It's strikingly bright, and the sun blinds him. His head feels like someone ran it over with a bulldozer. There's a pressure on his shoulder - Someone's holding him still. He blinks hard, and the image of a woman hovering above him focuses. Even from this angle, he can tell that she's a looker, but there are tears streaming down her olive face and small drops fall onto his chest. He's sure that she's crying because of him, and he feels guilty about it. Her head tilts down and her gaze meets his, and he realizes that he doesn't know who she is.
It's a Monday morning. Nothing ever happens on a Monday morning.
It's the usual routine. Arriving at the office, reading emails, finishing up paperwork from a previous case - the three of them bantering back and forth from across the bullpen, biding their time until Gibbs barks at them to grab their gear. It is a simple routine - comfortable, even.
The sly, lingering look Tony gives her is normal as well. Whenever he thinks he can get away with it, when he thinks she is too absorbed in her work to feel his eyes on her, he stares. Usually, she lets him, but today, she meets his gaze.
His gray eyes widen in shock for a fraction of a second, and she fully expects him to look away in embarrassment, but he doesn't. Tony continues to stare boldly at her with the corners of his mouth twitching. She gives him a slight smile that he returns with a full-blown grin. He doesn't care that she caught him.
Tony sends her a flirty wink and returns to his paperwork, and while she wills the butterflies out of her stomach, she starts to wonder what the hell has gotten into him lately.
They tell him his name is Tony. He believes them because they look decent enough, and the expression in their eyes makes his throat close, and that has to count for something, right?
He's a federal agent. He took a blow to the head in an ambush. He has been out cold for two whole days, but he'll be all right - if he gets his memory back.
There are five people who come to see him. A young man introduces himself as Tim McGee, and he's slim and professional and has a very anxious crease between his eyebrows. A woman with black hair and black everything steps up next and says her name is Abby. She nearly rips open his stitches from the force of her hug, but Tony appreciates the gesture. A duo smiles at him kindly. An elderly man with a soothing, knowledgeable voice says that everyone calls him Ducky, and another young man who is endearingly awkward says his name is Jimmy Palmer, also known as the Autopsy Gremlin. That makes Tony smile.
And finally, there is a man with silver hair and a steely gaze. The emotionless gaze seems relentless until his cool composure breaks for half a second, and a pair of concerned, broken blue eyes reveal themselves to Tony before disappearing behind a mask again. It happens so quickly that Tony could have simply imagined it.
"I'm Gibbs," he says as he turns away, "You better get your memory back soon, DiNozzo. I expect you back at work in a week."
Abby pats his arm and reassures him that Gibbs is just worried about him.
Through all this, Tony is aware of a woman hovering outside the room, and he has to crane his neck to see the outline of her feminine figure. She waits for the pack to leave, and when they do, she steps inside of the room immediately.
Tony inspects her thoroughly. She is sturdy-looking woman and a mighty beautiful one, at that.
Tony pushes himself up higher in his bed, grinning at her through a slight grimace.
She wears a brave face and sits on the edge of his bed, resting a hand on his knee. She doesn't say anything, so Tony chooses to break the silence.
"What's your name, beautiful?" Tony asks before he can stop himself. The words tumble from his mouth, and she winces at them. He frowns at her, tilting his head in confusion. He only asked for her name.
"My name is Ziva," she tells him quietly. Her dark eyes focus on his sheets, near his fingers.
"Hi, Ziva," Tony says softly for reasons he doesn't know. She's familiar - Why is she familiar? He continues just as quietly, "How do I know you?"
He fleetingly wonders if she's his girlfriend - it would explain the way she's acting - but the thought is dismissed when she starts speaking.
"I am your partner," Ziva tells him, and her eyes eventually rise to meet his. They are watery and are on the verge of tears, and Tony's frown deepens. He doesn't want her to cry. He touches her arm experimentally, brushing his thumb across the skin.
"Hi, Ziva," he repeats.
He's still confused, but he decides not to ask.
"Wow, Ziva. This is amazing."
"Thank you, Tony," she says politely. Ziva wears a slight smile on her bright face, but he detects a little sadness behind it.
"No, seriously," Tony pushes, "It's great."
She looks down at her plate and murmurs quietly, "It's your favorite."
It comes back suddenly.
There is no warning, no trigger.
The two of them sit on opposite sides of her couch watching his favorite James Bond movie. His body is angled toward her, but his eyes are focused on the screen. She finds his amount of focus adorable - In a way, this is the first time he's watching the movie, and it seems like he can't get enough of it. His lips move soundlessly, and films are the only thing in the world that can get him to stop talking.
Ziva, on the other hand, pays more attention to him than the movie - She always does.
When she let her eyes float over to him for the hundredth time, she is surprised to find that he is already looking at her.
They stare at each other from across the couch for a long time. The sudden sound of gunshots from the movie make them both jump, and he laughs appreciatively. There is a sudden flicker in his eyes, and the lost look that had rested on his face the entire week disappears. He tilts his head a little, like he just realized something he knew all along, and a smile tugs at the corners of his mouth.
"Ziva," he says softly, and she knows.
Tony scoots closer to her, and soon, there is no more space between them. They sit knee-to-knee, and he takes one of her hands in his. It's a familiar contact because he is holding her hand the same way she held his. He even squeezes it in the exact same way. His eyes are focused on their laps, but slowly, they drift up to meet hers.
His gray eyes are bright with emotion, and the lost look is long, long gone, and it has already been replaced by something else.
"Ziva," Tony says suddenly, coming up behind her and making her jump. He adds quickly, placing a hand on her shoulder, "Sorry. Didn't mean to startle you."
She tries to ignore the casual touch and doesn't glance at him as she grabs gear from the back of the van. "What is it, Tony?"
"Are you up for drinks tonight?" He's standing right next to her, hovering, and their sides are touching in a very unprofessional way. It's normal behavior, though.
She looks up at him now, frowning slightly. "But it's Monday."
"But I feel like it's a drinking night," Tony says in a sing-song voice that makes her throat tight despite herself. He leans in closer to her face, a slight pout on his lips. Ziva forces herself to look away. His voice is a little pleading, "Please accompany me?"
She swallows hard as she slams the door shut. Ziva still doesn't trust her voice as the two of them start walking in the direction of the crime scene. They walk in-step with each other, and Tony is still waiting patiently for an answer. She can feel his eyes on her face.
Ziva opens her mouth to agree to his request, but the words are lost because gunshots fill the air, and they're under attack.
Tony glances up at her through his steaming mug.
Ziva feels his eyes on her and looks up from her book, frowning and tilting her head. She says, "Tony?"
The sound of her voice stirs something in his chest, and there's a look in her eyes that he can't figure out. He really wants to, though. It's irking for him to not know what the expression is. He continues to stare at her face, trying to come up with a solid answer.
He's been at this for hours, and still, he has nothing.
She repeats his name, and Tony smiles a little.
"You aren't talking," he accuses casually.
"What do you want me to say?" she asks him.
Tony doesn't hear anything impolite in her voice, and he figures that it's actually a legitimate question. "I don't know, Ziva. Something. Anything. Try to help me remember."
She nibbles at her lips and taps on the kitchen table. Tony glances around, and he firmly decides that he likes her apartment. It's feminine and modern, but very, very cozy. He sits there patiently, waiting for her to come up with something to say.
"Aha!" she exclaims. "When we first met, I thought you were having phone sex."
Tony blinks at her in disbelief before he busts out in wondrous, genuine, bewildered laughter that makes his shoulder hurt, but he doesn't care.