"Do we really have to search the whole house, boss?" Tony asked, whining. "I had a date tonight!" Gibbs just looked at him, and it was all Tony could do to keep from peeing his pants. "Got it boss," he said, and started to move throughout the house.
Six hours later, they still hadn't found a thing. Gibbs was the only one still moving. McGee had spread out on a couch and was snoring lightly and mumbling something about elves. He looked so young and innocent to Gibbs, just lying there, asleep. He looked completely wrong for the job of an NCIS agent, but Gibbs knew that the childlike, round face hid a much more complex and capable person behind it. McGee had proved his capability many times over.
Tony was propped up against a wall, also snoring. Gibbs wondered how Tony could handle being an agent. Tony was a pretty boy. He should have been an actor or an athlete, yet, somehow, he had ended up in law enforcement. Tony was driven. Even Gibbs, though he wouldn't admit it at gunpoint, was impressed with his extreme loyalty and devotion to finding the truth.
He was also impressed with Tony's devotion to the woman lying next to him. Tony would never admit it, and he would never realize that Ziva felt the same way, but Gibbs knew. They were the only two who he could think of that he would even consider allowing to break rule number twelve.
Ziva was a bit of a mystery to all of them. McGee was terrified of her. Tony was in total awe of her. Jenny felt a debt to her. Even Gibbs was in grudging awe of her. She was a lot like him. She cared fiercely about the few that were close to her, though she refused to let them in. There was so much potential to love in her heart, but there were also dark places, and Gibbs knew what they held. Being a former sniper, he had taken many lives, and he could only imagine what she had done, and what friends she had had to see die. He almost wanted to reach out and stroke her cheek, but he knew that a sympathetic hand would either be slapped away or shot.
As he watched, Ziva began to shake in her sleep. Her eyes were moving behind her eyelids, and he could see her jaw muscles tighten as she fought a scream. Gibbs knew this part well, too. Nightmares came so often, like ghosts, haunting his steps. More than anything, he wished that something or someone would comfort her. For just an instant, the brave, confident Mossad officer front disappeared, and Gibbs saw a scared little girl who had grown up without the love of a father.
Just then, Tony woke up, and stared at her in shock and anger. Shock at Ziva so scared and innocent. Anger because he could not hurt whatever was doing this to her. Anger because he couldn't fight it for her. Tony turned around, saw Gibbs watching in an almost fatherly way. "She'll never tell us, will she?" he asked. Gibbs shook his head no.
Tony turned her gently so that she was facing him, curled up against his side. With a gentleness that no one ever saw, he stroked her back carefully. Almost immediately, the shivering stopped, and a smile spread itself on her face. Tony kissed her cheek and went back to sleep. Gibbs saw this and smiled.