The NCIS finale absolutely broke my heart, stabbed me in the back, and burned me alive. It was horrible, and yet satisfying because IT'S FINALLY CANON, GUYS and yet she's dead.

One of the many one-shots I plan on writing for this one episode, because there are so many doors that can possibly be opened with it.

Now, I know the whole fandom is in denial, and everyone wants Ziva to be alive, and many of you think she is (I am keeping hope alive, as well); but this is based on Tony's reaction and if Ziva really is dead. So, please, no comments on how Ziva is really alive because of all those reasons-I've researched all the fan theories already.

Enjoy.


Ziva.

No. Not again.

The fire licks at his heart, the flames burn through the silk of his suit and into his veins.

He cannot lose her...again. He...should have stayed; why didn't he stay, damn it, why?

Words slip through his mouth but his mind is on brown curls that tickle his face when he woke in the morning, "Jean-Paul...my little furry bear," the salt of her tears on her lips on his, her necklace, cold and hard and, God, it feels like her and everything smells like her and all he can think of is a charcoal pile of bones and ashes that might be her and will never be her again.

I can't stay here. I have to go….I have find her...I…


He loves his dad, and he knows he understands. After all, he lost his mother.

But maybe that's what scares him the most. If Ziva…

He doesn't want to end up like his father, or Gibbs. He wants to stop the cycle, of remarriage after remarriage and divorce after divorce. And with his track of one-night-stands and breakups, he doesn't want to think about an oblivion without her.

Fate hangs a sliver of hope, dangles it in front of his face with his father's words.

And fate snaps it with the ring of the doorbell.

"Vance got a call…"

"Tony, I'm so sorry…"

"So sorry."


Ziva.

No. Not again.

He feels his throat rise in a scream or a sob or something, damn it, but is that grief? Or is grief drifting along, a dull, hollow sound in your heart?

And he feels the tears coming but he doesn't register it because all he can see is her curls of brown turn to ashes

("Oh, women do it, too. And sometimes, with the occasional woman.")

and all he can taste is her tears on her golden necklace, slipping down into his face as they kiss

("Tony, you are so…"

"Handsome? Funny? What?"

"Loved.")

and all he can smell is her musk in his nose as he wakes in her bed and they smile from the memories they've made

("I'm fighting for you, Ziva."

"I know."

They don't know how, but that takes them from the orange grove, to "I love you", to her bedroom, and to the bed.

They pretend this night never happens when the hour comes.)

(Of course, they know it happened. They will remember it vividly in the years to come.)

and all he can hear is her cries as she must have, must have burned to death with no one there to hear her when he should have been there, should have stayed and

all he can feel is a hollow, yet burning pain flaming in his chest and his mouth and his nose and his tongue and he wonders

What

Could

Have

Been

and

What

Should

Have

Been.


He sees her everywhere. In the bullpen, in the orange grove, in Somalia, in the breakroom, in interrogation, in LA, in that forsaken diner dripping in blood, in the men's room, in autopsy, in Berlin, in the car, in the hospital, in the elevator, in the hotel room, in Paris-God, memories from a lifetime ago, and how he wishes to go back and say something, anything to her again. He wants to smell her scent again, he wants to feel her curls on his back and her breath in his neck.

("Cute. But you had your chance.")

("The post-elevator us.")

("Nothing is inevitable.")

What are you doing here?

Something inside him-the cords of tension, strings of grief-snaps.

What are you doing here?

He wonders if he cares. He wonders why he isn't crying or mourning or something, anything. The great Leroy Jethro Gibbs have any feelings left? Where did they go?

Anger in his veins, coursing like poisonous rage and agony and raw sorrow, screaming through his eyes, through the crack in his voice, through his hands because

All

Hands

On

Deck.

He flinches when he exposes him. Exposes her. And like many years ago, when she was still...here, alive...he denies every bit of love to spare him pain, because

She was no more to me than anybody!

It doesn't work. Not at all. Not at all.

"Well, that's not true."

I know.

They force him to go home.

He wants to reply that his home has burned to ashes.

His home is dead.

His home is her.


He does not find sleep that night. He does not seek for it. He knows that if he did, it would only bring him nightmares of ashes and mortar fire and dreams of her lips on his and what should have been.


Kort could be in the States. He never left.

He should feel a slow burn of rage and anger and a thirst for revenge, shouldn't he? But he doesn't feel anything. Nothing at all.

(But that's not true, is it? He feels the burning absence of his partner more than ever, and though he doesn't want to believe she's dead, he feels it in his bones.

He feels the pain of losing a limb, of losing a partner, of losing half his heart because he ripped it in two when he left her on that tarmac, half with her smile, and half with his family.)


He doesn't care how rude he is to Orli Elbaz. Neither does he care about the fact that she is the Director of Mossad, and can send half a dozen assassins to his door if he asked too many questions. He is certain she is hiding something, so he resorts to biting, angry sarcasm.

(It's not just that, though. She is a reminder of who she was, of her father, and why she left. She is a reminder of the pain; of the memory that just when he was getting close to screwing Rule 12, her father appeared and decided to die.)

Then

Something

Happens.

Bring Tali in.

She is Ziva's daughter...and yours, too, Tony.

He is unsure whether his world stops or it begins turning again.


I lost my sister Tali in a Hamas suicide bombing. She was sixteen, and the best of us.


He watches her as she sleeps, Orli by her side, though it should be her. He hears her toss excuse after excuse and it only feeds the flame of anger and grief that has ignited within.

How could she not tell him a thing? His daughter-her daughter-their daughter, growing up without a father, her first steps, her birth, her first giggle, her first words, her first everything, and he was not there for two years of it.

He watches the peaceful countenance as he sleeps and thinks, Maybe she wanted to keep her innocent, away from violence. She looks just like her mother, after all.

Tali. A second chance. Ziva-he winces at her name, a dagger in his side-must have begun to heal with her. That is the most he wanted for her.

Tali. He falls in love with the name, as he falls in love with his daughter, as he fell in love with her.


Senior is, by all means, shocked. But his open mouth turns upward into a grin, and he starts babbling about toys and grandchildren and being happy.

He wants to snap back, I will never be happy again.

But that's not true, is it? After all, he has Tali...maybe, just maybe...he'll have what he's wanted for a long time now. A family.

For the first time in hours, he feels a little tug of his heart, a smile, small as it is, appear on his face as he plays with his daughter, with her little dog.

Until he sees her scarf in her go-bag, and he smells her musk in his mouth as he kisses her in the open tarmac in the heat of the Israeli night, and he feels like breaking all over again.


Jimmy is a good friend, baby-proofing his kitchen and giving him insight on raising a child.

When he had a child, he was convinced he would never get a family. She was gone, anyway. There'd be no point because he had moved on from the dream. There would be no dream without her.

But now, she's left him with a child, their child, and he nearly smiles at the thought of the impatient ninja feeding Tali when she was younger, like he is now.

Guilt spikes through him-he should have been there, helping her. Why wasn't he there?

Along with guilt, comes anger. Because she didn't invite me.

But Jimmy's right. Tali has nobody else but him.

He is everything to her.

She was everything to him.


She looks just like her mother.

Tim, he has known for the longest time, is the best friend he has ever had. He leans on him more than ever, though he himself does not realize it, through these times. When he tells him the little girl in front of them, smiling her mother's smile

"The last thing I need is a Chad Dunham...However…"

"What?"

Their smiles, packed with sexual tension and utter happiness, charms the bathroom like it is a ballroom.

but wearing his eyes, he can see the doubt in his eyes.

When Tim asks the question-the question he's waited anyone to ask, he doesn't know how to answer it, deflecting with a classic DiNozzo joke, because their relationship had invisible boundaries that they crossed over and over again with each smile and laugh and look, with each rescue and mission and drink, with each touch and lingering kiss and love. They were in love, but they were too stubborn to say it.

We had a connection-

Coffee and pizza and Tali and "Todah" and "Prego,"

and a hungry kiss of grief between Jean-Paul and Sophie,

and a bullet in a metal box,

and an explosion and a hiatus and lost memory that she restores,

and nights of doubt and being team leader,

and a phone call and a woman who is not just a killer now, but an investigator,

and a hospital bracelet and an explosion and the worried family of one Tony DiNardo,

and a woman who asked him if any of it was real and another woman who told him to let go,

and a hotel pool and a diner of death,

and a metal prison trapping him with thousands of ensigns and a father who trapped her in a country of betrayal,

and they are tired of pretending,

and is he questioning her loyalty? and he killed him and she wasn't there but she should have been,

and she didn't know then and she will never know whether or not she loved him,

and broken arms and crashed glass tables will haunt him, but not as much as the Damocles,

and a storm off the coast of Somalia,

and a movie of vengeance and love and a terrorist who loves his Caf-Pow!,

and a hood and the desert sun that shows her face and she is alive,

and Couldn't live without her, he guesses and so he will die with her and a lost, tired face that is ready for death, but is startled beyond her world when a sniper shoots her captor in the head, like she did her brother,

and Paris and a bed and his arms around hers, calming the nightmares and kissing the scars a terrorist has left her,

and she never talks about it,

and a promise that he will be there, but she does not see him at her ceremony,

and a woman from Rota and a man from Miami and a killer on the loose that scares him out of his life,

and a proposal and does she really consider him to be in her life?,

and an elevator that traps them with their ghosts, their fears, and their feelings,

and post-elevator us and one old, wise man who visits,

and an old photograph that says what is essential is invisible to the eye,

and her sister and the opera and sold-out tickets,

and her father and blood and two motherless kids and guilt and anger but love for the father who betrayed her,

and aht lo levad, but later he finds out she did not listen to him,

and revenge and anger and Berlin and just pretend she's with him,

and if not for Orli, she would have been a different person,

and he should go catch her before she leaves, and thank her, because he loves who she is, perfectly and wholly,

and a car crash and a lost woman in grief,

and count to a million, he's on his way,

and her brother's fiancee who lets her swallow herself up in self-hatred and guilt and when he comes, he cannot save her from herself,.

-And obviously, a fond farewell.

and he's fighting for her and she knows but her list of wills and her own stubbornness and her brokenness, they both know, mean she stays and he goes,

and the night passes and somehow they have traveled from the warm, October orange grove, to the past and the present and the future,

to mend the broken hearts they've both gained over the years,

to remember each other, memorize each other, before the dawn comes the next day and he leaves,

to have one desperate last try of coming home-

and he is so loved.

He says the three words he never told her until the last night in the orange grove, in her bedroom.

I loved her, Tim.

The words sound like a plea to bring her back from the grave, to kiss her back to life like in those stupid, damned Disney movies, to see her one more time, just one more time.

I know you did, he nods.

But she's dead.

And this isn't a movie.


She plays with teacups and tiny spoons like the princess she is to him (to her). He feels her presence more than ever, and thinks that someday, one day, she will want to be a ballerina, or go to Ireland, like her mother. She will want to dance with her father on the tops of his toes and she will grow up and become a teacher and she will want to have two children, a boy and a girl.

Senior tells him to embrace his fatherhood. He should. He feels like he already has.

But he wants her more than ever. He wants to know that she didn't lie to him, that she did truly love him, that she thought of him every waking moment she looked at her daughter because he thinks of her every moment, sees her every moment.

And then he finds the picture.

Paris.

"That's when it must have happened."

"The two of them alone, in another world."

"Putting their lives in each other's hands everyday."

"Not to mention the long nights."

"It was inevitable."

"Nothing is inevitable."

Ima.

Yes, your mother, he thinks, a raging inferno of pain and longing firing up once again.

And then, the inevitable.

Abba.

Ziva. Ziva told her. She knows me.

A large weight, a boulder, lifts of his heart. Ziva loved him. With all her heart-enough to protect his child for him, but not enough to tell him, he thinks.

But she thought of him when she saw Tali. Of course. She was theirs, after all.

A shimmer of gold is in his hands within the second because all he can see is them raising Tali together, loving her, Tali growing up, and having her own golden star.

This was Ima's. Now it's Tali's.

He sees her in the home she was born in, taking the necklace in her hands, wearing a small smile for him; but he knows her eyes. They scream at him, I'm lost.

He finds her, not in an orange grove, but in the peaceful giggle of their daughter.


He hears Kort before he sees him.

Old friends. And new.

But not the one I expected.

I'm here, he yells. Anger rages through his veins.

DiNozzo. He almost smiles when he hears the fear in his voice, instead of the arrogant, slimy tone he usually entails. He spills words about business, and nothing personal.

Thankfully, Tim is there.

It is personal. It's Ziva.

His surrogate sister. Tim loved her, too. They all did.

But he remembers distantly something he said to E.J. before he realized he needed her to breathe-no, he learned that one summer in the desert. He simply forgot how much she was a part of him.

"I know...it's just different for some of us."

Back then, it was Kort, as well, who provided her the wrong information.

It was Kort who nearly killed him and Jeanne. It was Ziva who stopped the fight between him and Kort in the bullpen.

It was always Kort.

But he had Ziva to hold his hand, love him, tell him it's alright. Push him to "Be a man. Tell her what she needs to hear."

She was my family, he realizes, his friend, his partner, his teammate, his love-his family. With Tali. They were a family.

Gunshots clear the air, and he has no regrets. But he knows this: this is the last kill he has left in him.

He needs to go back to his family.


When he explains it all to Gibbs, he knows beyond a shadow of a doubt he understands. He remembers years ago when he told him he did not want to end up like Gibbs himself.

Now, the only difference between them is the lack of ex-wives and the presence of a daughter. They both lost their soulmates. They both killed the man that ordered it.

Now, they stand, ghosts colliding.

Two old friends, hugging tightly, full of goodbyes and deaths and heartbreaks over 15 years; one cradles the other's head instead of slapping it, the other laughs in memory of the past.

When both of them have tears in their eyes, they do not ignore them. They embrace them for the years and memories to come, still to make. And there will be more to make.

Copy that, Boss.


Abby Sciuto is all-knowing. She knows he is leaving, and she knows what he's thinking-if she truly loved him or not.

I know. She told me.

Her voice breaks, and that's when the dam bursts, along with relief and missing her again. Abby, his little sister, from day one of teasing and love for the happiest, smartest goth he's ever met. He's leaving her, and he of all people knows Abby Sciuto does not do well with change.

So they hug and the tears fall down and he promises her five times that he will call her.


The only thing he gets from Director Leon Vance is a nod, a handshake, and a "You've been a great agent, Anthony. It's time to be a great father." (And his calling card, to "call if you ever need a babysitter, or some advice. Kayla would be happy to take care of Tali.")

From Jimmy, he gets hugs and a farewell, that is not really a farewell-he tells him he'll always be happy to help with his diaper changing, daughter caring feats.

Ducky offers him a large speech on tea and Ziva and daughters, and a single tear drooping down his cheekbones. "I'll miss you, dear Anthony."

He's proud of the man Tim has become, of enduring the many Probie names he's said over the years. They're brothers, bonded through years of betrayal, blood, and death. But they're also brothers of family, love, and happiness. Endless stakeouts and pranks, superglued keyboards, and poison ivy. He will miss the partner who's had his back for longer than Ziva. He will miss his brother.

So, he leaves him with his own title. No more probie jokes, because Tim isn't a probie anymore. Hasn't been for a while. Very Special Agent Timothy McGee is who he is.

Bishop, he knows, will grow up like a little sister. He will miss the crossed legs atop the desk across him, or hunched over food and a laptop in the middle of the squadroom. He will miss his little sister.


As he steps into the elevator, he tries to think of a movie quote for him to go out with. But nothing comes out. The last words he will ever say in this building, he realizes with a rush of panic, thrill, and awe, are I'm going home to see Tali. And that is all that needs to be said. He is going home, and for the first time, home is not the orange walls and glaring skylight and endless days of Grab your gear.

Home is with his family.

And family certainly comes first.


Thanks for reading and enjoying the pain of NCIS with me!

Please review ;)