Tim never thought Tony would recover after Kate died. Oh, he acted like he was fine, throwing that smile and DiNozzo charm around like he had it in spades, but Tim knew Tony well enough to see bullshit when he gave it. Tim saw that haunted look in Tony's eyes, the one that showed through when he thought no one was looking, when he and Ziva were working at their computers and Tony didn't think they could see anything. Or at night, in Tim's apartment after a six pack of beer and a random classic movie made before Tim's parents were even born. And sometimes, in the dark, when Tim was holding him and Tony felt comfortable enough to let his walls down and let Tim in.
Ziva wasn't Kate. Well, Tim thought, that was an understatement. Kate and Ziva were about as different as night and day, pardon the cliché. Everyone was suspicious of her, and Abby couldn't stand the sight of her, but Tim, Tim liked her. She didn't have to replace Kate - no one would do that - and Tim didn't have as much of a problem moving on.
Yeah, sure, Ziva had her own methods, and the woman couldn't drive, but Tim liked the way she treated him. Sometimes she brought him coffee; sometimes she stole his lunch. But there were times when they would sit and talk for hours, at a restaurant or in the NCIS break room.
“What in the world could you two possibly talk about, McUninteresting,” Tony said one night. He was stretched out on Tim's bed, flipping aimlessly through the channels.
“Are you jealous, Tony?” Tim asked, shaking his head with an exasperated smile.
“Hardly. I know how you are with women. Besides,” he said, stopping on a Airwolf rerun, “you're not her type.”
“Ugh,” Tony said, his head resting on his desk. “I think I'm dying.”
“Please,” Ziva said, “Dying is much worse than that. I've been near death multiple times and - “
“I don't want to hear you recount your Mossad glory days,” Tony groaned from his forearm. “My head hurts and your voice makes it worse.”
Tim snickered and pulled a file from his desk drawer. “What are you laughing at, McBad Influence? It was your fault that I drank so much last night. You were supposed to keep me from doing anything stupid.” Tony lifted his head and glared at Tim. “You're a bad wingman. Bad wingman.”
“Wingman?” Ziva asked. “You wore feathers last night?”
Tim laughed. “No, we went to a bar.”
“McGee was supposed to help me pick up chicks, ie a wingman,” Tony explained. Tim smirked at how easily the lie fell from his lips. It was easier than saying they were at a gay bar dancing and drinking and groping each other until way too late.
“Oh, I get it. Chickens and wings.”
“No, no, it's,” Tony groaned in frustration. “Never mind,” he said, shaking his head. “Ouch. Bad idea.”
“I have not had the chance to visit any bar .txte I moved here. I would like to go with you one night.”
“You at a bar?” Tony asked, sticking his head up. “That I would like to see.”
Ziva could drink more than Tony and Tim (which wasn't saying much really). That's why they were currently at Tony's favorite dive bar, shoved into a small booth, drunker than they should be. And Tim could tell by the slight tilt of Ziva's head and the way her hand kept landing repeatedly on his arm that she was a bit drunk, too.
He was sandwiched in between Tony and Ziva. Tony's hand was under the table, sliding along his thigh and rubbing his knee. And the drunker he got, the closer his hand got to the fly of Tim's jeans. He wasn't sure if Ziva had noticed yet, but her hands were getting dangerously friendly, too.
And then Ziva and Tony's hands met under the table, and Tim froze in horror as Tony and Ziva stared over him at each other. Then, to Tim's utter surprise, Ziva leaned across him and kissed Tony.
They couldn't leave the bar quickly enough. In the cab to Tim's apartment, Tony and Ziva were all hands and mouths and Tim was just about to ask would they like him to leave them alone at his fucking apartment when Ziva grabbed him around the neck and started kissing him, too. By the time the cab stopped in front of his building, his shirt was unbuttoned, Tony's shirt was untucked, and Ziva had lost her bra.
Tim fucked Ziva against the front door as soon as they entered the apartment, Tim's jeans around his ankles and all three of them still mostly clad, with Tony beside them kissing them both as he whispered drunken dirty things into their ears. Ziva clawed at the wood, her legs wrapped around Tim's waist as he held her hips tightly and thrust inside. When they eventually made it to the bed, Tony fucked her from behind as she sucked Tim's cock, Tim leaning against the headboard watching them both with hungry eyes.
When Tim woke up the next morning, Tony was asleep beside him, but all signs of Ziva were gone.
“We need to talk about the other night,” Tim said one morning the next week. He'd finally caught her alone in the NCIS break room. He was pretty sure she had been avoiding him.
“No, we do not, McGee. We are three grown adults. Things like that happen. No reason to be ashamed or act any differently.” Ziva looked at him finally, struggling to meet his eyes. “There is nothing to discuss.”
Tony had told him not to worry about it. “Drunken indiscretion, that's all it was,” he'd said, “Haven't you had those before?” Tim pursed his lips and Tony smacked the heel of his hand against the side of his head. “What was I thinking? Of course you've never done anything like that. I forget, Captain Celibate.”
“I wasn't celibate, Tony,” Tim mumbled.
So, Tim tried not to worry about it. Things went back to normal, mostly. He saw a lot less of Ziva, and missed their conversations. She was interesting, smart, funny, with so many different interests and life experiences than anyone he'd ever met. He found himself staring at her when she wasn't looking, noticing the curl of her hair, the smoothness of her darker skin, the way she fidgeted when she did paperwork.
“She's gonna catch you looking one day, Probie,” Tony whispered in his ear one night. Tim was standing hidden in the squad room, watching Ziva at her desk as she worked on their current case. “You can't stop thinking about her, can you?”
“It's not like that,” Tim said, reaching out and quickly giving Tony's hand a squeeze.
“It's okay, Tim. I can't get her out of my head, either.”
Tony walked up to Ziva and made a joke, causing her to laugh loudly, her head thrown back and eyes shining even in the low light.
Tony curled against Tim's side, head in his lap, arms wound tightly about Tim's waist. The sheets pooled around them, the streetlamp casting a bit of harsh orange light into the bedroom. Tim slowly ran his fingers through Tony's hair, neither of them speaking a word. Ever .txte the explosion, ever .txte Gibbs had been in the hospital, the haunted look had returned to Tony's eyes. Slowly, it had faded away over the previous months, but now his entire face had darkened.
They both started when they heard someone knocking on the door. Tim chose to ignore it; the only person who mattered right then was lying in bed beside him. But the knocking persisted, loud and constant.
Tim slipped out of bed, pulled on his boxers, and walked to the door. He didn't expect what he saw on the other side of the peephole.
“Ziva?” he said, pulling the door open. Her eyes were damp, her hair pulled back in a messy ponytail. She looked like she still had on her pajamas and had just thrown her coat over them.
Stepping inside, she flung her arms around his neck, burying her face into his shoulder. With one hand around her waist, he closed and locked the door behind him. He wondered what in the world she was doing there at his apartment in the middle of the night as he rubbed her back soothingly and she clung to him. When she heard footsteps behind them, she lifted her head and saw Tony standing in the bedroom doorway wearing nothing but Tim's thin robe.
“Oh!” she said, stepping away from Tim. “I'm sorry. I…I didn't know. I should have -“
“Shut up, Ziva, and come here,” Tony said, opening his arms. Ziva wasted no time in wrapping herself in Tony's arms.
The next morning when Tim awoke, Ziva was sleeping curled in Tony's arms, her feet pressed against Tim's calves.
When Gibbs left, Tim felt hollow. It felt like losing his dad (worse than losing his own dad, if he was honest with himself). Tony was a good team leader, and he played the role well. Riding high on DiNozzo smiles and years of training. Camp fires and his own set of rules that didn't quite line up with the ones they were all used to (and that never quite felt right). Tony never entirely fooled Tim, Ziva, Abby, or Ducky, but he fooled Jenny, and that was all that mattered. DiNozzo charm always did do the trick, after all.
But at night, at night that all changed.
Most nights, Tony, Tim, and Ziva curled up around each other in Tim's bed, clinging to what they had left like one day they would lose each other, too.
“I can't do this,” Tony whispered into the darkness, against Ziva's skin and in Tim's ear. “I'm not Gibbs. I don't want my own team.” And no matter how many times Ziva told him he was a fine leader, and no matter how many times Tim told him he'd follow him anywhere (with or without the badge), Tony never could resolve Gibbs' leaving.
“I don't belong here,” Ziva told them, head on Tim's chest, Tony's arms around her, “I never fit in. I should go back to Israel.”
Tony tried to con.txte her she was wanted as he thrust into her, murmuring endearments against her neck, tried to make her understand she was part of the team as he buried his face between her legs, making her arch and moan and come.
Tim tried to con.txte her she should never leave as he kissed his way across her body, his tongue gliding across her warm skin, had to show her that she belonged right where she was, between him and Tony as they pushed inside her from both sides, the three of them joined together like Tim knew they should be.
“I killed my brother,” she admitted quietly one night, her voice barely audible. Tim was leaned back against Tony, Tony's arms around him, Ziva lying on her side facing them. “In Gibbs' basement.” They both kissed her tears, tears Tim never thought he would see her cry because he knew he'd sooner cry than she would.
He had nothing to whisper to them in the darkness. The only things he would have ended up saying sounded stupid inside his own head, so he knew they would be worse once said out loud. Things like, I wish I could take away the pain I see in both your eyes because he knew everything affected them more than it did him, that they carried heavier loads on their shoulders than he ever did; I love you both and never want to lose either one of you because as irrational as it was, they completed each other, they both completed Tim in a way he'd never felt complete before. They were two opposite sides of himself, filling up places inside of him he never had known were empty until they both came into his life; and when he was between them, his cock deep inside Ziva while Tony was behind him, cock buried deep inside him, he had never felt more alive than he did in that moment.
Instead of saying any of that, he just kissed them both as they talked, hoping that he would be the one to have the strength for all three of them, hoping that he would be the one to keep Tony and Ziva from breaking apart, hoping that he would be the pin that held the three of them together.