Title: The Real Meaning of the Season
Rating: PG-13
Category: Romance
Genre: Het
Pairing: McGee/Ziva
Warnings: None.
Summary: Ziva finds herself alone for the holidays and seeks out a certain person's company to show her the true meaning of the season.
Spoilers: None.
Disclaimer: These characters belong to DPB, CBS, Paramount, et al. No copyright infringement is intended.
Author's Notes: Written for NFA's Secret Santa exchange.

The Real Meaning of the Season

Ziva paced her apartment, racking her brain for something to do, a way to pass the time. Gibbs had actually given them time off for the holidays and she was finding herself completely bored sitting at home, without anyone to keep her company. She was about ready to go to the shooting range and fire off a few rounds, just for something to keep her occupied. She didn't celebrate the holidays, not really, so this vacation had left her in a lurch.

After a few minutes more of wearing down the floorboards, she walked straight to her phone, snatching it off the cradle and dialing a familiar 10-digit number. She waited impatiently as the phone rang a few times, then finally, a breath of silence, and a voice said, "McGee."

Ziva smiled. "Hello, McGee. I was just wondering . . . Are you busy?"

McGee closed his eyes upon hearing Ziva's voice. He knew he couldn't say no and not because she'd find a way to get back at him for it. He knew she didn't have any family in the States and was most likely lonely. She had probably figured he was equally as lonely, which was, sadly, true.

He had planned an evening of writing, but his muse really didn't seem to agree with that idea, anyway, so he responded, "No. Not at all, Ziva. What did you have in mind?"

Ziva's smile grew wider. She had been looking for an excuse to do this for quite some time now, and this whole holiday season thing had left her the perfect opening.

"I was thinking perhaps you would like to come over to my place, and we could have dinner together." She paused, then added, "I will cook."

McGee perked up at that announcement. Ziva was a great cook, and she was offering to make a meal just for the two of them . . .

He let that thought soak in his head for a moment. Just the two of them. Having dinner. At her apartment. Was it possible that she was trying to seduce him?

"Ziva, I . . ." he started, not exactly sure how to go about asking her intentions. "Is this . . ."

"A date?" she finished, and he heard her soft laugh over the line.

He slapped a hand to his face. Of course it wasn't a date. What was he thinking? More like wishful thinking, really.

"I'm sorry, Ziva," he babbled. "I didn't mean to . . ."

"Yes." Her voice was sure and calm, completely betraying how she actually felt. It sounded like a bad romantic movie, but her heart was pounding in her chest and she couldn't wipe the silly grin from her face. She was completely into Tim McGee, whose babbling voice continued over the line.

"Really?" He tried not to show how pleased he was with this turn of events, but it was incredibly difficult – he had never been one for subtlety in the first place. "Uh, I mean, that sounds . . ."

"Only if you want it to be a date," Ziva interrupted quickly. "Because if you are not interested . . ."

"No!" he responded, probably a bit more forcefully than necessary. "I mean, no, that sounds great. I, uh, I guess I'll be there. When should I be there?"

Ziva beamed. "Anytime. You could, perhaps, assist me in the kitchen?"

McGee smiled himself. "Sure. I'll be there shortly."

"I shall look forward to your arrival, McGee."

"I'm looking forward to seeing you, too, Ziva."

"Alright then . . ."

"Oh, and Ziva?"

Her heart stopped at his questioning voice. "Yes?"

"Please call me Tim."

Her heart regained its normal rhythm and a smile crossed over her face. "I will. Thank you. Tim."

McGee grinned at hearing Ziva call him by his first name. "I'll see you shortly. Bye."

"Goodbye, Tim."

They hung up their respective phones, both with silly grins plastered on their faces, and began fluttering around their apartments, seeking the details necessary to make this night nothing short of amazing. Ziva headed for her pantry, searching for the ingredients to make a sultry pasta dish she knew to work wonders in wooing potential lovers, while McGee headed for his own pantry, looking for that perfect bottle of wine he had reserved for just such an occasion.

Ziva had just began to chop some tomatoes when a knock sounded at her door. She collected herself, setting the knife down, and walked over to let McGee in.

As she opened the door, she was speechless by the sight in front of her. McGee had arrived, yes – looking dapper, with an expensive bottle of wine cradled in his arm.

"I, uh, I thought this might be a nice addition to our meal," he explained, holding the wine out to her.

She took it, still a bit dazed, and stepped aside so he could enter. "Thank you. It is lovely. Come in." He walked in and they stood awkwardly just inside the door, until Ziva said, "It is not like you have not been to my apartment before. You are always welcome here. Please take off your coat and make yourself comfortable."

She walked back toward the kitchen as McGee slid his coat off, apologizing. "Sorry. I guess I'm kinda nervous."

Ziva looked up from her cutting board. "Afraid I am going to try something tonight, Tim?"

He closed his eyes against her words. "No, I, uh, I . . ."

Ziva laughed at his embarrassment. "You are quite cute when you are flustered." He blushed at her statement as she walked over to him. "And you can be assured that I will not try anything you are not willing to do." She reached him and leaned up to whisper in his ear. "I just hope that you are adventuresome, Tim."

McGee could feel his face burning at her suggestion. She was just so . . . forward. It was part of what attracted him to her in the first place, but he always assumed she was out of reach, so he'd never considered that he might even be in a situation like this. At the same time, he was attracted to her, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to do something a little wild and crazy – even if that was sleeping with Ziva.

His eyes widened at his own mind and he looked over at Ziva, who had returned to the kitchen and was chopping away dutifully. It wasn't that he'd never thought of it before – it had been almost a daily thought when she first started at NCIS, and though the fantasies had slowed in frequency over the time they'd worked together, he still thought about her, about them, in ways that would make even Tony blush. And now that the possibility was actually upon them, well, he didn't know how to react to it.

McGee took a deep breath. He was just going to treat Ziva the way he'd treat any other date, and see where it led them. Yes, their relationship was more complicated than most he'd been in, but if they could make this work and still be able to keep it separate from their day jobs, then he didn't see anything wrong with it.

He sauntered into the kitchen. "So, what can I do to help?"

Ziva turned slightly, her hip brushing his. "I was just about to make the sauce. I'll let you take care of the pasta."

"Right." McGee turned to find the penne box on the counter behind him, and picked it up to read the instructions, making small talk as he did so. "So, I'm going to guess you're not much for the holidays."

Ziva smirked to herself, slicing into an onion. "It is difficult to bring yourself to celebrate when you have no one with whom to celebrate."

McGee heard the note of melancholy in her voice and faced her again. "Well, looks like you do now. And I brought something to make it a bit more cheery in here."

"Oh, really?" Ziva asked, raising an eyebrow. "Hopefully it is more tasteful than the flatulent Santa Claus Tony kept on his desk."

McGee chuckled. "Much." He walked from the kitchen, back to his coat, where he reached into the pocket and withdrew something.

"You are not planning to propose to me, are you, Tim?" Ziva teased, sliding her onions into a saucepan. He raised an eyebrow at her and she shrugged. "I have seen your American movies. That is what happens, is it not? A man and a woman make plans to celebrate the holidays, and when they get together, the man suddenly breaks out a diamond ring and asks the woman to marry him." She gave him a pointed look.

McGee smiled. "No. I'm not going to propose to you, Ziva. I think it's a bit early for that."

"Oh, I see," she said, nodding. "So, perhaps after we finish this bottle of wine, yes?" They began to laugh, and she turned on the burner, then walked out to him. "What did you bring to cheer up my home, Tim?"

He blushed a bit as he held out his hand. "Mistletoe. Do you know the tradition?"

Ziva's eyes sparkled. "Hmm, I think I may. Though I am not sure. Would you care to explain – or show me?" She smiled seductively at him.

McGee grinned at her. She knew what mistletoe was meant for. But if she wanted to play, he could certainly do that. "Well, first I need a doorway."

"Ah, I have just the perfect one," Ziva drawled, taking his hand and leading him to the opposite side of her apartment, stopping just before . . .

"This is your bedroom, I presume?" McGee asked, knowing damn well what she had planned.

Ziva nodded, still smirking. "Yes. And now?"

"And now, I hang this up." He looked at the top of the doorway in frustration, wondering how he could have forgotten such an essential part as something with which to hang up the mistletoe.

"Here," Ziva's voice interrupted his thoughts, and he turned to her. She was holding out a small knife. He gave her a distressed look, to which she shrugged. "I like knives."

"Apparently," he responded, taking the knife from her and stabbing it into the wall just above her bedroom door.

"And now?" she breathed, placing her hands on his chest and looking up into his eyes.

He looked down at her, trying to control his own breathing. "And now, I show you the real meaning of the holiday season." He leaned down, whispering, "Happy Hanukkah, Ziva."

"Merry Christmas, Tim," Ziva murmured, as their lips came into contact with each other.

McGee braced Ziva's head with his right hand, while his left traveled down to curl around her waist, gathering her close to him, all the while his lips pressed gently into hers, expressing every ounce of passion he had conjured in his deepest fantasies.

Ziva revelled in the feeling of a man's lips on hers, McGee's lips, the man she'd been dreaming about when she went to sleep at night. She knew she could make her dreams come true right here and now, and swiveled him around, pushing him into her bedroom and onto her bed.

McGee finally broke the kiss, looking up at her with lust-filled eyes. "Ziva, we . . ."

Ziva quickly gathered herself, looking embarrassed. "I, I am sorry. I shouldn't have . . . I am moving this much too fast . . ."

McGee sat up and took her face in his hands, kissing her softly. "We should turn off the oven." He smiled at her and her expression turned from embarrassment to relief.

"I thought for a moment that you did not want to . . ." she started, and he interrupted her again, shaking his head.

"This is all I want, Ziva," he assured her, taking her hands in his and rubbing her knuckles gently. "Now go turn off the stove before we start your apartment on fire."

She pushed herself away from him, jogging to the door and turning back to announce, "There is still an opportunity for that, Tim," before running out to the kitchen.

McGee fell back onto Ziva's bed, smiling to himself and whispering, "And a Happy New Year."