Disclaimer: Form Voltron! The good one with the lions, not the stupid one with the vehicles.
Spoilers: Power Down and the new one. Childe Harold's Pilgrimage, perhaps. Child something or other, anyway.
Summary: Middle of the ep cornfield scene.
Tony tried not to lock his knees, but it was just too tempting. He felt the tension move from his legs to his back, which was a nice change. It was going to be a problem in the very near future if the situation didn't change. Or if his chiropractor had decided to take off on an early Thanksgiving break. He let a low groan escape as he shifted again on the uneven ground.
"I think I could snap your neck right now."
He carefully moved his hands lower, closer to Ziva's knees before craning his neck to look up at her. "What'd I do?"
"Nothing. Why would you think you had? Are you feeling guilty?"
"I'm feeling like you just threatened to snap my neck." He felt like he was going to snap his own neck at the moment, so he turned his head away from her before continuing, "You don't usually break out the death threats for no reason, even though the reason isn't ever proportional to the threat."
"I was not making a threat; I was merely observing that, were you an enemy and not my partner, you would be in a position to have your neck broken."
"Why would you be getting a piggy-back ride from a bad guy?" He wondered if he were imagining that she had just tightened her thighs around his head. "More importantly, why are you even still up there?"
"Because you have not let me down yet."
"Oh." He contemplated how he was going to accomplish that. As uncomfortable as it was getting to have her sitting on his shoulders with her hands fisted in his hair, whatever happened after he dumped her on the ground was going to be worse. In fact, if circumstances were different, he could see himself digging the hair-pulling and the thighs clamped around his head…
"Watch the hands!"
Okay, so maybe not too much hair-pulling. "Sorry! I'm just…I'm trying to put you down." He slowly bent one knee, silently praying the other wouldn't…oops. Ziva pitched forward and disappeared into a row of cornstalks, which rustled in a pleasant way with the disturbance. Tony waited for a moment, staying on his knee on the assumption that it would be less painful to absorb the blow when she came flying back through the greens in a flurry of rage and grain.
The stalks had settled back into a gentle waving motion in the breeze by the time he cautiously rose to his feet. "Ziva?" A glance over his shoulder told him that Gibbs, McGee and Ducky had missed the recent tumble. "Hey, you don't have to…" A sudden thought crossed his mind and he shoved through the corn. He'd be willing to endure any passing torture as long as she hadn't hurt herself when he'd lost his balance. "Ziva?" His voice was quieter than it needed to be, considering he was searching for a potentially unconscious partner. There was a small area of flattened cornstalks in the second row, presumably where she'd hit the ground. So where was she?
He tentatively poked his head through to the next row, whispering her name this time. If there were a helicopter in a crop circle through the next row, so help him… When he took another uneasy step forward, he caught a glimpse of movement. Although he tried to play it off as a joke, his laugh came out hollow. "Okay, you got me. I drop you, you jump out of the corn and take five years off my life. I'll just stand here and wait for my punishment." He kept his gaze fixed on where he'd seen the flash of black. "I see you, Ziva. If it makes you feel better, you can have a free pass to sneak up on me in the office for the rest of the case. Really, you can pop out from behind the partition as many times as you want and I won't remind you about how much I hate it when you do that."
"Okay, really, this is…" He trailed off as he crashed through the row of cornstalks, surprising a sunbathing black cat. The angry yellow eyes it fixed on him were unsettling. "Go away."
The cat stared at him with the utmost condescension.
"What? I don't have a cheeseburger for you!"
The cat remained unimpressed. He wondered if he should inform it that he was a federal agent and ask about Ziva. He suddenly realized he was standing in a cornfield, debating about whether he should ask a cat if it had seen his partner. Unless…wait, why would Ziva have turned into a cat? "Maybe I should cut back on the caffeine or something," he muttered to himself.
"DiNozzo, what the hell are you doing in there?"
"Oh, boss, I…" He moved toward Gibbs voice. They could regroup and form a search party, maybe call in Animal Control to pick up that evil looking cat. "I think…"
"If you don't get out here now, I'm gonna kill you before Ziva gets a chance to!"
Tony crashed through the last row separating him from the crime scene and saw Gibbs giving him a glare that made the cat's less scary, but he hardly registered it. "Ziva!" He could hear her camera clicking, pressed against his chest as he grabbed her in an awkward hug.
She pushed him back after a moment. "A simple apology would be sufficient."
"What are you doing here?"
"I am trying to photograph the scene," she replied with some exasperation, sidestepping away from him.
"No, I mean, you fell in the corn and…"
"Yes, when you threw me off your shoulders," she finished.
"I…I didn't throw you. I just, uh, lost my balance a little and…I didn't mean to. So, y'know, sorry about that. But how did you get back over here?"
"I meant without me seeing you!"
She shrugged and returned her attention to her camera. "Perhaps you should consider glasses."
"There's something weird going on here." Tony followed the direction of Ziva's camera lens. "Besides our buddy the scarecrow. Seriously, how did you sneak past me?"
"I did not do any sneaking. And I was not injured in my fall, thank you for asking."
"Well, I can see you're fine."
"And yet you could not see me as I passed by you after you tossed me to the ground from a height of six feet."
"Six foot two. Although you were on my shoulders, not my head, so it was really more like, uh…how big would you say my head is?"
She finally made eye contact and he regretted his lack of verbal filters. "Quite big."
"Yeah, walked into that one."
"Cute. Is there a wordplay section on the citizenship test?"
"I dunno, DiNozzo." He winced as Gibbs delivered a hat-dislodging smack. "Is there a needs improvement column on your performance review?"
"Getting back to work, boss." He leaned over to pick up his hat and remained in that position for a moment. "Uh, not to trample on McGee's drag marks, but why is there a second set over here?"
McGee's head popped out of the corn. "The ones I'm following lead to the road."
Tony raised his arm to point in McGee's direction. "That way is a very nice way."
"Are you sure you've got the same marks? Because they're over in the wrong area."
Tony switched arms to indicate his find. "It's pleasant down that way, too."
"Of course people do go both ways."
He turned to grin at Ziva's crossways pointing. "I always wondered how they snuck that into a kids' movie."
"I've always wondered how you two manage to get any work done."
Tony leaned over again, this time to retrieve both of the hats knocked off by Gibbs' latest reprisal, and handed Ziva's back to her. They managed to stay thoroughly professional for the remainder of the time spent at the crime scene, even though Tony had a Batman Begins joke ready to burst out at any moment. He opened his mouth to share it when he and Ziva were standing at the rear of the truck half an hour later, but his brain and mouth experienced a temporary disconnect as he instead blurted, "Why were you so happy to be stuck in the elevator with McGee?"
Her eyebrows flattened into a severe line. "What do you mean?"
"Uh, during the blackout. There wasn't any blood on the walls or anything."
"And that somehow means that I was happy about being trapped in the elevator all night? Why are you even bringing this up?"
"I…have no idea, actually. I think that cat did something funny to my head."
"Tony, if you are going to babble like an idiot, I am going to…"
"Riding with Gibbs," McGee interjected, dropping his bag on the ground at their feet and scurrying away.
"Lookit him. Like a little chipmunk."
She interrupted his interpretation of nasty big pointy teeth with a terse, "I am driving."
"Oh, good. I can scream in terror instead of babble like an idiot." She flicked the brim of his hat, sending it flipping off the back of his head, necessitating a third salvage operation. He jumped out of the way as the engine revved, but the truck remained stationary. Luckily. He was quick to jump into the passenger seat, just in case. "Just so we're clear, you weren't ever considering backing over me, right?"
"Ever? Or just a moment ago?"
"Uh…" He snapped his seatbelt into place with a comforting click as gravel pinged in the wheel wells before the truck shot onto the road. "You, uh, never really answered my question about the elevator."
"Does it make a difference?"
He resisted the temptation to point her eyes back in the direction of the road. "Just making conversation." He waited a few bone-jarring hairpin turns to say, "It's just that…well, you said it was better than if I was there too."
"Three of us in that small space for nine hours?"
"I see your point." God, how far could they possibly be from the highway? At least there would be horns to warn him about impending death then… "But if it had been me…"
"You would have been unconscious for at least eight hours and fifty-seven minutes."
"I…what?" He was suddenly more bothered by the conversation than the rapidly passing scenery.
"If you and I had been trapped in the elevator together," she non-clarified.
"So…so why would it have been an issue if all three of us were in there? I mean, if you would have used your Moussad sleeper hold to give me a night of sweet Berber dreams."
"Oh, no. I thought you meant if it had been only you and I. It would have been far worse if it had been all three of us, mainly because I think it would upset McGee to see me knock you out."
Tony found it difficult to arouse any empathy. "Yeah. Poor baby."
"What do you want me to say? There is no one in the world I would want to be trapped in an elevator with."
"Oh." His spirits lifted just in time for him to raise his arms in anticipation of a collision with a tree that never happened. He decided he'd pried enough into the cat-induced issue. Stupid cat. He retreated into a less creepy place. "So…I'm kinda surprised you didn't jump on the whole scarecrow-brainless connection back in that cornfield."
"I would never call you completely brainless."
"Right. So heartless or lacking courage, then?"
She again fixed him with a long gaze that would have served them both better had it remained on the road. "Dorothy."
"Loyal and brave, especially in defense of friends, willing to accomplish ridiculous goals that most would shy away from, always searching for the best fit…"
Tony felt a warm spot in his chest. "Well, when you put it that way…"
"…and awful taste in shoes," Ziva concluded. He decided the warm spot was probably heartburn brought on by the reckless driving until she continued, "I suppose that I would be categorized as a Tin Man, yes?"
"Never," he replied without hesitation. "Although I suppose hearts will never be practical until they are unbreakable."
She nodded, keeping her eyes forward for once.
After a few minutes of comfortable silence, he ventured, "Y'know the special edition DVD just came out and, uh, I've got a couple bottles of wine at my place and…"
"When this case is over?"
"There's no place like home," he replied.