We all like an angsty Tony and Ziva doing what she does best; getting him out of his headspace.
"And you know what Tommy did then, momma?"
The sound of the front door opening and falling shut filters down the hall, and he hears the shuffling of feet on hardwood, a bag dropping to the floor with a soft thump, and a deep chuckle resonate through the room.
"What is that, neshomeleh?"
"Welllll," His lips pull up at their daughter's dramatic tone, and he can picture the eye roll and head tilt that accompany it. Their voices grow louder as he hears shoes being toed off and jackets being hung, and footsteps echo through their home, preceding their approach to the family room.
"He spilled paint all over my s'prise for…" He turns on his seat from the couch towards the entrance, and smiles at the little girl who's only just appeared; her face lighting up as she drops her mother's hand and runs toward him. "Daddy!"
He cracks his first, real smile of the day and shuffles on the couch to get more comfortable; wincing as he struggles to pull himself into a sitting position and pain shoots through his side and shoulder.
Ziva sees his wince, stepping farther into the dimly lit room.
"Careful, baby." She calls softly, concern tugging at her voice, and their daughter stops short in front of him, just as she's about to engulf him in a hug.
"Sorry, daddy." She breathes, retracting her arms and brushing strands of loose curls that have fallen across her face. She looks at him with sad, familiar brown eyes, and reaches one hand out tentatively to pat his cheek instead; rubbing softly at the stubble along his neck and and face with a giggle. Her eyes drop to his bandaged arm and shoulder, and he gives her a reassuring smile.
"I'm fine, princess." He murmurs, wrapping his good arm around her and pulling her against him. He looks up at Ziva, who's watching him with careful eyes over their daughter's back. He sees her face tighten in the increasingly familiar way as of late while she surveys his appearance; the shirt he's still wearing from yesterday, his unkempt hair, and the growing number of empty beer bottles accumulating on the coffee table.
"It's really nice outside today, Daddy." He breaks his gaze with Ziva, turning back to their daughter as she steps back from him, placing her hands on his knees excitedly. "Momma said maybe we can go to the park before dinner." She looks between her parents hopefully, but her smile falls slightly as his face darkens.
His voice is devoid of all its earlier softness he reserves for her.
"You know daddy can't right now." He leans back against the couch, amongst the makeshift bed that's served him for the past two weeks, and he's reminded once more of the accident.
Their daughter's face flickers with disappointment for only a moment, but she covers it by dropping her head.
"Not even swings?" She mumbles quietly.
Tony turns his head to stare at the wall then, his face hardening, and Ziva finally steps in, her eyes narrowing briefly in his direction as she quickly bends down to address their daughter.
"Hey, why don't you go get your play clothes on? We can go to the park by your grandfather's house." Ziva tilts her daughter's chin to look up at her, giving her a warm smile. "You can give him the picture you made today. He would like that, yes?"
Their daughter's brilliant grin lights up her face then, and she nods with enthusiasm. She pulls roughly at the straps of her bookbag still adorning her back, and brandishes it to her mother while brushing to move between her and her father between the couch.
"Okay! You hold 'em for me?" She doesn't wait for an answer as she runs off through the house, her footsteps becoming softer as she runs down the hall toward her bedroom.
Ziva's faux smile fades once she's left the room; her fingers growing whiter as her grip tightens around the small bookbag. She leans it against the couch by Tony's feet; getting to her feet and straightening before him. Tony remains silent as she moves around him, quickly collecting empty bottles and trash that litter the coffee table and his makeshift bedroom.
"This needs to stop." She murmurs almost inaudibly. He drops his head back, looking up towards the ceiling and the circles under his eyes seem to darken by the second.
"Can we not fight tonight?"
Ziva pauses over a discarded shirt on the floor, and she shuffles the bottles in her arm to regain her grip, causing them to clink together loudly. Her face is stormy as she whips around to look at him.
"Perhaps if you would talk to me, we would not have to continue fighting." She lashes out harshly, trying to keep her voice low while listening for their daughter down the hall. She storms from the room momentarily while he mutters under his breath, and he's looking far away from her as she re-enters the living room, brandishing a trash bag in her hand.
"I know these past few weeks have been difficult, Tony." She opens the bag with her free hand and chin, throwing the bottles in her arm into the bag and liberating her other hand to pick up the remaining trash littering the area around the couch. "But you are forgetting that your daughter is only five years old, and she is having just as much trouble accepting your accident as you - "
"Ziva, enough." He cuts her off, and the venom in his tone is enough to make her look up in surprise, and anger of her own bubbles over.
"No, Tony, enough from you." She drops the bag, and stalks toward his position on the couch. Her hands come up to her hips, and she stands over him while he avoids her piercing gaze.
"I can only begin to imagine how difficult this must be for you." He shakes his head, his lips forming a thin line. "I know much was taken from you -"
"Yeah, Ziva. That's right." His voice breaks, and he turns his head to finally meet her eyes. "My career. You realize I might not ever be out in the field again?" His good fist meets the coffee table, and Ziva whispers a harsh warning for his ears alone. He ignores her, instead his face hardens even more. "They took away who I am, my career, the only thing that matters to me -"
Ziva stops him.
"How can you say that?" She gapes at him, and the look on her face finally shakes him, and he feels paralyzed by the pain that flashes across her face.
"Tony, you have me. You have your family. You have a beautiful daughter that adores you." She murmurs, her voice deadly and quiet. "A daughter that's missed you terribly these past couple weeks. A daughter who wanted to go to the park just to see her father smile." She turns sharply away from him, yanking at the bookbag resting besides the couch, and reaches her hand in, shuffling through the contents. He stares silently as she searches, and when her hand finally reappears, she brandishes a colorful, folded paper. She thrusts it into his lap, and he can only stare silently at the homemade card adorned with familiar, handdrawn artwork.
"You have a daughter whom that cared enough to make you two cards today, after a boy spilled paint all over her first one." Her voice, though it began so angry, is now close to breaking. She wipes at the corner of her eye, turning her head to look across the room.
"You may have been the one who took a bullet Tony, but do not think for a second we have not suffered just as much."
He flips open the card in his lap, tracing his finger over his daughter's handiwork, and he blinks back the tears that are burning his eyes.
"Ziva," He begins, but the sound of their daughter's running steps make him falter, and he falls silent.
Ziva wipes at her eyes, controlling her features into a carefully neutral expression.
"Why don't you think about that while I take your daughter to the park?" She breathes harshly, just before their daughter bounds into the room.
Ziva keeps her eyes trained on him, and utters a final whisper for him alone.
"Take out your trash while we are gone. And this new person you have become with it."
With that, she fixes her smile in place; turning to appraise their daughter. A soft chuckle escapes her lips.
"Almost, my love." Her eyes fall to her untied shoes adorning her feet, and with one, last fleeting glance toward Tony, she picks up the book bag against the couch and goes to kneel before their daughter.
"You have your shoes on the wrong feet." She laughs against her daughter's hair, pressing a quick kiss to her curls. The little girl heaves an epic sigh, reaching for her mothers dangling necklace.
"I thought they felt kinda funny."
Tony watches from the couch as Ziva breathes a laugh, pulling her against her hip and lifting her effortlessly.
"Bye daddy." The little girl calls sadly from over Ziva's shoulder, and offers him a small wave. "Feel better!"
Tony lifts his hand to wave back at her, his eyes dropping to the card as they exit the room, and the front door opens and shuts once more.
The pain in his shoulder has long since dulled; Ziva's words in his head lacing through him like fire instead.