Gibbs and Tony walked to the cafeteria and Gibbs sprang for two of the biggest cups of coffee available. "So," he said conversationally as he watched Tony add an obscene number of sugar packets to his cup. "You want to talk about it?"

"Talk about what?" Tony seemed genuinely surprised.

"Talk about what is going on between you and your partner."

"I don't know what you're talking about."

"I'm not blind DiNozzo, I've seen the way you look at her, hell I've seen the way she looks at you. Sometimes a near miss makes you see things in a different way."

"Boss, I know you frown on coworkers dating," Tony denied his growing attachment to Ziva.

"Sit," he motioned to a table out of the hearing of anyone else in the cafeteria. "Rule twelve was because of Jenny," he started suddenly. Tony was unsure of the proper response so he nodded silently. "We were partners, she was a probie. Over time one thing led to another. Eventually she had to make a decision between her career and what we had. She chose her career.

I was bitter about that for a long time. She was, she was infuriating. If we'd had more time after she came back I might have broken rule twelve again myself. Lord knows that we both wanted to. It was just never the right time. It's not a good idea, but sometimes," he shrugged. "Keep it out of the office, and try not to hurt each other, but I won't stand between you. You two deserve a chance if you want one.

Tony leaned back in his chair and ran his hand through his hair. "I've wanted to be with her since the moment I laid eyes on her. I've screwed things up more than a few times," he chuckled. "She intimidates the hell out of me too."

"She might be the only one who can handle you." Gibbs chuckled. "Let's get upstairs, we'll grab a refill on the way."

They asked for her at the nurses station and were waved into the surgical waiting room. Tony paced nervously, despite the assurances that she was going to be fine. Finally the surgeon came and retrieved them.

He sat down in a chair in front of Tony. "Ziva is resting comfortably," he began. "But we're going to keep her in the ICU overnight. She had an allergic reaction to the antibiotic we gave her as we started the surgery and we had to give her some Epinephrine. We also gave her some IV Benedryl and we're going to do a short round of steroids. It's just a precaution. We'll move her into a regular room in the morning."

Tony felt his heart stop at the news of an allergic reaction and it only slowly began beating again as he took in the news that she was going to be okay. "I need to see her," he blurted out in the middle of the medical speech.

The surgeon smiled. "She's in room 118, the nurse will take you there. She's going to make a full recovery, just give her a few days."

Tony hung his head, the exhaustion that he didn't know he felt hitting him full force. He nodded and stood, leaving Gibbs sitting in the waiting room, and went to find Ziva.

He sat in front of her and watched her sleep. Slowly his hand crept up to capture hers. He brought their hands up to his lips and kissed her fingers softly. "I love you," he whispered quietly. His eyes felt too heavy to keep open any more and he carefully lay his head down next to their joined hands.

Consciousness returned to Ziva slowly. She opened her eyes and then closed them again at the harsh glare of the lights. She cracked one eye open again and took in her surroundings. She was in a hospital room and her right arm was trapped under Tony's head. Tony appeared to be sound asleep beside her. She carefully freed her arm and ran her fingers through his hair. She couldn't help but continue to stroke the silky strands.

She knew the moment he woke up, awareness seemed to come slowly and he held very still as he took in his surroundings. Finally he opened one bleary eye and his hand came up to rub it. "Ziva?" He groaned.

"What are you doing here?" She asked gently.

"I was waiting for you to wake up, I must have fallen asleep." He sat up reluctantly, disengaging himself from her hand. "How do you feel?" He looked at her carefully. "You're in pain," he decided.

Ziva shrugged one shoulder. "Well, I was shot."

"I'll find a nurse or something, tell them you're awake and get you some medicine." He swiveled his head. "Gibbs is around here somewhere, I think." He reached out and touched her forehead. "You look better." He grinned a true DiNozzo grin. "You had me worried there for a minute."

He stood and turned to leave the room but she reached out and snagged his arm, stopping him in his tracks. "Tony wait," she sounded unsure of herself. "Last night, I was drowsy but I remember, I mean, I thought," in an uncharacteristic show of uncertainty she twisted her hands together and didn't meet his eyes.

"What is it?" Tony sat down heavily in the chair, afraid of what she was going to say.

"When we were in the car on the way here you said some things and I didn't get a chance to respond."

"Ziva, you don't have to,"

"Do not interrupt please. I want to be with you Tony," she reached up and stroked the soft stubble along his jaw. "You have a good heart, you are a good man. You hide behind all of your pranks and practical jokes. I understand that, but sometimes I am afraid that you will never let me in."

Tony smiled gently. "Kind of like when my questions hit too close to home and you distract me by threatening my extremities?"

"There are things that I have seen and done that no one else should be burdened with."

He reached over and touched her nose with his index finger. "And there are things that I have done that no one else needs to know about."

"So what do we do about that?" She asked shyly.

"I think it will just take time Ziva, I'm willing to work on it."

"I am too," suddenly she looked up at the door. "But Gibbs, he will not approve."

"Gibbs and I talked last night. We have an understanding."

She raised her eyebrow at the statement. "You have an understanding? How hard did he slap your head?" She smiled but didn't wait for a response. "Did you say that you loved me?" She didn't meet his eyes as she asked the question.

"I did, and it might be too soon to say it but I meant it." He gripped her hand in his, afraid of her reaction.

She gently pulled her hand from his and stroked his cheek. "I love you too Tony."

Tony leaned in to capture her lips when the door to Ziva's room opened slowly and a familiar voice called into the room.

"Ziva? Are you awake?" Abby's voice rang out

Tony and Ziva shared a private look and Tony pulled away. "I am awake Abby, come in." Ziva said.

"Oh Ziva," Abby cried as she burst into the room carrying a huge bouquet of pink roses. "I'm so glad you are okay. I'm sorry I wasn't here earlier. Gibbs wouldn't let me leave the lab until I'd processed all the evidence from the men you and Tony shot and then the nurses around here are tyrants and wouldn't let me in." She found a counter and set the flowers down as she babbled on about the trials of getting here. Then she leaned down to hug Ziva carefully, restraining herself to avoid hurting her friend with her exuberance.

"Everything is okay Abby," Ziva reassured. "They are keeping me here for a few days for antibiotics but I will as good as new."

"Timmy is coming too but Gibbs wanted a full report first."

"Is everything okay with the evidence Abs?" Tony asked nervously.

"Oh yes, one of your guys had the name and address of their source in his pocket and their brother, the one you left handcuffed in the woods is singing like a canary."

"That's good Abby," Ziva answered and her eyes drooped slightly.

"Abby, I think Ziva needs some more sleep, why don't we go talk to Gibbs and McGee outside and come back in a little bit."

Abby opened her mouth to protest but Tony took her by the arm and gently led her out of the room. He turned back and looked at Ziva and winked at her. "Sleep," he mouthed and she smiled in return.

When Ziva opened her eyes again Gibbs was sitting in the seat next to her. He handed her a cup of water as she awkwardly cleared her throat. "Where's Tony?" She croaked.

"I sent him home to get some sleep himself. He was barely standing when I saw him. He didn't want to go though," Gibbs gave a very small smile. "When you get out of here you're going to go stay with him, at least until you're back on your feet."

Ziva looked surprised. "What? But I,"

"And what the two of you do during that time and beyond is your business Officer David."

Ziva looked at Gibbs and clearly understood what he was not saying. Her skipped a beat but she kept her voice neutral when she answered. "Thank you Gibbs."

"Don't make me sorry I did this."

"I do not think you will be sorry." Ziva leaned back and closed her eyes with a happy smile.

She woke again and looked at the clock. Three hours had passed. She was frustrated with herself for sleeping so much but she remembered that anesthesia had always taken a day or so to wear off before she felt human again.

She looked over to her right and saw Tony nodding sleepily in a chair. His hand rested beside hers on the bed. She reached out experimentally and took it. He flexed his fingers and she turned her eyes to look at him.

He was staring at her seriously. "I thought Gibbs sent you home to sleep." She rubbed her thumb over the back of his knuckles as she spoke.

Tony nodded. "He did, but when I got there I couldn't lay down."

"You are still tired. I can tell by the circles under your eyes." Tony didn't answer but continued to sit quietly beside her. "Tony," she tried again. "Why can't you sleep at home?" Tony cleared his throat apprehensively. "You are still brooding," she sighed in frustration.

"I'm not brooding, although I am still sorry. I'm sorry that you're hurt. When I was at home what could have happened kept playing in my head and I thought that it would be better to be here and tired than there."

Ziva untangled her hand from Tony's and used her arms to scoot over several inches in the bed. She pushed the covers down and asked, "Would you like to lie here with me?"

Tony smiled and carefully levered himself up on the bed trying not to jostle her leg. Ziva held her arms out and Tony eased into her embrace, laying his head on her shoulder. She was warm and soft in all the right places. Goosebumps raised as she ran her fingers through the hair at the nape of his neck, and before he knew it Tony slept.

Ziva watched as the tension drained from Tony's body and felt him slip into a deep sleep. At that moment she realized again that while she was the one who was hurt Tony was the one who was traumatized by this ordeal. She made a silent promise to be there for him.

She grinned as she acknowledged that for the first time there was someone in her life that she was really excited about and she couldn't wait to explore this new opportunity. Maybe this time getting shot would turn out to be a miracle in disguise.

the end