Disclaimer: DEATH TO THE BABES FROM THE BAHAMAS. (But not really.)
Spoilers: 10x08 "Gone," "10x11 "Shabbat Shalom," 10x12 "Shiva," and major 10x17 "Prime Suspect."
I ... fussed over this. A lot. So much so that I required input from three people :P it's probably still OOC, so I'm really uncertain about posting this, but I decided to do it anyway. Hope you enjoy, regardless!
"Well, look at that: An attractive woman," Ziva commented casually as she slid into the passenger seat of the car.
Tony felt a grin broaden on his face as he pulled a seat belt over his shoulder. The witness they had just interviewed over a kidnapping case was, undeniably, good-looking, but what interested him was the way his partner had remembered a comment he had made about another woman from another case over a week ago and was now throwing said comment back at him with a mask of indifference.
"Is that jealousy I hear in your voice, Agent David?" he teased, and Ziva frowned at him.
"No. I am merely commenting on the fact that—"
"You expected me to have found her as sexy as Melissa Tourney," he finished, and her frown deepened.
"Well, she is very blonde and curvy…"
"Hey, blondes aren't my only type," he protested as he started the car engine, and she smirked at him.
"But curvy is."
He pulled out of the space. "I'll have you know that I've gone for far less curvy women before, Miss You-Think-You-Know-Me-So-Well."
"I do know you." He could see her bend her head and pick at her fingernails out of the corner of his eye. "And blonde and curvy is all you go for lately."
And then suddenly, it was more serious than he'd expected.
This was her trying to tell the truth about how she felt, he realized; it was the soul-baring them, and he didn't know when it had become that. He'd known she was jealous, but for her to openly admit it?
"Y'know, I wouldn't go for you if it were," he assured her casually.
She lifted her head and stared blankly at him.
He rolled his eyes. "What, it's not enough I work by your side every day?"
"Maybe that's the issue."
"What does that mean?"
She shrugged. "I believe the phrase is 'Friendzoned.' Yes?"
"You think I friendzoned you?"
"Look—what are we?"
Best friends, he started to say, and then he froze.
He was beginning to see what she'd meant.
"So, you want me to stop being friends with you in favour of treating you like an object," he concluded sceptically.
"Firstly, you shouldn't be so proud of objectifying," she retorted, "and secondly, that's not what I said. I am merely saying, when you advertise young things in bikinis on a big screen in front of me, you can hardly expect me to believe that I'm not friendzoned."
"I was showing McGee!" he spluttered.
"I was there!" she returned. "And yes, I know that it is your and McGee's prerogative to look at whomever you both want to, but my point still stands."
"Your point is weak," he shot back.
And then promptly felt guilty when she turned to look out of the window again and lifted her hand to her cheek, jerking it in a swiping motion.
"I know," she answered quietly.
He sighed. "What's this really about?"
"Nothing," she insisted. "It is not a big deal."
"If it's not a big deal, then what's with the tears?"
"I am not—" she began, but seemed to realize halfway through that it was futile to argue with him on that point. "I am merely feeling shunned, okay?"
"Shunned?" he repeated with incredulity.
"Yes. Seeing younger women who are sexier and better fitted for a bikini than me … reminds me of my position in life."
"Okay, 'better fitted for a bikini'? I don't know if you've noticed, but you're thirty. It's gonna take a while before you're unfit for a bikini, and you should stop talking like you've hit menopause. Also, what position in life?"
She chuckled bitterly. "I just remember sometimes that I have … baggage."
"Like what?" he asked in exasperation.
She drew in a deep breath. "Like … it must not have been easy, seeing me mourn my father."
"No, it wasn't," he agreed, even though he didn't know where she was going with the topic.
"You had to act as … my shoulder-to-cry-on."
"You saw me at my worst."
"Your worst? Zi—"
"But you were there through it all," she continued in a louder voice, ignoring his disbelief. "And now … now I am wondering if you would still do things the same way, were it to happen again. Because you were enjoying yourself at the Bahamas. And I do understand—"
"Of course I would do everything the same way, Ziva!" He slammed his hands against the steering wheel, accidently sounding the horn and making her jump. "What are you even thinking?"
"I am the daughter of a dead man!" she snapped, making use of his words again. "I am angry and bereft and damaged; I dream of my dead father and lusted for the blood of his murderer. So yes, forgive me for feeling like I should be shunned. I do not know how else to feel!"
"How 'bout nothing?" He sighed as she pinched the bridge of her nose. "You're not damaged, Zi—I never thought you were. You're just grieving. And I'm not planning on shunning you either, so get that stupid idea out of your head right now."
"I just feel like I have lost a part of myself," she murmured, her voice thick. "Since my father's death … I have been different, I know. I have been less carefree; less happy. And I was able to forget everything for a moment back in the airfield when you were sending me off to Israel, but now…"
"Now you're hoping I still stick by what I said before you left," he supplied, and he knew he'd gotten the whole picture right when she bit her lip and nodded her head.
Breathing out deeply, he took a sharp right turn and pulled into a side street. Parking the car only took seconds; before long, he had his seatbelt retracted and was facing her.
"I'm always gonna come back to you no matter how far I go, Ziva," he began quietly. "See, that's the thing about me—I like putting down roots. At the end of the day, the Navy Yard is always gonna be my home and your home, and we're always gonna be a team. So, I don't think you have anything to worry about."
"But are you coming back to the team, or…"
"To you," he affirmed gently, and he could see a single bead make its way down her cheek.
"Thank you," she sniffled.
"Zi, this thing between us…" He hesitated. "It's bigger than either of us right now. But it won't always be, y'know? And even if I look at another woman for a little while, I'm always gonna be looking away eventually and back at you."
She laughed tearfully. "I don't know if that is meant to reassure me."
"I'm just saying that … I'm still … tryin' to work up the courage. But I promise you that I haven't forgotten us."
And only then did she meet his gaze, her eyes wet. "Do you really?" she whispered.
"Cross my heart and hope to die," he returned earnestly.
And even though the furrow in her brows told him that the phrase had more likely than not sailed right over her head, she nodded like she believed him.
So, he braved the chance and reached out.
And she met him halfway.