Summary: Tony is in the hospital because he has gotten shot, and Ziva pays him a visit.
Disclaimer: If I owned NCIS, I would make Tony's hospital room bright pink with flowered bed sheets. I don't technically need to own it to do that, since I own this story, but it'd be much more fun to actually see it, don't ya think? :D
Spoilers: Just general NCIS
Dedication: This is dedicated to Maike! Because I just can't seem to write one with you in it XD
I've just learnt that it is VERY hard to edit when you're half-asleep. I'm gonna go be fully asleep now, so enjoy, and please review, of course!
He is angry because the first time she visits him, she acts as if nothing has happened. As if his getting shot is no big deal at all. She breezes into his room and teases him in the way that she usually does, and then she is as professional as she has always been, briefing Gibbs on what she has learnt and listening to Gibbs's orders and leaving without saying anything other than a sunny "goodbye".
He can't really tell why that would make him angry. There's nothing wrong with her "goodbye". Everyone else pretty much said the same thing, and he isn't angry at them. But it somehow seems more important that she be the one to say more; that she hurt for him, and because she doesn't and he can't get why that would upset him, he becomes angrier. He's no longer sure whether he's angry at himself or at her.
He's always cared too much about how she feels. Over the years, he's done everything in his book designed to elicit a response from her. Played jokes on her, ignored her, even shot her boyfriend. Not that he had killed Michael to get a reaction out of her, but it had, and as much as he had loathed the reaction at the time, he now thinks that it is far better than the indifference she is currently showing him. She doesn't hate him anymore. But she also doesn't love him enough.
And maybe he has just gotten to the root of the problem. Maybe he is angry because he expects her to burst in dramatically and hug him so tightly that all of his stitches rip open. Maybe he expects her to declare her undying love to him and tell him that she will never leave him. It doesn't matter what he's secretly hoping for – she hasn't done it. All she has done is tell him that his backless hospital gown makes his head look disproportionate, and her words give him an ache far more painful than the gunshot had.
The ache is there now, tugging at him in a way that makes him think the bullet might have grazed his heart after all. That doesn't make sense to him. The bullet hadn't hit him anywhere near his heart. Had it ricocheted around in his ribcage? Was there still a tiny piece lodged inside him that they had missed?
It is what he is trying to figure out when he hears the soft click of his door opening. His heart, the one that hurts, stops, but starts again when all at once he understands that she has returned. He can't hear her footsteps, but at the same time he can hear that they belong to her. He can't explain it. It is simply how he knows her so well.
He shuts his eyes because he doesn't want to see her. Doesn't want to talk to her. He doesn't want to be awake just to be the butt of more of her tasteless jokes. And he certainly doesn't want her to look into his eyes and realize how much he loves her, when she doesn't love him. She takes a chair and sits down next to him, and even though she makes almost no noise in doing so, he knows exactly what she has done because he can hear it in the same manner that he can hear her silent footfalls.
She goes still and he suddenly can't hear what she is doing. That frustrates him. He wants to open his eyes, to see if she actually has the audacity to fall asleep in the middle of a hospital visit. He doesn't yet. Another five minutes pass and he still can't hear anything, so he gives in and opens his eyes the fraction of an inch, and his heart nearly stops again.
She is crying, crying like only she can. Her entire body shudders and tears stream down her face, but there is complete silence. It doesn't feel right to him; that she sitting in a hospital room in the dark weeping her heart out over demons invisible to him. He can't help it just then; his hand, as if drawn by marionette strings, curls around hers.
She gasps and looks up, and his hand tightens as he absorbs the pain in her eyes. It is a look all too familiar to him. He saw it whenever she had to deal with her father; he caused it when he shot Michael. But never had it ever come into her eyes without him knowing the reason why. "What is it?" He growls, because he has decided that he wants to murder whatever made her cry that way, but perhaps she misunderstands his intent because she flinches. She tries to wriggle her hand out of his grasp; he doesn't let her go. He tries to put on a calmer countenance. "Ziva, what is it?" He succeeds. This time his tone is more of concern.
She stares at him mutely, not bothering to hide the sadness in her eyes because she knows he has already seen it. Then she looks away and pulls hard. Her hand slips out of his. She starts to stand and he has to wonder if the only thing she had come to do was cry. He catches hold of the edge of her blouse and she stops.
"I will break it or him for you," he promises her, and she laughs weakly. She sits down again, tiredly, and leans her head against the back of her chair.
"Then you would have to break yourself," she whispers into the night, so softly that he isn't sure if he is meant to hear it. He answers anyway.
"What did I do?" He tries to sound as indignant as possible.
She lifts her head and gazes at him. "You got yourself shot."
"I assure you it wasn't on purpose." His throat is dry, but he tries not to show it. Yet she must know it, because she sits up and pours him a cup of water. He struggles into a sitting position and she fluffs his pillows, and hands him the cup. He takes it gladly.
"It still scared me," she admits, and he chokes on his water. She takes away the cup, patting the back of his neck gently, as if that would make him stop choking.
"It scared you?" He finally manages to ask. She reluctantly nods. "But I'm alive," he tells her hoarsely, and she stares at the ground.
"What if you were not?"
The question swirls around in the air and makes him feel uneasy, not because he is unable to contemplate the prospect of his own death but because she makes it sound as if all her tears and heartache are because of that 'what if', and that makes even less sense to him than her indifference. He really doesn't want to be the one to have put that expression into her eyes again.
She is as motionless as a statue until he plays with her hair a little bit, and then she slowly looks up at him. "Then you would be the very proud owner of my awesome letter opener," he replies, and she snorts the laugh he so loves to hear.
"I would give it up any day." She doesn't say for what.
"Hey, that is one great letter opener. Lucky for it I survived. You know, I'm so notoriously hard to get rid of."
She smiles. "Too bad. I would have loved finding out what I could get for it."
She climbs into his bed, careful not to dislodge anything, and snuggles into his side. That surprises him, but he doesn't move because he knows they have only that moment to themselves. In the morning the rest of the team will show up and that is when she will go back to being business-like, the memories of the night disappearing along with the last of the morning dew. She lets out a tiny sigh of contentment as her eyes fall shut and her head falls onto his shoulder, and in that moment he learns she is all he will ever need for things to feel right.