Gone (and Swept Away)
Chapter 1 - Elevators and Cars
By Taygeta

Author's Note: Possible Spoilers. Post-"Gone". What happens after Tony leaves with Ziva and Shmeil? I couldn't help but start writing this.

All of a sudden Tony found himself swept away.

There was the literal part of it, the meeting of Shmeil Pinkas and subsequently being dragged out of the office by Shmeil and Ziva for a night out. As he rode the elevator down, hearing Shmeil relaying a story about his last trip to DC for an academic conference, Tony could only half-listen. He found himself caught in the major consequence of being swept away: he wasn't quite thinking clearly and he wasn't quite sure what to think.

His mental fuzziness was partly because Ziva was still hanging onto his arm, smiling widely at Shmeil's story and turning toward him with that same smile. He liked her closeness, the ease in which she seemed to take him away from everything.

As the elevator doors open, Shmeil said, "That Mr. Taylor had such chutzpah! I wanted to ring his neck!"

"My money would have been on you, Shmeil," Tony found himself saying, but mostly wondering why - now that they were out of the elevators - that Ziva was still hanging onto his arm and why he had no intention of letting go either.

"Mr. Taylor was then a twenty-five-year-old know-it-all who obviously knew nothing," said Shmeil raising his finger in the air for extra emphasis as they made their way through the parking lot. "And there he was making a scene as if he was king of the world...!"

As Shmeil went on about Mr. Taylor, Tony was trying to clear his mental fog. Ziva's grinning face did not help. Even though it was most likely that the intensity of her smile was amusement at his own expense for being jealous of Shmeil in the first place, Tony knew very well that any time she smiled he was a little less steady. Especially if he knew that she was smiling because of him.

The last couple days, particularly with the case they were dealing with, had worn them all down a bit, but somehow in the back of his mind, he couldn't help but get caught up in who Shmeil was and why Ziva admired him so. He didn't want to admit to his feelings of jealousy, but he couldn't help it. There was no other way to classify it. There were no quirky movie lines that he could hide behind.

As they reached Ziva's car, Tony said, "My car's over there..."

Here was the moment. He could run. He could make some excuse up.

But no, there was Shmeil.

"Can we leave your car here? Perhaps Ziva can drop you off or you can take a taxi back later? Ziva can tell you, I'm all for carpooling."

Ziva laughed, "Shmeil is quite well known for his environmentalism and advocacy for responsible driving."

"Is he now?" said Tony. "Well, I - I guess that's fine." Though the very thought of being in a car with Ziva driving had suddenly taken over his previously swept away mind. "Shmeil I take it you've had the pleasure of being in car driven by Ms. David?"

"Oh one of the best drivers I know!"

Tony was beginning to see why Ziva held this man in such high regard, and perhaps not for all the reasons she had claimed. He pretended not to see the smug smile on her face at Shmeil's reply.

As he sat in the car, in the backseat of her Mini Cooper no less, he found he had time to think while trying to avoid having his life flash before his eyes at the speed in which Ziva was driving and talking to Shmeil. Ironically of course all of his thoughts were about Ziva and being in this moment.

What had she said about Shmeil? That she told him things that she would never tell anyone else? So why had she been so adamant that he join them? Was it so that she could thoroughly make fun of him being so nosy and jealous earlier? Or was this part of this path he was beginning to see - maybe always tried not to see - post-elevator and all?

"You're awfully quiet back there," Ziva's voice broke into his thoughts.

"Guess my brain is trying to just catch up to speed with the rest of the day," he said.

"Relax, Tony, enjoy life!" said Shmeil. "Even for a man of my age, I vouch that it is - forever and always - too short."

"I wouldn't argue with you there, Shmeil," he said and something about life being too short made him look more intently at the driver who had their lives in her hands. However, it was not in the way that he usually would act toward her, layered with jokes about fearing for his life.

Watching her and the reflecting lights that swept through the vehicle and across her face, Tony was fully aware that this was the other part of "swept away" that he was feeling. He wasn't quite sure yet, what it all meant, only that it was too late to turn back now and that the slight racing of his heart had nothing to do with the car ride.