The first time he ended up on her doorstep it was because on the night Gibbs left them the only reasonable response was to get properly trashed. He'd half expected to sleep with her that night just because it had been a long time coming and they were both in the kind of vulnerable and self-destructive mood that predated sleeping with a coworker, especially one you'd been dancing around for a year. But they hadn't. Oh, they kissed- as soon as the door was closed, his back against the wood, her mouth hot and hungry against his. But in the end they were too drunk or too tired or, in Tony's case, too unwilling for his first romp in the bedroom with Ziva to be something he wouldn't remember in the morning. So when they woke up the next morning, hungover but fully clothed, he smiled- imagining that maybe this must be what it was like not to wake up to someone bathed only in regret.
The second time he ended up on her doorstep it was a few evenings later and he held a DVD in his hands; incredulous, always, that his latest reference had gone completely over her head. She only raised an eyebrow and leaned against the door, her expression questioning. "I'm only trying to educate my favorite assassin on the fine art of American cinema," He held out the DVD as proof of his honorable intentions, his grin so achingly Tony that she couldn't help but smile. And so she stepped aside and let him in.
He made a beeline for her living room and she followed, waiting. "Boondock Saints," he called behind him. "Sean Patrick Flanery and Norman Reedus play Irish twins who take the law into their own hands, setting out to rid Boston of its Mafia and subsequent evil, all while being pursued by..." with a puzzled look on his face, Tony turned in a circle, peeked behind a cabinet. "...Agent Paul Smecker of the FBI, played by Willem Dafoe, who struggles with his sworn duty to catch him and his personal desire to join th- Ziva, someone stole your TV."
"I never had a TV," she corrected him.
"How are we supposed to watch a movie without a TV?"
She motioned toward her laptop. "The DVD player is built in, yes?"
"Not a very big screen," he pointed out.
Ziva reached out, plucked the laptop from where it lay and deposited it on Tony's lap. "I suppose we will just have to be cozy, then."
"Get cozy," he corrected her automatically, already popping the tray from the side of the disc. "You're going to love this- they have this family prayer that they recite before they kill the mob guys, two guns to the back of the head so the bullets cross and go out their eyes."
"So they are vigilantes?"
"They're so much more than vigilantes, Ziva. Is Batman just a vigilante?" At her blank look, Tony shook his head, exasperated. "Nevermind. You'll love it. Badass assassins who speak multiple languages and kill a lot of people, it's right up your alley."
She smiled despite herself. "We will see."
She did like the movie after all, though she would never admit it to him.
The next week, it was I Was a Male War Bride with Cary Grant and Ann Sheridan, and she had the popcorn ready when he balanced her laptop on the coffee table at their feet. They watched the film with shoulders pressed together and fell asleep before the ending credits; when they woke up the next morning, they exchanged sheepish grins and jokes about how they were getting too old for these late nights. She made them breakfast, and when she set a plate of eggs and toast in front of him he looked up and smiled, and her breath caught. "No bacon?"
"Still Jewish, Tony."
After Vertigo, when they woke up tangled and cramped on the sofa she casually suggested that if they were going to continue passing out at the end of the film, they might as well utilize her perfectly good bed down the hall. His eyes widened immediately and she rolled her own, reminding him that they'd shared a bed before without sleeping together. What he didn't remind her of was that they'd come pretty close.
A month after Gibbs left, Tony rang the doorbell and when she opened the door she found him balancing a television with a DVD case between his teeth, and she was too shocked to do anything but stare. "What is that?"
"A present. Let me in."
He deposited the TV on her coffee table with a flourish, and stepped back to admire it. "It has a built-in DVD player at the bottom, so no pesky extra cords. You need a tv stand for it, though. Maybe for your birthday." When she didn't say anything he turned to look at her, smile fading. "You don't like it."
"No, it's-" she struggled to find the right words, in English or otherwise. How to explain that she preferred a tiny laptop screen if it meant getting tangled on the sofa? Instead, she said, "it is very thoughtful, Tony. Thank you."
She made Panzotti Fiorentini and Mediterranean zucchini for a late dinner and they drank too much red wine and laughed at her merging of their heritages. She told him about her childhood in Israel, more than she'd ever disclosed before- about Tali, and Ari, and the fort they'd built together in the back of her father's expansive estate. In return he described what summer was like in the Hamptons and the way the ocean felt at Montauk, the grit of sand beneath his feet, the smell of the waves. The only time he looked away from her gaze was when he talked about his mother, and in the privacy of her small kitchen she learned more about the first woman to ever break Tony DiNozzo's heart.
When she reached across the table and pressed her hand over his, she wanted to blame it and the flush in her cheeks on the wine, but they both knew better.
Tony escaped to the bathroom while she cleared away the dinner dishes; when she heard him moving around in the living room, she dried her hands on a towel and turned to join him but stopped short when the apartment filled with music. Tony slid into view shortly thereafter, wearing only his socks and his dress shirt, lip-syncing into the hairbrush he'd lifted from her vanity. She nearly doubled over for laughing so hard as he gyrated over to her fireplace and danced provocatively against it; she was still laughing when he grabbed her by the wrists and twirled her around the apartment, dipping her low until her hair brushed the floor and she shrieked in fear that he'd drop her. When the song was over he deposited her on the sofa and she bounced, once, then settled, and when she looked up at him there was a moment where she wondered how she managed to redeem herself enough in fate's eyes to warrant this. All of it.
And she didn't have anywhere but the coffee table to put her new TV, so they had to sit tangled on the sofa anyway.
"Did you, or did you not sleep with him?"
She took the folder of 8x11 photographs depicting the past two months of her life, something feeling like a boulder settling in her stomach. She wasn't sure how to answer, since both 'yes' and 'no' would be a lie.