NCIS: Tooth and Nail, Part 2

Tooth and Nail, Part 2

NCIS Fan Fiction Series – Story 3

It was Friday morning in Tel Aviv. Ziva and Tony decided to shower together, then head downstairs to the restaurant for breakfast. As they waited for their order, they began to talk. “Tony,” Ziva admitted, “after last night, I only have one regret.”

“What is that?” Tony inquired.

“We did not do this sooner,” Ziva responded with a coy grin. “I could always tell you found me attractive, despite all the taunting you give me in the office. I guess we were both worried about what would happen if we decided we weren’t for each other.”

“I’ve gone to the end of the Earth and back for you,” Tony answered, “and I’ll do it again in a heartbeat. I love you, sweet cheeks, and I would never hurt you.”

“I love you too, my little hairy butt. I will always have your back, and if you ever hurt me, you’ll have at least three people waiting to kill you.” As Ziva reached across the table to kiss her partner, the waiter arrived with their breakfast.

As the couple began to eat, they turned back to business. Between intimate encounters with his partner, Tony thought about all she had been through before, and during, her time with NCIS. What if, Tony thought, someone else was manipulating Ziva’s life. “I was thinking, whoever is after the great Eli David, they may have tried to use his family as the tool of his demise.”

“How so?”

“Let’s start with Ari. I’m sure that he knew from the start that he was being trained to be a mole in Hamas. But what made him want to turn on his father?”

“Ari said that he resented him for killing his mother.”

But Mossad is an intelligence agency, and Eli wasn’t even director when the attack happened. He might have known when they would occur, but he couldn’t have ordered them. Do you know if Eli was in contact with Ari’s mother back then?”

“I doubt that my father would have known when or where Ari’s mother would be working.”

“In order to insure that Ari’s mother was killed, they would have had to make sure she was there when the strike happened. With his mother gone, Ari changes from kind and protective big brother to cold and spiteful monster. Your father realizes that Ari had turned on him, and sends you stateside to clean up his mess. You were still loyal to your brother, until you realized what he had become. Now your relationship with Eli became strained. Which leaves us with Tali.”

“Tali always had a kind heart. While my father had to hide his emotions, Tali wore them on her sleeve.”

“Thus, Eli would be suspicious if someone had turned Tali against him. She had to be eliminated. With Tali out of the picture, Eli is broken-hearted, even if he doesn’t show it. Two children are dead, and you have written him out of his life. For the coup de grâce, they let the Palestinian Resistance Front in on Eli’s trip to Washington.”

“They thought I would intentionally screw up, that I would let him die.”

“That was the first thing that went wrong with their plan. Now, your relationship with your father has started to heal. The trap they spent a decade setting failed. Now, it’s time for Plan ‘Bravo.’”

“They leak information on Mossad operatives to Hamas, which uses the latest rocket attacks as a shield to kill Mossad officers. As Mossad ops start to fail, the blame would go straight to the director.”

“The only thing is, back in ’01, someone knew that Tail was targeted for assassination. They alert Hetty, Hetty saves Tali and moves her to Kansas, where she starts a new life. Fast forward to today: Tali gets a call from a friend. Her friend shows her pictures of Mossad operatives and a note revealing the fact that they are compromised. Tali reaches Malachi and arranges a dead drop. Dead drop is executed. Malachi sees the photos and contacts Eli. Eli contacts Vance; Vance calls us. We investigate and find the fingerprint. Fingerprint comes back to Tali and her new identity. Gibbs checks it out. Not only do we know what they’re up against, but Tali is back in play.”

Ziva nodded in acknowledgment. In some respects, she knew her life had been manipulated. It was one of the reasons she left Mossad and became a naturalized US citizen. What was somewhat surprising was the fact that Tony had realized it might not have been her father pulling the strings. “Clearly you’ve given this some thought,” she noted. “Last night must have been a very stimulating experience for you.”

The NCIS office in Dubai arranged a flight for Ziva and Tony, and reserved a room at the Burj al Arab. The duo arrived in Dubai and checked in three hours before their scheduled meeting. “I’m beginning to love this op. I get to stay in the best hotels, with the most beautiful woman to share it with.”

Ziva moved in on her partner. Using what Tony called her ‘Mossad ninja skills,’ she pushed DiNozzo onto the bed. “We’ve got a couple of hours before the meeting,” she noted.

Tony looked into her chocolate-brown eyes and saw a spark of passion in her that he hadn’t seen before. “If we let it all out now,” Tony replied, “Then we’ll be too tired tonight.” As he finished his remarks, he ran his fingers into Ziva long, wavy brown hair. “When I said I couldn’t live without you, I meant every word.”

“I know,” Ziva answered as she kissed her partner.

After cuddling together for an hour and a half, they had showered and got dressed for the meeting. Ziva wore a sleeveless red dress, while Tony had a black pinstriped suit with a crisp white shirt and Navy blue tie. “Are you ready?” Tony asked his partner.

“As ready as I’ll ever be, hahebh shely,” Ziva answered.

Tony’s eyes widened at Ziva’s response. As they exited the hotel room door, he offered his arm. “Mio amore, you look absolutely stunning,” he responded to Ziva’s Hebrew with a little Italian.

They entered the hotel restaurant arm in arm and were brought to their contact’s table. “Lauren told me to expect two NCIS agents. I did not know you would fly all the way from Washington.”

“What do you know about the packet that you gave to her?” Ziva inquired.

“I know that it was directed towards Mossad director David, and that it was intended to be delivered to after the new year. Supposedly, by then, every Mossad operative in that packet would be killed or neutralized. As to who created the packet, I only know that he is Israeli.”

“How can you be sure?” Tony asked.

“I am a linguist, I can identify a person’s origins by how they speak,” the contact stated. “Your accent is distinctly American,” he pointed out to DiNozzo. “You came from ‘old money,’ yet went to school at a public university in the midwest. As for your companion, she is clearly Israeli, albeit slightly Americanized. She sounds a lot like Lauren. To be honest, it wouldn’t surprise me if she was your sister.” Ziva and Tony exchanged glances. Both were clearly intrigued by his accurate guessing of the relationship between her and the woman their contact knows as ‘Lauren.’ “My contact among the Palestinians gave me a recording of a conversation with your mole.” He handed Ziva a new flash drive. “Perhaps somebody in Mossad can identify the voice. In the meantime, enjoy your dinner.”

As their contact left, a waiter arrived and provided the couple with menus and took their drink orders. After the waiter left, they began to talk. “It’s beginning to look more and more like this is a case of personal animus towards your father,” Tony opined.

“I agree,” Ziva noted. “As you implied this morning, whoever is behind this is playing a long game.”

“There is one other thing,” Tony pointed out. “Someone else knew of this game, and gave us a shot of winning. You owe a debt of gratitude to whoever informed Hetty Lange about Tali.”

Ziva acknowledged Tony with a smile as the waiter returned to take their orders.

Tali, Gibbs, and McGee gathered in the conference room to discuss what they knew. Gibbs reached under the conference room table to activate SCIF mode. “I think we need to put together a timeline of my father’s life,” Tali noted, “Where do we start?”

“Amsterdam, 1991.” Gibbs replied.

“At the time,” Tali stated, “My parents were separated, and my father was relieved of his duty. From what I remember, he went up to Amsterdam on his time off.”

“Where he ran into a young recruit named Leon Vance,” McGee noted. “They held off a Russian hit squad with homemade Claymores.”

“It was supposed to be a suicide mission,” Gibbs continued. “Leon was supposed to be sacrificed to advance Riley McAlister’s career. Instead, Leon’s stock rose,”

“I take it you’re thinking there was, or is, someone in Mossad similar to this Agent McAlister. Someone who had sought the top chair, only to be sabotaged by my father’s return to grace.”

“McGee, bios of all Mossad agents from 1991 who are still alive.”

“On it, boss.” Tim searched through the Mossad database Eli had provided. “Here’s everyone that were Mossad officers in ’91.” McGee brought up the results onto the main display.

“I don’t recognize any of them,” Tali answered. “However, my dad never brought his work home with him. This entry, however, is interesting. Tzachi Noir retired in 2000, about the time I noticed some changes in our family.”

“What sort of changes?” Gibbs asked.

“Something changed with my brother. He became colder and more distant. Knowing what I know now, that was probably the point where he descended into the monster you encountered.”

“He retired as a liaison to the IDF,” Tim pointed out. “He would have known the details of any IDF action in Gaza, and could have arranged for the murder of Hasmia Haswari.”

“Open up a line with LA,” Tali instructed. “I want to get Hetty’s thoughts.” Tim promptly set up a video conference with Hetty in Los Angeles. “Hetty, we were going over who could possibly be the mole in Mossad. What do you know about a former Mossad officer named Tzachi Noir.”

Hetty thought for a moment before responding. “Officer Noir was a good agent, but he had the air of an arrogant bastard,” she noted. “If he had an animus toward Eli David, he would be the kind that would stab him in the back.”

“Thank you, Hetty,” Tali concluded. “Gibbs, I think we’ve got ourselves a suspect.”

“McGee, contact Eli, let him know what we got. Ziva and DiNozzo will be back there tomorrow afternoon.” Gibbs de-activated SCIF mode and exited the room.

Tony and Ziva spent the evening in Dubai. Unlike the previous night of unbridled passion, the couple mainly conversed and cuddled. The next morning, they woke up together. “Good morning, sweet cheeks,” Tony said to his partner.

“Tony, not now,” Ziva answered, thinking that Tony was looking for sexual intimacy.

“We’re on the first flight back to Tel Aviv,” Tony stated. “It’s time to get up, Ziva.”

“Since you’re awake already, you can take a shower. I’ll be right behind you.”

“Okay, but you better be out of this bed when I get out of the shower.” Before heading to the bathroom, Tony gave Ziva a peck on the cheek.

“I love you, too, Tony.”

After Tony finished his shower, Ziva was out of bed as she assured her partner. She had logged on to the laptop to check her email. “Gibbs has a suspect for us. Malachi and Liat are going to pick him up. They’re waiting for us in Tel Aviv.”

“Well, in that case,” Tony quipped, as he took the laptop from Ziva. “We’d better get going.” As Ziva headed to the bathroom to take her shower, Tony began to pack his things. While packing, he pondered his relationship with Ziva. I have to be honest with myself, he thought, I am in love with Ziva David, and have been for a long time. E. J. knew it; Wendy knew it, why in hell did I not realize it sooner.

Tony also realized the concerns he had with his relationship. First off, while Ziva clearly loved him, he wasn’t sure if she was in love with him. There’s also concerns on how it would affect their working relationship.

Ziva interrupted his thoughts as she got out of her shower. “Something wrong, Tony?”

“No,” DiNozzo replied.

Ziva looked directly into Tony’s eyes. She could see the look of concern in him. “You’re lying,” Ziva noted, maintaining eye contact with her partner. “Is it about us?” Tony’s eyes continue to betray him. “I think we’ve been trying to deny the fact that we are in love with each other for too long,” she stated, breaking the tension between them.

Tony saw the gleam in Ziva’s eyes that told him what she just said was genuine. “The chemistry between us is undeniable. Our partnership is going to change, whether we like it or not.”

“For both our sakes, hopefully, it will be for the better.”

The return flight to Tel Aviv was uneventful. It gave Ziva and Tony more time to process their thoughts regarding both the case and the change in their relationship. Tony, in particular, gave his partner some space, which Ziva saw as unusual for him, as well as a signal of his emotional state.

It was all business when the returned to Mossad headquarters. Between the recording they received from Dubai and the brainstorming session in DC, the Tel Aviv team had been given enough data to take action. First, they listened to the recording provided by Tali’s friend in Dubai. The conversation was in Arabic, meaning Tony had to get a ‘Cliff’s Notes’ summary from his partner. “He’s giving him the names and current assignments of Mossad operatives working near the Gaza border.”

“His tone is calm and authoritative,” Liat noted. “Clearly, if he is out for revenge against Director David, he is suppressing his outward emotions.

“No matter whose voice is on the recording, these operatives have been burned,” Tony noted, “however, pulling them out opens a Catch-22.”

“If we pull them out, he will know we’re in on him,” Malachi stated. “It could make the situation even more dangerous.”

The ring of the operations room telephone interrupted their conversation. Liat answered and took a message. “That was a report from IDF. They found the body of one of our operatives. He was on the burn list.”

Ziva quietly cursed to herself in Hebrew. The carnage continues, she thought. “Grab your gear,” Ziva ordered. “It’s our investigation!”

“Looks like you two will be receiving first-hand experience on investigating a murder scene,” Tony quipped.

At the scene, Ziva took the lead. Tony showed his ‘probies’ the lay of the land. Malachi took photos while Liat sketched. “Definitely looks like a stabbing. Get some close-ups of these stab wounds.”

“So, how are things between you and Ziva?” Malachi asked he he took the close-ups.

“It’s very serious,” Tony stated bluntly.

“You really do love each other.”

“Yeah, I think it’s something we’ve finally come to terms with.” Tony noted. “I don’t suppose we have any witnesses?”

“Liat is interviewing them. No offense, but IDF is a little wary of foreigners interviewing their personnel.”

“It also doesn’t help me that I don’t know Hebrew,” Tony quipped. “Pero, yo hablo español muy bien.”

“That might help you in Mexico; here, not so much.”

Liat approached the rest of the team with what she gathered in her witness interview. “They found the body an hour ago. They took his fingerprint. When it came back to Mossad, they contacted us.

“Anything else worth noting?” Tony asked.

Rigor hasn’t set in yet,” Ziva added. “There’s also no blood pooling on the ground. It’s clear that his body was dumped.”

“Well, we’ve got the body, but I doubt Mossad has a morgue to put him in.” Tony noted. “Nor do they have an M.E.”

“I’m sure we could borrow a freezer, and of course, consult with Ducky,” Ziva commented.

It was early morning in Washington when Gibbs heard a knock on his front door. He knew it wasn’t anyone on his team  they all knew his door was always open. “Agent Gibbs,” Tali said as Gibbs opened the door. “I’m sorry to bother you.”

“My door is always open,” Gibbs answered, “especially for family.”

“I got a text message this morning,” Tali stated. “It was from an Israeli number.”

“What did it say?”

“‘Hello Tali.’”

It went without saying that she told few people her real name, and the phone was registered to the name she assumed when she moved to the states. Gibbs immediately got onto his cell phone to call everyone in. “McGee, call Abby and meet me at the office. We need to trace a text message.”

McGee and Abby quickly traced the originating number that sent the text message. It was a prepaid cell phone; however, the phone had a GPS chip.

“Boss,” McGee stated, “We got a location on the phone.”

“Where is it?” Gibbs inquired.

“Looks like the GPS has it in Netanya.”

“That’s just up the coast from Tel Aviv,” Tali noted as Gibbs began to call Ziva’s cell phone.

Ziva received the call from Gibbs regarding the text message that her sister had received, as well as the trace on the cell phone. The Tel Aviv team immediately dispatched to Netanya to find the phone, as well as the caller.

The coordinates Gibbs gave them led to a warehouse. The team checked the entrances. Ziva and Tony entered from the rear, while Malachi and Liat guarded the front. They followed the sounds of two people talking. “It’s definitely Arabic,” Ziva noted. “However, both of them are speaking with a Palestinian accent.”

“Still, they can help lead us to Mr. Big,” Tony noted. He radioed their backup regarding the situation while Ziva advanced on the Palestinians. “We got two suspects, both Palestinian. Move in.” Ziva caught both suspects unaware. They tried to reach for their weapons, but instead they found themselves at the end of another gun. “I wouldn’t try that, we’ve got a whole army surrounding the building.” Tony boasted.

“I find that hard to believe,” one of the suspects responded.

“Would you believe two of Mossad’s best assassins?” Unlike when Don Adams pulled the ‘would you believe’ card, Tony’s second boast was both truthful and plausible to the Palestinians.

“Really, Tony?” Ziva stated as Malachi and Liat moved in. As the Mossad operatives cuffed the Palestinians, Ziva and Tony searched the room. “I believe this is what we were looking for.” Ziva looked through the text messages, and found the message sent to Tali.

“Congratulations, you just earned yourself a trip to Tel Aviv, where you’ll be treated to an interrogation, American style. If you play nice, we may just drop you off in Tulkarem.”

The Palestinian suspects were seated in adjacent interrogation rooms. Tony took on the older one, who knew enough English to fall for Tony’s wise crack. “So, here’s the deal. We know you’ve been given information on Mossad operatives in Palestinian territory from inside Mossad. We know who, and we know what his motives are. What about you, what do you get from this bargain.”

“I get the pleasure of killing Mossad swine like you.”

“Well, I know my partner thinks I’m a pig sometimes,” Tony answered, “but, you see, I’m not Mossad. I’m just here helping a friend out.”

“Ah, your partner must be Eli David’s daughter. I should have killed her when I had the chance. Being made a martyr by your hand would have been a bonus.”

“Well, I’m sorry you didn’t get your chance to be with your 72 virgins. However, your friend in Mossad is playing you for his personal gain. He’s only in it to bring Eli David down, and take his place as Mossad director. Once he’s back on top, he’ll be more than happy to turn the tables against you.”

“It would still leave Mossad in a weakened position. Even if he stabbed me in the back, my people would still be able to strike against the Jewish infidels.”

“We’re not really interested in what you were planning. Though if I were your contact in Hamas, I’d assume that you’ve disclosed information to the Israelis. Plans will have to be canceled and/or changed. What we really want, however, is your source. He’s got a much bigger target on his back than you do. Your friend has got the eyes of the United States Navy and Marine Corps trained upon him. This has nothing to do with you  this is a feud between two Israelis. You tell us where he is, and we won’t let anyone know you were captured. The choice is yours.”

In the observation room, Ziva and Liat were watching Tony grill the suspect. “Do you think Tony can break this guy?”

“This guy’s a small fish,” Ziva stated, “and Tony has interrogated bigger. He’s even stood up to the director questioning him.”

“So, how are things going between the two of you?” Liat inquired. “Do not try to deny the fact that you two have been sleeping together.”

“We are getting into a rhythm,” Ziva answered with a straight face.

“How is in he bed?” Liat looked right into Ziva’s eyes for a reaction. Although Ziva tried to keep a straight face, her eyes told Liat all she needed to know. “He must be pretty good.”

“I did not say anything.”

“No, but your eyes could not remain quiet. You were definitely turned on.”

“Fine, Tony and I had amazing sex, and I am not sharing him with you.”

“I know,” Liat answered. “Ever since the two of you got back from Dubai, you two have clearly claimed each other.”

Before Liat could say any more, Tony left the interrogation room and opened the door to observation. “He’s singing like a canary,” Tony stated. “Are you two ready for an extraction?”

Tony and Ziva contacted Gibbs to let him know about the extraction. Gibbs, McGee, and Tali helped oversee the plan from MTAC. “Ziver, do you read me?”

Loud and clear, Gibbs.


Five by five, boss. We’re on the road as we speak.

“Ziva driving?” Tali asked.

No, Liat is behind the wheel,” Tony responded.

“Then you should be safe. I do remember my sister’s crazy driving.”

I don’t suppose you are a better driver,” Ziva retorted.

“I learned how to drive in Kansas. The worst thing I had to deal with is a freeway full of crazy drivers.” Gibbs shot Tali a glare that indicated ‘Cut the small talk.’ Tali promptly complied.

Once the Tel Aviv team arrived at the apartment complex where their target was located, Ziva and Tony walked down the block, using the chemistry that had developed between them to their advantage. The pair walked into the building, called the elevator, and hit the button for the top floor. In the elevator, the partners looked at each other with true longing. Ziva made the first move by wrapping her arms around Tony and delivering a deep kiss. “You’re too good to me, sweet cheeks,” Tony stated as the elevator dinged for their floor.

The DC team was able to get an infrared view of the building. “Target is in the apartment,” Gibbs stated.

“Roger that,” Ziva answered. She continued to flirt with Tony as they got to their target’s door. Once there, they began a full blown make-out session.

You’re doing good,” Gibbs noted.

“Just doing what comes natural,” Tony responded.

Be ready,” Tali added. “Target is heading your way.” On cue, an elderly gentleman opened the door and said something in Hebrew that the American field agent did not understand. “He basically said ‘Get a room.’

“I’m sorry to bother you. I just met this girl at the club. I don’t know what got into me. She’s simply amazing,” As Tony distracted the gentleman, Ziva had exited his field of view and silently drew her weapon. “And she’s also got her gun drawn at you. Anthony DiNozzo, US Naval Criminal Investigative Service. Our friends over at Mossad would like to speak to you.”

The Mossad team returned to headquarters with their suspect, which they had identified as their initial suspect, Tzachi Noir. They brought him into an interrogation room, where he was grilled by Eli David personally.

During the middle of the interrogation, Tony entered the observation room. “Got his print off of the cell phone. How is he doing against the director?”

“His tone suggests that he absolutely hates Eli,” Liat noted. “Eli, however, has maintained an authoritative tone. If there was bad blood between these two, it is definitely one-sided. His voice also matches the Israeli voice on our audio recording.”

“He’s admitted to being the mole, as well as manipulating Ari.” Ziva stated as she continued to listen to the interrogation. “Tzachi also indicated that it wasn’t just the director’s chair he was coveting.”

Tony did not have to think twice about what she meant. “Lost out on the job and the girl. This guy’s got some serious issues. There’s only one question I’m sure Eli would be asking, How did he find out Tali was still alive?”

As if on cue, Eli asked Tzachi the question. Ziva listened intently to their suspect’s reply. “He had arranged for the bombing, as we thought,” Ziva stated. “Ima found out and got a hold of Hetty. Soon after the bombing, he took her out.”

Tony placed his hand on his partner’s shoulder to comfort her as she began to cry. “It’s over. He will never see the light of day again.”

Monday morning in Washington, Tali showed up in the NCIS bullpen. “Hey, Tim,” she called out.

“Hey,” McGee replied. “What brings you here?”

“Now that we know who was targeting me back in Israel, I thought it would be time to put Lauren Sloane to rest. Vance and Hetty are arranging a meeting with the US State Department to smooth out any issues.”

“What are your plans?”

“I’ve got a life here that I don’t intend on leaving,” Tali answered. “I would like to eventually return to Israel to visit my father. I don’t think I have to worry about anyone targeting me.”

Director Vance overlooked the bullpen and observed Tali talking to Tim. “Miss David, State is ready to see you in MTAC.”

“On my way, director,” Tali replied.

With the Mossad mole caught and dealt with, Tony and Ziva had a chance to enjoy their last day in Tel Aviv together before flying back to DC. They had said their goodbyes to Eli, Malachi, and Liat before sightseeing.

By the time they returned to the hotel, the two could not keep their eyes, nor their hands, off of each other. The entire day, Ziva had thought about all that has happened to her over the past week. Her sister was alive, at the cost of her mother. Her life had been a pawn in a blind chess match between Eli David and Tzachi Noir.

No one knew, however, the impact that Anthony DiNozzo would bring to the mix. He had become her emotional rock, offering his embrace, even if she didn’t realize she needed it. There was an unspoken bond of trust between these partners. Tonight, Ziva looked into her partner’s eyes and saw the white hot flame of passion in them. She knew that that same passion was burning within her.

Before the partners could quench their tension, Tony noticed a small bag on the dresser, with a card addressed to both of them. He started by opening the envelope as Ziva looked at him with longing eyes. “‘We thought the two of you would get a kick out of this. Be sure to save some for when you get home. Signed, Malachi and Liat.’” Tony looked in the bag and pulled out two tins of honey dust.

“I seem to remember that it is your favorite erotic gift,” Ziva growled as she grabbed one of the tins.

Tony ran his fingers through Ziva’s hair as he planted his lips gently upon hers. “I haven’t bought honey dust for a long time. I decided to save it for a very special woman.”

Ziva and Tony returned home Tuesday afternoon. To their surprise, it was not a member of the team that met them at the airport. It was, however, part of their family. “Shalom, Ziva.” Tali stated. “I see you two have had a good flight.”

“Any flight on a Gulfstream is a good flight,” Tony quipped.

“Judging by the glow I’m seeing on the two of you, you also joined the ‘mile high’ club.” Both Tony and Ziva turned red. “That’s what I thought,” Tali answered as she opened her car’s trunk. As Tony loaded the suitcases, Tali continued talking. “I heard you played basketball at Ohio State.”

“I did,” Tony noted.

“Don’t be mad at this Jayhawk when we beat the Buckeyes this coming Saturday.”

“I do not think I have heard of this Jay Hawk.” Ziva added.

“It’s the mascot of my alma mater, the University of Kansas,” Tali responded. “Eight straight conference championships, DiNozzo. They play in Columbus on Saturday.”

“I’d love to watch the game with you,” Tony said, “and I know it will be a great game. However, I’m expecting my dad this weekend.”

“I know about Ziva’s strained relationship with our father,” Tali noted, “and your strained relationship with your father. The two of you need to spend time together mending fences. So, I won’t tease you too hard, for now.”

Tony and Ziva had the afternoon off to decompress before returning to the Navy Yard on Wednesday. That evening at 6:00, Tony heard a knock on his door. He opened it to find Tali on the other side. “I didn’t expect to see you so soon,” Tony noted, “and I didn’t expect you to find my apartment. I’ve never invited anyone into my apartment, not even Ziva.”

“I’ve got my own way of gathering intelligence on you,” Tali teased. As she was commenting, Tony noticed that she was wearing a blue Kansas sweatshirt. “I figured we’d get together for a little warm up before Saturday’s game. I see you’ve got your Buckeye gear on.” Tali noted. “Hope you don’t mind flipping between games.”

“Or,” Tony noted, “There’s a sports bar down the block, we could watch both games at the same time.”

“You really aren’t one for having company at your place,” Tali noted. She looked around the apartment. “Despite your jocular attitude, and your close friends at work, deep down, it seems, you are a lonely boy. I know you’ve started to come out of your shell, but someday, you’re going to have to ditch that shell completely.”

“What are you, a psychiatrist?” Tony inquired.

“No, I’m just your partner’s sister.” Tali noticed the baby grand piano in the main living room. “You play?”

“Once in a while,” Tony noted. “I haven’t had the chance to do so lately.”

Tali played a quick scale, starting at middle C. “I see you keep it well-maintained. One of these days, you need to play for your family.”