Disclaimer: GIVE ME BACK COTE. NOW.
Spoilers: 11x01 "Whiskey Tango Foxtrot." And I haven't watched the promo to the second episode, btw, so PLEASE DON'T SPOIL ME even if you think you have something to share :P
Notes: This was prompted by Kiera, who decided that we could do well knowing about Ziva's reactions to her conversations with Tony in the first episode. I agreed :P so, here! All dialogue is not mine, btw, except for the phone conversation at the end.
The lack of an answering voice made her nervous, even though she knew that in all likelihood, he was asleep. It was the middle of the night, after all. The empty street she was currently standing in could attest to that fact. Aside from the faraway stray dog digging through trash can after trash can, her voice, in its one-sided conversation, was the only sound to fill the air.
Disheartened, she terminated the call. She could see the bus that would take her to the airport approaching down the street; as she wrapped the cold fingers of one hand around handles of her canvas bag, she typed out a simple message on her phone with the other:
Sorry I missed you.
The apology duly sent to her former partner, she allowed the bus to draw to a halt before she boarded. It was almost empty at this hour. She took stock of her surroundings, of the young man slumped disgruntledly against the window and the older man fast asleep with his mouth wide open three seats farther in front, of the seemingly teenaged girl buried deep in her novel and the bus driver mainlining caffeine, before she settled down into an empty seat. As she placed her bag beside her, her phone pinged. She checked it to find a message from Tony:
Where are you?
She chuckled and typed out a reply: On a bus to Tel Aviv.
Tel Aviv? Exploring your roots? he asked.
She pondered for a moment what to tell him. She had, in truth, purchased the plane ticket with the intention of 'exploring her roots,' as he so eloquently put it, but that motivation had been shaken in the wake of the bombing at the Navy event and the killing of SecNav. Now, it felt as if she were going to Israel just for the sake of it.
In the end, she wrote, Something like that. Reconnecting. Thinking.
Thinking about…? he prompted.
At the moment, you, she replied. It was true. She wished for nothing more than to have him beside her at that moment to assuage her worries. She wished for nothing more than to have him beside her for the next few weeks so that she would know he was safe.
But when his reply didn't come, she blinked away disappointment and amended, You and a million other things. I heard about SecNav.
(That, too, was true.)
They haven't called us in, he told her, as if she wasn't aware of that fact. It made her ache to know that she could do nothing to help. She had never been a particular fan of Secretary Jarvis, she had to admit, but if loyalty counted for anything, then she was an NCIS agent to the core.
Tiredly, she laid aside her phone. Perhaps it was time to remember the Israel she had grown up in and loved as a child (loved still, now, in a different way), even if she had to do it alone. As she closed her eyes and shifted downwards the slightest bit in her seat, she heard her phone ping again. She reopened her eyes. She expected it to be a message from Tony wishing her a safe trip, but what she was confronted with when she picked up her phone was entirely different:
Want some company?
Her heart fluttered.
Oh yes, she did want. She did, very much, want.
Yet, it felt as if he was shaking up the status quo. She had not been particularly oblivious to Tony's feelings for her in the past year, and she had certainly not been oblivious to her on-again, off-again feelings for him in however many years they had worked together, but it was hard to reconcile the man who had once ignored the blatant hints Ziva had left him during an age of relative naïveté with the man who, by all accounts, was offering of his own free will to accompany her on a trip in which he would have no vested interest.
If he came along with her, there would be no fudging the truth. It would just be the two of them. No work, no security escort, no undercover assignments. He would just be coming along with her for her.
And if anyone were to ask her, Ziva wouldn't be able to deny that there was a huge beam threatening to split her face as she answered his question with a, Yes. :-)
His reply came quicker than she expected.
Count to a million. On my way.
Her heart fluttered again.
It didn't matter that he was shaking up the status quo, she decided then. It didn't matter if there would be no fudging the truth.
Maybe that was what they both were both looking for.
Texting him was the first thing she did upon waking up on the morning following her arrival to Tel Aviv.
It had now been almost two days since he had last spoken to her—to inform her of his flight details—and even though she knew that his flight wouldn't take off from the Dulles International Airport for another seven hours, she was keen to know if things would still go as planned.
Where are you? Airport? she asked, and she could almost hear his chuckle in her head at the question.
Almost, came his texted reply. Still okay that I come?
She smiled. Very. Safe flight, she wrote. It comforted her to know that time hadn't made him change his mind.
And perhaps it emboldened her, as well, because she offered him a kiss and a hug before sending the message. With a laugh and a shake of her head at her own sappiness, she put her phone down onto her bedside table, slipping into the bathroom with a pleased sigh to begin the day.
She was in the middle of tying up her hair when her phone rang. She left the bathroom and checked the Caller ID—it was the Italian-American. Confused, she picked up. "Tony?"
"Uh, hey, Zi." He sounded tense and breathless, and that made the alarm bells go off in her head.
"What's wrong?" she asked immediately.
"Looks like I'm not gonna be able to make that flight," he answered, and her heart plunged into the pit of her stomach. "I kinda got shot at."
"What?" she shrieked. "Are you okay? Are you hurt? Do you need an ambulance? Do you need me home?"
Amidst her frantic questioning, she heard him protest. Swallowing the fear that threatened to rise and overwhelm her, she heard him say, "I'm not hurt; I'm fine. Don't come back. I don't know who's shooting at me and why, and until I do, I am pretty much the least safe person to be around. Don't come back, okay, Ziva? Find a place to hide out in Tel Aviv, and when the storm blows over, I'll be there."
"Promise me, Ziva. Promise me you'll hide."
"I cannot!" she barked. "I have to go home."
"Ziva," he reprimanded her sharply. "There's no point in risking your life when you don't even know what's happening."
She fell silent, her breath catching in her throat. First SecNav, now Tony. It didn't even make sense.
"Do something for me, okay?" His voice was gentle now, as if he sensed her distress. "Do me a favour."
"Yes," she answered as she sank down onto her bed, covering her eyes with an exhausted hand.
"Count to a billion," he whispered. "It's gonna take me a while now, but I'm still on my way."
She couldn't prevent the sob from escaping her this time. "Tony."
"Don't you worry about me," he assured her. "Whatever happens, I'm gonna find my way to you. Okay?"
"'Kay," she answered thickly.
"'Kay," he replied in kind. "I'm gonna hang up now, but I'm going straight to the Navy Yard. Vance will figure things out."
"Tony—" she started.
She bit her lip, finding herself at a loss for words. What was she to say? 'Be careful'? 'Stay safe'? 'I love you'? None of it felt enough, given the circumstances. She just wanted to know he would be alright.
"I will count," she blurted. "And I will keep counting until you arrive."
"Good." His voice wavered, and she knew that he had heard her plea. "I'll hold you to that."
And so, she began to count.