Author: Cath

Title: moments of an alcoholic escape

Disclaimer: I'm saving up, but can't quite afford to own them yet… Or ever, actually.

Summary: Ziva is called to pick up Tony from a bar. TIVA.

Notes: Sometimes you just have to go with the ideas that come into your head. Except the really crazy ones. Which hopefully this isn't.

It's nearly ten thirty on a cold, wet Wednesday night when the phone rings. Not exactly the latest phone call you've ever received, but you hope that it's not work. You've got plans. And they include sleep.

But still, you cannot simply allow the phone to ring.

With a sigh, you answer.

"Hello?" you ask.

"Ziva David?" the voice is not a familiar one and it mispronounces your name hideously. Ziva – like it nearly rhymes with shiver – David – like the name of the footballer. That Beckham guy.

You correct him without even thinking about it. Then a short, sharp "yes?" almost as an afterthought.

"I've got a Tony DiNozzo here; says I should call you to take him home."

Hell, that wasn't in your plans.

"Can't he get himself home?" you ask impatiently.

There's a brief pause. "Frankly, I'm surprised he remembered his name. Took about ten minutes for him to figure out how to use his cell to get your details."

You sigh, loudly. A brief moment of contemplation but already you know the answer to the question.

"Where is he?"

The bar isn't empty, but it's hardly packed to capacity. There's about five guys sat at the bar in various states of sobriety; mostly on the far side of. All seem to be here alone and you wonder what the hell would entice Tony into this place on a Wednesday evening. Surely there's some girl he could have asked on a date.

And then, you reconsider that thought. He doesn't serial date anymore. Not since Jeanne.

Strange that you almost miss that part of him; the bragging and the banter.

He's sat in the middle. You'd recognise him anywhere, even from the back. Even as he sways slightly, not quite precariously, but you definitely agree with the bartender's decision to cut him off.

"Yeah, bu' Sean Connery, he da man," he informs the bartender in slurred tones sloppily punctuated with hand gestures slamming down onto the bar. You wonder what motivated him to get this drunk on a work night.

At length, the bartender notices you. "Ziva David?" he gets the pronunciation more or less right.

Tony turns round at this, a smile, slightly melancholic, creeps onto his face. "Zeeeee-vah! You came!" He attempts to hug you but the distance between you is too great. Unfortunately, he loses his fight with gravity and starts to fall forwards. You quickly move towards him, grabbing his shoulders and steadying him before he falls too far.

"Always looking out for me, Zeeeee-vah," he says almost thoughtfully when he's sat upright again.

You've never seen him like this. "I got your back, Tony," you respond. You don't move away from him, not trusting him not to fall. You feel the warmth of his shoulder emanating from beneath his shirt, savouring it just a little too much for your own liking. You move away, hoping that in his drunken state he has retained some ability to remain balanced.

"You okay to walk?" you ask. It's a redundant question; he can barely sit even when leaning against the bar.

"I, uh, might need a l'il help," he slurs. "Maybe can stand." Clearly this attempt is misguided.

You roll your eyes and consider the best way to deal with this situation.

"Put your arm round my shoulder," you instruct. He does as told, his hand moving slightly further south before a warning look from you stops it.

You make it slowly out of the bar; he leans against you rather than attempting to carry his own weight. His feet drag on the floor as he tries to manoeuvre them into a walk.

You wonder when you became this woman; the one who gets called to take drunken colleagues home. The one who agrees to take drunken colleagues home. It's not something you like to think about too much. In fact, you consider it a weakness that you care enough. You don't ponder too long over the question of whether you'd do the same for Gibbs or McGee, only partly because it's unlikely the situation would ever occur.

Your car is fortunately parked near and somehow you manage to half-drag, half-direct him towards it. You struggle a minute to unlock it before you open the door and place him as gently as possible into the front passenger seat.

He garbles about some nonsense on the drive back to his apartment that you only half understand. His mood is changeable. Happy. Melancholic. Bitter. You discern that something must have happened. Despite initial appearance, he shows far too much commitment to work to get this drunk on a work night.

"We're here," you say as you pull up to his apartment. You then realise that you're going to have to help him upstairs.

You didn't sign on for this. This was in no way part of your contract when you joined NCIS. And yet, for reasons that you try not to think about too much, you don't object too much as you guide him upstairs. That it'll be good blackmail material is certainly one of your considerations.

"Keys?" you query, almost like you'd talk to a very young child.

"Uh…" he pats his pockets – or at least somewhere in the vicinity of his pockets. You can hear the jingling of metal somewhere and realise that you're going to have to help him locate the offending item.

"Zeeee-vah?" he asks as you dig your hand into his jeans pocket.

You roll your eyes, pull out the keys, and open the front door.

"You going to be okay to make it into bed?" you ask, more than a little amused as Tony tries to walk across his apartment, swaying wildly now that you aren't supporting him.

"Uh, I think… I think… Maybe not?"

Okay, here you draw the line. He'll have to sleep in his clothes, you decide. You manoeuvre him into his bedroom, sit him on the bed, remove his shoes, pull back the covers and motion to him to get himself beneath the covers. He doesn't move. Instead he sits there in an almost contemplative silence for a moment.

"Saw her this aft'noon," he says.

That would explain things, you think.

"Didn' speak to her. Just saw her. Didn' see me though. Wanted to talk."

You don't say anything for a moment but then you see how lost he looks and it surprises you. You sit down beside him.

"Back in Israel there was this man," you start, and almost unintentionally your mouth curves into a slight smile. "We met through work and although I knew I couldn't fall for him, I did." You tell him this because you know it's unlikely he'll remember.

"What happened?" he asks.

Your face drops in memory. "It nearly killed me but I had to leave him." You don't mention that you met when you were working undercover, investigating him, and that you literally would have been killed if you hadn't acted first.


"It wasn't the end of the earth. I got over it eventually."

"End of the world, Zeee-vah," he says, with a shake of his head.

You find it difficult not to smile; it's an easy one – you knew the real expression and yet played the game anyway in order to distract him.

"Potayto, potahto, I think the expression is, no?" you ask with a shrug before turning away as the smile overcomes you.

He looks at you with narrowed eyes. "You knew that one. Why…" he trails off and you turn back towards him. "Always looking out for me, Zee-vah," he repeats, almost sadly.

Your eyes meet and his lips have met with yours before you've even begun to realise that he was moving closer.

He tastes of alcohol – a combination of different flavours, almost overwhelming but somehow not quite.

You know that you should move away; you are sober and aware of what is going on. Oh, god, you're aware of what is going on. And yet you can't seem to bring yourself away from him and don't fight when his mouth opens, his tongue trying to gain access to your mouth.

And then, almost as quickly as it started, it stops.

"I'm sorry," he says, panting for breath.

You give a short laugh. It's the last thing you'd ever expect Tony DiNozzo to say after kissing you. And it's something you've spent some time considering.

"Go to bed, Tony," you tell him, standing up.

He climbs slowly under the covers, and for one minute you think he's going to be Tony again, and offer some ribald comment. But instead, he looks at you one last time before closing his eyes. He gives into sleep easily.

You watch him a moment, the torment fading from his features. And then you exit the room.

You will forget about tonight. He was drunk and you were… you were…. There's no satisfactory completion to that sentence. You will forget about it though. Because if nothing else, this evening has taught you that he has not healed and won't heal for a while.

You start to exit the apartment. And then, as an afterthought, you get a glass, fill it with water and put it beside his bed.

And then, you leave.