Title: A House Is Not a Home
Summary: Tony has moved and things have changed. Tiva.
Disclaimer: I do not own any part of NCIS. But if you want to, I would like some for Christmas.
Spoilers: Anything from season 7 so far (up to "Endgame")
A/N: I just want to thank everyone for reading this story and also for the awesome reviews. I greatly appreciate it.
Chapter 4: A Home
Three months after Tony breaks his leg, Ziva finds herself unexpectedly at his door. She has no reason for coming to see him and she has not been here since the night she brought him home from the hospital. She had made the decision that night that she would not pursue a relationship with Tony, that he would come to her when he was ready if he wanted her.
They have just closed a case involving a dead marine. The case had not been anything out of the ordinary, not something that they had not dealt with before, but it had struck a cord with Ziva. In the course of their investigation they had come across an old acquaintance of their victim and when they had told her that Sergeant Patterson had been killed, she had broken down, surprising both Tony and Ziva. Neither of them had been aware of a romantic relationship between Sergeant Patterson and Michelle Michaels but the heartbreak in her eyes spoke volumes to Ziva. Michelle had been in love with their victim for years but she had never been able to bring herself to admit it to him. And now she would never have the chance.
As Tony had said goodnight at the office before leaving with McGee, Ziva had forced herself to simply say goodbye and watch him go. It wasn't until after the elevator doors shut that she sighed and rested her head in her hands.
"You can't keep doing this to yourself, Ziva," Gibbs says, startling her.
She does not lift her head to look at him, "And what is it that I am doing?"
"Letting Tony break your heart," he says, "And I'm not going to sit here and watch that happen."
"What about rule number twelve?" she asks, looking him in the eye now, "You are always telling us-"
"Rule number twelve was put in place so you wouldn't get your heart broken, Ziva," he says, "But with you and DiNozzo, it seems to be back firing."
So now she stands in front of his house, hand raised to knock, and she knows what she has to tell him. She does not want to do this anymore, she does not want to play these games with him, she wants him to be hers just as she considers herself his.
She knocks, waiting for nearly five minutes before knocking again, and calling out for him.
"Tony?" she calls.
He doesn't answer and she is tempted to pick the lock on the door. Instead, she knocks again, giving him one last chance to answer before she breaks in.
"I'm coming, I'm coming," she hears him yell, and she can tell he is on the stairs, "Geez, guy with a broken leg here, gimme a break."
She waits a few more long minutes before he opens the door for her. He is out of breath and she suddenly feels guilty for making him exert himself.
"Ziva," he says, surprised, "What are you doing here?"
She opens her mouth to say something and closes it again.
He looks at her, worry clouding his eyes, and he opens the door wider, gesturing for her to come inside. She walks past him, going immediately to the couch, and sits down. He follows her, easing himself carefully into the seat beside her.
"Is everything all right?" he asks, eyeing her carefully.
She nods, looking down at her hands, "Do you know the woman we met today? Michelle Michaels?"
"Of course," Tony says, "Why? Did something happen?"
"She was in love the sergeant," Ziva says, her eyes locked on the ring finger of her left hand, "And she never had the chance to tell him. She believes that they were soul mates."
Tony shakes his head, "Ziva, I-"
"Please," she says, so quietly that Tony barely hears her, "Please, do not tell me that you do not believe in soul mates, Tony."
Tony does not continue and she forges on.
"I see myself in her," she says, "In Michelle Michaels. And I do not like what I see. I do not want to lose someone who means so much to me simply because I am afraid."
"But I've never known you to be afraid of anything, Ziva," Tony says.
She looks up at him, hoping that she can see the fear and longing in her eyes, "I am afraid of this."
Her heart is pounding wildly in her chest. She is more afraid of admitting her feels to Tony than she has ever been of anything in her life. She still does not know when she stopped being Mossad and started being human, but she is beginning to like this part of herself.
"When you were injured, I-I did not know what to do," she tells him, "I did not know how to feel. I was worried that I was going to lose you. And I continue to fear that I will lose you, Tony."
Confusion is written clearly on his face and she stands abruptly and starts pacing in front of him.
"Why did you buy this house, Tony?" she asks, "Why such a large house? Why did you buy it after I had gone?"
"I guess I needed something permanent in my life," he tells her, not moving from the couch, "Because the things that I'd thought were permanent were starting to slip away. As for the size of the house, I already told you, when I bought this place, I hoped that I wouldn't be spending my life here alone."
"Why did you wait until I had gone back to Israel before you decided that you did not want to be alone?" she ask, nearly shouting the question at him.
She is angry, frustrated that he could not have figured all of this out sooner, that he did not figure out that she wanted to be here, with him, sooner.
"I didn't wait!" he snaps back, suddenly, "I've been looking at houses for over a year! I was going to –"
He stops himself as he stands and she stops pacing. He is looking at her so fiercly that she takes a step closer to him.
"You were going to what?" she asks.
He shakes his head, "Nothing."
"No, Tony, we are doing this now. I am tired of this, I am tired of stepping circles around this."
"It's dancing circles, probie," he says quietly, "And I was going to buy this place months before you left and then I found out about Rivken and I changed my mind."
She flinches at the way he says Michael's name. It is true that she and Tony have been standing at the edge of this relationship for a long time but they had not been together in any way when she and Michael had began their affair. She did not understand why their relationship would stop Tony from buying a home.
"I wanted to buy a house to show you how much I had changed," he explains, "I wanted you to see that I wasn't the same man that you met when you came here. I wanted you to know how serious I was. I was going to buy this house and bring you here and tell you that I love you."
The words are out of his mouth before he can stop himself and it stops both of their worlds. She had come here to say those words and a part of her had not expected him to return them. She is shocked that he has said them first.
"Tony," she says slowly, "You did not have to buy a house to prove any thing to me."
He closes the distance between them, taking her in his arms as gracefully as he can manage with his broken leg.
"I didn't buy a house, Ziva," he tells her, "I bought you, I bought us, a home."
She smiles at him, feeling tears in her eyes. She had come here for answers. She had come here to tell him how she felt with no expectation that those feelings would be returned but things had not turned out the way that she had planned. They had turned out much better.
She pushes up on her toes and presses a quick kiss onto Tony's waiting lips.
"It is beautiful, Tony," she says.
"I'm glad you approve," he tells her, "But isn't there something you need to tell me?"
She smiles at him again, truly happy for the first time since returning from Africa. Her breathing is coming out in short bursts and even though this is the reason that she came to see him, saying the words aloud has her shaking with nerves.
"I love you," she tells him, "I love you, Tony."
The smile she gets in return reaches his eyes now and she is happy to see some of the light returning there.
"So, since this is also my home," Ziva says, "Would it be safe to assume that I am expected to live here? With you?"
He shrugs, "I wouldn't be opposed to that."
"Good," she says, "Then show me to our room, Tony."