A/N: Post-ep for "Masquerade," slight A/N mentions of "Jetlag."
Ziva has mentioned wanting things in "black and white" twice—once at the end of Jetlag ("I think it would look better in black and white") and then again in our wonderfully beautiful warehouse scene in "Masquerade." This got me thinking…and then this fic was born.
Assume Established!Tiva. Because, honestly, I read it into everything and I cannot bring myself to stop. I'm happier when I imagine the possibilities of Established!Tiva. haha.
Disclaimer: Not mine, but I highly approve of the Tiva goodness we've been getting this season—keep it up, PTB.
Black and White
"Purple," he said suddenly, jumping up out of his seat and moving in her direction. She glanced up at him, confusion written all over her face. Before she could question his outburst, he settled into the cushions next to her. He leant over, pressing a chaste kiss to her forearm.
Her eyes went wide, puzzled and concerned at his sudden excitement.
"What are you--"
"Blue," he answered defiantly, cutting off her question without hesitation. He allowed his eyes to float over her body as she narrowed her eyes at him. He bent over to press another kiss into her fabric-clad knee and she shifted uncomfortably under his gaze as he raised back up to look her directly in the eyes.
He braced his hand against the arm of the couch, trapping her under him. His fingers ached to touch her, but he refused to make contact. As he continued to recite colors, his breath whispered across the exposed skin at her collarbone. The deep huskiness in his voice was barely masked by the gentleness in his tone. She felt her body respond with a pleasured shiver as he continued his exploration. Her curiosity died on her lips and she was paralyzed by his proximity as he spoke.
"Brown," he said finally, shifting his gaze upward. He moved closer to her as he dropped a kiss into her hair at the top of her head. As he pulled back, she settled back into the corner, still trapped underneath him, but now able to watch as he planned his next attack. She narrowed her eyes at him curiously as he followed her movements, hovering over her mischievously.
"Olive." He swooped down to the hollow of her throat and pressed his lips into her skin, his tongue boldly flickering out against the sensitive skin. A low and quiet moan escaped her as he pulled away.
Her body silently screamed out for his touch as he denied her contact. All she could do was watch intently as he slowly skimmed his fingertips over her shoulder to pull away the offending fabric of her shirt.
"Red," he offered quietly as he ran his forefinger across the bright red strap running down her shoulder. He tipped his head down and captured the curve of her shoulder between his lips. He sucked gently as he dragged his lips together where skin met strap. He pulled back slowly, releasing her shirt so that it creeped slowly back to its rightful place atop the red strap.
She shivered slightly as his warmth left her body. Her eyes closed and she pressed her lips together in frustration.
He let his words and actions wash over her for a moment before lightly gliding the back of his fingers across her cheek and down the curve of her face. His fingertips swept along her jaw and tenderly tipped her head toward his. He tilted his head down, his lips grazing across hers lightly. Just as quickly as their lips connected, he withdrew and stared at her lovingly, his face still hovering over hers.
"Pink," he said sweetly, a small smile spreading over his face.
She shook her head slightly and regained her composure. He still loomed over her, but looked hopefully into her eyes.
"Colors?" she questioned, arching an eyebrow in his direction.
"Colors," he answered simply.
"I do not understand, Tony."
"Not everything is black and white, Ziva, and that doesn't always have to be a bad thing."
"That is not what I meant by--"
"I know," he said, shaking his head in the affirmative. "But the world has colors--nothing is ever just black or white--not even if we try. Black-and-white is not always what it seems and it doesn't make everything right."
"Black-and-white keeps us from becoming...like him. Black and white keeps us safe."
He lifted his hands from their positions on the couch around her to seize her upper arms. Pain and hurt crossed his features as he searched her eyes. As she stared back at him determinedly, she saw tears beginning to form.
"Black-and-white is your father ordering you to go alone, outnumbered and under-equipped, to that camp because the rules say: pursue at any cost. Black-and-white says that you're an assassin first and a daughter second."
He reached up to grasp the sides of her face strongly with both hands. His fingers laced through her hair as he stroked her cheekbones with the pads of his thumbs. He kept her gaze directed to him as he spoke, the strength of his grasp matching the strength of his words. He was through being gentle--she needed to hear him.
"Black-and-white says I never see you again. Black-and-white says we can't be together. Black-and-white says this--"he motioned between them, his voice faltering slightly, "is wrong. This isn't wrong, Ziva."
He stopped for a moment, taking in a deep breath and slightly loosening his grasp. He closed his eyes and cleared his throat softly, controlling his emotions as he spoke his next words. "Sometimes, black-and-white is wrong. Sometimes, you have to forget about all the things you're supposed to do and make up an excuse to fly to Somalia to be captured by terrorists simply because you have to confront the bastards that pulled all the color out of your life--to make them hurt like you hurt. Maybe there are times when you have to refuse to follow all the rules and instead follow your heart. Without you, Ziva, everything is black-and-white…and I refuse to let anyone try to tell me that life is better that way."
He swept her hair behind her ears and pulled her forward into his chest, wrapping his arms around her tightly. She closed her eyes against his chest and drew in a shuddering breath as she considered his words.
She knew that bringing up Somalia with Tony would only open the floodgates. She had refused to acknowledge it after her status at NCIS had become official. He attempted to bring it up one night over dinner, but she had brushed him off by telling him to leave the past where it belonged. He hadn't brought it up since that night, but she knew he wanted to. Truthfully, she hadn't been ready to discuss it with him before now and he understood that. Unlike every other facet of his life, on this subject, he had never pushed.
So, in the warehouse, she tested the waters. She wanted to see his reaction to her voluntary admission. It was a fine line to walk--she couldn't guarantee she could ever go back to the way it was before, but she knew that she owed it to him to try. At the first sign of pity, she reserved the right to sprint in the other direction.
Instead of pity, though, she saw patience. She saw understanding. She saw love.
The intensity of his stare as he listened to her and as he coaxed her out of her defenses was intoxicating. It threw her off balance. She attempted to retreat, thinking for a moment that she should never have brought it up in the first place. But he prodded her gently, picking her up and setting her on her feet again. In response, she backtracked, letting the matter drop as she composed herself. He allowed her to transition out of the moment, standing close as if to keep her from falling over once more. She looked him in the eye before she turned toward the evidence, silently allowing him to return to the subject in the future.
He had taken that opportunity tonight. It had...not gone exactly how she had envisioned. She expected an exhaustive conversation from opposite ends of the couch, a showcasing of scars, and falling asleep tucked in his arms, wondering if he would ever love her the same after her obvious weakness.
Instead, she was curled up next to him, wrapped in his protective arms. There were no long explanations, no reopening of old wounds--only hope. Hope for a real future, unmarred by duty or expectations, by forced strength and loneliness. At her most vulnerable, there was no one she wanted to unravel in front of than the man whose chin now rested on the top of her head and whose hand stroked her back tenderly as she held onto him like a lifeline. She lay there, knowing that no one else could love her more.
"Blue," she said quietly, the sound muffled into his shirt. Suddenly, he felt her press her lips into his shirt just above his heart.
Lifting herself out of his arms slowly, she pushed her hair off her shoulders and down her back as she lifted up to straddle him. Her palms traveled up his chest and wound themselves around his neck. Her face remained expressionless as she appraised him.
"Brown," she said as she brought one hand to his forehead to smooth out the tuft of hair threatening to fall into his eyes. She raised herself up on her knees, pressing her body flush against his as she kissed the spot where his hair parted to the side.
He attempted to regain control of himself, almost ruining the moment as her chest came precariously close to his face. His hands skimmed up her thighs and held her firmly just below her hips. As she lowered herself back into his lap, his hands remained in place. It reminded him just how real this all was--he could touch her and hold her and lay claim on her with his hands all he wanted.
Her thumbs brushed over his eyelids as he closed them to her ministrations. She leant forward and swept her lips across both. She dragged her thumb down the side of his face, mirroring his earlier actions. It floated across his skin before finding its target as it slid across his slightly parted lips.
"Red," she said breathlessly, bringing her lips within centimeters of his. She teased him a moment before he squeezed her hips and brought her marginally closer to him. She let herself crash against him, every available part of her body melting into his as he returned the kiss. One of his hands wandered underneath the hem of her shirt, sampling the smooth skin hidden from view. Her fingers twined through the hair at the base of his neck, letting out a low moan as shivers ran down her spine to follow the trail his fingers had recently traveled.
He pulled back slowly with a smirk. Her eyebrows knitted together as she looked back at him in disappointed confusion.
"Does this mean you've changed your mind about colors?"
"They have their merits," she said, a sly smile spreading over her face. She grew serious for a moment, drawing in a deep breath as she considered her next words. "But there is a limit. We cannot always live inside a...a rainbow. There must be some black-and-white--some kind of code that is not written in the name of self-interest. I need you to understand that."
"Perhaps we need," he began, pausing dramatically and raising an eyebrow with a huge grin plastered across his face, "a color-code?"
He burst out laughing at his pun. A bewildered smile spread across Ziva's face. She was not entirely sure what Tony was referencing, but it made her happy to see him smile--albeit, frustrated that he could not remain serious.
"You know," he started upon seeing her expression, still chuckling softly to himself, "like in an office where you separate files based on--nevermind."
She stared back at him until he knew that he should get back to the topic at hand. He twisted up his face in thought and she couldn't help but collapse against him to muffle her laugh into his shoulder. He had, by far, the strangest facial expressions she had ever seen when he concentrated too hard.
"I think we just need to keep living the way we've always lived." He said, burying his face into the crook of her neck as he paused. "We follow the rules until we meet one truly worth breaking and, frankly, we've only ever broken the rules when it comes to each other. And that's not self-interest. That's...you know."
"That is what, Tony?" She prodded him, her heart momentarily stopping as she considered the implications of his possible answer. She stared at the wall over his shoulder as she waited for his answer, afraid to move until he spoke. He sighed lightly, knowing she would make him say it out loud. Truthfully, he wasn't entirely sure that either of them were ready for what came next.
"Love, Ziva. When you care more about the interests of someone else than your own--that's love." She pulled back from him and looked into his eyes, searching for any hint of regret. There was none. "We've broken the rules for love, Ziva. And that...comes with its own set of rules. We're not outrunning them, we're just...changing them."
"I can accept that," she said quietly. He gave her a lopsided grin, wondering if she was ready for the reality of the words he had spoken. He wouldn't pressure her to say them back; she would do it eventually, of that he was certain. Instead he tilted his head up to give her a quick peck on the lips. She pulled back at the last moment.
"Tony," she said softly, dropping her voice to a whisper, "I love you, too."
A/N: Review, please! More reviews = more fics! Please?