How long had they known each other, but Tony still could not say that he truly knew Ziva David. She kept herself cloistered in secrets, dropping only little hints of insight into whatever her life in Israel had been like. She was tough, and she was sexy... and that pretty much summed up what Tony really knew about Ziva after almost five years working with her.

She did not share her life with very many people, and she certainly had never shared it with him.

A few months ago, he saved her life.

A few months before that, he'd been forced - it was self defense, he had to remind himself even now. Rivkin or Tony - to kill her boyfriend.

She'd shut Tony out entirely after that, asked Gibbs to choose between them for the team, and left when he refused. She could not bear to be on the same team with the man who had killed her lover.

When she came back to work for them at last, she warmed up to everyone before she did Tony - Gibbs, Abby, Ducky... even McGee. Which totally blew the theory that she was being hesitant around the team members who had seen her in disgrace as a captive. No, it was just Tony she was steering clear of at first. Eventually, she did get around to talking to him, but even after that, she had walls in place. It was almost as if they were new acquaintances rather than co-workers of five years.

Paris changed that. Paris... changed everything.

It started with a long flight and a sucky movie. Neither of them wanted to watch it, and given how many movies Tony had watched in his lifetime, that was saying something. So they talked instead, leaning their heads so close together that they touched in order to be heard above the noise. At first, it was chit chat, making fun of the things they saw on the screen, ala MST3K, with Tony providing all the witty puns and Ziva butchering a few of her own. It was funny, and Tony couldn't remember Ziva laughing so hard. By the time the movie ended, they were both asleep, their foreheads still touching.

Funny gave way to serious at the hotel, and Tony found himself listening as Ziva poured her heart out to him about Rivkin, her country... her father. How she had resigned herself to certain death because she knew that they would not come for her. In a rare tender moment, Ziva leaned over and kissed his cheek.

"What -" he asked, touched the spot with his fingers "was that for?"

Ziva herself looked unsure, because it wasn't like her at all. But she answered him anyway, "you saved my life, Tony. After what I did and what I said the last time we saw each other, you should not have bothered. Thank you, Tony."

Silence hung between them, and it should have been awkward but it wasn't. It was comfortable in a way it hadn't been between them in a long time. Since Rivkin. Since before Rivkin, even.

"It's what friends do, Ziva," he told her at last, with a smile on his face. "We care about each other. We worry about one another. It's what we do."

"You still consider us friends, then?" she asked, almost tentatively.

Tony nodded his head. "Yeah, I still consider you my friend." Maybe more than that, Maybe not. Who knew where friendship might lead them, now that the air was cleared.