Stay With Me

The waiting room was empty aside from a single pacing form. How long did it really take to surgically remove a bullet from an abdomen and repair any damage? An hour had already passed without so much as an update. Tony and Gibbs were still at the crime scene; Ducky and Palmer were probably loading up their, now dead, suspect to escort to autopsy. Abby would most certainly try to get to the hospital to check on her friend whether the case was put to bed yet or not.

The door suddenly opened and two men walked in with solemn faces. Tony couldn't look away from the blood that still covered the white fabric of his partner's shirt. Gibbs took one look at the person in front of him and spoke softly, "Update?"

"Nothing, they haven't told me anything. I'm starting to think they get a kick out of watching the families suffer."

"It does feel that way sometimes," Gibbs said. "We'll know when they know."

Tony found a somewhat comfortable seat and leaned his head back against the wall. Gibbs had watched his two agents closely and finally excused himself after twenty minutes to get coffee for the three of them. Ducky and Abby had both called to check on their friend, neither had been happy with the lack of information.

It was another hour-and-a-half later that a man walked through the door. He was still dressed in scrubs and a rather large smear of blood was crossing his chest. "You are with the injured agent?"

"Yes," Gibbs said, flashing his badge.

"The bullet did minimal damage, missing the vital lungs; however, we did have to remove a small section of the liver that was nicked but it's nothing life threatening. Agent David is resting comfortably and I believe will make a smooth recovery."

McGee lifted his arms, resting his hands on top of his head, doubled over and exhaled a breath he hadn't even been aware holding. Tony chuckled and slapped the younger agent on the back.

"Can we see her?" Gibbs questioned.

"Only family at this time, sir." The doctor spoke.

"We are her family," McGee said instantly. "She doesn't have anyone else on this continent."

The doctor studied the three men carefully. He was used to people trying to backpedal and say they were family so they could be allowed into the private rooms. This seemed different and they were members of a federal agency. "Alright, but only one at a time until she wakes and is ready for more."

Turning, the doctor exited the room and left the three men staring at each other. Gibbs knew that each of them wanted to stay but the case also needed to be officially completed. He had been the one to hand out assignments and it was he who had ultimately sent Ziva to injury. Studying his two men in the way that only he could do in a matter of moments, he turned to Tony.

McGee walked through the door twenty minutes later. He dropped his bloody shirt next to the sink and unconsciously smoothed the fabric of the shirt Gibbs had loaned him. McGee slid the visitor chair next to the bed and sat down. Ziva was unusually pale, her dark hair stood out even more and the shadows under her eyes were unnerving. The heart monitor attached to Ziva steadily beeped and he watched as her chest rose and fell with each breath she took.

"You shouldn't be in here." McGee spoke. "Tavern was aiming at me, Ziva."

Tim looked up as the heart monitor started to beep faster. It worried him slightly as he'd never seen something like that happen. Of course, he and hospitals never had been good friends. He reached out his hand to hover above Ziva's arm but thought better of it and retracted his arm.

"Tony said that I should send you the dry cleaning bill for my shirt," McGee laughed softly.

McGee suddenly felt like he'd walked into Autopsy and was listening to Ducky talk to one of their victims. He had always found it a rather odd personality trait of the older gentleman but sitting in a quiet room that was occupied by another person was equally odd. Once again the events of the day surged through his mind and he tried to figure out where exactly it had all gone wrong.

"I mean, why did you do it? Why knock me out of the way?" Tim asked. "Not that I'm not grateful but I'd rather it be me lying in that bed than you."

Tim gulped as his brain acknowledged what he'd just said. She was asleep, she couldn't actually hear him… right? Jealousy was never easy for him. He never thought of it as jealousy with Tony, more like sibling rivalry, except for when it came to Ziva. McGee was her friend; that was all anyone thought him worthy of. It ate away at him sometimes, the idea that his friends thought so little of him that he couldn't have a successful relationship.

"I was thinking last night," Tim said leaning his arms on the bed and looking up to Ziva's sleeping form. "I was remembering when Saleem brought you into that room- when I heard your voice, I thought he would know for sure that I was faking unconsciousness because my heart was beating so loud."

Now that he'd opened his mouth, it seemed he wouldn't be able to stop himself. He'd pushed his personal feelings aside for years so they could maintain their working relationship. Now that she was asleep and they were alone together- everything he'd ever wanted to say to her came rushing into the forefront of his mind.

"When you went undercover with Tony's dad- I mean, I know you can certainly take care of yourself but I really wanted to handcuff him to the bumper of the van when he ran his hand over your…" Tim smiled lightly. "And when Gibbs stood you up at your Citizenship Ceremony- I guess it doesn't really matter though, huh? It's all already done."

Finally he plucked up the courage and picked up her hand in his own. He could feel her heartbeat through her palm and lifted her hand to gently place a kiss against her knuckles. The monitor beeped faster and the numbered flashed in red.

Tim got to his feet and nearly ran for the open door to call out to the nurse at the desk.

"I don't know her heart rate just went really high, so I-" Tim returned with the nurse to find the monitor beeping normally. "Ok, I swear it was. The numbers were flashing and-"

"Slow down, Agent McGee." The nurse said gently. "Sometimes certain stimuli cause increases. What were you doing?"

"Nothing," Tim said defensively. "I was talking to her."

The woman nodded her head and started to check the electrodes just in case. "Talking about what?"

Tim froze; this woman did not need to know what he was telling her. He shook his head and sat back down in the chair. "Look, I was just sitting here." Tim reached for her hand again. "I was talking about work and I took hold-"

The monitor started beeping again causing Tim and the nurse to look up. "That! It started doing that. Then I… I kissed the back of her hand."

The nurse seemed to understand and was smiling at him, waiting for him to mimic what he'd done. This time he refrained, making her understand even more.

"I think I know what is going on, Agent McGee." The nurse smiled. "I've never seen it first hand but I've heard stories. Sometimes when a person is around someone that they love," She smiled. "Heart rate increases."

"No, no. Ziva and I are-"

"Just friends?" The woman smirked at him.

It was true, he and Ziva being friends, but he also knew what she was insinuating was true as well. For three years he'd kept his infatuation at bay, telling himself that she was happy with whatever guy she was dating at the time and that he should respect that. There had been the occasions when they were alone together that the emotions almost became too much to hide and he'd come close to telling her; though each time as he looked into her brown orbs, the words about to fall from his mouth, he'd chicken out.

Tim exhaled sharply, dropped Ziva's hand and got to his feet. "How is it that you, a person I've known for… what, a-half-hour? How is it so obvious for you but people I've known for years don't see it?"

"Maybe they do," The nurse said calmly. "Agent David might even see it."

"She hasn't said anything," Tim said softly, looking at her sleeping form.

"Neither have you." The elderly nurse smiled. "Why don't you try this; she can obviously hear you so why not think of the monitor as a sort of lie detector."

Tim shook his head. "She knows how to beat those."

"Hearts never lie." She smiled before leaving the room quietly.

The door clicked softly as it closed behind the woman. Tim looked up as she smiled at him once more through the glass and returned to the nurses' station. The windows didn't give much privacy but at least they were soundproof; he could finally tell Ziva the truth and leave it up to fate whether she'd remember after waking up. McGee suddenly wished that Tony was there so he could test out the nurse's theory of Ziva's heart rate.

"Ok," Tim said as he returned to his vacated seat. "Lie detector."

He looked up to the monitor above Ziva's head as it continued the steady rhythm. How was he suppose to know if anything he said would tell him something about what Ziva was thinking. So her heartbeat was faster; they'd been friends for years, she would at least love him as a friend. Right?

"This is crazy," Tim said after a few minutes of trying to think of what to say.

The beeping slowed instantly and he could feel the glare she'd be giving him had she been awake. Tim could even see it in his mind's eye; Ziva standing inches from him with her eyes narrowed, daring him to come clean about what he was thinking. A phantom sting from the light slap she'd deliver to his cheek.

"Sorry, ok." Tim inhaled deeply and tried to convince himself that he wasn't crazy by what he was about to do. "I guess it all really began when Tony and Gibbs came back from Israel without you."

Tim looked down into his lap as the memory resurfaced. Tony and Gibbs had walked into the office with somber faces. Neither seemed to even notice his inquisitive gaze. Finally he worked up the courage to ask but was immediately cut off. Gibbs' phone had rang and they were off to a crime scene. In the end it was Abby that had informed him of the change in the team.

"It was almost a week before I could talk to either of them outside of reporting on cases." Tim admitted. "I know that I was just the safe person when you first came. No one else really wanted to get close to you because we were still mourning Kate but, despite your personal connection, that wasn't exactly your fault."

His mouth seemed to have opened like a flood gate and he couldn't stop his thoughts any longer.

"Somewhere, over the years…" He glanced up to her heart monitor before gazing directly at her closed eyes. "Those feelings of friendship evolved into something more. Every time I heard Tony make some remark that made you blush or smile, I felt sick to my stomach. It was after you encouraged me to go out with Maxine that I finally admitted that I couldn't get involved with her. My heart was somewhere else, I just couldn't tell you."

Ziva's monitor increased slightly, urging him to spell it out in black and white.

"I guess what I'm really saying is that…" He covered her hand with his, lacing his fingers down into hers. "I want to be with you. You deserve so much, you've already overcome so much. I think it's time we both thought a little more about our own futures and what we want."

The monitor beeped steadily and McGee lowered his head. The theory he'd been working with seemed to have failed. He chuckled lightly to himself and gently squeezed her hand. "It's alright, no harm done. I'd rather keep you as a friend than lose you all together."

He leaned down and kissed her knuckles which caused her heartbeat to increase once more. It made his own heart surge briefly. His words alone weren't receiving much of a reaction but when he'd kiss her…

McGee glanced up at the window on the door, gathered up his courage and leaned forward to lightly press his lips to hers. Once more the alarms sounded as her heart rate increase further. He pulled back, his eyes on the monitor. It took a moment before he glanced down and into her open eyes.

"Ziva," He swallowed. "I-I-"

She reached up and pressed her fingers to his lips, silencing him. "You really couldn't tell me about your feelings?" McGee blinked, dropping his gaze. "You should know that you can tell me anything."

"You're saying you wouldn't have killed me with your computer mouse had I told you before?"

Ziva paused, lowered her fingers, a smirk slowly forming on her face. "I will not deny that I may not have thought anything more before that night you guys brought me back to NCIS. Do you remember?" McGee nodded. "Everyone was still clapping and you had to literally pry Abby off of me." McGee smiled at the memory.

He'd been surprised when Ziva asked to stay with him until she procured another apartment. In hindsight, she hadn't been happy to see Tony- he had killed her boyfriend- when they'd been presented with her while being held by Saleem. She had only fought once about taking his bed, leaving him to the floor, before she climbed between his sheets and fell asleep.

"You looked so uncomfortable sleeping in your desk chair," Ziva said. "Did you know that you talk in your sleep?"

McGee instantly paled. What had he said that night? He remembered dreaming: Gibbs had been too late on his shot, Saleem killed Ziva. The nightmare reoccurred several times several times since then. A light slap against his cheek brought him back to the present.

"Someone must have been hurting me," Ziva told him. "That was when I realized."

He looked down as her hand covered his, her heart rate still beeped steadily.

"You have always been there, always more worried about others before yourself. You befriended me immediately, you believed I didn't kill that kid in the elevator, you kept in contact when we were broken apart," Ziva paused. "Might I ask you a question, McGee?"

Tim nodded his head. "Do you think, regarding our futures, do you think that we may share a mutual future?"

McGee perked up slightly. "You mean, together?" Ziva nodded slightly. "I've only ever thought of is as a dream."

Ziva reached her hand up, took hold of his jaw and drew him closer to her. She pressed her lips to his, watching as his eyes fluttered shut. She didn't need the heart monitor to know that his heart was racing as he tentively returned her kiss. Once the broke apart, it was only mere inches.

"Tim, when I get out-"

"Yea?" He whispered.

"Will you take me out to dinner?"

His eyes had remained closed as he whispered his reply. "Yes."

"Tim? Will you stay with me?"

Tim didn't hesitate. He lowered his mouth to hers once more, answering softly before kissing her again.

Both McGee and Ziva were unaware of the elderly nurse standing at the door, looking through the glass window. A smile formed on her face before she turned to the man waiting behind her.

"I'm sorry, Agent DiNozzo. Perhaps we should give them just a few more minutes."