The Bridges of Paris
I've read numerous post-eps for Jetlag, and have enjoyed many of them, but I couldn't help wondering what would happen if Tony and Ziva really did have sex as their relationship stands now. I'll warn you, this is rated M for sex but it's not fluff or smut. Oh, and 'Pont' means bridge in French. These really are some of the bridges of Paris.
Ziva gasps at the cold as she steps out of the hotel, setting her bag down long enough to button her coat and pull her gloves on. She braces herself and strides out, glancing around the street as she heads for the nearest bridge.
On the other side is the Eiffel Tower, and she stops a moment to look up. They talked about this sight on the plane yesterday—after thousands of movies set here, Tony had high expectations.
She was fine in the airport, never thought to be otherwise. But they went down that ramp and the second she crossed the threshold of the plane there was something about the smell of the plastic molding, something about the pressure in the air, that brought back in an instant the last time she had been on a plane.
Tony was ahead of her, but as they reached their seats he stopped and turned to lift his bag and caught side of hers, her knuckles white on the handle.
"Ziva." Tony said softly, catching her eye.
She swallowed hard, then let him take her bag and wedge it into the overhead compartment. Sliding into her seat, Ziva stared out the window, trying to take deep breaths. She could feel Tony watching her, but he didn't speak.
The plane began to taxi and the air pressure increased. She wasn't sure what she was remembering, she'd been mostly unconscious on the plane out of Africa, but suddenly she was on the verge of a panic attack.
"Hey," Tony said sharply, jarring Ziva out of memory.
She turned toward him.
"You're safe," he said firmly. He laid his hand over hers where she clutched the armrest.
Ziva nodded, relieved she didn't have to explain. She held his hand tightly as they took off, listening to Tony murmur about Paris and the Eiffel tower and a slew of movies she'd never seen. And bit by bit, Ziva relaxed at the reminder that she wasn't alone.
Pont de l'Alma
Ziva turns and walks away from the Tower, heading east across the city. There's no reason for Tony to be in the left bank except for this one sight, so this path guarantees she won't see him. She reaches the next big bridge and steps out onto it, looking down the Seine for a moment at the boats and bridges glowing in the early morning light. Ziva smiles fondly a moment, remembering when she came here with Jenny. She'd been before of course, for a few operations, but Jenny insisted that Paris was worth exploring and had spent two days of their recon time interrupting Ziva's strategic mapping of the city to drag the younger woman through museums and gardens. They stood right here, Ziva thinks sadly. It's slipped no one's mind that Jenny was inextricably tied to Paris.
"So, the city of love," Tony said conversationally as Ziva returned from the bathroom and slipped into her seat. He hadn't missed the five minutes of pacing she'd gotten in while waiting for the bathroom and was glad to see it had calmed her somewhat.
"I thought that was Philadelphia," she said as she climbed over him and rebuckled her seatbelt.
Tony grinned. "That's brotherly love. This...isn't."
Ziva rolled her eyes, much to his relief.
"I sure don't think Jenny ever thought of Gibbs as her brother, that's for sure."
She smiled quickly, remembering the stories.
Tony's eyes narrowed. "What?"
Ziva opened her mouth to deflect, but the interest and humor in Tony's eyes reminded her of what they used to be, so she relaxed into the story. "One of my first ops with Jenny was in Paris. She told me about him. Of course, I did not know who he was, it did not matter. Perhaps that is why she told me. That they were on intense missions and depending on each other for their lives..." Ziva built up the story with her tone, then dropped it, teasing. "You can imagine the rest."
Tony didn't insist, instead closing his eyes in an expression of intense and pleasant concentration, then consternation. "Yeah," he said, a bit of horror in his voice.
Ziva laughed, and Tony opened his eyes again.
"I guess that's when he made the rule," Tony said reflectively.
She shook her head. "When we came to DC and he first told me that one, Jenny was surprised. When she knew him, rule 12 was something about extra ammunition. But she left him." Ziva glanced down at her hands a moment. "She didn't talk much about that part, about leaving him. I think she regretted it sometimes."
Tony nodded. "She told me once she didn't always love the fast track."
Ziva sighed, then shook her head. "We would probably not even be here though, if she had made other choices. They might have stayed in Europe, or run their own teams back in DC."
Tony cocked his head thoughtfully. "She might never have worked with you, never have given you the job. We might never have met."
Their eyes met in one of the moments they'd shared over the last few months: assuring, memorizing.
"We did, though," Ziva finally said softly.
"And Gibbs made rule 12."
Pont des Invalides
What she should have told Tony is that Jenny made rule 12, too. No matter how attractive, she never got romantically involved with a co-worker again. Never got seriously involved with anyone, for that matter. Ziva had seen it in her eyes, those years in DC. When Jenny watched Gibbs she was remembering the only time she'd ever let herself fall unabashedly in love, and she'd learned better. Even when she showed Ziva around Paris, every story was accompanied by a caution, a warning, a caveat: Don't let this happen to you.
It is a lesson Ziva wishes she had learned. She can't help but think that if Jenny were alive, she might have known better than to get involved with Michael. Little more than a year ago, she had a layover here as she flew to visit him, and now he is only a source of bad memories and a barrier between her and Tony. Though at least they'd finally said so out loud.
By the second hour, it had sunk in just how much time they had to spend strapped down next to each other, and while Tony's supportiveness at take-off had eased the awkwardness, it was still there.
"So did Vance give you directions to the hotel in that dossier?" Tony asked finally, trying to make conversation.
Ziva shook her head. "He told me what our budget was and to find a place."
"Yeah?" Tony looked worried. "We're coming in in pretty late. Did you make a reservation?"
She shrugged. "There's a place I stayed once with Jenny." She looked out the window. "If you do not mind, I would like to go there."
"Of course," Tony said, gently enough that she turned back to him.
Ziva smiled hesitantly.
"You know," he added, "you talk about her so rarely, I forget you were partners."
She took a deep breath. "I have had many other partners, Tony."
He tensed. "Right," Tony answered tightly.
Ziva laid a hand on his arm. "I did not mean to bring up--"
"Well, why not?" he hissed, keeping his voice low to avoid attracting attention. "We used to talk about things, Ziva. We used to be partners."
Pulling her hand away, scalded by his words, Ziva flinched. "You want me to tell you about being Michael's partner? Or Ari's?" she snapped.
Tony looked a bit chagrined. "Not if you don't want to," he pressed, "but I want you to talk to me again."
Ziva glared. "They kept secrets from me, Tony. All of them. Even Jenny. And so did you and I, from each other. Is that what it means to be partners? Then we have never lost that."
He laid his hand on hers, his posture softening. "Ziva," Tony said firmly, staring at their hands. "You lost those people, I get it. Maybe I didn't get it back when I first met you, what you'd lost. But I lost a partner when Kate died, and I lost a partner when—when you died." He darted a glance at her eyes and found her horrified. "And I didn't lose you forever but we did lose something. And I want to try to get it back."
Her heart was pounding. She had no words. Others had implied that Tony had fallen apart without her, but to hear it from his own lips—Ziva leaned forward and hugged him as best she could in the airplane seats, letting Tony wrap his arms around her. She took a shaky breath, relaxing for the first time all flight, for what felt like the first time in months. "Well, we have six more hours," she murmured dryly into his shoulder. It shook with his laughter.
Pont de la Concorde
You get to choose what you remember, Ziva thinks to herself. She told him the lighter stories about her partners over the years, and he'd told her about McGee's arrival and all the ways he and Kate had messed with the younger agent. They spoke of nothing serious, but they spoke. That's what she chooses to remember now.
Her bag bounces on the cobblestones as Ziva reaches the Pont de la Concorde. She stops to buy a crepe filled with nutella from a vendor and sit a moment on a bench, savoring the heat and flavor of the crepe. Her muscles quickly cool in the January air and Ziva shivers.
In front of her is an ornate old hotel and Ziva kicks herself for a moment for her part in what has happened. There are a million hotels in Paris.
"Our last vacancy," the man at the desk had told them in heavily accented English. "A room with a bed for two."
Ziva felt her face fall before she could help it. The whole way here on the train and in the cab, she had been remembering the time she had spent with Jenny in this hotel. A happier time. Out the window of the cab, she had pointed out to Tony the things he should photograph in the morning, the wonders of Paris. He had watched her, delightful by her.
"We'll take it," Tony said firmly, taking the folder from Vance out of Ziva's hands and passing the credit card over.
Ziva looked up at him in surprise and appreciation.
Tony smiled back at her, warmly. Not quite like a partner.
She felt a flutter of something that she thought she'd lost, and took his hand again as she turned back to take the keys.
The memory agitates her, and Ziva has reached Pont Royal before she realizes it. She stops there, taking a breath, forcing herself to stop replaying the exchange at the hotel, to stop imagining ways she could have handled it differently. She could have asked for directions somewhere else, could have told Tony to take the room and gone somewhere else herself. There were a thousand other choices she could have made. Choices that would not have ended with her staring down into the murky waters of the Seine trying to find a way to face her partner again.
The room was small; there was no choice but to share the bed. And the way Tony stroked her hand as he let go of it so she could let them into the room, Ziva wasn't about to object. They were both so exhausted they were giddy, but she felt closer to him after the last ten hours of imposed proximity than she had in a long time, and when Tony stepped hesitantly closer to her, without even pausing to turn on the light, she leaned up and kissed him.
Those first few minutes, filled with heated kisses and the slow shedding of their clothing, Ziva couldn't remember the last time she'd felt so certain about this. Jenny had said once that she'd never been as good with anyone as with Gibbs, because he was the one she trusted most. Ziva knew exactly what she meant. Tony seemed to know exactly where to touch her to remind her body how to feel arousal. They fell to the bed together, years of tension pouring out as they explored each others' bodies.
And then Tony pulled away in the darkness and she heard him reach out for his pants, his wallet, heard him tear open a condom wrapper.
Something about the sound brought back the reality of what was happening, and Ziva froze. Her heart started to race, not with anticipation but with the memory of rape, of men forcing themselves into her—Tony kissed her, hard, and she wanted to want him so she didn't say no, but a strangled cry forced itself from her throat as he sank into her, the pressure and weight of his body an uncomfortable reminder.
"Ziva," he murmured, kissing at her neck for a moment before beginning to thrust.
She squeezed her eyes closed, gasping, still frozen. After a moment, she felt Tony stop and begin to pull away and she wrapped herself around him. She knew he had felt her lack of response, but she also knew he wanted this, wanted her. For once she could give that to him. And there was no alternative; she couldn't explain to him what she'd been through, not here, not like this.
Ziva cried out as she felt Tony reach orgasm, let him think she'd found her own climax. As soon as he rolled off of her, she slipped away to the bathroom, sat trembling against the door. What had she done?
After a few minutes she knew he would be wondering where she'd gone, so she cleaned herself up and headed out into the room. In the faint light from the window, Ziva could see Tony sleeping. She dug through the pile of their clothing for her knife, sliding it under her pillow before easing into the bed beside him.
She stops at the Pont Neuf and looks across the river. They are like the two sides of this city, Ziva thinks. Opposite and opposing and connected in so many ways. Yet completely separate. Even now she is unsure how to face him.
Ziva woke early, her fingers still locked around her knife. Tony's arm was around her waist, and there was a luxurious comfort in that touch that made her wish the events of last night could be taken back and done over, done properly. She wondered if she'd ever be able to get this close to him again.
The air was chilly as she slipped from the bed, but the shower warmed her. Ziva was glad Tony didn't wake as she dressed and repacked her bag. She sat down on the chair beside the small desk, watching him sleep. His face looked so vulnerable. She could almost hit him.
The angry impulse startled Ziva. This wasn't his fault, she knew that, but she wanted him to have noticed her discomfort, to have stopped. She could have told him. She wished he'd known anyway.
Agitated by the conflict, Ziva reached for the pad of paper on the desk and jotted down a quick note. I'm going for a walk. Take your pictures and meet me for lunch. She added the name and address of a cafe she remembered on the other side of the city.
Then she headed for the door. She had to get out of here.
Pont au Change
Ziva looks up at Sainte-Chapelle as the bells ring out that it's noon. The vibration resonates through her. She stops, delaying now that she's not too far from the cafe where she will see Tony again. It hurts to think of how far they've come in twenty-four hours. She felt so close to him on that plane, speaking of things that she hasn't had a chance to talk about in years, laughing with him and letting herself be open to him, to the knowledge that he was lost without her. That he couldn't live without her, even though neither of them mentioned Somalia.
And now she is swept up in guilt and distance—further than ever from Tony while he still thinks they've grown closer.
If she were the type of woman to cry, she might do it now, Ziva thinks. She's wandering alone through the City of Love, just like always.
But in twelve hours they'll be back where there are rules and orders and separate apartments. And she knows better now that to rush into anything with anyone.
On the other side of the bridge, she finds the cafe and takes a table outside. To Ziva's relief, Tony shows up in the middle of her call from McGee, and there's no awkward greeting, no moment when he so much as raises his eyebrows to ask why she left him still sleeping.
She tries to hurry him away from the table and out of his good mood, but Tony won't let her rush him too much, and Ziva wishes she'd had the same night he had, that she had found pleasure in his arms and was sitting here glowing with happiness.
Slipping onto the back of the motorbike he's rented, Ziva can't help smiling at Tony's joy, and aches with guilt for a moment before she pushes it down. One more thing they'll never talk about.