Title: Make It Right
Category: Tony/Ziva UST
Rating: T for a few swear words and adult situations
Spoilers: Huge for Aliyah. Do not read if you haven't seen that episode! This takes place after the events of that episode have been (somewhat) resolved.
Summary: Ziva just wants to sleep.
Disclaimer: I promise to pamper them and return them to their rightful owners, reluctantly. Also, chapter headings stolen from the song "I Shall Believe" by Sheryl Crow. Listen to it; it's gorgeous!
Author's Notes: Before you all yell at me for not updating Tangled Up in quite a while (sorry! The guilt is killing me!), here is a short piece to tide you over. Life has been crazy with work winding down for the summer and moving into a new apartment and other such stressors, so really digging into Tangled Up to finish it off has been difficult (my goal is to have it all written this week so I can post the last few parts in quick succession). I needed a little breather to get the writing juices flowing and, so, this was born. As usual, I tried to be short and sweet but failed miserably at that. Oh well. It's my contribution to the post-finale fic frenzy! I haven't read too much of it yet, so apologies if someone already wrote something similar…also, I apparently have an obsession with writing this particular situation. They just take it upon themselves to do these things…you don't mind, right? ;-) Enjoy!
i. broken in two
Drowning, choking, I fight through the darkness.
Tell me everything you know, the voice demands. Fuck you, I spit. The crack of a whip, the rustle of chains, the sharp stinging of my flesh as it rips apart. Tell me, you stupid bitch. My blood is warm, wet, sticky as it drains from my body. Who did this to me? Why am I here? I can't stop the shaking. I will die here. Someone's hand stroking my thigh, the clanging of metal, the waves of pain that keep coming and coming and coming.
I claw and kick my way free. The ties that hold me down loosen.
I'm sorry… I'm so sorry… Tell me, you dirty whore, tell me now. I will die here and they will never know the truth. The ship is moving. Away from here. You lied to me! Betrayed me! It's getting darker, and darker, and shit…not again. You are stronger than this. Bones break so easily. Get me away from here. Help me. I will never tell you, you fucking bastard. Help me. Gunshot. Gunshot. Gunshot. He will never know the truth. Tell me everything you know about NCIS. Never, I spit. Never, you bastard.
I sit up, gasping for air.
I blink once, twice. And again.
My eyes struggle to adjust to the lack of light. The last vestiges of sleep fall away. Vague shadows greet my newfound awareness: a dresser, a closet door, artwork hanging on the wall. A bedroom. My bedroom. New objects dot my vision, still unfamiliar, but they mark this room as my own.
It is enough to calm my racing heart.
My hands shake as I push the sweaty hair from my face and take deep breaths.
There is nothing to fear. I am safe.
Still, the nightmare pokes at the edges of my awareness. I struggle to keep its gruesome images at bay. Every time I blink I'm rewarded with a flash, a memory, and panic strikes me anew.
They are not real. I am safe now. This is what I tell myself. And yet…there is no relief from the griping terror of my dreams.
Run, run, run, my brain urges.
But there is nowhere to go. I sink slowly, delicately back into the mattress as if at any moment my captor's hand will strike from thin air.
It was just a dream.
I am safe.
Maybe if I repeat it enough, I'll begin to believe it.
ii. so heavy tonight
I shut my eyes and try to trick myself back to sleep.
My body curls into itself, fending off an unseen attacker. My sheets can't be pulled tightly enough around my skin to stop the sensations of trickling blood and stinging wounds. The putrid smell of my own blood, sweat, and waste has embedded itself into my nose and though I inhale the clean, candle-scented air of my room, I can't seem to get rid of it. I think if I hold myself quiet enough, still enough I will simply disappear and nothing will touch me.
My eyelids are heavy. I'm exhausted. But the thought of sleep, of surrender, makes me want to vomit. Walking around tomorrow fatigued and loopy sounds like a better alternative than returning to my own personal hell. Every time my eyelids droop, I'm assaulted with an image of my torture and they snap open again. In the silence of the room, I hear their voices, taunting and mocking me. Even worse, it's not just their voices. It's my voice, my father's voice, Michael's, Tony's…words of anger and betrayal that cut deeper than any knife and echo in my mind. My whole body aches. The room is spinning. I tell myself it isn't real, but that doesn't stop the attack. One last empty assurance from my father, one last vision of an angry, sweaty terrorist looming over me, and I fling my blankets off the bed.
That's the final straw. I can't take this anymore. I can't… I can't.
I'm so tired. I just want to sleep. I just want this to stop.
Another reminder of my most recent nightmare flickers across my mind's eye. I shudder.
Run, run, run, my brain urges.
But to where?
The where hardly matters as my flight response kicks in, as adrenaline surges through my veins at the promise of release. I just need to go. The unfamiliar walls of my unfamiliar home are closing in, becoming almost as threatening as the dirty walls of that godforsaken ship.
I slip on running shoes and a sweatshirt. I grab my keys and secure my knife at my waist before escaping into the calm autumn night.
Cool air fills my lungs as I work to put distance between myself and the haunting scene my own bedroom has become.
I have escaped; I am free.
As I focus on moving my tired legs at a steady clip, the lingering images of my nightmare begin to fade.
iii. it all comes down on me
My feet pound the pavement, a steady rhythm on the silent streets. With each stride, I am farther from the darkness and pain. I am no longer afraid. I feel strong again.
Mindlessly, my feet carry me through the city streets. To where, I do not know.
In the predawn unreality, I forget all reason and want. This is about what I need. I need sleep, but more than that I need comfort, peace, understanding…things that have been lost to me since my return to Israel. Since before that. Since Michael returned, maybe, but definitely before Tony—
I silence the thought as I pick up my pace. The faster I run, the farther I am from the chaos and the closer I am to what I had before, before all this mess…Maybe if I run fast enough, I can get back there somehow. Back to before. When I knew who I was, when things made sense.
I need that now. I need to feel…anything but this.
I don't know what to feel anymore. I barely know who I am anymore.
I am suffocating under the weight of it all and, despite everything that has happened, there is only one person I can think of to help me tonight.
He is what I need.
He is still the only one I know who can help me breathe.
I cover the two miles between us with ease. The short physical distance being nothing compared to the gulf of emotional distance that remains between us. I can only hope that distance won't matter tonight. I just need to see him, that's all. He can calm my mind in that way only he knows how to do. And then I will be able to rest.
Sleep. Sleep is what matters, and getting rid of this chill of fear that has settled in my bones.
I just…need him to make it better. Please, let him be able to make this better.
Because even after all the events of the past few months, after all the hurt and betrayal and torture and words both cutting and unspoken, it is to him I run at this late hour. Without thought, without pause, my body craves him and my mind can't be bothered to intervene.
And my heart? Well, as I once said, the heart wants what it wants.
My heart wants Tony.
I want Tony.
God help me, but I want Tony. I need Tony.
I run faster.
I don't understand this person I've become.
iv. open the door
It isn't until I pick my way inside of his apartment that I realize I've been crying. I rub at the renegade tears that flow down my cheeks, trying to erase them. It doesn't matter. His apartment is dark.
With only a slight hesitation, I find myself stealing into his bedroom. Now it is he who should be waking in terror. A real threat has found its way into his sanctuary. Yet he sleeps.
Quietly, I slip off my running shoes and free my hair from its braid. Sweaty clothes come off next and are dropped haphazardly on the floor until I am standing in nothing but my underwear and sports bra. My skin cools in the gentle breeze that floats in through the open window. I breathe. The air smells like Tony.
A loud snore erupts from the bed disturbing the quiet. Taking in the sight, I smile. Tony is beautiful in slumber. He wears only a pair of boxer shorts and the moonlight seeping in through the blinds illuminates his golden skin. His long body has stretched itself across the bed, arms and legs askew and tangled in the bedding as he lies on his stomach. His face is half-buried in his pillow; the digital red of the alarm clock highlights the innocence in his sleeping features.
I take a step toward the bed.
And then I retreat.
The silence of his room is heavy and the pressure of it soothes my screaming nerves. I feel safe, invisible, moving in his space. I might as well be a ghost in the darkness.
It is a comforting thought. Maybe I am not really here at all. Maybe I will open my eyes and wake-up in the bedroom that is now nothing but ashes, in a bed that burnt down to the ground. I could go back to my dreamless slumber, needing nothing and no one, and all will be right with my world again.
But no. That is not the case.
Tony grumbles in his sleep and flops onto his back.
I move into the shadows. What the hell am I doing right now? Why did I come here?
I unsheathe my knife.
v. I know you're on to me
I circle the room, stalking my helpless prey. I turn my knife in my hands. The blade glints silver in the dim light.
What am I doing here? How did I sink to this point? I try to remember who I am, but even that is fuzzy at best: a former Mossad assassin, not quite an NCIS agent, a woman betrayed by family, lover, and country, a refugee in a not-so-foreign land that doesn't quite trust her, with friends who don't quite trust her, either.
Who am I? I don't even know anymore.
My eyes flick to Tony.
It infuriates me that he has made it so easy. I could kill him at least twenty different ways right now. And yet he sleeps on….
I hate him. I hate him. I hate him.
My nails tap out the mantra against the deadly blade of my knife.
"If you're going to murder me, can you just get it over with? I'm trying to sleep."
I startle at the sound of Tony's voice, thick with sleep and yet obviously aware and annoyed. Turning, I find myself at the foot of his bed, staring him down. He lies on his back and regards me in the darkness. His arms are folded behind his head; a relaxed, vulnerable position that contrasts with my own wired body, drawn tight and ready to pounce. For a long moment, we just look at each other. I can hear only my heavy breathing; Tony is silent, a challenge written on his face.
My heart beats to a rhythm of attack, attack, attack. Warning bells go off in my head. I grip my knife tightly.
Tony looks at me with heavy, knowing eyes. The power of his gaze makes me tremble. I can't quite decide if I want to stab him or fuck him. This is the problem with Tony.
The conflicting desires are too much for my weary body. My muscles go lax, admitting defeat.
I don't know what to say. I lower my weapon.
Tony rolls his eyes, completely casual, as if I wasn't just threatening his life. Again.
I'm suddenly very aware of the fact that I'm standing practically naked in his bedroom in the middle of the night.
I think I've lost my mind. I scramble to find words to explain my behavior but come up empty.
Tony doesn't seem to be waiting for any, though, as he shifts around on the bed, moving to one side of the mattress and adjusting the bedding.
"Get in here, Ziva," he says eventually as he holds his blanket up in invitation, like it's a normal occurrence for him to make room for me under the covers.
Oddly, I find myself following his order.
vi. lay your hands over me
"I couldn't sleep," I offer by way of explanation as I slide into his bed. Tony scoots over so that there is a clear demarcation between his side and mine. How different this situation is from the last time we shared a bed. He says nothing, just takes the knife from my hand and places it on the nightstand.
I try and find a comfortable position in his bed. My muscles are already melting into the mattress, soothed by the cool sheets and the smell of Tony all around. I steal a pillow from his side of the bed and pull the covers up to my chin. Tony watches me, his eyes sparkling in the dark. I shiver and it has nothing to do with the temperature.
"I was not going to kill you, Tony," I whisper, suddenly needing him to know the truth. There have been times when every instinct has told me to strangle the smirk right off of Tony's face, but I know I would never truly be able to harm him—make him suffer, yes, but nothing more. I hope he knows that.
"You sure about that?" he smirks, propping his head on his elbow. That grin is a beautiful, welcome sight; it soothes the frayed edges of my nerves and makes my stomach turn delightfully. I'm reminded why I came here tonight.
I fall into our familiar banter. "No," I tease, narrowing my eyes. Tony chuckles and falls back on his pillow. He groans.
"I don't know what the hell to do with you half the time, either," he mutters and his words are laced with emotions I cannot decipher. I don't respond.
I'm suddenly acutely aware of the distance between us. A mere six inches separates our bodies. It is the closest that we've been since I returned or, rather, was rescued. And yet, it is still so much farther than our bodies usually rest when in proximity. At least, it was before…before neither of us would hesitate to touch the other, to seek comfort.
Tony is quiet and I think he must be sleeping again. With a sigh, I turn onto my side, away from him, and pull my knees toward my chest.
The terrors of earlier in the night seem so far away now, but I know that with one slip of my eyelids they will find their way into my mind again.
Still, I need to sleep. I inhale the scent on my stolen pillow and try to conjure up images of better times. I concentrate on the slow, even breaths of the man beside me. I focus on the heat of his body so close (and still so far) from mine.
I shut my eyes and pray for the best.
vii. never again would I turn away from you
"I have nightmares sometimes, too," Tony offers into the darkness a few minutes later. My eyes snap open, surprised that he's still awake. I, too, was struggling to fall asleep. Sleep doesn't come easy when you've been avoiding it for so long.
"Yes," I affirm his unspoken question in a tight voice. Yes, Tony, I am having nightmares. Happy about that? There was no judgment in his tone, but admitting weakness is never easy for me. I feel him roll onto his side, presumably facing me. I grip his pillow tighter and do not turn around. After a beat I ask, "What about?"
Tony fiddles with the blankets. "Oh, you know…McGee being promoted to senior agent, Gibbs giving up caffeine…" He pauses, then continues in a low, hoarse voice, "…losing you."
I shut my eyes against the sudden onslaught of emotions his candid words elicit. Three in the morning, sleep-deprived and vulnerable, is no time to engage in pillow talk with one's partner. In fact, my coming here at all was a complete and utter mistake…but still, hasn't Tony just admitted something I spent years past wishing for him to admit?
And the words I spent the last year dreading he would admit?
I struggle to find my voice. I have no idea where I want this conversation to go; I have no idea how I should be feeling right now. "Tony…"
He moves closer to me on the bed. I can feel the delicious warmth of his skin near to mine. He twirls some of my hair in his fingers so sweetly, so reverently, that I want to cry.
"I wish I could go back and change it all, Ziva," he whispers and I can feel his breath on my ear. He must've propped himself up again, trying to see my face. I remain still, a scared, trembling animal trying to hide in plain sight. I tuck my chin into my chest.
"Everything…with Rivkin, and then after…it's all my fault, if I would've just…" He lets out a shuddering breath. "God, Ziva, I'm so sorry. For everything."
My mouth opens but I can't form words. The truth is, I have no clue what to say. There is still so much I do blame him for. Most of it irrationally, it is true. But I don't know how to change that. Not yet.
Though that doesn't explain why I came here tonight. Part of me is so angry with him for things he did and did not do, for things he deserves and things he does not. Part of me hates him…but most of me is still in love with him, and it's killing me trying to reconcile the two.
"I can't talk about this tonight," I finally sputter out. A single tear has worked its way down my cheek. I swipe it away.
Tony freezes, then extracts his hand slowly from my hair. A pain in my heart, worse than any sense memory from my time on that boat, seizes me. I bite my lip and taste blood. Tony moves away from me and safely back to his side of the bed.
"Okay, fine," he says and I can tell he put great effort into not sounding short with me. He succeeds, but I can sense his frustration nevertheless. "Goodnight."
The ensuing silence is oppressive.
viii. and I shall believe
I'm so tired.
Bone-deep, soul draining tired. I just want to sleep. I just need a few hours of peace.
"Tony," I test and he grunts in response. I don't know what to ask for; I don't know what I need from him, what brought me here. I am putting all my faith in his uncanny ability to know me in ways that no one else ever will.
Please, Tony, please just help me tonight. I need you. I concentrate hard on the thought, willing him to read my mind.
I finally turn over so that I face him, or rather his back. I stare hard at the smooth, lightly muscled skin and resist the urge to run my hand over it.
"Tony," I begin again, hating the slight tremor in my voice and the way I can see him tense up in response. "I'm scared," I whisper, practically inaudibly, for the words are more than I would like to admit and they spill out without warning. They are true, of course, though right now I'm not sure of what I'm most afraid.
Tony rolls over in a flash, anger and frustration gone from his face, and in their place nothing but warmth and concern. He studies me for a moment, just as I try to shutter my fears from him. But one look in his eyes tells me I'm unsuccessful. I'm not sure whether I should be angry or grateful. I look down. Tony sighs.
"C'mere," he urges and opens his arms to me. I find myself gathered up to his chest. We shift to find a mutually comfortable position. I take a deep breath. Tony makes a sound like he's going to speak, but then seems to think better of it.
"Stay," I command, though I'm really in no position to do so considering it's his bed and his apartment and his arms encircling me and making no move to let me go. My body relaxes into his and I revel in the sensation of his skin against my own. His fingers trace lazy paths up the bare skin of my back, around the edges of my sports bra, through my hair, and back again. The sweet sensation, along with the sturdy rhythm of his heart under my ear, lulls me towards sleep. This is the sense of belonging I needed.
"Go to sleep, my crazy ninja," he mutters as he kisses my head. The lightness of his tone and the casual endearment make me smile. I unfold my hand on his chest. "I'm not going anywhere," he adds and pulls me tighter to him.
"Thank you," I murmur into his skin, unable to keep the relief out of my tone.
This is what I came here for, what I was seeking out before I ever realized it. This is the peace I was missing, the warm, safe comfort of a loved one's embrace. We still have so much to fix between us, but at least there can still be this. I hardly know who I am or where I belong anymore, but I can trust this. Despite everything we've been through lately, against all odds and my better instincts, I still trust him and that feeling is nothing short of sacred right now.
The nightmares that have been chasing me lag behind, farther from my mind than they have been in weeks.
For the first time in a long while, I welcome the sleep that begins to overtake me.
AN2: Oh Tiva, so angsty, so fun to write... Hope you liked this random vision of the future...hope it works in context of both things seen and unseen. I've only seen the finale once so far (ack, I need cable/internet again!) so any continuity mistakes are mine. Let me know what you thought. More Tangled Up soon, I promise. And more fluffy things to come in the future, I hope. What can I say? My Tony and Ziva just end up in bed, comforting each other. Those naughty kids.