Set during episode 6x08 Cloak: Tony and Ziva have been playing a game that needs to end. Takes up the elevator scene and adds a scene that was definitely missing in the episode.
Disclaimer: I don't own NCIS. I wouldn't have ended the episode where it did.
The End of the Game
"…Was that a reflex?"
"Yes, it was!" Ziva shouted. "Gun shot went off, I saw you…" Ziva realized that there was no way back from where she was going with her words and so she broke off mid-sentence.
A deep silence spread between her and Tony inside the small space confined by the elevator walls. They stared at each other, both realizing that they had reached boiling point and that something had to happen now or it never would.
Ziva was scared that it might be the 'never' and not the 'now', but she couldn't bring herself to open her mouth and say the damn words. Because as much as she was hoping for things to change, she didn't bring up the courage to be the one to change them, not after the numerous times she had run into a wall when trying to get through to Tony.
Then Tony spoke, his voice rough with the emotion he was still fighting down: "I'm tired of pretending."
Immediately, Ziva's mind started to work at high speed. What was he talking about? Vance? This job? Or was he talking about them, their relationship? With Ziva's head so full of thoughts about Tony and her, it was hard for her to imagine that he could be talking about anything but them. But he had been so outraged seconds before, maybe the recent events were still on his mind?
Looking into his eyes, Ziva got lost. She was tired, too. So sick of this game of hide and seek.
"So am I," she told him, holding his gaze. She was desperately waiting for him to say something else, something that would make her understand what was on his mind. Something just had to happen, right now, didn't it? Didn't he want this as much as she did?
Then there it was, the ding of the elevator that had reached the basement, the sound that meant the end of their chance. At the same moment, Tony started talking, but his words left Ziva even more confused than before:
"It's dinner theatre for an audience of one," he spat, turning to leave the elevator. She could see how his mind was already focusing on the task at hand, away from her. "When's the curtain go down?" he asked before stepping out of the elevator and out of her view.
The doors closed behind him and Ziva let them do so, feeling all power drain from her body from one second to the other. She closed her eyes.
After their talk in the elevator, everything involving the case happened so quickly that Ziva didn't have time to think about what had happened – or had not happened – between her and Tony, and she was glad about it. But after having caught Agent Lee and while Gibbs was in interrogation with her, the team was in the squad room, trying to figure out what was going to happen next. Tony and Ziva were leaning against Tony's desk, standing so close together that their shoulders were touching. But McGee, Abby and Palmer were also there. There was no room for Tony and Ziva to talk freely.
When the team watched Agent Lee walk through the squad room over to the elevator, they had no idea what was going on. Why was she allowed to go? Was the case closed? Gibbs was nowhere to be found and couldn't tell them whether to stay or go home.
McGee soon left together with Abby, heading for Abby's lab, and Palmer went back down to Autopsy. Tony and Ziva were left alone in the squad room, still leaning against Tony's desk. When Ziva looked at Tony, she could see the bruises on his face. Again, she wanted to touch his cheek, out of a reflex just like the one that had made her fight the guards while what she should have done was to stand down. She wanted to do it, wanted to touch him, but she couldn't because she still wasn't any wiser than earlier this day, before their ride in the elevator.
Not knowing was a constant sting inside her chest. It was a pain that Tony's presence and her own inability to say what she was thinking only made worse. Ziva had had enough for one day.
"I'm going home," she announced, went over to her desk and grabbed her bag.
Tony watched her walk through the squad room, away from him. He was so sick of this – all of this. He was sick of Vance's political games. And now he felt like he couldn't even trust Gibbs anymore. I didn't let you in because I didn't have to. Were those the words of a team leader who depended on his agents? And to add to all this and make it even worse, there was his and Ziva's never ending game of evasion. Sometimes, like today, it was this game which he thought was the one thing he couldn't take anymore. It had to stop. But it would not stop as long as they kept walking away from each other.
"Ziva!" he shouted, the moment the elevator dinged. God, he hated this sound!
He ran over to the elevator, but found the door already closed when he got there. Swearing, he ran over to the stairs.
Ziva had heard Tony shout her name, but had stepped into the elevator anyway. She couldn't take any more of this today. Inside the cabin, she leaned onto the wall, closing her eyes for a moment. She should have waited. What could Tony have wanted from her? Walking out on him was not the perfect way to solve anything between them. But it was too late now. She was going to go home and take a hot bath, then sleep and come back in the morning for another day of pretending.
The elevator doors opened into the parking garage and Ziva started walking towards her car. She was only halfway there when she heard the doors to the staircase open and then she heard Tony shout her name again. Ziva stopped dead. Slowly, she turned around and watched him come closer until he was standing right in front of her.
There was another long silence between them while they stared at each other. Tony was breathing hard because he had run down the stairs five at a time, but he didn't care – he was simply glad to have caught Ziva before she could leave.
"I told you," he finally said. "No more pretending."
"I heard you," Ziva replied. "I agree."
Tony took another deep breath and she could see that some of the tension left his shoulders. "Dinner date," he announced. "You and me, this Saturday."
"Okay," Ziva said, trying to keep her voice from shaking.
Then they were looking at each other without speaking for seconds. Ziva saw the tiny smile that curled around the edges of Tony's mouth. She knew that she was smiling, too. After another second, she lifted her left hand and gently touched Tony's bruised cheek, careful not to hurt him. She felt him lean into her touch and her smile widened. He came a tiny bit closer.
"So, Saturday it is," Ziva repeated, unwilling to take her hand away just yet.
Tony nodded, taking another small step. There were only inches between their bodies by now and Tony crossed the distance by leaning down and placing the softest of kisses on Ziva's lips. Then he stepped back and Ziva saw that his smile had developed into a broad grin.
"To be continued on Saturday," he said, before returning to the elevator.
Ziva watched him go, smiling to herself. The game had ended.