Welcome, one and all, to the final chapter of Heed Not These Distinctions! I hope you've enjoyed this story of mine, and thank you so much for all the support that's been given (108 reviews! That's absolutely amazing!) But now it all ends. It's been well over a year since I published this story (Oops), but now it's finally coming to a stop. Thank you, readers!
And also, for all you lovely hurt!Tony fans, I damaged Tony a tiny bit. Just for you. :) Since I hurt Tim so much more, the scales should be leveled (Or attempt to be leveled. I hurt because I love. And I just adore Tim. *Grins*)
Ziva's eyes flickered upward again for the umpteenth time and then back down to the file that rested supine on her desk, its belly facing up in submission to her annoyed attacks with a pen. She sighed, and then turned a page over.
"I wasn't done reading that one, Ziva." The voice reminded from next to her, insistent and teasing, drawing her name out.
Ziva closed the folder with one swift motion, and squeezed her pen forcefully, in an instant adjusting her grip for optimum speed once flung. However, through a monumental show of restraint, the pen remained in her hand and not imbedded into the grinning face of the person that lounged on the edge of her desk.
"Were you not, Tony?" She asked, eyes flashing in annoyance. "For I do not care if you were done reading! You are not even supposed to be back yet."
"I'm a quick healer." Tony countered with a large grin.
"Go pester McGee, I am working." Dismissively, she flicked a hand toward Tim's desk. He looked up.
"And I'm not?" Tim replied, eyebrows momentarily inclined, and went back to typing something.
Tony raised an eyebrow, and relaxed more onto Ziva's desk, knowing it would annoy her even further. "McGee? I spent three weeks in the hospital with McStick-in-the-mud over there. One of them I was out cold. The rest I was probably bored out of my mind."
There was an almost imperceptible pause that any normal passerby would have missed completely. The taps of Tim's fingers on the keyboard faded into nothing for the briefest of seconds but then picked up with vigor. His eyes though, had drifted over and settled on Tony.
"You still cannot remember?" Ziva asked gently.
"I remember most of it. It's coming back. Little by little." Tony said immediately, his words almost trampling Ziva's. A shadow of frustration passed over Tony's face, that clearly said, 'Not fast enough though'. Ziva's eyes locked onto Tim's for the briefest of moments until Tim broke the gaze.
"Doctor Cassirer said it would take time, Tony, and that your rate of healing is actually quite remarkable." Tim spoke up. "Temporary short term memory loss is quite common with damage to the frontal lobe of the brain." He then repressed a grin. "You'd know that if you hadn't been playing Tetris on your phone underneath the sheets." Tony only seemed to hear the last part. He inclined his head toward Ziva, but seemed to begin to address no one in particular.
"I really have to thank Abby for getting it for me. Another lecture-slash-information session from Ducky, more crappy TV, or just McBoring there for the only entertainment would have killed me." He grinned fondly. Once again, Tim's and Ziva's eyes crossed paths and then parted ways again. Neither drew attention to the sudden recall, but both grinned to their respective computer and folder. Tim then glanced over, smile shining unexpectedly brightly.
"Did you tell Abby you were here early?" He asked. Tony looked a bit guilty. Ziva clucked and shook her head, though she kept it angled downward.
"She will not be happy, Tony. I will not run damage control for you."
"I was going to attempt to surprise her later. You know, try and head off the crazy before it has time to explode and strangle me in a rib-crushing hug." Tim gave Tony a skeptical glance, to which Tony responded with a childish face. Tim then looked affronted, and, surprisingly, stuck out his tongue at Tony. Tony countered with gusto.
Ziva rolled her eyes. "I work with children."
Tony stopped in the middle of crafting a grotesque face and said seriously, "Damn straight." He then nodded firmly. Tim turned back to his computer, attempting to achieve an aloof attitude, though a pleased grin inked its way through.
Ziva shook her head and then circled something in the folder. After a minute, she piped up, eyes glinting. "You two would be pleased to know that, that woman" The word was spit out in such distaste and loathing that both Tim and Tony looked a slight bit taken aback. "Who kidnapped you, has just gotten several lifetimes to review what she has done." Her expression then darkened considerably. "If only Gibbs had let Abby and me into interrogation before she was taken away."
Tony chuckled, stood from Ziva's desk, and then transferred over to sitting upon the counter right behind Tim, knocking several of his papers askew. Tim fixed them, spared an annoyed glare to Tony, and then looked back to Ziva with a small smile.
"I'm pretty sure the director would frown upon one of his agents murdering a criminal in interrogation, Ziva." Tim said in an even tone, fingers delicately shuffling pens and pencils in the cup that stood on his desk. "And who would want clean up that mess?"
"Bah!" Ziva replied, dismissive of this claim, and with a flick of her wrist that clearly indicated that she wouldn't care, went back to the folder with a sly grin on her lips. "I find blood washes out quite nicely with enough bleach."
Tim and Tony exchanged a look. Tony widened his eyes almost comically. "Is that from personal experience, Ms. David? Would you like to share with the rest of the class?" At the last part he gestured to himself, Gibbs' empty desk, and then Tim, who looked intrigued. She raised an eyebrow and didn't look up, though there was a sort of content look on her face.
After about ten minutes, Ziva raised her head and surveyed them. Tim and Tony were just talking now, voices low, and tense uneasiness that she had observed in the hospital fading away. Dropping off the two men like coats being shed as winter changes to spring. She wondered vaguely if they were talking about what they had been through, though, she reminded herself, they were men. They were probably avoiding subjects like that, which would definitely lead to talks about feelings and their odd friendship. Probably baseball, or video games. And it would certainly soon escalate into arguing. Teasing words and McNicknames would fly through the air between the two, with well-hidden smiles and glee at the return to normalcy shrouded behind them.
And Ziva wouldn't have it any other way.
"Gear up! Got a dead petty officer in Rock Creek Park."
The command reached them before Gibbs did, marching gruffly ahead of him like a messenger right before an army sweeps over the hill and conquers everything in sight.
Tim and Tony stopped speaking, and both stood at the exact same time, identical expressions of hope shining on both faces. A few papers fluttered to rest upon the ground. A blue pen, cap still lying in the crease in the cold case folder he had been examining, was held forgotten between two fingers in Tim's left hand. Without realizing it, he nervously flipped the pen around between his fingers. Ziva bit back a laugh at all of this. Gibbs retrieved his weapon, paused, and then gave the two a look.
"McGee, you got back today, and you're on desk duty."
Tim sat heavily back into his seat, and a grimace flashed across his face. His hand, pen and all, unconsciously began to drift up to his chest until he noticed its journey and tried to subtly pass if off, to the man who saw everything, by rubbing his neck. He looked a bit sheepish as he saw that Gibbs remained unconvinced. Tony snickered at the blue smear of ink created on Tim's neck by the uncapped pen. Gibbs half rolled his eyes.
"Go, McGee. Rest." He pointed to the elevator. A look of both disappointment and relief passed across Tim's face. He began to gather his things. Tony still stood, though now, with his original look of hope he had paired a winning smile. Gibbs raised an eyebrow. "Dinozzo, you're not even supposed to be back here for another week. If you're Okayed."
"Can't hurt to try though, eh, Boss?" Tony's smile, if possible, grew even brighter, though he seemed much older. Gibbs surveyed both men. Though they had only been there around four hours, less for Tony, both looked completely exhausted, and in Tim's case, more than a little in pain, though each had been trying to hide it.
"Come back next week, McGee. Take Dinozzo with you. "
Tim looked for a moment as if he was going to argue, but seemed to deem that course of action a bad idea. Instead, he said, "Alright. See you, Boss, Ziva." Tim stood slowly, hesitated and then began to walk to the elevator. He turned and stopped at the entrance of the bullpen, and then awkwardly waited for Tony. Tony nodded to Gibbs. "Just can't get rid of me, can you, Gibbs?"
"Nope." Was the reply. Tony's eyes glinted.
"See ya, Ziva."
"Goodbye, Tony, McGee."
Tony joined Tim, and together they walked to the elevator. What they were talking about, as they left together, neither Ziva nor Gibbs ever found out.
Both men boarded the elevator, and together, with small smiles on their faces, calling each other stupid names and insulting one another, they exited the building.
The doors closed.
"One man may hit the mark, another blunder; but heed not these distinctions. Only from the alliance of the one, working with and through the other, are great things born."
-Antoine de Saint-Exupery