Disclaimer:I do not own these characters. If I did, I would be a rich woman.
Summary: A week after Ziva and Tony's visit to Paris, questions arise about what happened on the night of their hotel stay and Tony is implicated in an F.B.I. sting-gone-awry. Flashbacks to "Jetlag," rated 'M' for a reason.
Present day: NCIS headquarters
Ziva sat in the interrogation room with her arms crossed, lips pursed, eyes narrowed at the man sitting quietly in front of her. A few minutes earlier, she had walked out of the elevator and witnessed her boss storming out of the director's office.
"David." He said her name like a command, "follow me."
Thirty minutes later, here she sat, like a caged animal staring at the silent zookeeper.
Gibbs cleared his throat. "I need to know everything about the hotel you and Tony stayed at last week in Paris."
Ziva raised her eyebrows. "And for what reason, exactly?"
Gibbs was silent for a minute. "The FBI was involved in an operation at the Hotel Waldorf Arc de Triomphe the night you and Agent DiNozzo stayed there."
"I am not following you, Agent Gibbs," Ziva calmly stated, "what does that have to do with Tony and me?"
"I'm not sure."
A week prior: Paris, France
On the plane to France, Ziva tried to sleep. Tony watched the in-flight movie, of course. They briefly discussed the task ahead, no specifics, just the itinerary. It seemed to Ziva, that there was too much to say, and silence was easier. She could not remember the last time they had been alone on a job.
They arrived at the hotel at 2100 hours, Paris time. Tony spoke broken French to a cabdriver, directing the man to a hotel McGee had found before they left the United States. Ziva had not known Tony to speak French. Fifteen minutes later, they pulled up to a beautiful brick building, the name Hotel Waldorf Arc de Triomphe written in cursive across the front entrance.
"I am impressed with McGee's taste in accommodations," she mentioned to Tony.
Tony smirked, "much better then a Hotel 6, that's for sure."
At the front desk, Ziva's expectations of a hot bath and a good book flew out the window.
"We 'ave one room left. Iz that alright?" the French woman asked in broken English.
Ziva and Tony exchanged a glance. Ziva weighed her options; she was starving and exhausted, who knew how long it would take to find another hotel. She nodded discreetly at her partner. He charged the room on the company credit card, picked up their bags, and waved off the bellhop. Ziva followed him to the elevator, and the two agents silently made their way toward the hotel room.
Present day: NCIS Headquarters
McGee was standing in the listening area of the Interrogation room, next to Abby, and an agitated Fornell.
"Where is Tony?" Abby asked Fornell, accusation written all over her face.
He glanced at her for a split second, and then returned his attention to the window in front of him. "F.B.I. Headquarters."
"And what is it you are accusing him of this time?" McGee asked flatly.
Fornell looked at the two NCIS associates, his face revealing nothing. "That," he said, "is what we're trying to figure out." Turning toward the door, he added, "Let Agent Gibbs know I want to speak with him when he's finished. And I want that tape." He pointed toward the soundboard as he strolled out of the room.
"They were there for less than twenty-four hours, McGee!" Abby said. "What could they possibly have done in twenty-four hours?"
McGee shook his head, "I have no idea." They returned to listening to Ziva and Gibbs.
"The hotel was quiet," Ziva was saying, "if there was an F.B.I. operation in progress, they did a good job of covering it up."
"We were in that hotel for less than twelve hours. What could they possibly think…" Ziva trailed off.
McGee watched the back of his boss's head, he couldn't see the stone faced expression, but knew it was there.
"Trent Kort has been tracking an arms dealer for over three months. He located him, set up a meeting, and was going to take him down the night you happened to be in Paris."
"And we know Kort is such a reliable man," Ziva quipped.
"The body of the arms dealer was found stuffed in a closet yesterday morning, on the same floor the two of you were on."
Ziva narrowed her eyes, "So, one would assume, then that we had something to do with it."
Gibbs was quiet for a moment, "not you… Tony."
"And why would Tony stuff someone's body into a closet, Agent Gibbs?" Ziva raised her voice, her temper starting to peak through the stony exterior.
"This arms dealer was a person of interest in the murder of Director Shepard, Agent David." Gibbs let his words sink in. He stood up, and began to pace around the room.
Abby moved closer to the viewing window, staring intently at the two agents in front of her. "McGee, this doesn't make any sense!"
McGee stepped forward so that he was standing next to her. "Why would anyone believe anything Kort says?"
"And why now? Director Shepard has been…" Abby trailed off. "She's been gone for a long time. There's no way Tony has anything to do with this!"
McGee nodded, "Even if he knew there was a sting involving the men who killed Director Sheppard, he couldn't have known he was going to end up in Paris the same day. I'm the one who found the hotel."
Abby and McGee turned their attention back to the conversation in the interrogation room. Gibbs and Ziva were standing at opposite ends of the table, eyes locked.
"There is not any way either of us could have snuck out of that room at any point in time without the other knowing!" she said firmly. "I was sleeping on the couch, but I would have heard him leave… or at least I would have woken up to the silence of Tony not snoring."
Out of the corner of her eye, Abby saw McGee's brow furrow as he moved even closer to the glass partition.
"What is it, Tim?" she asked softly.
"I'm not sure…" he stared, perplexed at Ziva. "I think she's lying. Either lying or…."
"What would she have to lie about?"
"I don't know. What I do know is that last week, Tony told me that he was the one who slept on the couch." McGee folded his arms and turned toward Abby.
"Why would they lie about which one slept on the couch?" Abby asked.
"Any other time, I would say they were just messing with us. Tony would claim he was being a gentleman, and Ziva would… I don't know, call him whiney. But this isn't any other time."
Abby shook her head, "no, it's not."
A week prior: Hotel Waldorf Arc de Triomphe
Ziva splashed water on her face and pulled the hairpin out of her ponytail. In the mirror she looked tired; the result of a twelve hour flight and very little sleep. Tony had suggested they get dinner somewhere, so she was attempting to make herself presentable… for the sake of Paris. She pulled on tweed pants, a button up shirt, and black flats. Looking back in the mirror, she pulled her hair back and dug lip-gloss out of her purse. Just before leaving the bathroom, she took her hairpin out again, letting her dark hair fall over her shoulders.
Tony was sitting, legs crossed, leafing through a Paris tourist guide book. He glanced up at Ziva as she exited the bathroom, and quickly looked back down at the restaurant page. "You look nice," he said matter-of-factly.
Ziva eyed him suspiciously, waiting for the punch line.
"How do you feel about Italian?" he asked, breaking the silence.
She snorted, "In France?"
"Yeah you're right… we probably should embrace the culture," he said sarcastically. "We'd better go before they run out of… French fries."
Ziva rolled her eyes.
"And put on a sweatshirt, would you? I don't wanna have to hire Liam Niesson to get you out of the sex slave trade," he smiled at his joke.
Grabbing her coat, she said, "I am assuming that is from some movie about Paris that I have not seen."
Tony put his hand on the small of her back and led her out of the room, closing the door behind them. An involuntary shiver ran down her spine at his touch. She moved forward a step so that she was out of arm's length, mentally scolding herself for reacting. Together, they made their way out of the hotel.
Present day: F.B.I. Interrogation Room 3B
Tony twiddled his thumbs and pointed a bored look toward Agent Fornell. He yawned for the effect. "So…" he said. "What brings us here, sharing this special moment?"
"You tell me," Fornell returned, staring intently at Tony.
Tony racked his brain for anything he may have done to land himself in an F.B.I. interrogation room. He came up blank. "Sorry, buddy. Got nothing." He wasn't going to let Fornell use mind games to make him nervous.
"So, you know absolutely nothing about the arms dealer that was shot with his own gun and stuffed into a closet at the Hotel Waldorf Arc de Triomphe last week?"
Tony kept his cool. "Can't say that I have any idea what you're talking about, Fornell." He leaned back in his chair and locked his hands behind his neck. "But I'm pretty sure you're going to tell me all about it, am I right?"
"We believe this man was connected with the murder of Director Jenny Shepard, Agent DiNozzo." Fornell leaned forward, staring into Tony's eyes. "I believe you remember the case?"
Tony leaned forward and met his gaze. "Gee, this conversation reminds me of the last time you accused me of murder. Do you remember the case?"
Fornell blinked, "fair enough." He stood up, and tapped his fingers on the edge of the chair. "Why don't you take me through everything that happened that evening."
Tony continued to stare the F.B.I. agent down, "don't get too comfortable. This won't take long."
A week prior: Le Fouquet's Restaurant
Tony and Ziva sat across from one another, in a small corner booth lit by a candle. Tony thought the restaurant was slightly romantic. Ziva was sipping a glass of white wine, reading the file on the witness they were picking up the next day. Tony swirled the ice in his glass of bourbon and watched the other customers. He didn't deny the tension between himself and the woman across from him. He also didn't deny his part in the situation, good intentioned or not. He had tried to broach the subject a few times, but she hadn't been ready. She was still angry, that much was obvious. Ignoring the situation was difficult, especially given the assignment at hand. Why Gibbs didn't send McGee along instead of him was beyond his understanding. He watched a customer, a young woman with a brown ponytail, walk up to the bar and order a drink in French. Peeking out from under her long jacket, were blue scrub bottoms. He forced himself to look away.
Ziva spoke for the first time in over an hour. "She looks like her."
Tony knew who "her" was. "Who?" he asked dumbly, avoiding eye contact with his companion.
Ziva's tone softened, "you know who, Tony."
He lifted the glass to his lips and swallowed the last of his bourbon. "It's been a long time, Ziva."
"Sometimes, forever is not long enough." She reached across the table and touched his hand, staring at him until he raised his eyes to meet hers. She shook her head, "sometimes… I forget there is this whole other side to you."
Tony blinked, but kept his eyes focused on her face. Her brown eyes were soft, face relaxed. His mind raced through hundreds of possible replies to her statement. After a moment, "I have lived a thousand lifetimes since then. There are lot's of things that can cause the return of old emotions… not just between old lovers."
"Is that from a movie?" she asked, fingering the stem of her wine glass.
Tony leaned back and loosened his tie. "No," he said, "that's from experience."
Ziva drank the last of her wine and tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. She looked sad, possibly even nervous. Tony watched her finger the Star of David hanging from her neck.
"It's been awhile, Ziva," his voice was almost a whisper.
"Yes, it has."
Present day: NCIS headquarters
Ziva stood, tensed and leaning forward, resting all of her weight on the table in front of her. She stared at the man who was like a father to her. She tried not to blink, tried not to look away, to appear weak. She wanted out of the room so badly.
Gibbs stared her down.
"You know this is ridiculous," she accused.
"So why am I still here?"
"Because I want to prove, without any doubt, that Tony had nothing to do with this," he replied without breaking eye contact.
"I've told you everything."
"No you haven't." He sat back down and locked his fingers together. "You said there was no way either of you could have left that room."
"That is true," she said, standing her ground.
"But you were sleeping ten feet away, on the couch, nowhere near the door. All the F.B.I. has to do is prove that it was possible for Tony…"
"Or for me."
Gibbs continued through her interruption, "to quietly get in and out without waking you up… even if he went to get ice, they have a case."
Ziva sat primly back in her chair. "Every beverage is room temperature in France," she said, emphasizing every word.
"You get my point, Agent David."
"He. Didn't. leave." She crossed her arms and looked at the ceiling. Ziva knew he could see through her, and she was afraid of the consequences.
"You aren't telling me everything, Ziva," Gibbs said softly.
A week prior: Hotel Waldorf Arc de Triomphe
Ziva pulled her pajama bottoms up over her hips and glanced at her reflection in the mirror. The wine had turned her cheeks pink. She had dug a matching pajama set out of the back of her closet. The last thing she wanted was for Tony to make fun of the ratty sweats she usually wore to bed. She opened the bathroom door just in time to see him pull an undershirt over his muscular back. One thing she had always appreciated about Tony was his physique. He seemed to eat whatever and whenever he wanted, and remained trim all the while.
"Hey," she said, trying to break her train of thought.
"Hey." His voice broke, and he cleared his throat.
"I'll take the couch." She walked over to the bed to grab a pillow, and felt Tony's hand on her arm. He was inches behind her. She could feel him breathe.
"There's no reason we can't share the bed, Ziva. We've been in more uncomfortable situations." He let go of her arm and waited for her to reply.
Ziva inhaled deeply and turned to face him. It was not that she did not trust him; he was probably the person she trusted most next to Gibbs. Her mind flashed to past moments they had shared, times she thought there was something behind the banter. She looked up at him, still silent.
"I'll stay on top of the covers. Scout's honor," he said, taking the pillow out of her hand and placing it back on the bed.
She nodded, still unsure of herself. She hated feeling out of sort… vulnerable. It brought her back to the weeks she had spent alone, being tortured by her own people. She had spent most of it thinking about her death, not being able to say goodbye to anyone. Vulnerability was a new emotion, one she wasn't sure she liked.
Tony watched her face intently, not moving from his position in front of her. The silence was different, yet not uncomfortable. She watched his chest rise and fall; his body was relaxed, his gaze unwavering.
Ziva reached her hand out and let it rest on his chest. She felt his heart quicken, his breathing stopped momentarily. She looked into his eyes. "I… I'm sorry, Tony. I should have been honest with you. If I had…."
"If I would have trusted my gut…" he used Gibb's expression, "I have always trusted you, Ziva."
She raised her chin and bit her lip to stop the burning in her eyes. Crying was a sign of weakness, she thought to herself. Tony placed his hand over hers. He moved a step closer and brought his other hand to her face.
Ziva tried to swallow past the lump in her throat. She could not form thoughts or tear her eyes away from his face. She tried to control her breathing as he rubbed his thumb against her jawbone.
"I don't want to do anything that you don't want me to," he whispered. He dropped her hand and cupped her face. He was searching her eyes for permission. "I'm going to count to three, and then I'm going to kiss you, Ziva." His fingers twisted into her hair. "One."
Her eyes were locked with his. She wanted to think about consequences, she wanted to feel terrified. He was handing her the controls, letting her decide what she wanted. This was different then anything she had ever experienced; her breathing deepened.
Her head screamed at her to make a decision, to remember why this was a bad idea, to stop him! Instead, she brought her hand up to touch his face, and nodded. He never had to say "three." His lips were softer than she had imagined, his touch careful. She could probably beat him in hand-to-hand combat in under a minute, but he touched her like at any minute, she would break in half. Tony wrapped one arm around her back, the other still entwined in her hair. She pulled back to take a breath, and their eyes met. Both were breathing heavily, wrapped around one another.
Tony smiled at her, dragging his thumb in circles on her cheekbone. "You are so beautiful," he said.
She kissed him harder this time, felt his tongue along the edge of her lips. She opened her mouth to let him deepen the kiss. Ziva tugged his t-shirt over his head and pushed him into a sitting position on the bed so she could climb onto his lap. His strong hands moved under her tank top and up her spine. Her body shivered. She ground her hips into him and smiled as an involuntary moan escaped his lips. He kissed her hands, her fingers, her biceps, and ran his tongue up her throat to her earlobe. Ziva let out a heavy sigh.
Tony pulled back for a split second, fingers on the bottom of her shirt. "Are you sure…" he trailed off, hesitating.
Ziva gazed into his eyes and lifted her tank top over head. Tony's breathing stopped for a split second as he looked at her. He slowly leaned his head down and flicked his tongue over her nipple. Their movements slowed, kisses deepened. Tony rolled her sideways and onto her back, taking care to lower himself down slowly. She pushed his pajama pants down with her toes while massaging his back with her fingertips. She lifted her hips up so he could pull her pants off, pushing them into the growing pile of clothes on the floor. He stroked her hair and kissed her softly, nuzzling her nose with his own. Ziva thought she had never wanted something so badly.
They locked eyes as he entered her, Ziva gasped.
"Okay?" he breathed.
She exhaled and nodded. "You?" she managed.
He smiled as he trailed his thumb across her cheek. "Never better." He began moving his hips, careful at first, but quickly gaining intensity. They clung to one another, foreheads resting together, arms tangled until the very end. Ziva covered her mouth to keep from crying out.
Tony was breathing hard as he pulled back, eyes never leaving her face. Ziva smiled and let out a chuckle. She felt… calm. For the first time in months, she was relaxed, enjoying herself. Reaching for Tony's hand in the dark, she entwined her fingers with his and snuggled into the crook of his arm.
And that is how they slept, all night long.
Present Day: NCIS interrogation room
It had been over an hour. They went back and forth between quiet conversation and tense arguing. The adjoining room now held McGee, Abby, Palmer, Ducky, and two F.B.I. agents that were assigned to the case. McGee was sitting near the window with Abby, watching the scene unfold. It appeared that Gibbs was winding down. Ziva looked tired, head resting on one hand.
"I don't understand what he is waiting for," Ducky said, studying Gibbs' profile. "She's told him the same story over and over again for a half-hour now."
"He wants Tony off scott free," McGee replied.
Gibbs spoke quietly, now sitting in a relaxed position. "100% sure that he did not leave your sight all night?"
"What if I told you that I did not sleep?" Ziva asked.
"Jetlag," he replied flatly, "it's impossible not to sleep."
Ziva looked up at the ceiling, avoiding his gaze. The next words she spoke were so quiet, McGee had to lean forward to hear. "I can't give you a better answer."
Gibbs leaned forward, eyes never leaving her face. "Okay."
Abby's head fell backward and she let out a moan. "All that, and he finally believes she's telling the truth?"
Gibbs was closing the manila envelope when Ziva spoke again.
Gibbs looked up at her with soft eyes and placed his hands on top of the envelope.
"What if… I told you that I wasn't on the couch?" her eyes were downcast, her voice a whisper.
"I would say we have a case." Gibbs returned, "but Ziva, I only want you to tell me that if it's true."
Ziva slowly met his gaze. McGee swore he could see tears forming in her eyes. Every person in the viewing room moved toward the window.
"Gibbs, I…" she trailed off, looking toward the door on the left side of the room, "Gibbs, we broke rule number twelve." She tucked a loose strand of hair behind her ear. "That's how I know he did not leave."
Gibbs stood and walked to Ziva's side of the table. He stooped down and said something to her in a low voice. McGee couldn't make out what he said.
The viewing room was silent for an entire minute.
One of the F.B.I. agents broke the silence, "what the hell is Rule #12?" he asked, chewing on a toothpick, scratching his head.
Abby looked at Ducky, eyes wide, "It's one of the rules in the NCIS handbook," she lied.
"Never share a bed with a coworker," Ducky added.
Palmer looked serious, "unless you're going to… stay up all night reviewing…"
"Twelve Angry Men." Abby smiled as everyone looked at her incredulously.
"I was going to say case files," Palmer returned.
The F.B.I. agents looked skeptical.
A minute later, Gibbs poked his head around the door. "McGee, call Fornell and have him release Tony. I'll pick him up in twenty minutes." He glanced at all the other faces in the room, "and get back to work, people. This isn't your day off."
McGee suppressed a shudder. "Man am I glad I'm not Tony."
A week prior: Hotel Waldorf Arc de Triomphe
Tony woke to find Ziva still curled around him, her body was warm. He glanced at the clock, it was still early. She stirred and her eyes fluttered open. He was afraid she would panic, jump up, and revert back to being angry with him. Instead, she turned slowly to face him, her hair falling into her eyes. He pushed it back and away from her face.
She gave him a shy smile. "What now?"
He chuckled, "I have absolutely no idea."
She scrunched up her face in thought. "Shall we start with breakfast?"
Tony kissed the top of her head and turned to grab the menu next to the bed. "I think that is a good start."
Tony walked out of the F.B.I. headquarters and slid into the passenger's seat next to his boss. The two men glanced at one another.
"That was all kinds of fun," his voice dripped with sarcasm.
"You are a lucky man, DiNozzo," Gibbs said dryly.
Tony nodded and rested his head on the seat, pondering that statement. After a minute, he sighed, "she told you, didn't she?"
Gibbs glanced at Tony and raised his eyebrows, "yup."
Tony was grateful that traffic was moving at a steady pace, he could not wait to get out of the car. "Does the Director know?"
Gibbs kept his eyes on the road as he answered, "nope."
Tony nodded. "Thanks."
Gibbs nodded. The silence stretched for a few blocks.
"If you're waiting for me to apologize, I can't," Tony said, as they pulled into the NCIS parking lot.
"I'm not waiting for anything, Tony," Gibbs replied. As they pulled into a parking spot, he turned off the engine, and added, "I'm in no position to judge you."
Tony's mind drifted to Jenny Shepard. He knew that she and Gibbs had been involved when they were partners, long ago. He braved a look at his boss, who was watching him with a half smile.
"I'm only surprised that it hadn't happened before," Gibbs said as he opened the driver's side door and got out.
Tony followed suite, shutting the door behind him. The two men walked side-by-side through the parking lot. Tony shoved his hands in his pockets and wondered if he had ever had a more strange conversation. He decided that he hadn't. "So, what are you going to do?"
Gibbs stopped at the back door to face him. He shrugged, "nothing."
"What do you want me to do, DiNozzo? Slap your wrist and tell you to never do it again?"
"Kinda," Tony replied.
Gibbs opened the door and ushered Tony inside. "Never worked for me," he said, shaking his head.
Tony eyed Gibbs' profile as the door shut behind him. He was glad this day was finally coming to an end.