A/N: First fic in a new fandom. Ignore the nervous twitching, I'm just terrified. Warnings: none... other than the fact that this is not beta'd.
Disclaimer: I don't own NCIS's Tony DiNozzo or Ziva David, but they've been playing in my brain for days and this is the only way I know to stop them.
Thoughts on Saviors and Survivors
Sometimes a thought can be fleeting. A handful of words can be said and have no impact on the next moment, almost like they were never uttered.
The first time Ziva's father had accused Tony of killing in a jealous rage, the words had slicked off her back like water off of a duck's. She was in the depths of grief, swimming in a sea of what could have been and what had snuffed out the potential of a human being she had an intimate connection with.
She thought the idea that Tony cared for her was ludicrous. In her experience, he looked on her as a partner, maybe as a friend. When she confronted him and he hadn't denied it, the thought became much more curious.
After some time to think, and Tony's continued plea of self defense when she had broached the subject herself, she had spoken with her father again. This time, Eli's claim held heavier repercussions, ones that could not be thwarted if she followed her thought process through to conclusion.
Sometimes a thought can grab hold and fester, growing until it goes out of control and takes you somewhere you never thought possible.
Armed with the murky information from her father regarding Michael's mission in DC, she had no choice but to go with her gut.
But as soon as she told Gibbs that she couldn't work with someone that she couldn't trust, she regretted it. By asking her boss to choose, she had made his decision for him. Tony had been with Gibbs longer, proven himself reliable and loyal in hundreds of difficult situations...
She was just a foreign agent. No matter how many scrapes she had encountered with NCIS, her allegiance was to her home country and her family.
At least it was on the outside.
Part of her was stuck there on that landing strip, defiant and convicted by what she believed to be true of a man who had been her savior more times than she could count. The accusations costing her the family that she'd been a part of, but seemingly justified.
The rest of her could only wish to atone for her rash actions.
Once Mossad was all she had, there was only the opportunity to throw herself into work; rooting out a terrorist trainer could be just the distraction from her thoughts that she needed. Thoughts that kept straying to the look in Gibbs' eyes when he left her in Israel... or the note of truth in Tony's voice when he claimed he'd risked everything for her.
Being captured by Salim hadn't been part of the plan. Neither had the torture or the pain he'd inflicted trying to pry NCIS secrets from her. He hadn't been the least interested in Mossad.
Ziva David was a highly-trained survivor; the punches and the truth serum hadn't dented her resolve to keep her mouth shut. She pushed through the pain, knowing that her loyalty to NCIS may never be known.
All that mattered was that she keep them safe, out of the danger that spilling even the smallest detail would subject them to. She owed them after the way they had parted. She owed Tony for saving her from someone who couldn't be trusted; no matter how much it had hurt for him to shine light on the darkness Michael had hidden, she finally understood him.
Now she was going to die protecting him just as he'd been willing to do for her.
Spending every moment, unaware as to whether or not you would have another, gives too much clarity to thoughts you were trying to run from.
When she was moved again to the torture room, the last thing she'd expected was waiting for her there: Tony had come for her. Even after she'd accused him of murder, accused him of jealousy, accused him of using excessive force, he was there. Battered and broken, his lips dry and cracked from the desert heat, Tony was there when all others must think her dead.
Come to find out, Tony thought she was dead himself.
He had gotten some form of permission to track her, followed the trail of her attackers, and allowed himself to be captured for the sole purpose of vengeance. He'd put himself in harm's way to kill the man who'd taken her life. He'd gone on a suicide mission.
He'd also confessed that he couldn't live without her. Under the influence of Salim's truth serum, he had admitted she was more to him than a partner. Possibly even more than a friend.
After the illuminating things she had learned during her rescue from Africa, there was no avoiding the idea that Tony had an ulterior motive for going to her apartment the night of Michael's death. The fact that her father hadn't been completely wrong about him was slightly disturbing, but three months after the incident she could see that an ulterior motive didn't always have to be a hindrance to the true mission. Tony could have concealed feelings, but that didn't mean Michael was innocent.
She had committed the incident report to memory and the events of that night shined with a different hue when she imagined them now. Her father had sent Michael there to watch her and work a mission she should have been given.
Ziva had been left out of the loop due to her connection with NCIS and it was NCIS that rescued her. The word family applied more to her American friends than her blood.
In going back to DC with the NCIS team, she spoke with each of her friends separately but the subject seemed to be the same: Tony. He was the last on her list of apologies because she didn't know how to handle the stirring inside of her, the swirl of confusion that she felt about him and his undefined feelings. It was only when she could no longer avoid him that she decided to catch him off guard.
The Men's room just happened to be the place. She remembered a conversation they'd had about his ex-girlfriend in this bathroom, about the posturing he'd done to show he was unaffected when there had been heartbreak. Now she was the one with the lost lover, but it still seemed she would be consoling him.
Words spilled from her lips once she had his attention; she had no plans for what to say. The more she spoke, the more she understood herself and the way she felt about her life in the United States. There were so many things back in Israel that she pretended didn't exist, but they were there on the surface as soon as he asked what mattered to her.
She didn't say it aloud, but it was suddenly crystal clear to herself that Tony mattered to her. It had taken a dead boyfriend and months as a terrorist captive for her to see it, but it was there when she kissed his cheek. She hadn't known why she was leaning forward until her hand was cupping his jaw.
The tingles down her spine when she caught his cautious eyes afterward spoke volumes she wasn't ready to read yet.
He'd rushed off to crack part of his case because of something she'd said post-kiss and she was left to contemplate what her next action must be now. The realization that she didn't truly wish to return to her father wasn't as much of a shock as it should be.
It was then that she told Gibbs he was like a father to her. She hadn't expressed that McGee was like a brother and Abby was like a little sister.
What role Tony played in this version of a family wasn't clear; it had never been. They had fought with and for each other, their clashing styles were perfectly complementary when it counted most. They had flirted and teased in both tense and levity-filled moments. They had danced around the chemistry that had crackled as early as the first time they'd met.
What they hadn't done was face it head on.
Now, there would be some more thinking before a definition could be spoken. With all that had happened, there were obstacles to overcome before they could regain the lost ground.
Life was going on around her: she was cleared to work, but not in the field, so she spent more time watching her team leave then she did around them. It gave her time to consider how to tender her resignation to Mossad. Once that was done, she would ask to become a run-of-the-mill NCIS. If such a thing actually existed.
The case was solved and the paperwork waiting for Gibbs' signature was ready on her desk. Tony was holding the culprit to wait for the police and Ziva felt her blood begin to simmer when he started complimenting the female detective's clothing. His flirting had always been a Tony staple, if he hadn't made an effort then he would be thought to be ill.
Ziva let it bother her for about ten seconds until he looked up to make sure she was watching.
It was going to be a while before the ground would settle between the two of them. Then they could rebuild the quirky friendship they'd had. The possibility for more could only be pursued after the foundation was repaired.
Until then, she would focus on surviving... and know he'd have her back when she couldn't save herself.
A/N: Here's hoping there's no tomatoes. I really can't stand tomatoes. But in all seriousness, I'd love to know what you thought.