"Good morning!" Tim murmurs, setting a coffee on Tony's desk. I smirk to myself as Tony grimaces. Someone has a hangover…

"Really, McGee? What is so good about it?" I gloat. "Obviously, Tony would not be in such a good mood if it were not so, correct?" Tim chuckles, tapping the keys of his ... brand new laptop? "Did you get a raise, McGee?"

"Huh?" I gesture toward his new technology. "Oh, this? No, I've been saving up for a while. I finally realized that although a typewriter is better suited for my free-writing, the repairs to the platform that someone," he explains, shooting a dirty look toward DiNozzo, "broke would just be unpractical in a financial sense." Grinning, he adds, "So, I bought myself this baby."

"Well," I state, pleased, "that is wonderful, McGee. You should be proud of yourself."

"Davíd, could you take it down a notch?" DiNozzo squeezes the air with his thumb and forefinger as an estimation. "Just a little. Yeah. Thanks."

"Oh, I am sorry, Tony. I had no idea I was talking loudly." I grin smugly at his glower. However, there is something about his state that makes me feel sorry for him. I murmur, "Oh, DiNozzo … you look pathetic." An inexplicable urge to go over and sit by him overwhelms me, but I stay where I am as the elevator dings.

As Gibbs makes his way through the office, he slaps the hung-over man's back and mutters, "Well, he'd better get over it soon because we have to go gather info, and I need all three of my field agents." Excitement surges through my body. "Yes, Davíd, this includes you."

"Ah-hah! Excellent." I grab my duffel bag from beneath my desk and start for the elevator with McGee. I notice, however, that DiNozzo isn't following and turn around to retrieve him. I refuse to take punishment for someone else's problem.

While I'm watching him, I can see his eyes welling up with tears. I perch myself on the edge of his desk, but say nothing. Tony grabs his bag and makes to get up, but I stop him with my hand on his chest. "What is wrong, Tony?"

"You wouldn't understand, nor would you care to know," he snaps. This is purely not the case. For some reason, I cannot seem to let go of this curiosity, this false hope about us that I have.

"Try me." He tries to dodge around me but I jump in front of him. "Come on, Tony. You saved me from North African terrorists; I would assume you would be able to trust me by now."

"I do trust you."

"Oh?" I raise a skeptical eyebrow. "Then tell me what is wrong." Squaring his shoulders, DiNozzo turns and stares into my eyes. There is a piece of him missing, a piece that always has been missing, but the void is larger now. Where his eyes are normally crystalline blue, like the cerulean seas of the Caribbean, they are deeper, darker ... more like the stormy tides of the ocean. To be honest, they are a bit frightening to look at. However, I endure, determined to draw out of him what I want to know. To show him that I want to know. That I have to know ...

"My father died."

"Oh …" I gasp, taken aback. "I am sorry to hear that, Tony." Fighting the urge to reach out to him, I sit on my hands.

He nods and hangs his head. "It was just a few days ago. I'm not hung-over; I just miss him."

"And you did not tell me?" He gives a noncommittal grunt. "I see." Straightening my shirt, I search for words but find nothing other than, "It is a sad experience to lose a family member." I cannot help but think, But at least you did not kill yours. "When is the funeral?"

Tony stares at me with watery eyes, blinking furiously, as though the rapidness will whisk them away. "He was cremated. Didn't want a service. We're having a small gathering to spread his ashes in a few days." After a small pause, he mumbles, "You aren't going to say anything?" Though his features are stony, there is a hint of shock in his slack jaw.

Out of compassion, I offer a soft smile. "How do you mean, Tony?"

"No snide comments? No mockery about my crying?" I shake my head, aghast. "Oh. Why not?"

I ponder this for a moment before bowing my head and murmuring, "You did not mock me when I was bound and beaten in Somalia, nor did you when Ari was ... executed." Dropping my voice, I continue, "I did not feel that such behaviour would be appropriate in such circumstances."

"Well ... I appreciate it." Tony shifts in his chair and mutters, "Thanks, Ziva."

"Anytime, Tony." Anytime.

"Time of death, Duck?" Gibbs steps around the Scottish man and stares down at the body. While they discuss the corpse, I watch from a distance and he takes a fake sip of coffee. No one else in the building realizes, other than Tony, but Gibbs has rarely drunk an entire cup of coffee in a single day. He pretends to. It only adds to the mystery of his character, and I am the only one who knows the true story. I laugh to myself and take a picture of blood spattered across the cement wall.

Tony sidesteps away from McGee, who is knelt collecting a sample of ... I wrinkle my nose. Either the victim could not control his bathroom habits, or the murderer could not. We will find out eventually, either way. "Yech, that's a great job, Tim," he praises softly, causing McGee to look up at me in confusion. The lack of "pet" names is uncharacteristic of Tony, and everyone knows now that something is not right. But no one knows what.

He sidles up next to me. "So, how's the picture taking, Z-Davíd?"
I nod. "Obviously, Lance Corporal Jackson has gone through a lot in the past few days." Taking a closer look at the brain matter, I look between Jackson's body and the wall. "For some reason, I think that the crime scene has been manipulated."


"Well," I take a step away to analyze the situation, "If he were, say, kneeling-"

"Squatting, actually," McGee pipes in. I shoot him a firm look and he flushes, standing and stowing the sample jar in the trunk.

"-If Jackson were 'squatting,' then, the angle of the shot would not have created this fan of blood spatter." Squinting, I try to imagine what happened. "Now that just means that the ..." Crinkling my nose, I can barely bring myself to speak of it.

Tony chuckles and offers, "Waste?"

"Yes, thank you. It is not Jackson's. It is someone else's. Unless he was not kneeli-squatting when he died. And he obviously was." I look up and place both hands on my hips. Each investigator is watching me intently. "What?" Gibbs smirks but says nothing, takes another fake sip of coffee, and walks away. I stare at Tony expectantly but he remains silent. Frustrated, I repeat myself.

"Do you ... listen to yourself when you're talking?" He stumbles on the words, as though he is trying to say them kindly. I shake my head, cocking it to one side. "Oh. Well, that explains it, then."

"What explains what?" I stow the camera in the van and turn to find him right in front of him. For some reason, I find myself breathless.

"What?" Again his eyes are deep blue, and I can tell his confusion is not from me, but from the distraction his mother's death is causing.

"Well, that is what I was asking you."

"What's that?"

"Tony, honestly," I sigh in exasperation. I walk away.

Before I'm out of earshot, I can hear him call after me, "What did I say?"

The bullpen is silent when the elevator doors open. No beeping from the computers, no buzzing from fans, and, more noticeably, no Anthony DiNozzo. In fact, none of my fellow agents are at their desks. I tense, instincts kicking in, assuming that we are under attack. It is a preposterous assumption, but it is all I know.

As I make to pull my gun, I hear footsteps stop behind me.

"Please don't shoot me. That's the last thing I need." Tony. My breathing slows and I relax. He walks around me, a breakfast sandwich in one hand and a Styrofoam container of four coffees in the other. "What's got you so tense this morning?"

Maybe it's the fact that I am blushing like a little love-struck school girl whenever he is around, and I cannot fathom as to why.

"Where are the others? Gibbs, and McGee, that is." I tuck a chocolate brown curl behind my ear. "It is quiet without them."

Tony shrugs. "Well, I think Gibbs had a date last night. And McGee's got an intervi—No, that's not right." He shakes his head and starts again. "McGee had a date last night and Gibbs..." Trailing off, he shoves the coffees into my free hand. "Still not right, but it'll have to do." After taking a rather large bite of his breakfast sandwich, he shrugs and paces toward his desk.

"So, you do not know where they are?" I quickly follow him, stabilizing the coffees with my other hand and nearly dropping my satchel. "You are not the least bit-"

"Put the coffees down and come up to M-TAC." Gibbs' voice travels down the stairs from the floor above us. Tony and I exchange glances and race toward him. Something is seriously wrong if he is calling us up to the Multiple Threat Alert Center...

When we arrive at the door, Gibbs greets us with a stony gaze. "We've got guests today." I look past him into the meeting room. There stand a group of four; two men and two women. The men wearing suits, and the women in office attire, they are huddled beside a computer on the far side of the room, solemn.

"Who are they?" A pause ensues, and I look to Gibbs' face for an answer.

He turns away, wordless, appearing more frustrated than angry. I furrow my brow, hoping for him to explain, but he turns and walks toward the giant screen. Tony squeezes past me and trails Gibbs, equally as serious.

"Tony," I whisper, taking a few swift steps to catch up to him, "who would be visiting us?"

"Not who, what." He grins at me.

Confused, I inquire, "A what? As in, some sort of mission?" As we enter the room, he looks around, noting the women. His eyes land on one of them, who is speaking with Gibbs.

"Maybe. Ooh, and that girl is smokin'. Be right back. DiNozzo's on the prowl." He winks at me and my heart, for some reason, flutters as he walks away. As I take in his words, my stomach drops. He passes Gibbs and McGee, taking his time with looking the girl over, blatantly gauging her backside, chest, and legs. He stands beside another computer, staring at her.

I try to repress my jealousy as I make my way over to the three, who are discussing interrogation tactics with one of the women. Gibbs looks down at me, his expression fatherly, and says, "Excuse me for interrupting, Miss O'Ryan, but you haven't met an integral part of our team; Jennifer O'Ryan, meet Ziva David." Jennifer smiles and I immediately feel inadequate. She has sparkling brown eyes, while mine are normally dull, framed with the longest eyelashes I have seen since I can ever remember. She is taller than I, by a good four inches, and has thick, chestnut brown waves of hair cascading over her left shoulder. Her teeth are perfect, a shade of ivory so beautiful that for a moment I am stunned.

I spot Tony still staring from his place beside another man ... a very handsome man. I tear my eyes away, however, and glance back at my colleague, who is batting eyes at Jennifer. I give her another swift overview; she has a slender waist and rather perky breasts. And her hips give her a subtle hourglass shape that is approved by almost all males. Her legs, though covered by a knee-length, twill skirt, are obviously toned. I can see that Tony appreciates her body. Mine? I have nothing to offer him.

Shaking my head of the thoughts, of which I do not know the origin, I turn my attention back to Gibbs' introduction.

"Hello, nice to meet you," I smile. Holding out my hand, I wait for her to take it.

"Pleasure." Jennifer grasps my hand firmly, her thumb and fingers long and nimble. She obviously plays piano, or some sort of instrument. Perhaps saxophone. While her grin, spread across her face, may be intended to display a welcoming temperament, I sense a darkness to her that I am concerned by. There is something that she is hiding.

"Miss O'Ryan is from the CIA, and was sent here to assist us with undercover work," Gibbs informs me. I had thought I was the lead undercover agent. I try to rein in my disappointment, but I cannot help but feel unappreciated, until he adds,"Her director has decided that he wants her to prepare you and Tony one-on-one for your mission." My ears perk up, knowing I am needed. "You leave in a week, after your class."

I blink twice, puzzled. "My ... class, Gibbs?" He nods, winks at me, and again walks away, taking a sip of coffee. Shaking my head, I look up at Jennifer. "Class?"

"Yeah," she smiles, "You have some." She too walks away, leaving me to work out my confusion alone.

Jennifer being from the CIA, of course I could have expected an undercover mission to ensue. However, the information I was presented with after being dragged toward Director Vance's office for my pre-mission de-briefing was a shock.

There had been four cargo ships, other than the Damocles, attacked over the past twelve months. Only the Damocles had been reported; the other three were kept quiet by the United Nations. Vance had agreed for Jennifer and her colleagues to come to NCIS to brief us on the circumstances, and then Tony and I were to go shopping for our trip to Upstate New York. Apparently, the suspects were farmers living in a rural area that so happens to have a Navy recruiting base a short distance away.

Also, below a nearby lake, is a Naval testing base. From the pre-mission debriefing, we could gather that the case revolves around two missing sailors and a marine, all of which were from the area and are good friends. They had grown up together and of course knew their surroundings. Their leave-times had coincided and they had decided to go out for "one last hoorah," as Tony had put it. Their wives reported them missing the next day when they failed to return home to them.

Jennifer would portray my cousin, while Tony and I would be a newly wedded couple. Much to my dismay, I would be pregnant with his child. Our names would be "Ana Colette and David Melvin Stadelvard". Just Tony's grimace at his middle name had been enough to make this mission worth it.

As newlyweds, the point of our trip to Canandaigua was to buy a house, a house large enough to build a good sized family. The CIA had been informed of an old farm in the middle of nowhere that had a large house and two barns—plus hundreds of acres of land—for sale. The only fishy part was that the entire farm was for sale, including ten chickens, a medium-sized herd of cows, two horses, two sheep, and barn cats. The family that had previously occupied the farm appeared to have just up and left, and the realtors were looking for prospective buyers who would keep the animals.

Robert "Buck" Andrews was the twenty-two year old farmhand, and had grown up about two miles down the road at another farm. To those in the community that Jennifer had already talked to, Buck seemed "sketchy" and "weird." Or, as one woman put it, "That man has nothing but a whole load of hell up his sleeves." It would be the mission of Tony and me to keep a close eye on Buck and find out if he had had any part in the disappearance of the seamen and Marine.

The families of these three servicemen were well aware that, because they had been missing for so long, the chances of their fathers and husbands surviving were slim. However, the men's wives were told that as NCIS, it was the duty of the agency to find them, dead or alive, and each woman was enthusiastic about the idea, even if it did mean one of them would come home not breathing.

Sitting at my desk, my mind is swirling. Although I have all of my information-my character's details, a credit card for a new wardrobe, the plans, and two tickets to Rochester-I feel uneasy. For some reason, there is something not right about Jennifer. I am an excellent judge of character, so I know that my preconceived notions about her are correct, but I cannot fathom as to what that "not right' thing is.

Yahweh...Father...send me a sign...

I close my eyes and take a deep breath. I feel two hands place themselves on my shoulders. They are large hands, strong but gentle. Two thumbs begin working kinks out of my shoulders while fingers massage my worries away. A husky voice, in my ear, whispers, "It'll be okay, Ziva." The voice is familiar; I've heard it somewhere before. My heart begins beating rapidly, a flush rising deep in my cheeks. "Everything will be okay."

"Michael?" But he is...It can't possibly be...

"Uhm, no, way to kill a mood." The massage stops and footsteps walk to a space across from me, about twenty feet away.

My eyes pop open. "Tony!" A hand flies to my forehead and smoothes the baby hairs at my hairline. "I'm s-sorry."

He laughs. "No, no, it is I that am sorry." I cock my head. "Sorry that you thought I was Rivkin." My eyes narrow, but I remain wordless. "Bad memories, Ziva."

"Bad for me for obvious reasons," I snap. "Why for you, as well?" He is silent for a moment, thinking. I can remember those days as though they happened last week, although it has been nearly two years since his death.

The sight of him, blood pouring out of his heart, but not a thing I could do about it. Tony, standing there with bloodthirsty eyes, malice held in his hands. The gun. The plea for life floating in Michael's fading eyes. His last breath. I choke back tears, focusing again on the present.

"I was scared, he tried to kill me, I retaliated." His answer hides his true feelings.

"Tony, you killed the man that I-You killed Michael in cold blood. Even though you knew how I felt about him, and how he felt about me, you-" Tony stands, cutting me off.

"Actually, Ziva, he was using you, kinda like your dad was. Actually, no, he wasn't just using you. He was helping your father, plotting your demise." He pauses, to let his words sink in. I blink several more times in a last-dash attempt at maintaining my composure. "Yeah," Tony continues, "I think that maybe, considering the circumstances, I did you a bit of a favor."

"That does not change the fact that you followed Michael to my apartment and proceeded to kill him on my living room floor, DiNozzo." I jump to my feet and grab my cell phone from my desk and my jacket off of my chair. "I understand that you are hurting right now, but you have no right to blame any of this on me, or make petty arguments in your favour in a situation you could have resisted." With that, I whisk out the door, before I have to see the heartbroken face of a man who has just lost his father.

A/N: Hey, guys. I just wanted to put it out there that, yeah, Ziva's got a crush on Tony. Big deal. We can see it in the series; the writers aren't doing much to hide it. I'm not saying that it is or isn't going to lead to anything. No one can possibly know that except for the actors and the writers/producers/directors/etc. However, I'm a huge Tiva shipper. If this bothers you, please don't read this. Furthermore, my version of Ziva is more realistic than the hardened, unfeeling Ziva I've seen in other fictions. Obviously I do not mean any offense; our ideas of Ziva are just different. I just feel that Ziva is really a girl deep down, and she's got the same thoughts as all of the rest of us girls do :).