So sorry for the delay!! I had to rewrite this chapter multiple times to get it right and I'm still not sure how I feel about it! Thank you all for reading, I hope you enjoy! Adult stuff ahead…don't continue if you don't like that sort of thing. I don't own them and I'm not making any money.
She awakes with a start, her breath coming out in short little gasps. Squeezing her eyes shut, she forces her breathing to slow as she banishes the unwanted images from her sleep filled mind. She can feel Tony's breath against the back of her neck.
"Ziva?" A sleepy voice whispers in her ear. The familiar lump reappears in her throat. She considers for a moment feigning sleep if it means avoiding difficult questions.
She rolls on to her back and meets his eye. He looks at her, his head propped up on his elbow. She waits. He does not ask her questions, but kisses her cheek, her forehead, the tip of her nose, and then finally he places the lightest of kisses at the corner of her mouth and whispers, "It's going to be okay. It doesn't feel like it, but it will be okay. One day."
She closes her eyes and a few tears seep from beneath her closed lids. He gathers her close and holds her once more. A few more hours pass before the sky begins to lighten and Ziva slips silently from his bed and slides her limbs into her clothing. Tony wakes from the movement, but pretends otherwise. Ziva assumes he is awake, but allows his pretense. It is just easier that way.
"How many languages do you speak anyway?"
"Including the language of love? Ten." She smiles. He looks surprised. Not by what she says, but by the fact that she said something so Ziva-like. It feels normal.
Later, Gibbs catches Tony staring after Ziva as she walks to the elevator.
"She can still kill you in your sleep, DiNozzo."
"But she won't, Boss," Tony responds without thinking and Gibbs has an answer to a question he did not actually ask.
"I do not want to know about it, DiNozzo. I mean it."
And that was that.
Tony spends Christmas Eve at Ziva's new apartment. They watch A Christmas Story, eat cookies and share a little too much wine. When the movie is over, he hands her a key to his apartment.
"Look Ziva, I don't want this to be weird. Just use it whenever you need to." He smiles at her. "I don't know how many more times the lock can be picked before my key stops working."
She smiles back. They sleep in each other's arms once more. Ziva still chooses to sleep with pajama bottoms and Tony chooses to do so as well until she tells him it is alright to do otherwise.
February brings more cold and snowy weather. Ziva stays with Tony more often than not. She makes good use of the key . Sometimes she comes home with him at night and sometimes she arrives well past what would be considered good manners. Tony doesn't mind and he doesn't ask questions. He simply opens his arms and welcomes the one person that could truly kill him with a paper clip.
They still sleep clothed from the waist down, but tonight Ziva kisses him with more enthusiasm. Rolling so that she is straddling him, she freezes for an instant. Despite her pajamas and his sweats, she can feel the hardness between her legs. She looks at him and thinks to herself that this must be unconditional love. And while she is not ready to resume their sexual relationship, she does kiss him and she does not flinch as he explores and relearns her body in return.
One Saturday morning in March, Tony stops Ziva as she is attempting to sneak out of his room undetected.
"What is on the sight seeing itinerary for today, my little Probie tourist?"
She smiles and tells him that she has choir practice a 0900 but that she should be done by 1100. Then she plans on visiting the Art Gallery. He surprises her by agreeing to go to the Art Gallery under one condition: they visit his favorite museum afterward, the International Spy Museum. It is right around the corner.
She laughs, but agrees. He jumps out of bed and rummages through his closet until he finds a bulky tissue paper wrapped present. She rips into it and finds a charcoal gray hooded sweatshirt with the words PROPERTY OF THE SMITHSONIAN stamped across the front.
"I'm sorry, Ziva, but if you are going to play tourist, you must look the part." He means to be funny, but her throat tightens at his words. She has been a tourist these last few months, absorbing every historical monument, every museum. She feels very lucky as she slips his gift over her head. She hugs him then leans up and kisses him on the cheek in gratitude. He thinks to himself that the feeling brought on by her happiness must be unconditional love.
The cold stone of the World War II Memorial glows orange in the night time from the lighting around the structure. They stroll past each of the pillars, reading the names of each state. While Ziva has been to each monument more than once since her resolution to visit them all, each visit feels different than the last. Tonight the air smells sweet from the bloom of flowers.
They never talk of the future. Having no wish to disrupt their partnership at work, they live in the present. There was a time when Ziva secretly longed to have a husband and a family, but those days were over long before her imprisonment in Somalia. For the first time Tony wants something more and finds this new relationship with Ziva strangely comfortable. They keep their relationship private.
They walk several miles that night through the National Mall, around the Smithsonian buildings and up to the Capitol. Finally, they stumble through the door to Ziva's apartment. Undressing in the dark, Tony glimpses the white scars on Ziva's back in the moonlight shining through her window. An ever present reminder to him that life is fragile.
She climbs into bed, naked except for a pair of boxers and waits for him to do the same. Only this time, she motions for him to leave the sweat pants on the floor. He slides naked into bed beside her and she wraps her arms around him, pressing her naked breasts against his chest. He follows her lead. Running her hands down is chest, she drags her fingernails lightly across his stomach and laughs against his mouth as she feels his muscles tighten beneath her fingers.
He is hard against her thigh and she takes him in her hand. They mess around like teenagers. Tony is not left unsatisfied and Ziva falls asleep with Tony's hand resting on her breast and her boxers still protectively in place.
It's the Fourth of July and the weather is beautiful. Ziva's choir is performing at the Naval Memorial. They sing a collection of American songs. Gibbs has given his team the day off. Ziva has come out of the closet to her co-workers about her choir membership and they come to see her perform. The concert is beautiful and afterward they gather on the Mall and eat ice cream. The day is happy and yet the nostalgia and cheer enveloping everyone in the District brings a physical pang of sadness to Ziva's gut. For a moment she misses home. Tony links his pinky finger through hers and squeezes for the briefest minute then lets go in an effort to remain discreet. Gibbs pretends that he didn't see Tony's gesture. Abby meets Ziva's eye with a knowing smile and then wraps her arm around Gibbs to distract him.
They end the day as a team watching fireworks. It's been a wonderful day.
That night, Ziva finally retires the boxers. She crawls naked into Tony's embrace and instantly falls into sleep cradled by arms that make no demands.
Summer turns into fall. The air begins to carry with it a chill. A tough day at the office, long hours and a lack of coffee has tempers flaring. Ziva snaps at Tony. Tony snaps back. They leave the office separately.
Sometime around midnight, a once deadly Mossad assassin finds herself unable to sleep without the protective embrace of her partner. A mere twenty minutes later and she finds resolution to her problem. As usual, Tony does not ask questions. Pushing the covers aside, he rolls out of bed and stands naked before her. His eyes search hers for permission and she nods slightly.
He pulls her shirt from her body then unclasps her bra. His fingers glide and tease on flesh that bears the scars of what feels like another lifetime. His hands move to the button at her waist and he gently slides her pants off of her hips and lets the fabric pool on the floor. Her breath is coming in little pants.
His hands explore her body as his mouth kisses her hello. Stumbling backward, he pulls her with him onto the bed. He thinks to take it slow, but Ziva rolls herself on top of him. This time she does not cringe when she feels his erection through the thin satin of her underwear.
A touch, a kiss, a stroke. They tangle themselves in the sheets and finally stop for a moment, panting.
"I want to feel you inside of me, Tony," Ziva whispers into his ear.
He moves slow, achingly slow. Slipping his fingers under the waistband of her underwear, he slides the garment down her legs and tosses it to the floor. Placing a finger under her jaw, Tony forces Ziva to meet his gaze before he proceeds. He watches her every response and holds her eye with his own.
He continues to tease her and when he finally does press against the opening of her body, she welcomes the intrusion. She cups his face with her hands and they do not break eye contact as he moves incredibly slowly within her body. Finally, he gathers her body tight against his as she finds release and he follows shortly thereafter.
His body is heavy on top of her own, but she does not wish him to move. Still joined, she strokes his back and her eyes fill with tears. She is not sad, but feels overwhelmed by the emotion anyway. Tangling her fingers into his hair, she whispers into his ear, "I love you, Tony."
He lifts his head and kisses her before he tell her that he loves her, too.
And that was that.