Hey guys it's Decode. I've been hybernating for a while, I know. The plot bunnies were too obviously. Oh okay, I'll be serious dammit!

This entire story reflects my own thinking about my father. It's personal, I won't lie. I hope you enjoy it.

Ziva David walked in late, very late. But not in the morning when she was expected to be on time for work at the headquarters. It was three in the morning. She was expected to be asleep. Funny how sometimes you just didn't meet people's expectations, she mused. As she stepped out of the elevator and into the one place she truly felt safe, surrounded by atrocious orange walls, the ex-mossad officer was more than a little surprised to notice a dim light illuminating a cubicle in the corner.

She stood motionless, hesitant to do anything. Debating whether or not to proceed or turn straight back home that very second, Ziva held her breath as if exhaling would alert the other to her prescence if she wasn't already discovered.

She wondered why her collegue was here at such an ungodly hour, but then, she supposed he was here for the very same solace she felt she would find here today. Tonight, really. He was there for the same reason, the slightly disgruntled agent figured. It was actually pretty obvious. Ziva almost quirked a small smile, she didn't feel quite so pathetic anymore. She gathered her bearings and finally decided to let out a tiny breath before walking forward.

So as not to startle the man with his head currently resting on the palm of his hand contemplatively, Ziva whispered, "Happy Father's Day."

Her tone was little more than sour and she knew it. She turned and approached her work area, situating herself in the comfortable leather chair at her desk and pulling it forward. She studied her partner, glad to have something besides her previous thoughts fluttering around inside her head and overwhelmed that they both felt so alone as to end up arriving at the same destination tonight. Tony didn't acknowledge her presence, but Ziva hadn't expected him to.

He was lost in thought and watching him think calmed her down. He stared off blankly, as if looking, searching for something that was inexplicably absent. Something he'd been waiting for. He looked pained, like it was out of reach no matter how hard he tried. Knowing how he felt, it wasn't difficult to determine where his state of mind.

" What should a father be expected to act like do you think?"

The question popped out of her mouth without warning, leaving Ziva confused and slightly annoyed that she couldn't control her own impulses better. Tony blinked and lifted his chin off of his hand. He looked just as surprised as she imagined herself looking before a different expression dominated his features. One she couldn't read. His penetrating gaze slid to meet hers and he remained silent. She bit her lip. She shouldn't have asked…She shouldn't have asked.

This was painful for him. He would think she was-

"A father should be the one person you want to be your role model. I expect, that they'd love you no matter what. They'd care about you, show concern, not be afraid to cry for your sake and give up anything to be by your side when you're in need. Accept you for who you are. You are the most important thing on earth to him."

Another silence, but Ziva could sense he wasn't finished yet so she kept her mouth closed. "At least, that's what I always wished for when I was alone in my room hoping…What about you?" He finished, cutting off the previous thought.

Ziva wished he hadn't. Tony was very rarely open with people. The other man often hid behind so many brick walls it was impossible to penetrate his defenses the way he himself seemed to find so easy to do.

Ziva analyzed him critically, eyes narrowed. He simply placed his chin back in his hand and looked back at her almost…forlornly. He was still wishing, she realized. "I think fathers are expected to give their children something, no?"

Tony's eyebrows came together in curiosity and he asked softly. "Like, an inheritance? A dowry?"

If they had been speaking during work hours and the man had said that she would have poked fun at him for using such a 'complicated' word as 'dowry', but this wasn't work hours. They were alone and they were both feeling the same pain. She closed her eyes and shook her head slowly before gazing at the man a desk across from her. She hadn't bothered turning on the light and now she was glad she hadn't because then her partner might have been able to see her eyes and how wet they were.

She refused to allow the tears to fall.

"Something significant for them to always hold onto. When they are an inch away from a dangerous situation or moments away from death or just making an important life choice. To be able to consult or reference something their father once taught them…They're supposed to care." The bitterness left her voice in a rush and she couldn't stop them like she could the tears. Her lower lip trembled. He wanted nothing to do with her and she was aware of that. She'd accepted it! ...So why was it so difficult?

Tony nodded, seeming not to notice her distress, but Ziva knew he saw it. Tony DiNozzo saw everything. He just chose to keep it discreet, but he always saw those things. It was strange for the young man to miss anything and he was often underestimated for his goofy attitude, but that was only a front. A nearly indestructible one, but a front nonetheless. He was a joker, it was expected of him.

Her voice betrayed her again as she croaked, "He has never given me anything."

Tony suddenly spoke up so quickly that Ziva started, head shooting up in surprise.

"Yes he has."

The lack of noise was almost deafening in the space around them. Ziva simply continued to stare, hoping, praying he could say something, anything to prove her wrong. She'd walked in convinced that she didn't need her father. That he wasn't worth the pain, but now she just wished he would change for her, just for her. All over again. It was heartwrenching. How could a man who had never given a damn, never cared about her, thousands ofmiles away cause her so much hurt? It was weak.

Instead of elaborating on those words, Tony said, "My father lied and cheated. Therefore, I choose to be honest and trustworthy. My father was always strict and direct so I'm loose. He lived by being ruthless so I resolved to be compassionate. Lots of anger in him…Sometimes I have to force myself to smile. He says things with little or no regard for the other person's feelings, I on the other hand have made sure I didn't take after him on that note. He has had so many failed relationships it's sickening and he's ruined each and every woman he's ever been with- including my mother."

Here he looked down at the blank sheet of paper on his desk and didn't look back up.

"To break the cycle I've avoided becoming too emotionally attached to women in general. I'm too afraid…I'll hurt them like my father. I failed with Jeanne and it won't happen again. He ruins good people, so I save them. He taught me how not to live and I suppose that's just as important."

He directed his gaze at the broken skylight before returning his eyes to Ziva's. She could see that they were just as anguished as they were unexpectedly happy.

Ziva's shock was intense. She couldn't move. The revelation was upsetting it hurt, but so free. It was almost painful.

Tony stood and pulled on his jacket. He didn't make eye contact as he made his way to the elevator, but he tossed a soft, "Happy Father's Day, Zi-vah." Over his shoulder as he walked by. As the elevator doors closed with an ominous 'ding' permeating the silence she understood. Now she understood. Sometimes people didn't amount to your expectations she though as she gazed across the room at the empty space where her partner had been.

Sometimes they surpassed them….And sometimes they fall short.