Title: Fruit of the Poisonous Tree
Characters: Tony DiNozzo
Disclaimer: Don’t own them, but I am allowed to play with them by common use default
Summary: Tony makes a decision based on ill-gotten evidence
Notes: I wrote this before 9.12 Housekeeping. After seeing that episode it kind of took the wind out of my sails for this story. Keeping with my commitment to post what I write towards the inkingout challenge – here it is…
Sometimes Tony DiNozzo hated being a Senior Field Agent. Like today. The Director in all his wisdom had instituted a new rule to go along with the New Year: an SFA shall always be on call. On call - as in sitting in an empty bullpen waiting for the phone to ring so that he in turn could call the Agent In Charge for the on call duty team. Redundancy thy name is Vance.
So, while agents with lesser experience and time served got the privilege of staying home today to nurse their New Year’s hangovers, ‘On Call’ SFA DiNozzo got to enjoy a quiet New Year’s eve celebration all by himself because he had to be up at the crack-of-the-sun-hasn’t-even-risen- yet so he could sit in the bullpen waiting for something to happen while he watched the game (Eagles vs. Redskins) streaming to his Iphone. Yes, sometimes being SFA definitely sucked.
After the game was over, he decided to get a head start on tomorrow’s reports– might as well be productive if he had to be here for another – really? Four hours? Sighing loudly in the deserted office he got to work.
Hitting PRINT on the last report felt good. Heck, Gibbs might even let him sleep in tomorrow if they didn’t get a new case. Suddenly the afternoon was looking just a little less bleak.
Finding his Mighty Mouse stapler empty, he walked over to Ziva’s desk; he knew she kept a box of staples in her middle desk drawer. Pulling the drawer open, he felt it catch on something - giving it a harder tug caused the drawer to dislodge but also to come off its track and spill its contents onto the floor. Cursing softly, he bent to pick up the stuff on the floor only to have his eyes zero in on the black velvet box lying beneath Ziva’s chair.
What’s this? He wondered picking up the box. He knew immediately it was a ring box but for the life of him he couldn’t ascertain why Ziva would have it in her desk drawer, unless… He felt his stomach clinch uncomfortably as he debated opening the box. On one hand, finding the box was an accident – an innocent act of opening a co-workers unlocked desk drawer in search of needed office supplies; on the other hand actually opening the box was a breach of said co-worker’s privacy. He had gone down this road before and it had ended badly – very badly.
He sat the box on top of her desk while he picked up the other items and put them neatly back in her drawer. Dropping heavily into her chair, he stared at the box and wondered about its significance.
There was only one person he could think of who would gift her with such a box – CIA Agent Ray Cruz. That thought caused a pain in his chest. As far as he knew, Ziva hadn’t seen Ray since last May and he damn well would have noticed if she had been sporting a ring for the last six months.
After further consideration, he reasoned that maybe the box didn’t house a ring after all, but something more innocent like a pair of earrings or a necklace. He thought back over the last several months and he didn’t recall seeing Ziva wearing new jewelry. Even though he would never admit it to anyone else, he did notice what she wore. He noticed everything about Ziva David which explained why he was so shocked to see the box. Obviously, he didn’t know as much as he thought he did, and he didn’t know which was more painful – the very existence of the box or the fact that Ziva could be hiding something so important from him.
Making up his mind, he reached for it and after only a moment of hesitation, he opened it slowly. Breathing deeply he looked inside and was relieved to find the box empty.
That relief however was short lived when he saw the engraved name plate inside the box announcing in elegant script the name of the most prestigious jeweler in DC. He now had a sneaking suspicion that this box had at one time housed a pricey engagement ring. The bigger question – the one most pressing in his mind at the moment was - where was the ring now? Ziva obviously wasn’t wearing it, and if she were safekeeping it at home wouldn’t she have taken the box home too? If she had said “no” to the proposal wouldn’t the box have gone back with the ring? Who keeps an empty box from a rejected proposal? Too many unknowns for his comfort level.
He knew there was no way he could just let this go. No way he could put it back in her drawer and go on with business-as-usual. No, there was too much at stake here. He and Ziva had been dancing around each other for years, and while he no longer had doubts that they would eventually be together, he also had no illusions that it would be happening anytime soon.
Once upon a time he had considered Ray a threat to that future, but since Ziva hadn’t spoken of him since September, he had assumed it was well and truly over. Maybe it was, but he wasn’t about to contemplate his future with Ziva in the land of ‘maybe’; he had to know for sure, one way or the other.
Putting the box back in her drawer, he began contemplating how to broach the subject with her. It wouldn’t be easy as the evidence in question was fruit of the poisonous tree, something of which he should have no knowledge, and yet he did.
He was pulled from his thoughts as the elevator dinged in the quiet of the bullpen. He looked up as Ziva rounded the corner and looked at him with raised eyebrows,“Why are you sitting at my desk Tony?”