jelena says: Because everyone was so nice about the first chapter, here’s the second chapter posted faster than I would normally post it.
It’s 1730. In the world that exists outside the bubble of this team, office workers are turning off their computers, gathering their belongings and heading out the door to go home. If he were to leave the Navy Yard right now, Tony would find the streets clogged with cars and the sidewalks crammed with people. While he often gets caught in the commuter chaos in the morning, rarely does it bother him in the evenings. It’s one of the up sides to working extended hours. He hates the chaos, and he’s glad to avoid it.
The problem he faces now is that he really does need to leave the Yard. He needs coffee. He only had a regular size on his way in at 0700. His plan was to pace himself today, but he’d never gotten around to getting another cup at lunch as he’d intended. In fact, they’d been so busy combing through old case files that he never even gotten around to eating lunch. All he’s had since his breakfast bagel and coffee is half a chocolate bar he’d found in Ziva’s desk drawer. He is starving on top of being caffeine deprived, but right now the need for java is his biggest concern. If he wants to feel vaguely normal again, he will have to leave the office bubble and venture into the real world.
He plants his hands resolutely on his desk before standing and patting his right butt cheek for his wallet. His fingers pull out the familiar square of soft leather that’s beginning to fall apart at the seams and he flips it open. He hopes to find real money in there amongst random business cards, receipts and loyalty cards he never uses. Payday seems like a long time ago.
“Are you getting coffee?”
The request is made by a rumpled and hopeful looking McGee. Tony’s not sure that the probie has left his desk all day, and so he has pity.
“I’ll get you one, but it has to be a normal one,” Tony tells him. “I’m not ordering one of your cinnamon…soy…extra cream whatevers.” He waves his hand dismissively in McGee’s direction.
“Regular latte’s fine,” McGee says. “I really don’t care as long as it’s coffee.”
“Got it,” he says, and walks around his desk towards Ziva. “You want one?”
Ziva’s expression turns pained and, Good Lord, he might be hallucinating but she is almost certain he sees her pout.
“Yes,” she says, “but I will not have one. Thank you anyway.”
He props his elbow up on the partition beside her desk and leans a few degrees to the left. “You sure? We’re not getting out of here until, well, Easter seems reasonable.”
She makes a face that is either a smile or a grimace and presses the ball of her hand against her sternum. “I know. But I am having chest pains, and I do not think coffee will help that.”
Her admission to experiencing physical pain alarms him—he can think of no less than three occasions in the last year where she had blood practically gushing out of a wound and she still insisted she was completely fine. Ziva does not, as a rule, allow physical weakness the time of day. He aims a concerned eyebrow at McGee, who throws one right back at him, and they both return their attention to the heretofore pain-immune superhero.
“Uh, not picking a fight here, sweetcheeks,” he begins, “but I’m pretty sure chest pains is one of those things that doctors on TV tell you to do something about immediately.”
She rubs her sternum again and looks irritated. “I am doing something,” she insists. “I am abstaining from coffee and sitting down restfully.”
“I don’t really think that’s an effective treatment,” McGee starts, but he closes his mouth when Ziva turns a scowl on him.
“I am not having a heart attack,” she snaps, but the effort of mustering her anger seems painful. She inhales sharply and presses both hands to her ribs, and from his position two feet from her Tony hears a soft, “Ow!”
Tony is not a trained physician. He studied some physio in college and he has a first aid certificate, and he’s saved a handful of lives using CPR. He knows how to tie a tourniquet (and when to use one) and he can dress a wound, and he knows precisely how much Advil he can take before he turns into a fricking loon. But he sucks at diagnosis and any treatment more complicated than “apply pressure to bleeding wound” or “take a nap”. So why on earth he now decides to come around behind his partner and put his hand on her forehead to check her goddamn temperature is beyond him. Because honestly, what is he going to do with the information? Assuming, of course, that he can even detect a temperature with the back of his hand (which he suspects he will not be able to). Will a heated brow in combination with chest pains have him deduce that Ziva is experiencing heart palpitations? And will he suddenly pull treatment options for such a condition out of the dark recesses of his memory? It’s unlikely. And Ziva knows it.
“What are you doing?” she asks, trying to look up at him but stymied by his hand on her forehead holding her head against his stomach.
“I actually don’t know,” he admits.
“Does she have a fever?” McGee asks in a tone that is probably 80 per cent more mothering than he intended it to be.
“It’s hard to tell,” Tony replies as McGee gets out of his chair and comes over to check on doctors DiNozzo and McGee’s first patient. “She feels kind of warm, but that might just be because I’ve got both of my hands on her.”
He feels the muscles in Ziva’s forehead move, and he assumes she is rolling her eyes. “I am warm because it is hot in here and I am in long sleeves,” she informs them.
McGee seems to weight this up before looking at Tony. “I’m quite comfortable in here. Are you hot?”
“People tell me so, and I have no reason to doubt them,” Tony replies without pause. “But temperature-wise, I am also comfortable. If anything, I’m a little cool.”
“Are you dizzy or anything?” McGee asks Ziva.
Ziva shakes her head between Tony’s hand and chest. “No, I am fine.” She lifts an arm to swat Tony’s hand away from her. “I have a headache, but I suspect that can be traced back to the two of you.”
“Irritability,” Tony says to McGee, adding another symptom to the list. “When was the last time you ate?”
She rubs her head with such force that he thinks her fingers will dent her temples. “Breakfast,” she replies. “I did not have time for lunch.” She pauses to open her desk drawer and moves a few items around. “I thought I had half a candy bar in here, but I must have eaten it.”
Tony’s eyes widen with guilt and he looks to McGee. The probie frowns and cocks his head as he works out the Mystery of the Missing Chocolate Bar, but Tony shakes his head firmly, ordering him not to rat him out.
He puts his hands on Ziva’s shoulders and gives them a gentle squeeze. “I’ll grab you something while I’m out,” he volunteers. “Chest pains are probably hunger pains, and you’ve got a headache because your blood sugar’s low.” He pauses to shoot a look at McGee, questioning whether any of that made sense. McGee shrugs a yes.
“I am fine,” she begins, but Tony groans her insistence away.
“You know, of all your catchphrases, that one is easily the most annoying,” he tells her.
He slips out from behind her desk in time to catch the scowl she aims at him. “I do not wish to trouble you,” she grits out.
“It’s no trouble,” he tells her, turning the charm in his smile up to eleven. “I’m your partner. I’m here to take care of you.”
She snorts with derision, and he can’t blame her. Nor can he fault the bitch, please McGee is giving him. But he shrugs both of them away.
“What do you want to eat?” he asks. “I’ll spot you.”
She opens her mouth to place her order, but he holds his hand up to stall her before she speaks
“Wait, I’m not getting you a falafel or a couple of lettuce leaves and tomato. You have to have something with meat.”
Ziva frowns and clearly has to revise her order. “Just something with chicken, then.”
He shakes his head firmly. “Chicken’s not meat.”
“It is too!” she argues. “It is an animal.”
“Yeah, but not a proper one,” he tells her, rolling his eyes. “I’m getting you red meat. Cow.”
“I don’t want—”
“You need iron,” he tells her, switching from physician to dietician. “And carbs, Ziva. You’re getting beef and cheese on big fat slab of bread.” He pauses while he is interrupted by the loud rumbling of his stomach. “Man, that sounds really good. I’m getting that too. A great big burger with a patty that big, Ziva.” He holds his thumb and index fingers two inches apart as his stomach rumbles with agreement. “How good does that sound right now?”
Across the room, McGee raises his hand. “I’ll have one of those too, thanks.”
Tony nods before turning back to Ziva’s expression of disgust. “Come on, it’ll be good for your soul. Even McTrim wants one.”
She twists her lips in indecision, and he decides not to wait for her refusal. He backs up towards the elevator and calls out, “I’m going to fight peak hour traffic for these burgers, Ziva. So you’re gonna eat one and you’re gonna like it.” He hits the call button for the elevator, and just before the door opens he hears her faint reply.
“Thank you, Tony.”
He gets into the elevator with a smile. Perhaps he’s not such a bad doctor after all.