Picking Up the Pieces - Prologue

NCIS Special Agent Anthony “Tony” DiNozzo felt sick. His heart beat sluggishly, there was a roaring in his ears, and black spots appeared in his line of vision. Not good signs. He’d either toss his cookies or faint in the middle of the bullpen. In the middle of a crowded office.

For the first time in his life he didn’t care what that might do to his reputation. He didn’t care about anything. He simply didn’t care anymore. Because there was nothing worth caring about anymore. He felt dead. He was dead inside.

He knew that feeling. He’d experienced it once before. Four years ago. When he thought...

When he thought Ziva was dead. He’d been dead inside then as well.

But he’s been resurrected when he’d seen her alive and well in front of him in that dingy cell in Somalia.

There was no chance of resurrection this time. Never again.

Because this time Ziva David was really dead.

“Gibbs,” he heard Abby whisper shakily. “Are you sure?”

Their boss just nodded, an arm slung across Abby’s shoulders.

“Are you really, really sure?”

“The retrieved DNA is a match, dear Abby,” Ducky murmured dejectedly.

“That can be faked.” Abby replied forcefully. “I mean, we haven’t seen the body.” She shuddered. They’ve seen the photographs. The photographs of the dead body that looked so much like Ziva. Too much like Ziva. “Not really.”

“The Mossad’s been thorough,” Director Vance said from the stair-landing over them. “They needed to be. So soon after Eli’s death, they needed to be. They needed to make sure.”

“No.” Abby shook her head, looking beseechingly toward McGee. “No.”

There was no reply. He stared into space.

She looked at Palmer. He had tears in his eyes. She looked at Ducky, willing for him to smile reassuringly at her. Nothing. She glanced up at Gibbs. His face, as always, revealed nothing, but there was an extra layer of sadness in his eyes.

“Tony,” she moaned. She knew he was her only ally in this. She knew he refused to believe it. She looked at him and her heart skipped a beat. His eyes were dead and she finally realized it. She finally accepted it. If Tony believed Ziva was dead, then it was true. And she couldn’t bear it.

She burst into tears, hiding her face against Gibbs’ chest. Ziva was dead.

Gibbs embraced her, his eyes never leaving the senior member of his team.

Tony didn’t meet that blue gaze. He just calmly stood and, leaving his backpack by the desk, walked to the elevator.

Above Abby’s head, Gibbs looked at Vance.

~~~

The drive to his building a blur, Tony closed the apartment door behind him, and leaned back against it. His keys clattered to the floor and he followed them, slowly sliding against the door.

He leaned his arms on his bent knees, dropped his head forward, and broke down.

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