Futile Beholder

Rated T

Summary: What if Tony's explanation to Ziva in False Witness was a cover for what was really going on?

Disclaimer: I do not own NCIS or its characters.

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Tony DiNozzo was excellent at undercover work. This wasn't news to anyone at NCIS. In fact, that fact alone had caused him to wonder how it was that no one from his team had attempted to question him.

Well, no one but Ziva, of course. That wasn't too much of a surprise, really. She was nosy. Ziva the nosy ninja chick. Can't keep it out of anyone's business, and you're pretty much stuck divulging whatever information she's after. Because if you don't, she will continue to pry until she has it.

So that's what he'd done. He'd divulged. Only she hadn't caught on to the fact that what he'd told her was just another elaborate cover up for what he'd been hiding. He honestly couldn't believe she'd accepted the answer. It was so...last moment thought up. Tony had been trying to keep his mind busy; sharp and without room for thought that entire day. What time he hadn't spent endlessly working, he'd spent trying desperately not to think about the one thing he was avoiding thinking about. There hadn't been time to think up a cover story.

The Bitner story was true, but it wasn't what had him going through the motions today. It seemed to be a pretty convincing cover story, however, where Ziva was concerned. She'd gotten that smug inner-feeling of having accomplished the goal she'd set out for herself, and then gave an almost convincing pep-talk in attempt to make him feel better.

It had caught him a little off guard, he had to admit; her response. It was kind. Maybe she'd just said it to be nice or to snap him out of it, but it had made him think for just a moment that she might care.

"You are Tony DiNozzo. The class clown. And that is why we love you," she'd said.

They loved him? Maybe that was just an expression. Of course! It had to be. They'd worked together a while now. You get close to people when you've worked together that long.

Still, the thought had bounced around in his head for a minute, and somehow ended up conflicting with the one thing he'd been trying not to think of that day. He'd found himself blinking back tears and glancing over at Ziva to make sure she hadn't noticed. When he'd looked at her, he had pondered what she'd said again, wondering for just a moment if she'd really meant it.