A/N: My apologies to those of you who have read this story and reviewed it before. As some of you may know, this fic was originally posted up under the profile of a friend of mine (waitingformysoulmate), before I acquired my own profile. Now I have my own profile housing my own fics, and it seemed like the right time to move this fic and its sequel over – someone recently messaged me and asked if I had taken them down from my own profile, and was very sad to think I had. I'm not asking my friend to take them down from her profile site, so all comments remain there for posterity. But if you wish to comment/review again, or if you never have before, you are more than welcome to. It is always much appreciated.
Right, thanks again, and onto the fic…
"Starting three months ago Ziva, he has been visiting your apartment at least one night a week" - Shalom
His hands had threaded through her hair, gripping, cradling her head as he kissed her, his lips crashing down on hers with an almost desperation that she didn't have to try hard to understand. She could feel his pain, feel his fear, feel his search for something unwavering in the way he brushed his lips against her skin. She would have pulled away – because he wasn't thinking clearly, that much was obvious – but when she started to, he had reached up and tucked a strand of her hair behind her ear, looking her in the eye. So she had stayed.
It wasn't anything she hadn't done before.
She couldn't pretend that this time wasn't different though. As he parked the car – because the last thing she had wanted to do after the day like theirs was get on a late-night bus – she thought back to what had happened. Gibbs had left. Gibbs had left. And she had known, when she watched him hand his badge to Tony, and when he turned his back on them, he didn't plan on coming back. Not even Abby's plea could stop him. They had stood, frozen in the Squad Room for almost a full five minutes before anyone had even thought to move. Abby had searched for comfort in Tony's arms, before he had passed her off to McGee. Ziva knew he couldn't handle being anyone's rock right now. He needed his own comforting.
That was where she fit in.
She understood him, better than he realised even. For Tony, sex was simple and automatic, and detached. Concentrating on undoing the buttons on his shirt meant that he didn't have to concentrate on other things. On Abby's heartbroken voice. On McGee's faltering surprise. On Gibbs, burnt and broken and barely remembering them, walking into the elevator, intending never to return. Keeping his lips busy with butterfly kisses and softly breathed teasing meant he didn't have to voice his fears about whether he could do this, whether he was ready to stand in shoes that seemed far too big for him. Taking her into his bed meant he didn't have to wake up alone.
She and Tony had been here before, all be it in pretend, but it wasn't much of a step to make it real. She did trust him. Did feel for him. Did believe in him, which is what he needed most right now. As her curls tumbled over her bare shoulders, she tried to let him know – through her kisses, her touches, the arch of her spine – that she had his back. That she, at least, would be going nowhere. Her hands on his body and his on hers were so he would know she was solid and real; the silence of the room said he didn't have to talk. She heard him anyways.
After, when the frantic had become calm, and the sweat was cooling, she lay, not quite relaxed, next to him. She didn't pretend to be asleep, didn't have to; Tony lay on his back, arms crossed behind his head, eyes fixed on the swirling ceiling fan. Since the end of the rain, the District had been heavy and humid and overbearing, but the Egyptian cotton was cool against her cheek. She didn't pretend to sleep, just watched him as he breathed in and out and said nothing. Anyone else would have said such silence was eerie for Tony. Anyone else would have pressed him to talk. If she had been anyone else, he probably would have.
By the time Tony made any sound, Ziva was fighting to stay awake. Earlier worry and tears, not to mention over 32 hours with no sleep meant that when he finally exhaled, and turned his head to look at her, her eyelashes were brushing slowly against her cheeks. She would have looked almost serene, save the hand disappearing under the pillow that he knew was clasped around her Sig. The sight of it almost made him laugh, and for the first time in what seemed like the longest-fucking-day-in-history, Tony felt a slight weight lift from his chest.
" Ziva?" he teased, stretching out the first syllable of her name so it echoed and trilled in the silence. He watched as she wiggled languorously and stretched, her bare legs and bare skin rubbing against his sheets and her cold toes brushing his calves.
She pushed herself up on one arm, blinking, her hair falling over her shoulder. " Yes Tony?"
The clock had just ticked over to 4:33am, he was still awake, his Boss was gone, and he felt like he was adrift in an ocean with no sight of land. Starlight trickled in through the gap in the curtains that neither one of them had bothered to close on their arrival, and highlighted the smooth contours of her face. She was dangerous, imperious, and unflinching, but in this light, she almost seemed beautiful. He cleared his voice.
" Nothing," was all he managed, and then feeling the ghost of a Gibbs-slap on the back of his head amended, " Thanks."
The feel of her fingers wrapping around his almost made him start, but as she murmured," Al lo davar," in a low, soft voice, he couldn't help but squeeze them back.
Laying back against his pillows, Tony once against stared up at the ceiling. For this moment, at least, the ocean in his mind seemed to be stilled. It was only the faintest of touches, her finger against his cheek. " Yasen, Tony. Sleep."
He felt her shift on the mattress, and for a moment he faltered. " You're not - " he started, and he could hear the trepidation in his own voice as it filled the quiet of the room. He didn't know that she too could hear it – hear it, and see it, and feel it in the tautness of his body next to hers.
" I will be here when you wake up," she promised, yawning and drowsy, though her shadowed eyes were fixed on his. " We will start tomorrow together, and work from there, yes?"
Her words were all he needed. Finally closing his eyes, he allowed his hand to search for hers, and held it tight. He didn't need to be able to see her to know she was amused. Leaning over, he kissed where he knew her smile would be, and was relieved to feel her kissing back. " Laila tov, Ziva."
" Buonanotte, Tony."
For tonight, just to have her there would do.