A/N This is set after Last Man Standing, but before Agent Afloat. Mostly Tony's POV.
Got the idea for this listening to the chorus of 'Fall to Pieces' by Matt Nathanson over and over.
Tony looked down at his watch. 0645. Very early for him to be at NCIS on a Saturday, but it was necessary.
He'd been Agent Afloat for nearly five months. Enough was enough, he thought. I'm a field agent. Not a ship monkey.
He got out of the elevator and walked up to Director Vance's office.
"Morning, Agent DiNozzo," Cynthia said from her desk.
"The Director in?"
"He's in a conference call right now, he'll be with you in a minute."
Tony returned to the catwalk, and leant forward against the railing, looking down at the squadroom.
It was empty, silent. It was unusual for him to see it that way, after all this time.
The desks were exactly the same. Even though there was a replacement team for a few months, nothing had changed.
McGee's desk was completely organized, everything lined up perfectly. Tony remembered meeting McGee at Norfolk all those years ago…with a desk messy enough to rival his own.
He wondered how the probie was doing out of the subbasement. Even though he was a complete computer nerd, Tony knew McGee's place was on the team. Investigating crime scenes. Interrogating suspects. Not typing away all day on codes and encryptions.
Tony looked at Gibbs' desk. He didn't think he would be missing his boss as much as he was. Seeing him in MTAC reminded him of that. Gibbs was, in a way, a father figure. Tony actual father hadn't been in contact for a while now – he hadn't even responded to Tony's letter explaining where he was going.
But Gibbs was a good substitute. They had each others' backs. And that was enough.
Sighing, Tony let his eyes flick to the other desk in the squadroom before quickly moving his attention to his hands. He couldn't think about her…
He couldn't help it. He stared at her desk, her chair. It would have been easy to picture her there, but he didn't. He saw her everywhere anyway – in the ship, on the flight deck, on the plane that he'd snuck onto to get here in the first place.
He remembered how crestfallen she was when she'd be told she was returning home. He remembered how she had stared at the floor as they waited outside the director's office while Gibbs tried to reason with Vance. He even remembered the tear that she'd caught just in time as Gibbs had returned looking defeated.
It reminded him on when she had returned to NCIS to join the team. As soon as Gibbs had said "Pack your trash", she had left without a fight.
Tony wondered whether she'd had experience now with being told to leave.
Thinking about Ziva made him emotional. Not sad exactly, but emotional. She was his partner, and they'd been separated for reasons they hadn't known at the time.
They hadn't even said a proper goodbye. Well, proper in his book. They'd exchanged a brief hug and a small smile, but that was all.
It wasn't enough. Not for them. They needed more, because they were more than just friends.
He wondered if she missed him in the same way he missed her.
The flirting, the relying on each other, the knowing that no matter what happened, the other one would be there the next day. They'd been through a lot together, and it wasn't right that they were apart like this.
He couldn't even call her. He knew he'd fall apart if he did.
Tony was roused by his thoughts by a voice from behind. "Yeah?"
"Director Vance will see you now."
"What can I do for you DiNozzo?" Vance asked as Tony walked in.
"I wanted to put in a personal request for my reassignment," Tony replied.
"Back to D.C."
Vance looked at him in silence for a moment, very much like Gibbs used to. "Take a seat."
"You're assignment on the Sea Hawk ends in just over three months-"
"That's three months too many," Tony interrupted.
"Any particular reason for your enthusiasm to leave the ship?"
Tony scoffed. "Uh, yeah, the fact that I'm surrounded by noise and people all the time and I'm-"
"Every job has its disadvantages," Vance said. "I would have thought that an assignment like this would have been welcomed by you."
Tony gaped. "How so, Director?"
"Your eagerness to go to Iraq last year was to prove yourself. After spending time on a ship you will have yet another thing to boast about and to add to your resume."
Tony was loosing his patience. "Does that mean that you're also going to get me enlisted? Because that would always be a good story to tell."
"Agent DiNozzo, in case you don't remember-"
"I know! McGee and Ziva were sent away for a case, I know that. I didn't provide anything for that investigation, apart from hacking into a-"
Vance cleared his throat, silencing Tony. "Three months. That's all."
"That's all," Tony repeated quietly. Another three months of hell, he thought to himself. He stood up to leave.
"Your request is acknowledged. I will take it into consideration," Vance told him.
Tony smirked. "Like hell."
"Captain Owens expects you back by this afternoon," Vance said, returning to his paperwork. "You'll have to catch the next flight."
Tony left the office burning on the inside.
He stood again at the railing, looking down at the squadroom.
Did Ziva miss him?
The sound of the elevator doors opening and voice talking distracted him.
McGee and Ziva walked into the squadroom together, arguing amicably.
"This is the second Saturday in a row that we've worked."
"Get over it, McGee. We either do it now or be marshed with work on Monday."
"Swamped, not marshed."
Tony felt his breath catch for a moment as he watched Ziva. He immediately saw her differences – hair cut, slight weight loss, earrings…was it strange for him to see those things straight away?
No, he thought. She's my Ziva.
My Ziva? That was possessive. Overly attached to your partner, DiNozzo.
He shook his head and resumed watching her.
By now, she and McGee were at their desks, working. Well, McGee was typing. Ziva was looking at Tony's desk.
Tony did a double take. Yep, she was looking at his desk, and the expression on her face was almost identical to the one she'd had after she'd been given her orders.
Worried. Upset. Un-Ziva.
Maybe he was right. Maybe she did miss him…
Ziva kept finding herself staring at the desk opposite her. Focusing was a task that she found difficult these days.
After a moment, she got the familiar sensation of being watched. Inhaling softly, she caught what she was looking for.
She stood up suddenly and looked around.
"Ziva?" McGee asked, bewildered. "What's wrong?"
She didn't reply. She knew she was right. She had to be.
But he wasn't anywhere.
"Ziva?" McGee repeated.
Ziva turned to face him. "Do you…think…nothing," she finished lamely. "I thought I could smell something."
"No, like…Tony," she said quietly.
McGee didn't hear her. He just went back to his work. Ziva followed suit.
He had to have been there. She was rarely wrong when it came to sensing people.
She looked up again, but he still wasn't there.
Maybe she had imagined it. Maybe it wasn't real.
Tony peeked around the wall again, checking to see if it was safe. It had been a close call – Ziva had almost seen him.
He wasn't ready to talk to her. Not yet. He would be soon, but not yet.
He had a feeling they'd been together before long.
A/N Hope you liked it!
Just for reference, the chorus is:
/ Would you fall to pieces if I never came back / Tear it all apart til there was nothing left / Fall to pieces if I never came back / Spent so long waiting here /
And yes, it was a lame attempt at a Ziva-ism. Can never write them as well as the show…