But For The Grace Of God

Disclaimer: I don't own NCIS.

Ziva David walks up to her partner, Tony DiNozzo's front door. She had noticed that he had been rather quiet during their most recent case. She couldn't quite put her finger on what it was that was causing this exactly and she wanted to help. The case had involved Lance Corporal Matthew Patterson who had killed three civilians who looked a lot like his father.

Tony hears his doorbell rings and wonders who would be over now. He'd figured his teammates would have headed home after a long case. It brings him back to his childhood. His father had been abusive when Tony was home from boarding school. Tony had felt lucky to be away from him the majority of the time.

Flashback

Tony DiNozzo is in his bedroom watching a movie. He had been trying to keep out of his father's way until he goes away to summer camp next week. His dad had already whipped him twice in the week since he's been home from boarding school and he doesn't want it to happen again. Thankfully, Tony knows that when his grades come in they will be up to his father's exacting standards. One less thing for his father to get angry about.

Anthony DiNozzo Sr. heads upstairs. He is angry. Tony's movie is far too loud for his taste (even though he doesn't need a reason for beating his son). The strap in his hand reveals his intent to his son as soon as he appears in his doorway. Tony immediately shuts off his television figuring this was what made him mad. He knows that it wouldn't stop him, but it might lessen the whipping a bit.

What ensues is a terrible beating that Tony wouldn't soon forget. He would still be a bit sore when he went off to camp.

" I came to see what's been bugging you the last few days. This case has really gotten to you hasn't it?" Ziva asks him.

"Yeah. I was that kid when I was younger. My dad used to beat me anytime he felt like it. I don't know how I survived it sane some days," Tony tells her. "He would do it anytime I was at home. When I was sent to boarding school, I was relieved. I didn't have to worry about him coming home and deciding to take out whatever stress he was having out on me while I was away at school. I avoided going home on holidays whenever possible. I went to camp for most of the summer."

"Tony, I'm so sorry," Ziva says putting her arm around his shoulder and squeezing. She feels badly for the memories that her partner is reliving right now. She's had her own problems with her father, but at least he hadn't beat her.

"Thanks for that Zee-vah." Tony says. He has always appreciated the way she's been there for him so much. "Ya know, a case like this makes me realize how lucky I am to have turned out this way.

As the old saying goes, 'But for the grace of God go I."

Ziva nods her head in understanding. She had similar feelings about what had happened with her brother. She knows that Ari had been manipulated by her father and then had eventually turned against him in rebellion ultimately ending in Ari's death.

They sit in silence for a while. Tony just relaxes into the company of his friend.

"How about some dinner? I was about to order a pizza," Tony asks her not knowing if she'd eaten yet or not.
"Sure, I haven't eaten dinner yet," Ziva says.

"Ziva, I would prefer it if you wouldn't mention it to the others. I'm not ready to talk about it with anyone else," Tony tells her as they wait for the pizza.

"I will respect your wishes in that regard but I think you need to tell them" Ziva tells him.

"I'll think about it," Tony says. He honestly would consider it, but he wasn't sure if he ever would.

They spent the rest of the evening watching movies. Ziva could hardly believe that the young man next to her had gone throuhgh all that he had and come out of it a wonderful man. She knows that the sharing he has done with her had been difficult for him.