Gibbs knocked softly, almost wishing she wouldn't hear anything. He could at least say he tried, or maybe he could try another time, when he didn't feel so vulnerable, most of his self-built walls torn down. No such luck, though. The first thing his eyes fell onto as Ziva opened the door were a pair of shapely, olive-skinned, naked legs. He almost didn't dare to move his eyes higher. Almost. Well, at least she had a pajama on, he thought, if you could call the thin cotton shorts and spaghetti-strap tank top that.
Now he simply had to look up at her face. Sleepy eyes, tousled hair, raised eyebrows. 'Gorgeous. Crap!'
"Can I come in?"
"Yes, of course" she stepped aside, allowing him to brush past her, not at all embarrassed by her attire. 'Why would she be, it's the middle of the night and she was sleeping, you moron'
She rubbed the sleep away from her eyes. "What is it, Gibbs?" then she figured she was being rude "Can I get you anything, coffee, a drink?"
"Coffee is fine, thanks" at least that would give him a few more moments to think.
Gibbs was still pacing around her living-room when she brought the coffee, the smell and the warmth of the cup between his palms bringing a little comfort. He opened his mouth to deliver his speech and again he stopped. He hated speeches. "Man up, Marine!"
She was waiting patiently and a little apprehensive.
Now she was totally confused. "Why what?"
"Why did you follow me last night?" he clarified, and would have missed the disappointment crossing over her face if he wouldn't have been watching closely.
She schooled her features into a mask. "You came here at one in the morning to talk about that again" he noticed it wasn't a question, but a statement.
"Just answer me Ziva"
She sighed "OK. We…no, I felt something wasn't right, I felt they, the Air Force, were holding back on us, I didn't want them to take over the investigation. I was the one who talked Tony and McGee into this. It's not their fault, it was me. I was stupid, and reckless, and put everyone at risk. Fine?"
Gibbs felt his heart sinking. "So it was just a matter of not allowing them to play in our back yard?"
She sensed something in his tone of voice, something that sounded a lot like sadness, or resignation. He was probably just disappointed in her judgment, she thought. "What else could it be?"
He didn't look at her. "Thank you for the coffee Ziva. See you tomorrow" he placed the still full cup on the counter and turned to leave.
"That's it? You came all the way here to ask me that?" she didn't understand, and had the nagging feeling she was missing something important "You asked the same question at the warehouse"
"And you gave me the same answer. Must be true, huh?" his smile was sad.
In an impulse, she blocked his path to the door. "What if I gave you a different answer Gibbs? What then?"
"That depends Ziva" he looked her straight in the eyes "How would I know which one is the truth?"
She took two steps forward, well into his personal space, ignoring his last question "I followed you last night because I didn't trust them to watch your back, because none of them would have traded their lives for yours, because they do not care about you, not the way I… we do" her eyes moistened and she stepped back.
"Ziver…" Gibbs reached for her, incapable of forming many words at the moment. She jerked away and turned her face. "No, don't! I don't need your pity! I have humiliated myself enough already"
"Pity? What the hell are you talking about?" he felt his hackles rising, who the hell could understand women?
"You came here to get your precious truth, now you have it. You can go back to her now. I don't need you to feel sorry for me!"
"Yeah, I came here to get the truth, and to tell you the truth. What is this crap about pity and feeling sorry for you?" he realized he was almost shouting, and yelling at her was not why he came at her place. "Ziva?"
She tried to calm down, she didn't need to make an even bigger fool of herself; she took a deep breath "I put everybody at risk because of feelings. Because I … care about you. I'm sorry Gibbs, I don't want to put you in an awkward position, with the team or with Major Carter. I could ask for a transfer if you think it would be appropriate…" Ziva stopped mid-sentence, something he said just now registering. "What do you mean you wanted to tell me the truth?"
'Finally!' "What I meant, Ziva, is that I came here to tell you that Sam and I are no longer... seeing each other, at least not in that way. And that is mainly because both of us realized something"
Her voice was small "What is that?"
"We realized that we were both in love with somebody else". There. He said it. Well, almost.
Ziva felt her heart swell up, hope washing over her in a hot liquid wave. She didn't dare ask The Question, though.
"You're gonna say something or just stand there?"
Logically, she knew he wouldn't have come at her place in the middle of the night to tell her he was in love with somebody else, but was still afraid to ask. She gathered every ounce of courage she had "Who?"
He advanced smoothly towards her, until they almost touched. His voice was even lower then usual, huskier, sending shivers down her spine.
"You really have to ask, Ziva?"
Then he decided he needed to just say it. He cupped her cheek with one of his hands and looked her straight in the eyes. "You, Ziva, I'm in love with you"
She felt like laughing and crying at the same time, the emotions so strong they left her shaking slightly. "You…are?"
She stepped even closer to him, pressing her body against him and her mouth to his. She moved her head slowly, not kissing him but caressing his lips with her own teasingly. Gibbs let out a breath he didn't realize he was holding and sank a hand in her hair, pinning her in place and taking control. His mouth pressed stronger against hers, tongue demanding entrance. The kiss started slowly, sweetly, but soon escalated in a battle for dominance, all the pent up tension surfacing. She pulled back a bit after a while, needing to breathe, skin flushed and eyes even darker. "I think I'm in love with you too, Jethro"
"You think?" his hands were roaming over her back, still pulling her to him.
"Well, I don't want you to think I'm too easy" big smile on her face.
He snorted "Easy, huh?"
She went on "Yes, since you seem to be quite…hard" pushing her hips forward.
He groaned, face turning red. "You seem to have learned your English puns pretty well Ziver"
"Uh-uh…" she was kissing him again, a hand dipping lower.
He stopped her before his last shred of control was gone.
"Ziva, we do need to talk about things, work, this…uh" his words morphed into a moan as her fingers squeezed him lightly.
"We'll talk in the morning, yes?" rubbing him some more.
"Yeah…" he picked her up and headed for the bedroom before he decided to take her right there against her front door.
Maybe the year that followed wasn't all hearts and roses for Gibbs, their work and their tempers sometimes getting in the way, but if he drew a line he had to admit he was happier then he has been in a very long time. Since Shannon, actually. And so was Ziva.
He met Sam a couple of times and had a very hard time not spilling everything he thought about that cop boyfriend of hers. She was apparently still trying to convince herself she could be happy with somebody else, and that O'Neill was just her CO and a friend.
The most recent encounter was again at a Pentagon party he couldn't get out of. The similarities to the one more than a couple of years ago were obvious for everybody: still plenty of politicians with big bellies and expensively-clad wives, still lots of military brass and stars. The not-so-subtle differences were also obvious, though, at least to Gibbs's investigator eyes. First, some of the stars were on O'Neill's shoulders, another hush-hush position at the Pentagon taking him away from Stargate Command and, Gibbs thought, taking Sam away from his direct line of command. Then it was the fact that Ziva was standing much closer to him then she was the last time, and, if he was not mistaken, Sam was standing similarly close to her former CO.