A/N: Yeah, so I could probably list about 50 reasons about why I haven't updated in a while but they'd all sound like excuses so I'm just going to stop talking…
The next morning, Tony made sure to wake up at a time late enough that he and Gibbs didn't have time for a 'talk', but early enough that they could make it to work in time. He was pretty proud of himself for that part.
The next few days were fairly boring for Tony. He was on temporary desk-duty so when they received a new case, he was stuck handling the tedious paperwork and research parts of the investigation. He received a few odd glances and looks from Ziva and McGee and felt a little bad for not talking to them yet, but Tony was also glad they weren't really pushing him.
By the time they finished their latest case, it was late Friday night and everyone was quietly finishing their reports in the bullpen. They all seemed to finish at about the same time, and after doing so, Ziva made her way over to Tony's desk.
She turned herself to fully face the Senior Field Agent, her dark brown ponytail whipping around to follow the rest of her.
"Tony, I was wondering if you would like to go out for drinks tonight. Things have been," she paused almost imperceptibly before continuing, "stressful lately, and I believe we deserve a chance to unwind a bit, yes?"
The former cop and current federal agent side of Tony could tell she wanted to question him about recent events, but the friend side of him was willing to refrain from voicing his theory and agree to a night out.
"Sounds great, just tell me where and when." To further express his approval of the idea, he added the widest grin he could muster.
Ziva went on to describe the bar she wanted to go to and told him to be there by ten. The former Mossad agent left the bullpen looking more upbeat than she had looked in days. McGee, however, looked a little disappointed at not being invited but Tony knew he would talk with McGee soon.
At nine-thirty, Tony was sitting in his car outside the aforementioned bar; waiting for Ziva to arrive. If he were being completely honest with himself, he was starting to feel a little nervous. He didn't want a coworker, his partner – no, his friend to think worse of him, or, even worse, to pity him. In Tony's opinion, there was nothing worse than being pitied.
When Ziva's car pulled up to the bar parking lot, Tony felt a brief burst of anxiety course through him. He hurriedly shoved his apprehension down, reassuring himself as much as he could.
It's just Ziva.
It's just Ziva, the former Mossad agent who can kill you with a paperclip 18 different ways.
It's just Ziva, your friend and partner – well not like that, though…
"Ah!" Tony let out a brief shout of surprise, when he was jerked from his thoughts by a loud knock on his car window.
Ziva stood outside, coat wrapped tightly around her thin frame as she tried to fend off the harsh winter Washington was facing.
"Are you coming in, or are you just going to sit in your car all night?" Ziva sniped when he made no move to exit his heated vehicle.
Sighing, Tony resigned himself to a night answering the many questions of his curious friend.
Getting out of his car, Tony let Ziva guide him into the crowded bar. She navigated through the "tactless red-throats" and some innocuous patrons to a quiet booth on the left side of the bar. Both were silent for a minute as they surreptitiously surveyed the premises for threats and possible exits.
Both satisfied with their findings they turned back to face each other. The two looked at each other for a few seconds before they both spoke at once.
They shared a small smile before Ziva began again. "Tony, as you know, McGee and I have been concerned about you. You obviously flashed back to something during the incident with Hyland, and you have been acting more than a little strangely lately. I don't mean to pry if it is personal, but as your partner and as your friend I would like to at least know that you areokay."
The sincerity in her eyes caught Tony by surprise. Before he could stop it, he felt a genuine smile grace his features as he replied, "Sounds like you care."
Ziva blushed slightly, obviously a little flustered at his statement and the truth of it. She further surprised him with her response. "Yes, I do care. Over the years, you have become closer to me than I have ever allowed someone to be before. You have helped me through many things, which is why I would like to return the favor. It is obvious you are struggling with something and I would like to assist you however I can."
"Wow…we really have evolved since we first met haven't we?"
He briefly flashed back to the first day they met.
Tony looked back at the Mossad officer.
"Gibbs'll be back in an hour. You sure I can't help you?"
Ziva laughed. "I don't think so."
Tony stared at her as she unwaveringly stared back. "We got off to a bad start. I'm Special Agent Tony DiNozzo. I wasn't playing charades, I was…remembering my partner."
She frowned. "Naked?"
"No," a beat, "Yes. I-I was just…look I'm not the only man who does it."
"Well, I guess, I should probably tell you." Tony breathed deeply, preparing himself for the conversation beginning. "You know how my family is very wealthy; well, that doesn't mean that my childhood was a walk in the park."
"You never got to go to parks?" Ziva interrupted, confused.
"It's an…never mind, just my childhood wasn't easy. It sucked, really. My mother died when I was eight, and my father…barely acknowledged me and when he did…he…"
Tony stopped, taking a deep, calming breath. He could feel his friend's worried stare boring into him, but willed himself on. He had to tell her. She deserved to know. "would hit me. A lot." Tony coughed to clear his throat. "I never really dealt with it, or thought about it much, but recent events have reminded me of it. I just thought you should know…"
He mentally braced himself for her response, when they were interrupted by a waitress.
"Sorry to make you wait, as you can see it's a busy night. Anyway, can I get you two anything?"
The two placed their orders and waited for the waitress to bring them their drinks before resuming their conversation.
"I am…sorry, Tony. I had no idea. If I had, I would not have mentioned your childhood at all – and I'm sure McGee would feel the same way."
"I know you wouldn't have and it's fine. I just didn't want you to be confused or worried anymore. You don't have to do anything about it or anything."
"I will help you as best I can, and thank you for telling me. I know it took a great deal of courage on your part, and I am grateful for the trust you have in me."
Tony exhaled loudly. "Now that that's over, why don't we play a little game to lighten the mood. Have you ever played: Never Have I Ever?"
Ziva shook her head, and intently listened to Tony as he explained the simple rules, neither caring about the slight absurdity of two federal agents playing Never Have I Ever.
"Okay," Tony began, "here are the rules. The two of us take turns saying something that we have never done and if the other has done it, they have to drink. You got it?"
The assassin smiled.
The two played Never Have I Ever for about two hours, before they were both a little drunk, and the bar was nearing last call. They stumbled out of the bar, and after a few minutes, Tony was able to hail a cab for Ziva. He opened the door for her, and told the driver her address and as he was helping Ziva in, she stopped him.
She placed a light kiss on his cheek, smiled, and then entered the cab and drove off. Tony was smiling as he pulled his cell phone out of his coat so he could call Gibbs. He knew the older man was probably worried so he simultaneously reined in another cab and explained the night's events to the former marine.
After being told he was staying the night at Gibbs' house again, he told the cab driver his boss'address and let himself relax into his seat, content with how things went that night.
A/N: Le gasp, a chapter! Yeah, it's been a while since I updated and I'm sorry for that and I hope I didn't lose any of your interests.
Also, that flashback to when they first met is legit it's in the first episode of season 3 if anyone's curious.