A Little Birdie Told Me

Summary: While aboard the Seahawk, Tony becomes firm friends with a sailor named Marcus Bird, which results in some shock when Gibbs and Ziva come aboard. Spoilers for Agent Afloat.

Disclaimer: I own nothing except Marcus Bird.

"Welcome to my little slice of heaven," Tony said to his friends through gritted teeth, clearly not happy to be back on the Seahawk.

"Cute," Ziva stated. Gibbs was quiet.

The three headed through the narrow halls of the ship, passing sailor after sailor, but Tony stopped when they came across one man in particular. He was black, about Tony's height.

"Hey, Bird-man!" he said cheerfully, patting the man on the back. The man grinned.

"Bird-man?" Ziva mouthed to Gibbs, confused.

"Guys, this is Marcus Bird, one of the few people on this damned boat that doesn't make me wanna jump overboard," Tony said.

"That's not funny, man," Marcus said. He turned to Gibbs and Ziva and shook their hands.

"Special Agent Gibbs," Gibbs told Marcus.

Marcus smiled. "And you're Ziva. Tony's told me a lot about you."

Tony froze. Busted. Ziva smiled at him. "Really?"

"Oh yeah, tons..." he caught Tony's eye. "But I have to go now."

As the three continued walking, Ziva gave Tony a questioning look. He ignored it and the subject was eventually dropped. But of course, that was before Ziva saw the pictures.

"What are those doing up there?" she demanded.

"Uh, funny thing that, um..." he stuttered, then just walked away completely, not being able to think of a good comeback.

Ziva was thinking, Damn, I look hot in that bikini, when Marcus walked in the room. At first, she greeted him with a simple smile, but then she remembered him.

"Marcus."

"Ziva, hi," he replied. "I see you busted Tony for the pictures. If it helps, he won't let anyone else look at 'em, and if they do, he gives 'em a real hard, swift slap across the back of the head."

Ziva smiled. I wonder where he learnt that. She didn't dare to ask what Tony had said about her, but Marcus seemed to sense it.

"He must really like you. He's got a lot of respect for you, you know? Doesn't objectify you, ever like some guys on this boat. He tells some pretty damn good stories about you, and sometimes even the rest of your team. Too bad the others don't like him, he's a good guy, but of course you know that. He doesn't stop talking about you, your great looks, sense of humour, your eyes, your hair, it's something different most nights. He really misses his girl."

Ziva wasn't sure what to say. His girl? She wasn't his girl, she wasn't anybody's girl. Tony didn't...did he? He couldn't, no, she was jumping to conclusions.

"I gotta tell you," Marcus continued. "When I first met Tony, he seemed like more of a ladies' man, you know, a player, but he's really committed to you."

Marcus stopped talking when Tony came through the door, behind Ziva. She turned to see what he was looking at and saw him. "Speak of the devil."

"I'll give you two a moment," Marcus said politely.

When she was sure Marcus was gone, Ziva began to 'investigate'. All she had to do was raise an eyebrow.

"Look, whatever Marcus told you...what exactly did Marcus tell you?"

"Oh, plenty, Tony," Ziva replied. She sighed. "I, uh, missed you." OK, it sounded a little more romantic than she wanted but it was the truth.

"I missed you too." Ziva looked in his emerald eyes. What made them sparkle the way they did? Was it love? Love for her? She wasn't sure she wanted to find out. Her life was complicated enough without this. It wasn't that she didn't have feelings for Tony; it's just that she was able to hide them extremely well, mainly because she was sure he didn't feel the same way. She didn't want the fact that they hadn't seen each other in four months make her think irrationally.

"This is for you," she said, handing him a cardboard box. "From me and Abby. It was her idea."

"Thanks." Tony ripped open the box, and the first thing he pulled out was an A4 size greeting card with messages from everyone in the team written in there.

We miss you Tony! I know Gibbs will have you back soon but until then please try to behave yourself and don't forget to keep in touch! Love Abby x

DiNozzo, I'll do my best to get you back in DC. Abby's been nagging me for it. It's pretty boring without you. –Gibbs

Hey Tony, I actually miss having you around. It's so...quiet around here. Oh well, I hope you're doing OK, from what I've heard it sucks on that boat. A lot. Anyway, don't jump overboard, we need you here. –McGee

Anthony, please enjoy this experience, however boring it may appear. I remember once in my youth, I—not quite enough room to finish that story. Perhaps I will tell you when you return. Hopefully that will be soon! –Ducky

Dear Tony,
I really miss your company, your jokes, even your movie references. I'm not so good at making fun of McGee, so even that business has sort of grinded to a halt. I really hope you come back soon. The team doesn't feel...complete. –Ziva

Tony was glad there was no message from Vance. He loved the card, but it made him miss dry land even more than he already did. This wasn't for him, and it was why he became a cop and not a marine. He dug eagerly through the box and found a plastic container of cupcakes. There were seven in there, some chocolate, some strawberry, some plain, they all looked delicious. Each one was iced beautifully and had one letter of his name painted on.

"Do you like them?" Ziva asked. "I made them myself. I made seven because, if you eat one a day, that should be enough before Gibbs gets you back in DC."

Tony sank his teeth into the 'A' cupcake. It was cooked to perfection and the creamy icing was a perfect complement to the moist fluffy quality of the cake itself. He devoured it within seconds.

"Thanks Ziva, they're amazing. You're a good cook."

"Hardly. They're just cupcakes, it's not like I have angry skills like some chefs."

Tony frowned, not sure what she meant. "Oh, you mean mad skills."

"Does it make a difference? They are both emotions, are they not?"

"Yeah, but—" Tony realised this was pointless and kept going through the contents of his 'care package.'

The next thing he pulled out was his magazine collection. He was grateful that the girls had sent this for him, but not overly happy they had gone through his desk. And finally, there was an envelope of photos taken over the past four months, including a few of Ziva is a sleeveless, green, short, sequined dress, next to Abby in a cocktail dress and fishnet stockings with knee-high black leather boots. Tony let out a low wolf whistle when he saw them.

"Maybe now you can update your photo collection," Ziva suggested.

Tony shrugged. "Or add to it."

Ziva decided to confront him now rather than later. "Tony, did you tell Marcus I was your...girlfriend?"

"Kinda. Sorry. To be honest, I never thought you two would be in the same room. I just saw all the other guys with pictures of their girls and I figured, you're a girl and I miss you a lot, so why not?"

"Oh. Well, if we're being honest, I spend most days staring at your desk and jump at the sound of your name, so I guess we're even."

"Thanks for understanding." Tony smiled, but it wasn't his famous comical grin, it was a genuine, yet infinitely complicated, smile.

"Sure." Ziva smiled back and then left the room to find Gibbs. When she reached the door she turned around so she could look at him just one more time. It had been a long four months, and she wasn't going to be on the Seahawk long. There was always a chance Tony would have to finish his time aboard as promised, and she wanted to get as many memories of him to tide her over as possible.

Tony hummed the theme from 'Titanic' as he put the photos of Abby and Ziva on his patch of wall. He searched through the huge chunk of them he had been given. There must be more he could put up. Indeed, there was a few of just Ziva and one of Abby grinning at the camera. Thank God for Abby's caring-too-much attitude. He might just be able to survive another three months now, he just hoped and prayed that he wouldn't have to.

A/N: Reviews would be lovely, and also if it's not too much trouble, what was your favourite part/line? Thanks!

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