The Op calls for all three of their expertise, and so Gibbs drags them in tow across the Atlantic to meet Dunham in an undisclosed location. It's a need to know Op, and while they're taking part, apparently that doesn't give them privy to such mundane things as location and origin.
The land is hot, and the air is suffocating, and two questioning glances toward their ex-assassin receive a hushed confirmation that they're somewhere in or around North Africa.
None of them are thrilled, McGee the least so; he's got groom duty in T-minus 52 hours, and Mrs. McGee-To-Be will not take kindly to half of her wedding party being tardy to her big day.
They are warned that this execution has the possibility of going pear shaped rather quickly, and it's up to them to get one another out. Their boss will be in their ears the entire time; waiting in a convoy fifteen miles east of the cell they will raid. The boys are relying on Ziva's tacticle experience and all around ninja prowess, and they feel like toy soldiers as they follow her out of the brush, guarding her back and imitating every slow and precise movement she makes. She catches Tony watching her closely, and he can't deny she's all kinds of hot when she's in hip-hugging cargos and wielding more artillery than he's likely to have ever seen in his life; which is saying something, since he's been a cop for a significant number of years, and known her for a quarter of that.
It's T-minus 43 hours when they break into the cell. It goes as smoothly as they could have hoped for; Gibbs bellowing orders in one ear, and Ziva's sharp, smooth commands in the other over the sound of gunfire and blast after blast. They've got Dunham's man secure, and they send McGee with him out of the nest. Tony and Ziva find themselves back to back, clearing a chamber to breach the entrance they came through. It's when they think they're clear, just as their boots meet dry, desert sand when she takes a shot to the knee, and she goes down before he can even whip around to the echo of three, consecutive shots. Her gun is already drawn, though, and he's got a bullet to his thigh before Tony can even blink. If they were back home, the shot would be sufficient enough, and protocol would be followed. But they're not home, and the furry and rage that erupts within him as he watches her crumble in on herself has him raising his arm; aiming, firing.
She counts one, two, three; four bullets resounding from the gun in his hand.
He's moving toward the fallen foe rapidly, kicks him, grabs his gun, and it's only her plea ofenough, Tony does he gather his control, straightening and rushing to her side.
He gathers her up in a swift, bone crushing motion, cradling her to his chest, and takes off east, following their bosses directions bellowed in their ears.
She doesn't allow Tony to carry her once they're several yards from the convoy, but she can't stop him as he barricades into the vehicle after her, wasting no time in clearing space for her to lay down. He acts as a curtain as he helps rip off the blood soaked cargos, covering her while he attempts to staunch the bleeding, murmuring soothing words as he tries to calm her heart rate and his.
She lays a hand on his forearm thats pressed against her knee, cutting him off, and catching his gaze.
"I know I am okay." She tells him softly. "You are here."
Their plane gets them back at record speed, and she's in and out of the hospital with orders for eight months of desk duty. She's furious and cranky, but the only blessing that she's awarded with is she no longer has to stand besides a group of bridesmaids throughout their Probie's ceremony.
Abby insists that she still should wear a dress, even pushing for a heel on her one, good leg that Ziva stoutly refuses. But she does find it in her to don her long, elegant black number with the geometric cuts that reveal golden, toned, skin, and she would be lying if she denied that her partner was in the back of her mind when she made the purchase.
She spends the reception at their team's table, sipping on a cocktail that dulls the pain in her leg just enough that she's not regretting going without her painkillers for the evening. She declines Gibbs and Ducky's invitations to rock with her slowly on the dance floor, and she watches with amused eyes and a warm smile as Gibbs twirls a niece on Delilah's side of the family, drawling squeals of delight out of her, and Ducky schmoozes up to a regal looking woman with a hat and brooch of equal size and proportion.
Her partner, after disappearing for at least three songs, returns before her with a mojito and what looks like bourbon, on the rocks. She gives him a thankful smile, but her eyes stray back to McGee and Delilah as they now take the center of the dance floor, in a swirl of lace gown and abundant laughter. Her gaze turns almost wistful, much to his surprise, as couples begin migrating toward the floor. He settles the drinks down on the table. The familiar song now playing hits it's chorus then, and he turns to educate her on a most classic love song, but realizes that she's already humming along to the tune with familiarity, tapping the foot of her good leg to the rhythm.
Something softens inside him then, and she looks up, startled, when he gently takes her drink from her grasp and proffers his hand to her.
She gives him a strange look, as if she's not quite sure he's kidding or being deliberately dense.
"I think," she nods, looking down at her leg encased in a cast under her dress, "Dancing is out of the question."
He gives her his most charming smile, a secret glint in his eye that immediately makes her suspicious, and she crosses her arms against her.
"Nonsense," his lips quirk, and in one, fluid motion, he reaches out to gently lift her, resting her on top of his feet. She gives a startled sound of surprise as he pulls her close to him, securing her against his body, and they take off, spinning slowly through the crowd of people.
His hands brush down her sides, and his touch against the bare parts of her skin that are exposed burn pleasantly under his fingers, and she covers her shiver with false irritation.
"I am not a child, Tony."
He chuckles against her, bringing his cheek to rest against her head, and she can't help but melt against him, move just a little closer.
"Oh, sweetcheeks," he implores, his voice low against her ear. "You look anything but a child tonight."
McGee catches her gaze from behind his back across the dance floor, and gives her a knowing smile that tells her the blush heating her face now is all too telling. She hides both the flush and her smile in the crook of his neck, and he thinks she may murmur a hushed thank you against his skin.
He twirls her around long after the song ends, and another one, just as sweet and slow, begins.