You said you didn't want her to drive you home, and you actually didn't. You had too much on your mind to think about – too many mixed feelings you couldn't seem to cope with – and she was the last thing you needed. Namely, she was the main – if not only – cause of your inquietude. She still is.
You don't give a damn about the wounds on your face, of the very high risk you've run today. All it matters at the moment is her, sitting by you so still and silent that you barely can believe it's her.
She's unusually and unnaturally quiet, so oddly serious, as she drives through the night, and you feel like something is wrong in this picture before your eyes. You feel something is wrong with her.
She's beautiful. Somehow it's a thought you can't keep away from your head. It's the very first thing you thought of her, the first thing that since then has come to your mind whenever you meet her. She's beautiful. It's not an obsession, but just an observation, a matter of fact you don't feel like you have to justify to yourself. She's beautiful, in every possible way, in everything she does, whatever she says. You can't take your eyes off her girlish face, nor stop this recurring thought you have of her, and it scares you a bit, because it's not her undeniable outer beauty that is keeping you hooked to her. It's the first time in your life a woman has this kind of power over you.
So even if you're scared of this, it's okay, because you quite have the right to.
You would like to break this silence and bring the Ziva you know back, with her cheeky look and that roguish smile you've loved from the start.
You were undecided about her, in the beginning, because you were very fond of Kate, and not inclined at all toward welcoming her substitute, whoever it would be, however smart and skilful. You were prejudiced about her, until you met her.
Now you know her, you know were wrong. She's not Kate, but she was never meant to be her. Ziva came to replace an agent, not Kate, and now she's as irreplaceable as Kate still is.
You observe her profile, her curly hair framing her unblinking face, the gentle curve of her nose, the breathtaking darkness of her eyes, the peachy softness of her cheeks, the light pout on her tiny mouth, and all you can formulate is how good it felt to hold her to you, to feel her skin against yours. Even if it was a fake, you liked to touch her, to kiss her. Even if it wasn't real, you liked to love her.
It makes you smile to think of the past day spent with her. You know you should be upset about all the wrong twists the undercover mission has taken – at least, you reason, you should be thinking about it – but all the other events dissipate when you remember the feeling of her lips on yours. Her skin had a faint taste of almonds, and for a moment you thought you'd be poisoned by her.
You've always thought she's pretty – oh, so deliciously pretty – but you'd never realised how sexy she is. Until last night.
"Here we are." She says as she turns the engine off and takes the key out of the ignition.
Jolted back to reality, you blink in bewilderment when you realise you've arrived in front of your condo. Ziva is looking at you, the pale shade of a smile barely curving her lips, but something is wrong in the way she faces away when you turn to her.
You do not question, though, because if there's something you've learned about her, it's that there's nothing you can learn directly from her. Ziva never tells her secrets. You have to read them in her expressions, in her gestures, in the tone of her voice and in the intensity of her gazes.
And you thought you knew how to interpret the most of her mute messages, by now, but suddenly your Ziva-English dictionary isn't working anymore. There's not a voice for 'blueness' in it – has she ever even shown such feelings before? – and you don't know how to translate it into a concrete concept.
It's with a fretful sensation that you get out of the car and head to the trunk to get your bag, but she stops you and, without a word, takes the bag for you.
"I can carry that to my door, Ziva." You say. She locks the door and casts you a smirk. But it's not one of those Ziva smirks that challenge you to engage a flirting battle. She's hiding something behind it, something you can't quite decipher, and which will probably remain a mystery forever.
You've often wondered how many secrets and of what kind lie beneath her armour, but you always come to the conclusion that perhaps you prefer not to know.
"So can I, hairy butt." She replies. Her attempt to sound playful and sly as she normally would fails.
Maybe it's just been a tough day, maybe she's just tired, maybe you're both just tired and all you need is some rest, and tomorrow you'll be the old Tony and Ziva again.
You walk to your door, taking your time to look for the keys in all your pockets. You know perfectly where they are, but you want to temporize and put off the moment when you'll have to watch her walk away as long as you can.
She's been yours and yours only for two days. You've slept together – not graphically, or so you think, because you were too drunk to remember – you've eaten together, you've done anything together, and it was nice, against any prediction.
You've held her and caressed her, you've felt her, and she felt more true than any other woman you've ever been with.
Is this why you can't let her go, now?
"Inner pocket on the left." She suggests after a while, and you can't do but let your hand slip into your jacket and pick the keys.
"Yeah, thanks." You mumble, and you know you sound terribly false. You don't want to thank her for accelerating the departure.
Given her apparent indifference, you decide you can risk and ask that question you've hardly been holding on the tip of your tongue since the moment she started the car.
"Wanna come in and have a talk?"
She scrutinises you attentively, arms folded across her chest. You glance furtively at her breasts, just because she doesn't want you to, just because you want to tease her. Just because.
She raises an eyebrow and props on the doorframe, and you wonder if she's aware she looks so sensual.
"What should we talk about?"
"Of what happened today," you respond, unable to understand if it was a mere question or a polite and very subtle way to decline your invitation. "Or anything else you feel like talking about."
For a moment you have the impression she's going to turn on her heels and leave you here without even an answer, but then her icy expression melts into a small smile, and the Ziva you know – your Ziva – materialises in front of you. From one extreme to another in less than a heartbeat.
"Ok," she agrees and leans toward your ear. "But remember: we're not married anymore."
"I do remember," you reassure her while the key turn into the hole and the door opens to your dark living room. "And you'll be contacted by my lawyer for the custody of our baby." And you jokingly pat her stomach.
She laughs quietly and follows you inside. As soon as the door closes and the lights are on, you know there are a million twists this thing can take, and you honestly don't know which of them would be the least inappropriate.
"Would you like some coffee? Tea?"
She drops the bag and leaves the keys of your car on the coffee table.
"Vodka, whisky, rum… Anything strong you have."
You're surprised by this request, but there's plenty of alcohol in your house, and in some many different variants that, if she was a common girl, she would be surprised. But she happens to not be a common girl, so you just go to the bar corner and pour her and yourself a generous glass of lemon vodka with a couple of ice cubes.
She sips her drink slowly, and looks at you. You watch her swallow every sip, your eyes caressing her throat as she empties the glass and then licks her lips.
You have to strive against your own will to remind yourself that you're not on the clock, that the undercover mission ended hours ago.
Jean Paul could kiss Sophie, even if everyone was watching, because those were the rules of the game. You can't kiss Ziva, even if nobody is watching, because the game is over and you're not playing anymore.
"You look thoughtful, Tony." She begins suggestively. She takes a step onward and waves the glass under your nose. "How come my glass is empty and yours is untouched?"
You wonder if she knows that she's no longer Sophie, since the light in her gaze is the same she had hours ago.
You don't move your attention from her and empty your own glass in one sip.
"Now I'm as drunk as you."
"I don't get drunk," she says, in a tone you can't quite comprehend. "Never."
Suddenly a thought hits your mind. You thought you were both drunk the first night of the mission, you had taken it for granted, and this that's why you haven't even bothered to talk about it.
But now the doubt is haunting you. Has she ever even stopped being Ziva?
"The answer is no, Tony." She says with a light smile, as though she's reading your thoughts like an open book. "You were completely knocked up."
And you know it's not the moment to burst out laughing, but you just can't help it. Ziva pouts at you as you wipe amused tears off the corners of your eyes.
"The only one who could have been knocked up in that room was you, sweetcheeks." You quip. "It's knocked out, as in unconscious, not up, as in pregnant."
She lets out a graceful laugh, too, and you have the feeling your blood is running warmer into your veins. It might be the alcohol, and you opt to believe it's it, even if you know it's not.
You like the sound of her laugh. When she laughs, you can see the child she probably never got to be, a little girl with pink cheeks and grazes on her knees. Maybe even pigtails.
She's beautiful. She just is.
"What are you thinking?" she asks, sitting down on the stool next to her.
"Can't you just read my mind like you always do?"
"I could. But I want to hear it from you."
You face her closely and your hand lifts to cup her face. Her skin is soft, tender, and it makes you want to kiss her. The back of your hand is skimmed by her hair as you grin and shrug nonchalantly.
"I was thinking that you should laugh more often."
She grins back, lightly shaking her head.
She reaches out all of a sudden, and her lips and yours touch, just for one moment, long enough for you to taste again that sweetness that causes these pleasing tingles in your stomach. She pulls away before you can even process what is happening.
She tilts her head and smiles sapiently.
"You were thinking about this."
"Busted." You admit. Now it's your turn to get answers. "And what were you thinking about on our way here?"
Ziva's eyes widen, and by her expression you understand she wasn't supposed to let herself show such surprise.
She looks down at the ground and shrugs lamely.
"I was thinking about this, too."
"And why does it have this saddening effect on you?" you inquire, conscious that this conversation shouldn't be taking place at all.
Her lips curl up bitterly as she looks up at you.
"Because this can't happen."
You know what she means. It even hurts a little.
"What if we were still Jean Paul and Sophie?"
"We'd be probably making love… Again."
There is no taint of mischief in her words, it's not an act. It's the real life you're playing with, now.
"The mission ends today," you state, stroking her cheek. "And technically it won't be tomorrow until the sunrise."
Her hand sets on yours, she approaches you, and you realise that is wasn't the luxury of the hotel room, nor the fanciness of her dress, nor the roles you were embodying. It's never been the atmosphere. It's been the two of you, just the two of you, all the time.
"Should Jean Paul and Sophie really have their ultimate night together?" she asks, almost innocently. You nod, your fingers brushing her hair back.
"Yes. And they should live it thoroughly, until the end."
"As though it was the last time."
This is your silent deal, the mutual promise that tomorrow, when the sun rises, all of this will be gone with the night, and Jean Paul and Sophie will die, just as they're supposed to, like modern day Romeo and Juliet.
It has to end, you're both well aware of this. Just not yet.
You kiss her, surround her with your arms and squeeze her gently, walking backwards until you fall onto the couch. You savour her, you breathe her, you live her, because the morning will come too soon, and you don't want to waste a single instant of this.
This is probably your last chance to let her know how you've felt in the last forty eight hours, your last fair chance to have her without being a sinner.
You blindly reach out to turn the lights off, and all that's left is her, and you know this room will always look empty after she'll be gone. You don't want to think about it now, though.
You kiss her again, and feel her hands wander over your chest, and pray that this night will last enough for you to remember forever what it feels like to drown into something way bigger than you.
"I love you, Sophie." You whisper on her lips. She wraps her arms more tightly around your neck and draws you down to kiss you deeply, almost desperately. It's like she knows how much you need to feel this is all real, like she understands.
"I love you, Jean Paul."
And what is coming now will never be told to anyone, it will be your little secret, until one day, maybe, you'll feel ready to drop your mask and admit that, in fact, she's never been Sophie to your eyes, just like you've never been Jean Paul to hers.