It had been years since she’d noticed the other runners. Years, because she had changed her route after looking at the man who had looked back at her. After finding him sweet and funny and attractive. And after watching him die after he was poisoned by the people he trusted. She’d been running through the park ever since, and she’d just not bothered to look up from her run, focusing, instead, on the exercise she was getting.
She had seen the usual people. Gotten used to things like certain hats, certain headphones that she would see every day, but she’d never actually looked at them specifically. Lately, though, Ziva had begun to notice. There was a new face on the running trail. Tall, strong, nice legs. He pushed himself, less running for endurance and more for speed, and he was getting faster.
And she, she was realising, was not blind. With his dark hair and dark eyes, he was very attractive. A bit older than her, true, but it was easy to picture the two of them together and that was reason enough for her to strike up a conversation. It was the end of the trail and he was standing at the back of his SUV, drinking deeply from a water bottle. She chuckled as she stretched. “You are getting faster,” she said, keeping her voice light.
He looked around at her, seeming surprised, and she gave him a smile. “My apologies. I see you running every day, but you run for speed instead of endurance.”
“I think I’ve seen you, too,” he nodded, a slightly distant look in his eyes. Ziva had seen that look before. He was trying to go through his memory and see if he did recognise her and within a few moments, he was nodding. It was a process she’d seen before during witness statements, people prodding their own minds into giving them information they knew they had. “You run pretty regularly.”
“Daily. But you’ve only been running for, what, a week?”
“Yeah, it’s— I’m training.”
“Oh, training? Can I ask for what?”
The answer was a little surprising, and she raised her eyebrows as she heard, “The FBI Triathlon.”
“So you are an agent? So am I - with NCIS.” She stepped forward, offering her hand, and when he gave it a polite shake, she couldn’t help but evaluate his grip. Secure. Not too tight. Confident. And his hand was a nice size, a nice strength in hers. “It is unfortunate they wouldn’t allow someone from another agency to run the Triathlon.”
His brows raised that time. “Why’s that?”
“Because I can’t say I would mind running beside you.” Or perhaps slightly behind, the wicked part of her mind supplied and she couldn’t help a slightly mischievous smile.
To her pleasure, he smiled and slightly blushed, silent for a few moments before saying, “There’s more to a Triathlon than running.”
“And what is there?”
“It has been a long time since I have ridden a bicycle. Perhaps it’s something I should give another try. Would you mind company?”
He looked confounded and flustered at once and she nearly rescinded the question. Some men just weren’t good with women flirting with them, and there were probably factors she didn’t know about. But just as she was about to interrupt his silence, he did it himself. “I don’t know how much I can promise—”
“I have heard that people stick with training much more firmly if they have a partner. Perhaps it would be easier if you considered me a… personal training assistant?”
His shy smile at that brought a smile to her own lips. “I… Saturday? If I’m not on a case.”
“I will be here if you will bring an extra bottle of water,” Ziva answered and, the smile still on her face, she began to jog toward her car.
“Wait—” he called after her. “I don’t even know your name.”
Grinning, she shouted, “Ziva David! You can tell me your name tomorrow morning, Agent. You still have running to do.”
The bemused look on his face was its own reward as she turned, feeling triumphant. Today was going to be a good day, and DiNozzo was going to go mad trying to figure out why. That made it all the better.