A/N: There is some cursing (It's an angry Gibbs, what'd ya do?) And what I suppose is an adult situation though no sex and nothing kinky :^) Spoilers are for Truth Or Consequences and Reunion. Takes place somwhere in late S7. I hope you like it -it gave me some trouble! Oh, and while I'm thinking about it, I probably won't post for a few days because of exams, but I will be working on another piece for I have decided to expand on 'What Is Missing' (to those who reviewed it, thak you immensely!) And now I shall shut up and let you read . . . . Thanks, Kit.
DISCLAIMER: I still don't own NCIS . . . . I'll keep watching Ebay though, but so far, no luck.
And Now We Heal
"What the hell is wrong with you? I don't care who the hell was in that room, I don't care if that was the Secretary of the Navy! I told you two to stay and dammit I meant stay! What part of 'bomb threat' didn't reach your thick skulls? You could have been killed! Do you hear me? You're both running out of chances here! I should have both of you suspended –in fact, you two are on desk duty for a week. And do not even try to argue with me, DiNozzo, because so help me, I'll shoot you right now!"
The loud, angry words still echoed in his head long after their justified accusation. He flinched when he heard Ziva turn on the shower, the water pounding against the tile in a steady, rhythmic stream.
"Tony," she called softly, her voice coaxing him back into the tempo of reality. He turned in time to see her disappear beyond the shower curtain, heard her body interrupt the drum of the water. He finished stripping, depositing the soiled garments into the disgraceful heap that was Ziva's own shed clothes. He followed her blindly into the steam.
The hot water massaged his shoulders as it scalded his skin, having effectively tinged Ziva's golden complexion pink as well. Her hair was a tangle of ebony tendrils pasted to her glistening back, which she lifted over her shoulder, working his shampoo through. She moved behind him, granting him better access to the water and maneuvering to where she could reach the soap. He closed his eyes, tilting his face into the flowing stream, conscious of her watching him. Gibbs words taunting him already haunted his headspace; he didn't need her there too. So he decided to ignore her, and failed miserably when he found her small hands on his back, her fingers slick with soap as she rubbed the kinks out of his neck. He flinched when she grazed the bruise that was blooming under his shoulder blade and he heard her murmured apology under the torrents. And then they performed the awkward trading of positions, him moving behind her, permitting her to rinse her hair out. He reached out, grabbing towels off the floor as she shut the water off and silence reigned.
Tentatively, he stepped out of the tub, gooseflesh erupting across his skin in the cool air of the bathroom. She followed, moving gracefully, all limbs and flushed skin. She began drying off, stealing an extra towel from off the sink and rubbing her hair vigorously, wringing the droplets out of her curls. He watched her in his peripheral vision, that is until she caught him staring and, despite the trials of earlier in the day, and all that had transpired in previous months, still had the energy to goad him, tease him mercilessly. Exercising control, he left the bathroom, returning five minutes later wearing sweatpants and a t-shirt, bearing clean clothes he had scavenged for her.
She appeared in the bedroom doorway ten minutes later, clad in a pair of navy boxer shorts and a worn Ohio State sweatshirt that dwarfed her petite frame. Tony was nowhere in sight so she perched at the end of his bed, coaxing knots out of her hair with nimble fingers before swiftly beginning to plait the unruly mess.
"Leave it down."
She turned to see him standing where she had stood two minutes before, watching her. She cocked an eyebrow, tilting her head, uncoiling the braid slowly.
"Are you hungry?"
"No," she said simply, crawling across the mattress to left side of the large bed, reasoning that because it was firmer on this side that Tony slept on the right. He walked over to her slowly, pulling back the duvet so she could cover herself up and he could climb in. It was bizarre how perfectly she fit there, in this moment, in his bed, shroud in his sweatshirt, smelling of Axe shampoo –his shampoo- with her hair damp and wild and framing her face. It was like she had been here before, melding right into place, claiming what had been hers since she arrived in a headscarf and asked him if he was having phone sex.
"Problem?" she wondered aloud, curious as to why he was still standing vertical, gazing strangely at the white sheets of his bed. He shook his head, snapping out of his muse-induced trance and slipped in beside her, keeping a respectful distance from the trained assassin.
He fumbled for a moment with the lamp before successfully flicking it off, plunging himself and Ziva into darkness.
Tony laid on his back staring at the nothingness that was the ceiling while Ziva curled onto her side, facing away from her partner. The oppressing silence carried on until . . . .
He inhaled deeply, stealing himself before continuing to broach the subject, "Why'd you go in there?"
"The same reasons you crossed an ocean, braved a desert, and boldly trespassed last summer."
Tony was silent, completely and utter still before echoing what was once said in a parallel universe, under completely different circumstances, but with the same implications, "For you."
"Yes," one word and her accent was so prominent, he knew she was not taking this conversation lightly, that the honest truth was ringing clearly in pregnant tones of her voice.
The pair quieted again and Tony felt the mattress shudder as Ziva rolled over, refolding in upon herself.
"I meant it, you know," he said lightly, absently. "What I said to you back there."
Her voice was heavier, lower, when she spoke a few minutes later: "You could have died in Somalia. And for what?"
"You thought I was dead though," she pointed out forcefully.
"Well, yeah. . . . You want the truth, Ziva?" he asked softly, sounding older than she had ever heard him.
"The truth is usually best, no?"
At first, she couldn't hear what he had said in reply. She requested him to repeat himself, straining her ears to catch his whispered confession. "I wanted to die, too."
She was shocked into silence so he continued, voice faint on the night air, "But you deserved more, you deserved to be avenged. So I threw myself into finding Saleem, occupying my mind in everyway I could. I didn't want to drag McGee into it, I didn't want to drag anyone into it really. I figured if I could just piss Saleem off enough, then he would kill me and Gibbs would kill him and Tim wouldn't add to the casualties. . . . Before you materialized from the dead, dear Lazarus . . . . I asked Saleem if he killed indiscriminately and he said you can only change the world with, ah, 'rivers of blood' –there was no need to kill just one person. And the entire time I kept thinking how wrong he was-" not only are you wrong, you're wrong at the top of your voice -"because you were just one person and you changed the world to where it was spinning on another axis, Zee. . . . And then they brought you in and I had a reason to fight again. . . . I never thought I'd see you again." At this point he had reached out, wrapping her hand in his, and she didn't redraw from his touch.
"You almost died," she said bluntly.
Tony smiled into the darkness, "Almost only ever counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. . . . That's why Gibbs was so mad."
"Because of horseshoes and hand grenades?" her confusion was papable.
"Because he almost lost you again today. And me."
" . . . .Tony?"
Of everyone in the world . . . . It had to be you. . . .It is you and it has been all along . . . .
I couldn't live without you. . . .I can't live without you . . . tried and couldn't . . . .
"Thank you . . . . For staying on my six."
I trusted my brother Ari. I trusted Michael. I could not afford to trust you.
"Any time, any place."
That you had my back . . . . That you always had my back. . . .
"So now happens now?" he heard the catch in her voice that mirrored the lump constricting his throat.
He sighed, contently more than wearily, "We build back the trust thing, I guess."
"Tony," she sat up, propping herself on her elbow, taking her hand out of his. He immediately was disappointed at this reshuffling, but was quickly appeased when she placed her palm against his face, cradling his cheek. "I never stopped trusting you."
She felt him smile in the darkness, laying his hand over hers.
"And now we heal."