Setting: early to mid Season 7


"Well, the food on stakeouts may never get better," Tony said, putting aside his empty carton of cheap Chinese food, "but at least it still has my favorite part."

Ziva looked over from her chair by the window of their small room. "The fortune cookie?"

"Oh yeah." Tony cracked his open with theatrical flair.

"You know those are an American invention, not a Chinese one."

"You should be saying that with pride if you're going to be joining our wonderful country." He tossed her the other cookie. "We also made up the classic game that goes with them."

She frowned. "What game?"

He waggled his eyebrows. "In Bed."

"In Bed?"

He grinned, unfolding the paper from inside the cookie. "You take the fortune and add the words 'in bed' to the end."

"Why?"

He held up a finger and read his out loud. "'You will meet the love of your life'…in bed."

"Lovely."

"Just try yours."

She cracked it open and looked at the paper. "You will get the first shift, in bed."

He frowned as she smirked and headed for the cot. "Hey! Uh-uh! Probies take first watch."

"You've already used that excuse to make me get dinner, do the paperwork, and haul the gear up here."

"That's part of being a probie, Probie."

She gave him a look. "You think you will be able to sleep soundly while I am still awake?"

He sized her up and decided he didn't feel like taking that risk. "Fine. Out of fairness, we'll do this the old-fashioned way." He held up one hand. "Rock, Paper, Scissors."

She nodded. "All right."

He frowned. "Really?"

She leaned against the table beside him. "Are you scared?"

He scoffed, albeit a bit nervously. "Please. You can't intimidate me."

She held up her fist, eyes never leaving his. He raised his as well. They counted and threw at the same time. She laughed victoriously, wrapping her "paper" over his "rock".

"Lucky throw. Two out of three."

"Round two, you would throw scissors. Round three, you would throw rock again," she said as she headed for the cot.

He stared. "Crazy ninja."

"Wake me if anything happens."

He turned back to the window, stewing a bit. He picked up the fortune from her cookie. "'You will be successful in upcoming affairs.' Figures."

He settled in, watching the building across the street. After a short time, he realized something was off in the room. He wasn't sure what, but it was making him uneasy.

He looked around, but all their equipment seemed in order. Nothing outside seemed out of place. There were no strange sounds in the room.

And then he realized. It wasn't a sound that had unnerved him. It was a lack of sound. Ziva wasn't snoring.

He looked over at the cot. She was breathing, just smoothly and quietly. Normally he would have counted his blessings and enjoyed the silence, but after Somalia any change in her behavior troubled him. She was also curled tightly on herself, her back against the wall, as if even now she could not completely relax.

Familiar anger burned in his chest. It wasn't that he had liked Ziva's snoring, but the idea that Saleem had taken away something so essentially Ziva brought back the fury that had lead him into the desert last summer. She had been back for several months, but clearly the terrorist's memory still cast its shadow across her life.

Tony turned back to his work, knowing his hatred would do no good but to distract him from his current job. Still, he wished he could do something to ease her stress.

A thought tickled the back of his mind. Still looking out the window, he started speaking, casually. "You know, this reminds me of a stakeout I did back with the Baltimore PD. We were waiting for a drug deal to go down and my partner kept dozing off. Said he'd been up too late the night before on a date. I wanted to hassle him about it, but he was out cold."

He heard a sigh behind him and glanced back to see that Ziva had stretched out a bit more. He smiled slightly and looked back out the window.

"So I was left to keep myself entertained for hours waiting for these punks to show up. Spent half the time talking to myself, kind of like now. You know, I think that was the first time I really got my Nicholson impression right. 'All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy!'"

As he spoke, he began hear her breathing take on a raspy edge. Tony leaned back in his chair, satisfied, and turned his attention fully back to his vigil out the window, his mind a bit more at peace. When the first real snort kicked in, he winced slightly, beginning to regret his choice. Still, if his suffering eased a bit of her suffering, he was willing to make that sacrifice.