Disclaimer: I do not own these characters. So disclaimed.

Chapter 1

She was so aggravated with him. Aggravated at the moments that he could see right through to the obvious facts. The moments where he would simply sit & stare at her, knowing that the shield she had been oh so solidly holding up for months was dangerously close to be broken. These moments were ... overwhelming. Moments of weakness for her, moments that she didn't have often. But she could not afford to be weak. Gibbs made it clear to her that she; the old Ziva had died in Somalia, so why could she not admit she didn't feel right? Maybe it was the stares of sympathy? The way people had begun to notice the change in her voice when she no longer wanted to discuss a subject further? The room was dark and even still then he had been able to see how her pupils reacted to his words. Her breath caught and her head tilted slightly to the side. She wondered what he wanted from her. She sat, pondering the question, staring into the clear liquid of the glass in her hands. She sighed, thanking God it was Friday. The panic had not yet died down since the wave of suspected terrorist attacks, so the bar was not as busy as it should be. And for that she was thankful. Tucking herself into a dark corner, consuming drink after drink was what she needed to do tonight. She took a small sip, feeling the liquid burn as it slid down her throat. She knew a few more and the memories that still lingered would no longer burn her brain... at least until morning again.

"What can I get you?" the bartender asked. Ziva stared at him for a moment. "You aren't freaked out about the terrorist attacks?" the bartender inquired, and Ziva shrugged. She gulped the rest of her liquid fire, wincing a bit as it hit her taste buds. The bourbon was harsh. "You do not live if the things you fear control you, yes?" she responded and pushed her glass towards him. She took a breath & momentarily closed her eyes as the familar tingle started to take control of her mind, leaving her problems locked away in the safe little box she'd built in her mind. "That's an interesting way of seeing things," he commented. She gave a quick nod and reached quickly for the glass, almost as if her life depended on having it in her hand at that moment. Her sweaty palms cooled slightly when she took the glass. She knew she should not let fear control her life now, but when she was alone at night fighting sleep that she desperately needed it seemed to possess her. She was terrified at what awaited her once she closed her eyes... it was then that she knew fear. Lately it seemed to control her in almost every aspect of her life. The case they were working, not even a pebble on her shoulder. Her life, however, was a hammer, banging her further & further into the ground. Eventually gravity would win out. It was exhausting & she was at the end of her rope.

She picked up the glass, taking another small sip. Movement to her left caught her attention, and she turned slightly. "McGee, I did not expect that you of all people went to the bar after work for a drink," she commented. "Everyone needs to release stress somehow, Ziva," he responded. "Are you here alone?" he asked her concerned, and she sighed. McGee was not like the others, he just stared almost hesitantly. "Today was stressful McGee," she said, choosing her words very carefully. She stared ahead at her reflection in the mirror behind the bar and she gauged his reaction. She decided he looked uncomfortable. "People put others in danger everyday for such strange reasons." "It is their means to an end, a way to justify what it is they are doing," Ziva said, her voice cracking slightly. McGee could easily make any situation awkward and Ziva wanted out. "To them there is always a reason, however, that does not excuse it," she was talking quickly, trying to hide the real reason she needed to talk.

She looked up, faking a smile. "I am... okay McGee." Okay, so she hadn't really talked about any of what had happened. She was sure that the medical records had been sent to Ducky who had surely spoken to Gibbs. But records were not the same as verbally recognizing and reliving what happened to her. She had swam under the radar at the pysch evaluation because fooling someone who did not know her was her specialty. Swam? No that was not right. She glanced to her left and realized McGee was still sitting there. What she hadn't realized was that she had been staring down at her glass again, and that her hands had started shaking ever so slightly. She did not know how to fool her family, her friends or... Tony. He was in a category all on his own.

She knew she looked tired, sad and in shambles. McGee's face was twisted in thought, she knew he was wondering what to say to her. Lamely he asked, "Have you been sleeping?" She let out a chuckle, which was an obvious surprise to him. "No, McGee I do not sleep very often," she responded softly, picturing the last time she had truly felt safe. It was with him. In his arms that fateful night. Nothing had happened, yet everything had happened. She felt unnerved & exposed. She could her McGee asking her when the last time she slept well was and she stopped him mid-sentence. "You would not believe me if I told you," she moved to get up, and swayed as her feet hit the floor. She grabbed his arm for leverage and watched a young couple sliding into a booth.

"I need to go, somewhere other than here," Ziva practically whispered. She cleared her throat and said, "Thank you for your company McGee. I will see you at work on Monday." She could feel his eyes on her as she walked out the door and she said a silent prayer that he wouldn't come after her.

She walked towards the park, occasionally swaying. She felt heavy on her feet, the alcohol taking a strong effect now. When she reached the park she continued walking slowly, without purpose. Suddenly her assassin senses kicked in and she felt a presence behind her. She never questioned being able to take care of herself, but tonight.... tonight she was drunk. Not tipsy or buzzing, but completely drunk, she was not sure of herself and sped up her walk trying to think of a way out of this. She heard the footsteps stop and she slowed, preparing to turn around, ready to fight when a hand covered her shoulder. Moosad senses hit her like a brick and she flipped her assailant over her shoulder dropping him to the ground. He groaned and as her eyes focused she gasped, "Tony! What are you doing sneaking up on me in the middle of the night?" "Better question is what are you doing out here in the middle of the night, alone, drunk, wandering the streets?" he asked accusingly. She crossed her arms and shot daggers at him with her eyes. "You do not own me Tony. I owe you no explanation," she said shortly. He sat up, rubbing the back of his neck & stated, "McGee called. He was worried about you Ziva. We all are." Her stance relaxed slightly & she reached out her hand to help him stand. "Tony, I will tell you what I told McGee," she said. He brushed himself off & asked "What's that Zee-vah?" "That I am okay and that I will be okay," her voice faultered and she cursed McGee inwardly for calling the one person she could not control herself around in her delicate state.

"It's not me you have to convince Ziva. I know that you are a strong, intelligent woman who can take care of herself. You on the other hand sound like you need some convincing," he said cautiously. She looked at him, her eyes sad and lonely. "Tony I have not felt safe since..." her voice trailed off and they both knew what she was going to say. Her mind wandered to that night not so long ago in Paris, wrapped in Tony's arms after waking from a short, fitful sleep full of undeniable terror. He had promised to hold her until she fell into a restful sleep and when she woke the next morning his arms were still around her. Later of course they denied anything had happened, blaming the hotel for the mistake and claiming the couch was not as comfortable as it had looked. "Come home with me Ziva. Sleep this off at my place and I'll take you to your car in the morning," he remarked quietly.

She started walking, not wanting to say something she might later regret. "Hey Ziva, are you -," she cut him off abruptly. "Do not think that you will be taking advantage of me. I may not be sober, but I can still kill you 18 different ways with a paperclip." She did not have to look back to know he was smiling. He jogged up to meet her and layed her arm across her shoulders. "You know this reminds me of ... ugh!" he took a shot to his gut from Ziva's elbow. "And no movie references."

His place wasn't far, and even with her unsteady strides they made it in record time. He walked behind her on the stairs, partially to catch her if she fell and partially for his own selfish lust. He enjoyed watching her hips sway unsteadily. Her jeans fit her perfectly, like they were made for her. He followed her closely & when they got to the top he reached around her to put his key in the door. He pushed it open and guided her in. "I am not a child Tony,I can stand on my own two feet," she murmered. He ignored her and held her waist possessively, not sure what move to make next. They stood silent, unmoving and then suddenly he let go. Walking to the fridge, he grabbed a bottle of water, opened it & handed it to her. He watched her carefully.

When she finished he took the bottle back, placed the cap back on it and set it on the side table. "Make your self comfortable, I'll grab you something wear," he said. She nodded, feeling sleepy. She sat on his couch, breathing in his scent. She could hear him rummaging through his drawers for a clean t-shirt. Her eyes fluttered shut and she started to drift off.... her last thought was hoping Tony would be there when she awoke.

Tony opened up several drawers searching for his favorite t-shirt to give to her. Where was it? He knew he'd just washed it, so it should be... he stopped & looked toward the laundry basket still in the corner on the floor. It was laying on top, neatly folded. He smirked, knowing that Ziva would find his neatly folded laundry un-DiNozzo like. He picked up the shirt and walked into the living room, "Here you go Zi-", he stopped short when he saw her already asleep on the couch. He walked over to her put her legs up on the couch, brushed her hair out of her face and went to get a blanket for her.

...To Be Continued....