Put Your Dreams Away

By Lizabeth S. Tucker

The office was abnormally quiet, no banter or arguments or laughter coming from the area occupied by what was left of NCIS Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs' team. Gibbs wasn't at his desk, but both Tim McGee and Tony DiNozzo were. Although at first glance it appeared that the two men were engrossed in their work, a closer look revealed that they were both distracted.

McGee kept looking at Tony, his brow creased in worry. The events of the last week had been overwhelming for everyone, but even more so for his partner.

"McGee, stop staring at me."

"I'm sorry, Tony." The younger man's low voice was a little awkward, aware that his relationship with the other man had been strained lately.

"For what? None of this is on you." Tony's deep voice simmered with barely checked anger. "Ziva made her choice, to support and protect an Israeli agent illegally in this country. Rifkin chose to kill an American agent, among others, without U.S. sanction, as well as refusing to go home after being ordered to. I chose to give Ziva a chance to explain her connection with the terrorists without informing Gibbs or Director Vance. And trying to arrest Rifkin without calling for backup first."

"You were trying to help a friend."

"I forgot one important thing. Ziva David was a Mossad officer, not an NCIS special agent. Mossad officers don't have friends. They have disposable assets, people who are quickly discarded when they are no longer of use."

"Are you saying it was all a lie? Ziva didn't really mean anything in the four years that she was working with us? It was an act?"

Tony shook his head slowly. "No, not everything. I'm sure she meant it at the time. But when it came down to it, Tim, her loyalties were with Mossad, with her father. We forgot, I forgot that she wasn't really one of us. Ziva David owed us nothing. It was her assignment. Maybe more of one than any of us ever will know."

McGee didn't know what shocked him more, being called Tim or what Tony was saying. Stunned and sickened, he repeated what the other man had said. "Her assignment."

Tony stood, straightening his shoulders with a quickly concealed wince as he cleared his throat. "Gibbs, I have to…I'm scheduled to meet IA in two hours."

This was the first McGee knew that their boss had returned from his meeting with the director.

"I know. Get some food. It's time for your pain pill."

"Boss, I don't want to take it before the hearing."

"Take it now and you should be on even keel before the wolves start in." He stood over Tony, his eyes gentle and contemplative. "You're in pain. Director David made certain of it. Take the damn pills."

"Got it, boss." Tony grabbed the pill bottle from his desk drawer, shaking out two of the small white and blue capsules. "Want me to bring back anything? McGee?"

"No, I'm good, Tony."

After agreeing to eat something substantial and a promise to bring back coffee, Tony left the office, the pills securely held in the curl of his hand.

"Boss?"

"Yeah, McGee?"

"Will we ever see Ziva again?"

Gibbs raised his eyes to see his youngest agent watching him. "I hope so, McGee. But that will be up to Ziva herself. She has some decisions to make."

"Decisions? About what?"

"Who her loyalty belongs to, who she really wants to be." With that, Gibbs turned back to the files sitting on his desk.

May 2009