A/N Just a note on the last chapter, I imagined Tim's conscience to be Abby's voice, hence the "Timmy." That may not have come across as clearly as I thought. Anyway here comes the TIVA, and of course our favorite geek.

Ultimate Pain Relief

Gibbs and Tony returned with a suspect who, based on the dampness of his trousers, would not be difficult to break. Gibbs roughly guided the guy down to interrogation while Tony made a beeline for his desk drawer. Advil. Both of his teammates nodded to no one in particular. He turned and exited the bullpen without even a glance. Tim didn't have to look up to know that a chair would squeak, and he would feel the slight shift in the bullpen while Ziva eased her way stealthily to follow.

Tony was at the sink, rinsing his face, obviously fighting the relentless pain. Her hand reached for his back and as it stilled at its destination, he stiffened. He knew that she should not be touching him. It may not mean anything to Ziva, but to him it was intimate and he would never indulge in even innocent flirtations with a married, or soon to be married woman. But this was Ziva, and what if this was the last time she could casually flirt? What if when he moved, her hand retracted and the moment was gone forever? He was torn between savoring the moment and being the gentleman he knew he needed to be. He cursed his manners, straightened his back, and used the excuse of grabbing a paper towel to step away from her. His look was indecipherable. She knew the hardness was forced, but the torment was real. He tried valiantly to morph that fleeting expression into one of friendly support but the distance he moved away from her spoke volumes.

"How bad is it?" She broke the silence as she reached to touch his temple to indicate the headache but he flinched. They both froze. Her hand lingered inches from his face and they shared a stunned expression at his involuntary slight.

Finally her hand dropped and he turned towards the mirror, hands on the counter, head hanging low. He could not look at her while he searched for the words, "Ziva, I can't . . . I don't have that right. . . . It would not be right." Her chest constricted as the seconds expanded.

"Tony, I . . ." She didn't know where to start. Never had she felt this much for anyone at any moment in her life. His rejection stemmed from a misunderstanding, but she could not shake the feeling that if she could never again touch Tony, her despair would exceed the distress she saw welling up within him.

He took a moment to check himself. Straightening to his full height he tried nobly to look not miserable, which was the closest to happy for her that he could muster and said with a somewhat rehearsed air, "Ray is a lucky guy. He'll never deserve you, you know." And there was a smile, a sad one, but a smile nonetheless.

He started to worry when he noticed that the slight alteration in her breathing had not resolved, but her expression was unreadable and he knew that her being physically okay was somehow not the point. "No . . . Tony, I . . ." He folded his arms in an attempt to curb his chivalrous need to comfort her. "Ray is . . . that is, I broke things off, Tony. It was not right for either of us. I dragged it out, wanting it to work, but last night . . ." and with this Tony tentatively reached for her arm as if his permission to do so may yet be revoked. She looked up at him and her breathing eased. "I just knew I had to let him, or more accurately the idea of him, go."

He released a breath and stepped closer to her. He knew they were both emotionally exposed even thought they had not voiced anything beyond the fact that Ziva was no longer committed to Ray. They were both such train wrecks when it came to relationships and jumping into something in the men's room, while oddly fitting, seemed like a bad beginning so Tony limited himself to inching over to her and placing both his hands on her shoulders, caressing them with his thumbs to satisfy himself that her breathing, while still occasionally hitched, had improved. While their eyes were continuing the conversation, she gradually raised a tentative hand to his temple and ever so gently massaged his hair. He tilted his head into her fluidly agile fingers and sighed as he finally experienced ultimate pain relief. The culmination of all the years leading up to this moment, the flirting, the sorrow, the loss, the distractions in their way, prompted him to resolve not to let another chance slip away. He enveloped her in his arms and tenderly kissed the top of her head.

Suddenly the door flew open, but in their momentary bliss all they heard was a retreating mutter that sounded strangely like, " Oh, Baby Bunnies!"

El Fin

Thanks for reading and reviewing. You guys made my week! Now I need to get back to real life duties, which have taken a back seat while I jumped on Timmy's train of thought. Here's hoping one of these Tuesdays Ziva will regain some self-respect.

If you enjoy witty character humor, check out "Ten Nonlinear Moves" by Sequitur. It's the only fic that I've gone back and reread many times when I needed a good laugh. It's brilliant. I don't know the author personally, just feel that good quality work is worth promoting.