Last chapter! Thanks for coming along for the ride!
Disclaimer: I do not own NCIS
Epilogue: The Finding
The restaurant was a quiet place, without the usual jabbering of young children. Lovers filled the small circular tables sitting in the dainty chairs, their hands touching and eyes love-struck, almost sickening. Light jazz played in the background filled to the brim with romantic words. Candles flickered on tables, casting warm glows on their occupants.
"Ladies first," Tony drew out a chair, allowing Ziva to gracefully slide into it. Her glittering earrings caught the light, adding a sparkle to her eyes.
"Thank you," she smiled, brushing a loose curl behind her ear. Her long slender fingers picked up the menu, eyes scanning what was on offer. Tony copied her, admiring her all the while.
The waitress came over, took their orders, and left them.
An awkward tension passed over the table, the candle in between them.
"So….." they both began, then laughed.
"How have you been, Ms David?" Tony cocked his head to one side, his hand posed mockingly under his chin.
"Very well, Mr DiNozzo," the normal banter calmed her, "As you would know."
"Oh yes, I do know, sweet cheeks," he nodded, glancing down, breaking eye contact, before reconnecting.
"I want to talk about us."
"Us," Ziva repeated, allowing her hair to shade part of her face.
"What are we?"
"We are partners, were lovers, have a daughter," Ziva whispered. Tony grabbed her hand.
"We are more than partners, Ziva. I love you, and would give everything up for you," Tony's voice lost its joking manner, his eyes boring into hers.
"I'm afraid I'll break your heart again," Ziva broke eye contact, withdrawing her hand.
"You won't, I won't let you," the stubborn voice intruded into her conscience, "I won't let you go like last time. It sounds so cliché, but I won't."
"I won't, I won't, I won't. I won't let you, I won't!" He seemed to almost be reassuring himself.
"I love you so much Ziva, you left a huge hole in my heart when you left and I'm not prepared for you to carve out yet another hole. You have never said you loved me, all those times I said I love you…."
"Tony, I won't carve a hole," Finally, she had got her say. Her sure smile warmed his heart, "I won't leave you. I love you too…"
She suddenly remembered all those times she had refused to love. She knew love was a huge hazard. She had mocked Ari, laughed at Tali, teased Aisha.
"You know, that's so romantic Zee," Aisha and Ziva sat at the top of a tree, looking down on the familiar park below them.
"What's so…romantic?" Ziva asked, her voice sarcastic.
"He gave me a rose," Aisha sighed. Ziva swung her legs, snickering.
"What?" Aisha retaliated. Ziva smirked.
"'He gave me a rose'. I swear I'll never fall in love, Aisha," Ziva vowed. She meant it.
"One day, Ziva, you'll tell me you've found the perfect guy, trust me," Aisha giggled, trying to picture the day the shrew fell in love. It had to be uber-romantic…
Ziva was sitting on her bed, Tali at her side and Ari in a chair behind her study table.
"Truth or dare, Tali?" Ziva asked her little sister, who, after deciding that the dare that Ziva would give her would be way too hard.
"Truth," she immediately regretted it when she said it. Ziva and Ari would find the truth, and….
Ziva knelt to whisper in her big brother's ear. He nodded, and both had smug smiles on their faces.
"Oh great, what have you done this time?" Tali asked.
"Do you really like Jared…and did he really leave you?" Ziva asked in the stereotypical 'tone', the voice everyone used when they were gossiping. Tali immediately turned bright red. Ziva and Ari nodded in unison.
"Please Ziva, don't attack him! I'm getting a bad reputation, anyone who I break up with gets bashed up by my older sister," Tali pleaded, and when she saw Ari's expression she frantically shook her head, "No, Ari, not you too!"
"Jared's going to really die," Ziva had her fist clenched and Ari was shaking his head. Then he smiled, the smile he used when he teased Ziva.
"Well Ziva, I feel sorry for the person you fall in love with later in life, goodness, if he put one step out of toe, wham, he's gone!" Ari mimed someone falling after a punch from Ziva. Ziva crossed her arms and glared at Ari.
"For your information, I'm never going to fall in love," she lifted her chin high. Tali and Ari doubled over in laughter.
"You already have a healthy number of suitors, sister," Tali dreamily reminded her.
"Who will break our Snow Queen's cold stance?" Ari gestured dramatically. Ziva snorted and punched Ari (not that lightly) in the gut. He groaned, clutching his stomach in pain.
Later, Ziva found herself wrapped in Tony's protective embrace, his lips on her head. "Start off where we had left it." The sheets were tangled, yet their breathing was steady, slow, measured breaths. She stroked his head, and wrapped her own possessive arms around him. She had loved, when she had sworn never to.
She had contradicted herself, had proven herself wrong.
She could almost imagine Tali, Ari and Aisha snickering away at her, yet smiling from tears of happiness.
They were not the only people she loved.
She loved more people than ever. She loved the team, who were her friends and family.
And she had two special people.
She had Ada, the daughter, her daughter, their daughter.
She had Tony. Her partner, her soulmate, her lover.
She had lost, she had found, she had kept.
She had survived and loved.
She had lived.
Thanks for reading this story, and I hope you enjoyed it.
We must say goodbye for now. :)