Chapter 9, Unhappy
"I'm not as blind as you may think
And I'm tired of all that is
And I know that this time it's not all in my head
You look a little unhappy, 'bout the way the world is turning
Is there anything I can do?"
"Oh Tony, thanks so much for coming home with my little guy. Though he's not so little anymore, when he gets dragged home by his best friend because he's too drunk to walk by himself ... And not for the first time, either. I need to have a serious talk with him."
Well, Tony Doug's mother meant well, but he also knew it would take so much more than a good talking to get Doug to stop getting drunk every Friday night. Tony was kind of disappointed over his friend when he didn't have half a goal for the future; but what could Tony do about it? "Heh, it's cool Mrs. Parsons. See ya'."
Tony walked out from Doug's foul-smelling room, and through the front door which he had closed so many times in the past. The house that he walked out of had been his second home during the long nights Gibbs had worked overtime when they were ten.
Outside it was relatively light to be almost 2 a.m. Tony couldn't quite understand how he could have spent so many hours at that party; talk about wasted time. Of course it had taken its sweet time get Doug home from the beach (with him bragging about all those video games his brother had finished for him, about kissing Ziva –what? – and about eating five bags of Doritos in one sitting), but anyway.
He took out his cell phone to check the correct time, 1:31. When he saw the white numbers on the black background which was his screensaver, he could only think of one thing - it's not too late that he couldn't visit her, but it was still late enough to cover it with "a choice taken too late night."
The only bad thing was that Jenny's apartment was on the other side of town. And he wasn't awake enough to drag himself all the way over there. He'd probably collapse after ten minutes. No. No. He had to see her; he couldn't possibly give up without a fight. It's not that far really, if he takes a bus. Or two. Or maybe if he calls Gibbs, because he wouldn't find any buses. Yeah, that seems like a good idea.
He pressed a couple of numbers of his cellphone and soon the dial tone sounded, and Gibbs' voice answers with a stern mention of his last name.
"Hey Gibbs, are you still at work?"
"Coffee break. Why?"
"Could you pick me up at Doug's?"
"I'll be there in five."
One good thing about Gibbs was that he never asked Tony where he was or what he had done all night anymore; he trusted Tony enough to believe that the boy didn't get himself knee-deep in trouble… anymore. Because he couldn't deny how wild he'd been just last year, before both Gibbs and Jenny had sat down with him and had one of those talks that Doug needed. But Tony had always had his head in the right place, so he listened to their serious words. It had lasted a long while, but eventually he became better at keeping himself from drinking so much. And since he realized he wanted to become an agent like Gibbs, he hardly drank at all.
Thought it did sometimes happen that he, Doug, Marcus and Johnny consumed one too many beers while playing Need for Speed: Undercover and Assassin on Doug's brothers' Playstation 3. Usually after such an incident, the four buddies would sleep off their intoxication on the couch and bed in Doug's room, and sometimes even the floor in the hallway of the Parsons' upper floor – Tony always waking up to a shirt covered in ill-colored drool and a pressing need to pee. After that they would all shovel down Doug's trusty hangover cure - Froot Loops soaking in Mountain Dew and a little cough syrup.
After they had all taken turns in hurling, they would feel fine and leave, or repeat.
Tony had to smile a little at the memory of the nights he'd spent with his best buds pouring the beers down their throats like they were drinking water in the desert, and laughing unnecessarily loudly about everything. Even though the morning after is always bad, the nights were always worth it. Though it had been a while since they did it last.
Another good thing with Gibbs was that he never lied about the time he'd arrive; almost exactly ten minutes had passed when his cars' passenger door stopped right in front of Tony and he slipped onto the cool leather seats.
Gibbs got up to an unbelievably high speed before Tony even closed the car door. "Jesus, Gibbs!"
"I've got work."
"Well, you didn't have to come and get me, y'know. I could've walked." But he didn't get a reply from the older man. Tony couldn't help to wonder about what case they were working on that was so important. Or seemed important. Gibbs rarely got this unsettled. "What're you working on?"
"Can't tell ya'."
"Why? Is there a new serial killer or something?"
"Yeah, and the media was able to keep their hands of it."
Tony rolled his eyes, feeling tired of Gibbs being like this whenever a bigger case was under investigation. So instead of pressing the older man for information, Tony just tried to nonchalantly say, "Well, can you drop me off at Jenny's?"
Gibbs actually turned his head at this. It might not have been one of the things he'd expected to hear from his foster boy when the clock ticked closer and closer to two a.m. He raised his eyebrow higher than humanly possible before he asked, "Why? Take a look at the time and get back to me." His eyes were back on the road and his voice was colder than ice.
"I know very well what the time it is, Gibbs, thank you very much. And turn left there, it's shorter."
"You didn't answer me on why you're going there."
"But I don't know!"
"Haven't I told you a thousand times that you better treat Ziva better than you usually treat girls. She can kill you before you reply with a blink. Don't question it and don't take risks. You could lose your life."
"Oh, Gibbs, c'mon. She's not that bad. I've hugged her lots of times and I'm still alive. She's not immune to human touch-"
"That's not what I said. I told you not to treat her badly if you wanna keep your fingers."
Tony rolled his eyes. "If I lose 'em, I'll buy you a coke."
Gibbs had to let out a snort. "I'm lookin' forward to it."
He stopped in front of Jenny and Ziva's apartment building, and looked over at Tony. "Just don't do anything you'll regret."
Tony stood in front of the entrance for quite a long while after Gibbs had speeded away (if it had been a cartoon, a big cloud of dust would've been created behind the car). But Tony couldn't go inside quite yet, because he was unsure of himself - something he was so rarely that he knew this was serious. Was this a good choice? Would he – like Gibbs had indicated – regret it?
Of course, in his eyes, nothing could be bad or wrong as long as Ziva was involved. And he liked her so much that he couldn't deny it anymore, not even in the privacy of his own head. And he hoped beyond anything in the known world, that maybe, maybe she felt the same.
He reached out his hand towards the door and was just about to pull it to him, but it didn't move an inch closer. He pulled harder - again and again. "Oh damn it." Of course it's locked, it's way past ten p.m. He was going to have to get buzzed in. And for that to happen he had to call the apartment.
So, Tony weighed the pros and cons of the situation, but really he only could come up with cons. Like, what if she was asleep? Or what if she really didn't want to see him?
Or even worse, what if she wasn't even home?
He suddenly felt a very pressing need to press the button connected to Jenny's apartment five times really fast, to prove himself wrong on the last unanswered question. So he did. Then he repeated until Ziva's annoyed and slightly sleepy voice answered, "Yes I am here, okay? Who is it?"
He felt a tidal wave of relief and satisfaction (and a little fear) coming over him as he pressed the button again to reply, "Oh, sorry Zi, did I wake you?" He let go of the button.
"Tony? What are you doing here?"
Press. "I don't know. Can I come up?" Let go. He got kind of nervous when she didn't answer instantly, or even when a few minutes had passed, and he started to sway a little from side to side in impatience.
But then a long, loud buzz and the door unlocking brought a smile to his face and he quickly pulled the door open and went inside.
When he arrived at the fifth floor, Ziva was already standing in the doorway, wearing orange sweatpants and a t-shirt that said something in Arabic, with her hair in a knot on the top of her head. She had obviously changed all her clothes and removed her makeup after she came home. She looked casual, but Tony thought she was still so perfect. She wasn't smiling, but Tony didn't think she looked angry about him coming there. When he reached her she spoke in her most sarcastic voice she could muster,
"Did you forget the way home?"
"If only. This is strictly a decision I'm still kind of unsure of." He smiled.
"Well come in then." She swung the door wide open, silently inviting him inside. Then she turned around and walked into the apartment, and asked him to lock the door.
Tony suddenly felt very confident, and followed her into the cool, Air Conditioned apartment. Which happened to be very clean. He dragged the door shut behind him, pulled down the handle to check that it was locked and then he proceeded into the kitchen where she was.
She stood at the counted, but she didn't do anything. He wondered what she was thinking about, and what could make her stunned like that. "Hey, Zee-Vah."
But she was just as attentive as before, looked up at him and said "Yes, Anthony."
"Are you angry about me being here? I mean, I can leave." Well, he could. That didn't mean he wanted to. Or that he felt that he should.
"No, no I am not angry. Somewhat surprised, yes. Do you have a specific reason for coming here so late? Or should I say early?"
"Actually no. I just wanted to see you."
She was clearly confused by this. If the sentence wouldn't have been as simple as it had been, he would have wondered if her foreign brain didn't get some of the words he's spoken, or if she was wondering over a way of speech. Her eyebrows were brought closer together, and her hands had to busy themselves with something; they pulled the string in her sweatpants. She wasn't looking at him as much as she was looking at the air right beside his right eye, and Tony felt like maybe he had made her speechless.
He just hoped she wouldn't stop speaking for the coming three months.
"So what were you doing before I came over?" He tried to ask her something casual, to make her more comfortable with the situation.
She had recovered, and replied with a flick with her chin towards the television, where something was on mute, but Tony couldn't see what. "I was watching TV."
"Oh, TV! You know how I like the flickering box. What were you watching?" He had turned around to see if he recognized what was happening on the screen, but he wasn't sure what he was watching.
"Something on NBC, I do not know what it is about since I have only seen a few minutes, but it seems like a very nice show." She looked at the floor.
"Ah, cool." Tony turned around and looked at her again. He was at loss for words to say to her, and he wondered if he should just confess the feelings he had about her right away, and spare them both some time. But he didn't feel confident enough about that yet; but he did ask, "So, did you like the party?"
He felt that the answer was kind of mocking to him, in a way. Apparently she had kissed his best friend and she couldn't even tell him. But then again, Tony was probably overreacting – but he wouldn't know that ye. "Did something nice happen after we parted ways?"
"Not particularly, I left quite early actually. Why, did something happen to you?"
It was quiet again. The kind of awkward quiet that never had occurred between them before. She was drawing circles in the breadcrumbs on the breakfast bar that was in the middle of the kitchen when he couldn't handle it anymore.
"I know you kissed Doug!"
She was surprised, but she didn't back away or deny it. "Well, yes. But what does it matter to you?"
Tony's eyes opened wide, and he stared at her in a state of excessive anger "Well, he just happens to be my best friend, that's what! And why would you kiss him, he's a douche!"
"I thought you just said you were best friends, why would you call him that?"
Tony felt some kind of anger building up inside him.
"Well it's the truth! Why did you do it?"
"I do not know, it was in the … what do you say… warmth of the while?"
"Heat of the MOMENT, Ziva!"
So, Tony knew very well that the whole thing probably had happened in the heat of the moment because Doug had been drunk and she had been surprised by Tony having a girlfriend, and she most likely hadn't done it to hurt him or his feelings - but Tony couldn't look at it objectively at the time being.
"And also Ziva, I don't like you walkin' around kissing all of my friends the second I leave you alone for a moment, it's insulting to me and frankly, you're just embarrassing yourself! And why didn't you come and tell me you were leaving the party? That was a real bitch-move from your side, and not cool at all. Also-"
Ziva got kind of insulted right about then, "TONY! Why are you so angry about this?! I am sorry I did not tell you goodbye before I walked home, but I was a tired and did not feel like spending time there, and I saw you walk away with Jeanne, so I thought you would not notice, or get this upset!", She felt all her feelings of Tony and Jeanne and everything just touching the surface of her speech. She knew she could blurt all of it out to him and confess everything, but she knew she wasn't ready or that. And she also knew that he wouldn't be.
She decided she wouldn't.
But then he yelled pretty loudly,
"Oh, don't FLATTER yourself! I'm NOT upset about you LEAVING, I just had to know where you were because, oh, that's right, GIBBS PAYS ME TO LOOK AFTER YOU! HE and Jenny BOTH asked me to BABY-SIT you when you came here! So I don't care whether you LEAVE OR NOT, but I gotta know or I WON'T GET PAID."
The quiet was so unbearable when he stopped yelling. The truth was out there now. Naked, raw, unwelcome.
Tony felt like crying when Ziva looked him deep in the eye, with her own filling up with tears and said,
The Next Chapter - will involve another horrific truth.