A/N: Sorry this took so ridiculously long to finish. Here's the finale of my post-Berlin, pre-Revenge tag.
Part V: Tony and Ziva
It's faint – very faint, but the notion that someone is there with him, that's strong.
He feels someone there. Not just anyone, though – he feels her there. And that makes it a little easier.
But not easy enough.
She doesn't want Ducky to see her reaction. He's seen enough of that today so she averts her eyes from looking at Tony when they first enter.
He brings her closer and closer and closer, until she's just beside him – close enough to touch him.
Ducky puts the breaks on the wheelchair and stands beside her a moment. And then his hand glides the length of her shoulders and he's gone.
For a moment, the room feels empty. It's as if her partner isn't even in the room with her at all.
But then she looks at him, really looks at him – takes in all of his cuts and bruises and the wrapping bandage around his head. It brings the tears back.
He's so hurt and so fragile and she's only sure that he's alive but the steady movement of the monitors.
But he's alive and he's right here with her.
And suddenly, without warning, the moment of impact comes back to her. They way his hand held onto hers – his fingers between each of her own. The sincerity in his eyes when he'd said that he ought to thank Orli because he likes who she is today. And the freedom she'd felt when she'd opened her mouth, not yet sure of what she wanted to say to him.
Ziva reaches forward and ever so carefully pulls his hand into her own.
She holds on, but it feels nothing – absolutely nothing – like it did the last time.
And yet, it's all she has right now.
He won't remember what initially begins to jolt him, but in the moment, he knows it's her hand – the gentle timidness of her touch.
That's the catalyst.
At some point, the silence of the air becomes too thick for her to handle.
She sighs. Ziva's sure that Ducky or Gibbs or Abby – but more likely McGee is lurking somewhere in the area – keeping an eye on her. She could get them to take her back. She could lie down in her bed and close her eyes. It's something she desperately wants to do, but that would mean removing herself from her partner and there is nothing she wants less than that so with the silence now oppressive, she begins to talk to him.
It's usually his job – filling the air – but she'll substitute, as long as it's not permanent.
"Tony, I…I…" she trails off unable and unwilling to finish her thought.
Ziva rubs her good hand over her face and is momentarily taken back by how much the bruise below her eye is still sensitive to the touch.
She sighs. "Tony, I am not good at this…so I'll just have to…wait for you."
She returns her hand to his and takes a deep breath. The whole talking to him out loud sounded easier in theory.
But talking to him and knowing that he wouldn't – couldn't – respond, that's too much. She can always count on him for a response. Always.
And yet, with everything stacked against them now, he still gives her the response she so desperately needs. It scares at first; she thinks she imagining it, but then she looks down and watches as his fingers ever so slowly curl into hers and take hold of her.
She's not sure, but she thinks she feels his muscles clench in some semblance of a squeeze.
Her eyes go wide and she can't help the tears the sting from their corners, because he's back and McGee was right.
He wouldn't leave her alone.
At first, he can't open his eyes. It's partly fear and partly because they just feel very, very heavy. He can feel wrapping on his head along with pressure he feels pushing against his skull. It's faint, but its there.
There is, however, nothing faint about her hand in his. The feeling of her grasping onto him is so strong and desperate and so he musters up the energy to curl his fingers around hers – give them something to hold onto.
Despite the beeping of the monitors and whooshing of all of the machines around him, he doesn't miss the little gasp that comes from her mouth when he pushes against the pads of her fingers.
Yeah, that's his Ziva, alright.
Eventually, he forces his eyes open and through a bit of a haze, he catches her staring wide-eyed at him, tears flowing down her cheeks.
And he wants to reach out and wipe those tears away, to make her pain stop, but he can't and so he just stares at her and hopes that she can understand just what he is trying to convey.
She's gotten it before.
Though she can't say for sure, Ziva is has a feeling that the moment Tony opened his eyes again and looked at her will be forever ingrained in her body. She can barely understand the feelings that bubble within her, but it's something akin to euphoria.
She's too overwhelmed to even realize that there's a flood of salted tears moving down her cheeks. That is, until he croaks his mouth open and tries to muster out a question, but his throat is dry and nothing more than a scratch comes out.
She shakes her head, horrified that he could be in pain. "Tony, just, please..."
He cocks his head towards the water cup sitting on the tray table, but it's far from her reach and she remembers just how much pain she's in herself so she reaches across him and hits the call button, summoning the nurse.
It's less than fifteen seconds before Tony's nurse hurries into the room. She's a flutter of activity and it makes Ziva nauseous to watch her check Tony's vitals and help him sip down some water.
She drops his hand and closes her eyes as the girl finishes up and takes a moment to calm some of her emotions – though she's sure that it'll take a thousand seconds for her to come down from the high that is Tony's current consciousness.
"I can talk now," he says a few moments later and her eyes snap back open. Yes, he can. And though his voice is still just a little on the scratchy side, she can't help the smile that takes over her face. Because it sounds good to hear his voice – so good.
"Well," she says, "That is definitely a relief."
"Oh, really?" he asks. She knows he's not just poking fun at her.
She goes silent for a moment and her eyes hit the floor. He's always been far too skilled at reading her and, lately, he's gotten very bold at telling her just what he sees.
He squeezes her hand and she knows that he's looking for a response so she looks up at him and smiles. "Shall I find Gibbs and the team to see you?"
He chuckles at her and shakes his head. "Ziva," he says.
"You do not want to see them?" And she knows that he knows that she's only trying to avoid the conversation that he's looking to have.
"I do." He drawls out. "Eventually."
"What day is it, Ziva?"
"Friday." She says. It's a stiff admission. "Friday, Three-thirty."
He sighs. "That's a long time."
"Yes," she agrees, "Tuesday seems like a lifetime ago."
Because it does. Those moments before the crash seem like they occurred in a different universe.
She tries to make small talk with him. She tells him about their hunt for Bodnar, but he's not listening. Tony's just staring at her – reading between the lines.
He moves his hand from the base of his abdomen and taps the side of her wrist. "You," he says, and later, he'll blame the pain killers for the amount of gall he has going into this conversation, "don't look good with all that pain in your eyes."
"Tony," she chuckles. "I don't look good in general right now."
"That's not true," he says. Tony reaches over and pulls her hand towards him until he can cradle it on his stomach. He runs his fingers back and fourth. "I mean, you're eye looks a little worse for the wear, but other than that, you're as stunning as ever."
He knows she can't help the smile the crosses her lips and he takes that as a win.
He can still make her smile.
She's not sure how long she lets him just hold onto her. It seems like forever that she is mesmerized by the steady motion of his fingers.
But, eventually, she catches his eye and admits, "They are all probably watching." The close proximity has always made her want to spill her soul to him.
His eyebrows furrow. "Why do they care? Aside, from the obvious reasons, of course."
She shakes her head, because he doesn't get it and so she's not sure if she wants to bother. "I don't know."
But, again, he catches her and his movements against her arm stop. "Yes, you do."
"I was just…worried about you." She explains.
"Just worried, huh?" he asks and she can't miss the blatant mockery in his tone. "So that's why you think Gibbs and the rest of team have taken up some voyeuristic tendencies?"
"You were in a medically induced coma." She protests, but it's weak at best.
"Yes, I was worried. Very worried and scared." Her eyes darken and she realizes that this may be the point they've been hurtling toward with such a rapid speed, because she's frantic now. "I thought I had killed you and I was…I was inconsolable."
"Because you thought you killed me?" he asks.
"Yes!" She says, but then she stops and she shakes her head and elaborates, "Because I thought you were gone."
He smiles at her and it makes the heaviness of her heart lighten just a bit. "I'm not, though." He says.
Her bottom lip quivers and she bites it to steady herself, "You could have been… And because…because I know that now I would probably…die … without you…" A sob escapes her throat and she wants to stifle it, but all Ziva can see is McGee standing in front of her, telling her how close to death her partner is. How he's unconscious and there's swelling in his brain and they don't really know what's going to happen.
His hand laces through her fingers and he squeezes. "No one died, Zi."
"That is not the point," she says and she wants to wipe her tears away, but she only has one good arm right now and Tony's holding on.
"No," he says, "It's not." And she doesn't know how he's so coherent and on the same page, but he is and he continues, "The point is that I almost left you before telling you that I loved you."
"I love you, Ziva and I'm sorry the team had to watch you fall."
"They know," she says.
"They know I love you too."
He squeezes her hand again and she thinks things might be okay. "I think they've known for awhile," he says.
She's crying now and she thinks they may just be happy tears. "I love you," she says, "And I couldn't help, but drag you into a fight that wasn't yours, but almost got you killed."
He rubs his thumb along hers. "I went willingly. There was no dragging."
"I am so sorry."
"I'm not," He says. "That's how we work."
And she nods because he's right. That's how they work. Together.