Disclaimer: Hmm... (Seriously, though, don't own.)
Spoilers: 10x20 "Chasing Ghosts."
I'm so sleepy right now, even though it's 7:30pm ... I couldn't think of something lucid to say if I tried. So, I take my leave, and hope you enjoy my story!
P.S. If I signed off as "Sofíta" one day, would that make me sound more exotic? No? ... Just checking, dude.
P.P.S. I've often wondered what you guys think of me. I mean, I'm always all lalala *dances around ditzily* in my A/Ns and then KAPOW!Angst!Explosion! in my fics ... it's so contradictory :P Oh yes, prepare for (the slightest bit of) angst, by the way.
They didn't speak at all until they were at the airport.
It was there that Tony threw—unceremoniously—a packet of gum into Ziva's lap, glowering at her before he sat down next to her to wait for their flight.
"You are angry," she noted, and he scoffed derisively in what sounded like a 'You only just figured that out?' manner. She bit her lip. "Why?"
"Why?" Tony repeated incredulously. "Why? Because you broke Rule Number One, Ziva, that's why."
Ziva looked away. "I did not screw over my partner. McGee is my partner, too."
The words poisoned her lips on the way out.
And her Tony, her overprotective, tender-hearted treasure of a best friend retorted, "McGee is not your partner in the way that—forget it!" And the cut-off sentence only made things worse.
Her stomach was literally aching by the time she said, "It was not so much 'McGee over you' as it was 'only McGee.' He-… he had the skills I needed."
"And I'm what, chopped liver?"
"No, but I needed someone with technological skills, and-… you do not think I would have left McGee out of this if I could have?"
"Thanks, that makes me feel better," he replied sarcastically.
Fury took over misery in a slow burn, and in the end she was angry—angry that Tony did not comprehend; did not at least try to look at things from her point of view.
"Don't you understand?" She slapped both opened palms against her thighs. "This is my mission, my need for revenge. And I am going to seek revenge for my father. I could never involve any of you, because this is none of your business and I could never ask that from any of you. You might be putting your life on the line for me, and that's not right!"
"Well, you had no qualms about asking McGee to put his life on the line for you!" he snapped.
"I did not ask him to!" she barked. "I intended to be gone one day before you even realized where I was. Gone before McGee could tell you where I was. Gone before you could come after me!"
"And of course I had to go and put a damper in your—"
"Do not get me wrong, Tony, I am grateful you are here," she interrupted, "but if this is to be a suicide mission, then I would rather no one followed. I do not want to sign anyone's death warrant."
"Haven't you learnt from the last time, Ziva?" Tony sighed in frustration. "There is no such thing as not wanting to sign anyone's death warrant. You sign yours, you sign mine."
"Why?" she demanded. "Why are you so determined to die for me?"
It was his turn to avert his eyes. "You already know the answer to that."
"No, I don't. I don't think I would ever understand why things could be that way."
"I just care about you, okay?" he snarled—and if she were to be honest with herself, it didn't sound a whole lot like care in that moment. She took a deep breath, trying to keep her throat from closing up.
"I am … going on a mission that will possibly only be filled with blood and hate and other ugly things. Now is the time to stop caring about me."
"I don't want to," he retorted, so petulantly that it riled her up infinitely.
The unexpected tears came in a sudden rush, spilling down her cheeks far too soon before she could even attempt to brush them away. And against the edges of her hazy consciousness, she felt his arms go around her, his lips brush her hairline—and nonono this was the airport and people were staring and she really needed to stop crying, but she couldn't hold back the sob that erupted from her throat, anyway.
"You should leave," she said, patting his chest tentatively even whilst she remained nestled against his shoulder.
"Ziva," he breathed out against her hair, sounding so old and tired that guilt streaked through her once more. "You knew I was going to find out. You knew I wasn't going to stop until I found out and helped you catch Bodnar."
"Yes," she admitted, because there wasn't a point in concealing the truth anymore.
"So, why hide it from me in the first place?"
"What kind of partner would I be if I did not at least try?" She smiled weakly, even though he couldn't see her face. "I wanted so badly to tell all of you. To say, 'help me'—but that would involve putting you all in danger. And I could not risk that."
"You didn't think we'd want to help?"
She gave a deliberately vague shrug, and they were silent for a beat.
"You really want me to leave?" he asked eventually.
She shut her eyes. Yes, she tried to make herself tell him, but her heart pulsed with the knowledge that she actually desperately wanted him to stay.
"I didn't think so," he continued. And even though he sounded somewhat unsure, she ignored the uncertainty in favour of relishing the way being absolved of the duty of having to choose lifted the weight off her shoulders the tiniest bit. She raised herself into an upright position; he took the cue and removed his arms from around her.
The eyes that met hers were utterly clear and sincere. "At lo levad," he said. "I'm repeating this once more just so you know."
The corners of her lips lifted. "I already know. Thank you, Tony."
"Only for you, my ninja," he answered teasingly.
She chortled, feeling the lightest she had felt all week. Lifting her fist, she hesitantly asked, "Are we partners?"
"We're partners, always," he promised.
And then his fist bumped hers.