AN:? This is unbeta'd. All issues are mine & mine alone. I wrote this quickly tonight - the story idea wouldn't leave me alone. Its been a while since I wrote any TIVA so... I apologize in advance if I'm a little rusty.
"This isn't ideal for me either, you know," he said. His voice startled her slightly – she had been lost in her thoughts and taking in the magnificent view from their balcony.
Paris at night was lovely. And no matter how many times she had been there, she still could appreciate the beauty of the city.
"I know it isn't," Ziva replied, turning to look at him as he slipped into the patio-chair to her right. He held out a steaming mug and she accepted it graciously. "Thank you," she said before even looking at the contents. When she recognized a teabag and lemon instead of coffee, she smiled.
"Don't look so shocked. I'm not always an ass, Ziva," he said, taking a sip from his own mug.
She regarded the liquid carefully before turning her gaze back to him. "Perhaps I do not say it enough," she started. "But you are far from an ass, Tony. You are one of the few good-guys in the world."
He merely arched a brow in reply, propping his feet up on the balcony railing.
"I am very fortunate to work with the three best men in the world," she said. "I have never had that before. When I was with Mossad, we had partners, but there was still a sense that in the end everyone was out for themselves."
"That had to make things difficult."
She shrugged. "I do not know that I knew there was such a thing as 'team' until I began to work with you all. Now, I do not know how I went without it for so long."
"I know the feeling," he muttered, taking another drink. "It's hard to know what you're missing if you've never had it."
The silence that settled over them was far from comfortable, but the tension that had filled their hotel suite earlier that afternoon was gone.
"Is it really so horrible?" Ziva asked softly, her voice barley disturbing the quiet of the night.
"Is what horrible?"
"Being forced to share a suite with me again. Was it that bad last time? If I did something to offend you, I'd like to know so I-"
"Ziva!" He interrupted her nervous babble with a forceful interjection. "You didn't offend me."
"Oh," she said. "I see."
"I don't think you do!"
"Well clearly if I did not do anything to offend you, then the problem isn't with my living habits, it is with me personally."
"The problem is definitely personal," he said, setting his mug down on the table and reaching across the small space to grip her wrist in his hand. His touch was firm but still allowed her the ability to pull away if she really wanted to. Tony was pleasantly surprised when she allowed her arm to stay in his grip.
"The problem is," he continued, his thumb sliding across her skin, "That it's going to be really hard for me to remind myself that we're here working and not to relax and enjoy each other's company." Yep. That was certainly the G-rated version of that thought, DiNozzo. Good job.
"We cannot enjoy each other's company? I know it has been awkward ever since Michael died, but-"
Tony sighed. "It was awkward before Michael, Ziva. It was awkward because I was a jealous S.O.B," he stood from the table and headed back into the room.
She followed after a moment's confusion. Ziva's eyes followed his motions as he riffled through their haphazardly tossed luggage, obviously looking for his jacket.
"Tony," she called, trying to get him to stop his frantic search for his coat. Perhaps now's the time. Well that is not true. This is long past the time.
Ziva moved efficiently across the room and spun him around to face her. "I wasn't mad that you didn't tell us that you were on a case," she said quickly. A small part of her brain acknowledged that she was jumping to a new topic too quickly, but she didn't care. This had to be said. "I was jealous of her."
He blinked and frowned before his mind caught up to hers and he stilled. Jeanne.
Ziva shook her head and continued, not waiting for him to respond – and very uncertain of what he would say if he did respond. "I am very sorry if I made you feel guilty for doing your job. You are a good agent and I should not have allowed my personal feelings to influence my working relationship with you," she took a steadying breath. "It is a lesson I did not learn the first time. I allowed my personal life with Michael to affect you. I am sorry."
Tony chuckled and tilted his head back to look at the ceiling before meeting her hesitant gaze. "We're a mess," he said gently. When she frowned in confusion, he continued. "I'm jealous of Michael, you're jealous of Jeanne. We would have saved ourselves a lot of trouble if we had this conversation two years ago."
She let a small smile tug at the corners of her mouth.
"Perhaps. But knowing us, we would have found new trouble."
Tony chuckled and reached out, pulling her into a tentative hug, relaxing when he felt her return the embrace. He wouldn't have been shocked if he had ended up on the floor as a result of one of her crazy ninja moves. Getting hugged back was a much nicer option.
"I'm not mad about sharing a room," he said, resting his chin on the top of her head.
"I'm mad that it's not on our terms."
"What terms would you have asked for?" Ziva replied, trying not to purr as she felt his hands caress a gentle pattern on her back.
"I've got a reputation to maintain, Ziva!" Tony replied. "I'd at least take you to dinner first before shacking up with you."
She chuckled. "You have bought me dinner many times," she reminded him, pulling back and looking at him. "Perhaps we can just cross that off your list."
"Bags of takeout Chinese eaten on your couch in front of classic movies, do not count as a DiNozzo dinner-date."
"I think I am not like your average American woman, yes? It was actually perfect for me. Better than any date where I had to spend time on my hair and makeup."
"And I didn't even know it was a date," he said softly, though that was somewhat of a lie. On some level he had hoped they were dates; hoped they were the foundation for something more.
"Good! It means I got to see the real Tony, not the one you bring out to try to catch an unsuspecting girl, yes?"
She slipped from his grasp and turned to grab her suitcase from their pileon the floor.
Ziva sighed, stilling her nerves. She faced the bed. "Well—right or left?"
He stood next to her, his own suitcase in hand. "If I recall – and I do remember everything about that assignment- you prefer the right."
She felt her lips twitch into a smile again and mentally she tried to calculate the last time she smiled so much in one evening. "You are sure you remember everything?"
"Sexy green dress that's haunted me for years, the look of boredom on your face when you're faking it, that awesome blue lace lingerie…." he paused and cleared his throat. "Oooh yeah. I remember."
"I do not recall showing you that lingerie!" she said, chuckling. She moved away from the bed and opened the folding luggage rack, setting her suitcase upon it and unzipping it. From the corner of her eye, she noticed he started to go through the same motions with his own luggage.
"You left it hanging on the shower rod in the bathroom!" he squeaked in reply. "It wasn't a big leap of the imagination."
"I will be sure to keep my lingerie out of the bathroom this time," she said saucily.
Tony swallowed his protest in an effort to not break every personal and professional rule that existed.
"Zi?" he said after they had unpacked quietly for a few moments. The name almost tasted foreign on his lips, it had been so long since he had called her that.
She turned, a ghost of a grin gracing her face.
He watched her brown eyes sparkle and knew it had been too long since they looked that alive. He wondered if it was their honest discussion or the nickname; somewhere inside of him he believed it was both.
"When we get home, can I take you to dinner?" he asked, unable to keep the nervous tone from creeping over his words.
"A real date?" she clarified. "Not Chinese takeout since you believe that does not qualify?"
"Yes, Tony. I would like that."
She pulled her toiletry bag from her suitcase and headed to the bathroom, but her elbow was caught and he spun her around.
"I've missed you," he said softly.
"I have missed you, too," a small waver hit her voice and he wondered if she was forcing back an unruly tear. "We will find our way back, Tony," she replied sagely, reaching up with her free hand and cupping his cheek.
He nodded. "It may take some time."
"We'll get there," she said, leaning up and kissing his cheek ever so lightly. "Paris is just the first step."