Everyone was a little surprised that the sun hung around for the entire day. They all supposed this was the moment in the movies where it was supposed to pour down with rain and spiritually cleanse them or something. And then the sun would come. And its rays would be regarded as a sign of hope. But sunlight didn't feel hopeful. Not today. Whatever warmth it brought felt harsh, and only made the sweat around their brows fall faster.
And when dark came, it brought with it a bitter cold wind. Across the still busy Navy Yard, he saw a form lying in the grass, separating herself from the explosion until such time as she was called upon for assistance. Even in the darkness, the only light really coming from the blaring sirens, Tony knew it was his partner.
A shudder ran through Ziva as the wind grazed her bare arms. She caught sight of someone approaching her and she looked up, seeing an incredibly familiar face.
And into her arms a coarse, thick, woollen blanket was tossed, and Tony sat beside her in the grass. He let out a sigh as he realized the depressing view of the crumbled building. Ironic that a building that helped bring down countless criminals could be destroyed by one man with a vice, some wires, a little thermite and a phone call.
Ziva spread the blanket over herself and offered some to Tony. He accepted and shifted a little closer to her to keep warm. They sat quietly, and Ziva was just about to ask if there was a reason Tony had come over when Gibbs approached them. From his body language they could both tell it was likely that he was about to give them an order, but something in his face looked different. He looked depleted. Old, even. It scared them. It was another way they were reminded that human mortality was both a comrade and a vicious enemy.
"Go home," the old man with Gibbs' face told them. Usually they would decline, despite their overwhelming fatigue, and stay on, but when they saw Gibbs immediately heading towards his car without a second look back to the building they decided it was in their best interests to do what he asked of them.
But neither made an effort to move. In the silence, Ziva's stomach gave an angry growl.
"You wanna go grab something to eat?" Tony suggested. But she only said she was too tired to even fathom the possibility of being in public. While he noted that she had a valid point, he didn't give up. "I guess that's why they invented those instant noodle things, huh? I've got a packet with your name on it."
There were protests forming inside her brain by this point, but in the end she was too exhausted for these to form coherent sentences. She supposed that was why she didn't even twitch when he added that there was always a place for her to crash at his apartment should she so desire.
Despite the trauma they'd gone through, Tony could help but notice the difference in Ziva. He remembered a year ago, how at the hands of a criminal mastermind, Ziva broke a little inside. This Ziva seemed sure they were going to catch Dearing. And why wouldn't she be? The team had a pretty good track record. But still, he sensed anger from her. Thinking it could possibly be some kind of instinctive defence mechanism, he asked her about it.
"Dearing is dangerous. He has a plan but he is extremely destructive. Sooner or later those two qualities are going to have to battle for supremacy. He will slip up and we'll catch him."
It felt cruel to point out the flaw in her logic when she seemed so sure of it but he did it anyway.
"And how many more people have to die before that happens?"
Ziva looked astonished. He was rarely that blunt with her. Even after today, he'd been extra gentle. He had kept that anger under control. Hopefully the self-blame too. That had been his slip-up. Still, she was at a loss.
"I don't know," she replied in a whisper.
They ate mostly in silence. He uttered a little "bon apetite" when he served up their noodles and he offered her wine. She accepted, because the next few days were inevitably going to be painful; maybe a little alcohol would dull that pain. Numbness, she had learnt, was far kinder than agony.
When they were done, he told her he was going to have a quick shower to freshen himself up for the drive to her place. And if she wanted to stay, there were clean T-shirts of his in the second drawer that might be more comfortable than sweaty, dirty work clothes.
She sat still for a moment, listening to the water running, and thought. She was so, so very tired. She stumbled into his bedroom and pulled a T-shirt out of his drawer. It said "Ohio State" on the front in block letters. She smiled at the thought that Tony kept this. She didn't know why that made her smile. Ziva sat down on the bed and noted how clean the room was. It always used to be messy whenever she would come over. Then again, she had really only had time to pay attention to the room…after. Before, she was a little pre-occupied.
While Tony was still in the shower, she slipped the T-shirt over her head and pondered just when the two of them became so very close. She laid back on the bed with her legs still hanging over the side, staring up at the ceiling. Maybe if she just shut her eyes for a moment…
"Staying, huh?" was the question that awoke her, no more than five minutes later.
"What? Oh, I'll just…" Ziva stammered, sitting up.
"Ziva, relax, just stay there." She climbed under the covers and he began heading out of the room.
"Where are you going?" she asked.
"I'll sleep on the couch - "
"Just get in the bed, Tony."
He smiled. "Usually takes a little more begging."
He could almost see her roll her eyes behind fluttering eyelids. He slipped into bed beside her and she rolled over. Their faces were close, but her eyes were still shut.
"Thank you, Tony," she said softly. Her hand searched under the sheets for his and she squeezed it. "We're gonna get him. Tomorrow." The last word barely came out because it was covered by a yawn.
"Yeah," he whispered, and as she rolled over again, he didn't let go of her hand.