Through his drug-induced drowsiness, Tony overhears bits of conversation outside his room. He's mildly interested, but his head is throbbing, so he choses not to lift himself up. He settles for closing his eyes and listening to the sound of the voices.
"He will need to be under constant care of someone. Does he have any family in town?" Tony recognizes the voice as the doctor's.
A gruff, instantly recognizable voice answers, "He doesn't. You can release him into the care of one of us."
"He can stay with me."
Tony's eyes snap open because it's Ziva's voice.
"Gibbs, you still need McGee to do the computer-things with Abby, and obviously, you still need to go into work. But since this case is pretty-much solved, I am no longer needed. Besides, have a few extra personal days."
There is silence, and Ziva continues to talk.
"How long do you think it will be until he gets his memory back?"
There's a 'hm' sound, and the clicking of a tongue. "It's hard to say, Miss David. It could be tomorrow. It could be next week. It's a guessing game."
"Okay," she says simply, and Tony wishes he could see her expression. It sounds like she's hurting, and suddenly, he's bitter about the curtains covering the sliding glass door.
"He should fit to leave tomorrow morning, actually."
Tony's heart swells at the doctor's words. He's sick of the hospital and the disgusting food and the antiseptic stench. He's desperate to leave and go somewhere, anywhere, else. Other than the headaches and occasional pain from his shoulder, he's just fine.
And the memory loss. But that's a different story.
"All right. Thanks, doc," Gibbs replies.
There's a sound of footsteps, and Tony assumes that the doctor is walking away.
There's some more silence, and out of the corner of his eye, he can see Ziva peering at him through the crack in the curtains. She's red-eyed with dark circles under her eyes, and that's all he can catch a glimpse of. Tony closes his eyes and pretends he's asleep while straining his ears to hear the whispered conversation.
"Ziver," Gibbs says softly. It's the kindest voice he's heard the man use.
She cuts him off, "I am fine, Gibbs. Really."
"No," he says quietly, "You're not."
There's even more silence, so long of a silence that Tony starts to fall asleep, lulled by the hum of machines and the drugs in his body.
"Oh, Tony. I am so sorry."
He doesn't know what she means to him, but it's so painfully clear what he means to her.
That alone is enough to make his heart shatter to pieces, and god, he wishes he could remember.
"What were we before?"
Tony reaches over and grabs the remote on the table. He pauses the movie and studies her from the other side of the couch. The question has been on his mind for days now, and he can't hold it in any longer.
Tony doesn't break his gaze as he asks, "What were before? Before I lost my memory, I mean."
Emotions flash on her face - First shock, then pain, then more pain, and then a smooth, emotionless mask. Tony had to hand it to himself - He was getting good at this.
"Ziva?" he says her name quietly.
"I - I am sorry," she replies quickly. "Your question caught me off guard."
She gnaws at her lips before saying slowly, "We were friends."
Tony's heart falls because a part of him hoped that they were something. He genuinely likes her. She's strong-willed and daring and sassy and considerate, and Tony can sense all the other layers she has buried underneath the surface.
He isn't sure if she saw the expression on his face or not when she continues, "It is complicated, Tony."
"How is it complicated?" It was a innocent-enough question.
"It just is. Gibbs has rules, and -"
Tony frowns and cuts her off, "What does Gibbs have to do with anything?"
Ziva smiles at him, just a little. She mumbles something under her breath that he just barely catches, "You have to lose your memory in order for us to have this conversation. Pathetic."
And that right there was the answer Tony needed.
Tony shoves her into an alley, taking cover behind a brick wall, and they're both panting for breath. Sweat has formed on his forehead, and he pushes them further into the alley to avoid the relentless shots being fired at them.
She's pressed up against his back, gun clenched so tightly in her hand that it's painful.
The sounds of gunfire stop immediately, and Ziva counts to five in her head.
Tony gingerly takes a step forward with his gun raised in front of him. Ziva is right behind him, covering his back.
He continues forward until he's out on the sidewalk again, and just before he takes the final step, a sick feeling fills Ziva's stomach, and she reaches out to grasp his arm, but it's too late. Her chance is gone.
There's a single shot that rings out, and the horrifying sound of fleshing being ripped open fills the air. Tony crumples to his knees with an agonized cry.
Ziva spots the shooter immediately and fires once, twice, three times, and the shooter goes down. Dead.
She is about to rush over to Tony when a man, a different one, steps into view and slams his gun into the back of Tony's head with a sharp crack.
Tony falls forward without a sound.
The man turns to Ziva with a sick, dirty smile on his face, and points his gun at her.
The headache is splitting, and the medicine isn't helping at all.
Her sheets are fisted in his good hand, and he squeezes his eyes shut from the pain of it. The action doesn't ease the pain, and he lets a quiet whimper leave his lips.
A hand is suddenly in his hair, and Tony jumps at the contact, his eyes snapping open. His heart is pounding against his ribs painfully. Oh god, he's going to die.
"Shh. Tony, it is just me," Ziva says through the darkness. His tension immediately delates at the sound of her voice. She sits cross-legged next to him, and Tony wondered how the hell he didn't notice her entering the room. She continues to run a hand through his hair in a casual caress. "I did not mean to startle you, but - I heard you from the living room."
Her voice breaks at the end of her sentence, and Tony squints up to look at her face. It makes his headache worse, but he can't help himself. She sounds so incredibly hurt, and for the life of him, he can't understand why. He wants to know why.
He can see her face more clearly now, and her beautiful face looks incredibly guilty.
And everything finally made sense. Finally.
"Is there anything I can do?" Ziva asks him.
"It's not your fault."
She's taken back by his words. "What?"
"This, Ziva. This isn't your fault. You're blaming yourself. I can tell," Tony explains confidently. "I don't blame you for this. I blame the bastard who hit me. It's not your fault."
Ziva responds by taking his good hand and squeezing it tightly.
And it's ultimately her touch that makes his headache ease.
The man never stood a chance. Gibbs appears out of nowhere a second later, and he slams his gun into the man's back.
The man goes down with a squeak and a sickening thud.
Ziva drops her gun in the same moment and rushes over to the unconscious Tony. She carefully flips him over, and he's covered in blood. It's oozing out of the gunshot wound at his shoulder, and Ziva shrugs off her coat with lightning speed and presses it against him in an attempt to slow down the bleeding. With her free hand, she checks his pulse and glorious relief floods her when she feels a steady beating underneath her fingers.
Her fingertips leave two red spots on the side of his neck.
She can't breathe right, can't utter a single word, and she's about to be sick. She glances up to find Gibbs barking into his cell phone. The normally cool and collected man's face is contorted with rage, and Ziva registers that Gibbs is yelling at the top of his lungs.
Her gaze flips back down to her partner, and she is startled to find his eyes open and blinking at her in confusion.
His mouth forms silent words, and she shakes her head at him desperately. She chokes out through tears that she didn't know were falling, "Don't talk, Tony."
Tony is still blinking up at her, and he coughs hard, "Who are -"
Ziva stares down at him, petrified, when she realizes that his eyes hold no recognition at all. A moment later, his gray eyes close, and she's shouting at him to stay with her.
The sound of sirens are buzzing brutally as it races toward them, but even that is no comparison to the blood rushing in her ears.
"Grab your gear. We have a dead Marine."
The trio jump to their feet. McGee nearly falls out of his seat and scrambles to grab his bag. Tony rises and stretches widely with a yawn. Ziva throws McGee an amused sideways glance but says nothing. Gibbs taps his foot impatiently at them while waiting for the elevator.
The doors slide open, and the three barely slide into it before it tightly closes shut.
Tony laughs heartily, "Talk about a Monday, huh?"
"Hey Ziva," Tony starts as they stroll down the block in front of her apartment. He had insisted to her that his headaches were now nonexistent and that he needed to get out and stretch his legs.
She looks up at him expectantly, and the look on her face makes him smile. As the days passed, Ziva's guilt about what happened disappeared, thanks to his insistence that it didn't matter. With this, she grew more comfortable around him, and Tony liked that.
She replies kindly, "Tony?"
"Did you ever have feelings for me?"
Ziva's gaze travels back to the road, and she doesn't say anything in return.
Tony is afraid that he said the wrong thing, and he stares at her profile, trying to gauge her reaction. Carefully, he continues, "I'm just wondering. I'm sure my fully-competent self already knows the answer."
"He probably does."
She still doesn't look at him, but she answered this time, and Tony takes this as a cue to continue.
"How about now? Any lingering feelings?"
Ziva whips her head to look at him with alarm and something in her eyes, and she holds his gaze for a long moment. Tony thinks he knows what she's feeling, but he could be wrong. Eventually, she turns away and leads them down a different street, a quieter one. Halfway down the road, Ziva takes his hand in hers, and Tony lets her. He likes the feeling of her hand and squeezes it experimentally. Her hand is soft and girly and warm, and she squeezes back.
She doesn't release her hold, and Tony thinks he has his answer.
He gathers her into his arms and onto his lap. She goes willingly, and the emotions that had been bottled up inside her the entire week are threatening to burst. He presses his lips to her temple, and there's so many unspoken things in the action that she has to squeeze her eyes shut to control herself. His lips are next to her ear, and she thinks he's mouthing words. She doesn't know what they are, but she's confident in their meaning, and they sit there for a long time with James Bond still playing in the background.