"You really never been to DiNozzo's place?"
Ziva looks up from the case file in her lap. "What?"
Gibbs raises his eyebrows.
Much like the other day when Senior assumed she had been there, she looks like a deer caught in headlights. Gibbs watches her, smirking, for several seconds before turning back to the road.
"No," she says finally. "I have not. Actually, I have driven him home before, but I have never been inside. And I do not know why everybody thought I would know how much room he had."
She's so defensive, it's almost funny. "Ziver, you guys are close. It makes sense that you'd go over there." Gibbs takes a sip of his pure black coffee and glances over when he hears the file being slammed shut. Ziva stares out the window, lips pursed. "What?"
Her behavior is legitimately perplexing to him. Almost as weird as the apparent fact that no, she has not been to Tony's apartment even though Gibbs had half-suspected they'd started sleeping together. This relationship- or whatever the hell you call it- between DiNozzo and David is the weirdest ass thing he's ever seen.
"Tony is my best friend," she says at long last. "Usually I think that I am that for him, as well, but… sometimes, I feel like he is trying to hold me at arm's length."
Gibbs zooms past an Oldsmobile chugging along at fifty-five miles an hour in the fast lane, then maneuvers the Charger back into the steady flow of traffic heading to Arlington. He waits for her to elaborate.
"He does come over to my apartment quite often. Two or three times a month. But it's always at mine, never at his, and I wonder if he is not willing to… let me be a part of his personal life."
Gibbs has been getting a vibe from them for months, ever since the bombing. A feeling that something has shifted. Something major. He's allowed himself to ponder it, and he's made his peace with the fact that he might have to deal with two of his agents dating sooner rather than later. It's not like he was ever going to be able to stop it, anyway. Tony and Ziva are inevitable; he's known that for a long, long time.
And yet here he is, listening to her say that they are not where he- where everybody- thought they were.
"That's not it," Gibbs says.
"How can you know that?" she asks a bit sharply.
Ignoring her tone, he calmly replies, "Because last Christmas, he came down in my basement and picked up two glasses and started spoutin' this analogy about one being work and one being family and being able to fill both of them."
Ziva tilts her head to the side. "I am not sure I follow."
"You, Ziva. He was realizing that he…"
How is he supposed to finish that sentence? Wants to be with you? Loves you? Both are true, but neither should be stated aloud right now. It's not his place to tell Ziva these things before Tony gets to.
"Oh," she says suddenly, quietly. "I understand."
He can tell that she does.
"It has been a long time since he said that, though," she adds. "An entire year. And he has not… done anything about it."
Gibbs raises an eyebrow at her. He remembers the first time he saw them after they were rescued from the elevator. Ziva stayed close to her partner's side while he repeatedly reached over to pick little pieces of debris out of her hair. He recalls all the recent lunch breaks taken during the same hour and the time he heard McGee mutter to Abby, "Tony and Ziva are talking about their feelings again."
To Gibbs, a whole lot has changed.
"He's working on it, Ziva," he tells her. "So are you. It takes time."
She sighs, crosses her arms over her chest. They ride in silence for a couple miles, and he wishes Ducky were here to take over. But the doctor is not, so he takes it upon himself to rip open a potentially nasty wound. "Try to cut him a break. He's been through a lot with you."
"What do you mean?"
"Besides all of your drama that I'm not gonna get into, he's almost lost you twice." Gibbs watches the change in her face as her tough exterior cracks. "He was a mess, Ziva."
"Abby told me," she says quietly.
"Abby doesn't know how bad it was. He drank heavily the summer before Somalia. When Cobb kidnapped you, I thought I was gonna have to bench him at first. He was desperate and pissed off. Got his head back, though. I'm guessing he figured out that he was no use to us- to you- if he was going insane."
That, Gibbs decides, is all the information about these instances that he's going to divulge. He drums his fingers against the steering wheel while he thinks. "If Tony's never invited you to his apartment, there's a reason. And it's got nothing to do with you."
She makes a noncommittal sound.
"Ask him about it."
"Maybe I will."
He lifts one corner of his mouth. A patch of highway clears in front of them, and he hits the gas.
"Perhaps you were a counselor in another life," Ziva muses.
Gibbs throws his head back and laughs, and then she does, too. "I doubt it," he says. "Bet I was too busy dealing with people like you and DiNozzo."
I wrote this at work. Because… that's totally what I'm getting paid for. Hope you enjoyed!