A/N: So, as promised, this is being re-posted as a one-shot. Tag to Ep. Boxed In. Enjoy. :)


Piano

"So, riddle me this batgirl; how does one wrangle an invite to dinner at your place?" Tony asked as he made his way towards Ziva to move the box she had requested.

"Why? Feel a little left out, Tony?" She replied as she moved forward to help him.

"I mean, McGee I understand; he's a good guest. I bet he brought a bottle of wine."

Ziva watched him as he flipped the box over. "And dessert."

"Yeah, big surprise there," Tony murmured. He turned to face Ziva as he continued, "But Palmer? I've had more stimulating conversations with cats."

"I like him," she retorted, "And he was very helpful to me."

Tony stared at her. "How?"

There was a brief moment of weighted silence before she responded, "He tuned my piano."

He opened his mouth to retort as she turned and walked away but stopped. After several seconds he added softly, "I used to play piano."

"But not anymore?"

He leaned forward and stared at the wall as he continued to talk, unaware of Ziva's gaze focused on him, "My mother forced me to take lessons from this woman who would hit me with a ruler every time I made a mistake." Her sharp eyes caught him flexing his fingers unconsciously.

"I haven't played since."

There was silence in their box for a moment before Ziva asked, "Were you any good?"

"Yeah. Yeah she was." He answered softly, his pale eyes lost in memories. Ziva stood there quietly and hoped that they were good ones.


Gibbs sighed as he pulled into the parking lot. The last place he wanted to be right now was at a bar. It had been a long case and he was drained in every sense of the word. He had many scares that day where he thought he was going to lose his agents. Then there were the copious amounts of paperwork that came with Ziva shooting someone in the foot and Tony's 'scratch'.

All in all, it was long day. He had gone home three hours ago, hoping to finally have some peace and quiet, but here he was. It was 2 a.m. and he was in the parking lot of a bar called 'The Stumble In', having been dragged out of his house by the phone call of an urgent and slightly nervous bar tender.

Gibbs took a deep breath and tried to calm himself before he opened the car door and stepped out into the chilly D.C. air. With quick, sure strides, he stalked to the main door and yanked it out of his way.

There were a few people still in the bar, either sitting at the counter or clustered around a table. No one looked up when he walked in. He let the door swing shut behind him as he sought out the bartender. After a few moments, he located the thin and balding man walking in from another room.

"Ah, you're Gibbs, right?" he asked, his slightly nasally voice instantly grating on Gibbs' nerves already strung out nerves.

He affirmed the question with a quick nod, "Where is he?"

The bartender jerked his head in the direction of the room he just vacated, "Back there."

Gibbs brushed past the man and was almost to the room when he felt a hand snag his jacket. Slightly incredulous, he glanced back to see the bartender's grim face staring back at him.

"Look," he started, ignoring Gibbs' it's-2-in-the-morning glare, "I don't know who you guys are and what the hell happened to him today, but I can tell you," he softened his voice, "That the kid is hurting. And bad."

Gibbs nodded again, but with a little more respect for the thin man. Not many people had the guts to tell Gibbs what they were thinking during normal hours. He moved through the archway but stopped again as the bartender commented, almost to himself.

"He's wonderful on that piano, too."

Gibbs was surprised, to say the least. Tony playing piano? He thought about it for a second and thought that he'd heard Ziva saying something of that sort earlier. Maybe one of the things they'd uncovered about each other while stuck in that metal box. He shook his head with a small smile and stepped into the back room.


Gibbs blinked at the sight before him. The room was a deep red, a small black stage in the center of it. The room was filled with chairs and a couple of music stands. But the first thing he saw was the baby grand piano sitting majestically in the center of the stage. The dimly lit room was so quiet and still that, if you weren't looking for him, you quite possible might have missed the tall man sitting on the bench.

Trying very hard not to make a sound, Gibbs slipped into the room and into one of the chairs by the door. He didn't want to call attention to himself; he figured Tony would notice him in time, if he hadn't already.

Several minutes later Tony hadn't moved and Gibbs was ready to haul his ass out to the car, whether he was ready or not. But before Gibbs could even open his mouth a single sound broke the silence; the ringing of E. The single note spun itself into the silence of the room before more notes began to weave their way in as well. Soon a sad but beautiful melody was playing; enticing but dangerous, enough to know that you should look and not touch. It was an emotion filled song that somehow felt empty.

Gibbs was shocked, both by the intense passion and the beautiful playing, but his wonderings died away as Tony's raw voice sang in accompanied the piano.

He leaned back in his chair and closed his eyes as Tony sang of one of the most conflicted, confused and one of the most talented person in the Bible; King David.

Gibbs flinched at the pure anguish in the repeated line, "It's a cold and it's a broken Hallelujah." His heart ached as he listened to the broken and twisted view on love; from confused to corrupted, loss turning into darkness and darkness bleeding into bitterness.

'Hallelujah' meant joy or thanksgiving. Man, did they have this one screwed up, Gibbs thought ruefully as Tony's last chords faded to silence. Gibbs opened his eyes and watched as Tony stared at the piano for a confused second before yanking his hands away from the keys as if they'd burned him.

Tony bowed his head and stared at the gleaming white ivory in front of him, a lost look on his face.

Gibbs stood up and walked over to the stage. He walked slowly up the stairs and came to stand behind Tony on the stage. They waited in companionable silence for a moment while Tony tried to gather his thoughts and Gibbs watched Tony. After a few minutes, Tony broke the silence.

"My mother played piano."

Gibbs didn't say anything, being a man more of actions than words. He rested his hand on Tony's shoulder and gave it a comforting squeeze. Neither of them commented as a single glittering tear tracked its way down Tony's cheek. Tony made no move to brush it away.


A/N: And there you are. :) I hope you liked it.