"Come on, Probie, it's the drinking hour," Tony said as he made a house out of playing cards on his desk.
"In a minute," Ziva replied, not taking her eyes off the computer screen as she finished typing up her case report. "Almost done. And I told you never to call me 'Probie.'"
"Yeah well, type faster," Tony said impatiently. "You know you're working too much when McGeek beats you to the bar on a Friday night." Ziva didn't reply. Instead she continued typing; concentrating a little harder than Tony thought she should on something that she'd done hundreds of times before. It was little moments like these that told Tony that Ziva wasn't as okay as she'd repeatedly said she was. These tiny glimpses past the defences that she'd put up were the only insight that he had into her state of mind. Consciously, Ziva wouldn't give up a thing and Tony wondered how long it could last. It was the reason why he'd insisted on waiting for her to finish her work instead of going ahead and letting her go with Abby or Ducky to the bar. He couldn't bring himself to leave if she was about to fall. And he knew that she had to fall sometime.
"You're googling," Ziva said as she shut her computer down. She eyed Tony suspiciously.
"Ogling," Tony corrected her. "And I'm not. I'm observing our newest probationary agent at work. Besides, most women would consider that a compliment," Tony replied with his trademark cheeky smile.
"I'm not most women," Ziva said as she stood up and grabbed her jacket.
"No, you're certainly not," Tony replied, a little more serious than usual. Before Ziva could notice the slip in his own defences, he went over to her desk and picked up her bag. "There's a cold beer waiting for me. Come on."
But before they made it to the elevator, Tony's grip on the leather bag slipped and it fell to the floor.
"I'll get it," Ziva said, quickly, but Tony had beaten her to it. A small bottle of pills had fallen out of a side pocket. Tony picked up the bag and the pill bottle, noticing what was written on the label. Diazepam.
Tony's whole demeanour changed and he looked up at Ziva who was frozen in place. Ziva who had to be persuaded to take even paracetamol was taking valium.
"Ziva," he started, not sure what else to say. His face was the picture of concern for her.
Ziva looked down at her feet, trying desperately to compose herself and think of her next move. An excuse, an accusation, a joke. Anything. Nothing but the painful truth that she tried so desperately to bury every second came to mind. She slowly raised her head to look at Tony and when she did, he took a step towards her.
"Tony, don't-" she warned him, not knowing what she was trying to stop him from doing. Tony shook his head, cutting her off.
"You need to stop pretending that it didn't happen," he said softly.
"Tony, I appreciate your concern but I am fine," Ziva replied as steadily as she could. Her standard reply.
"I don't believe you," Tony said, looking deep into Ziva's deep, dark eyes. He looked down at the pill bottle in his hand. "And it seems like Doctor Robinson doesn't believe you either."
"I don't want to talk about it," Ziva said, defiantly. "Can you please give them back to me."
"Maybe that's the problem," Tony replied, trying to break through to her. "You're not talking about it. What are you taking them for, Ziva? Panic attacks? Nightmares? Insomnia? Flashbacks?"
"Tony, I will not ask again," Ziva warned, trying to get angry to stop herself from becoming emotional.
"Okay, okay," Tony said extending the bag and pill bottle to her. Ziva took the bag, but Tony wouldn't let go of the pill bottle. Ziva looked up at him and for the first time she actually wanted to free herself from some of the burdon that had been weighing on her, so heavy that at times it felt like a physical weight pressing against her chest.
You had my back. You have always had my back.
Her bottom lip quivered slightly as she spoke, so quietly that Tony had to strain to hear every word.
"All of the above, Tony. Panic attacks. Nightmares. Insomnia. Flashbacks. I needed some help, okay?" Tony nodded.
"Asking for help couldn't have been easy for you," Tony said softly. Ziva shook her head, looking at the floor so that Tony couldn't see that she was about to cry.
"Not asking was worse," she managed to say.
"You know that you don't have to be this stoic soldier around us, Ziva," Tony said. "We're your friends."
"I don't know how else to be," Ziva admitted, looking up at Tony, a stray tear falling down her cheek. Tony knew that this was true, the product of being Eli David's daughter. Tony reached his hand out to Ziva's cheek and tenderly wiped the tear away. He then took a step closer to her, resting his hand on one of her cheeks before leaning forward and softly kissing her other cheek, just as she had done to him weeks earlier. He did not need to say anything at that moment. His actions spoke louder than words ever could.
Tony's hand began to leave Ziva's face but before they could break contact, Ziva reached out and held his hand in place, closing her eyes and allowing his warmth, his touch to comfort her. It was so different from the last time that a man had been this close to her. She shuddered at the thought.
"It's okay," Tony said softly. "You don't have to be alone tonight."
For a moment, Ziva looked as though she was going to fight Tony on this but then she stopped, realizing that not only was it futile, but that for the first time in her life she did not have to be alone. Nor did she want to be. Instead of protesting she meekly nodded, taking a deep breath as she allowed him to remove his gentle hand from her face. Tony placed handed the pills to Ziva's who placed them back inside her bag.
"Thank you," she said quietly as she slung her bag over her shoulder. "I do not want to go to a noisy bar tonight," she admitted.
"I have a bottle of wine at my place that I'm dying to open," Tony said as they started to walk towards the elevator.
"You are telling me that you would rather sit at home with me on a Friday night and drink wine than go to a bar and chat up college girls?" Ziva asked sceptically.
"Yes," Tony replied without a hint of sarcasm in his voice." Tony couldn't be sure but he thought he saw a slight smile cross Ziva's face for a moment.
"Shall we?" he asked. Ziva nodded as Tony reached out to her and interlocked his fingers with hers, giving her hand a supportive squeeze. Together they walked to the elevator.
As the doors closed, Ziva felt something that she couldn't ever remember feeling.