A Lesson in Deception
"Truth fears no question." - Uknown
Tony asks Ziva questions about her childhood, about frivolous, insignificant things like when she learned to play piano, her favorite school teachers and her summers in Haifa. He asks her about her first kiss; the same boy she punched in the nose for telling her she was pretty when she was ten, five years later, in the shadows beside her family's home in Tel Aviv late one winter night. His fingers trace lazy circles over her skin while he asks about her first scar, a ridge in the junction at the back of her left knee; she had fallen through the branches of a pear tree after being dared by her brother to climb to the top when she was eight.
Tony knows that Ziva humors him because she's captivated by his ability to become fixated on the irrelevant, but he'd also like to think it's because she's tangled up in the sheets of his bed, his legs, and that she doesn't want to move. He likes the feel of her skin against his, his arms around her waist.
So far Tony's been careful not to ask things like 'first torture technique you ever learned,' or 'first person you ever killed.' Despite what his usual demeanor may lead others to believe, he's not completely insensitive. His inquiries are selective, thought out and cautious, because he fears asking the wrong one will chase her back into her shell. Yet as time passes he finds himself digging deeper and, surprisingly, she yields to his curiosity. Confidence that he's making progress on breaking past her outer defenses, combined with the distraction of drawing her hair away from her neck so he can kiss her collar bone, provides for a slow fall into reckless exploration.
"First time you lied?"
He knows he's one step short of crossing the line she's marked as off limits, but Tony decides to remain true to his nature and forgo presumptuous things like 'personal boundaries' on the off chance that she might actually answer him.
Ziva's usual approach to morning after discussions involve vague answers meant to intimidate him into dropping the matter. Currently, if the continued silence is anything to go by, he thinks it's more likely that she'll choose to ignore this question completely. If she did he wouldn't blame her. Trust and honesty and deception were subjects neither of them bothered to touch unless they had a twelve foot pole, Kevlar vests and protective goggles.
She shifts in his arms, rolling over so she can see his face. He remains quiet and still beneath her scrutiny, barely daring to breathe as he does his best to hold her gaze. It's hardly an easy task, with her face mere inches away from his it's difficult not to concentrate on her lips. He props himself up on an elbow in an attempt to gain some distance, but she slides into the space he's created, resting her head on the pillow just beneath the crook of his arm with a sultry smile on her face.
Under any other circumstance Tony might have let Ziva seduce her way out of an uncomfortable situation, but today he is determined, to his folly perhaps, not to let her have the upper hand. So he tells himself it doesn't matter that the sheet, which had been modestly draped over her just moments before, is slowly inching downward. He also tells himself it doesn't matter that her leg is trying to snake its way between his knees or that her hand, which had been resting on his shoulder, is now traveling south at an increasingly alarming rate.
It's hardly a command so much as a plea. Her fingers pause lightly at his waist and she raises an eyebrow in an attempt to feign surprise. When he tells her to stop a second time, regaining enough composure to be able to swat her hand away, Ziva sighs in exasperation. She retaliates by prodding him sharply in the stomach, the smile she sported quickly fading into a scowl.
"I asked you a question. I want an answer."
"You always want something."
"Stop that." This time Tony pokes back, jabbing her between the ribs, albeit more gently than the blow she dealt him because of his fear of dismemberment. "Stop dodging."
The sadistic side of him hopes that provoking her will get her to talk. There is a flash of warning in her eyes, threatening him away from an unfortunate demise with a quick quirk of her eyebrows, a slight tilt of her head, but he does not relent. He continues to glare at her, prepared to wage war if he must, but sincerely hoping it won't come to that. Should she choose to inhibit him physically to shut him up – maybe strangle him with the sheets – he knows he's better off fishing in the arctic then trying to stop her. However, should this turn out to be a battle of words and manipulation, he might just stand a chance.
"I am not dodging anything." Ziva mutters accusingly, attempting to free her wrist from where he's ensnared it in his hand, probably so she could stab him again with her index finger in hopes of hitting a vital organ.
"But you're dodging something." In the name of self preservation he makes sure to shift his lower body away from her legs before she can think about doing any real damage.
"I don't have an answer."
He frowns at Ziva's 'I don't want to talk about it' tone of voice. It wouldn't be the first time they've tap danced around a potentially hazardous conversation, but there's something about the way she won't meet his eyes that makes Tony feel like he's stepping on her toes.
"I am going to shower. We have less than an hour to get ready."
"We can be late."
"We were late yesterday."
Ziva snatches her wrist out of Tony's grasp and rolls away from him, throwing the sheet at an angle so that it comes to rest on his head as she gets up. Most mornings he would get up and follow her, but he resides himself to watching as she moves about the room, collecting her clothes from off the floor where they were discarded the night before. Ziva moves quickly, restlessly, her movements impatient and rushed compared to her typical morning calm that she so often displays. She looks like she's walking on glass and he wonders at what his simple question could have possibly done to unnerve her so much that she would let her discomfort show.
The early morning sunlight filtering through the window falls in bars across Ziva's bare skin as she pauses at the bathroom door. It's a split second stop in her forward momentum, she's got her back turned to him and he can't see her face, and he thinks that maybe, just maybe, she'll turn around.
But she doesn't.
Tony gets up when he hears the sound of running water from behind the closed door, gathering his visible garments first. Next he moves to the duvet lying in a crumpled heap at the foot of the bed to begin the tedious search for socks and underwear. It takes him longer than usual because he's still distracted by the pseudo argument that just took place in his bed. He replays the conversation over in his head, including her strategically placed derailment, fixating on one particular statement while trying to ignore the shooting pains in his knees as he kneels on the hardwood floor to double check for any misplaced items underneath the furniture.
"I don't have an answer."
Tony's not sure if it's her lack of trust in him that bothers him or the fact that she is lying about lying.
However, he is certain that deception only works if the other person is the more deceived. And he's not. But he is curious. So, being the excellent investigator he is, Tony determines that he will begin an exploration as to the cause of Ziva's uncharacteristically contradictory proclamation and discover the origin of her consequential discomfort.
But first he has to find his boxers.
A/N: So this was a random little idea I came up with. It will probably be a three part piece or more depending on what I decide to do, but we shall see. I hope y'all enjoy it either way. I was in need of some shameless Tiva angst, it's good for the soul. ;)
On a different note let's say this is set somewhere in the not so distant future, for cannon's sake.
This is dedicated to my wonderful beta, Zaedah.