[SPOILERS FOR 9x01 "THE NATURE OF THE BEAST" IN AUTHOR'S NOTES AND FIC]
Summary: Ziva visits Tony in the hospital, and they have a talk about certain things, including Ziva's promotion.
Disclaimer: If I had Ziva, I could steal NCIS, ninja style. But since I don't have NCIS, I don't have Ziva, and therefore can't ninja-steal NCIS. Ergo, I don't own NCIS. It's very sad.
Spoilers: 9x01 "The Nature of the Beast". References to the Ray and Jeanne arcs; very vague allusions to Under Covers, Agent Afloat, Truth or Consequences, and Dead Air.
Dedication: JANA, THIS IS FOR YOU. And you said you didn't mind if it were a angsty tag so if you don't like it, don't hate me, okay? *Puppydog eyes*
Warnings: This fic is by no mean a Tiva get-together fic, and is rather depressing. Like canon-Ziva, fic-Ziva also draws a comparison between Tony and Ray. Also, it makes sense in my head but I don't know if it'll make sense to anyone else lol.
One last thing before we go on to the fic - the last time we see Tony and Ziva in the same room in the Nature of the Beast, they're being rather antagonistic towards each other. I'm writing based on that, and the assumption that they hadn't spoken to each other for a long period of time before that. So they're rather mad at each other in the beginning of this fic.
Slamming down the remote in a huff, he glares at the uncooperative television. Of course it would choose the time when he has absolutely nothing to do and absolutely no visitors to distract him, to air all the uninteresting programmes.
Screw it. He's outta there.
Swinging one leg over the side of the bed, he looks up and pauses as the slim body of Ziva David emerges in the doorway.
In all of a sudden, his strength leaves him, and he has to press his palms into the mattress to keep himself from simply keeling over like an idiot.
Clearing his throat to cover up his moment of weakness, he pulls his leg back onto the bed and scoots up against the headboard. She comes in, closing the door, and settles into the chair by his side.
He stares at her. She stares at him.
"You have anything to say?" he finally asks, unable to bear the silence. Raises his eyebrows.
For some reason, something that looks like hurt flashes through her eyes. "I have something to give you," she answers quietly before carefully extracting a DVD box from inside her coat. She places it gently on the table. "Doctor says you'll be discharged tomorrow, and…you have a DVD player at home. Enjoy."
Giving him a nod, she stands up and straightens her coat. Turns to leave.
"Ziva," he croaks, suddenly terrified. It feels like an eternity before she turns back and gazes at him blankly with those usually expressive eyes of hers. Those beautifully expressive eyes which he just wishes would have a bit of concern in them again. "Two days in the hospital, that's what you're leaving me with? Five minutes of staring time and a DVD?"
She blinks silently at him for a few more seconds. "Do you want me to get Gibbs?"
"No! I don't want Gibbs, I want you!"
If he hadn't been so focused on her, he would've missed the slight jolt in her figure at his words. As it is, though, he doesn't give a damn for his particular choice of phrasing. He can always blame it on painkillers later. Right now, he just needs her.
"I want you to stay."
She nods slowly. "Okay." She sinks into the chair again, no longer staring at his face; instead, she slips his cold hand into her warm one and stares at his fingers as if she's trying to memorize them.
He squeezes her hand. "Hey." Her eyes meet his, and again he sees pain that she tries to hide. It's enough to make him temporarily forget that he's supposed to be mad at her for not visiting sooner. "What's up with you? I mean I know you're bad at the whole sympathy thing, but you're kinda taking it to a whole new level here."
She laughs shakily at that, and it confuses him because she doesn't look even close to emotional. "How did your mission go?"
"You know I can't discuss that."
"I know." Her eyes dart around the room. "How are you?"
"My shoulder's a bit sore. So's my head." But not as much as my heart. "Other than that I'm fine. Oh, except the TV won't cooperate and give me the programmes I want."
"That's what the DVD is for," she replies with a slight smile, inclining her head at the colourful box lying on his bedside table. She still hasn't removed her hand from his.
"How d'you know the doctor will let me out tomorrow?"
"I asked him."
"Huh. So you'd rather talk to the doctor than to me?"
Her smile fades and she lowers her head. She takes a deep breath. "You did not seem to want to talk to me…for weeks. Months."
"You didn't talk to me either."
"You were on a mission."
"So if I'm on a mission, I'm supposed to talk to you but you don't have to talk to me?"
"No. Conversation is probably a two-way thing."
"Then why are you blaming me?"
"I'm not blaming you." Pause. "I am merely saying that…there is no point for me to talk to you, if you do not want to talk back. Yes?" She shoots him a brief smile.
"Who says I don't want to talk to you?"
"Come on, Tony, we have been through this before. With Jeanne…and I know you were in love then but it is the same. You do not make contact on missions. Just like Ray. And maybe that is an unfair comparison because you have no obligation to contact me but I was worried. I was worr– some nights I even wondered if they would be dredging you out from the Potomac. And if I had called you – if I had texted you, Tony, what could I have said to you? 'I'm glad you're not dead'? Because yes, Tony, I would very much have liked it you had just texted every once in a while to tell me that you were still alive."
He watches her, speechless, as her head bows once again and she sucks in ragged breaths. Her hand is a vice-like grip against his; he's not even sure she notices.
He is silent until she raises her head, calm once more. Her eyes are dry. Her cheeks are flushed. "It does not matter," she tells him resignedly. "Just like it does not matter about Ray, it does not matter about you. I'm glad you are alive. That is the end of the matter."
He swallows the lump in his throat. "You could've asked me if I was alive. I probably would've replied to that."
"Did you reply to McGee's emails?"
He hesitates. "No."
She tilts her head.
"Gibbs knew I was alive."
"I know. And he told us. Otherwise…I might have considered draining the Potomac."
"You could've dropped by my apartment."
"I thought of it." She shrugs, looking even more resigned than before. "And then I remembered Jeanne. You hated all my concern back then, yes? I don't want to be a hindrance to you. You had an important mission, and Gibbs told us you were alive. I trust him; that is enough for me. And you didn't call, so…Tony, that is who we are. When we're apart, we do not talk to each other. That is just who we are."
"I don't want that to be who we are." He needs her to understand that; needs her to understand that he can't ever go back to not speaking with her again.
"I don't either. I thought we could be different but some things, Tony, never change. It doesn't matter. I trust you to have my back; and whenever you need my help, I will be there. We don't have to talk to have each other's backs. I have accepted that." The smile she shoots him looks so much like closure that it scares him. "Okay?"
"No, not okay." He shakes his head vehemently. He doesn't even know why he feels so overwhelmingly frightened. "It shouldn't – I shouldn't – it's not okay!"
"Tony, calm down!"
"You can't keep moving away from me, Ziva!"
The words echo around the room in the resounding silence that follows. Or maybe they're just echoing around in his head because really, he can't tell anymore. He turns his head away, horrified at having said something he isn't supposed to say; and he would've twisted his hand away from hers if she hadn't been holding onto it so tightly. He can feel her eyes on him.
"What does that mean?' she asks, sounding as if she doesn't really know if she wants to hear the answer. In a sudden movement, she pulls her hand from his.
All he feels now is empty.
"Nothing," he answers in a monotone, "I mean nothing."
She continues to stare at him. He continues to avoid her gaze.
"Tony, I'm not moving away from you." He almost laughs at the irony of her words when he feels her hand find its way to his again.
"I didn't mean it literally."
"How did you mean it?"
"Just…y'know. Promotions and whatever. Yeah."
"Yeah. Special Agent Ziva David." He finally turns back and gives her a weak smile, and the look she gives him tells that his eyes aren't quite as dry as he'd thought. "Congratulations. Really."
She frowns, perturbed. "You think I am moving away from you…because my probationary period is over?"
"Well, y'know, we're equals now. Like you said. That means they can give you missions or whatever. Send you away, transfer you to another team, promote you to another country. I suppose at some point you'll want to move in with C-I-Ray so you'll ask for a transfer to the Miami office – do they even have an office in Miami? I should know. I should check. Maybe they have bette-"
"You're all grown up now. Not my Probette anymore. Nope. You don't need someone to go down to Israel and kick your father's ass if he hurt you. Not that you ever needed me to do that but well, I was prepared. Just in case. Well. Now you got your C-I-Ray and your flashy new credentials. You can do your own butt-kicking. I mean you've always done your own butt-kicking and you've even had to protect my ass a couple of times but-"
"I'm not going anywhere."
He snorts with disbelief. "Trust me; you'll want to, David. Talented woman like you, you'll-"
"Will you listen?" She presses down hard on his hand, and the pain is enough to make him properly shut up. She sighs. "Look. Tony, I cannot promise to be here forever. But, I have just been accepted into your team. I know it has been six years and you are all my family but…I was Mossad for many out of those years, and for the rest I was a probationary agent whose status was…uncertain. Now I am finally an NCIS agent. I am Special Agent Ziva David. I am part of a team of special agents that comprise of you, Gibbs, and McGee. And I am so proud of that. Why would I leave the one good thing I have?"
"Because…" He blinks back his tears. "I mean I don't know. What if Ray asks you to move to Miami? I mean you could've gone as a probie but it's different. It's just different. I don't know why."
"Tony…" She tightens her grip, willing him to look at her. "We have always been partners. Yes? Before Ray, before I became an agent. We survived bombs and torture and undercover work together. These experiences…count for something, to me. They mean that I will never 'move away' from you, no matter how far I go physically. Perhaps we're not the type to pick up the phone and call each other, just because. But if you need my help, I will be there. If you need my advice, I will be there. And if you need my comfort, I will be there too."
"Ziva. I – I can't make do with calling you just when I need someone to save my ass. I have Gibbs for that. But I…need to talk to you. Sometimes."
She studies him solemnly for a while. "Then perhaps we could make an effort at communication. Some phone calls, every once in a while."
"Yes. And the occasional text or email."
"I could use those."
"I could use them too."
He nods and licks his dry lips. And he finds that he breathes easier now, because maybe he doesn't get to keep her forever, but at least he won't lose her forever. "Okay. And Zi…just so you know…I am proud of you. I know I rag on you a lot but…yeah. That badge looks good on you."
A smile starts to form on her face; the radiant kind that he hasn't seen since the day her probation officially ended. And oh god, he hadn't realized that he's missed that smile so much.
He offers her a small quirk of the lips in return, and then slides down a bit to rest his head on the pillow. "Can you stay a while?"
She looks quietly at him before reaching over and stroking the top of his head once with her free hand. "Okay."
He picks up the remote. "Boring TV?"