Ashleigh Anpilova


Set after Swan Song.

DiNozzo is thinking.

A pre-het story.

Written: May 2011. Word count: 500.




Tony sat in his silent apartment. An opened but barely touched bottle of beer stood on the table in front of him.


He was thinking; remembering.


It wasn't Gibbs who was on his mind. He knew the boss was at Reston House with Ducky, the one person whose comfort Gibbs would accept.


It wasn't even EJ who occupied his thoughts. Once he'd been sure the shoulder wound was just that: deep, but not fatal, he had left her with Cade and Levin at the hospital. She hadn't asked him to stay; she'd made it clear she didn't want him to stay. She'd needed to be with her team; he should be with his. That was what was right that night. He knew McGee had gone home with Abby. Palmer he didn't know about, but for now he couldn't spare Palmer a thought.


It was the other member of the team who was on his mind. Ziva. No matter how hard he tried the memories of what she'd said in the elevator kept returning.


'There is always another monster. I mean, we pursue them, but we just keep making targets of ourselves. I do not think I can take anymore.'


'I do not think I can take it anymore.'


Those nine words formed the strongest memory, along with the look on her face, the shattered, desperate, pained look that had turned her normally beautiful face into something he couldn't bear to see. Her reddened eyes, her messy hair, her ashen cheeks, her slightly trembling lips. He remembered it all.


Just as he remembered touching her hair, stroking her cheek, before putting his arms around her, drawing her into his embrace, feeling her head go down onto his shoulder. He'd held her, not even letting go when the doors had parted to reveal McGee and Abby in a similar embrace. Then the four of them had held one another, offering and taking comfort.


But the strongest memory of all was the feel and the scent of Ziva in his arms. But again, even as he saw and felt and smelled her, he heard her words 'I do not think I can take it anymore.'


He couldn't put the memory out of his mind, no matter how much he wanted to; it was there and wouldn't go away. He didn't want to think about Ziva leaving NCIS. He didn't want to think about Ziva walking away from NCIS - walking away from him.


"Damn," he whispered softly, briefly closing his eyes. EJ would understand, somehow he knew she would. And as for Gibbs and his Rule #12? Well, he'd stood up to him once; he'd do so again.


He got up and grabbed his car keys. EJ had been right; Gibbs, Ducky, Abby and McGee had been right; tonight was for being with your team; with your family; with those you loved.


On his way to Ziva's apartment he made a vow: he would not let her walk away; from NCIS or from him.



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