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[This is pretty much a Tiva fic, so fair warning. However, my desire is to keep the characters as true to themselves as possible. You will not find a suddenly emotional Ziva seeking healing from Tony in the form of sex. You will not find pure fluff. This takes place supposedly at the beginning of Season 9. I do not own NCIS or the characters, nor do I claim to do so.]

There was a silence hanging in the air around the bullpen. It was awkward, but bearable. Very Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo was not as his desk. Perhaps that is what made it bearable. Four months had passed since Mike Franks was laid to rest. Since the port-to-port killer, Jonas Cobb, had been taken out.

Four months since Ray left. Ziva reached into the bottom draw of her desk, her hand pushing past papers and desk debris to the small box nestled there. She wasn't about to pull it into view. Tony was not there to see, but something in her absolutely did not want him to know about that box. That promise. Her fingers brushed over the smoothness of the cube, over the sharpness of the edges. Her eyes drifted to it before she returned its temporary home. A thought that had drifted into her mind, nagging each time she saw that box, reignited.

Empty.

Was Ziva looking to marry Ray? No, if she was honest. Not yet. He had kept things from her; and now he was off to parts unknown for who knew how long. Work, of course. She understood. Or, at the least, she told herself that. After four months of bare-bones communication, it was easier to hold on to doubt than hope. At the end of the day, Ray Cruz had left, and he had left her with an empty box.

"Good morning, Agent Da-Veed." Tony leaned over the partition of her desk space, aviators on, along with his usual smarmy smirk to match the tone in which he liked to pronounce her name.

"You are late, Tony." Ziva said, not choosing to look at him yet.

"What else is new?" McGee. He had finished doing..well, whatever he was doing, and set a stack of papers on Tony's desk, shooting his partner a teasing smile. Tony would not see the uncertainty in Tim's expression, but Ziva did. She knew. Timothy knew. Since the port-to-port killer's case was wrapped up, he'd grown..distant. At first, Ziva suspected it was simply malaise due to EJ being gone. But that thought had evolved. Tony was keeping things from them again. It made Ziva think of Jeanne. It made her think of Ray. And she didn't care for secrets.

"Ha ha," Tony replied in a flat retaliation as he wheeled over to his workspace, his smarm damaged. His desk phone rang as he settled in his chair; prompting Tony to immediately pick up the receiver, prop his feet up on his desk, and say in the smoothest voice he could muster, "Very Special Agent DiNozzo, NCIS~"

Ziva began to type at her computer, largely tuning out the phone conversation. She checked her e-mail. She smiled tensely at the screen and deleted one of Tony's messages to which he had 'replied to all'. Drove her crazy. Gibbs strolled through, coffee in hand. She smelled that dark, bitter roast before she saw or heard her boss. Still, she liked that smell. He passed without a word, ruffling the air around her in his gait. Life was never quiet here, but today..

Today would be peaceful.

Or that's what she thought, until Tony hung the phone up with a cordial and automated goodbye.

"So, Zee-vah," he said, exaggerating her name. "What was oh-so interesting in your desk when I arrived?"

Dammit.

Ziva stiffened and gave Tony a cold stare, eyes narrowed dangerously. She could see McGee in her peripheral vision, working, but clearly listening in. "I do not know what you are talking about." She noticed that Gibbs had gotten up and gone, leaving only the lingering aroma of his brew behind.

"Oh, come on!" Tony chided with an insufferable grin. "You had your hand in that bottom drawer for minutes on end for no reason?" Had he been there longer than she realized?

"Did I get anything out?"

"No."

"Then most people would conclude that it was nothing."

"Am I most people?"

"Unfortunately, no you are not."

"Ouch."

Ziva smiled a fraction as Tony clutched his heart in mock-hurt. He was being unusually friendly..or annoying, rather, in light of the last few months.

He grinned and turned back to another phone call. Praise God. Ziva continued about her work. Uneventful. Then she got up to go to the ladies' room.


"Psst. McCurious." Tony whispered, lobbing a ball of paper at McGee the moment Ziva was out of sight. It struck him on the temple, prompting a victory gesture from DiNozzo.

"What?" McGee sighed, irritation layered under his tone.

"Did you see what Ziva had in her desk?"

"No, Tony. I didn't."

"Find out."

McGee looked to Tony, eyes wide not in surprise, but more in reaction as to how ridiculous it sounded. "I'm not going through Ziva's stuff."

"Come on!" Tony encouraged, "Aren't you curious, McScaredypants?"

"Of course. But I'm not ready to die, Tony."

Tony knew time was ticking. His blue eyes flickered back and forth. "Watch for her." The special agent practically vaulted over his desk to get to the one directly across from his. He flung the bottom drawer open with McGee's protests filtered out somewhere between his ears and his brain. Grinning like an idiot, he dug around for the object of his desire, triumphantly delivering an "Ah-ha!" as his fingers closed over the edge of the velvet box. Then Tony set his eyes on it and his heart seized.

"Tony?" He heard Tim say, who must have seen the sudden shift in his expression.

"It's a box."

"A..box, Tony?"

"A box. For an engagement ring."

Tim started at that, jumping from his desk to eye the container himself. "Did Ray..?" he began, but Tony cut him off.

"I dunno." His mind was racing. Humor was gone. There was no thrill of happiness or excitement in his heart. Just dread.


You haven't written to me in a week
I'm wondering why that is
Are you too nervous to be lovers
Friendship's ruined with just one kiss?
I watched you very closely, I saw you look away
Your eyes are either gray or blue
I'm never close enough to say

[lyrics by Jaymay]