It was quiet in the bullpen. They had been doing paperwork all afternoon. The only sound was the clack, clack, clack of McGee's fast typing. He had his headphones on, blocking all else out. Tony's rather loud hunt and peck typing across the way had given over to silent contemplation of a few folded pieces of paper. Ziva had also given up on completing her paperwork—they'd been at it far too long and her concentration had evaporated—and was now watching her partner as his brow furrowed. Whatever he was reading had him deep in thought.
Quietly, she crept around his desk to stand behind him. It was really amusing that after six years she could still sneak up on him this way. He would claim he knew she was there, but no, he didn't. Over his shoulder, she read: #15- Create DiNozzo coat of arms. He was reviewing his bucket list. Again. But this was the second page, the one she had not gotten her hands on fresh from the printer.
She was actually curious what the rest of the list held. The first page had been an interesting mix of ridiculous and serious. She could not help but snort with laughter as she read the next one: #16- Ride a Ferris wheel naked. It was crossed out. "You have ridden a ferris wheel naked?" she asked through her laughter.
Tony hastily flipped the list over and spun to face her. Curious. Very curious. "How long have you been standing there?" he demanded.
Ziva shrugged. "Not long."
He eyed her warily. There was definitely something on that page that he did not wish for her to see. She smiled sweetly back at his frown, before reaching out to grab the paper. But Tony was fast, clasping his hand down on top of hers, pressing it to the top of the desk with the crinkled white document trapped beneath.
"You had a question?" he asked, continuing to hold her hand captive.
She could have easily broken free, even inflicted some pain, but she chose to play along. She sat on the edge of his desk, hand still caught in his. "There was an item on the list."
"There are 26 items on the list," he smirked.
"True," she conceded, "But I have only read up to number 16."
"And it's going to stay that way."
"You are keen to keep that secret," she shook her head with a smile
"Which one were you curious about?" he diverted.
"The one you crossed out."
A grinned erupted on his face. "The ferris wheel! I realized that I'd already done it—though it's definitely bucket list worthy."
"You have ridden a ferris wheel naked?" she asked, eyebrow quirked up. Truthfully, it did not surprise her all that much, based on what she knew of his college fraternity days. Her brain, though, was rapidly forming a very interesting mental image.
"In college," he told her. Of course.
"And how did this happen? I assume a lot of alcohol was involved."
"Oh yeah," he laughed, sitting back in his chair and gesturing broadly with both hands. "Picture this. There are 30 of us down in Panama Beach on spring break. And down the beach, there's this carnival. Now, we'd been drinking all day." His eyes were bright with the memory, grin huge.
"I'm sure," Ziva smirked, slipping the folded piece of paper into the back pocket of her jeans when he continued to tell his story.
"And one of my frat brothers goes, iFirst person who'll whip it out on the ferris wheel, I'll buy drinks for for the rest of the day./i"
"Whip it out?" That was a colorful phrase.
He rolled his eyes in amusement. "What do you think it means?"
"Oh, I understand what it means. It is still an amusing expression. So you volunteered?"
"Right away," Tony nodded. "It was only like 5, so that was a whole night of free booze. I got on the ferris wheel, rode it to the top, stripped—"
"So you were only fully naked briefly on the top? That hardly—"
"Let me finish," he smirked. "The bet was for one full rotation. So I'm buck-naked on the top of the ferris wheel, and I've got to ride the thing down, past the attendant, and back to the top before I can get dressed again."
"It was kind of awesome."
She laughed at his enthusiasm. "I am surprised that you only accomplished one thing you deem bucket list worthy in college, with all the craziness you talk about."
"Yeah, well," he shrugged. "A lot of that all doesn't seem important anymore."
That was surprisingly introspective. McGee's voice broke him out of his thoughts. "Tony, do you have the evidence report for the Copperman case?"
Tony blinked, searching for the folder in question. Ziva retreated to her own desk, pulling her prize out of her pocket as Tony conferred with McGee across the way. She unfolded the paper and read:
#17- Get and pass on Gibbs recipe for steak. She had never eaten steak at Gibbs' house. It struck her as something he was probably good at cooking.
#18- Visit Bogie's grave. Very fitting for such a movie aficionado.
#19- Discuss Paris. She had not seen that coming. She knew he had always wanted to talk about it, and he knew she didn't. But this was important enough to be on his bucket list? Maybe it was time to reconsider her declaration against having that conversation…but she still was not quite ready. Picking up a pen from her desk, she wrote 'Not yet' beside the entry on the list.
The next three were fitting for Tony, and a bit silly, but the one after that got her attention again: #24-Let friends get closer. Another serious one. She had long been able to see through Tony's bravado. He knew it, and usually let her in. But it was still hesitantly.
#25- Try space tourism. Ziva snorted a laugh.
#26- Tell her. Huh. She sure hadn't been expecting that either. Tell her. There was little doubt in her mind that she was the 'her' in question. Tell her. What did he want to tell her? She had a pretty good idea, but these were things they never talked about. It was another talk she was not quite ready for. Probably it would be a good idea to deal with the Ray situation first. Her pen hovered over the sheet of paper. She had been about to add a note similar to what she'd written beside number 19, but she hesitated.
Her eyes flicked up and locked on his. He was watching her closely, no doubt having discovered the list missing from his desk. She pulled the pen back, without writing anything. She couldn't fear this conversation forever. It might be just the thing she needed to finally get rid of the increasingly frustrating tie to Ray.
She was not sure why she ever held onto the last bits of that relationship. These months of no communication had proven to her that it could never really work in the long term. But these months with no communication had also made it easy not to make a decision. Too easy. Taking her pen back to the paper, she put a star beside number 26. Then she balled the paper up and tossed it back to Tony.
He chuckled as he caught it, but his expression turned wary as he flattened it out. Wary of what he'd just watched her write. His finger traced down the page. He nodded as he came to her first note, and his eyes continued down to the bottom of the page. He took a deep breath and snuck a glance at her. It was nice to see him remain serious and not try to deflect with humor. His fingers idly tapped the page for a moment, and then he pulled out his cellphone and typed something.
She pulled out her own phone, waiting for what was coming. A moment later, a text message buzzed in.
Re: #26…not yet…but soon…really…
She smiled as she read it. He wasn't running away from it. He smiled back at her, and she found herself hoping that 'soon' came really soon.