A/N - Sorry for such a long delay in updating this story. I have felt less than motivated by recent episodes….until Jurisdiction. I thought maybe McGee should have a little time in the spotlight. Plus, I needed to write this little chapter to bridge the gap to my next chapter.

I don't own anything. Duh.


Jurisdiction 7 x 18

"I'm glad I wasn't your Valentine."

"So am I."

I will never understand them. I don't think they have any idea how exhausting it is just to be in their proximity. It's like they have this ability to suck the oxygen out of a room. Being trapped in the van with them is especially fun. On the bright side, when they are consumed with tormenting each other they tend to leave me alone.

They aren't fooling anyone and we all know Tony gave Ziva the Valentine's Day candy. He also gave an identical heart shaped box to Abby. Tony is made up of equal parts genius and idiot. No, actually, he is equal parts genius, idiot and smartass. But I digress.

Giving a Valentine gift to multiple women signifies the insignificance of the gesture. Thus, pointing out how little the giver means to the receiver simply because the candy remains uneaten places more importance on the gift than was originally intended. Therefore, making it painfully obvious - to me if not to Ziva- that the gift was indeed significant. At least the irony is amusing. As I said: Tony is an idiot. Especially when it comes to Ziva.

They have danced this dance for years. Trust me, I've studied them. Every good writer observes the characters around him, and Tony and Ziva provide non-stop writing opportunities. Of course, add Gibbs and Abby into the mix with a little Palmer and Ducky and the opportunities become endless. And a bestseller - although maybe my character study was just a little too close to reality for the comfort of my coworkers last time. Currently, I am wondering just who it is that they believe they are fooling.

Maybe Tony somehow forgot about the night he got drunk and admitted to me that he had been sleeping with Ziva for the whole summer when Gibbs was away. Maybe Ziva forgot about the night she asked me in a whisper if I believed that Tony loved Jeanne, the hurt raw in her features. Maybe Tony doesn't remember another drunken night after we got the news that Ziva was onboard the Damacles.

I think I was in love with her, Tim.

He had used my first name - always a sign that he is serious. I had cared about Ziva, too. But Tony? I actually believe that he really did love her; is still in love with her.

Which, really, is the only way I can justify helping him hack into her medical records a couple of months ago after our return from Somalia.

It's not something of which I am proud. I'm not sure I can justify my actions even now. Tony wasn't the only one worried about Ziva and she was keeping silent. All I can say now is that I wish I had never seen what was in those files.

I had been there. I saw her face when the first flicker of belief that she would survive crossed her features. I was there when she cried out and collapsed against Tony's chest frantically trying to shield her light deprived eyes from the shock of the searing desert sunlight. And I course, I saw the wounded, desperate look that haunted her features during her waking hours of our return to American soil.

Most likely, the reason I chose to grant Tony's request was because I knew how desperate he was to help her. To understand her. To make sense of what she might have endured. The desperation of a lover, not a co-worker.

For those reasons I conspired with Tony to violate Ziva's privacy in the worst way.

Both of us were stunned into speechlessness, skimming the first few pages before Tony finally found his voice.

There's only one reason she was given a pregnancy test and an STD screen, McGee. Close the file.

We never spoke of what we uncovered, and I suspect that Ziva has remained silent as well. Even though their bickering seems to be returning to normal, I have noticed that Tony is particularly gentle toward Ziva and likewise, she is softer and allows his kindness. Especially, if they believe no one is watching.

Sometimes, I find myself studying her. Wondering about her. Imagining a world where a woman like Ziva has found herself on both ends of the torture spectrum. I write about it often, although this story will never cross my editor's desk.

Maybe Tony and Ziva need to play this game with each other. Maybe they need to go back to something familiar in order to move forward. Maybe it's strictly to protect themselves from the wrath of Gibbs were he were to discover they violated rule twelve years ago and are most likely doing so now - although I find it difficult to believe that Gibbs would be that naïve.

I suppose for now I will keep the lid on their little charade. Like I said, when they are torturing each other they leave me alone.

Not to mention, I now have a considerable advantage in the game of blackmail should their united forces to torture me get out of hand.


A/N - Meh.. I'm not in love with, this, but it's been tumbling around in my head for a few days so I decided to write it. Reviews are welcomed and appreciated. Thanks for reading!