They're in the suspects house, with a warrant and coming up empty.
Ziva has never seen a house so clean before and she just knows that any trace of blood or a murder weapon will not be found there.
They've been trying to close this case for over a week now and Gibbs has been becoming more and more surly each day. She can feel her own frustration and anger rising.
The carpets give off the faintest trace of bleach, as do the curtains and pillows but they cannot arrest someone over using bleach.
"Are you done yet?" Their suspect demands, arms crossed and showing off much more cleavage than when they had arrived. Probably in some vain attempt to distract them. Ziva catches Tim looking more than once but for once Tony's mind is on the job at hand.
"Actually," Tony speaks up as he crosses the room swiftly. "We are." He comes to stand in front of a framed photo, one of the suspect and an elderly man, holds up his camera and starts snapping pictures.
Ziva exchanges a glance with Tim, but follows Gibbs across the room when he goes to stand next to Tony.
"Blood." Tony grins, wide and pleased and a little smug.
Ziva squints and sure enough she can just make out the twin drops of blood half hidden on the picture frame.
"How did you see that?" She asks against her better judgement.
Tony just gives a secretive smile, glancing over at their boss.
"I just have really good eye sight."
"What have you got for us Abs?"
Abby beams at them and accepts the sugary beverage with such enthusiasm that Ziva has to wonder how many she has had that day.
"Well," she waggles her eyebrows at Tony's question, places the drink to the side and skips over to where the evidence is laid out. "It turns out our Petty Officer wasn't our Petty Officer at all. The dental records don't match. I'm running it through the computer now. This," she holds up a watch, rusted and broken. "Is all that was in his pockets. There's something written on the back, but I can't make out what it says…" She trails off frowning.
Tony leans forwards, slides on a pair of gloves and takes the watch from Abby. He turns it around and Ziva doesn't know how he's going to get anything off the watch that Abby couldn't.
He squints at the engravings on the back and frowns, unable to make it out. Ziva feels a bit of smug satisfaction at this but it passes just as quickly because they need to know what it says. It doesn't matter who figures it out. Still, she can't resist it,
"Is your amazing eyesight failing you Tony?"
"Oh don't worry Ziva, my eyesight is pefect." He leers at her but she can see right through it and waves it off. His flirtations have never been serious and she's content to keep it that way.
"What have we got?" Gibbs barks from behind them and she fights not to jump. She doesn't know how he does it. Next to her Tony automatically turns towards Gibbs, one hand holding the watch and the other running lightly over the back of it.
She just knows he's about to make a fool of himself.
"A missing Petty Officer, a John Doe who we thought was our Petty Officer and a watch he was carrying that says 'To James, Love Always Rebecca'; by the way, are you using new soap boss? It smells great."
Ziva blinks. Tony has had the watch for less than two minutes and he has already figured out what it says. There's the possibility that he's making it all up to look impressive, to show her up, but she doesn't believe this is the case.
And the soap comment? Gibbs chuckles lightly but doesn't reply. Instead he claps a hand on Tony's shoulder and leaves it there as Abby draws their attention to the computer screen.
Ziva frowns and sniffs discretely, she can't smell anything; there's no way that Tony could smell something like the soap that Gibbs uses from the door.
She sees how Tony keeps sniffing at the air, (at Gibbs- who lets him), almost like he's not even aware that he's doing it. And while she has seen him doing stranger- this is definitely odd.
Ziva sees now how Tony will become lost in his own world, at his desk, at crime scenes, staring at reflections in store windows or glints of light off of cars.
Before she had seen Tony staring at his own reflection, eyes slightly glazed and clearly not paying attention and had thought that it was just him being the narcissist that she knows he is.
And when Gibbs had given him a head slap, it was because he had deserved it.
Now though, she sees how Tony will be in the middle of something and suddenly his eyes will glaze over or focus so intently on the strangest of things. His entire body relaxes and it's like he's no longer with them.
She sees Gibbs walk over or reach over and bark his name and if that doesn't work she watches as he slaps the back of the younger agents head and instantly Tony is back with them, body jerking as though he is suddenly being woken up.
There is something going on there and she's worried how it will affect the rest of the team, or at least that is what she tells herself.
It's not that she just doesn't like being unable to figure it out.
It's a month later and they're working a high profile case; a Naval Commanders daughter is murdered and it's up to them to figure it all out. For a week and a half they fight to scrape together some leads, even Tony isn't pulling any spectacular leads out of thin air.
They're all frustrated from the lack of information, from the pressure being placed on them to find the killer, from everything.
Even Gibbs and Tony are snapping at each other. She'd begun to think it wasn't possible.
They finally get their lead, stopping only to grab a warrant before they're knocking down the door of Marcus Jones, the Naval Commanders cousin.
Ziva takes the back, Tony on her tail as Gibbs and Tim come in through the front. They search the first floor but it's empty. Above them she can hear Tim's disappoint yell of,
She bites her tongue to stop from shouting or snapping and goes to holster her weapon.
Tony stops her with a hand on her arm.
She shoots him a questioning glance, but he's not looking at her.
Actually, he's not really looking at anything. His eyes are closed, head tilted and she's positive that he's listening to something.
"There!" Tony yells and points at the entrance to the hall seconds before a gunshot is fired, loud in the previous quiet.
Ziva drops to the floor, brings her weapon up and fires twice, hitting Marcus Jones in the shoulder and thigh, all the while the sound of Tony's cry of pain echoing through her ears.
Footsteps pound down the stairs and Gibbs and Tim come running into the room.
She kicks Marcus' gun away, but he's down and in too much pain to be of any threat at the moment.
"It's okay, it's okay Tony." Gibbs whispers reassuringly to the agent curled in a ball on the floor. Ziva was sure he'd been shot but Tony's hands are pressed tightly to his ears, his eyes squeezed shut and somehow she doesn't think it was a bullet that was the cause.
"What's wrong with him?" Tim asks with wide eyes.
Ziva doesn't think twice before sending Tim out to call for paramedics, for Tony or for the man bleeding on the floor, she isn't sure.
"Come on Tony, listen to my voice. Focus on that." Gibbs rubs his hand up and down Tony's back, speaking softly and she just knows they've done this before. Ziva cannot look away.
She doesn't speak, just watches as Tony's face regains some of its colour and he uncurls from the tight ball he had been rolled in. Slowly his hands come down from where they had been pressed desperately to his ears.
"That's right Tony, just dial it down." Gibbs grasps one of Tony's hands and presses a kiss to the palm.
Ziva blinks, surprised but at the same time, it feels like she's known this forever.
"What…" What is he sounds wrong; it makes Tony sound like some sort of animal. But she doesn't know how to ask.
"Something called a sentinel." Gibbs murmurs softly, eyes focused solely on the agent lying on the floor. "He's got heightened senses, can hear things, see things, that we'd never be able to. I'm his guide." He says it like this explains everything.
"You…guide him?" She asks, trying to understand.
"I keep him centred, focused."
"And just now…?" Ziva watches as Tony struggles to sit up and Gibbs is right there, helping him into a seated position, resting against his chest. She's not sure anyone would ever believe her were she to tell them of what she is seeing.
"His hearing was turned up too high, so when the gun went off it was louder than what we heard."
Ziva isn't sure she understands any of what Gibbs is saying- sentinels and guides? They sound like something out of a fairy tale.
She does understand how Tony leans into Gibbs' touch and the softer look on the older mans face.
"The paramedics are on the way." Tim rushes back into the room, stopping when he sees the scene in front of them. "Oh."
"Tony will be fine." Ziva waves a hand dismissively. "Help me find some dish towels to stop him from bleeding to death." She gestures at the semi conscious Marcus Jones lying on the floor and drags Tim from the room.
One person finding out Gibbs and Tony's secrets is quite enough for one day she decides.
By the time they're back in the room, Tony is back to cracking jokes and Gibbs is glaring at their murderer. Everything is back to normal.
And if Tony happens to stay much closer to Gibbs than usual, or Gibbs reaches out to ruffle Tony's hair more frequently, Ziva pretends not to see.