Chapter Twenty- "Life as I See It"
As they were heading back toward the metro, Tony turned to Ziva.
"I actually have to meet someone at 4, but do you want to get together later?"
Ziva smiled. "Abby and I have plans for the evening."
Tony's eyes lit up. "Ooohhh…girls night out, hmm? Sure you don't want me to come along and, you know, chaperone?"
Ziva gave a low chuckle. "It is not a 'girl's night out' as you put it Tony. We are going to dinner and catching up with each other. We have not had too many opportunities lately to see each other outside of work."
Tony could just imagine the two of them together. "Oh to be a fly on the wall." He thought to himself.
"What are you grinning about?" Ziva looked at him suspiciously.
"Oh, just thinking about the multitude of topics to be discussed. McGee's inability to find a date, Gibbs and Ryan, my awesomeness…"
Ziva raised an eyebrow and smirked. "Oh, I am sure you will come up in the conversation Tony, but I would not bet the home that it will be about your…awesomeness."
"That's 'bet the farm', Ziva." Tony cocked his head, trying to figure out if Ziva was really teasing him, or…he didn't want to think there was an alternative.
They arrived at Foggy Bottom Station, and looked at each other as they were going their separate ways.
"It was fun today, Ziva." Tony said lightly.
Ziva nodded and smiled. "I enjoyed it as well, Tony"
"Well, see ya' later. You know, at work." Tony cursed himself. "Why am I acting like I'm in High School? Because you are scared to death you will frak this up, DiNozzo!"
Tony impulsively grabbed Ziva's hand. Looking her in the eye, he brought his lips to her hand.
Ziva tried not to gasp. She smiled timidly, suddenly shy. "Why am I acting like a school girl? Because you are scared to death you will scare him to death!"
Tony grinned and got in his car. "Shalom, Ziva!" He called out as he started the car and put it into gear.
"Shalom, Tony." Ziva replied, watching him pull away, a wistful smile on her face.
North Arlington, Virginia
Tony pulled up in front of the house, the house he and Ziva shared as man and wife in his "vision" of the future. He remembered that his future Ziva had told him how he found the house, and, to his amazement, the story played out as fact.
If that turned out to be true, couldn't the rest also be true, and therefore the life he imagined with Ziva would actually come to pass?
The Real Estate Agent was waiting by the walk-way. "Mr. DiNozzo? Catherine Cummings. I am really excited to show you this property. As you can see, it does need some work, but once you get inside, you will not be disappointed by the potential this house has to offer."
Tony let the agent ramble on with her commercial for the house. He was hoping he already knew what the inside looked like. That would be further validation, that he and Ziva did have a future, a future together.
Ms. Cummings opened the front door and let Tony in. He recognized it immediately, although the furnishings and decoration were totally different. There was garish wall paper in the dining room, and the kitchen was painted puke pinkish-orange.
Without invitation, he headed down to the basement, knowing he would not find a state of the art home theater, and he was not wrong. The basement was unfinished, large and mostly empty except for a few tools and an old, dilapidated washer. No dryer.
Tony was not "unhandy", but he knew that renovating this space would be far more than he could handle alone.
"Unless Gibbs lends a hand." Tony smiled to himself, then wondering how much of Gibbs was in the house he saw before.
Together, they headed upstairs, but there was only one room Tony was interested in seeing. He went directly to the bedroom two doors on the left.
It was plain, drab, with pale lavender walls, and flowered curtains. Tony saw none of that. He saw a nursery, painted a soft green, with hints of yellow and cream. It was perfectly gender neutral, but furnished with every possible thing a baby could need, and probably just as much as a baby would never have use of.
"It would make a wonderful nursery." The Real Estate agent offered. Tony turned to her in shock.
"What made you say that?" He asked, wondering now if there were other forces at work here.
"This is a 'family' home, Mr. DiNozzo. A wonderful place for children to live and to grow up. There has only been owner who has lived here, raising his family until they all left to start families of their own. But they always came back. This house holds a lot of wonderful memories and a lot of love."
Tony looked curiously at the agent. "What happened to the previous owner? Why is he selling such a 'loving' home?"
Ms. Cummings looked sad. "Unfortunately, he passed away. His wife died about a year ago, and he decided to move in with his daughter in Richmond. Before he could make the move, he had a heart attack and died. It was very much unexpected."
Tony had a sudden thought. "They didn't die in the house, did they?" dreading the answer.
Ms. Cummings shook her head. "Oh, no. His wife had cancer and was in Hospice when she passed away. The owner was visiting another daughter in Atlanta, when he had his heart attack. Very sad."
"Needless to say," she continued, "The family would like to dispose of the property quickly. It has fond memories for all of them, but since their father was planning to sell the house, they are honoring what he would have done."
She looked at Tony. "This is a 'short sale', Mr. DiNozzo."
Tony looked at her, confused. "What does that mean?"
"It means that the house will go quickly. If you are interested, I recommend that you put in an offer as soon as you can. This property will not remain on the market long. The house is valued at $650,000.00, but the offering price is well below market value, $450,000.00"
Tony was torn. He felt that his destiny was to own this house, but this was happening too fast. A month ago, buying a house was the last thing on his mind. In fact, he rarely thought beyond the next week.
"Well, I am definitely interested, but I need to talk to my financial advisor. How soon is soon?"
The agent thought about it. "I would say that you should make a move no later than Wednesday."
"This coming Wednesday?" Tony was taken aback.
The agent nodded. "I've seen these properties go in one day. I can flag it as a "potential sale" to hold off any flippers that are in the market, but I can't hold them off for long."
Tony considered his options. "Ok, I will definitely get back to you by Wednesday, sooner if possible."
They shook hands, and Tony headed to his car.
Later that Evening
Abby and Ziva met at the restaurant, an obscure Indian café that was low on cost and high on quality.
They talked about Jimmy's upcoming wedding. Jimmy hadn't said too much about it, except that it would be in South Florida.
Ziva wondered if that meant Miami, and her thoughts turned to Ray. She wondered if she should even attend the wedding, afraid the anger and betrayal she felt would raise its ugly head. She did not want to do anything to ruin the day for Jimmy and Breena.
"Perhaps I should not go." Ziva suddenly announced.
"Ziva! What? Of'course you should go! We all have to go!" Abby was shocked. "Why would you not want to be there? It's Jimmy, our friend."
Ziva looked down, sorry that she had upset Abby. "Of'course I will be there, if everyone else is there."
Abby looked at her closely. Suddenly, a light bulb went off in her head. She grabbed Ziva's hand.
"Oh, Ziva, I'm sorry. I should have remembered. You are probably thinking 'what might have been' with you and …"
"No, Abby." Ziva interrupted her. "I was not woefully imagining my own wedding that could have been." She did not want Abby to actually say Ray's name.
"But, yes. If the wedding is in Miami, then I would be reminded, and that would have intruded."
Abby looked at Ziva closely. "So, you are glad it didn't happen."
"Under the circumstances, considering his lies, and his criminal behavior, I would say 'YES' I am glad it did not happen!"
Ziva took a deep breath. "I am sorry, Abby. I do not want to waste time talking about someone I care nothing about."
Abby squeezed Ziva's hand and let go. Just then their dinner arrived and they spent the remainder of the evening enjoying their meal and each other's company.
Abby had Ziva laughing, describing the latest escapades of her bowling nun friends.
As they were sipping their after-dinner coffees, Abby spoke up.
"Ziva, have you noticed anything different about Tony?" she asked innocently.
Ziva looked up in surprise. "What do you mean?" she asked guardedly.
Abby shrugged, trying not to look like she knew anything. "Oh, I don't know. Ever since he got hit on the head, he's been acting…I don't know. More mature? More circumspect?"
Ziva didn't know what to say. She answered cautiously. "Well, yes. I guess you can say he has not been as obnoxious as he usually is. Maybe a little more interested in the feelings of others."
"Anyone in particular?" Abby sipped her coffee, her eyes gauging Ziva's reaction.
She was not disappointed. Ziva's eyes narrowed. "What do you know, Abby?"
Abby looked innocent. "Me? Why would I know anything? And who said there was anything to know?"
Abby sighed. "Ok, but you have to promise never to tell Tony I told you this."
Ziva was somewhat alarmed, but intrigued at the same time. "Alright Abby, I promise."
"Cross your heart and hope to die, stick a needle in your eye promise?"
Ziva winced. "Why would anyone stick a needle in their eye?"
"Ok, never mind. You just have to promise that you will never ever ever tell Tony I said anything to you."
"Abby, I said I promise. Now what are you talking about?"
Abby looked around, as if there were people listening in.
"He came to me a few days ago. Kind of freaked out, if you know what I mean."
Ziva knew what she meant, but wasn't sure she had noticed Tony being "freaked out." Acting strange, yes.
"So, something was bothering him?"
"Yes, that's what I said. Freaked out. Anyway, I finally got him to spit out what was. When he was knocked out, he had this weird vision, about his life, his future, his…well; anyway, he came to me for advice."
Ziva raised her eyebrows. "He came to you for advice, about a vision he had?" The more Ziva thought about it, the more it made sense. If Tony truly had had some 'vision', then who better than Abby to discuss this with.
"And what did you advise him to do?" Ziva was starting to feel a little shiver go up her spine.
Could this be why he was acting so unusual around her, why he was suddenly 'making his move' on her, if that was what he was really doing?
"I just told him to do whatever it takes to make it happen, if that was the future he wanted."
"So he had a vision of his future?" Ziva looked skeptical.
"He had a vision of how he subconsciously wants his future to be."
Ziva paled. "Abby, I need to ask you something. Did this future have anything to do with me?" She held her breath.
"Ziva," Abby smiled. "That future had everything to do with you."
Ziva didn't know what to say. Abby had just confirmed that Tony had feelings for her, deep feelings.
Not that this was really any type of revelation. Deep down, she knew that Tony cared about her and for her. And she could not imagine that he was unaware of the strength of her feelings for him.
But she had tried to sweep them away, to ignore them, because they were partners and coworkers, in a dangerous profession.
But seeing Tony with other women, especially E. J. had caused her to question her motivation. Then Wendy reappeared out of nowhere. Tony had not originally been honest about his relationship with her. He did not mention that they had been engaged.
When she discovered that secret, she surprised herself by feeling jealousy. They had not gotten married after all, but what if that had not been Tony's decision? Did he still have feelings for her? Did he still love her?
Then Gibbs started seeing Ryan. Ziva smiled at that. It had been fun for her, Tony and McGee to wonder about what was going on behind closed doors.
Confirmation of the relationship was a bit of a shock to Ziva. Granted, Ryan did not work at NCIS, and was not on Gibbs' team. Therefore Rule #12 was not even a consideration. But they were, in a sense "co-workers."
Tony told Ziva he and Wendy had parted ways for good, and Ziva had felt a sense of relief at his confiding this bit of news with her.
She had begun to view their relationship in a different light. Their banter and innuendo took on a new meaning, a subtext that had not been there before.
Looks had passed between them that spoke volumes, but seemed to be in a language neither of them was fluent in.
Could this be the "epiphany" he told her he had, regarding the two of them?
"Hello, Ziva!" Abby interrupted Ziva's musings and she looked up at her startled.
She smiled at Abby. "You have a good heart, Abby. I will never say anything to Tony."
"But you will give me all the juicy details as they happen, won't you?" Abby smile was wide and happy.
Ziva laughed. "Well, maybe not all of the details. But I will keep you informed of "developments" as they happen."
"And what has developed so far?" Abby asked.
Ziva smiled. "We sort of had a date today."
"What! And you are here with me now? Are you crazy?"
"Abby! We both had plans. Nothing is going to happen overnight."
"Come on, Ziva. It's been going on since the day you met."
"Perhaps," Ziva looked at Abby, surprised that she had been watching them all these years. "But whatever had been 'going on' as you put it, it is now different. It requires a change in habit, in mind set."
"I never saw Tony and me as a romantic couple." Abby frowned at that.
Ziva held up her hand. "What I mean is, I never saw Tony and me as being able to have a romantic relationship, to be a couple in that way. Because of the nature of our work, because of…"
"Gibbs." Abby finished for her.
"Well, yes I suppose. But I think Gibbs is more of a deterrent for Tony than for me. Tony has been with Gibbs far longer than I have. And my relationship with Gibbs is quite different than the one Tony has with him."
Abby looked surprised. "How so?"
Ziva shrugged. "Tony needs his approval. He will do what Gibbs expects, but what he expects is what is best for us, his team."
"And you don't need his approval?" Abby asked suspiciously.
"Of'course I do!' Ziva answered. "But I also expect Gibbs to want my happiness to be more important than his rules. Some of which are very good and should never be ignored."
Abby smiled smugly. "But not Rule #12."
Ziva laughed. "It is actually a rule that has merit. But I think his reasons for the rule are personal, not professional."
Abby considered that.
"So, you do feel something for Tony? I don't want him to get hurt." Abby looked nervous, as if she was afraid that Ziva was going to burst her bubble.
"Abby, my dear friend." Ziva reassured her. "I love Tony DiNozzo with all my heart. And now you must promise to never ever ever tell him I told you that!"
Abby zipped her mouth and held up her hand. She then got up and gave Ziva a big hug. "I knew it!"
NCIS Headquarters, Monday morning
"Morning, Zee-vah!" Tony called out as he entered the bullpen and dropped his stuff on his desk. "How was your 'date' with Abby?"
Ziva pretended to be mad. "It was not a 'date', Tony. We just had a nice dinner and some girl talk."
"Did I come up in the conversation?" Tony asked obliquely.
"Maybe…" Ziva teased him. She looked up and gave him a sultry smile that almost made him faint.
Tony was trying to come up with some witty retort when McGee showed up.
"Hey, Ziva! Did you and Abby have a good time Saturday?"
Tony whipped his head around to look at McGee. "How did you know they had a date, McNowitall?"
McGee smiled. "Abby tells me lots of things, Tony."
Tony frowned at that. He looked back over at Ziva, who was smiling to herself as she was looking through her email.
Tony picked up his phone, about to call Abby, when McGee spoke up.
"Hey, look at this! The space shuttle is going to do a fly-over DC before it is taken to Dulles!"
Tony dropped the phone, which caused Ziva and McGee to look up.
"Are you ok, Tony? You look like you have seen a ghost!" McGee frowned.
Tony cleared his throat. "Well, isn't that interesting that the space shuttle is actually going to fly over DC. When is this happening?"
McGee and Ziva exchanged looks.
"Uh, let's see. Tuesday, April 17th. Looks like it will enter DC airspace around 10 am." McGee was reading the article from his computer.
Tony thoughts were racing through his head. "This was really happening! I am not going to screw this up!"
He got up suddenly.
"Where are you going, Tony? Ziva asked, surprised. After all, he had just arrived.
Tony looked guilty. "Uh, I just need to make a quick call. I will be right back."
Ziva looked at him suspiciously and her eyes followed him as he headed toward the elevator. She turned quickly back to McGee.
McGee just looked at her. "Don't look at me. Half the time, I have no idea what is going on in Tony's head."
Ziva had an inkling what was going on in Tony's head, but was confused why news about the space shuttle should cause such a reaction.
Tony kept pressing the "G" button on the elevator, as if doing that actually made the elevator go more quickly. He bolted out of the car as soon as the doors opened and went outside.
He needed privacy, and the grassy park outside their building assured him he was away from probing ears.
He quickly dialed the number.
"Yes! Hi, this is Agent DiNozzo. Yes, that's right. I've made my decision. I want to move forward."
Catherine Cummings smiled, sitting at her desk in her Real Estate office. "That is wonderful news, Mr. DiNozzo. I will write up the contract right now. I recommend that you offer the full asking price, since it is being offered so much below market."
"Yes, whatever you think. I can get over to you office to sign the contract right away."
"Mr. DiNozzo. Can I ask you a question? What made you make you decision so quickly?"
Tony looked up at the building where Ziva David was sitting and smiled. "Let's just say I am ready to live my life as I see it."
Glad you liked it. Obviously, I am totally ignoring the events of the finale, since they mess up my story line. With enough encourage, I will continue this in a new story. Cheers!