A/N—This was an interesting spur-of-the-moment piece. It's left largely open for interpretation, including the circumstances of the situation, the timeframe in terms of the series, and the nature of Tony and Ziva's relationship. This is a relatively short piece meant to simply capture a moment. Also, as a little fun-fact, there are some intentional parallels to "The Broken Pieces of Others". Please enjoy :)

He didn't know if he was surprised or not when he flicked on the basement light and saw the familiar hunched figure. Ziva sat with her knees drawn up, her head resting against his old, wooden workbench. She didn't acknowledge his arrival, opting instead to keep her eyes closed.

Gibbs sighed and descended the creaking staircase slowly to enter the hush of his basement. As he crossed the open floor, he noticed how she was taking deep, steadying breaths through her nose and exhaling slowly, her body shaking slightly. When he had reached the workbench, he dug around to find the two cleanest mason jars.

As he sank to the floor beside Ziva, he placed the "glasses" between them and unscrewed the top of the dusty bottle of bourbon. He poured an equal amount into both and slowly sipped his own as he watched the opposite wall in silence, his agent continuing her own quiet ritual beside him.

Then, "I am sorry for coming here without your knowledge." He glanced in Ziva's direction and recognized the distant look in her eyes as she stared at the same area of wall he had been contemplating for the past ten minutes.

"Don't worry about it. You know my basement's always open," he shrugged, taking another drink of bourbon. "You sure ran out of there quickly, though." He watched her out of the corner of his eye, studying her reaction.

With the same far-off look, she said lamely, "It was...unprofessional what I did. I should not have let what he said affect me so strongly. I am sorry," she stated through another shuddering exhale of breath, her eyes once-again closed.

"Don't be," he said quietly. "Given the circumstances, I think I would've been more surprised if you'd done anything less."

"I just...needed to get out of there. Needed somewhere quiet, comforting..." she said, nodding to the basement at large. After a short moment's pause of taking in the room, he stated matter-of-factly, "Yeah, this place has that kind of affect, doesn't it?" Ziva rested her head on her knees, looked in Gibbs' direction, and said sadly, "Yes, it does. It certainly offers a nice bit of solitude." He looked her in the eye and said softly, "If you would prefer to be alone, I've got no problem with that."

Staring at a point slightly past him, she said quietly, yet firmly, "I will not push you out of your own basement, Gibbs. I am the intruder, after all."

Taking another sip from his glass, he gave a small smile and said, "I appreciate the consideration, but I recognize the want for seclusion when I see it. Just make sure you call me if you need anything," he said, standing and draining the rest of his drink. "Bourbon's there if you want it," he said as he gestured toward her untouched glass. "At least try to get some sleep, alright?" he whispered as he bent down and kissed the side of her head. She closed her eyes, exhaled again, and gave a small nod.

As he quietly closed the door to the basement, he heard his front one open. When he walked into the living room, he saw his senior field agent standing there, a look of mixed agitation and worry on his face. "Is she here?" he asked simply without feeling the need to explain who "she" was.

"She's downstairs. I don't think she wants any company, though." Tony didn't seem to hear the last sentence as he looked past his boss toward the entrance to the basement. "Yeah...well...hopefully she's willing to make an exception..." he said distractedly.

Gibbs smiled slightly at his agent's obvious anxiety, and gestured to the door he had just left from. "Yeah. Hopefully." Tony gave a small nod, and, still staring, walked slowly toward the basement. As he disappeared down the stairs, Gibbs heaved a sigh and went to close the front door that Tony had left wide open.

When her figure came into view, Tony could not see her face, the side of her head still resting on her knees. He crossed the pool of light and stood in front of his partner without saying a word. He lowered himself to his knees, staring at her for a moment before gently lifting her head. He placed his palms securely on each side of her neck, waiting patiently for her to open her eyes.

When she finally did, he slowly leaned forward and whispered in her ear, "Don't be afraid. Everything's gonna be alright." Ziva gave a great gasp and allowed her composure to slip, a single tear sliding down her cheek. She scrambled to her knees and clutched him tightly, her fists bunching the fabric of his suit jacket. In return, he wrapped his arms around her shuddering form and held her firmly to him.

She clung to him in welcomed relief, no longer attempting to hide her shaking. He closed his eyes and breathed her in deep, his body pressed against hers. After few moments, Ziva said quietly, "It is just...difficult..." Tony nodded and whispered simply, "I know." And they lapsed into silence again, swaying slightly from their position on the floor.

Only when the pain in their knees had reached an uncomfortable degree did they finally stand. He encircled his arm around around her shoulder, and she around his waist as they soundlessly crossed the basement and climbed the stairs. As the two stepped out the front door into the cold of the night, they didn't even notice Gibbs as he made his way down from the upper floor.

He smiled as he once again entered his dim basement. As he drew level with his workbench, he noticed the spilled bourbon and the overturned jar on the floor. Leaving it where it was, he instead poured himself another drink. He toasted to the room, and then to Ziva's empty glass. Before taking a sip, he smiled and mused quietly to himself, "Everything's gonna be alright."

A/N—Thank you for taking the time to read. Any comments, criticisms, and reviews are greatly appreciated. Until next time, happy reading :)