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One In A Million - A Zibbs/Jiva/Jibbs One-Shot

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Ziva sat alone in the dark room - whispering low words to the body beside her. Regret, guilt, remorse, grief, shame, all tumbling over each other in a steady stream, not quite a confession, not quite an apology, but cathartic all the same. When at last she had exhausted everything she needed to say, she rose and lay a hand on where the forehead would be, the black plastic body bag cold and crinkly beneath her palm.

"Shalom, otsar sheli. Ani ohevet otach." As she whispered a final endearment - Hebrew like the rest of the words she had spoken tonight; for one she was never truly alone in this building and preferred this last conversation to be private, secondly the words were only for her own comfort, it did not matter whether the person she was farewelling would have understood - she heard a familiar footfall behind her. She whipped her hand away and swiped beneath her eyes, trying to erase the traces of tears and turned to face him. His eyes met her own and she could tell he knew, the realisation flashed across his brow for a split second before he regained his usually steely impassiveness, and they stared each other down in silence.

"Gibbs... I..." She faded. There was no sense in pretending. He had read her like a book, recognising the stark pain of personal loss that sat behind the professional grief she fronted with, an echo of the same look lingering at the very edge of his own gaze, heard the telltale voice of a lover in the soothing cadence of her words, and understood the tenderness with which she had laid her hand on her friend one last time. "I will tell you if you want."

"Don't." Whether that was "Don't tell me how she moved on after me," or "Don't tell me things I have no right to ask" was unclear. Ziva nodded acceptance and turned back to face the body.

The pair regarded her in silence for a long while, standing precisely far enough apart for the woman they had once loved and now mourned, to have stood between them. Even without spoken details, they both knew their stories were the same, an entire continent and years apart, but the ending almost identical. An undeniable bond, a few weeks or perhaps a few months of passion, a vendetta to fulfil, a career ladder to climb, and a love that was not returned as deeply as it had been given.

"I will go, you may have the last word with her." Ziva whispered after a few more minutes of quiet reflection.

"Hold the elevator." He murmured to her retreating back. She obliged, and he joined her a moment or two later, barely waiting till the doors closed before killing the power. "We both... her?" He asked finally, the brevity of the question indicating how much detail he was after.

"Yes." Ziva confirmed softly. "Cairo." The word was soft and reverent, an entire tapestry of memories woven in just five letters.

"Okay then." He exhaled hard, trying to understand. "So you knew...?"

"Paris?" She waited for the stiff nod of confirmation, steeled her face carefully to hide exactly how much detail she had been privy to. "Yes."

"Right." He nodded again, rubbed his forehead in thought.

"Gibbs, I would never say a word." She assured him quietly. "I trust that you will return the favour."

"Secret's safe with me." He promised in return.

"I would fall for her all over again." Ziva said in a whisper. "Even knowing that it would end."

"Yup." His agreement was equally softly spoken. Ziva reached for his hand in the dimly lit space, sliding her fingers into his palm. He squeezed back gently, both of them sharing the memory of holding another hand, with the only other person in the world who knew what it felt like.

"If you ever want to remember her not as Director Shepard, but as Jen..." Her voice trailed off. .

"I know where to find you." Gibbs finished. "No promises."

"I was not asking for a promise. Just know that my door is open." She clarified.

"Okay." He nodded again, at a loss for anything more to say, both his natural silence and the weight of the discovery playing a part. Another long silence fell, neither of them wanting to restart the elevator, yet not really knowing where or how to finish the conversation. "What are the odds?" He muttered at last.

"That is McGee's strong suit, not my own." Ziva murmured. Something like a laugh caught in his throat in response. "But I would say one in a million... just like Jen."

"Yeah..." He leaned over, hit the switch and the steel box began to slide slowly upwards. "Just like Jen."