A/N: Once again, shout out to the regulars, welcome to the newbies, and thanks for all your kind reviews. I'm taking them as an early birthday present.
The knots in Ziva's stomach were replaced with hungry growls as soon as she left her bedroom. Whatever Tony was cooking smelled divine, and reminded Ziva that she'd slept through dinner service on her flight.
She ignored the sudden flight response she felt in her belly when her eyes fell on his back, and forced herself to join him in the kitchen. Coming up behind him, she put her hand on his shoulder and leaned around him to look at the meals he'd just plated. DiNozzo family recipe spaghetti bolognaise, she realised with a smile. He was being really good to her tonight.
"Smells good," she said. "But not very caveman, with all those herbs and spices."
"I draw the line at slapping raw meat on your plate."
"And I appreciate that."
They carried their plates into the living room and sat on the floor, using the coffee table as a dining table.
"So, how's your mom?" Tony asked.
Ziva swallowed a bite of bolognaise, and made a 'so delicious' face at him. "She is well. She sends her love."
Tony smirked. "That's much better than what your dad usually sends me."
She raised her eyebrows in agreement. That much was the truth. "She is extremely pleased that I quit Mossad and applied for US citizenship."
Tony could imagine. As far as he knew, Madelena David had never been directly involved in Mossad activities. And although he didn't necessarily believe that she would have escaped a marriage to Eli David without aiding the agency's cause at all, Tony got the impression that Madelena was a lover, not a fighter. To hear that her remaining daughter was out of the espionage game must have been an enormous relief.
"She can join my club, and I'll send her one of the celebratory t-shirts I had made up."
Ziva scrunched her nose at him, an action he found irresistibly adorable. "I believe she was going to send a fruit basket to my father along with a photograph of her middle finger. If you want, you can ask her to add your name to the card."
Tony laughed out right. "And that will be the last thing I do with my life before dying in a freak skydiving accident."
Ziva shook her head. "That is not my father's style," she said thoughtfully. "He would be more likely to—"
"You know what? I don't want to know," Tony interrupted. "Let it be a surprise."
She smiled for him. "You do not skydive, Tony."
"That would be the freak part," he said. "I did go paratrooping once. Well, it was kind of an accident, but I still did it."
Her brows knitted. "How was it an accident?"
"I got knocked out of a plane," he said with a shrug. "But I was wearing a chute, so disaster averted."
Ziva wasn't sure that she entirely followed the course of events, but decided it didn't matter. "I have never skydived."
Tony's eyebrows shot up in disbelief. "Really? But…you're a superhero."
She chuckled and looked away in embarrassment at the title he gave her. "It has just never come up."
He shook his head. "Well, that's your birthday present for next year sorted out."
Ziva grinned, and hoped that he wasn't joking. She took a final bite of her bolognaise, and then pushed the plate away from her. "That was delicious."
Tony nodded in thanks. "What do you expect from someone with my mad kitchen skillz?"
"You never use your mad kitchen skills," Ziva pointed out, proud of herself for not having to ask what was so angry about them.
"Well, it's so much effort to cook just for me," he whined.
Ziva's reply was cut off by a sudden yawn, and Tony felt a pang of regret that their short evening was probably already over. Still, he had gotten to see her a full 12 hours ahead of schedule, and he could never complain about getting to spend any amount of time with her.
"I should go," he said, managing not to sound too disappointed. "Let you get some sleep."
Ziva felt a twinge of disappointment in her chest, but found a good enough excuse to keep him around a bit longer when she glanced out the window. "But, baby, it's cold outside," she recited.
Tony chuckled at the song reference and looked out the window at the snow falling heavily outside. "Well, they did issue a warning about that."
Ziva got to her feet and collected their empty dinner plates. "You can stay," she said. "I'll even watch a movie with you."
As she retreated to the kitchen, Tony unleashed a ridiculously cheerful smile and made a silent vow to pick her up from the airport every single time from now on.
An hour later, they sat side-by-side on her couch watching Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn's verbal fencing in The Philadelphia Story. Ziva wrinkled her forehead at the description of a boat being yar.
Tony couldn't help his chuckles. "No, yar, not arg."
"What is yar?"
"A boat that's easy to handle."
"Oh. So nothing to do with pirates?"
"I'm sure Jack Sparrow would have liked a boat that was yar."
She frowned again. "Who?"
Tony shot her an amused and vaguely adoring smile. "I thought we were getting somewhere with your pop culture references."
"When are we going to start on your Israeli culture references?" she threw at him.
"We're not in Israel," he shrugged dismissively. He knew the response would push her buttons, and sure enough, Ziva just glared at him. In response, Tony made a face as if enlightenment was just now coming over him. "Ohhh, you're suggesting that me expanding my horizons beyond the country in which I live and making an effort to understand and appreciate your customs might be something that you'd appreciate."
She dropped her eyes to his knee and allowed herself a rueful smile at falling for his self-centred act, as Tony grinned. She should know better than to think he wasn't aware of how much it bugged her sometimes. And she should know better than to think that he wouldn't make fun of her for it at some point. Not to make her feel bad, but to catch her unaware and then stealthily spring something on her that would end up making her smile.
And with that in mind, Tony looked up at her with a cocky half smile, and delivered his next line in near-perfect Hebrew. "You have pretty hair."
Ziva's head snapped up as the surprise he was looking for registered on her face. "Where did you learn that?" she asked softly, as a charmed smile tugged at her lips.
Tony played dumb. "What are you talking about? I speak fluent Hebrew."
One of those rare, full smiles that he was so fond of spread across her face, before she quickly reeled it in and gave him a teasing, sultry smile that he was an even bigger fan of.
Calling his bluff, she responded in Hebrew, "I want to lick you from belly to throat."
Tony nodded as if he understood every word and turned back to the TV. "Yeah, I can't believe Cary Grant never won an Oscar either."
When she didn't respond, he looked back at her again, thinking that she might have been getting frustrated with his constant joking. But instead, he found her looking at him with utter endearment. He threw her another blatantly charming smile, and before he knew it, Ziva had lifted her hand to touch his cheek. After a too long moment of indecision, she finally leant in and oh-so-softly touched her lips to his. Tony's breath caught as his head spun in disbelief that she had actually kissed him, and then, too soon, she was pulling back again.
Ziva looked him in the eye from just two inches away, her heart thudding with anticipation as she gauged his response. Was he going to smile kindly but tell her the touch was not wanted? Was he going to give her the 'just friends' line? Or maybe he'd force a long and difficult discussion about the intelligence behind her move?
He didn't do any of it. Instead, he lifted his own hand to her cheek, and gazed back at her like she was all he wanted. Having the audacity to believe him, and after stretching her leg over his hips and settling her body into his lap, Ziva once again brought her lips down on his.
It was not the kind of kiss that Tony remembered getting from her before. That very first kiss, the one they had years ago when they were only weeks into their partnership and already had sexual tension to relieve, had been hungry, rough, demanding. It had stamped itself on him for the rest of his days, leaving him with a memory that he could drag out on cold nights and lonely afternoons and replay over and over until he could almost convince himself that it had been real.
But reality was the startling difference between that kiss and this one. Back then, it had been a show for the cameras, and never let it be said that Anthony DiNozzo could not perform on cue. It has been a grinding, gripping, panting and straining R-rated presentation under assumed names for the benefit of their would-be killers and whoever managed to get tickets at the door to MTAC.
But this…There were no cameras in Ziva's house (as far as he knew), and they'd called each other by their given names no more than five minutes ago. This kiss did not have the fireworks of the past, and yet it was a hundred times better. It was real. It was slow, it was deep, it was drugging, aching, longing and wanting. It was burning itself into his memory, and this—this perfect, unexpected kiss—would be the second best company to keep on those cold nights and lonely afternoons, right after the woman herself. He clung to her now, willing the memory to always be this vivid. Imprinting her warmth, her weight, her softness, her smell, her touch, her painfully sweet mouth exactly into his mind. Hoping that she wouldn't have a change of heart and pull away. Desperate for as much of her as she was willing and able to give. Prepared to give back to her for as long as she wanted or needed it.
When she shifted on him, a whine pushed its way out of his throat and into her mouth in a pre-emptive protest of the end of the kiss. Tony didn't know if she'd registered the pathetic noise as a whine or a moan, but when she slanted her head just so, flicked his tongue with hers and rolled her hips on his, it was a moot point. Because the noise he made now was definitely a moan.
It was the hip roll that finally broke his unto now paralysis. Without even registering the thought, one of his hands travelled south down her spine to press into the small of her back and urge her closer. The other went north to rake through her hair and settle at the nape of her neck, tugging at the stands gently with his fist. He felt himself be squeezed by the arm around his neck, heard her groan of encouragement, and it finally registered in his endorphin-clouded brain that this epic, heart stopping kiss was just the tip of the iceberg.
Confident now that he'd get another chance to mark those lips with his, he broke the kiss to suck in much-needed air and raised his eyes to meet hers.
"What was that for?" he panted, even as he cursed his ridiculous need to get her motivation straight in his head.
Ziva looked back at him seriously, before breaking his gaze as nerves overtook her. She made the barest of attempts to move away from him, but he tightened his arms around her to make it clear that his curiosity did not mean stop.
She swallowed and tried to meet his eyes again. "I guess…I just thought I would take a chance," she said haltingly.
With those terrifying words now freed from the safety of her head and set loose in the world, Ziva was able to watch him as his face took on a look of relief. He closed his eyes briefly, and then looked back at her with an adulation that made her breath catch.
"And that's why you're the superhero," he explained softly, his lips pulling in a half smile as he ran his thumb over her cheekbone. "Because you're the brave one."
Ziva shook her head. He was so, so wrong. But she didn't get a chance to correct him before he pulled her face towards him again for a kiss that grew with urgency and want with every second, until finally, it was fireworks.
Tony was looking for the right moment to flip her onto her back on the couch to continue the kiss in a more horizontal position, but it was Ziva who lost her patience first. She prised herself off him, and tugged his hand as she got to her feet.
"Come with me," she told him (told, not asked), and then backed her way into her bedroom while her hands stripped off his sweater and t-shirt. Tony got in another wanting kiss before she sat him on the end of her bed and stood between his legs.
Ziva took a moment to look down at him, forcing herself to take note of the expression on his face that literally made her shudder. She had never seen his face like this, had never thought that his sunny smile and twinkling eyes were capable. But here he was, his eyes making her ache for him, looking at her like he wanted her so badly and was terrified that she would stop it. For a moment, she simply couldn't understand it. After all, wasn't he supposed to be the one coming to his senses and stopping her?
It didn't matter, she decided, when a moment later his hands ran up her sides and stripped her of her own top. He held her torso between his hands in front of his face, and then closed his eyes as he pressed a soft kiss to her stomach.
"Ziva," he breathed, his tone both disbelieving and revering. "You're not going to stop me, are you?"
She held his face in her hands and shook her head. "I just want to try, Tony."
The smile broke over his face as he pulled her down onto the bed and found that, actually, that was what he wanted too. "That's the best thing I've ever heard, Ziva."
Okay, so Tony's line about her pretty hair? It was intended to be a completely amateur attempt at flirting in a new language. He doesn't really speak Hebrew, so he's not going to deliver some amazing soliloquy. But he might've looked up a couple of basic words, just enough to make her laugh. Or, in this case, jump his bones. So I guess the moral of the story is: don't screw around with grand declarations when all you have to do is shut up and kiss me.
And on that note, I bid you adieu. Thanks for your company!