Title: beautiful mess inside

Author: Cath

Disclaimer: Characters, etc, do not belong to me.

Summary: Ziva receives some bad news from home. Tiva.

Notes: Title of fic taken from lyrics in Yael Naim song "far far" (she also sings the song on the MacBook Air advert :-)). Italics indicate thought. My knowledge of Judaism is sadly garnered mostly from wikipedia – apologies for any oversight. As always, hope you enjoy!

She places the phone down numbly and stares momentarily in disbelief at what she has just heard.

Her father is dead.

If she repeats the words enough times in her head, maybe they will seem less ridiculous. For them to be true is surely too much to believe.

Her father is dead.

Her father.

Is dead.

"You okay Ziva?" Tony asks from his desk. There's concern there and she's momentarily touched by it to the point where she has to blink back any emotional response. She moves her eyes over to him, but they don't seem to focus properly.

"I'm fine," she answers, almost distractedly. She tries to get a hold on her emotions.

"It's a guy, isn't it? Did he dump you?" he takes her non-answer as an affirmative. "Y'know, Ziva, you really should stop threatening them with your ninja moves; you know it scares them off."

She barely registers his words; they are unimportant. Instead she tells herself to breathe deeply in, hold, then out. Once. That's all the time she gives herself. And then, externally, she returns to herself and glares at Tony for his obviously inappropriate words.

On the outside, all is normal. On the inside, thoughts rush round her head.

A heart attack? All those years of danger from working for Mossad and he dies of a heart attack?

She needs to request leave. She needs to arrange a flight to Israel so that she arrives before the burial tomorrow. She needs to pack. She needs to arrange a cab so that she doesn't have to pay the extortionate parking fees at the airport.

Shoes. Does she have any that aren't made of leather?

She stands up and walks over to Gibbs' desk and quietly, so that Tony and McGee can't hear, makes her request. Gibbs cannot refuse. He looks at her a moment, asks if she'll be okay, if she needs anything.

"I'm fine," she tells him. She fears that he can see through her; that somehow he knows that she's anything but fine.

Her father cannot do this to her. He cannot just die without any warning. It's… selfish.

"Come back when you're ready," Gibbs says, returning to his paperwork. If she didn't know him better, she'd think he was unconcerned. But the reality is that she knows that he's still watching her.

She returns to her desk, avoiding the obvious inquisitive glances from McGee, but mostly from Tony. He may even have figured out that it's nothing to do with her being dumped. His best clue might be the fact that she's not dated anyone in months. But that's another story that she doesn't have time to dwell on now.

She gathers any items she might need for the next week before walking to the elevator without a word. She knows that there will be questions; she's happy for Gibbs to answer these. She turns back momentarily and her eyes meet with Tony's – his are full of question. She turns away quickly.

He wasn't that old. He was fairly fit. A heart attack?

At her apartment she focuses all her attention on organisation. She manages to arrange a flight for later that afternoon and is about to arrange a cab when she hears a knock on the door.

"Tony?" she queries as she opens the door to find him standing there.

"Gibbs…" he trails off, awkward. "Do you need a lift to the airport?"

"That would be good," she replies. "Come in. I just have to finish packing."

He cautiously enters and sits down on her couch. "Do you need any help?" he asks.

She gives a brief laugh of derision before remembering her manners. "I am fine, thank you."

She doesn't need many clothes. Her father liked this top. It seems appropriate to wear it.

She is amused by the look Tony gives her as he sees the small bag she has packed. It mostly contains things for the flight. Passport. Books.

"I didn't think women could pack light?" he comments.

"Shiva, Tony. There's not much call for clothes, makeup, jewellery."

He gives a short nod, not sure what to say.

The ride to the airport is almost in silence, and she is surprised when he makes a move to follow her into the airport building when they arrive.

"Thank you, Tony, but I am fine from here," she informs him, possibly a little too forcefully.

She remembers the last time she saw her father. The last words they spoke. If she concentrates hard enough she won't have to hear the words echo in her head. She can pretend that she doesn't care.

He seems to ignore what she says; foolish if you ask her – he should know better.

He queues up with her. For what reason, she doesn't know. He watches her, though, and she finds this more than a little disconcerting.

"When my mother died," he starts after a while.

She cuts him off. "You don't need to do this Tony. I'm fine, really."

"I was just going to say you shouldn't be afraid of getting incredibly drunk in order to deal with the many, many relatives that will have horrific stories about when you were six and ran around their backyard in your underpants. And, sleeping with colleagues in order to cope is perfectly acceptable, too. In fact, if you need to sleep with anyone right now, I'm here for you." He gives a wide grin and although she rather suspects that this might not have been his original train of conversation, she rolls her eyes.

"Perhaps then, it is fortunate that I never ran around anyone's backyard in my underwear at the age of six."

"You were older, right? Sixteen?" He closes his eyes briefly. "Hmm, I can imagine it now."

She hits him, fairly lightly considering, but doesn't contradict his story.

She gets to the check in desk; rolling her eyes as Tony attempts light-heartedly to flirt with the girl behind the desk. She can tell that he's not trying too hard.

They get to the point where he can come no further without tickets and a passport.

She is eight. She is at the airport, seeing her father off as he returns to his family home to attend his mother's funeral. She and her sister are too young to go and she has to go to school. He has a bag on one shoulder, passport and tickets in his hand. "Ziva," he says in Hebrew. "I'm going to be gone over a week. Make sure you look after your mother and sister." She nods, seriously taking on this huge responsibility. "I'll miss you," he says enveloping her in a brief hug. She is surprised; he leaves for long business trips frequently and has never said this before. "I'll miss you too, daddy," she replies. He gives a slight, sad smile, before walking towards the gate, waving at them as he walks away.

"Ziva?" Tony asks, and she realises she was lost in her thoughts for a moment. She shouldn't be so easily distracted.

"I should be going," she tells him, but doesn't move quite yet. And with startling clarity, she realises why her father told her that he would miss her before he left for his mother's funeral. Her father's death is affecting her more than she thinks it should.

"You'll be alright?" Tony questions, and there's that concern there again. And she realises that she never really questioned his motives for offering to take her to the airport. Now is not the time to ask. When she gets back, maybe then.

"I'll be fine," she replies. But his concern doesn't seem to fade, despite obvious attempts to conceal it.

Impulsively, she takes his hand and quickly kisses him on the cheek. It is more of a friendly gesture on the surface. His fingers intertwine with hers, and when she starts to walk away she finds their fingers still linked, his arm pulled gently towards her, until their fingers slip away.

She starts to dial his office phone number, it's been a while since they spoke and her mother told her about how stressed he's been recently. And then Gibbs comes in, tells them about a case, and she puts the phone down and gathers her bag before exiting for the crime scene. Her father can make the effort this time, she thinks.

A week later, he is dead.

She sits on the plane, closes her eyes for a few moments, and allows the pain to consume her.

And then, she takes a deep breath in and pushes all thoughts aside.