A/N: After a few weeks of mourning, the central idea for this fic popped into my head after watching "Anonymous was a woman" this week. Before NCIS: LA could come and wipe it from my mind, I hit pause and grabbed my laptop. Most of this poured out of me and, after a little rearranging, I'm going to post it because I know I'm not the only one trying to work through this. I'm not the only one holding out hope that they'll give us an off-screen relationship or that she'll return for the finale, whenever that distant future is.
Tony is the loudest voice in my head right now other than my own cries of "why?!" However, the way that my imagination makes sense of these things is to put itself into the character. So I'm warning you that there may be a slight chance that a Ziva piece will follow… but no promises. I hope you will enjoy.
Warning: I do not own NCIS. As I am a Tiva shipper, this fact should be painfully obvious to you. It is to me.
Tony had recently accepted that life was merely a series of choices. Some were obviously bigger than others and some were life-altering in the kind of way that you didn't see coming. Some you only saw from the ground, after they knocked the legs out from underneath you.
The day that Ziva David walked into his life, Tony didn't realize that the moment they met had moment changed everything. From that point forward, every choice he made with regards to the brilliant Israeli beauty was significant. At least it was in hindsight.
Looking through the window at the glistening tarmac – from a plane that she wasn't on – everything mattered to him now. It was like she'd spent their entire friendship waiting for him to reach this point. Like she'd been sent to make him into a man, to help him open himself up, to make him feel. Every day spent at her side was a lesson in realizing and holding on to what he had…
But he'd always made the choice to walk away from what was happening between them. He'd always let her go.
It wasn't until now, on the day that she made that choice for him, that he realized how much time he'd wasted running. By the time he'd tried like hell to hold onto her, it had been too late; her life choices had set her down a path far away from his. His insecurities had cost him the most important woman in his world and the damage seemed to be irreversible.
Soon she would be permanently located on the other side of the planet. He wasn't trying to joke his way through a painful goodbye when he described leaving her as the hardest one-eighty of his life… he was simply telling her the truth.
Now that he was sitting on the plane back to D.C. with a blank sheet of notebook paper, he resolved to put some thought into his future choices. This wouldn't be like his bucket list; this wouldn't be a list of frivolous things burying the few that actually mattered. This time he was going to start with the item of highest importance:
1. I will kiss her again.
It was hard for him not to break down at the thought that he'd possibly left Ziva for forever. She'd had his back for the better part of eight years and he'd been stifling his feelings for the better part of six. The thought that tonight had been their only real kiss was almost crippling.
He realized that his feelings had started to change the year that Vance became Director. He'd was immersed in jealousy of her relationship with Rivkin at one moment, then hell-bent on sacrificing himself in order to avenge her assumed death the next. Then he'd switched from dating around to trying a steady relationship with E.J. in order to distract himself when she was dating C. I. Ray. Everything choice he'd made in his life since meeting her was a reflection of the one that she was making in hers at the time. His world literally revolved around her.
And he didn't have any idea how long she'd been hiding the passion and yearning she'd thrown into that kiss they'd just shared.
2. I will run to her, not from her.
Regressing wouldn't do him any good. Burying himself in women, going back to the way he hid from the pain before wouldn't work. Whenever she was ready, he was going to be right where she would expect to find him. And he would be single, waiting for her return.
There was something about Ziva that always brought him full circle and back to her. No matter what had happened, whether they'd been on the same side or at each other's throats, she was his other half. There is simply no point in running away when you find the person you can't live without. He already knew that Ziva was his home base and he'd spent the last year slowly realizing that he was born to be hers.
3. I will be her home.
It was easy to see now that Ziva was always the woman he would end up with. Now that she was out in the world without him, he felt so helpless. All he wanted to do was to protect her, but she wouldn't have it. She wanted him to get on that plane and let her work out her issues alone, even though he'd told her that she wasn't alone. She was his partner, his best friend… and his soul mate, really. His time spent with her made him a man worthy of her and that meant he wasn't going to give up. There were so many things left to talk about: Somalia, Paris, Berlin…
4. I will tell her what she means to me.
As Gibbs has been known to say, you don't waste good. She needed to know what she'd done for him, what she'd meant to him. If she left him without knowing all the details, it wouldn't be fair to either of them. She needed to know everything that was bouncing around in his brain right now before he could accept her decision, yet he hadn't told her when he had the chance. It was too oppressing, looking up at the plane that would carry him away from her.
5. I will be the man she needs me to be.
He knew that he was far from perfect, no matter how much he'd grown through loving Ziva. So he was going to take a page from Ziva's book and spend his time waiting for her by going backward, trying to correct his own mistakes. He would make amends to the women he'd hurt while coping with his feelings for his partner, starting with E.J., if he could find her.
By the time he reached Ziva's spot on the list, he hoped that she would be ready for him. She was the woman that he'd hidden the most important parts of himself from, the only person that he longed to share them with.
6. I will not let her run from me.
He stared at the sparsely covered page. Six items on a sheet of paper didn't seem like a lot, but it would be a difficult list to accomplish. If this moment had come years before he wouldn't have known what words to write or what mattered most.
Running his fingers over the Star of David necklace she'd slipped into his breast pocket, he thought about her first "I Will" list. He'd known that she'd always wanted a family, a home, permanence. As the years went past, it had become clearer and clearer to him that he was the missing piece in that particular part of her dream puzzle, but he never knew when the moment would be right to tell her. Determinedly, he wrote down one more promise to both himself and Ziva.
7. I will give the necklace to our daughter.
After the elevator, they'd started to step toward each other slowly, but steadily… and now that progress had been halted. And if making his amends would help him work his way back to her, then he needed to get started. At his age, he couldn't afford to waste any more time pretending that he had forever to win her back. The time was now.
Especially if he was going to accomplish number seven.
If his five-month sojourn had taught him anything, it was that he knew her better than anyone else. That's the way it had always been. A single day with her in Israel was enough to convince himself that nothing had changed. Her kiss had proven her feelings for him remained.
She'd spent years waiting for him to be ready, but he didn't think he would wait very long for her to be ready as well. He fully believed that their choices would lead them back to each other.
They would come full circle as they always did.
A/N: Please let me know what you thought.