Title: Laying Down the Secrets

By: Sophie McCrory

Rating: PG-13ish

Spoilers: I would definitely say 7.01 Truth or Consequences

Disclaimer: I'm so poor I cringe over any purchase. Thus, I do not own NCIS the show or any of its characters.

Summary: They both keep secrets from people. She does because it keeps her alive and he does because he'd rather people didn't know his inner, mushy side. But the more time they spend together, the more truth comes out.

Author's Note: Why hello! This is the first time I've ever written for NCIS, though I do sometimes drabble for Bones. I also have a bit of a drabble history under other pennames but they're not to be seen by anyone anymore. :)

Anywho, I could spend hours gushing for you about how much I loved the season opener, but I will spare you. I should mention that while I have seen MOST of the episodes of NCIS, I have not seen them all… so if there are any inconsistencies, I apologize in advance.

* * * * * * *

The first time Ziva was told anything about secrets, it was by her mother.

She was with her sister, Tali, in her room. The door burst open, and her mother rushed inside, closing the door behind her. She and their father had been fighting downstairs. Ziva always knew, though she often pretended she didn't for the sake of her younger sister. She kept her back to the door for a few minutes, composing herself, looking at her girls with a sadness Ziva would not understand for many, many years.

"Girls," she said, coming towards them, pulling the pained, but happy smile her daughters would always remember her with across her face, "I must tell you something. Something, I want you to remember and keep with you always, no matter what your father says."

They stared at their mother together, even as the elder woman ran her fingers through her youngest daughter's dark hair, "One day… when you are much older, you will find yourself someone you will love," there was a pause, as though she were appreciating some sort of irony, "whether you want to or not."

Tali seemed to take this as an encouraging sign to hold up her favorite male and female dolls, both clad in formal wear, "Like my dolls, Mama?"

Ziva doubted it.

"Yes, dear," her mother said, smiling some more, "kind of like your dolls. There will be days when you are happy together, and there will be days when you are… not so happy together. But there is one thing, one important thing I want you to keep in mind," she paused, "Do not stay with any man who will not trust you with anything, and do not keep secrets from a man whom you trust with everything."

Tali, who was always more pure in heart than her older sister, simply made her dolls kiss and put them back in her doll house, and responded as though it would be no problem at all, "I will."

Years later, as soon as Ziva heard that Tali had been killed, she went back in that room. She was tearing apart the room, in search of something important. For each of their Bat Mitzvahs, their mother had left them a gift, given to them by their father as she had already died. She had long since lost hers, as she'd never been much for jewelry anyway.

She found what she was looking for in a box underneath her little sister's bed. As she pulled it back, she noticed the dolls, tucked together in a doll bed that had been here, hidden from the light for years. In her grief, Ziva pulled them apart, away from a loving embrace.

She sat up and rested her back against the bed, breathing heavy and trying not to cry. She tore open the little box and pulled out a golden Star of David necklace. She wrapped her hand around the charm and finally, finally wept.

If asked, she would always tell people the necklace was hers.

* * * * * * * * * *

The first time they discussed secrets, he shared a secret with her.

They were sitting in her apartment; he'd brought over movies in an attempt to give her some clarity for all the films he talked about. She had a bowl of popcorn in her lap, and it wasn't until she realized he hadn't been attempting to steal any from her that she turned to see what was wrong.

He was staring intently at her, and after a moment, he turned away, looking down to his hands in his lap, "Can I tell you something, and you promise not to tell anyone else," there was a beat, then he looked at her again, "'specially McGee."

She'd been holding a handful of popcorn to her mouth, and stopped short of actually shoveling it in, "Um, yes," she said, putting the popcorn back in the bowl and then placing the bowl on the coffee table, "What is it, Tony?"

"Have you known anyone who died? Not, as in you interrogated them and they ended up dead, I mean… you watched someone kill them?" For a moment, her brother's face flashed in her mind, but he didn't know then their relation and she figured now would not be the time to tell him.

"Yes."

"Okay," he said, and she knew he was prepping her, "What was your reaction?"

"I was…sad?" she asked, sounding more skeptical than emotional.

"I was standing there, right there, when Kate got shot," he said, staring at the wall right across from them, "I felt her blood spray all over me and I watched her drop to the ground. Her eyes were open."

Ziva did not often think about what ultimately happened with Ari, simply because some part of her, for all that had been hardened in her time with Mossad, she could not move past the fact that she had killed her brother. She wasn't accustomed to people telling her about Kate, as though the fact that she had known her killer made her off limits to mention. "And that made you sad, yes?"

"I used to see her," he admitted, "hallucinate her being around. She would stand there or sit close by and scold me or tease me or rip on me like she always did." He smiled, "That's what I was doing when I met you. I wasn't having phone sex," he paused, "though that would have been nice. I was… seeing Kate."

"You had sex with each other often?" Ziva asked, a little surprised, and trying to hide her hurt.

"What? No!" Tony said, throwing up his hands, "Never, we never did." He puffed out his chest, "She was intimidated by my awesome sexual prowess, as so many women are—OW!" he shouted, as her elbow met his stomach.

They laughed together for a moment, before they turned somber once again. "You miss her often," she said after a beat, more a statement than a question, "People do not often admit that to me."

"It's hard, I guess," Tony offered, "to be happy that you're here and not have it seem like we're betraying her." He grinned, "I think you would have liked her. She made fun of me all the time, for just about everything… You probably would have had a lot of fun together at my expense."

"I probably would have," Ziva agreed, happy to join him in his reverie about someone they indirectly have in common but she never got to know, "So you are happy then, that I am here? You do not wish you could trade me to have her back?"

"Aw, Zee-vah, you must know that's not possible," Tony said, in that way he always said things that made her insecurities sound ridiculous, "You may have taken Kate's desk but you didn't take her place. She had her place here… but you've made your own."

And she smiled.

* * * * * * * * * *

The first time he found out one of her secrets, it was completely on accident.

Gibbs and the Director had been discussing her and her position at NCIS, and Gibbs had let her secret slip: "Ari was her brother!" They had all been at their desks, and no one moved a muscle as the subtle bickering found its way to MTAC. It took her a couple minutes to look up, to see both of them staring at her.

It barely took Tony any time to stand and leave the bullpen. McGee just continued to stare at her, until she took a little bit of initiative, "He was actually my half brother, we had different mothers. His mother was killed, mine died later of natural causes." She sank down lower in her seat when his expression didn't change, "I don't know what else to say."

"I'm just surprised, that's all," McGee said, a shocked expression still etched on his face, "If someone killed my sister it would be nearly impossible for me to be able to anywhere near them… but you work with Gibbs every day."

Ziva thought for a moment, "The man that…Gibbs killed was not the Ari I had grown up with. The Ari I had grown up with was not a terrorist."

McGee looked down for a moment, "I'm sorry, it's just so hard for me—"

"No, no, I understand," Ziva said, placing both hands on her desk, "he murdered your friend. You mourn her. I alone mourn Ari… not for who he was when he died, but for whom I knew him to be."

"You should probably go talk to him," McGee offered.

"You are right," she said, standing and moving from her desk, "I am sorry."

McGee gave her a small smile, "I know."

She found Tony in the bathroom, pacing back and forth, rubbing his chin as he went. She stood there in the doorway, and waited for him to speak. It wouldn't take long, "Why didn't you tell me?" He finally asked.

She stood there for a moment, "I did not know how."

"How about, 'Well, you realize Ari was my brother, Tony?' or, 'I'm sorry your friend is dead, Tony, but so is my brother!'" he said, exasperated. She crossed her arms across her chest and cast her eyes to the floor.

"Your sarcasm has been noted," she mumbled.

He ran a hand through his hair and sat down against a wall, "Ari… the terr—the man I told you I wanted to kill the day I met you, was your brother?"

She stepped over next to where he sat, pressed herself up against the wall as well and slid to the floor, "He was my half brother, actually. We share the same father, his mother died around the same time as mine… Albeit, more violently."

"He killed Kate."

"I know that now," she offered.

"He tried to kill Gibbs!" he said, as though it were unthinkable. Maybe it was, she realized.

"The Ari I knew, as a child and a young woman… he was not the Ari you knew. I never wanted to believe what you said about him, but in the end, you were correct," she lightly took hold of Tony's hand, "I do not expect you to like him, Tony, because he is my blood. But perhaps, in time, you will be more inclined to pity the piece of himself he lost in order to become the man he became?"

Tony shrugged his shoulders, "I don't know if I ever can."

"May I tell you a secret, Tony? And you promise to never, ever tell anyone?"

He shrugged, "Yes?"

"Gibbs did not kill my brother," she said, looking away from him, "I did."

From that moment on, a small part of Tony did mourn.

* * * * * * * * * * *

He has a secret that he's held for a long time to his heart.

If he'd been unsure before they found her in the desert, there was no question after. There was a part of him that, after a while, was even sure that she felt the same way for him. The only problem was whether or not she was ready. Or if he was ready. Or if they, as a pair, were ready.

But in the end, he couldn't help it. During a stake out, as they shared a dirty old mattress while Gibbs and McGee operated surveillance in the next room, he had a nightmare. It wasn't odd for him to dream that he was back in Africa, a blanket of sweat starting from every crevice of his body. He was sitting there, staring up at Saleem, angry, wanting for the first time in his life to not be talking and fighting instead.

In the dream world though, instead of the terrorist leader leaving and coming back with a broken but living Ziva for him to stare in shock at, he dragged in her corpse. Beaten and bloody, as though she hadn't truly fought. Like she'd resolved to herself that she would die, should die, that she deserved it. That alone was enough to have him sitting straight up on their shoddy bed, in a state of false alert and ready to attack.

Instead of seeing Saleem there, laughing, he heard Ziva's voice: "Tony?"

He felt her small hand come to his back, resting there as a comfort. He instantly grabbed a hold of it, pulling it—and as a result, her—closer to him, kissing her hand and wrapping an arm around her shoulders as he tried to steady his breathing.

Ziva looked alarmed, "What did you dream, Tony?"

"Somalia," he croaks, "we didn't… we, uh…"

He didn't need to finish his thought, she got it, "You did not save me?"

"Yeah, that," he mumbled. He suddenly wanted to ask her a million things about her time there, things he had long ago decided were none of his business. Why had she resolved herself that she would die? How could she want to? Was it selfish of him for being a little bit angry that the thought had ever crossed her mind?

"But you did save me, Tony, you did," she said, grabbing onto the sides of his face and trying her best to get him to look at her, "I'm here. I'm alive. You have nothing to worry about."

"Ziva?" Tony croaked as he looked her in the eyes.

"Yes?"

"Can I kiss you?"

There was a pause, "What do you mean?"

"I mean, can I put my lips on your lips and kiss you," he smiled a little, "You know, for real this time?"

She paused again before she smiled back, "Yes, Tony, I think you can."

So he did.

* * * * * * * * *

She has a secret that she's afraid to share, but if she doesn't she may never recover.

There were few things left that Ziva did that surprised Tony, but he didn't usually bring it up because… well, he's a little scared of her. Just that morning he'd been sitting at his desk at work, looking at her and wondering how it is that they'd been technically dating for over two months and they hadn't… you know. Then tonight, after dinner, here they are: he trying to get his front door unlocked while pushing her hand away from his pants.

When they finally get to his bedroom, he's more than ready to go. He's been waiting for this since… what seems like forever. She doesn't hesitate a moment either… until…

She tried to make it subtle, he could tell. But he did notice that when his hand passed a certain point on her inner thigh, she tensed up. He stopped of course, and it didn't take long for her to sigh, in what he figured was her acknowledgement that he knew something was wrong. When the silence continued, it was clear she wasn't going to offer anything up. "Ziva, if you don't want to do this, you know you can tell me to stop, right?"

She seemed to be holding her breath, because when she spoke next the air left her lungs in a, 'whoosh!' "I do not want you to stop."

As a sort of test, he slid his hand up her leg to where it had been before, and again, she went stiff. "Then why do you keep getting so tense?" he asked, moving up her body so he was on his elbows face-to-face with her, "Ziva, what's wrong?"

"Do not make me say it, please," she whispered.

"I can't do this if you don't," he responded.

She seemed to be fighting back tears for a few moments, as she tried to come up with the words. It took a while, but finally she gave him one: "Africa."

Tony could swear he felt a part of his brain explode. Later, when he would think about it, he would kick himself for not having considered it sooner. For not realizing that there had at least been the possibility that she had been raped in her time overseas. He looked down at her, trying her best not to cry, he rolled off of her to her side and pulled her in close to him.

"We don't have to do this if you aren't ready," he mumbled into her hair.

"We do have to, we do!" she said, sitting up and looking at him, tears slipping down her face, "Tony, I may never be more ready than this. I can not let this define me, do you understand? It has been over a year. I know you would never hurt me… not intentionally, anyway. You are a good man, Tony, I trust you."

He sat up to meet her, "If… if we do this and it gets to be too much for you, you have to tell me to stop it. Can you do that for me, Ziva?"

"Yes," she said, nodding.

He kissed her then, soft and… wet and wonderful. He was careful with her, like she was some kind of precious china doll. When it was over, she cried, whether it was in loss or relief he may never know. He will never ask.

All he knows is that when he woke up the next morning, she was straddling his waist and ready to go again.

* * * * * * * * * *

Though he may never admit it to anyone else, sometimes he does wish he had a family of his own.

That Christmas, he realized that neither of them really had any kind of family. She didn't speak about her losses and he didn't talk about his, but it was always this time of year that hurt.

Ziva had not realized Tony was thinking this way until she walked into her apartment one day with a Christmas tree in one corner and a menorah on a table on the other. He was plugging in the lights on the tree when she walked in, and as soon as the pine was illuminated he stood with a proud look on his face.

"What are you doing?" she asked, already laughing.

"Here me out on this," he said, tinsel hanging from his hair, "I don't really have family… really. And yours," she frowned, "we won't talk about yours. And I know that I support the tree and you're about the candles but I thought maybe we could have Christmas and Chanukah together?"

She laughed again, "I would like that very much, Tony."

"Good," he said, "So you can get me eight presents and I will get you one!"

She hit him on the chest in reply.

They gave their best gifts on Christmas, which sat nearly in the middle of Chanukah that year. He unwrapped a name plate for his desk that read, "Very Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo," which has not left his desk since. He handed her a little box with a bow on it, and when she opened it, her heart stopped.

"Tony," she breathed, taking it out of the box. In her hands was a new golden Star of David necklace, with diamonds lining the inside. He smiled and took it from her, crawling behind her to clasp it around her neck.

"You always wore the other one, I figured it was important."

She bit her lower lip briefly, "The old one belonged to Tali," she provided, "I took it when she died. Saleem took it from me in Somalia."

He placed a hand on her thigh, "Then I'm glad you have a new one."

She smiled for him, "Tony… why did you do all this?"

"You and I… we don't really have family. Yours is mostly deceased and my dad is…" he sighed, "So I was hoping, really hoping, that in the absence of a real family, we could be family to each other."

She kissed him then. They rested below the tree that night, her snuggled to his side. He was content with what he considered the best gift ever: a lifetime of Christmases with his Ziva.

* * * * * * * * *

She made him promise to never tell anyone that maybe; just maybe, she can't live without him either.

When she heard the shot, she couldn't move for seconds. A million different things started happening at once, she didn't even know she'd shot back until McGee told her she had much later. All she knew was that Tony was running in front of her one second, and the next he was on the ground.

All she could hear was them arguing. He couldn't sleep at night because of her snoring. She was exhausted because when she got home she had to clean up after him. He wanted sleep. So did she. But when they lay down next to each other at night, all the tension kept both of them up.

"Tony," she breathed, realizing for the first time that her gun was in the air, and she put it back in her holster, before she ran through the alley to her boyfriend, who was immobile on the ground, bleeding.

She was on her knees, pulling off her jacket to plug the hole in his chest before Gibbs and McGee got there. There was no instruction for McGee to pull out his phone and call an ambulance, but he did anyway, and he sat next to her while Gibbs went to make sure their opponents were dead.

She rode with her coworkers to the hospital, and stood with Gibbs in the hall while Tony went into surgery. McGee went to get coffee that she would refuse to drink, because all she could think about was how stupid it was that she'd scolded him for leaving the toilet seat up after breakfast that morning. Gibbs rested a hand on her shoulder and mumbled something to the effect of, "Don't worry Ziver, more vicious things than this have tried to kill him before, and none of them have succeeded."

Instead of this making her laugh, as it normally would have, it simply made her cry. Gibbs pulled her in his arms and held her like a parent would, while she let it all out. They waited together, her and Gibbs and McGee, until a surgeon came out to tell him that Anthony DiNozzo would live to die another day.

She was allowed to see him first, and though he was drugged up and white as a ghost, he still managed to smile for her, "I heard you thought I was going to die. I'm hurt that you think anything less than a meteor would kill me."

She swatted at his arm, "Do not joke about it."

He gave her a small smile, "I'm sorry if I scared you."

She made a sound that sounded suspiciously like a sniffle and said, "Make me a promise, DiNozzo?"

"Anything, Ninja," he replied, placing a hand in hers.

"Do not ever die," she mumbled. He smiled because it was impossible for him to promise that, and it was so unlike her to be that irrational, she knew it. "I do not think I could handle it."

He nodded once, "Of course."

* * * * * * * * *

The most important time Tony is given advice about secrets, it's from Gibbs.

Tony was sitting at a café near the office, all by himself and staring at the table. Gibbs walked across the restaurant, coffee in hand, as he approached the younger man. "You rang, DiNozzo."

"Sit," the younger man said, his eyes not leaving the middle of the space between them.

Gibbs took the seat across from him, eyeing his agent with skepticism, "What do you want, DiNozzo?"

Tony finally met his boss' eyes, as he reached into his pocket and placed a small jewelry box where his gaze had previously been. Gibbs put his coffee cup on the table and picked it up, opening to a simple, but very pretty engagement ring. He cocked one silver eyebrow, as he looked at the other man, "You're going to ask Ziva to marry you?"

Tony nodded.

"What do you want from me?"

There was a beat, and then Tony said, "Now, don't take this the wrong way, Boss, but I don't really have that great of experience with women…"

Gibbs snorted, "Neither do I."

"Yes," Tony agreed. He knew this, as he was the one who rarely let Gibbs forget it. However… "But you do have experience being married."

"Where are you going with this?"

"Well, if you were to give an inexperienced man any advice at all, what would it be?"

Gibbs smiled, standing up from his chair, "Don't keep secrets," he took a sip of his coffee, "knowing Ziva, she'd probably kill you if you got caught, and I don't want to have to find a new agent."