Disclaimer: Sigh, obviously you already know they aren't mine but if you're offering...
A/N: This is just a short one shot tag immediately following Dagger. I know it's been done but that crazy thing in my head wanted me to do one too. I'm not sure about the ending. I always have trouble with the endings. Thanks to all the reviewers of my other stories. It really means a lot to know that people are not only reading but they actually like it.
Tony watched as Gibbs took Amanda's small hand in his and sat her down to try and help her make some sense of this nightmare that had become her life. He thought Gibbs might need to have the same discussion with him in the coming days because he couldn't make head or tails of the whole mess. Hero or villain. Who was Michelle Lee? And would they ever really know the answer to that question.
He looked up and saw Ziva standing near her desk. She was also watching Gibbs and Amanda and she wasn't making any attempt to hide the tears running down her cheeks. Tony watched silently as Ziva turned and walked away. The tears had thrown him. He didn't remember Ziva ever crying, not even when she had been assaulted and nearly killed.
She waited impatiently for the elevator to arrive and while watching her Tony waged a silent war with himself. In a move that he would have to analyze later, he found himself slipping through the doors after her.
He stood, looking at her for a moment before he quietly reached out and shut down the elevator.
"Tony please," she whispered, not meeting his eyes. He watched her closely with his head cocked slightly and just a hint of a smile.
"Just don't take me down this time okay?" She looked up at his strange request but held perfectly still as he slowly reached for her. His hands landed softly on her shoulders leaving her ample opportunity to see what he was doing and pull away. Instead she continued to watch him.
He took a half-step closer and when she felt him exert the slightest pressure on her arms she allowed herself to lean in and find comfort against his chest. She closed her eyes and inhaled the familiar scent of him. His arms wrapped around her securely and instead of feeling convinced she felt protected. She allowed herself a moment to savor that feeling with her cheek flat against his chest before she opened her mouth.
He felt her start to stir and he whispered against her hair. "Shh, you don't have to say anything." She closed her eyes again and felt his hand slide up to her neck and stop beneath her ponytail. His hand was warm and smooth and she shivered involuntarily. She needed this desperately but at the same time she was terrified of it. Tony, when he acted like this could heal many wounds but leaning on him would make her vulnerable and she knew that Tony could wound her as severely as any physical assault. She also knew that her heart wouldn't heal as easily as the rest of her flesh. But she needed this moment too much to resist. She allowed her body to give in to his comfort.
She felt Tony pull away slightly and she released the breath she hadn't realized she was holding. "You want to get out of here and get a drink? I don't think Gibbs would mind," he asked.
"No, I just want to go home." She looked down at her boots. "But if you want to come over we could maybe order a pizza or something." She looked up at Tony and he saw something in her eyes that both frightened and thrilled him. This was Ziva, and she was letting him in for a moment. He could not screw up this opportunity.
"Let me grab my stuff," he gently ran his thumb across her cheekbone. "I'll be right behind you." In another move that he would have to analyze later he leaned in and kissed Ziva on the forehead. He didn't know who was more surprised at the gesture but her eyes were round and dark when he pulled away.
"I'll be waiting for you then," she said simply as she switched the power to the elevator back on.
Tony leaned back against the couch, his sock-clad feet propped up on the coffee table next to the open pizza box. There was still half a pie but he was finished and Ziva had barely started. Neither of them had much of an appetite tonight it seemed. The case had been hard for many reasons. He had been so angry at everyone. Vance for playing them like puppets, using them to do his dirty work, and then finding out that Gibbs was in on the deception the whole time. Even worse was the knowledge that Lee had been part of his team when Gibbs was in Mexico and he hadn't known, or even imagined that she was capable of deception. He was angry that things could ever end so badly.
He glanced at the movie. He had no idea what was going on and for once he didn't care. He looked over at Ziva. Her head was resting against the couch and her eyes fluttered as she fought sleep. Tony reached out and touched her hand. "I should go. You need to get some sleep." His mouth turned up slightly. "There will be no end to the paperwork we have to do tomorrow."
She started, raising her head and looking at him. She looked down at her hands. "Stay," she said quietly. She met the question in his eyes. "For just a little while." She turned away from him and Tony had to lean in to hear her. "I think I could sleep if you were here."
He placed his hand flat on her shoulder and waited until she turned to him again. "You're having trouble sleeping?" He asked quietly, he himself no stranger to insomnia. She nodded. "We got Amanda back. She's going to be okay."
Ziva nodded again. "But at what price? The only mother she's ever known is gone. Her life is changed forever." Tony didn't have a good response. He pulled the pillow sitting next to him over onto his lap and drug the afghan down from the back of the couch.
"Come here," he pulled on her arm until her head rested on the pillow and he covered her with the blanket. He laid his head on the back of the couch and closed his eyes as he idly played with the loose strands of hair resting on her cheek. Ziva in private was a very different person than the fearless agent he saw every day. He wondered how much of her bravado was an act. Tony's eyes closed involuntarily as the patterns of Ziva's breathing became deep and rhythmic.
Tony jerked awake to the sound of an unfamiliar noise. He was disoriented for a moment. He was not in his own bed, not in his own house.
"No, Tony," the low anguished moans of his partner sleeping in his lap brought him back to the present. He watched her for a moment. She shifted restlessly against the pillow, a fine sheen of sweat glistened on her forehead and her hands were balled into fists.
"Ziva," he put his hand on her shoulder and shook her gently but firmly and he spoke her name in a normal tone of voice. He didn't want her to have any question about what was going on. She was likely to wake up fighting if she was confused. "Ziva, it's just a dream, wake up babe." The endearment felt strange directed toward her but it rolled off his tongue easily.
She rolled toward him and opened her eyes. Her voice was sleep roughened when she spoke. "Tony?" His name came out as a question.
"You were having a bad dream," he explained. She nodded. "You said my name." He could see her mentally compose herself before responding.
"I never remember my dreams." She blinked.
"You're lying." He spoke without censure but kept his eyes on her. She looked surprised. "I've worked with you a long time Ziva. The bad guys may not know how to read you but I do. You have a tell. Now, are you going to tell me what you were dreaming about or do I have to guess?"
"I really wish we could just leave it alone Tony." She looked away and wouldn't meet his eyes, watching her hands with great interest.
"You were the one who asked me to stay. You were having trouble sleeping remember? I imagine it has something to do with this. Now, spill it."
"It's that damn Domino exercise," she blurted out. "I keep dreaming that we're back in that room, unarmed and virtually helpless and then I see," she reached for Tony's face again. This time he didn't flinch from her fingers. She touched him so gently that it felt like a whisper against his skin. "I'm sorry I couldn't stop them from hurting you."
"Come on Ziva, no one expected even you to be able to take on six guys with assault rifles unarmed. Not to mention that really big woman." He grinned. "Speaking of, how is your face?" He reached out in an identical move and brushed her cheek. She leaned into his hand.
"It is healing, but I think she cracked my cheek bone," Ziva confessed reluctantly.
"What? You didn't say anything. We should have had X-rays taken."
"There was no point, they cannot fix it and besides, we were rather busy at the time."
Tony pulled her in to his chest and held her tightly. He rubbed the back of her head softly. "I want to know what happened to make you think that you can't rely on anyone."
"Tony," her voice was muffled by his shoulder but she felt more comfortable making her confession that way. "I came from a different world than you have known. I have only had myself to rely on and this transition has been difficult at times." She pulled away a fraction of an inch and peered into his eyes. "I envy your ability to ask for help."
"Oh Ziva," he crushed her to his chest again. The image of a young Ziva with no one to ask for help was almost more than he could stand. "Please trust me; I will do my best not to let you down again."
"You have never let me down Tony. You have confused me, frustrated me, and annoyed me to death, but you have never let me down."
"Even that whole Jeanne thing?" He asked tentatively.
"You were on a mission and following orders. I know you loved her but that doesn't change the fact that you couldn't tell us what you were doing. I understood." She yawned quietly and Tony looked at his watch.
"It's only three am. We can talk about this in the morning. You should go back to sleep sweet cheeks." She looked at him critically as he gestured for her to return to the pillow on his lap.
"You cannot be comfortable sleeping like that and it would not make sense for you to go home now." She ducked her head and shyly asked. "Would you like to come to bed with me?"
"Yes," Tony's heart thumped with adrenaline and he struggled not to appear over-eager by jumping off the couch and running to her room. He was finally starting to realize how unique and and meaningful their relationship really was. He was going to try to do things right with her. "As often as you will let me." He stated as he rose to his feet and took her hand, pulling her up with him. "As often as you will let me."