I do not own NCIS or any part thereof.
SPOILERS FOR SEASON 7, SPECIFICALLY THE EPISODE "IGNITION".
Is Ziva actually as fine as she keeps telling everyone she is?
When Tillman started to take them back to his lab Ziva turned off and went the other way. The bearded scientist was surprised she wasn't following him but Tony told him, "She's fine."
He didn't really believe it though. With Ziva out of his sight he couldn't actually know she was fine. Distracted by his thoughts it took him a second to realize Tillman was asking him to reach the keycard stored in his shirt pocket. No way.
"I'm not touching you."
Tillman finally stepped up to the scan and pressed his shirt front against it and gained access. As Tony followed him through the door he couldn't help looking back over his shoulder in the direction Ziva had taken on her way to confront their tail, without him to back her up. Out where he couldn't see her; make sure she was fine. Dammit.
All during the interview and introductions to Bravo, Juliet and Oscar, his mind was half on his partner. Shouldn't she be back by now? He knew exactly how fast things could go bad sometimes. Grinding his teeth he finally reached a stopping point with Tillman and thanked him, telling him to stay in town and be available in case they needed to talk to him again.
He shoved the lab door open, his gut tight with tension and there she was. Fine as good wine. Fine as a fiddle. Fine like sunshine. So why did he keep worrying?
Leaning lazily against a table, she flashed her cell phone in his face showing him a picture of a middle-aged white male with raised eyebrows and open mouth. Not really a natural photographic genius, his partner.
He grinned. Couldn't help it. The sheer pleasure he took in seeing her smile these days was scary. Following along behind her on the way back to their car he didn't indulge in one of his favorite pastimes, Ziva ass-watching. She was wearing a coat after all and it definitely interfered with his view but he was also still thinking about her smile: the scariness of her smile. After all trying to get her to smile at him was what had led to shelling out a crapload of dough for that damned Cherry High Pie doll for the HR Grinch, Delores.
Who'd actually turned out not to be so bad. Who would've guessed his ninja girl-former Mossad assassin-probationary agent partner would give him good people management advice? Had the skill, the empathy for others, always been there but only seen the few times she'd let her iron control slip?
She drove back to the office, once again slamming him into the door as she turned corners too quickly and too tightly. Questioning him about his talk with Tillman, offering her thoughts and suggestions; being her normal, competent, annoying self. So why did he glance at her every so often out of the corner of his eyes, making sure she was still there? Just checking. He was always checking she was there and fine.
They came to an intersection and as Ziva made to turn left a motorcycle cop pulled up in front of her with his lights flashing and held up his hand, blocking their way. In a few moments, two more police motorcycles came by and then a patrol car. Then several limos, a white hearse and a long line of cars, mostly cop cars with a few fire trucks interspersed. Tony rolled down his window and stuck out his head and his badge.
"Hey, officer, whose funeral?"
Leaving his bike for the moment, the cop came and stood by Tony's door.
"It's the girl they found in that psycho's basement. Never got an identity so cops and firefighters took up a collection to bury her."
Now Tony realized why there were so many cars. Those who serve and protect turning out to mourn a girl who had no one to cry for her; a young teen found dead in the basement when the Fire Department had been called to a house fire. Turned out the owner of the house was dead, too. Smoking and drinking in bed had led to a dropped cigarette and death by smoke inhalation. When going through the house afterwards the men of ladder company 48 had found a locked door and broken it down. Inside they found a young woman, maybe 15 or 16, crumpled in a corner, throat cut. Upon examination the City Coroner had said she'd probably been there for days, maybe weeks before finally being killed; had been starved, beaten, raped. Apparently the first thing the bastard had done was cut out her tongue so the neighbors wouldn't hear her cries.
Tony thanked the officer. The cavalcade was coming to an end and the patrolman returned to his duty, making ready to release the line of traffic built up behind them.
"C'mon Ziva, we need to get back. Gibbs'll want to know about the ex-wife."
No answer. He glanced her way.
White-knuckled hands gripped the steering wheel as Ziva stared straight ahead.
When she didn't respond again he reached out and touched her arm. She jerked away. Now he was worried.
"Ziva, what's wrong? We can go now. Ziva, talk to me."
The last was said in a louder voice and he took her arm again, this time in a tighter hold.
She shivered and blinked a couple of times like she was trying to bring him into focus.
"Yeah, Tony. You okay?"
He moved his hand down her arm to the steering wheel and gently disengaged the fingers of her right hand where the knuckles still stood out in pale relief. When he did that, she let her left hand fall into her lap. He held onto the hand he had and inched closer to her, putting his left arm across the back of her seat. She still looked at him like she didn't recognize him.
"It's me, Ziva. It's Tony."
"Tony," she said once more and then shook her head and pulled away.
"I am fine, Tony."
Nodding he slid back over to his side of the car. Behind them a horn honked and someone yelled, probably a good thing he couldn't understand what was said.
"We need to get back. You want me to drive?"
Shaking her head no she settled herself at the wheel again but didn't put the car into gear. She took a deep breath and put her hand out but it shook visibly and she shoved it back into her lap.
"I, uh, I have a headache, Tony. Perhaps it would be better if you drove back."
"Not a problem."
He opened his door and went around the front of the car as Ziva maneuvered her way over the middle console and into the passenger seat.
As he started the car there was more honking and cursing behind them. He rolled down the window and stuck out his hand, middle finger extended, then put the car in gear and pulled away. He kept glancing at her.
She sat perfectly still, looking out the side window so he couldn't see her eyes.
"Tony, I am fine."
He knew that was a friggin' lie but what could he do about it? Huffing in frustration he stopped at a traffic light and tapped his fingers impatiently on the steering wheel. Just as the light changed he thought he felt something warm barely touch his leg. Looking down he saw her hand, fingertips grazing the material of his pants. He covered it with his own. The slender fingers were icy cold, making him wonder if the rest of her was as chilled. It made him want to pull over to the side of the road and wrap his coat around her, made him want to hold her until she was warm again.
She continued to gaze out the window silently as he drove the car one-handed. When they got to the security gate at the Navy Yard she pulled away from him and showed her ID to the guard. After parking they both sat there without moving until he spoke.
She nodded. He opened his door.
He stopped, looked back over his shoulder at her. The smile was small but it was definitely there.
"You know I always want to drive, Probette. Your driving leaves me with a weak bladder."
And he smiled back.
They walked side by side into the building and he thought to himself as he opened the door for her that she wasn't fine, not by any stretch of the imagination but with some help from her friends, from her partner, she would be. She'd be fine. He'd make sure of it.