It was only a little after seven o'clock in the evening, but the MCRT team had been on the job for going on sixteen hours. They'd been pulled out of bed at three in the morning, convened at the crime scene at four, and had spent their day running all over the D.C. area conducting interviews. Now Tony and McGee sat in the bullpen, taping halfheartedly at their keyboards; Gibbs had come in half an hour ago and told Ziva to go home, because she was looking especially tired. She'd gathered her things and left without so much as a "Good night" or a backward glance. Even Tony was not acknowledged, and the longer he went without a text from her, the more he began to be bothered by it.
"What was up with Ziva?" McGee asked finally.
He growled under his breath. Leave it to McGee. When he answered, he tried to sound oblivious. "What do you mean?"
"She was really quiet today."
"Was she? I didn't notice."
The junior field agent's face clearly conveyed one word: bullshit.
Tony sighed and checked his phone. Still no new messages. Pushing it away, he spun around in his desk chair to face McGee's desk. "Look. Why do you assume I know?"
"Because you're dating her, Tony." McGee's eyebrows rose halfway up his forehead. "Did you guys have a fight?"
"No, McNosey. Get back to work."
The glare he used to punctuate his command ensured that it was obeyed.
They hit a roadblock with the case. There were files on the victim's computer that McGee repeatedly tried to open (while Tony peeked over his shoulder and made unhelpful comments), but the encrypted codes were indecipherable. When Gibbs strode into the squad room at 10:19, his sixth cup of coffee in hand, he barked at Tony and McGee to leave, and they didn't hesitate to jump out of their chairs.
"Tell Ziva to feel better," McGee called as Tony hurried off. He didn't bother disputing the assumption that he was heading to Ziva's; instead, he threw a wave over his shoulder, then stepped into the empty elevator.
As the doors closed, Tony tried to figure out what could be bothering Ziva. They really weren't fighting; in fact, he had been under the impression that they were doing better than ever.
Maybe he was wrong.
Twenty minutes later, his gut twisted as he pounded on the apartment door. Why was he so nervous about this? It was Ziva, his partner, his best friend, his girlfriend. Surely his perception of their relationship wasn't so far off that while he was thinking it was great, she was thinking of ending it. Hell, she had no reservations about yelling at him for leaving his dirty socks under her coffee table; even if it was possible for him to misread the situation, she would tell him if she thought something was wrong.
A long minute passed before he heard footsteps on the other side of the door. It opened a second later, and there was Ziva, wearing a tank top and pajama bottoms.
Her eyes were red and puffy.
"What's the matter?" Tony asked, immediately panicking and stepping inside the apartment. He shut the door behind him, then opened his arms for her. She drew back. "Ziva?"
She turned away, ducking her head. Her ponytail fell forward, obscuring his view of her face. "Go home, Tony," she said quietly. "It has been a long day. Surely you are tired."
Ignoring her request, Tony walked over and put his hand on her cheek, forcing her to look at him. "Come on. It's me."
Ziva's eyes drifted shut briefly, and he thought she was about to talk, but then they snapped back open. They bore into him, large and sad. "Please, Tony."
He stayed where he was, made it clear he wasn't going anywhere.
"Fine," she snapped, and suddenly her eyes were flashing with fury, not sadness, and as she took several steps backward, his fear that he had done something wrong returned in a rush. "Fine, I will tell you. But you must remember, when I am done, that you asked me to. It is your fault."
Ah, crap. "Okay."
With a clenched jaw and crossed arms, she ground out three words as if saying them was causing her physical pain.
"I am pregnant."
After the initial shock- because Tony truly hadn't been expecting that- he stuttered through a series of questions that he left unfinished and that Ziva didn't bother trying to answer. She just stood there, distant. It actually kind of scared him. His Ziva laughed and smiled and made sarcastic comments. This Ziva… it was like all the life had drained from her body.
"Don't worry," he said at last. It was the first full sentence he had been able to form in three minutes. "It's gonna be alright." The reassurances were for himself as much as her; he tried to use them to calm his pounding heart. "I mean it. I know we said we were gonna wait a while, but… but we can go ahead and get married. We'll make awesome parents. You'll see."
"We are not!" Ziva yelled, an outburst that made Tony freeze up. The anger was back in her face, in the way she clenched her fists at her sides.
This is not Ziva, he thought as he watched her. This is her evil clone.
"We will not be parenting it, Tony," she continued. "I cannot be a mother. I am not fit to give life; all I do is take it."
Tears shone in her dark eyes, and Tony took that as his cue to step forward. Ziva wasn't done, though; she nimbly ducked out of his embrace and raised her voice. "How can I have a child who can never know of my past? It will be so innocent, and if it starts asking questions about me, about where I come from, and my family… I will either have to lie or take away its innocence. How can I tell my son or daughter that I used to kill people for a living? How," she continued, her voice reaching a crescendo, "am I supposed to look my child in the eye and say that the reason it doesn't have an uncle Ari is because I killed him?"
Silence fell over the room. The two stared at each other, each stricken and unsure how to proceed. And then, Ziva dropped her face in her hands and started bawling; fat tears ran over her fingers and her entire body shuddered.
Tony finally shook off his shock at Ziva's outburst and tried, yet again, to approach her. This time, she went right into his arms and allowed them to envelope her. He rocked her back and forth, waiting for her to calm down enough to listen to him. When her whimpers slowed and then stopped, Tony drew back just enough so that he could look into her face. Her eyes were even redder and puffier than before. A few droplets lingered on her cheeks. He brushed them away.
"We'll figure it out," he whispered. "All that stuff is in the past, Ziva. Every bit of it. I've seen you with Amira and other kids; you're fantastic with them. You'll be an amazing mother."
"No," she said firmly, shaking her head. "Tony, I am telling you. I am incapable of this. I cannot keep it."
"No." She moved away; his hands fell limp at his sides. "I am going to carry it for ninth months, but after that, you can take it yourself or it will be put up for adoption. I am not fit to be a mother."
Ziva gave him a small, watery, rueful smile, and then turned and walked down the hall to her bedroom. Tony stayed where he was, completely taken aback by what she had just asked him to do, the choice she had asked him to make.
And he only had nine months to either make a decision or change her mind.