Asking for It

This follows right off of the foof at the end of act 2, when Gibbs answers the phone after fighting with his dad. As you know, the episode picks up the next morning when they go to see the chaplain. Here are some in-between scenes.

"Gibbs says go home!" Tony announced to the bullpen.

"Home?" McGee asked, surprised.

Tony shrugged. "Boss man is with his dad. He said we'll interview the family again tomorrow and to pack it in." He reached for his coat just as the phone rang again. Tony rolled his eyes, but answered. He smiled when he heard Abby's voice and passed on Gibbs' message.

By the time he'd been dragged down to the basement for a Christmas cookie and eventually released, he assumed the others had gone home. But as Tony stepped out of the building, he saw Ziva just a few yards ahead of him, heading for her car.

"Ziva!" He called her name softly and she whirled. Tony frowned at the fading panic on her face as he approached. "Are you afraid?" he asked, concerned. "Because of that man in the bar?"

"If anything, I am angry!" she snapped. Ziva turned and began walking toward the parking lot.

Tony took long strides to keep up. "Angry?"

"Tony..." her voice trailed off as she realized the problem of saying anything when what she wanted was to say nothing.

"Ziva," he said again, supportive.

She studied the ground, the last of last week's snow under her feet, as she spoke. "I was feeling ready. Or I was trying to."


She glanced at him furtively, then couldn't look away. "I miss it. Physical contact. Human contact. I have recovered from...this summer. I am angry that he made me feel threatened again after all this."

Tony stopped. "Well now I'm angry too," he growled.

She turned to stand in front of him, smiling faintly. "That was not my intention."

"You're right!" he said insistently. "And you deserve to feel safe." Tony sighed in sympathy, then stepped forward into her space.

Ziva resisted the urge to step back. "Tony, what are you doing?"

"Giving you a hug," he murmured, already wrapping around her. "C'mere."

His arms surrounded her, pulling her tightly against him, her forehead against his chin. Ziva slid her arms up at once, her hands on the backs of his shoulders. It went against her instincts, relaxing into him like this, out in the open. But it was comfortable, too. And he was right. She felt safe.
Tony took a breath of her hair. It had been so long since they had touched like this. It had been so long since they had felt this close to each other. He still woke gasping from dreams of her broken and battered and ready to die. He had missed he more deeply than he'd ever admitted.

When they pulled apart after a minute, their anger had vanished.

"Thank you," Ziva said, and then flinched at the awkwardness of saying so.

But Tony grinned at her. "You only ever have to ask."

She shrugged as she turned, beginning to walk toward her car again. Tony walked beside her. "Some people do not know how to ask," Ziva said softly.

Tony glanced down and caught the twinkle in her eye.

"You think I should get a real gift for Delores?"

Ziva gave him a knowing look and a single nod. "Good night, Tony," she said lightly, and headed away from him to where she was parked.

Tony watched her, shaking his head.


Tony watched her as he gave Delores the gift. Seeing that look on Ziva's face, hell, seeing any look on Ziva's face, was worth it after what they'd been through this year.

Once Delores had thanked him and retreated into her office, Ziva stepped toward him. "Didn't that feel good?"

"Yeah," Tony replied. "Uncomfortable as hell, but good."

"See?" She smiled, and they walked together back toward their desks.

Tony lit up when he saw a package on his own. "Mine left me something! My secret Santa!" He tore at the wrapping paper.

"What is it?" Ziva asked with interest as she leaned against her own desk.

He held it up with a grin. "GSM."

She shrugged in self-defense at the question in his eyes. "It was not me. But it is hardly a secret that you read that."

"You never said who you had," Tony said suspiciously.

She shrugged mysteriously.

"What did you get?"

Ziva smiled and plucked something off her desk, extended it toward him. "This tiny wooden boat."

Tony grinned. "Three guesses who that's from."

"Indeed." She held the boat in her lap, rubbing a finger over the her name carved into the wood.

Tony began to gather his things, but looked up after a moment to find she hadn't moved, that her face was deeply thoughtful. He moved around his desk and leaned back against it, opposite her.

"You've been quite the holiday downer," he said softly.

Ziva glanced up. "I have not been drinking too much," she said tightly.

"Ziva." His tone was gentle and got her attention. "Last year you told me Hanukkah was all about family."

She looked away. "Hanukkah was weeks ago."

"I know." He watched her take a deep breath. "Did you celebrate then?"

Without glancing up she shook her head slowly, once.

"This case today, it sounds a little like your life. Dead brother, angry father. I don't think they'll be having Christmas either."

Now her eyes met his, sparkling. "I noticed."

"But you can have family holidays again, if you want," Tony offered. "With us. Like Thanksgiving."

Ziva nodded gently, accepting. He could see in her face that she was still longing for something, and he thought he understood. She had lost a lot of people she should have been celebrating with.

"Do you want a hug?" he whispered, adding a touch of conspiracy by glancing furtively around.

She smiled, then nodded and set the boat down, reaching out to him.

This time there were no heavy coats between them and Tony could feel the warmth of Ziva's body against him as he held her. Warmth and strength. Six months ago he had cried and pleaded to the world to let him have just this, just this one moment. He smiled into her curls. It had all been worth it.