I had this idea before we found out about Cote not returning, and then I just got inspired at two in the morning and wrote it out. Hope you like it?


Tony's apartment has never been this clean. Sure, he's usually kept a good enough maintenance about it so that if anyone came over, there was rarely something to complain about, but it's never been like this. It's never been so spotless.

He just hasn't had anything better to do.

Since he, McGee, and Ziva resigned from NCIS, he's spent most of his time inside his little apartment with no company whatsoever, and after a few weeks, watching movies started to grow old. It wasn't that he didn't love the movies anymore, but it gets boring. After that, he started trying to delve into the world of television shows, but those aren't really his style and that idea was quickly discarded.

From there, pretty much all that was left to do was clean. He's dusted nearly every inch of the apartment, thrown out a lot of things that he hasn't touched in months or years. Now, his apartment is pristinely clean and there isn't a bit of clutter to be found anywhere.

Unless you count his movie shelf

If he's being honest with himself, he really misses his job. He misses being slapped in the back of the head and making fun of McGee. He misses going down to Abby's lab and watching her eyes go wide when she's discovered something. He misses Ducky's stories and Jimmy's constant awkwardness. But most of all, he misses Ziva.

He misses exchanging glances with her from across their desks and going to interrogate suspects with her. He misses her laugh and her teasing eyes. He misses seeing her every day.

They haven't talked since they all quit. He supposes that should be a strange occurrence, but he hasn't given himself the time to really question it. Questioning it means thinking about it, and he doesn't trust his emotions enough to go down that road. It's always too complicated.

Maybe he should call her, tell her to meet him for lunch one day or come over for a movie night. They haven't had one in ages, and it would be nice to hang out with her again.

He goes over to his calendar, glancing at the serene picture covering the top half of the page that reads "July". His eyes travel over the lower half, where everything is blank for the most part, and then his eyes fall on today's date.

July eighth.

His heart stutters uncomfortably and he can't help the crash of depression that rushes over him. It's been six months since Jackie and Eli were killed. He hadn't even thought of the day coming up, but then there it is, staring him in the face and reminding him that his best friend lost her father six months ago and she had probably spent the day alone in her own apartment.

He glances at the clock to see that it's just past six and then proceeds to pick up his phone, dialing her number by heart. Just before he hits call, however, a knock comes from his door and he locks his phone with her number still typed in. When he opens the door, he finds Ziva standing there, looking down at her feet with her hands in her jeans pockets. She's never worn jeans much, and he would really be appreciating how they look on her, except he can tell that she's upset, so there isn't time.

"Ziva." He says her name so softly and she glances up at him through her lashes. He isn't sure what else to say, and for a moment, the silence hangs there.

"It's... it's been..." She struggles to get words out, her eyes darting everywhere.

"I know," he tells her, and she nods a little in relief. "Come inside."

She hesitates. He isn't sure why, but he opens the door a little wider and she finally takes the few steps through his doorway. "Your apartment is really clean," she says conversationally, and he can see that she's just aching for a distraction.

"I've had a lot of time," he explains, shrugging slightly. "You hungry? Thirsty?"

She seems to genuinely consider his offer, which makes him feel a little better, but then she shakes her head. "I am fine, thank you."

She's still standing awkwardly by his door, hands stuffed into her pockets. "Ziva," he says again, and her eyes meet his. Her chin trembles slightly, and then he's reaching for her, pulling her close to him. A dam inside her breaks and suddenly she's sobbing into his chest, her hands clinging to the fabric of his shirt on either side of his waist.

He holds her as tightly as he can, resting his head on hers, unsure of what else there is he can do. Her fingers slowly start to loosen and he lets his own hold relax a little as she lifts her head from his chest.

"I saw the date this morning and realized what day it was," she says slowly, still holding on to his waist. "And I..." She stops as if contemplating her words, but then Tony realizes that she's trying to decide whether or not to say something. "I needed you."

He gives her a sad smile and tucks a piece of hair behind her ear. "I'm here. Always. Especially for you." It's then that he notices what appear to be photographs sticking out of her pockets. She notices his gaze and takes a step back, making their arms fall back to their sides.

She pulls them out slowly, and Tony sees that they are, in fact, photographs. Three of them. She glances up at him and then shrugs a little, handing them to him. The first one is old, he can tell. The edges are bent a little and there's small scratches here and there, but the image can still be made out. Right off, he can tell that the little girl in the picture is Ziva. There is no mistaking the eyes that he's grown to recognize no matter what. He assumes that the man holding her is her father.

Ziva has shifted over to stand beside him, and she's looking at the picture too, now. "I was five," she tells him, and he glances at her, staring into the matching brown eyes and trying to decipher how she's feeling. She gives him a small smile before looking back toward the pictures. Tony flips to the next one and this time, the girl in the picture is a little older, but the innocence is still there as she looks up at her father, her expression bright.

"How old were you here?" he asks, trying to picture what Ziva was like as a child before Mossad took over and changed everything.

"Seven."

The last one is one he recognizes. It's the picture of Ziva in her "Bun in the Oven" shirt. Tony smiles at the memory, but then gives her a questioning look.

"That one is in there because when my father gave me the other two, it got thrown into the mix after..." She stops, and he nods. He hands the pictures back to her and she puts them back into her pocket. And then she's struggling again, fighting the demons in her head. She takes one look at the door, but now that he's seen her, he can't let her leave.

"Hey," he starts, grabbing her attention. "You want to stay?"

She's shocked by his offer, and he thinks that she's going to decline and that he'll have to insist strongly enough to make her listen, but then suddenly her face changes and she's nodding. "Yes."

Ten minutes later, she's halfway through one beer and sitting beside him on his couch, staring at the television that was only turned on to drown the silence that surrounds them. She shifts a little closer to him and rests her head on his shoulder, so he leans a little into her, trying to offer as much comfort as he can.

"I miss him," she states, sighing. "He may not have been a candidate for any father of the year awards, but..."

"He was still your dad," Tony finishes for her, and she nods a little.

"Yeah," she says, and Tony expects her to say more on the subject, but then she chuckles a little. "I watched this for the first time with you."

He looks at the screen to see the latest Pirates of the Caribbean beginning, and he smiles. "Yeah, you did, didn't you?"

She takes another sip of her beer. "You had been trying to find someone to go with you for ages, and the only person you hadn't asked was the one who wanted to go with you." She glances up at him with a teasing accusation in her gaze.

"I know, I know. I learned the error of my ways. Every time since then, I've asked you first."

She nods. "I know." There's a silence then as they both watch the opening scenes, but this time, it isn't awkward. There's a lighter feeling to the air that isn't nearly as suffocating. Now, he feels comfortable and he can tell that she does, too.

"Tony?" She sits up, angling her body toward him. He looks at her, and she's chewing on her bottom lip. "Why haven't I seen you since we quit?"

He swallows then, looking down at his lap. "I don't know. I just... I wasn't sure if..." He stops himself, shrugging. "I don't know. I guess I don't have any good excuses. But I am sorry."

She nods, mulling this information over in her head. "I guess it is a two way street?"

"It is," he agrees.

"Well then, I am sorry, too." She settles back in beside him, her head once again resting on his shoulder. After another moment, she whispers so softly that he barely hears her. "I missed you."

His heart pulls and he can't help lifting his arm to wrap it around her shoulders. She doesn't seem to mind having to change her position because she simply puts her head on his chest instead. He presses his lips to her head for a moment, kicking himself for even going a day without seeing her. "Yeah, I missed you, too."

Her body relaxes and he just holds her that much closer, because even though she's rarely a needy person, he knows that's exactly what she needs.