A Question of Inevitability
By Liss Webster
The day Ziva goes back to Israel, she says goodbye to her colleagues – her friends – at NCIS. Jenny is the most casual: the odds are better than good that they will meet again; their relationship has stability and casual warmth. She hugs Gibbs tight and hard, burying her face in his shoulder as he tells her gruffly to let him know if she's ever in trouble. She knows it's not an idle offer, and hugs him all the tighter. Abby cries, and gives Ziva her e-mail address, and IM handle, and ICQ number, and some obscure advice about a chemical compound that Ziva forgets even as Abby tells her. Tim hugs her and promises to send her a copy of his next book. Ziva pulls a face and slaps his cheek, but only lightly, and they all laugh. Tony raises an eyebrow and shakes his head.
"We could have had a beautiful friendship," he says regretfully. Ziva eyes him consideringly, head cocked on one side.
"I thought we did have," she says simply, but Tony grins.
"I'm talking sex, Zee-vah. Hot, sweaty sex. You and me – it was a wasted opportunity." The others roll their eyes, and Gibbs head-slaps him, but Ziva smiles, and presses herself against him.
"It's a long ride to the airport," she breathes. Tony runs a hand down to her ass, and she immobilizes him.
As Ziva drives to the airport and Tony sits at his desk, they both smile about it. They were friends and partners, but it had never been about sex or romance.
The body is gone, but the blood remains, dark red and congealing on the dirty concrete. Crime scene tape festoons the parking lot, the bright yellow incongruously cheery. Tony is on one knee, ostensibly taking crime scene photos, but the camera hangs limply in his hand as he stares at the blood.
Ziva approaches. Her face is pale. One arm is bandaged.
"I'm sorry," she says softly, but Tony doesn't turn round.
"I had to do it," she continues. She reaches out, but Tony stands up and walks away. He doesn't look at her, but she has seen his face.
There would be all the debate in the world: the value of one life against many, the duty of a federal agent, the need for justice. But it all boiled down to something simple and unavoidable. Ziva had shot and killed Tim McGee, and she would not be welcome at NCIS.
Tony and Ziva are Not In A Relationship. This is their official status, should anyone ask. (Plenty do. McGee is tired of being the official source of information.) Their Not-In-A-Relationship-ness has become an accepted part of life at NCIS. (Except for Gibbs. Nobody tells Gibbs.)
In May, three Navy lieutenants are murdered. All are women. Slim. Dark. Ziva goes undercover.
Petty Officer Calum Greer shoots her, right outside the Navy Yard. She bleeds to death as McGee handcuffs Greer and Gibbs yells for an ambulance and Tony presses his shirt against the hole in her heart and begs her to stay.
Later he gets drunk and tells Gibbs he loved her; had loved her for months.
Gibbs says he knows.
They start an affair not long after the disastrous ending of Tony's relationship with Jeanne. They both know it's a bad idea. Neither cares. The sex is mindless and passionate.
Ziva is straddling him, whispering promises of desires fulfilled, when Tony announces that he's met someone else. He's sorry. He knows his timing sucks. He hopes they can still be friends.
Ziva doesn't say anything, mainly because she doesn't know whether to kill him or cry. In the end she does neither, and walks out. She requests a transfer back to Mossad the next day.
Friday night, and they all go out for drinks. There's no emergency hanging over them; no imminent threat. They can just relax and have fun. And they do. There's laughter and joking, and interminable stories from Ducky which are part of the fabric of their relationships. At about ten o'clock, Tony and Ziva find themselves kissing in a dark corner of the bar. They kiss a little more. It's enjoyable. They both like sex. They like each other. They think sex with each other would probably be great.
"It's not a good idea," Ziva says regretfully.
"Gibbs would kill us," agrees Tony. They kiss again, and continue to consider sex.
"…Rule 12…" floats over from the bar. Tony and Ziva stop kissing and look at each other, then at the bar. Gibbs is there, talking to Ducky and Palmer.
Tony and Ziva think that it's a sign.
It was a bad idea, anyway.
They go back to the bar.
It starts with a kidnapping. Later, Tony insists that this was the only way. Action movie rules: Ziva was a damsel in distress, he was the federal agent who saved her. His heroism and their relationship was inevitable. Ziva points out that Tony was kidnapped too, and it was McGee who saved them. Tony brushes this aside. The point, he emphasizes, is that it was all meant to be. Ziva looks skeptical, and tells him he is an idiot, that the world does not work according to movie rules, because movies are fictional and usually ridiculous, and he is ridiculous too. Tony tells her that she knows nothing of American culture and the rich heritage of the action movie. Ziva tells him that he knows nothing of heritage and culture; that these things do not live in digital metal discs. Tony tells her she is a heathen, who should probably be deported, and if she'll wait a moment, he'll make a call to Immigration. Ziva tells him he needs to be careful, because one day he will wake up and find a knife buried so deep in his genitals he will be singing soprano in the retirement home choir. If he lives that long.
McGee begs them to get a room.
It's only as the elevator dings that they unplaster themselves from each other and return to their desks. Gibbs sits down. Tony and Ziva are typing furiously. They are industrious. Model examples of federal agents.
McGee and Abby found the IM conversations on the NCIS server. McGee doesn't know if he needs bleach, counseling, or a sexual relationship that inventive.
Over their monitors, Tony and Ziva share a smile and a secret: a diamond ring sitting on the coffee table in Ziva's apartment. Action movie rules. It was inevitable.