Sorry! Extremely, unforgivably late; but I have an excuse-vacation, school, the sorts. And as they say, an excuse isn't an excuse if it's not valid.

What? ("Minako-chan, I don't think that's how it's said...")

(A hint of my next fanfic.)

But that's beside the point. The point is, that it's here. The chapter. The final chapter. Ta-da.

As always, thank you for the support, and enjoy...


When the nurses and doctors come in and they attempt to resuscitate her, to no avail, he doesn't cry.

When McGee comes with Abby that night, to find no one but him is there (Gibbs had retreated to his boat, maybe named after her, for the evening), and he has to break the news to her, (maybe his throat closes up and his voice is breaking) he doesn't cry.

When he comes back for desk duty with a cane two months later, and he stares at her vacant desk, emptied out by Agent Murray, he doesn't cry (he feels like drowning in Scotch that night, though, or punching a hole in that guy's face when he suggested that the picture was his, and questioned how close they were).

When Ducky demands to see her body, and Gibbs has to tell him he had her "cremated", and the old man bursts into a story about tea and memories, he doesn't cry.

When he scoops up unknown ashes and throws them into the sea, he doesn't cry (because he knows, if she were dead, she'd want to be buried in Israel soil; not her home, but her blood).

When he gets pictures and a travel brochure of China the next day, he doesn't cry (instead, he sends back pictures of Jet Li, with a note that says, "If you see him, ask him why the hell he wasted his time in The Expendables.").

When no news of Parsa comes the rest of the year, and Christmas is bitter as they carry on the tradition of It's a Wonderful Life, he doesn't cry (what he does do, though, is watch The Sound of Music alone in his apartment).

When Probie Bishop comes and sits atop her desk, he doesn't cry (in a way, he approves; it's better than staring at an empty desk, lonely, and it keeps him from lapsing into a period of longing until Gibbs comes and slaps him lightly on the back of his head).

He doesn't cry.

He wonders, vaguely (like he always does), whether he should. He decides it'd be a waste of time.


When the tears do come, it's after they've seen more of Benham Parsa's cruelty.

When the tears do come, it's after Delilah's stranded at the hospital, and Tim with her; after Colonel Mann reconciles (of sorts) with Gibbs, and he feels a twinge of jealousy when he remembers: he lost his Shannon and Kelly a very, very long time ago.

When the tears do come, it's when Ellie Bishop (now a proud member of the team) and Gibbs proudly step off the elevator and declare what's rightfully made them proud: Benham Parsa is dead. He was a monster. Now he is just a man whose blood has stopped circulating, whose lungs have stopped breathing.

And it's then he locks eyes with Gibbs, then with the Director, and yells, "I'll be back in three days!" to the clueless team (save a smirking Gibbs and a nod of approval from the Director).

When the tears do come, it's when he steps off a plane into Shanghai, when he recites his words carefully over and over again on his way to the Gobi Desert, to Gansu, and to Daohuang.

When the tears do come, it's in a beautiful landscape of desert and isolation and a red palace and lake, an oasis. It's when he sees her again, after who knows how long-a year? two?-and she's more beautiful than he remembered. Her voice, so familiar, feels unknown to him, and it takes him a minute to hear her say, "Tony."

He walks as if he's in a dream, and he touches her, caresses her cheek, flicks her curls back behind her ear, and whispers back her name. She stands still, mesmerized by his arrival; until she concedes, her shoulders relaxing and she breathes a smile of relief.

"It's over. Parsa's dead."

Only they exist in this oasis, this land of relief and rest in the middle of their deserts, and when they kiss, it's fulfilled. That night is the night they cry into each others' mouths, spilling and mixing onto each others' skin, with no question of why the tears come as they do.

It's endless.

They come as they lay in bed, facing each other, after hearing her tell him of what she's done over the past year (help orphans and watch as monks find her peace, as she realizes her peace is with her family-with her home), and he whispers, "I love you, Ziva."

She whispers back, "Todah, Tony."

"Prego."

The last time they exchanged these words, they were two lovers at the crossroads of life and death, of separating and staying. The first time, they were two strangers in a limbo of loss and grief and misplaced trust.

"Laila tov," she mumbles as her eyes close; this time with the promise of waking next to him at dawn.

The tears are, for once, tears of joy, and but he also feels bittersweet, as he feels the ghosts-Jenny, Jeanne, Paula, Kate-disappear, finally, with a smile of content and relief.

For this time, they are two lovers finding peace in each other, in an oasis in the middle of the Gobi Desert.

"Buonanotte."


Wow. So I started this fanfic, according to my Google Doc, on April 29, 11:27 P.M. How I found time with the finals, I have no idea. How I found time to continue it this long, I have no idea. (Of course, the only answer is God, thank you for your help.)

But thank you readers for the support, for reading, for reviewing, for favoriting, for following-everything that helps me keep going.

I hope, in future seasons, Cote will come back and revive Tiva, or at least close it off in a more satisfying fashion. And I don't mean they have to end up together. I hope that means Ziva will have more of a reason for leaving, one that is true to her character and not a quickly jotted down notes as to how the exit will be dramatic and heartbreaking. I hope that means Ziva will have more spotlight before she truly leaves the show, even if that means dying without any more hope that she will return, which is more heartbreaking to have, as the show and the people have already moved on from her.

Eight years is a long time to love someone.

It shouldn't have been solved by Zoe so quickly.

And I hope, that if Ziva returns, that Tony will have found that it doesn't work with Zoe before then, not so quickly after Ziva and his undeniable devotion.

Well. The End, I guess.

Until next time, Probies.

Semper Fi.