NCIS Fanfiction: Damage
Spoiler/Timeline: Everything up to 5.01, “Bury Your Dead”, goes alternate from there
Word Count: 4, 500
Disclaimer: These characters belong to DPB, CBS, Paramount, et al. No
Summary: Tony expected Ziva to understand his undercover mission with Jeanne better than anyone else.
Tony expected Ziva to understand his undercover mission with Jeanne better than anyone else.
He’s not supposed to know, but he has it from a good source that one of Ziva’s Mossad missions included a twelve-month undercover operation when she was barely twenty-two. She has a military background and she follows orders no matter the personal sacrifices required. And she can lie like breathing and has an internal moral compass that allows her to tell whatever lies are necessary to do what she thinks is right, because the end justifies the means.
And she does understand, so really what Tony means to say is that he expected Ziva to forgive and forget the fastest.
Abby is the first to let it go, mostly because holding grudges is against Abby’s life philosophy. She’s also too happy about his living, breathing self to stay mad at him.
Gibbs is his usual law unto himself and his anger is mostly reserved for the Director. Besides, Tony DiNardo came to life after Gibbs quit, so he’d have to acknowledge his absence to really get angry at Tony, and Gibbs has made it perfectly clear that as far as he’s concerned, his long vacation in Mexico is not to be discussed.
McGee takes longer, wary with Tony for most of the summer. Tony thinks about how he would feel if Gibbs had lied to him for almost a year and considers how McGee feels. Tony is not McGee’s Gibbs, but it’s not a bad analogy. Besides, McGee is always worrying about being left out or excluded by the other kids, and Tony’s second life has only underscored those fears.
Ducky – always the classiest of them – does not say anything about it and does not treat Tony any differently than usual.
Palmer – always the most juvenile of them – asks inappropriate questions.
So, it is Ziva who holds out the longest.
Perhaps Tony should have expected it. Ziva has always been unpredictable. More than any other partner he’s had – more than any other woman he’s known – Ziva is an unknowable, inscrutable element.
She is vigilant in maintaining a safe emotional distance from the people around her. It is quality she and Tony share (his disguised with false extroversion, hers with controlled silence) and he has always supposed it is that which causes the friction between them. But it has also made them close, and for all that Ziva is aloof she is not unfriendly and she and Tony have worked well together.
It should not surprise Tony that she is so wary and stand-offish with him after Jeanne. Her angry bitterness should not startle him. Her coldness should not disarm him.
But it does.
Ziva is brittle and hollow around him, cautious and so distant she seems a mere speck. Her answers to his conversational gambits are perfunctory, her tone cold and measured, her expression blank and Tony is confronted with the reminder that she is a trained assassin.
But she is not entirely indifferent to him, rather sore and tender, burning and brimming with hurt.
Ziva’s behaviour makes Tony feel accused and reminds him daily of the damage he has done, of the hurt he has caused not only to Jeanne, but also to his colleagues, his friends, himself.
Tony has always believed he is agent of hurt and destruction, but never more so than the terrible moments when Ziva looks at him as if he is a stranger to her.
In September, they investigate the murder of a dishonourably discharged Marine, found buried in a shallow grave near Fairfax, executed with three gunshot wounds to the back of his head.
Tony does background checks for most of the afternoon, but has to leave early to meet a friend for dinner.
When he says so, Ziva makes a face and addresses McGee. “Dinner with a friend? Why not a doctor’s appointment? Emergency dental surgery?”
“Ziva…” Tony begins.
“Maybe you’re off to ruin some other girl’s life.” She does not look at him when she says it.
“You’re talking about Jeanne, of course,” Tony replies, with meaning.
“But of course,” Ziva sing-songs.
The next morning, he and Ziva stand in the observation room while Gibbs interviews the deceased’s wife.
“I really did have dinner with a friend,” Tony tells her apropos of nothing, angry that he feels the need to explain himself, angry that she now has this power over him.
“I don’t care,” Ziva snaps.
Tony frowns. “You obviously do.”
“And you obviously do not.”
“I…” Tony follows the thread until he works out what she is saying. “That’s not fair, Ziva.”
When she smiles, it’s chilling, awful.
The Director authorises Tony and Ziva to go on an undercover mission in late October. They play another husband and wife: this time ‘Tommy’ is a Lieutenant stationed at Norfolk, and ‘Lisa’ is a Suzie Homemaker.
It’s both hilarious and appalling when he arrives home the first night to find Ziva in the kitchen wearing an apron. With frills. She is dicing carrots and when she sees his grin she flashes the blade at him and says, “One word.”
Tony takes her seriously. He takes her skill with knives seriously.
They’re undercover for over a week, under visual and aural surveillance. Ziva’s cooking is amazing, the house is actually pretty nice, his desk job is routine but completely stress-free, and Tony thinks he could get used to it all.
On the Friday afternoon, he calls Ziva at 4:30 and in his best Bogie voice, tells her to put on a pretty dress and meet him at the officer’s club for a drink.
When Tony gets there, Ziva is stopping traffic in a crimson-coloured dress that is both modest and somehow, the sexiest thing he’s ever seen. They drink cocktails, share a seafood platter, and bask in the admiring glances being sent their direction.
They walk home close to midnight, the full moon taking up the whole sky.
Ziva unzips her dress as she pads upstairs. Tony follows her up, leans against the doorjamb of their bedroom as she shimmies out of the shift and undoes her hair. He begins to unbutton his shirt and remembers why pretending is so damn seductive.
When Ziva realises he is watching her she does not bother to cover herself.
“Tommy?” she asks, concern colouring her voice.
“Come to bed,” he says, holding out his hand.
Ziva kneels up on the bed and undoes her bra, the scrap of lace falling silently to the floor. They roll around convincingly for twenty minutes, make the right noises, mess up the bedsheets, near experts on having fake sex now.
Afterwards, Ziva curls up at the furthest edge of the bed, keeping her body miles from his. Tony waits a moment then spoons behind her.
“Why so far away, sweetheart?” he coos, pressing a kiss to her jaw.
When he realises she is crying Tony covers her body with his, so the cameras can’t see her shaking shoulders. In the morning, when he wakes, Ziva bring him breakfast in bed, wearing a smile that is so close to real Tony decides to believe in it.
He remembers why pretending is so damn destructive.
They’re granted leave for a week after their undercover mission wraps up, although Gibbs bitches about it, pointing out to the Director that he didn’t authorise the undercover mission in the first place, so he’s had his two senior field agents essentially off-duty for over a fortnight.
McGee sends Tony IM updates of their escalating argument, which apparently takes place on the stairs in front of MTAC. Tony considers forwarding them to Ziva, but decides he should give her some distance.
He tells himself he’s showing respect for his partner. He tells himself he’s not being a coward.
The Monday they return from leave, they start arguing and they don’t stop. Their arguments are different, now. Harder, and meaner.
Tony has the monopoly on the mean of course – he’s always been a bastard when it suits. But Ziva has the monopoly on hard. She is both hot and cold when she argues, both distant and intimate with her fury. It’s a fascinating combination – the way she can cut so close to the bone with such burning intensity – except when it’s focused so closely on him.
Tony wants this not to be happening, he wants the distance and the hurt between them to be erased, but it would erase Jeanne, too, and he does not want that.
“Not everything is my fault,” Tony yells, during one of their exchanges.
But it is.
The arguments turn into full-scale battles, raging for days, McGee and Abby shuttling between them, desperately trying to fix everything, trying to stop the war. Ducky looks at them with growing concern, but keeps quiet for his own reasons. Gibbs ignores it until shortly after Christmas when he finally keelhauls them in the middle of the bullpen.
Tony doesn’t realise he and Ziva can be heard throughout the building until he pauses mid-sentence and sees they have an avid audience, everybody from accounting, tactical, even the seven-foot tall Nordic God from Legal that all the girls moon over.
Gibbs, storming down the stairs, snaps, “Are you quite finished?”
Tony begins his rant again, but Gibbs starts yelling about their lack of professionalism then, and Tony and Ziva can only stand there and listen, both stone-faced, both well aware that Gibbs is right.
Gibbs says he doesn’t care what they’re fighting about, and Tony believes him, at least until he goes home that night and Gibbs says, “Ziva thought you were dying last year. She thought that’s why you were visiting the hospital all the time.”
That night, Tony goes to Ducky. It’s the right choice.
Ducky liquors him up on expensive Scotch, listens to his sad monologue, and finally tells him all the home truths Tony has been ignoring since Jeanne left. Ducky tells him about Jenny’s manipulations and Gibbs’ anger, about the nature of undercover missions, about lying and being in love. Ducky does not talk about Ziva, but she is all that he talks about.
Ducky also calls him my dear boy, so Tony knows Ducky still likes him, even though Tony lied to Ducky too.
He does not apologise to Ziva, as apologies are foreign to Ziva, both offered and received.
Tony suspects it’s something to do with her upbringing. From what he’s been able to put together, she is the daughter of a powerful and important man who always favoured her half-brother, a man who turned out to be a traitor and a killer. She lost a sister to a terrorist bombing, and any number of friends to horrific violence. He imagines she has endured training regimes and missions that would have made even Gibbs cry. Most of her extended family are spies, so she grew up on a steady diet of lies, subterfuge and naked power, and somehow she managed to survive and thrive with her awesome ninja skills and an almost ruined heart.
But sometimes Ziva looks at him with so much hope in her expression, so much lightness in her eyes that Tony knows she is capable of extraordinary love.
The kind to die for. Or kill for.
“I didn’t know you thought I was dying,” Tony says to Ziva in lieu of an apology, two days after their dressing-down.
Ziva’s blank expression does not alter, but at lunchtime she leaves an envelope on his desk. It’s an advance copy of McGee’s latest novel, Black Threat.
Tony hides the manuscript in a cold case file he’s supposed to be reviewing and reads it all afternoon. He has no idea how Ziva got it, but as peace offerings go, it’s hilarious, from Tibbs’ stand-offs with his FBI rival Dornell, to his flirtations with his former partner, Janie Flock.
Tony writes a mock book report on the back of a photograph of a severed arm and leaves it in Ziva’s inbox that night. He comments sarcastically on everything but Tommy and Lisa’s relationship. He doesn’t know what to say about the three athletic sex scenes they have, or Lisa’s declaration of love in the last chapter of the novel.
He supposes he should tell Probie that he has finally managed to write fiction.
They are quiet with each other for weeks, but it is a neutral, peaceful silence and it is okay.
In February, on a stake-out, Tony muses aloud that Ziva’s hair always smells faintly of lemons and perhaps she should share her secret. The corners of Ziva’s mouth turn up, and although it is not a smile, it is something.
At a crime scene, weeks later, Ziva says, “I think Tommy was too good in bed for those scenes to be accurate.”
It takes Tony a moment to understand. He grins and says, “And Lisa wasn’t on top nearly enough.”
Ziva laughs and even when Gibbs glares at her she doesn’t stop. Tony had almost forgotten the sound of her laughter – that it is both joyous and wicked at the same time.
Amongst other things, Jeanne put an end to their weekly dinners. When Tony suggests to Ziva that she should come over to his place for pizza and a showing of His Girl Friday, Ziva tells him she is busy.
Tony accepts her excuses for three weeks, then simply shows up at her apartment on the fourth Wednesday with Indian take-out and a DVD. Ziva is home. She doesn’t say anything, but smiles brightly and lets him in. It is a smile that makes Tony glad he pushed the issue and persevered.
The following Tuesday she comes over to his apartment with homemade meatballs, and so it begins again, slowly, carefully.
They get sent to another mandatory team building exercise, although Gibbs manages to get out of it. His absence does not go unremarked. When they are told to find a partner for trust exercises, Abby sticks close to McGee.
“Palmer is…grabby,” Abby mutters, when McGee queries her barnacle grip on his arm. “McGee is my partner,” she loudly informs the instructor.
“Uh…okay,” the young man says. “Now…Officer David…”
“Dah-veed,” Tony corrects, before Ziva can. When she shoots him a look he offers a sheepish shrug.
“Officer David, then. You can work with Agent Sampson…”
Augie Sampson immediately shakes his head and begins backing towards the door. “Uh…I…no, I’m…I’ll…Ziva is…”
Tony helpfully interprets. “What Agent Sampson is trying to say is he’s afraid of Officer David.”
“I’m sure that’s not the case,” the instructor begins.
“Actually it is,” Sampson confirms. “We’re all afraid of her.”
Most of the men – and all of the women – in the room nod fervently and Ziva looks too pleased for words.
Tony rolls his eyes. “Well, I’m not. I’ll be Ziva’s partner.”
“You are Ziva’s partner,” Abby points out.
The instructor continues on his way, pairing people together, issuing instructions for the first exercise, which seems to be based on a combination of yoga and stupidity.
“This is ridiculous,” Tony mutters, as they sit on the floor. He takes Ziva’s hands, twining their fingers together.
“This is excellent,” the instructor loudly says, standing above them. “I want you all to look at this. See how Agent DiNozzo and Officer David have linked their fingers together? They don’t have to, they’ve chosen to, which shows excellent trust and partnership.”
Tony leans forward and whispers in Ziva’s ear. “If you kill him, I’ll help you hide the body.”
“How do I know you won’t mouse on me?” Ziva asks.
“Rat,” Tony corrects. “And I wouldn’t do that to my partner.”
“I’d beat him to death with his stupid clipboard,” Abby offers from their left. She and McGee are struggling to support each other.
McGee grunts, trying to right Abby. “I’d choke him with his lanyard.”
Tony lifts Ziva’s weight easily, in one smooth movement. “C’mon, ninja girl, how would you do it?”
She considers it carefully. “I would stab him with his truth stick. And then you and I would throw the body in the Chesapeake.”
“So you do trust me?” Tony asks.
Gibbs comes bursting into the room and barks, “Grab your gear.”
Tony releases his grip on Ziva’s hands and she tumbles into him with a startled squeak that makes Tony laugh and by the time they right themselves Gibbs is glaring with impatience.
“Coming Boss,” Tony, Ziva and McGee chant in unison.
“You can’t leave me here with Palmer,” Abby stage whispers.
“Boss, Abby better come with us to go to the…so she can help…with the…thing,” McGee stutters, dragging Abby across the room to the door.
“For the thing, McGee?”
“Palmer gets grabby in the group exercises,” Abby tells Gibbs.
Gibbs turns his glare to Defcon-2 and sends it Palmer’s way. “Then I definitely need you down in your lab.”
“I knew you’d save us, Boss,” Tony says, as they close the door behind them and hustle down the hall to the bullpen.
“Do you need saving, DiNozzo?” Gibbs queries, striding towards the elevator.
“No, no, of course not.”
They grab their bags and race after their boss, scampering into the elevator with seconds to spare.
“I trust you,” Ziva says, as the doors slide shut.
Gibbs raises his eyebrows. “Well, that’s good to know, David.”
McGee leans forward. “Boss, I think Ziva was talking to Tony. Uh…but you already knew that.”
Tony can’t hide his smile, but it’s not for the Gibbs & McGee sideshow.
Ziva asks him one night, when he is leaving her apartment, “Would you have told me if you were dying?”
“Yes,” Tony says, without hesitation. “Yes.”
On the drive home, he realises that whilst Gibbs is still the first person he would tell if he was in trouble, Ziva is a close second. It was that way before Jeanne and Le Grenouille, he just hadn’t noticed.
Ziva’s stealth continues to scare him and amaze him in equal measure.
They work a case with the DEA in April and end up saddled with an asshole liaison officer called Tyler. He’s a macho beefcake, gets his ego badly bruised when he goes toe to toe with Gibbs, treats McGee like a loser, thinks Tony is one of his kind, and assumes Ziva is useless.
Three days into the joint operation Tyler witnesses Ziva’s skills when she saves his sorry ass during a drug bust, disarming three assailants without breaking a sweat.
In the elevator, on their way back to the bullpen Tyler looks at Ziva with disdain and says, “You’re not really a woman, are you?”
Tony ends up in seventeen kinds of trouble for the headslap he dispenses, but it’s worth it when he sees Ziva’s expression. When Tyler bursts out of the elevator to lay a complaint, Tony reaches out and tugs Ziva’s long, thick braid. “You’re all woman. Every last inch of you.”
Unapologetically, unashamedly, Tony lets his eyes roam up and down Ziva’s body. He wants to tell her that he can see her fragility, that it makes her beautiful.
Over Thai take-out, Ziva tells him about her family.
“My mother was Mossad – she worked with my father. Their families were friends and they had known each other since they were children. After they married, my father made my mother take a lie detector test every week, to be sure she was not a secret agent.”
Tony is not sure what to say. “And she did it?”
“Yes. She loved my father. Of course, being Mossad, she knew how to cheat the tests anyway.”
“So you’re saying she was…”
“No, not at all. My father did not do it because he thought she might be lying. He did it because he trusted her.”
“That makes no sense.”
Ziva smiles. ”You are right.”
“What about Ari’s mother?” Tony has always been curious about Ari, but has been careful not to push Ziva about her half-brother.
“My aunt says Mirah was a beautiful woman, talented, clever, much admired. She pursued my father. It was a hurricane romance…that is wrong,” Ziva says, off Tony’s look.
“Whirlwind,” Tony corrects, in the quiet, kind voice he uses for Ziva’s malapropisms when they are alone.
“A whirlwind romance. I think my father loved Mirah very much, more…intensely than he loved my mother. She was killed in a bombing, in Gaza.”
“Was she the target?” Tony asks, figuring the question is legitimate given Ziva’s background.
“I do not know.” Ziva looks uncertain, and for a moment, almost afraid. “Ari believed she was deliberately targeted. That she was killed by…Mossad.”
It takes Tony a long moment to interpret Ziva’s pregnant pause, but he think he understands what she is saying about her father. “Do you think it’s true?”
“I am not sure. Maybe that is answer enough.” She shakes her head. “I did not mean to speak of Ari.”
“He was your brother,” Tony points out.
“Ziva, you’re allowed to miss him.”
“But am I allowed to hate him?”
“If that’s what you need to do.”
Her laugh is derisive. “And if I miss him and hate him at the same time?”
“Then you’re human,” Tony replies.
Ziva leans across the table and steals a prawn from his tom yum.
“I didn’t want to lie,” Tony begins carefully, having guessed that Ziva’s stories are not really about her family. “To Jeanne. Or the team. It was a mission, Ziva. I know you understand that.”
“I do.” She means it. “And you were good at it. Seducing Jeanne, drawing her in. The Director chose well.”
“Yes,” Tony admits. “You’re good at it too, Ziva. Better than me.”
“And I have done worse to innocent people than you did.”
“I hurt her, Ziva. Badly.”
Ziva shakes her head. “She is alive, is she not?”
“It doesn’t change what I did,” Tony insists. “It isn’t forgivable, Ziva.”
When Ziva replies, her tone is as gentle as he’s ever heard her be. “Not everything is your fault, Tony,” she says, granting him the absolution he asked for all those months ago.
“I thought you would understand, better than the others,” Tony says softly, finally voicing his own hurt.
“I do understand about undercover missions, Tony. I know what they take from you, what you lose of yourself.”
Tony decides to be brave. “Then why were you so…”
“It was not the lying,” Ziva says, concentrating on her food, her voice deceptively light. “You really did love her. That was not a lie.”
This particular interpretation has not occurred to Tony before, and he needs a moment to right himself, to find his balance, so that he can give Ziva the answer she deserves.
“I did,” Tony eventually replies, emphasising the second word, hoping she understands what he is saying.
In June, they attend the book launch for Black Threat and ask impertinent questions from the back row until McGee turns the same shade of red as his new book’s cover. During their wait in line to get their advance copy signed they tell the other fans embarrassing stories about McGee.
Probie nearly has a heart attack when Tony hands over the well-thumbed advance copy – it’s been borrowed by nearly everybody at NCIS, with notes, grievances and filthy drawings littering the margins. He refuses to sign it until Ziva threatens to produce pictures of his disastrous teeth whitening adventures.
The book signing finishes up half an hour later, and Tony and Ziva take McGee out for dinner at a nearby Turkish restaurant. Ziva orders for them in Turkish without asking Tony and McGee what they want, but the food turns out to be fabulous.
They drink too much red wine, celebrating McGee’s new book, gossiping about Palmer and Lee’s ongoing dalliance, exchanging tall tales about Gibbs. It’s been a long time – too long – since it was the three of them like this.
They have baklava for dessert, the sticky pastry sinful and sweet. Ziva licks her fingers when she finishes, and Tony is startled by how erotic it looks, when Ziva has done it absent-mindedly.
They catch a cab back to Tony’s apartment. He manages to convince Ziva to stay the night on his sofa rather than drive home, and they stumble through his door, clinging to each other for balance, laughing at nothing.
Tony lends Ziva a faded Baltimore PD T-shirt and retreats to his bedroom, stares at the ceiling and tries not to imagine anything at all.
In the morning, Tony makes pancakes – the one thing he can cook – and Ziva sits at his breakfast bar in his T-shirt, pushing her hair out of her eyes. She teaches him swear words in Turkish while they eat and laughs at his terrible accent. His T-shirt creeps up her thighs and after a while Ziva stops tugging it down.
When he stares at her for a moment too long she says, “What? Have I something on my face?”
“No.” He shakes his head. “No.”
Tony wants only this moment, right now, every part of it real and honest.
He kisses her on a Wednesday, in the elevator. It is a stupid place to kiss her.
When he says so, Ziva frowns and says a mouth is a perfectly intelligent place to kiss a woman.
“No here,” he corrects, gesturing to the four walls.
Ziva grins, says, “I see.”
After the kiss, Ziva is neither skittish nor coy, she is not flummoxed or dreamy. She leaves the elevator with a perfectly straight face, reports Abby’s findings to Gibbs, and sits at her desk to check her emails.
Gibbs sends Tony out to Fairfax to interview the dead guy’s boss, so Tony doesn’t see Ziva until the following morning. She does not call him or send him a text message overnight. When he arrives at work, she looks up from her computer and says good morning as if nothing happened.
That’s how Tony knows the kiss meant something to her.
It is almost a week after the kiss when Ziva comes to his apartment close to midnight, her hair loose and her eyes full of light.
She kisses him in the doorway and they barely make it to his bed, but Tony is glad that they do. It gives them space to look at each other properly and forces them to slow down, to give their desire its due.
Afterwards Tony dozes, and when he swims back to the surface he realises Ziva is singing something in Hebrew, her voice warm and husky, her body vibrating pleasantly against his.
“I didn’t know you could sing,” Tony says, opening his eyes.
Ziva kisses him. “There are a lot of things you don't know about me.”
She begins to sing again and Tony listens carefully, as if she is revealing some precious secret to him.
Tony sometimes wonders why Ziva has chosen to give him her damaged heart.
His is probably more damaged than hers.