Disclaimer As Required: They really are mine and I'm just loaning them to DPB – but if we can't settle this WGA strike soon I'm not going to share anymore. Just kidding – if they were mine things would be different. More like… well, more like this!
Set early season 5
Ziva rubbed at her tired eyes and willed away the headache that was lurking behind them. She was grateful that they had solved the death of Ensign Shapiro the day before but she cursed the Corporal she interviewed who appeared to have the flu. Ziva David did not get sick. She clenched her teeth and inhaled deeply while waiting for the current wave of nausea to subside. She turned back to her computer and tried to focus on the form she was filling out. The text didn't want to stay in focus. If she could just finish this she could go home and get a good nights sleep. That was really all she needed. She glanced across her desk at Tony. He was leaning back in his chair with his feet up, tossing paper balls at the trashcan by McGee's desk. His laughter reverberated off of her skull. She stood to retrieve the form she had just printed and the world seemed to gray out for a moment. She grabbed the edge of her desk to steady herself and hoped that no one had seen her wobble.
"Ziva," Tony called. "Are you almost done with those forms yet?" He smiled as he teased, knowing that he had given her the most time consuming of the paperwork. As senior agent he had that prerogative.
Ziva shot him the most annoyed glare that she could muster today. "Hardly, you would think that an accidental death would have fewer forms to fill out." She rubbed her eyes again and sat heavily in her chair.
Tony looked over at Ziva again, noticing that she looked tired and run down very unlike her normal self. He hadn't gotten a laugh out of her all day. "Hey Ziva, you okay over there?" He asked casually.
"I'm fine Tony," she said, but she didn't look up at him and her voice lacked conviction.
Tony stood and walked over to her desk. He propped himself up on the edge near her chair. He leaned closer and peered at her curiously.
"What are you doing Tony? I just want to finish this. Go find something else to do." She gently shoved at his hip.
"You look flushed Ziva, are you sure you're feeling alright?" Tony lowered his voice. Ziva might really hurt him if he insinuated that there was something wrong with her in front of McGee.
"Just a headache," she brushed his concern aside. Tony reached out and laid his palm against Ziva's forehead. She jerked back and looked up at him. "What are you doing?"
"Ziva, you're burning up." Tony looked surprised and he narrowed his eyes at her. "Home spy girl," he commanded. "Don't spread your germs all over NCIS."
Ziva found herself irritated at the suggestion that she was sick. "I told you three times that I am fine Tony. I am going to finish this work and I will leave at the end of the day with everyone else. Now please, go sit down." Ziva stood to illustrate her point and this time noticeably swayed. Tony grabbed her gently by the upper arm and steadied her.
"Come on Ziva, I'll even finish your paperwork. Let me walk you to your car."
Ziva sighed softly and nodded. She bent down and picked up her bag. She felt Tony close behind her as she slowly walked toward the elevator.
"Hey probie," he called from behind her. "Start working on that paperwork that Ziva left." Ziva smiled slightly. She wasn't surprised that he was pawning the work he promised to do off on McGee. She only felt a little guilty leaving her work to him.
Suddenly Ziva stopped moving. She felt Tony's hands touch her shoulders to steady himself as he worked not to slam into the back of her but it barely registered as her hand went over her mouth. "Bathroom," she mumbled as she bolted for the door. She managed to make it to the toilet before she began retching. She hadn't had anything to eat since morning so there wasn't much in her stomach to expel. She rose shakily from her knees and rinsed her mouth and face with cool water from the sink. She looked in the mirror and grimaced at her reflection. She looked like something that had been run over, she thought to herself.
She opened the door and startled at the sight of Tony waiting patiently on the other side, her discarded backpack over one shoulder. "You ready?" He asked quietly. Ziva nodded, embarrassed. She was looking at an interesting spot on the floor, unwilling to meet Tony's eyes. He gently put his arm around her waist and led her back to the elevator. She didn't protest the support.
Tony walked with Ziva into the parking lot. "Tony, it's fine. I'm going home now. I'm not a child that needs to be taken care of."
Tony smiled. "I know you're not a child." He led her toward his Mustang, the one that belonged to Anthony DiNozzo not the one that had belonged to Tony DiNardo. "Come on, you're getting me out of a half a day's work. Let me drive you home."
"But my car will still be here."
"I'll come pick you up before work. Look, you can lean back and close your eyes on the way home. You can even pick the radio station."
"And you'll be on time when you pick me up? I hate being late." The token protest sounded lame even to her ears, but she couldn't give in too easily.
"Scouts honor." Tony opened the passenger door and held Ziva's arm as she slowly sat down. He closed the door gently.
Ziva leaned her head back against the seat of the car and closed her eyes. Her breathing was deep and regular and Tony knew she was asleep. He used the opportunity to watch Ziva unobserved. She looked too pale and had dark circles under her eyes but she was still beautiful. He was a little bit worried about her. In the time he had known her he'd never seen Ziva get so much as a cold. She had been trying to hide it all day but he had noticed her discomfort.
Tony pulled into a parking space in front of her building and cut the engine. He reached over and shook Ziva's shoulder gently. "Hey, sleepy head," he called "We're here, it's time to wake up."
Ziva stirred and groaned quietly. Tony got out of the car and opened the passenger door. He knelt down in front of her and stroked her cheek. "Come on, unless you want me to carry you inside."
Ziva's eyes flew open and she rubbed them sleepily. "Did you just say something about carrying me somewhere?" She asked.
Tony grinned. "I said I'll carry you if you are too tired."
"I think I can manage on my own thank you. You can go now; you've seen me home. I'm sure that you can somehow justify taking the rest of the day off if Gibbs asks."
"Come on, I'm walking you upstairs."
"I told you, you don't have to."
"Can't you ever stop arguing Ziva David? Can't you even accept a little help when you're sick?"
Ziva looked over at Tony in surprise at the frustration in his voice. She looked at the ground. "I said I wasn't sick." Her voice sounded surprisingly small. "In Mossad weakness is unacceptable."
"Yes," Tony ran his fingers through his hair and then rested his hand gently on Ziva's back. "But you live in America now, and in America when you have the flu," he held one hand up to ward off her objection. "And you do have the flu," he said quickly. "It is customary to act like a child and let someone take care of you. And I am going to take care of you so you might as well accept it okay?"
"You can come upstairs if you want to but I am going to bed so you are going to have to entertain yourself and you will not find my movie collection to your liking."
Tony laughed and brushed her hair back from her face. "Just go upstairs."
Ziva stepped into the apartment and let herself slump on the couch. She placed her hand over her eyes. Tony bent down and unlaced her boots, sliding them off of her feet. He touched her forehead again. "Okay," he studied her. "Where do you keep your thermometer?"
"Don't have one." Ziva mumbled sleepily.
"Ibuprofen?" Ziva shook her head. "Okay, Tylenol, Aspirin, anything?"
"Don't think so."
"I don't suppose you have any chicken noodle soup in the kitchen either then?"
Ziva opened one eye and peered curiously at Tony. "Why do I need chicken soup?"
"That's what you're supposed to eat when you're sick. Didn't your grandmother ever make chicken noodle soup for you when you were a child?"
"My grandmother was killed in a suicide bombing when I was three. I don't remember her."
"I'm sorry." Tony stammered slightly
Ziva shrugged. "You had no way of knowing."
"That's because you never tell anyone anything personal." Tony replied gently. "Sit tight, I'm going for supplies but I'm coming right back. So don't think you're getting rid of me."
Ziva gave Tony a small smile that looked more like a grimace. "It's not a big deal if you get busy and don't make it back."
"I will be back and I'm taking your keys so you can't lock me out."
"If you would just let me teach you to pick locks you wouldn't need the keys." Tony heard Ziva mumble as he pulled the door shut behind him.
Tony made quick work at the store throwing all the name brand cold and flu remedies in his cart. He picked up a gallon of orange juice and a couple of industrial sized cans of chicken noodle soup. He paid for his purchases and drove back to her apartment. He sat in the parking lot for a moment. He was sure that Ziva had been serious when she said that he didn't have to come back. She had good reason to believe that he would flake out and disappear. He knew that he hadn't been a reliable partner in the last year. He'd had to keep too many secrets and he had damaged his relationship with her. It was something that he hoped to rectify.
He grabbed his purchases from the trunk and let himself back inside. He felt an unexpected hitch in his heart when he saw her sleeping, curled in a ball on the couch. Her arms were wrapped around herself and a blanket was lying discarded on the floor. She was shivering. He tossed the bags onto to the nearest chair and stepped over to her. He pulled the blanket back over her and gently brushed the hair away from her face. There was a fine sheen of moisture on her forehead. He rubbed her arms in an attempt to warm her. Ziva sleepily opened her eyes.
"Hey," she said softly. "You came back."
"I said I was going to didn't I?"
"I thought you would get busy."
"Ziva," he paused and focused on an interesting spot on the wall. "All that stuff, the not answering calls, the disappearing. That wasn't me. It was the assignment." It was as close to an apology as he could get at the moment.
"You could have told me." Ziva sounded unusually young and fragile. It made Tony want to wrap her up in his arms and comfort her.
"We'll talk about that later okay? Right now we need to get you into bed." Ziva groaned quietly.
"I don't think I'm in the mood right now Tony." Tony chuckled as he eased Ziva to her feet. He left his arm around her shoulder and guided her into the bedroom. He wasn't sure what he had been expecting but the white islet comforter was a feminine touch that surprised him. In fact, the whole room spoke more of Pottery Barn than Mossad assassin.
He pulled the covers back and watched as she slid into bed. She buried her face in the pillow and didn't move.
"I'm going to get you some medicine and orange juice. You wait here." Tony knew that he was talking mostly to himself but he had never been able to resist filling up the silence. He wandered back into the living room and then into the kitchen to get a glass for the juice. He thought about what Ziva said. When she was feeling better they were going to sit down and talk. He was going to work on rebuilding the trust that was once between them.
"Ziva, hey Ziva. Wake up and take this and then you can go to sleep for real." He pulled on her shoulder and rolled her over. She threw a hand over her eyes to shield them from the light. "Here, good pills will make you feel better," he joked.
"Don't want to." She pushed his hand away weakly.
"Oh come on Ziva," he coaxed. "I know a big bad assassin can handle swallowing a couple little pills."
"It's going to make me puke."
"No it's not, and if it does, well honestly I'll be out of here so fast that you won't know that I was ever here," Tony grinned.
"If the flu scares you that much you should go now before my germs contaminate you."
"Ziva," he sighed and pulled her up by the arms. "Just take the pills and drink the juice so you can go to sleep ok?"
"Fine," she held her hand out and took the pills from him. She took the juice from his hand and swallowed them with one swallow of juice before handing it back to Tony and flopping back down on the bed.
"You want your jeans off?" Ziva raised a hand and let it drop. She yawned and didn't try to hide it.
"Whatever, just do what you're going to do so I can go to sleep." Tony unbuttoned her pants and slid them over her hips. He tugged at the ankles until they came off and then tossed them on the floor. Tony tucked the blankets up under her chin and sat on the edge of the bed until he was sure she was sleeping.
He retreated to the couch and turned the TV on with the volume low. He was half asleep with his feet on the coffee table when he heard a door slam. He bolted up off the couch and found Ziva in the bathroom. She was huddled on the floor in front of the toilet. He pulled a washcloth off the towel rack and rinsed it with cool water. He lifted her hair and caressed the back of her neck with the cloth. She slumped back against the bathtub and looked at him curiously.
"I didn't think you'd still be here."
Tony shook his head with mock surprise. "I said I was going to stay."
"You don't always do the things you say you're going to do," Ziva grumbled and hoisted herself to her feet with some effort. She reached for her toothbrush and looked in the mirror. She made a face in disgust. "I still look, sick."
"Well, the flu usually does last more than," Tony glanced down at his watch. "Three hours. Are you ready to go back to bed? I'm pretty sure you're not ready for any soup," he trailed off as he looked over at the toilet with a wrinkled nose.
Ziva nodded and allowed Tony to help her to her feet and guide her back to the bedroom. He tucked her under the covers and brushed her forehead with her fingers. "You're still warm. I'm going to get you some more Advil and I want you to try to finish your juice."
"Yes Mother," Ziva smiled. She drank her juice slowly and tried not to move lest the nausea return. She smiled when Tony told her to yell if she needed anything and retreated back to her couch. She slowly rolled over and dozed fitfully, the faint sound of the television and Tony's laughter drifting into the room.