Smile Like You Mean It

He'd realised once that there were twenty-two different ways to make Ziva smile. He'd counted them. He'd remembered them. He'd memorised each different curve of her lips. He'd commented once that she never smiled enough. She'd replied that she'd never really had reasons to smile. He knew that she had many secrets that she hid from him, maybe too many, but he'd been insistent that this was no reason not to smile, and had set out to make her smile in as many different ways as possible. Of course, doing this would have to be subtle. For a start, he couldn't just come out and tell her a joke, because she often didn't understand the punch line. And, there was the even bigger complication that they still hadn't told anyone that they were dating. If it was revealed that they'd been dating for five months now, Gibbs would probably kill them, and he didn't think (well, he hoped not) that this would make her smile.

The first day, he'd started with something simple. He'd gone to hers for the evening, but not stayed over. Before he left, he turned off her cell phone. She usually kept it on all through the night in case Gibbs called, but they didn't have to work the next day so she had the day off. Then, when he got home, he left her a voicemail message, just so that she'd have something to wake up to. Gibbs had ended up calling her house phone when they had a case and he couldn't get through to her, but she had stepped out of the elevator smiling, giving Tony a knowing look.

On the second day, they'd been in Abby's lab, trying not to get dragged into the bickering between Abby and McGee. Abby was insisting that McGee 'liked her', and he was trying to deny it even though he was burning red from ear to ear. Eventually, when it was proving to become dangerous territory, Tony and Ziva decided to leave before bodily harm was definitely a risk. As they stepped into the elevator, all was silent, until Tony, still looking forward and not at her, said simply: "I like you, you know." She hadn't said anything, but she did smile.

On the third day, it was a quieter notion. Gibbs had marched off towards the elevator with his usual "grab your gear", and they had scurried after him. They stood behind him in the elevator and Tony boldly reached across, taking hold of her hand. She instantly tried to tug it from his grasp, nodding her head towards Gibbs, who could turn around at any second, but she realised that Tony's smile meant that he didn't have any intention of letting go, so she just smiled and let her hand return his gesture. He knew he'd won when she moved their hands so that their fingers were entwined.

On the fourth day, they'd ended up cancelling a date because a case was overrunning into the middle of the night. Tony was particularly disgruntled at this because he hadn't had a chance to be with Ziva outside of work since the first day of his smile mission, and he was starting to miss not being able to touch her and hold her without looking over their shoulders first. Gibbs had gone down to autopsy, and McGee was helping Abby with something in the lab, which had left the two of them alone in the bullpen at ridiculous hours of the night. He'd seen her go off to the coffee vending machine, but she didn't come back. When he looked around, he saw her standing, looking out of the window into the night. He got up, going up behind her and encircling his arms around her. She froze for a moment, trying to look around, but he dipped his lips down by her ear, kissing it softly before whispering a simple: "no one's here," to reassure her. She'd relaxed against him, gently smiling with her eyes closed.

On the fifth day, it was more complicated. It was the anniversary of Tali's death. Her younger sister's death was something she'd shared with him the first day they met, but it wasn't something that she'd talked about in much detail since. He knew that she blamed her father for it, and that her father in return blamed her, but that was it. The case that had kept them up all night the day before was thankfully solves, and when she called in to take a personal day, he'd instantly known why. It was the only reason why she'd even take a personal day. He'd gone to her apartment straight from work, picking up dinner on the way through. She'd acted surprised to see him, but it was only hours later, when he'd let her curl up against him on the couch all night, pretending for her pride that he didn't know she was crying until she sniffed against his shoulder, that he managed to get a tiny smile from her. He'd raised her head, bringing his eyes to hers and told her that she didn't need to be afraid to cry in front of him, because he wasn't going anywhere. She'd given him a gentle, watery smile and returned her head to his shoulder.

On the sixth day, he spent a lot of time staring at her. He'd known something was different from the moment she walked into the squad room, but he couldn't figure out what. It was only when they stepped into the elevator that he'd stood behind her and realised what it was. When the others all stepped out to leave, he held her back, bringing his face to her hair for a moment and inhaling deeply. She frowned, but laughed when he said "you've changed your shampoo,".

On the seventh day, they'd ended up at a bar taking witness statements. Naturally, Tony had attempted to use flirtation to get more information out of a group of waitresses, something which had annoyed Ziva somewhat. McGee had picked up on it, and questioned her jealousy, but she had denied it. Tony often did this, even though they were together, and she was always assured afterwards that he did it to keep people from getting suspicious, but it still got her guard up. When McGee had gone outside to speak to one of the waitresses out the back, Tony had come over to Ziva. In front of everyone in the bar (luckily, none of whom knew them) he put his arms around her and kissed her. His way of showing her that she was his, and that the girls meant nothing. Despite her previous anger and need to hurt the group of girls, she'd smiled, shaking her head.

On the eighth day, they were swamped with paperwork. That meant no casual meetings in the elevators, no innocent trips down to the lab. Just paperwork. Even though he'd considered this an opportunity to come up with a great idea for a night out or a great way to make her smile, it hadn't worked with him. He'd ended tapping away at his computer, hoping for inspiration to strike him like a lightning bolt, but it didn't. In the end, he'd just missed hearing her voice. They usually bickered about paperwork, but today there was silence, and she was completely focused on the computer before her. He'd opened his email and sent her a simple message. 'Hi'. The smile he'd watched cross her lips when she opened the message was much better than the 'hi' he'd gotten in return.

On the ninth day, he'd been invited out for drinks with some old college buddies. Ziva had been hesitant about going along with him, insisting that she'd be intruding on a 'guys night out', but he'd convinced her. He'd been more tempted to stay indoors when he saw what she was wearing, but thought she'd like to at least get some use out of her outfit before he proceeded to remove it from her. When they'd arrived, he'd introduced her to all the guys, mainly using their college nicknames that she didn't understand, and none of them wanted to explain how they got, but she'd smiled at him when he'd introduced her as 'my girlfriend, Ziva'.

On the tenth day, they'd been nursing hangovers from the night out before. Well, Tony had been. He hadn't forgotten about his smile mission, though. In fact, he was so focused on it because he couldn't possibly focus on anything else. She'd already laughed at the way he'd half lain over his desk, groaning that he was never drinking again, but he decided that shouldn't count. They'd ended up in MTAC, sat in the darkness. McGee and Ziva were down in the row in front of him, and he found himself leaning forwards in his chair. McGee was paying so much attention to Gibbs' conversation that he didn't notice Tony's hand creeping onto Ziva's shoulder. Just like she'd done a few days ago when he embraced her from behind, she froze in her usual 'people are here' stance. He didn't care, though, and he felt, rather than saw, her smile when he started to play with her hair.

On the eleventh day, they'd had an early evening off. It was heavenly bliss considering the work they'd been doing. As soon as they'd left the building, they'd driven separately for a movie night at Tony's apartment. To no surprise, Ziva was already there, leaning against her parked car when he arrived. With her driving, she'd probably been there for ten minutes. He walked over to her, extending his arm dramatically. She laughed, rolling her eyes at him, but was thoroughly surprised when he instead dropped on arm beneath her knees, whisking her up into his arm. When he had her settled in his arms, she'd looked up at him. He'd tried to keep his eyes off of her as he walked them into the building, knowing from experience that he'd end up walking into something otherwise, but he couldn't hide his own grin when she'd buried her face in his neck, smiling against his skin.

On the twelfth day, they'd gone dancing. They'd spent hours lazing around watching movies before deciding that they should actually do something .Once again, he'd wanted to change his mind when he saw what she was wearing, but he was more than happy to take her out and show off the beautiful girl he had. He'd gone off to get their last drink before heading home, and turned around to see another guy trying to get her to dance. He wasn't worried, because he knew that Ziva was more than capable of taking care of herself, and he had a sneaky suspicion that the guy would end up walking funny for a month after, but beneath her "no, thank you, I am with someone" there was a hint of annoyance in her tone. He'd gone over to her, putting their drinks on the table and putting himself at his full height before the other guy. With a few 'colourful' words, the guy had disappeared, and Tony had seen an amused smile on Ziva's lips. It had been worth it, even if she had teased him about his over-protectiveness all night.

On the thirteenth day, it had been easy to make her smile. He hadn't intended it in the way that he did, though. And it wasn't a smile as much as uncontrollable laughter. While interviewing a suspects wife, he'd been ransacked by the woman's young son, who had stolen his hat and was holding it hostage at the bottom of the garden. Tony had chased him while he giggled, and Ziva had entered the garden to see what was keeping him, only to find him sprawled in a flower bed (just watered, so full of mud) and a proud child jumping up and down behind him wearing his hat. Tony had glared at her for laughing, but at that moment the child had decided to give Tony his hat back, making it the only clean thing he was wearing. That had just made her laugh even more.

On the fourteenth day, the case had been harder. Not emotionally draining, but definitely draining. They'd ended up back at her apartment for the night, and couldn't be bothered to cook, so they'd decided to order take out. That had failed, however, because once they'd sat down, neither could be bothered to do anything other than sit there. Sprawled over each other on the couch, it hadn't taken Ziva long to fall asleep. Tony was almost behind her, but knew he had an even earlier start than she 

did the following morning, so he needed to go back to his apartment. He'd held her for a while, before lifting her into his arms again and carrying her into her bedroom. She'd woken up halfway there, blearily asking what he was doing. When he told her, she simply curled tighter against him and refused to let him leave the apartment that night, demanding that he sleep beside her. He'd not argued the case much, and when he'd climbed into bed and wrapped his arms around her, she'd smiled triumphantly and gone back to sleep.

On the fifteenth day, things weren't going brilliantly to plan. He wasn't even sure why they were both so irritable, but they'd been snapping at each other all day. Gibbs had noticed it. McGee had noticed it. Abby had noticed it (and commented on it, so they all put it down to unresolved sexual tension). In the end, things were getting so hostile over the tiniest things, Abby had locked them in the ballistics lab and refused to let them leave until they sorted things out. She then informed them that she'd be back in the morning, and that there was plenty of food and water in there for them. They'd both been as stubborn as possible, trying to wait it out for the other to apologize first. Of course, they'd both started to speak at the same time as the other person, which had sparked another shouting match. Eventually, things broke down and they just stared at each other, anger sparking in their eyes until Tony lunged forward and kissed her. He kissed her for as long as he could, knowing that she might just kill him for this so he might not get another chance. When lack of oxygen did cause him to tear his lips from hers, she'd smirked at him. "Is that all it took ?" she'd teased him with a smile, before she'd kissed him again.

On the sixteenth day, there had been plenty of smiles. The main one felt more like it had occurred on the fifteenth, only because it was five o'clock in the morning and they were still locked in the ballistics lab until Abby arrived to let them out at seven. At five o'clock, though, when the first rays of sunrise started to spread into the lab, they'd started talking properly. He'd admitted that he loved her. It was simple, and he'd only said that. There hadn't been a big, drawn out, movie-worthy love profession. They'd sat against the wall together, and he'd nudged her shoulder with his. "I love you, you know," he'd told her. That had been the best smile of all. Abby had arrived two hours later, seeing them with their arms around each other, curled up asleep on the floor. When they'd left the lab, she promised she wouldn't tell anyone.

On the seventeenth day, things were still going remarkably well. The mention of the L word had made things a lot better for the two of them. There were as many stolen glances and secret smiles now as there had been when they first officially started seeing each other. He'd turned up at her apartment that night with three things in his hands. Gifts for Ziva. Abby had given him a 'talking to' about treating her right, and he'd been keen to follow one of her biggest points. According to Abby, every guy should give their girls three things; a stuffed animal (he wasn't sure if this was a good idea, but he knew she used to have them when she was twelve, and he'd picked out a green bear because the idea of giving her pink was unthinkable), jewellery (that she'd treasure forever, again he wasn't sure because she only ever wore her Star of David around her neck so because of this he'd opted for a bracelet), and one of his t-shirts. He'd really questioned the need for her to have one of his t-shirts, and Abby had insisted that she'd most likely wear it to bed. He'd wanted to correct her that she wore nothing to bed, especially when he was around, but Abby had stopped him, reminding that there were obviously some nights she'd spend alone. So, he'd gone for the James Bond t-shirt with the slogan 'shaken, not stirred' on the front of it. It was a special one for him, so he knew she'd understood what this meant. Thankfully, after he'd explained Abby's meaning behind the gifts, she 

did understand, and she accepted them. He saw her smile when she slipped the Bond shirt on later that night, just to see what it would do to him. It had been worth spending over a hundred dollars.

On the eighteenth day, a case gave them doubts about each other. Hiding things became very tense, all of a sudden. A woman who'd lost her husband discovered that her husband had a whole other family, where he lived a completely different life altogether. It made Tony and Ziva realise that people should treat one another the same alone as they did in public. So, when they got home, he snuck around the kitchen, giving her kisses that were chaste, as if to play on the sneaking that they did so often. She'd thought he was clinically insane for a while, but she'd eventually played along with his game. Her grin was dazzling when she was the one who snuck up on him.

On the nineteenth day, things were so busy at work that it was hard to get each other alone. It was looking to be an overnight case, so they didn't even get the chance to go home and relax together that night again. Instead, when McGee had been talking about their suspect, commenting that he didn't know how anyone could hide a secret from the people closest to them, they'd looked at each other and smiled. It counted, he decided, because she'd only been smiling at him.

On the twentieth day, he told her not to make any plans for the weekend. Friday nights were usually when she arrived on his doorstep regardless of whether or not they'd made plans, but this time he'd told her that he'd made all the arrangements. The majority of their relationship was based on secrecy, so she was naturally suspicious when he refused to let even the slightest detail out in the open. When she'd gone back to her desk, however, he'd seen her smiling because he'd made the effort.

On the twenty-first day, he'd picked her up in the evening and taken her out to a fancy (and expensive) restaurant. They'd had a lovely meal together before he suggested taking a slow walk back to his apartment. What had started to be a clear starry night had quickly become a cold and rainy night, and he'd rushed to throw his jacket over the very tiny and revealing dress she'd worn. He'd noticed how she kept staring at the way his white shirt was sticking to his chest, which had made it his turn to smile. He'd let his hand brush against her as they walked, their arms touching, skin sliding against each other because of the heavy rain, so that when they finally got back to his apartment and they kissed outside, it had been electrical. After that, she didn't seem to mind the rain so much, or at least, that's what her smile told him.

On the twenty-second day, the rain had stopped them from doing anything outside, so they opted for a lazy afternoon in. When Ziva returned from the bathroom after a shower, she found Tony laying on the couch with his iPod playing through the headphones. He'd seen her enter the room and patted the couch beside him. After some awkward manoeuvring, she found herself laying on his chest, and he offered her one of the headphones. She took it, listening along to the music in silence with him. The silence didn't last long, however, because Sinatra soon appeared on the player and he'd softly sung along. As the lyrics to 'the way you look tonight' were whispered in her ear, she could only smile.

On the twenty-third day, he'd watched her across the bullpen. She was working hard, and he knew that he should have been, but he couldn't stop watching her. He was surprised, looking back, to see how easy it had been to make her smile. Most of the time he hadn't even been trying, and it was always with things that he would have done even without making this challenge for himself. It 

reminded him of something his father had told him, one of the rare things he had actually learnt from his father. He had told him that you would often trap yourself in life by mistaking desire and need for love. He was right, Tony realised. Love was something far more precious, but also far more fragile. You could crush it with the simplest thing, but anything less could sent it fading away forever. You had to work at it. You had to be prepared to give it all and more. You had to listen to the voice in your heart and be absolutely sure that the voice is coming from the deepest part of you.

Ziva looked up at him, seeing the deep look he was giving her, and frowned gently. "Is something wrong, Tony?" she asked him.

He shook his head, a grin crossing his face. "No," he replied lightly, finally looking down at his paperwork. "No, everything's perfect."