I own nothing – except five box sets of NCIS (the sixth series hasn't been released in my country as yet…bah!) I definitely do not own the character story lines that have been my creative muse.

Tags – first seven episodes of season 7 – the quotes in italics have ermm… been borrowed from these episodes.

Okay – so I feel like something has been happening this sesson, an undercurrent, that I wished to explore. I hope you enjoy…

Eyes that glint and spark

It's a glint in the eye - a tease on the lips.

Things have changed the last few months. To be expected, really.

When things break – it takes a little while to fix, mend. When people break – it takes a whole lot longer.

She had packed her life into her rucksack. What did she have to come back to? A burnt-out apartment? Betrayal? Bloodlust?

She had given up her family… her friends... her life... For what? Orders? Stepping up? A sense of loyalty to the man who raised her to be a killer. Satin ballet slippers and a razor sharp knife - Incongruous her childhood; irrefutable her adulthood.

And, just when she thought she was already dead, Ziva realised she was most alive.

"Tony! Why are you here?"

Green eyes, whispered truths through parched lips.

"Couldn't live without ya, I guess."

Hot realisation burns through thin veins. "So, you will die with me. You should have left me alone."

Sighs, closes eyes, opens them again: "Look… Tried…couldn't… Listen, you should know, I've taken some sort of truth serum, so if there's any questions you don't want to know the answer to…"

She was worthy. Oh, so worthy.

But, not ready. Couldn't, wouldn't allow these feelings, so long buried, to seep through.

So, she does what she always has. Chin high, determined look, soldiers on. Because, that is who she is... Soldier. Officer. Assassin. At least… she was.

Part of her died in Somalia. Part of her was left behind. But which part? Her heart? Her soul? Her mind?

And so, here they are. Her looking up at him as she tries to make amends. She confronts him in the one place his guard should be down. Should be.

And she wonders as she stands, leaning against the wall, watching as he completes one of the most basic human needs, has she approached him here, now, because she needs the upper hand? Because she wants to rattle him as much as he has clearly rattled her.

She tries to stand tall, explain herself. And Tony, being Tony, doesn't make it any easier for her. He has risked too much already.

And so, life continues. She faces her demons, her skeletons. Most of them. Some, she feels, are better left in the dust of Africa.

She picks up the pieces of her life, transitions from who she was to who she can be. Agent. Investigator. American.

The words drip, trip over his lips. Cold, callous, calculating. But his eyes twinkle and laugh.

He teases and taunts: "Ha! You thought Gibbs was behind you! You know why? Because sneaky people expect sneakiness -- it's a vicious circle."

He speaks innocently, calls her Probie with such glee.

Tilting her head, holding out the tainted coffee, she takes a brave step forward: "I've been thinking about my place as a new agent, and your place as…"

He grins: "As your superior in every way."

She hesitates, acknowledges this, but doesn't fully accept: "Yes…But, for my sanity, can you not call me Probie?"

He cannot, will not, resist. Plaintively adds:" But, I say it with love…"

Her eyes narrow quickly. He back-tracks, the thinly drawn line has been overstepped. "And if I refuse?"

She, with a faint smile on her lips, follows his lead… "You are Senior Field Agent, and I am – entirely – at your mercy…"

Big grin. Blue teeth. Raucous laughter.

Undaunted, he continues his quest.

Bends over the sleeping beauty as she, eyes still firmly shut, threatens his life. Tony raises an eyebrow, peels the Bill of Rights from her cheek. Questions why America would want her, why they would want her? Her constitutional right? Pah! He wants protection against her kind: "Dangerous foreign aliens stealing our precious bodily fluids."

She raises an eyebrow, squints down her nose, rolls her eyes, narrows her gaze, snorts and mutters...

Her eyes light up talking to the small child with the peaceful eyes, sitting on the floor of Gibbs' living room.

She listens to Franks' daughter-in-law, sage words sharing what she already knows, that the most significant moments in life are made without any choices at all. Leyla describes the instant attraction to Franks' son, Liam and she nods her head: "It was love at first sight." Not a question, - a statement, an acknowledgement, an agreement.

He enters the room, sees how she softens when thinking of home, and finds himself questioning – which home is she thinking of?

Perhaps, to justify – to himself - to her, he adds: "Ziva's trying to pick up and start over again – rebuild, again." And, quietly she concurs.

He needles her, pushes her, wants a reaction. Likens her to Vance's nemesis – both beautiful assassins with "come-hither" eyes and "kiss me now lips". Glances over, briefly: "No wonder Vance is obsessed."

He understands, better than anyone. Followed that same path himself, didn't he?

He bristles and pouts. Green eyes even greener as she flirts and smiles at the man opposite her, a man who isn't him – Special Agent Chris Dunham – hah! He himself is a Very Special Agent – isn't he?

He observes from his spot at the head of the table, a perfect view of the tableau unfolding in front of him. And cannot hold back when she utters: "The Bull – stubborn. It is why she is so good."

"You should know…" he retorts, receiving a knowing smile in return.

It is he who follows her into that supposedly sacred womanly space. She watches his reflection in the mirror as he pushes and prods. She purposefully looks confused, mixes her words, speaks in circles. Nonchalantly says: "To answer your question on how I would 'get him': Brute force is very intriguing." A nervous, flirty giggle – so unlike her usual throaty laughter. He responds, echoes. Confused? Knowing?

He questions, no, demands, to know who she is referring to. She answers with an appraising look that curls his toes and tickles his spine. Brushes up past him. He is left alone, questioning, curiously unsettled, unsatisfied…

She talks of things she has never before dared to think, let alone verbalise: of family and home. True love, soul mates and meant to be…

"If you believe in that sort of thing," Tony adds.

And their eyes meet, hold. Smiles curling on their lips.

Later, as their team mate stands forlorn, heartbroken, a sudden interest in his feet – they exchange a quiet glance, a gentle smirk.

"Come on, Probie-lonely. Drinks on me tonight." Tony tries to rally his spirits. He turns his gaze to Ziva; her head once again bend over the files piled up in front of her, intent focus. "Joining us Probie Two?"

She looks up. Smiles.

"Nope. Can't. Paperwork and plans."

He abandons McGee for a moment, juts his chin out, moves forward towards her desk.

"Plans?" Clears his throat, loudly, pauses, then chokes on the words that force their way out unbidden. "You.. you have a date?"

She glances at him, harrumphs. "Why, are you jealous, Tony?" she asks, coyly, watching him through lowered lashes.

He doesn't give her the satisfaction of the answer she seeks. And observing the interaction, McGee's heart sinks a little more.

He straightens his shoulders, makes to follow McGee out. But not before turning, leaning over the partition. "Say hi to Dunham…"

A wad of paper hits the back of his head as he and McGee saunter towards the elevator.

He laughs, loud, without mirth. Holds his head high, and McGee slaps him on the back.

A few hours, a few drinks, later, he fumbles at the front door of his apartment. The door unlocked, he stumbles in. The passageway is in darkness, the only light a faint glow from the flickering TV.

He moves into the living room and finds himself flat on his back, bare knees presses into his sides, a curtain of hair falls over his face.

"Brute Force – intriguing indeed," he leers. Reaches up, catching Ziva's face in his hands, pulls her towards him for a kiss.

Later, as they lie tangled in their bed – she can't help but say: "Is it really fair – should we not put McGee out of his misery?"

He smiles and answers, "Gibbs rule 4 applies here: The best way to keep a secret? Keep it to yourself. Second best? Tell one other person - if you must. There is no third best."

Pulls her closer, kisses her hair, closes his eyes.

And they continue: in the bullpen, Abby's lab, Ducky's autopsy, out in the field. He rolls his eyes and sniggers, jibes and jokes, pushes and pries. She retorts and snorts, flirts and laughs, narrows her gaze and threatens his body parts.

All the while, there is a glint in the eye - a tease on the lips.