Since Tony had been in Germany, Ziva had drifted around NCIS like a wraith. Nothing to do – Jenny was keeping them off of major cases while McGee was left in charge – she was left restless, and took to visiting Abby's lab for long hours in the afternoons. While sitting down there, watching the young girl whirl around the room like a cyclone on uppers, her phone buzzed almost imperceptibly in the pocket of her jeans. She pulled it out, and the words 1 New Message caused a smile to ghost her lips.

Conference is so boring I'm running The Great Escape in my head. Where's a motorcycle when I need one?

He sent Abby a message at the same time, and she was so distracted reading hers and excitedly typing her response, that Ziva had time to carefully craft her own reply.

Keep dreaming Tony - you are no Steve McQueen. Besides, you have only one day left - we will see you tomorrow?

The reply came back almost immediately. She could imagine him quite clearly: slumped in the back of the hallway, half listening to the droning speaker, Dictaphone recording all important points for him to review later. He would have his cell-phone in his hand, fingers clicking buttons as he alternated between his stupid Tetris game and the influx of messages.

Flight gets in at 7. Should be at HQ by 9. Abby says she's freaking out without me. Are you? ;) Ani mitga'gea elayich.

Shaking her head she wrote her reply quickly, glad that Abby's choice of crunching music covered the sound of her fingers tapping away.

Sane as anyone could be after a year of knowing you…Mi manchi tanto.

Flipping her phone shut, she slid it back into her pocket, and tried to conceal the secret smile she could feel painting her lips. Without warning, Abby pulled her into a hug, arms around her shoulders and squeezing tight. She was so excited to hear from Tony; Ziva knew Abby feared everyone was leaving, and at some point she might be left alone. In deference, Ziva accepted the hug for a moment, before pretending she needed to check in with McGee.

Upstairs, she rearranged her files and entertained herself by freaking out Agent Lee – their new probie - by sharpening her knife at her desk. McGee was uploading software onto his computer, and noticed her just enough to raise his eyebrows in amusement.

After a few hours alternating between her desk and MTAC, where she sat with Jenny and watched in on one of their operations in practiced companionable silence, she picked up her backpack and, waving over her shoulder at McGee and catching the skittish eyes of Lee with a shadowed gaze, slipped into the elevator. For a moment, as she stood in the descending metal box, she thought back to her first time in Gibbs' 'conference room', and the way he had smacked her head and both of them had laughed. As she stepped out of the building and up to her car, she briefly wondered how the weather was in Mexico.

When she arrived home the red light on her answering machine was blinking in the dark, empty room. Flicking on the lights, she wandered towards the kitchen, shucking off her sweater and smacking the button as she went. Tony's voice filled the empty space.

Hey, it's me.

As if she didn't know.

They're just loading us onto the plane so I, uh, wanted to call before I have to switch my cell off to say chalomot tovim.

His pronunciation was still off, but as she pulled the juice carton out of her fridge it made her smile and shake her head.

I should get into Michigan about seven your time so I'll call when I land. I have about an hour to kill between connections so…yeah. Just, you know, wanted to fill you in. Hope you haven't been causing too much trouble without me – 'cause you know I'll head about it from Probie mark two otherwise.

There was a muffled noise of an overhead speaker in the background, and then Tony's voice came back.

They're, uh, calling my seat number so I gotta go. Don't wanna miss the stewardesses demonstrating how to use the floatation devices.

His voice was a leer and she rolled her eyes – which she knew had been his exact intention.

Talk to you in a few hours sweet cheeks. Laila tov.

With that, she heard his phone click shut.

In the morning she would miss his call. She would leave the house early, unable to sleep, and the stereo in the car would be playing too loud. She wouldn't hear her cell phone ring.

When he arrived at the office, expecting to see her dark head of curls and secret smile, there would be no sign of her and the skin at the back of his neck would prickle.

He would leave her a second message just about the time an explosion rang in her ears.

As she was escorted into the Israeli Embassy, she would feel her phone buzz at her hip and see his name on the display. Realising how much trouble she could be in, she wouldn't pick up the call.

Less than half an hour later, Michael Bashan would hand over a folder full of pictures, and ask her what Tony had been doing at her apartment for the last four months.

Somehow, she would not be able to find the words.