A/N: For anyone wondering, I called this 'Moondust' because, like this encounter, is abrasive, but unavoidable. Fortunately, astronauts who have visited the moon's contact with the dust was short enough that it didn't cause any damage.
"What took you so long?" Ziva asked Tony as he entered through the elevator doors.
"Oh, you're going to love this," he replied, walking over to lean on her desk. "OK, so the burrito place was closed but next to it was a supermarket so I figured I'd get us some of those microwavable lasagne things – " Tony rambled.
"The point, Tony," Ziva cut in.
He looked taken aback. "You're starting to sound like Gibbs."
"You're starting to sound like Abby," she retorted with a tight smile.
"Touché, Agent David. Anyway so I'm walking through the frozen foods section when…"
Twenty minutes earlier
He strolled casually through the white supermarket aisle, waiting for a frozen product to catch his eye and stimulate his appetite. So far, none had succeeded. Though one thing did catch his eye, though. And it wasn't food.
An olive-skinned girl with chocolate hair to her shoulders stood, pulling a frozen casserole package from the freezer. She turned her head to fish through her purse for her ringing cell phone when he saw her face. And he recognised it immediately.
After years of running away from any ex ever, he let his natural instincts make the next decision for him, and he darted into the next aisle before could spot him.
His heart was racing. His head fell back against the glass of the freezer behind him. Thoughts whirled round in his head as he tried to decide what to do.
Straightening his tie, he stood tall. He decided he would say hello. He needed to prove to himself that he could handle it. That he wasn't afraid anymore. That he was a new, mature person. That he was over her. Maybe this was the one thing he needed to close the door on before he could start searching for the committed relationship he so craved nowadays. After all, she, without his intention, had been the closest thing to a serious relationship he had ever had, and their goodbye had been a lie that probably only crushed what remained of her heart. He had hurt her. He should apologise. Do this for her, too. She'd been an important part of his life, for a while.
OK, he told himself. You can do this. The worst she can do is whoop you with her handbag. She's not Ziva.
He paced slowly towards her, an undeniable swarm of butterflies filling his stomach. He was standing inches from her and she barely noticed him.
"Jeanne?" The name stung his mouth, long estranged from his lips.
She turned in his direction with an expectant look on her face, but the second she laid eyes on him her expression changed. Her eyes widened and her lips parted in surprise.
"Tony," she said breathlessly. She inhaled deeply and swallowed, calming herself. "Hi."
"Didn't know you were back in D.C.," he started awkwardly. Well, maybe his words weren't awkward, maybe it was just them.
"Well, I only moved back here a few months ago. H-How…how about you? Are you still…"
"Yeah I'm pretty much doing the same thing I was last time you saw me," he said, chewing his lip.
"An old friend of mine hooked me up with a job at St. Anthony's," she said, then her eyes darted to something behind him. "Brandon!" she called. "Put that down, sweetie."
She rushed over to a small boy holding a glass bottle of something in his hand and scooped him into her arms.
"Brandon, this is Tony," she said, introducing him with a strange gentleness. The little boy hid his face shyly. "Sorry, he's not very good with strangers."
"No, that's OK," Tony replied, staring without realising it. "Quick question…"
"He's not yours, Tony," she told him with surprising calmness. "But his father and I aren't together anymore either."
"Is that why you moved back to D.C.? Fresh start?" he asked, slowly gaining confidence with her.
"Yeah." She paused. "Tony, is there…"
"Is there something you needed to say to me? I just get the feeling you're trying to get something off your chest." As the words left her lips, she considered the possible implications of what she had just said, and she looked, for a moment, scared.
Tony ran a hand down his face. "I guess I thought the Universe was trying to tell us something, both of us being here at the same time. I mean, I don't believe in coincidences."
Her eyes widened a little. This was sounding awfully dangerous.
"And all these people keep coming back into my life that I'd tried to leave behind. My ex-fiance, my ex-girlfriend, and now you. You're the only one I haven't been able to fix things with. The others…we managed to part on good terms, but not you. And you totally deserve to slap me in the face for what I did to you."
"I'm not going to," she interjected.
"Not for pretending to be someone else. That wasn't under my control. I had a job to do. But when I stopped pretending, it became my fault, and I was already hurting you."
She squinted in confusion.
"Jeanne, you are an amazing woman. And because I let myself think that, I hurt you more than I ever should have. You didn't deserve to be played, let alone left heartbroken. I should never have told you it wasn't real, because it was."
"Tony, don't feel too bad. It was tough at the time but it taught me an important lesson about love. And if not for you, I never would have moved away, and I wouldn't have met James, and I wouldn't have Brandon. And he's the most important thing in the world to me."
He smiled. "I can't believe you're a mom."
She tucked a stray strand of hair behind her ear. "Yeah, well, me neither. But what about you, Tony? Is there someone special? Wife? Kids?"
"Not for me, but uh…someday, maybe."
"Definitely. Hey, so this one's getting a little restless now but do you maybe want to go and get coffee, sometime? I'll give you my new number."
"OK. Well, nice seeing you, Tony."
"Wow," was the only word that came out of Ziva's mouth.
"So there you have it," Tony said. "Jeanne Benoit is a mom."
"I'm proud of you, Tony. That was very mature," she complimented. "But can I say, I don't think going to coffee is a good idea."
"Yeah, you're right. Well, I'm gonna go cook this thing." He walked briskly in the direction of the break room. When he was out of her sight, his phone lit up with a message. She wasn't going to look, but she spotted who it was from. Jeanne.
She opened it. There had only been one other message in the conversation:
Hi. I thought about your coffee offer and I decided it might not be such a good idea. Truth is, there is someone else. She just doesn't know it yet. Does that make any sense? I don't know. Anyway, thanks.
Someone else? He wasn't even seeing anybody that she knew of. She read Jeanne's reply.
OK. I understand. Good luck. It was…educational seeing you.
He returned soon enough, with two hot lasagne's, one for him and one for her. He saw her face.
"I take it she replied to my text, then?" he said calmly, setting down the dishes on her desk.
"Who is this other woman?" Ziva asked, pretty much the opposite of calm.
"In time, my dear Ziva. I'm not ready to cross off Number Twenty-Six just yet."