Title: A Good Night's Sleep
By: Sophie McCrory
Spoilers: Season 7 in general, particularly Jet Lag, Masquarade, and Jack Knife.
Disclaimer: I don't own anything nor do I make any profits from the production of this piece, trust me.
Summary: Tony may be sore every morning, but if it's for her… well, he's okay with that.
Author's Note: This story is actually set right after Masquarade, but having seen Jack Knife would make it make a lot more sense. Before anyone says anything, I know the reference to Jet Lag is kind of unnecessary, but I thought just assuming things would be kind of… I don't know, weird.
I should warn you, this story is unbetaed and probably a little rushed, because I wrote it in two hours and was too impatient to share. :)
If asked later, it started out innocently enough. Their accidental trajectory to whatever it is they are, which started years ago and came into fruition without them really trying. He didn't mean it. She didn't either. But it happened anyway.
In the long list of all the nights they'd spent together in the years they'd known each other, Paris would have to have been—surprisingly—one of the more innocent. It was just a night, shared by two people. They fought over who would take the couch, each mistaking the intensions for the other and taking it personally. Eventually she cracked and suggested they share the bed. He'd hoped for that, but out of respect for her and mistrust of himself, he would never have offered.
They spent part of the night as far apart as two people can be while occupying the same dimensions of a mattress. She fell asleep easier than he would have expected, he did not as fast. He lay in remembrance of other nights they'd shared, far more intimately, in the past. The night Gibbs retired. The weeks after. The night they had before he shipped out for months on a gigantic floating prison that had left him with a severe case of cabin fever, and she got back on a plane to Tel Aviv.
That was the last time, he realized, that they had truly been okay. Afterward, she would trust him a little less for never having contacted her—a belief she carried that after everything, perhaps that was her purpose to him. He's handicapped when it comes to the emotions of women, of course, and what had been his attempts to win her over had failed. She found a man who she thought would respect her like she deserved, he killed him, and it spiraled into a nightmare of who was wrong and who was the traitor that ended with her captured in a terrorist camp in Africa and him going after her just to die.
That left a heavy weight on his heart. He sighed and rolled away from her. Even though they saved her. Even though she apologized. They weren't the same, and he was beginning to worry they never would be.
He woke up a couple of hours later to a nightmare, and it wasn't his. It took him a moment to wake her. It wasn't that he was afraid of her, and he certainly didn't want her to suffer more, but there was a part of him… a teeny, tiny part in the corner of his heart that he was slowly trying to piece back together just for her, that died. She whimpered and struggled in her sleep and he silently promised—both himself and her—that he would do almost anything to one day stop the suffering both of them seemed to be inflicting on themselves and each other.
So he woke her, gently. She was many things all at once—relieved, embarrassed, sad—and he hugged her tightly, and told her it would be okay. She cried a little and he promised he wouldn't tell anyone. She did not tell him of her night terrors, and he didn't ask. She didn't expose any of the horror that happened to her while she was in captivity, and he didn't try for a glimpse, because for at least a little while it would be better for both of them if he didn't. He did wrap his arms around her when they both lay back down, and whispered to her that everything would be okay, he promised, he would follow her into her darkest fear and back if it would make everything okay, until she fell asleep. Then he fell asleep, too.
In the days that followed their return, he sought the help of a therapist for both of their sakes, and she began to warm up to him. It wasn't every time and it wasn't always natural, but most of whatever it was that had started the contention between them seemed to slide away. She trusted him again, and he didn't feel nearly as guilty.
And they moved slowly forward. About a week later she turned up on his doorstep after work, her expression guilty. He leaned against his door frame, "Hello."
"Hi," she responded.
"Can I help you with something?"
She bit her lower lip, an act he recognized as faux concentration. She knew what she wanted; she just didn't know how to say it without him slamming the door in her face. He knew he wouldn't do it anyway, no matter what she said, but it was important that he let her try for the request.
"I…have a problem," she finally said.
He smiled approvingly, and stepped aside to let her in. She walked with a stealth she would never lose and he would never be able to match to his couch, and curled up in the corner, and he noticed for the first time how much she moved like a cat. He followed behind, taking a seat next to her, close enough to be friendly but far enough away to not be creepy and grinned for her benefit, "How can I help you with your problem?"
She stared at him, "I do not know if I am ready to talk about it, Tony."
There it was. He should have known, the moment she appeared on his doorstep, that this is what she was here about. Her slip that day in the warehouse, mentioning her time in captivity with Saleem, his gentle push to open up… she wanted to at least explain. He already knew that afternoon on the ride home that she was not ready, and he also knew that without her prompting, he would never bring it up again.
He nodded, "Okay."
She looked surprised, "Okay?" She turned her body more fully toward him, "You? The man who rucksacked my desk to find evidence of a boyfriend is not curious for me to tell you what happened to me when I was captured by Saleem?"
"First of all, the word you're looking for is ransacked," he corrected, "and of course I'm curious. But comparing my insecure need to know if I need to fight another man for your attention to my convoluted need to know what happened while you were held captive by an unbalanced, sociopathic terrorist is a lot like comparing broccoli to a tennis shoe. Nothing about them is the same."
"I do not understand," she said.
"The meat of what happened to you, at the end of the day, doesn't matter to me. I already know it was horrible—the details aren't going to change my opinion on that," he leaned forward so his elbows rested on his knees, and he wasn't looking at her anymore, "and at the same time, knowing or not knowing isn't going to change my opinion about you."
He turned his head to look at her, "No matter what happened, I'm not going to think you're broken. I'm not going to think you're weak if you cry, but I'm not going to force you to cry, either. If you freak out about something and I can't possibly understand, I will try to be patient. At the end of the day, you're Ziva; you always were Ziva and no matter what, you will always be Ziva."
"What if someday I do want to tell you?" she asked, quietly.
"Then I will listen," he said, and he grinned a little.
"What if I never want to tell you?"
He leaned back, his arm resting on the couch behind her, "That's okay, too. But there is one thing, in that case, that I would request."
She started a little, "What?"
"I want you to tell someone," he said, "it doesn't have to be me, but it does have to be someone."
"I just," she stopped herself, and sighed, "I just do not know sometimes. I do not know if I know what I am doing." She laughed a little mirthlessly, "My whole life I have slipped from one persona to the next, and now, for the first time I am allowed to be who I really am and I am not entirely sure I know who that is." She paused as he pulled her in close to his side, and looked up at him, "But you do. You know who it is I am."
"Hmmm," he breathed softly, "that confusion is natural when you've lived a crappy life," he glanced at her, their eyes making contact for a second before he looked forward again, "not that our lives are comparable. But, we have a similar approach to it, in the end. We cover up what hurts with an attitude that doesn't and for at least a little while you lose yourself."
"What is the answer, then?"
"Well, for a long time, I was like you. Just a lost, broken puppy, trying to find his way home after what felt like a lifetime of deflection and humor," there was a rumble in his chest that sounded kind of like a laugh, "and movies, we can't forget the movies." He relaxed his hold on her and began running his hand up and down her arm, "but eventually, I met this woman who saw right through me, and wouldn't take any of my crap. She saw who I was, and eventually I did, too."
She smiled, "Do you think you can show me who I am?"
"I don't know if I can do that," he said, "but I do know one thing. Even after everything you've gone through, you can move forward. You can find the right path."
"Is there anything else?" he asked, patting her arm.
"I do have a small request," she mumbled, grinning sheepishly.
"Yeeesssss Zee-vah?" he asked, taking her hands ask he stood up, and grinning when she tugged him close.
"It has been quite some time since I have slept well," she started, "except for that night… in Paris." His grin grew wider as she began to glower in embarrassment, "So I was wondering if it would be possible to… you know…"
"You want to stay here, Zeeeeva? Do you want to stay here with meeee?"
"The desire is suddenly beginning to wane," she deadpanned.
He laughed, "You can stay here. I can stay on the couch; you can sleep in my bed."
"Do not be ridiculous, Tony," she said, "it is not my home, I can sleep on the couch."
"Let's not have this argument again, shall we?" he proposed, "We'll share."
"I do not wish to be inconvenient," she insisted. "The couch will be fine."
"You are one stubborn woman, you know that?" he asked. "Fine, you take the couch. Do you need something to sleep in?"
She nodded. He stood, and left the room. From her seat, she could hear him russle around in the neighboring room, hitting a few walls and cursing as he went. She looked around the room, taking in certain changes that had occurred in all the months since she had last invited herself over. It had been a long time, almost a year.
He returned a few moments later, donning sweats and his arms overflowing with innumerable amounts of cloth. He used an arm to pull some shorts and a t-shirt off the top and toss them to her, before he dropped a pillow and blanket onto the couch next to her, and carried another set across the living room.
She picked up the clothes and headed into the bathroom, and changed her clothes. She splashed some water on her face, and swashed some around in her mouth before returning to the living room, to quite the sight before her.
"What are you doing?"
He sat down in his new, massage chair, located next to the couch, and reclined, stuffing a pillow behind his head and pulling the blanket up to his chin, "I'll take the chair."
"Do not be ridiculous," she scolded, though she set up a make-shift bed on the couch, and watched him as he got comfortable and turned out the light, "What if I want to stay over every night?"
"Eventually, Ziva," he insisted, his eyes closed but his demeanor not at all asleep, "you will want to sleep in the bed. Then I will either take the couch or we'll share."
"And if I do not ever want to sleep in the bed?" she asked, eyebrow raised.
"Then this chair and I are about to get very well acquainted, aren't we?"
She snorted, "You will hurt your back."
"Shush, I'm trying to sleep."