So I went with a friend to a Messianic Synagogue a couple of weeks ago and saw a little girl who looked like she could belong to Ziva and Tony. A beautiful, beautiful child who was full of mischief and hard put to sit through the service. She inspired this story, that nameless little girl. I only hope I did her partial justice.
No spoilers per se, except the entire Tony and Ziva relationship kind of…
And this is not a ghost story but maybe a door into the future Tony peeks through for a few moments?
I do not own NCIS or any part thereof.
Tony moaned as he pushed back into the corner, cradling his right knee. God, it hurt. And his head hurt too. The dried blood on his neck at the hairline itched and when he reached up to scratch he felt a good-sized lump. Damn. No wonder he felt like he might throw up. Probably had a friggin' concussion.
He laughed bitterly. Should've listened to Ziva. She told me this was a bad idea. It pissed him off how often she was right. No doubt if he'd waited for backup, as demanded by protocol AND his partner AND his boss, he wouldn't be hiding in the shadowy corners of some godforsaken warehouse with scrambled brains and what felt like a ruptured ACL. Even worse, there were two guys with big guns hunting for him. The injuries were his own fault. He'd misjudged how many stairs there were in the dark and went sprawling, twisting his knee and hitting his head on the corner of a forgotten metal container. Oh, and don't forget dropping your gun too, DiNozzo. On top of all those bad things, the major bad thing was no one knew he was here. Not Ziva, not Gibbs, no one. By the time they missed him and McGPS tracked him down chances were he wouldn't be in pain any longer - he'd be dead. If he did by chance get out alive and back at his desk, Gibbs would head slap him into next week, maybe next year.
Leaning his head back he closed his eyes for a moment.
He jerked himself awake unsure of what he'd heart…a rustling noise…rats!? God, he hoped not because the way his knee felt now, kind of like one giant blob of white hot pain, he didn't think he'd be moving anytime soon.
There, he heard the noise again. What the hell?
He squinted his eyes, trying to see in the dim light. Things looked fuzzy.
What looked like a little girl crawled around the corner of the shelving unit he hid behind. He tried to shake his head, sure it was an hallucination, but the fireworks that went off in his brain convinced him headshaking was not a viable option right now. He opened and closed his eyes several times in quick succession, trying to make her go back down the rabbit hole she'd crawled out of.
"Are you trying to wink at me?"
Her voice was soft, low for a little girl and with a hint of a lisp. She sat down beside him, Indian style, and he got a good look at her. Dark hair pulled into ponytails like Abby wore hers most of the time, chubby cheeks and big, round, dark eyes. He couldn't tell what her mouth looked like because she had a lollipop stick hanging out from between her lips. She wore a faded green shirt with an image of Golden Age Wonder Woman on it and jeans that were apparently too long for her as she had big cuffs turned up. Her tennis shoes were dirty white and she didn't appear to have any socks on. She was a really solid hallucination that was for damned sure.
"Cause when you wink you only shut one eye."
She demonstrated by closing one eye with the help of her fingers.
"See, this is a wink."
"Yeah, okay. No, I wasn't winking."
Cute kid but in a very dangerous place, if she was real. He had to get her out of here before…well, some things children shouldn't see - like him getting blown away.
"Listen, you need to go back out of here the way you came in. It's dangerous in here for little girls."
"It's okay, Tony. They can't hurt me."
"Yeah, well, I beg to differ, they can hu…Wait. You know my name?"
She giggled which pushed the sucker to the left side of her mouth and a little red-colored drool dripped down her chin.
"You know I know your name, silly. Your name is Tony."
He stared at her. He swore to God he'd never seen this kid before. It made sense to his rattled brain he'd have hallucinations involving a female but one who was only maybe 5 years old, 6 at the most? No way. But - she knew his name and sure wasn't shy around him. Tony could smell the cherry scent coming off her lollipop and he saw the faded material of the knees of her jeans where they were just about worn through just inches from his face.
"You gotta go. Now!"
He reached out to give her a little shove in the right direction and she moved nimbly away from him, smiling. There were dimples in her cheeks when she smiled and dimples around her mouth too. Really a cute kid but she needed to be gone.
"Do I know you? No, no wait. Stupid question. You know me so I must know you."
Crap. Concussions were difficult to deal with at the best of times but when unable to move and two dirtbags looking to kill you having a little girl with dimples sitting by you was too freakin' much. He took a deep breath and tried to ignore the stab of pain in his head.
"Let me start over. You know my name. What's yours?"
Before she answered, she moved the sucker to the other side of her mouth, letting more red sucker spit stain Wonder Woman's picture. She mumbled something he didn't quite catch.
"I said Liz A Beth," she said slowly, brows furrowed at his obvious stupidity.
She nodded and gave him the dimples again. He opened his mouth to say something, maybe tell her his mother's name had been Elizabeth, but she put a sticky little hand to his mouth.
Now Tony heard them. Heavy footsteps coming his way. They'd belong to the big guy with the Saints t-shirt. The one who looked like he might have once been a defensive lineman. He tried to put his arm up to pull 'Lizabeth closer to him but she shook her head.
"I'm looking, okay? Found his gun so he's just hiding somewhere. You finish loading the damned car, let me worry about the navy cop."
Tony heard the snap as the guy closed his cell phone. 'Lizabeth scooted closer to him and put her head on his shoulder and whispered in his ear, her warm breath tickling him.
"He's going away now but he'll be back but by then Ziva will be here."
Opened his mouth but couldn't think of anything to say so he shut it again. 'Lizabeth knew Ziva too? Thinking really, really hurt. The big guy's footsteps faded in the distance. 'Lizabeth remained snuggled up to him.
"You smell good," she said. "You smell like home."
What? None of this was making sense. This was weirder than any alcohol-induced nightmare he'd ever had. The weight of the little girl's body as she half lay on his shoulder and chest felt real enough. Her hair tickled his nose. Putting his arm around her he couldn't resist hugging her. She wrapped her arms around his neck and hugged him back and even though it hurt like hell he let her.
"I love you, Tony."
"Yeah, right," he said.
But as she continued to snuggle with him he relaxed. His eyes didn't seem to want to stay open. With a concussion he knew he needed to stay awake but damn, he was tired and the warm little body nestled next to him gave him an odd sense of security.
Abruptly his eyes were pulled open.
"Ow, what the hell?"
"Mommy says you shouldn't say bad words."
Oh yeah, the girl, 'Lizabeth.
"You have to stay awake, Tony. You can't go to sleep 'til Ziva comes to find you."
This was the damndest thing ; a bossy little girl hallucination in a Wonder Woman t-shirt. Now the damned kid was trying to shake him and it made his head hurt worse.
"I'm awake, I'm awake!"
The dimples revealed themselves again.
"Tell me a story. Telling people stories is a good way to not sleep."
"I don't want to tell you a story!"
She pouted, the stick of the sucker at a jaunty ankle, kind of like Groucho Marx ' cigar.
"Alright, I'll tell you a story. What kind of story you want? Cinderella? Snow White? Mulan?"
"No. I don't want none of those stories. Tell me the one you told Trey last time."
"Tray? What is he your dog, old dog Tray?"
"No, silly," and she giggled shooting out little drops of red spit, flecking his face.
"Trey's my baby brother. He's a three so we call him Trey like the number three in cards."
He blinked in confusion. "He's a three?"
"So what story did I tell Trey then?" was the only response he could manage.
"I swear to God, kid, I don't know what story I told your brother. I don't even know any Trey."
The pigtails swirled when she turned her head quickly to the side, as if listening to something he couldn't hear then she smiled, full dimple complement. She took the lollipop out and leaned over and planted a very wet kiss on his cheek and then patted his face with both her sticky hands.
"It's okay now. Ziva will be here any minute and she'll take care of you, Tony.
"What? How do you k…?"
She got to her hands and knees and started crawling away.
"You just lay there and be quiet and mommy will find you."
The last thing he saw was the bottoms of her tennis shoes, one had a big wad of gum stuck to it, as she made her way back around the shelving.
He tried to sit up straight and reach for her but she was gone. Dizziness hit him hard as he slipped back down. Vomiting might be on the agenda but the mere thought of heaving made his head hurt worse. That had been one wild hallucination. His face felt sticky and wet and the smell of cherry lollipop still lingered in the air.
The crash of the shelving unit toppling over caused him to jerk and he couldn't help the moan that escaped. Jerking not good, not good.
"Well, hello and goodbye, Mr. Navy Cop. Shoulda kept your nose outta our business."
Tony looked into the business end of a .45 and sighed. Guess the little concussion-induced figment of his imagination had been wrong. Gibbs was going to be so mad at him for getting killed.
The deafening sound of two shots echoed in the large room and Tony wondered at the lack of sensation. Must be a kill shot cause otherwise he'd be feeling the pain already, right? Was he dead already?
The Saints fan dropped to his knees and then keeled over only inches from Tony's feet. He heard people running and then Gibbs was there kicking the .45 away and Ziva was at his side, her strong warm hands running over his body and head.
"'Lizabeth was right, I'll be damned"
He looked up at Ziva as she checked him over.
"He's conscious, Gibbs, but has blood on the back of his head and his leg does not look good."
Gibbs pulled out his phone.
"Got him, McGee. We need the paramedics. Call Ducky. Got one dead here and the other one is cuffed to the car. Round him up. I'll wait here with Ziva and Tony."
Ziva had him half laying in her lap now with his head propped up on her chest. Somehow things didn't hurt quite as bad anymore.
"Be still, Tony, stop moving your head. You are getting blood on my shirt."
Smiling for the first time in what seemed a year, he put his hand on top of hers where it rested over his heart. He knew she was keeping track of his heartbeats. Gibbs' face loomed over her shoulder, ice-cold blue eyes staring down at him.
"When you're back on your feet, DiNozzo, I am going to kick your ass for a week."
"I know, Boss."
Gibbs moved out of his sight line again.
Ziva had her frown lines going as she looked down on him, not a dimple in sight.
"What is that on your face, Tony? It is not blood?"
He smiled, feeling better now, safer, hopeful.
"It's cherry lollipop."
The frown lines got deeper and he suspected she thought he was out of his head.
"Yeah, lollipop- a sucker, you know? The candy on a stick you put in your mouth and suck on."
She just shook her head and took a tighter grip on his shoulder, holding him closer to her.
Tony squeezed Ziva's hand where it still lay on his chest.
"Elizabeth's a pretty name don't you think?"