The story is almost over, one more chapter after this. Your support is much appreciated. As for this chapter, you just know I had to have me some TIVA and it just seemed that they HAD to have a talk about what happened.
Summer of '46
Tony drove Ziva home in silence. She spent the time looking out her window. He knew she didn't feel like talking. He did make one stop – at a fast food drive-thru. He didn't even ask her what she wanted just ordered her what he ordered himself with the exception of a Diet Coke instead of a chocolate milkshake. When he parked the car in front of her apartment she got out of the car still without speaking and he got the food and drinks, still following her. She did hold the door for him so he wouldn't spill the food.
Once she got into her apartment she went straight to the bathroom and closed the door. Tony heard the lock click. He sighed and took the food into the kitchen. If she wasn't out in ten minutes he was going to start hammering on the door.
He got some plates out of the kitchen and put the food in them, pulled out the ketchup, doused both sets of fries, and then took the two overflowing plates back into the living room, returning seconds later with their drinks. He sat down and stuffed several fries in his mouth and turned on the television, checking the cable guide. Flipping through it he saw a listing for SOMEWHERE IN TIME due to start in 8 minutes. Was this some more supernatural crap? What a movie to show today of all days. He clicked to the listed channel and waited for Ziva to come out.
One minute before his deadline she came out, dressed in sweatpants, thick socks and an NCIS sweatshirt with a sweater pulled on over it. She came and sat by him on the couch. Her eyes widened as she saw all the food before her.
"Tony, why did you get so much food?"
"Well, you weren't talking so I just ordered you what I ordered myself. Although I did get you a Diet Coke."
He was proud of himself for thinking of the diet drink. She looked at him iin disbelief.
"Two whoppers, double order of fries, onion rings, and a drink?"
"Well, yeah. You haven't had much to eat the past couple of days. I don't want Ducky chewing my butt because I didn't feed you."
She gave a little, forced laugh.
"Ducky might have something to say about your food choices, Tony, but thank you."
She picked up a French fry and nibbled at it, not looking at anything but most particularly not at Tony.
"Ziva," he started.
She held up a hand.
"I do not want to talk about it, at least right now."
"Okay. Let's just eat and watch a movie. I found SOMEWHERE IN TIME on the tube. You ever seen it?"
He asked even though he was pretty damned sure she had never seen it. It hadn't been a tremendous success when it first came out but had gathered a cult following of hopeless romantics since; especially with the death of its star, Christopher Reeve, a few years back.
She shook her head.
"Good, I think you'll like it."
He sat back and propped his feet on the coffee table where their food sat, his usual position for movie night at Ziva's. She sat at the far end of the couch, still playing with her first French fry. Usually she sat much closer to him these nights. He often accused her of sitting close to make it easier to punch him when he made obnoxious comments during the movie or quoted every actors' lines in long scenes verbatim. Sometimes, not all the time, but sometimes she would come closer and lay her head on his shoulder and let him put his arm around her. This most often happened when it had been a bad day, rough case, hard job. Sometimes she would even offer him the ultimate compliment of falling asleep cuddled up next to him, showing how much she trusted him. He lived for those nights. Certainly the past day qualified as hard times, especially for her.
The opening credits came up and he felt rather than saw Ziva move closer to him and settle herself just inches away. He smiled to himself.
They watched the seemingly doomed lovers struggle to reunite through time. About halfway through, during a commercial, he checked the food status. His plate was empty. Just breading crumbs left from the onion rings. Ziva had eaten most of one whopper and a few French fries. She had finished her entire large Coke though so that was good. He looked at her.
She sat next to him, legs curled up under her.
"What?" she asked.
"You need something else to drink. What do you want?"
"Tony, if I want something else to drink I will…"
"Don't! Just tell me what you want and I'll get it, okay? Only for tonight."
She nodded slowly.
"I would love to have a cup of hot tea if you insist. I have not been warm since yester…for some time."
"I'll get it. You just stay here and watch the movie. You're liking it right?"
Now she nodded.
"Yes, very much."
He stood and before he went into the kitchen to make her tea he took the blanket she kept folded on the back of the couch and spread it over her. She smiled her thanks and pulled it up to her neck.
When he came back in a few minutes with the tea, black and extra sweet just how she liked it, she still sat in the same position. He handed her the cup and she reached out of the blanket with both hands, took it and cradled it, seeming to enjoy the added warmth. He sat back down beside her and without asking, put his arm over her shoulder and pulled her close to his side.
She looked at him and he said, "Shared warmth. This hot Italian blood is good for making human heaters too."
She smiled and he smiled back. She relaxed against him and they watched the rest of the movie. When the young playwright was thrown back to his own time he heard a soft sniffle from her. The movie ended with the lovers reunited. Ziva said nothing just snuggled closer to him and deeper into the blanket. Tony enjoyed the feeling of her solid little body next to him and thought of what Anna had told him of Ziva's feelings for him.
He turned off the TV, glanced down at her and noticed her eyes were closed, her lips slightly parted in her sleep. He smiled and swung his feet off the table and onto the couch, stretching out. He pulled Ziva into a more comfortable position basically on top of him as he put his feet up on the couch. He knew in the morning he would regret this when he woke up stiff and sore but right now he didn't care. He wanted her near him all night long. He carefully spread the blanket out with one hand, the other still around her shoulders, and covered both of them with it. Wrapping both arms around her, he sniffed her hair where it tickled his nose and smiled as he drifted off to sleep.
She woke up sometime in the early morning and tried to sit up, her hand inadvertently pushing on Tony's solar plexus.
"Oof," he gasped.
"Tony, why didn't you wake me? You can't have been comfortable."
He grinned and pushed himself to a sitting position.
"I was fine, Ziva. Just fine. Why are you awake? You should still be sleeping?"
Even in the dark he could tell she smiled.
"Remember, I get up and run every morning. This must be around my normal waking time."
"Oh yeah. I guess you wanna get up and run them. I'll just be leaving…"
She didn't say anything. He waited and then waited some more.
"What?" he said.
"I just wanted to thank you for what you did when…when I wasn't myself."
"Good way to put it. 'Not yourself.'"
"Tony, I am trying to say something here. Please do not make any of your stupid jokes."
He sat up straighter.
"Sorry. I'll behave."
"I was scared at first but then I guess I grew to know Anna. I knew what she felt and thought. I had no control of anything, not even my body, and that scared me, but I came to trust Anna. And you were there with me, with her, and I knew you wouldn't let anything bad happen. Does that make sense?"
Remembering how Anna told him Ziva had known he would come for her he said, "Yes."
"She was so sad, Tony, and scared too. She didn't know what was happening either. She thought she might be dead which meant her baby was dead and she wanted to go back into oblivion, not think or feel, but something kept her in this time, with me."
Tony reached over and turned on the low-wattage lamp on the end table next to him. He wanted to see her face as she talked. She rarely opened up like this. Something was happening here and he had to see her face.
The blanket puddled around her hips as she knelt in front of him on the couch. She held her hands tightly together. He reached over and took one of her hands in each of his.
"She was so happy to see Ray and then he died. He died in our arms. I felt her heart break Tony and it almost broke mine. Then she just left. One second she was inside me, talking to you and the next gone. I felt so empty."
She let him pull her closer to him, still holding her hands.
"So empty, Tony. When Ray and Anna, when they kissed, touched, I felt it. I felt their love for each other. Love that survived time and death. Like the movie last night. I felt filled with their love. Warmed by their love. Then it was all gone. All gone. And I was empty. I still feel empty."
He gathered her into his chest, holding her tight.
"I think I know what you're talking about Ziva. That empty feeling."
She held her head back and looked up at him.
"Yeah, I think I know that feeling too damned well."
He leaned down and kissed her, gently, softly. Her lips trembled under his. He held the kiss for just a few seconds then pulled back. Cleared his throat. He wasn't going to do anything to mess this up. Ziva was vulnerable right now. He wouldn't take advantage of her. But maybe soon they could talk again about the other thing Anna had told him. How she had said Ziva loved him. Maybe they could work on filling up the empty inside them together.
She leaned her head on his chest and he hugged her for long moments.
"Hey, you know what? I'm hungry again."
He felt her silent laugh.
"What say you get dressed, we go to my place so I can catch a quick shower and then I'll buy you a big breakfast before we go to work?"
She nodded and then pushed away from him. They both stood up.
"I'll just be a couple of minutes."
He smiled. Unlike most women in his experience, when Ziva said she'd be ready in a couple of minutes he believed her. He bent over, picked up the blanket and started to fold it. Suddenly Ziva was back, hugging him from the rear.
"Thank you, Tony," she said and was gone again into the bedroom.
He whistled "That's Life," Sinatra's version, as he cleared the coffee table of their garbage from last night.