Ziva David found nights like these the most peaceful. Rain was pounding against the roof of her apartment and steady streams were flowing down her windows. She could hear the thunder echoing in the distance as lightening struck, only to hear it again a few seconds later - but closer this time. She had always been fascinated with thunder storms, finding that the sounds could often lull her into a false sense of security. After recent events that were better left unmentioned, the storms only furthered her respect of the feeling. She often found herself wishing for the storms, only to be disappointed when she had to go to sleep at night with the quietness of the apartment.
If she was any lesser woman she would admit this to a friend, but not her. She refused to show any more weakness, she had shown enough over the past couple months. She was afraid that if she showed any more that her team would become accustomed to it and expect it more - but with her it was never a guaranteed thing. Her weakness would come and go like the thunder storms, often leaving her exposed to the world - or, more correctly, the prying eyes of her team mates. She knew they had her best interest in mind but sometimes it was enough to make her scream.
Speaking of screaming, Ziva jumped and kept the quiet shriek of surprise to herself when there was a banging noise at her door. She took a deep breath and calmed herself, reminding herself once again that whatever or whoever was behind the door was not Saleem. He was dead. Her team, her family, had made sure of that. Running a nervous hand through her curly brown locks, she made her way from the window over to the door and peeped through the peep hole. The man standing on the other side was in no way Saleem, nor could Ziva ever confuse him with the other.
She unlocked the dead bolt and removed the chain, opening the door only slightly to look at the person on the side. Why was he here standing in front of her door, soaking wet, looking like he had just seen a ghost or discovered the meaning to life? She wasn't quite sure she wanted to know the answers, but none the less she stepped back when he motioned for her to let him inside. He was dripping water all over her floor, his hair was laying almost flat against his head, clothes were sticking to him, and she would swear that she could hear the squishing sound of his socks inside his boots. This only brought back the question as to why Anthony DiNozzo was here, at her apartment.
"Tony, what are you doing here?"
He shook his head, obviously out of breath from running through the rain. She frowned, squinting her eyes together before heading to her bathroom and grabbing a white cotton towel. She didn't much mind the mess he was making on her floor, but she could only imagine how cold he was. Coming back she found him in the same spot she had left him, only now he was scratching the back of his head like he had second thoughts about being here. After handing him the towel she took a step back to let her back rest against the door, watching him as he dried his hair and then his face. Figuring he wasn't about to answer her question, she repeated herself.
"What are you doing here?"
He stopped with the towel pressed over his eyes, his body stiffening. Worry spread through Ziva as she started to wonder what had her partner so uptight. Now that she looked him over, she realized that he wasn't in his normal attire but rather in a pair of pajama pants and a NCIS shirt. Focusing on this tiny bit of information, she almost didn't catch his answer that he threw at her.
It was more of a mumble than two words, but she heard it none the less. She crossed her arms over her chest as she studied down her partner. Couldn't sleep? Her eyes flashed to the clock that hung over the doorway to the kitchen, a slight frown coming to her lips again when she realized exactly what time it was. 2 AM.
"It is 2 AM, you can not sleep, so.. You come here?"
She didn't get his logic, especially since it had been a while since either of them had been to the other's place. They had tried it a little while after she had been rescued from Africa, but it had felt awkward and forced and they both agreed they still needed time. He was fidgeting with the towel now, his eyes focusing anywhere but on her. This wasn't normal Anthony DiNozzo, lady charmer, behavior. No, this was something completely different and it was starting to worry the Israeli woman. The silence continued to stretch out between them, an awkward silence that was different from the normal comfortable silence they were used to. It made her skin crawl and she tried to think of something to say, anything to push away the quiet. Just as she was about to ask if he wanted something to drink or eat, he pushed the towel into her hands and tried to move her from in front of the door.
"I shouldn't have came here, this was a mistake."
He had her moved completely from the door and was almost out of it before she came to her senses and grabbed his upper arm, stopping him. There was no way she was letting him head out back into the rain now, not until she got some answers from him at least.
"Tony. Stop," her voice was dripping with worry but slightly threatening. She had to get him to stay one way.
She watched as his back tensed and then his shoulders slumped, admitting defeat with the internal war that was going on inside of him. He pressed his head against the doorframe as a sigh left his lips, giving Ziva just enough time to think of something. Of what, she wasn't sure, but anything would do at the moment. And then it hit her, the change of clothes that she had borrowed from him a few weeks back.
"Would you like to get out of those wet clothes? I have those sweats and shirt that you let me use."
"That, actually, sounds really great. I'm freezing."
When he turned around she could see the slight smile on his lips, but she knew it was forced. She knew that whatever was bothering was keeping away the Tony that she knew, the Tony that she loved. With that thought heavy on her mind, she turned and made her way to her bedroom. She had put his clothing away with hers, no plans of giving them back to him anytime soon. She often used them as pajamas when she was having a particularly bad night or she just wanted to be close to him. Retrieving the pants and shirt from her third drawer, she made her way back to where he was standing at the door. A moment of silence passed between them before she motioned for the bathroom.
"You know where it is at."
He stared at her, his eyes focused but not at the same time - like he was trying to figure out something that would change everything. It made her uneasy, leading her to force the clothes into his hands and push him towards the bathroom a little. She had to regroup. Never had she expected to find the Italian man at her door at two in the morning. A little relief came when he started to move of his own accord, leaving her to go to the kitchen and grab the mop. It only took her a moment to remove the puddle that had accumulated while he was standing there, but it took her longer to make herself leave the kitchen after putting the mop away. She heard the door of the bathroom close, signaling he had changed, forcing her feet to move back in the direction of the living room.
A non-dripping wet Anthony DiNozzo now stood at the entrance of her bedroom, looking around like he had no idea what he was doing there. The sad, lost look was kind of cute on him - if she wasn't so busy worrying about what was wrong. She didn't know what made her do what she did next, whether it was the lack of sleep or just because it was him, and she would probably never know. But she made her way across the short distance between them and took his hand, leading him over to the couch. Besides a slight tug of resistance, Tony allowed himself to be pulled to the couch and even sat down without her having to tell him to. She was grateful for this, and only hoped that she could get to the bottom of whatever was wrong.
"Tony," she spoke softly, letting down the invisible wall around her emotions that so often came up with her. "Talk to me."
His eyes were stuck on their hands, his head shaking a fraction of an inch before stopping. It was like he wanted to talk to her, but didn't. Their relationship had always been difficult, and now was one of the few times that Ziva wished it was different. Anything so that she could know what was going on in her partner's head that was causing him the stress that wouldn't allow him to sleep.
"I have nightmares."
For a moment Ziva thought that the words had left her own lips, that she had somehow unconsciously allowed herself to open up to him but when her eyes found his face again she knew right away it was his lips that had betrayed him. She squeezed his hand gently, trying to get him to look up at her face to let him know that he wasn't alone. To somehow tell her partner, without using words, that she also had nightmares when the darkness rolled around and everything was quiet. Normally they could speak using their eyes, a simply nod of the head or twinkle of the eye, but this was different. This had to be spoken, there was no way around it.
And although she knew the most probable answer she asked her the question anyways, "About?"
Now he did look up at her, and the look he gave her pierced her straight to the bone. Ziva resisted the urge to squirm uncomfortably in her spot, pushing a piece of hair that had intruded her line of vision behind her ear. Why those months she was held captive had to haunt her partner, she didn't know, but she wished that it didn't. Wasn't torturing her every chance it got enough? Lost in her own thoughts, she flinched slightly when Tony moved his thumb across the back of her hand. When she looked over at him, she saw that he had done it without knowing - lost in his own thoughts. She was about to say something, when a quiet sigh left his lips and he began to talk.
"It's always the same, the nightmare. We don't get there in time, or we get there and you died on the ship like it was reported. I get to feel my whole world crashing around me over and over again as the nightmare replays itself." He sighed again, paused, then finished. "But it only happens when it storms."
She frowned, her brow creasing. It would figure that her best nights were his worst, her sleeping peacefully and him drowning in nightmares. They were such polar opposites but yet they always seemed to fold together with almost perfection.
"That is funny," she said before stopping to shake her head. "Not that you are having nightmares, but that you only have them when it storms." She received a look from him but only gave him a soft smile. "I always sleep through the stormy nights, it is when everything is quiet that I have my own nightmares."
He chuckled quietly now, his DiNozzo charm bringing up the corners of his mouth. It wasn't much, but it was something and that had relief washing over her.
"It makes sense I guess," he said. "We can barely agree on anything."
She squinted her eyes at him, punching his arm lightly with her free hand as a smile came to her own lips. That's when the idea came to her. A quick look down at his feet confirmed her suspicion that he had left his shoes in the bathroom along with his wet clothes. Squeezing his hands once again, she stood up and pulled him up as well. She didn't speak, not wanting him to shoot down her idea before he even gave it a chance. His eyes on her back were burning holes, forcing her to squeeze hard on his fingers. She wanted him to relax, and trust her. They were partners, after all, and she always had his back. As they entered her dark bedroom, she felt him tense up.
"Ziva, what are you doing?"
"Relax, Tony. Do you not trust me?"
Something in her voice must have not sounded trustworthy cause he planted his feet on the floor were he stood and would not move. She closed her eyes and counted to five before turning around to look at the stubborn man. Why couldn't they ever do anything the easy way?
"I'm sorry, Ziva, but just because I'm weak and emotional does not mean I'm going to allow myself to be seduced by the sexy war goddess that is you. Even I have my limits."
She rolled her eyes and debated on hitting him again, but decided against it. She could scare him away and she didn't want that. No. While her wall was down, she wanted to let DiNozzo in. She wanted to do this. Now, if only he would cooperate..
That got his attention. She rarely said please to him, and never had she said it in such a needy voice. He simply gave her a look that let her know that he would do what she wanted, allowing her to turn back around and cross her dark room to the bed. Now the butterflies came, how was she supposed to tell him what she had in mind without him thinking she was completely insane? Figuring the worst he could do was reject the idea, she turned around to face him in the dimly lit room.
His eyes were everywhere but on her, something that bothered her. She wanted to be able to see his eyes, to know what he was thinking. If anyone else was to look in on them, this moment would seem to be so much more than it really was - but in itself it was a moment to remember. He seemed to have settled on one thing and her eyes followed to see what, landing on the source of the dim light.
"Ziva David has a nightlight?"
"You have not the slightest idea of the trouble it took me to get that."
She shook her head, remembering the week after she had been rescued from Africa. It had been hard readjusting, but even harder to admit that she had came back more damaged than ever. Buying a nightlight had only been one of the many things that she had to do to keep herself at ease in her own home. She felt him shrug before she looked back up at him to see her finally looking down at him.
"I just leave the bathroom light on."
A smile graced her lips now as she stepped back and allowed herself to sink onto the bed, tugging on his hand. He gave her a look before sitting beside her, never once letting go of her hand. She was glad, because in the small amount of time that he had been there tonight he had become her security blanket. She felt that it had always been that way, but with her overwhelming stubbornness and his ego it had simply been pushed to the side. A few moments of silence passed before he turned to look at her, reaching over to brush her hair out of the way.
"What are we doing, Ziva?"
She took a deep breath, it was now or never.
"When I can not sleep, I get something familiar and keep it close so I can attempt half-way decent sleep. Since I borrowed the sweats and shirt, I have been wearing that to bed when I can not relax my mind. Before that, it was the sweatshirt you let me borrow when I forgot my coat."
She paused to take a breath, looking down to find her smaller hand abusing his slightly larger one. She was playing with his fingernails, pinching the tip of his fingers, and dragging her nails against the palm of his hand. Anything to keep her slightly distracted so she could pretend she wasn't admitting this all to Tony.
"Just knowing that a part of you is near me allows me to rest. I do not know if it was because you saved me, or if.. There is other reasons behind it." Who was she kidding, she knew there was other reasons. "But it helps. I was thinking, that maybe I could help you sleep."
She removed her focus from their hands up to his face, trying her best not to bolt from the room. She couldn't read the look on his face, couldn't tell whether or not she should run. Had she opened up too much? The silence between them was heavy, so many words unspoken that would forever hang there, that she didn't know what to do. She wanted him to say something, anything, but at the same time she wanted to run and not look back. As the seconds passed, she found herself become antsy, her foot twitching and her mind racing.
"I think that, maybe, you could help me sleep, too."
His words were quiet and so close to her that she had to blink before realizing that he had moved closer. She didn't know if it was his insane closeness or if it was because he had just agreed with her, but her heart was threatening to jump out of her chest. She opened her mouth to say something only to have it shut of its own accord. No words came out. Instead, she felt soft lips meet hers.
Shock was the first to register, and than every other emotion flooded in after that. The kiss was answering every question that had ever been asked, it was finishing every sentence that hung between them. It was eager yet content, taking but giving back, innocent.. But guilty. It seemed like her eyes had just closed when he pulled away from the kiss, his breathing slightly uneven. She had forgotten how to breathe, it felt like. Pushing air through her lungs, she looked up at him.
And then, there it was. The smile that she had been waiting to see all night, without even realizing it. It spread across his face and brought the twinkle back to his eyes. With the twinkle, their communication was back. No words were said as he laid down in her bed and pulled her down beside him. No words were needed as he pressed against her back, his nose resting against her neck. His arm went easily around her waist as she managed to bring the covers up over them with her feet. It was then that Ziva found something more peaceful than the storm.