Disclaimer: NCIS does not belong to me, it belongs to CBS and the wonderful writers.

Author's Note: Of all the season finale's that I've watched in the last two weeks, "Till Death Do Us Part" was the one that had me in tears. At first I thought it would be Jimmy who would bite the bullet…. but seeing how he and Breena were probably in the air when NCIS exploded, it would be a safe bet that he's safe. As is Gibbs (Mark Harmon signed a two year contract last year) and Ziva (also signed a two year contract last year) and Ducky (signed on for next year) despite evidence to the contrary. The fates of Abby, Tony and McGee are all up in the air however as their respective actors renegotiate their contracts. This little drabble is what could happen come September…

Aftermath

Ziva had been praying that they would have enough time to get out, and even though Tony had asked her to go on without him, there was just no way that she was going to leave without him by her side. They were in the elevator when an explosion suddenly rocked it. Both she and Tony were thrown to the floor and pieces of the elevator roof came tumbling down upon them. That was the last thing Ziva remembered as she regained consciousness.

The first thing that she did was put her hand to her head to make sure that she had no serious injuries and aside from a small cut to her cheek, Ziva was relieved that she was relatively unharmed. The next thing that she did was to look for Tony. In the dark of the elevator, with only one dim emergency light to help her eyes, Ziva could just make out Tony's still form. And in that moment she felt her heart constrict with worry.

"Ziva?" came a quiet, broken voice and Ziva breathed a sigh of relief as she realized that Tony was still alive. That breath of relief quickly got caught in her chest as she realized that he had a piece of metal imbedded in his side.

"Stay still Tony," she ordered as she shimmied over to him. "You're hurt pretty bad."

Tony gave a half-hearted laugh. "It's not anything that I haven't had to deal with before and…" his sentence was cut short as a cough tore through him. Ziva looked to his face and even in the dim light she could see a little bit of blood on the corner of his mouth.

"Tony you've got to stay still," Ziva whispered as she went to her sock and pulled out the emergency knife that she always kept strapped to her ankle. In a matter of moments she had cut off her pants at the knees and was prepared to use the material to try and stem the blood of Tony's wound.

"How many times to I have to tell you probie," Tony began as Ziva began to examine his wounds. "Don't give me orders."

"Dammit Tony stop it," she demanded as she brought her eyes up to his face. "We have just been attacked by Dearing. We're stuck in an elevator and you're hurt pretty bad. If I can't stop this from bleeding then…"

Her voice broke as the thought of him dying crossed her mind.

"Hey…" he comforted as he reached out and touched her cheek with his left hand. "It'll be okay. Gibbs will find us."

"Gibbs was taking Cole to disarm the bomb," Ziva pointed out as she clutched onto his hand. "What if—"

"Gibbs is fine," Tony assured her as he leaned his head back slightly. "He has to be."

Gibbs had tackled Abby to the ground as the bomb had exploded. Despite the reinforced windows, the shockwave proved to be too much and all the windows had been blown inwards. And despite the fact that he had been the one shielding Abby, he knew that he was relatively unharmed. He could feel the sting of cuts on his hands, caused by shards of glass as they had gone flying. But aside from that, Gibbs was all right. However when he looked down at Abby, she was not doing as well as he was.

She was bleeding out from a massive gash on her calf, and Gibbs figured that it had tore through an artery. Without even pausing to think, he pulled off his jacket and tore off his sleeve. It wouldn't be near enough to stem the bleeding, but it would have to do until help could arrive. As soon as he had completed the makeshift tourniquet, Gibbs went to work making sure that Abby's vitals were alright and had sustained no other injuries. Aside from a broken wrist, she seemed unharmed and as he was double checking his tourniquet she began to regain consciousness.

"Mm… Gibbs?" she asked as her eyes fluttered open. "What happened?"

"The bomb exploded Abby," he stated as he looked her in the eyes. "You okay?"

"Feeing kinda dizzy…"

"That would be the blood loss," Gibbs said as he brushed some of her black hair out of her eyes. "I need you stay still alright?"

"Anything for you Gibbs," she promised. "How bad is it?"

"You're going to be fine Abby."

Despite feeling dizzy, Abby gave him a withering look. "Don't coddle me Gibbs."

"You will be fine," he insisted. "So long as we get you out of here quickly. Now stay put, I'm going to go see what our situation is okay?"

Abby nodded. Gibbs first went to the elevator and found that it was completely dead. Silently hoping that no one had been in it when the bomb had exploded he went over to the windows. Despite the sacredness of her machines, Gibbs used them as a platform in which to stand on and he was able to see mass chaos. There were charred bodies everywhere and as the burnt out shell of Vance's car burned, Gibbs couldn't help but wonder about the fate of the rest of his team.

"Gibbs?" Abby asked in a small voice. "How bad is it out there?"

"Don't worry about that Abby," he told her as he came to sit down beside her once more. "Just focus on staying awake, alright?"

Abby nodded. "I'll try Gibbs…. Can you uh, do me a favour?"

"Anything Abby."

"Talk to me."

"About what?" he asked her.

"Anything," she replied. "Start with the rules, and then use your imagination."

Leroy Jethro Gibbs took his forensic scientist's hand before reciting the fifty rules that he lived his life by.

McGee struggled to his feet. His ears were ringing and he was severely cut up due to the glass imploding because of the bomb. The squad room was a mess. There were bodies everywhere. He felt his stomach turning over and he found the nearest waste paper basket and retched in it. When he wiped his mouth he saw blood on his cuff. "Oh not good…" he said to himself. He knew what bleeding internally could mean and McGee knew that he would have to get out of the building as quickly as possible.

He made his way to the elevator and tried not to look at the bodies that were lying closest to the windows. One of them however caused him to stop. It was the body of Director Vance. McGee checked the Director's pulse and couldn't find it. However as another wave of nausea passed over him, he clung to the hope that he was just too much in shock for anything to register.

Despite the fact that his ears were ringing he could vaguely hear sirens in the distance and when he glanced out the windows he could see the flashing lights. McGee stumbled over to the hole in the wall and looked out onto another scene of absolute chaos. Fires were being put out everywhere, emergency crews were arriving by the dozens and a part of him wondered whether or not anyone from the rest of his team had survived.

"Tony!" Ziva said sharply as she tried to startle him awake. "Don't fall asleep."

"Sorry Ziva…" he apologized as he opened his eyes. "I'm really sleepy."

"That's the blood loss talking. But you've got to fight it. Try to stay awake."

"I am trying."

"Well try harder."

Tony glared at Ziva. "I am trying."

"We're going to get out of here."

"You mean you're going to get out of here."

Ziva glared at him. "We are going to get out of here. Together."

Tony shook his head. "I can't feel my legs Ziva,"

"It's just the shock Tony… you're going to be fine."

"But if I'm not…"

"Now don't you go saying something that is wrong…"

"Not saying anything now would be wrong." Tony whispered as he looked away from Ziva. "If there's one thing that I've learned, it's that life is too short. I've let too many people walk away with me without knowing the truth and I'm not going to make that same mistake again."

"Well when we get out of here you can find her and tell her whatever it is that you want to say."

Tony looked back to Ziva. "And what if I want to say what I want to say right now?"

"I'm not going to be a messenger girl Tony."

"Even if the message is for you?"

Ziva caught Tony's gaze again and fell silent. She had known for a long time that there had been something between them; it was accentuated even more when he had risked life and limb to save her when she had been captured the year before last. But neither of them had said anything about their growing attraction. Ziva for her part thought that Tony was too much of a child and Tony was still scarred from his experience with Wendy his ex-fiancee and Jeanne the woman that he had fallen in love with under cover. He carried both women around in a corner of his heart, just like he carried his first female NCIS partner Kate with him.

"Ziva…"

She shook her head. "No. You're not saying goodbye."

Tony took her hand. "Ziva this might be the only chance that I get to say this…"

"Well I won't let you say anything that you might regret."

"Ziva my only regret would be to not tell you that I…"

"Shush!" she ordered as she placed her fingers on his mouth to silence him.

Tony gave her a quizzical look before he heard what she had heard. A muffled voice asking if anyone was in the elevator.

"Here!" he called out wincing at the pain. "We're here."

"Tony?" the muffled voice asked. "Is that you?"

"Is that McGee?" Tony asked looking to Ziva.

"I think it is," Ziva agreed before standing up and going to the door of the elevator. "McGee?" she called out. "Are you alright?"

"Ziva?" came McGee's muffled reply. "You guys alright?"

"We'll be fine as soon as you get us out of here McGee," Ziva assured. "Tony's hurt pretty bad."

"Okay, give me a second…"

"See," Ziva said with a smile on her face as she turned back to Tony. "Everything is going to be okay."

McGee walked back to the window where rescue workers were entering. "Two of my team members are in the elevator," he told them in a rush. "They're trapped."

"Thank you son," one of them said as they held out a stretcher for McGee to lay down on. "Now let us get you out of here."

"I can climb down that ladder," he told them.

"I'm sure that you can," another rescue worker said. "But it's procedure."

McGee sighed and laid down knowing that he was no good to Tony and Ziva dead.

In a matter of minutes the elevator doors were pried open and two rescue workers descended into the elevator. "Quickly," Ziva pleaded as she pointed to Tony. "He's lost consciousness."

"How long ago?"

"Not long." Ziva told them. "I mean I think he was unconscious when the bomb hit but he was talking up until a couple minutes ago."

"Alright are you alright to climb up the rope ladder?" one of the rescue workers asked her as his partner tended to McGee.

"Yes. I'm perfectly fine," Ziva assured him. "We need to get Tony out of here."

"And we will," the rescue worker assured. "But let's get you out of here first."

Ziva watched as McGee and Tony were loaded into the back of the ambulance. "I'll be with both of you as soon as I find Gibbs," she assured them. "He's got to be around here somewhere."

"Ziva," McGee said as he was loaded into the ambulance. "He was with Cole."

"He is NOT dead McGee," she told him in no uncertain terms. "I will find him."

McGee gave Ziva a small nod before the doors of the ambulance were closed. The minute it tore away she looked around. There was death and destruction everywhere and she steeled herself against the horrible thought that maybe Gibbs and Abby were dead.

"At least Ducky and Jimmy are fine," she told herself as she began to head back towards the building, thankful that the rescue workers were far to busy dealing with the dead and dying to pay any attention to her.

"Gibbs?" she called out, praying for an answer as she walked past the smoking remains of Vance's car. "Gibbs are you out there?"

Gibbs was in the middle of telling Abby how he proposed to Shannon, his first wife when suddenly he heard someone calling his name. He climbed up on one of Abby's machines and looked out the window. Through the blowing black smoke he could make out a pair of boots and legs that seemed very familiar.

"Ziva?" he called out, thankful when the boots came towards him, followed moments later by Ziva laying down on her belly. "You're okay."

"And so are you!" she exclaimed with a smile. She looked past Gibbs and saw Abby laying on the floor. "You okay Abby?"

"Fine…" she moaned.

"She's not okay," Gibbs told Ziva. "We need to get out of here."

"Just hang tight Gibbs, I'll get someone."

"Hey Ziva…" Gibbs began his voice suddenly quiet and unsure.

"Alive," she told him, knowing exactly what he wanted to know. "For the most part."

"Who?"

"The Director is in critical condition and was not responsive when he was taken to the hospital," she told him. "McGee seemed fine but I heard him telling one of the EMT's about throwing up blood and Tony…" Ziva paused and tried not to think of their conversation. "His side was ripped up pretty bad and he lost consciousness while we were being rescued out of the elevator."

"But they're all alive."

Ziva nodded. "Yes. They are."

Gibbs closed his eyes in relief. He couldn't and wouldn't allow himself to think about what COULD happen. Instead he latched on to the thought of how his team had miraculously survived. He had lost his family so long ago and though it had taken years, his team had become his family and he wasn't prepared to lose any one of them.

"Stay right where you are Gibbs," she continued. "I'm going to get help."

Ziva wondered why hours stretched on infinitely whenever people she cared about where in trouble. McGee, Tony and Abby had all been taken into surgery. The hospital was over taxed and under staffed. There were rumours about flying in other surgeons from various parts of the country but time was not on their side. She had over heard Gibbs talking on his phone and from the snippet of the conversation she could hear Ducky's name. When Gibbs finally got off the phone she could see the worry etched on his face.

"Is Ducky coming home?"

Gibbs shook his head. "Not right now. Not for a while."

"Gibbs I don't understand…"

"He's had a stroke," he interjected as he slumped down in a seat beside her. "He's stable and is awake but the Doctors down there don't want to move him for a couple weeks at least."

"What brought it on?"

"He was recalled to handle with this," Gibbs stated, waving his hand around and indicating to the bomb. "The stress of it was too much and—"

"Oh my god. Gibbs!" exclaimed a voice.

Ziva and Gibbs looked up to see Jimmy and Breena making their way through the crowd to them. Ziva got to her feet and didn't even flinch when Jimmy through his arms around her.

"You're alive."

"Palmer, what are you doing here?" Gibbs asked.

Jimmy pulled away from Ziva and gave Gibbs a quick hug as well, not caring about what he thought.

"Jimmy didn't want to go through the big wedding without his family there," Breena explained as Jimmy wrapped his arm around her.

"So you put the wedding off?" Ziva asked.

Jimmy shook his head. "No, we just moved it up and we're going to have our reception later… what happened? Someone said that there was an explosion at NCIS and—"

"It was Dearing," Gibbs explained. "That bastard snuck a bomb onto the yard and it exploded."

Jimmy's face paled. "Oh god. How many did we loose?"

"Too many to count right now," Ziva told him sadly. "The numbers are still coming in by the hour."

Jimmy looked around and saw that of the team of four, only two were there. "Tony?" he asked in a breathless voice. "McGee?"

"In surgery," Ziva continued as Gibbs sat back down in his seat silently. "Along with Abby and the Director."

Jimmy shook his head. "This is… horrible…."

"And it gets worse," Ziva continued as she took a step closer to Jimmy. "We've just gotten word that Ducky's had a stroke. He's alright," she added quickly, noting right away the startled and horrified look on his face. "But it's going to be a while before he comes home."

Jimmy shook his head in disbelief and slunk down into the seats opposite Ziva and Gibbs. "This is unbelievable."

"Oh Jimmy…" Breena cooed as she sat down beside her husband. "I'm so sorry."

"Rule six." Gibbs said suddenly.

"What?" asked Breena.

"It's his rules," Jimmy explained. "He has dozens of them."

"What is rule six?"

"Never say you're sorry," Ziva translated with a nod of her head. "And he's right. We shouldn't be the one's who are sorry. That bastard Dearing should bet he one apologizing."

"What are you going to do?" asked Jimmy.

"We're going to wait until we hear about our family," Gibbs answered.

"But what about Dearing?" Breena asked.

"He's probably gone so far underground that he won't resurface for a while," Gibbs explained. "We're going to have to make him think that he won this one."

"But Gibbs… didn't he win this one?" Jimmy asked hesitantly.

Gibbs shook his head. "Not if you don't choose to see it that way."

Jimmy fell silent after that; he knew exactly what Gibbs meant. Despite the loss of life that NCIS had already suffered, Dearing wouldn't really win unless they gave up and he wasn't about to give up on anyone who was fighting for their life.

The hospital was so over crowded with casualties that the post op rooms were triple booked. Abby, Tony and McGee were all put in the same room, which allowed Gibbs, Ziva and Jimmy to visit them all at once.

"Hey boss…" Tony began weakly as he saw Gibbs walk into the room. "Glad to see that you're in one piece."

"It would take more then a bomb to keep our fearless leader down," McGee added. "Right?"

Abby grinned. "Right. Nothing can keep our family down… except…"

"Where is the Duck-mister?" Tony asked.

"Long story," Jimmy answered. "But he is okay."

"So boss, what's the plan?" Tony asked noticing that Ziva was avoiding his eyes.

"The plan is to rebuild."

"And then?" asked McGee.

"And then we're going to catch the son of a bitch,"

Tony nodded. "Sounds like a plan to me."

"And me," McGee agreed.

"I'm going to need a new lab," Abby pointed out with a pout. "If I'm going to be any help at all that is."

The gang burst out into laughter. They all knew that laughing might not be the most appropriate show of emotion but at the same time laughing was perhaps the best show of emotion because despite everything that had happened and all the lives that were lost, the core of their family was together. They were alive and more or less well and ready to take on the aftermath.

The End… until September and the premiere of Season 10