This is for PrincessJoey630, because she's quite possibly the biggest promoter of my writing and she deserves something back for that. Yes, PJ, I've seen your live journal and how frequently My Girl pops up in your posts. In fact, I read your live journal regularly. Alex E. Andras is persuading (ordering) me to make a live journal of my own, so hopefully that'll be a step forward for me. I can't work live journal to save my life. Anyway, this is dedicated to PJ for being awesome.
Side By Side
Feet padded heavily along the concrete, the sound of heavy breathing mingling with the thumping of sneakers to complete the feel of an early morning run. The water bottle in Ziva's hand had a comforting lapping from the water still inside it, assuring her that she was good for another five miles with the amount she had left. She'd once been caught out halfway through her route with less water than she wanted, and had tried to get by on stamina alone before the need for water burned at her throat, forcing her to stop.
That was one of the benefits of not running alone.
Her running partner of the past year had been one that surprised her. It had started innocently, hearing him approaching her from behind, listening to him running a good distance behind her, enough for a passer by to imagine they didn't really know one another, but close enough that he could follow every turn she took without losing her. She'd tested this once by changing course several times, and he still continued to follow her. After a few weeks of this chase every morning, he started to run beside her, a small smile exchanged as a greeting, but no words. A week later, he'd ran out of water, and grabbed her bottle without asking. All it had taken to get the conversation running was her to turn to him with a sharp "hey!", and then she'd asked the question she'd been attempting to ask him for weeks.
"Why are you running after me, Tony?"
He'd just shrugged, returning her water bottle. "Just thought I'd see if I could keep up."
And he had.
After that, it became more an unspoken agreement that they would run together. A week later, when he failed to meet her at the tree he usually joined her at, she had turned back and ran another circle of the park, so that when she got there the second time he was there waiting. Then, it became more tender, not something they just did as friends. After running, they would go for breakfast together, sometimes she'd make it at her apartment, sometimes he'd make it in return. One morning, when he never turned up at the park, she bought breakfast on the way to his apartment and went to see what was wrong. As she knocked, she'd been suddenly worried that he had a female guest for the night, but when he'd opened the door with a pale face and bloodshot eyes, she knew it wasn't a hangover. Needless to say, the next three mornings had turned into breakfast at Tony's place because he was too sick to run.
It soon progressed past breakfast. A Sunday afternoon run on a rare afternoon off, a midnight run after a particularly hard case…now that one had been interesting. They'd stopped running halfway through, finally slowing to a walk through the empty park, and under a starlit sky they had confessed their deepest fears and regrets to one another. The next day they said nothing about it, it was as if the conversation never occurred, and they had ran in silence as they dwelled on each other's words. That night, however, as Ziva prepared herself for another run, Tony arrived at her apartment, looking broken and tortured. His words had been momentously crushed against her heart before his lips followed suit.
"I think I've fallen in love with you, Ziva."
He'd been drinking, yes, but he wasn't drunk. She'd seen him when he'd drank himself to realisations before, and this wasn't one of those nights. This was two drinks, maybe three, to try and convince himself that he wasn't feeling what he was feeling, and then realising that he actually did and that was how he had ended up on her doorstep, kissing her fiercely in front of her elderly neighbours.
After that, running was abandoned for a while, in favour of another form of exercise that often took up their mornings before work. It was even followed by the rushed showers before driving quickly towards the Navy yard (separately, as not to alert Gibbs' rule twelve breakage radar). It definitely bought a better smile to their faces than running did, however. They never ran alone since that day.
That had been ten months ago now. For ten months they had ran together, slept together, lived together for all intensive purposes. Gibbs had found out, and they had escaped punishment and firing and possible death with nothing more than a head slap each and a very real and terrifying warning to keep it out of the office - something they'd managed to do remarkably well. As soon as they left the office, however, and the doors were closed behind them, they were at one, rather than separated across the squad room with two desks between them.
The call came from slightly behind her, his words something that she'd never heard on their run. She slowed down, but didn't stop as she jogged back around to him. She jogged on the spot as he crouched down on one knee. "What is it?" she asked him.
"Shoelace," he mumbled, turning his attention down to his foot.
She took the opportunity for a break, letting her legs still as she raised her water bottle to her lips.
"It's been a year, you know," Tony muttered.
She looked down at him, and he continued without looking back up.
"Since we started running together," he explained.
"A wonderful year," she mused, raising her head again with the water bottle.
"Hmm?" she mumbled, looking back down to him.
She had to swallow quickly to keep from spluttering the liquid all over him.
He'd decided to look up at her now, giving her his full attention. And that wasn't all he was giving her. From his position of tying up his shoelace, he'd left himself rather conveniently crouched on one knee still, but that wasn't what shocked her.
"Oh my goodness."
It was the beautiful, silver ring that he held between his fingers. His eyes sparkled just like the diamond atop it as he looked expectantly up at her, a look of perfect excitement merged with the typical nervousness that followed such a gesture.
"What do you say, Zi?" he asked her, trying his best to look casual, but she could hear the telltale tremble in his tone. "Run with me forever?"
"I…" she started, but she trailed off. What was she trying to say? The thing that she should say, what she wanted to say, didn't start with "I". But words failed her. Instead, she relied on her actions, combining throwing herself forward with crouching down, so that she ended up tumbling them both back onto the path as she kissed him full force.
"Is that a yes?" Tony mumbled against her lips, trying to ignore the scrapes that the concrete was leaving on his back.
She pulled back, looking down at him strangely. "You did not think I would say no, did you?" she teased.
"Well, you haven't actually said 'yes', yet…" he pointed out.
This time, when she turned her lips down to his, it was softer, more gentle. "I am saying yes right now," she smiled against him.
From on the ground, she felt his hands entwine with hers, his fingers expertly placing the ring on her finger as they kissed blindly. "Fancy skipping the rest of the run?" he asked seductively.
She laughed. "Now there is the proposal I am more used to."
PJ, I hope you liked this! It's short, I know, but it's sweet and fluffy. There isn't enough random tiva fluff out there what with all the angst being thrown at us in the episodes. Let's petition more fluff! Can I get an Amen, tiva shippers?!