could still have it," he pleaded. "If you just-… I know it's not the perfect idea, Ziva, I know. But we could still have a chance."
"And what if that chance does not work out, hmm?" Her warm eyes looked so sad and tired. "Our whole lives change the moment I leave with you, Tony, and I would not do that to you."
"I would give up—"
"I know you would," she interrupted, pressing the tip of a digit to his mouth. "And you already have. But all this stops now."
He breathed out hard, the tears prickling at the back of his eyes burning almost too hot to bear. Her finger was merely the memory of an imprint on his lips now.
He'd lost the war, he knew. He'd been fighting a battle, and he'd lost the war.
"What do I do?" he cried, shuddering.
"You move on," she reiterated. Her palms now lifted his face; cradled gently the curve of his jaw as she brushed away the wetness on his cheeks. "You attend my trial. And when the jury gives their verdict, you treat it as closure. If I am found not guilty, then … that's good. If I am found guilty, then you walk away and tell yourself that you will make do with once-in-a-while prison visits. Because I will not drag you down, Tony. I will not want you to be waiting for me forever."
"But … but I don't know where to go from h-here." I don't even know which direction to walk in without you.
"Onwards," was the sole, enigmatic answer she gave him, and he could literally feel his face crumple with the lips that barely touched his forehead.
"I love you, Zi," he whispered.
He didn't think he'd ever find out whether she had heard him through the break in his voice.
To date, I have 121 published stories. This number will increase significantly if the rate at which I'm currently publishing stories is any indication. In the interests of keeping my profile neater and more navigable (and making admin jobs such as finding my stories to reply to reviews easier), I have decided to delete some of my old stories. They are, in order of Last Update, as follows:
The Screams Unheard
For One Night
Pride in Indifference
These are some of my older, generally less popular stories which I think few people have interest in reading anymore; for that reason, they are the ones I have chosen to delete (there's also the fact that I like them less than others, lol). Keep note, though, that these stories are by no means gone. You're always welcome to PM me to ask for a copy if you want; please just extend me the courtesy of not republishing them as your own. If you want to save them somewhere before I delete them, you're also welcomed to do that. I don't know when I will be removing them so I couldn't give you a timeline, but don't worry, you'll have at least a week!