Author's Note: Set sometime in season seven.


She didn't let people into her life easily, not as a general rule, anyway.

It wasn't that she wanted to isolate herself from the world - she explored the world, after all, and basked in the best of everything that the world had to offer. At the same time, however, she experienced some of the worst, and it was those moments that made her quiet, an observer.

She observed from her desk, the desk she had inherited from the one that came before her, the one whom she replaced. She never met Kate, but from the stories she heard, she almost felt as though she knew her.

She was not sure when things between her and Tony shifted from working together to some form of mutual fondness - as much as he may have mocked her driving skills or her inability to use contractions, she did find something about the guy oddly endearing.

She could see how he looked at her, almost as though he was trying to look through her instead of at her, and she thought about how it must be like to be the prey, instead of the predator. Tony was chasing her, and it was up to her as to whether or not she allowed herself to be caught by him, entangled in his grasp.

It took everything she had in her power to resist him for as long as she did.

Once she arrived home - she could not think of NCIS as anything but home anymore - from Somalia, it seemed as though everything changed between them. Their entire dynamic was flipped on its head. She had a lot of time to think, living inside her head as it was, clinging to the happy memories formed during her three years at NCIS - Tony having a starring role in quite a few of them.

It was very pleasant to realize that even with a summer spent away, Tony was still the Tony she had grown to know and be amused by the past few years. One could even say that she was slowly letting him in, although he was still being held at a good distance most of the time.

She was no shy, blushing virgin with no experience in the ways of love. She was no squealing schoolgirl with a hopeless crush. She was not going to act against type in order to pursue a man - especially not when that man was Tony DiNozzo of all people. She would wait for the right moment to act upon what she was feeling, and hope that he would not turn her away when she did so.

One day after work, she decided that the bizarre tango that they had been dancing had gone on for far too long, and she set out to end it, once and for all.

In the elevator on the way down, they were alone for the first time in a while. She crooked her head to the side, looking upward. His eyes were shut - the case had been emotionally draining, after all, he was probably tired. If he was seeking a companion for tonight, it was more likely to be a pillow or blanket than any human. Not that she was aiming to replace his pillow or blanket, not now. Too soon.

"Tony?" she said, breaking the silence in the elevator.

"Yeah?" He opened his eyes and looked downward at her, squinting slightly, as though he was trying to bring her into focus.

"Are you tired?"

"No." His voice betrayed him though, the hint of a yawn bubbling below the surface. There was not much he could get by her, even if he tried.

She raised one eyebrow in reply, a perfect arch forming the beginning of an unspoken query. "Are you sure?" she said, continuing to look at him.

"Yes, Ziva, I'm sure," he said, drawing out her name to be more syllables than it had. "But if you want to make sure yourself -" It was a line right out from his book of tricks. She could opt to take the bait now, or continue to drag this out longer.

She tilted her head up and gently grazed her lips against his. When he responded by not only looping his arms around her waist in a loose embrace, but running the tip of his tongue along her bottom lip, she felt her mouth slip into a small smile.

It was not that they had not kissed before. They had, multiple times, even. But this time, it felt different, felt as though more was being conveyed with the simple motion of their lips and tongues interacting and mingling than they could have said in words.

When they broke apart, his arms still resting on her hips, her arms around his neck, she bowed her head to disguise the smile. "Ziva, that was -"

"That was something we should have done before."

"We have."

"We have not done this before," she said, taking his hand in hers as the elevator door opened. "Your place or mine?"

The look on his face, a mixture of confusion and the unmistakable haze of desire was priceless. "I'm driving, Ziva."

"We would get there faster if you would let me drive."

"I'm driving."

She let out a low laugh at his persistence. "I suppose there is no way that you are tired now, am I right?"

"If I was tired before, and I wasn't, I'm not now."

There had not been too many times in her life when she felt as at ease as she was as she walked out of NCIS that night, the first stars of the evening poking out over the sky, Tony's hand in hers. There was, however, a first time for everything.

-fini-