The first time she had avoided him had been over a month ago. She left every day at the second Gibbs gave them permission, not waiting around for any longer than absolutely necessary. Each time Tony had plucked up the courage to ask her what was really wrong, it was like she would sense it and pick up her phone and pretend to make an important phone call or, if they had been sent into the field, she would pretend to see something suspicious. Once, he tried to talk to her on the way back to the office after checking out a suspect's house, and the second he opened his mouth she took a sharp turn, making him lose his words in a scramble for something to hold on to.
At lunch, a few times a week, she would sneak away in her ninja-like style before anyone could notice. When they asked her where she had been, she threw them a bogus excuse. On one particular day, she simply told them she felt like having a nice quiet lunch on her own today, he felt like testing her.
"What did you order?"
She looked at him, and her gaze was hard. "Salted chicken breast and salad with iceberg lettuce and cherry tomatoes drizzled with lemon." He opened his mouth to question her further but she held her up and stopped him. "To drink, I had an ice tea with three ice cubes in it and a bendy straw. It cost twenty-two fifty and I paid cash. Do you believe me or would you prefer I tell you about the blonde bimbo of a waitress that served me and the grotesque overweight man that tried to hit on me while his wife was in the bathroom?"
It was very detailed, her account, but something inside of him still didn't believe her. What he did believe was that she had made best possible use of Rule #7 – to always be specific when you lie.
The sixth time, he wasn't taking an answer.
After weeks of worrying, and trying to talk to her, he decided the bathroom was the answer. It was private, with lockable doors. They had had some of their most important conversations in there in the past, so why not now?
He waited patiently at his desk for her to get up. Minutes seemed like hours, and very soon, he felt his stomach grumble loudly, in need of food. But he ignored it, for fear he would miss his chance. And he was glad too, because even though he was starving, fifteen minutes later he got that chance.
Once she was out of sight, he crept across the bullpen in her direction.
"What are you doing?" McGee asked, though little interest rang in his voice.
"I'm going to ask Ziva why she's been acting so weird lately," he confessed, but apprehensively peeked around the corner to make sure no one was within earshot.
"You know she's not going to tell you," Tim sighed, and went back to his work.
Tony knew he should have listened to Tim, but his persistence rang too loud in his ears for him to hear. He stood outside the bathroom, knowing there could be certain consequences (or sexual harassment charges) if he actually went in there. And he was reassured that this was a good call when Miranda from accounting came out from there, giving him a peculiar stare from behind her thick-rimmed glasses.
She was the second woman to walk out, and she stopped dead in her tracks when she saw him standing there. Her eyes were wide, and her brows drawn together in a threatening manner.
"What are you doing?" she asked in a harsh whisper, and he was amazed at how the same four words he had heard from McGee just minutes ago could sound so much more dangerous coming from her lips.
"I'm trying to talk to you, Ziva," he said, and she tried to storm off, but he grabbed her forearm with a strong grip. "Without you running from me again."
She looked in his eyes, and realised that for once she was not going to win this. Not to mention the fact that he wouldn't let go of her until she did what he wanted anyway.
She sighed and grabbed his tie, pulling him into the ladies' room. Then she stepped back and folded her arms over her chest.
"What is it you want to know?"
"Hmm, let's see…" he said sarcastically. "Maybe why you refuse to be alone with anyone longer than absolutely necessary, why you're sneaking off at lunch, why you're quieter than Gibbs at work, and why you won't even come get a drink with me. We get drinks all the time."
"Did you stop to think maybe I wasn't in the mood?" she retorted.
"It's been over a month. You're not 'not in the mood' for a whole month. You're not you, Ziva. I haven't seen you smile in God knows how long. Except the other day when McGee fell in that mud puddle, 'cause you know, that was pretty funny."
Despite her perpetually unpleasant mood, she was touched at how much he cared. It was times like these when she was reminded how much of a good person he truly was.
"You want the truth?" she asked.
"That would be nice," he replied, with a smile.
She hesitated. But this was Tony. He could be trusted. "Please do not tell anyone. Not McGee, not Abby, especially not Gibbs."
He drew an 'X' across his chest. "Cross my heart."
"Fine. I'm seeing a therapist, OK?" She confessed, letting her arms fall to her sides.
His expression morphed into one of concern. Was she OK? Had something happened? She saw his face and read his mind.
"Nothing has happened; I just…felt the need to talk to someone."
"My door was open. All of ours were."
She placed a hand on his chest. "Someone with doctor-patient confidentiality," she clarified, and he nodded. "I wanted to just…get myself in order. And I wanted to get over the past. And I suppose, maybe, to become the kind of person that someone, somewhere, might want to settle down and have a family with…someday. I want to get to know myself, and let's just say that my sessions have a tendency to make me remember some less than pleasant times."
So that's why she had been so pensive. She was bottling everything up. He was pleased at her honesty, and sympathetic to her situation, though he knew she wouldn't want him to be. "Are you sure you wanna dig all that up? And, you know, thinking about such serious stuff? You just got out of a serious relationship."
"I know, but," she looked at her hand, which still rested on his heart. "Does not mean I want to be alone forever."
"Aw, you're not alone."
"I know," she said. "I am thankful to have a good family. There is just a void sometimes. Some days are better than others."
"Mm," he agreed.
"Thank you, Tony. Sometimes you know me better than I know myself. I am glad I talked to you."
"Me too. So, lunch?"
She laughed. "I would love to."
A/N: Well, that's the end of that. Reviews would be amazing! Loves!