A/N: Not as good as the others, but I think it works. I hope.

Conversations With Caitlin

Boxed In

By Lizabeth S. Tucker

Ziva David was not a woman who felt the need to apologize often. And she had never expected to do so to the one man who alternately annoyed, amused, and aggravated her. And sometimes even attracted her, although Ziva would never admit it to anyone.

To think she was prowling through a cemetery all because of a party that hadn't included the man she was searching for, Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo. It seemed to be a good idea to invite a few of her coworkers over for a simple meal in her new apartment. She had chosen Jimmy Palmer and Timothy McGee as they had befriended her from the first. McGee had asked to bring Abby Sciuto as his date and, wanting to improve their rather prickly working relationship, Ziva had agreed.

Ziva was amazed at the roominess of the cemetery, so different from Jewish ones where tombstones were placed in close proximity of each other. She shook her head, wondering what possessed her to listen to McGee when he suggested looking here for the missing Agent. When she questioned him, his reply was that it was a place that gave them peace.

And for Tony to call in over a simple scratch and hurt feelings was simply unprofessional. It wasn't like she invited Gibbs. He had shown up at her door with paperwork she needed to sign and stayed to eat.

"And you didn't bother to tell your partner that, did you?"

Ziva twirled about, crouched with her weapon in hand. She saw no one. Carefully checking behind the few trees and grave markers, the Israeli was disturbed to find no one.

"Would it be easier if you could see me? Fine. Here I am." An ethereal form began to take shape near a newer tombstone.

Ziva's brown eyes grew wide as she saw the woman solidify right in front of her. Chills ran up her spine when she recognized who the woman resembled. She whipped around, trying to find DiNozzo. "I'm not falling for it, DiNozzo, so you might as well come out."

The dark-haired woman laughed. "Do you really think Tony has the technical skill to pull this off? C'mon, Officer David, you're smarter than that. At least I thought so until you pulled this stunt."

"I'm not talking to you. You're just a hologram," Ziva muttered as she continued to search for the prankster. "This must've been why McGee was so insistent that I come here to look for Tony."

"Really? Then where's the equipment? And don't forget the speakers, where are they?"

Ziva diligently searched without success. She returned to where the…ghost sat, perched on the warm marble.

"Ready to believe?"

"That you're Kate Todd? I'm not…I don't believe in ghosts."

Kate raised one eyebrow as she stared at the other woman. "I find that hard to believe."

Still somewhat convinced it was a trick, Ziva shrugged. "My conscience is clean."

"Really? After killing your own brother?"

"How did you…"

"Tony. He may play a fool, but make no mistake, he isn't."

Ziva bit her lower lip, wondering who DiNozzo might have told.

"Don't worry, DiNozzo also knows how to keep his mouth shut surprisingly enough. At least about the important stuff. I'm the only one he told."

Finally convinced that she actually was speaking to the late Caitlin Todd, Ziva slowly lowered herself to the bright green grass. "I don't understand any of this."

"Seems like you don't understand a lot of things or you wouldn't be searching for Tony to make things right. I understand that you're a spy, not a law enforcement officer, but even you should've known how that would hurt him."

"It wasn't intentional. And I offered to make dinner for him as well as drive him home."

"Which he refused, I assume?"

"Yes."

"Tony would see your invitation as an insult. Or worst, something offered in pity. And Tony DiNozzo won't be pitied. Ever."

Ziva frowned. "Pity? I might find him a pain in the ass, want to smack him into a wall, but I would never pity him."

"Then you'll have to think of a way to let him know that without saying the words."

The Israeli tilted her head to one side. "I don't understand."

"If you say you don't pity him, Tony will be certain that you do."

"Then how can I do it?"

"Act normally with him. Tease him, insult him, flirt with him. And don't arrange any more parties without inviting Tony."

"I don't flirt with DiNozzo!" Ziva exclaimed, jumping to her feet in anger.

"Don't you? I know I did." She smiled at the irate woman. "C'mon, he might be a pig, but he's a hot looking one."

Ziva tried to keep her grimace, but finally gave up and chuckled. "Maybe. Just a little hot. Not that I've really noticed."

"You're a bad liar for a spy, Officer David," Kate replied archly.

After a few moments to recover themselves, Ziva waved her hands about. "But I have to find him to build fences."

"I think you mean build bridges or mend fences. But I understand what you mean."

"McGee was certain Tony would head here."

"I have to admit, with what you're saying happened, I'm rather surprised he didn't come here either." Kate floated up above Ziva's head. "I don't see him. That means DiNozzo is curled up on his couch, watching old movies and drowning his sorrows."

"He's drinking?"

"Not alcohol, not with his family history. His liquid of choice will be hot chocolate. And if he's really feeling down, hot chocolate with tiny marshmallows. Let him sulk and pout for a day." Kate resumed her usual perch on her grave marker. "Somehow you have to let him know that you didn't plan a party for everyone but him, that you hadn't invited Gibbs who almost never attends parties. Abby might be able to help with that. Tony will believe her."

Ziva blinked as Kate began to fade away. "You are leaving?"

"My work here is done," she replied with a giggle in her voice. "Take care of Tony. He's a good man. Most of the time."

"I shall do my best." Ziva waited a few moments after Kate had disappeared, then turned to leave the cemetery.

February 2007