A/N: Okay, so this was supposed to only be five chapters, but you get an extra. I liked this one a lot! Thank you to everyone who reviewed! You are all fantastic! Stay tuned, I have quite a bit brewing on my laptop! I'll shut up now, much love, Kit.
DISCLAIMER: I don't own anything.
Dedicated to Mooncombo, who suggested this one.
28 minutes he watched her this morning, curled against his side, perfectly fitting in his bed in this moment. Her face is serene and her breathing quiet, only periodically disrupted by a choking snore. She mumbled something, his name included in the mix of words and, he suspected, varying languages. But she smiled, snuggling closer to him, and he conjectured that whatever she was dreaming, it was good.
He isn't entirely for sure what roused him from his peaceful sleep. Perhaps it was the rain, softly pinging droplets against the windowpane, the sound of water flowing down the gutter outside. Or maybe it was the long, choking snore emitted from the woman sharing his bed, her lips slightly parted, momentarily possessed by a emphysemic sailor with tonsillitis. And he has wonder before if he should worry about her health, if perhaps this was a manifestation of apnea, but this thought is discarded as her body expands and contracts against his in slow, easy breaths.
She's curled against him, pressed against his side and he thinks she did this on purpose because it seems that she has tried to get every inch of her possible to touch every inch of him possible. Because she is coiled in a semi-fetal position, her small frame appearing impossibly small, with one of her feet pressed against his thigh. And he can feel her heartbeat through her back, her warmth emanating off her both comforting and surreal.
There is a lock of hair that has fallen across her face, slipping down over her nose, and he thinks it has to tickling her. So he uses that excuse as a justification to brush it away, gently, touch feather light because waking a sleeping ninja is a bad idea.
He has to crane his neck to get a better vantage of her face, but he manages -a not small feat because he has to maneuver himself without disturbing her. Her face is incredibly serene, a living portrait of peace. If only she would have this same expression during the day, this look of carefreeness, of calm. And that is what is so nice, he muses, about this. This partnership, this friendship, this relationship. He gets to see this other side of her, this rarity.
Because this woman does not fall asleep on the job, she does let her guard down, let her defenses puddle on the ground. She does not trust anyone enough to relax in their presence, to loosen her tongue in uncensor and reveal inner secrets and memories and wishes. She obviously trusts him, by day with her life, by night everything plus.
She sighs, rubbing her face against her (once his) pillow. And he grins, rolling onto his side, his body wrapping around her protectively, pressing a kiss into her shoulder blade. Warm fingers find his wrist, forming a manacle, and she tugs his arm, draping it over her waist.
And she seemed to be dreaming and he so very wishes he could see whatever it is she is seeing, because it must be good. Her lips curve upward in a smile, and another sigh escapes her and he tightens his arm around her, breathing her in.
She smells like cinnamon and honey and . . . . Axe shampoo.
And she fits so perfectly here, against him, two puzzle pieces whole together. And it is as if she has always been there, in his bed, in his apartment. Her clothes in his closet and that fruity juice stuff that she loves in his fridge. There is no doubt that at six o'clock in the morning that she belongs anywhere else. She's perfect right where she is.
He dozes off again, briefly, half conscious, half un. And he listens acutely because it's been awhile since her last nightmare, since he's been woken by her whimpering, her shaking. And it is his unofficial job to wake her up, to guard her from her ghosts. A duty he gladly bears. Because it's for her.
Her soft cries, episodes now so far apart these days they are scarcely counted, are not what wakes him again. Nor does her shivering. In fact, she isn't in distress at all. Her lips are still parted slightly, swollen from sleep, a jumble of words slipping quietly off her tongue. The majority of what she is saying is indiscernible, but a few coherent words survive the confusion.
" . . . . .Ti . . . . t'aime . . . amore . . . Tony. . . ."
His brow furrows as his mind belated translates her whispers. And since some of what she said, amongst Hebrew, English, Spanish, and French, is Italian, he asks, "Cosa?"
"Ti amo. . . . Tony."
"Sei la mia anima gemella, Ziva." And he doesn't think she understood what he said, but that was just fine.
And she snuggles against him, worming her way backwards, drawing impossibly closer to him. And he never pegged her for a snuggler, but it was a pleasant surprise.
All of her is a pleasant surprise.
Before he drifts back to sleep again, his eyes wander to the clock. And the numbers it professes in neon green read 6:23. And it amazes him that watching her for twenty-eight minutes seemed to last so much longer.
But that was good. That meant that the rest of forever will last so much longer too.