It Almost Happened One Night
Author's notes: I know the night in Paris that precedes "Jetlag" has been done a lot, but I just became a fan of NCIS this summer, so please cut me a little slack. I've been catching up on episodes through Netflix and reruns, and I think I can knowledgeably write a TIVA fanfic now. Thanks to everyone who has given me positive feedback on all my fanfics, including my first crossover, Fiona and Ziva Walk Into a Bar. When I figure out where to go next with it and do it justice, I'll continue it. I hope you enjoy this one. Constructive and positive reviews are welcome!
"I'm sorry, but we only have one room left."
"We had reservations for two rooms!" Tony said angrily. Ziva echoed Tony's sentiment in French, and then some.
"Nous avons réservé deux pièces. Nous ne sommes pas un couple. Nous sommes ici sur les affaires. J'ai besoin de l'intimité !"
"Je suis désolé, madame. L'autre pièce que vous aviez réservée est réparée. Une femme a pris son mari au lit avec quelqu'un d'autre et ils ont détruit la pièce. Il prendra au moins deux plus de semaines pour réparer."
"And for those of us who didn't do so well in foreign language classes in high school?"
"He said he is sorry, but the other room reserved for us was trashed when a woman caught her husband in bed with someone else. It will take at least two weeks to repair."
Tony emitted a small groan as he looked at his watch and added six hours. "Fine. Whatever. It's late and I doubt we'll find another room at a rate the powers that be will reimburse us for. Can you tell him they ought to hold a room back for this kind of thing?"
Ziva translated, and while Tony didn't know exactly what he was saying, the clerk's gestures and body language were conciliatory. Tony turned to Ziva when the clerk finished.
"He says it is Paris and almost spring, it is the beginning of high season, and as the owner of a small boutique hotel, he cannot afford to turn away any business. He offered us an additional night for half off."
"We have to LEAVE tomorrow – mañana!" Tony nearly shouted.
"I think you mean, 'demain,'" Ziva said softly.
"Hey, I was in the ballpark – they're both romance languages," Tony said while picking up their bags. Ziva signed for the room and took the key from the clerk, offering him a somewhat sympathetic smile.
As they climbed the narrow spiral staircase, Tony let out a small laugh.
"What is so funny?" Ziva asked.
"This reminds me of 'It Happened One Night.'"
"What happened one night?"
"No, that's the name of the movie – 'It Happened One Night.'"
"Just when I thought I might go 24 hours without a DiNozzo movie reference. Let me see, according to my watch, it has been 22 hours. So, so close."
"Anyway," Tony continued unabated, "Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert. She's an heiress who has recently married a fortune-hunting pilot against her father's wishes and he's a reporter who's just been fired. Her suitcase is stolen off of the bus, so she has no money. A bridge is washed out by rain, so the bus stops for the night. They end up having to share a motel room."
"So what do they do? Do they have sex?"
"Ziva, the movie was made in 1934. They didn't exactly have a porn film industry going on then. It's a romantic comedy – classic Frank Capra."
"You still have not answered my first question," she replied while jiggling the door handle and fiddling with the key in the lock.
"Well, back in the day, they didn't show couples sharing a bed in a film, so they had two singles in the room. But it was considered quite risqué for its time because when Gable took off his shirt, he wasn't wearing an undershirt underneath. Underwear manufacturers lost millions because men all over wanted to be like Gable, so they stopped buying undershirts."
For once, Ziva was enjoying Tony's movie tangent because it was helping her forget how small their shared room was. At least there was an attached bathroom, but it was also quite compact. Tony went into the bathroom first.
"Wow. This is really small. Barely enough room to change your mind, let alone your clothes."
"Did they have a bathroom?" Ziva asked.
"Gable and Colbert."
"No. They had a rope and a blanket."
"Somebody got tied up?"
"No!" Tony replied with a mouth full of toothpaste.
"What did they do with the rope and the blanket?"
Tony spat out his toothpaste and quickly rinsed his mouth.
"Gable strings the rope across the length of the room and between their beds, and then throws a blanket over it so there's a partition."
"Ahh," Ziva said to indicate her understanding. Tony didn't hear her since he had just washed his face and had his head buried in a towel.
"I said, 'ahh.'"
There were a few moments of awkward silence that were finally broken by a knock on the door.
"Come in," Ziva and Tony said in unison, both desperate for a diversion.
A little, slightly bent old woman came in with a bottle of wine, a corkscrew and two glasses. She spoke rapidly in French while making apologetic gestures like her husband had done downstairs. The old woman got a glint in her eye when she looked at Tony, and smiled at Ziva while waggling her eyebrows. Ziva replied in French and the old woman shot her a look as if to say, "Yeah, right, whatever you say." Ziva thanked her for the wine and gently nudged her out.
"I really wish life came with subtitles," Tony said.
Ziva let out a small chuckle while she leaned against the back of the room's door.
"She intimated that I should take advantage of our . . . limited accommodations because you are a handsome man."
"You think I'm a handsome man?"
"Her words, not mine," Ziva replied quickly while walking towards the bathroom and passing the bottle to Tony.
"Where you going?"
"Isn't it obvious? I'm going to freshen up and change. Make yourself useful and open that up, won't you?"
"Hey, I'm not paying for this!"
"It is compliments of the owners – because of the bed . . . situation."
"Oh." Tony walked over to the dresser where Ziva had set down the corkscrew and glasses. He worked on the bottle, which was putting up a bit of a fight in terms of giving up the cork, but he got it out just as Ziva exited the bathroom. He didn't know why Ziva bothered with makeup – she looked beautiful without it. Tony then filled each glass halfway.
"Are you planning on driving later?" Ziva asked.
"Then fill them up. We can't let a good bottle of wine go to waste."
"How do you know it's a good bottle of wine? There's no label."
"It's probably the house red from the bistro next door. A bad bottle of wine in Paris is better than most good bottles elsewhere."
"Having never been Elsewhere, I'll take your word for it," Tony said as he clinked his glass against hers.
Ziva allowed the smirk to form on her face as they took their first sip. It was a fairly large bottle, so they each had about four glasses. They ended up sitting on the bed, leaning against the headboard while swapping stories of growing up. Ziva figured out Tony watched movies to escape from his overbearing mother and cold father, while Tony formed a theory that Ziva became an avid reader to learn about the parts of the world without a single-minded vengeful father and a mother who bent almost completely to her husband's will.
"What time is it?" Tony asked before taking the last sip from his final glass.
"Paris or D.C. time?"
"Start with D.C., then Paris."
"It's 9 p.m. there, 3 a.m. here."
"Shit. We'd better get some sleep."
"I agree. We'd better hit the bag."
"Do you mind if I keep the windows open?" Tony asked. "The air circulation isn't the best in here."
"It's an open invitation to prowlers," Ziva cautioned.
"But I have you, my little ninja, to protect me."
Ziva squinted her eyes and furrowed her eyebrows. "We are four stories up. I suppose the risk is minimal."
"Good." Tony then took off his undershirt, leaving him in only his pajama bottoms.
"Are you doing your Clark Gable impersonation?"
"Hmm?" Tony asked as Ziva giggled. In his somewhat inebriated state, he was the one who hadn't cottoned on to a film reference. He squinted at her in slight annoyance.
"No," he began as he climbed onto a bed. "I save that for very, very special occasions."
"We're in Paris. Doesn't that qualify?"
Tony snuggled under the covers where Ziva was already lying. He looked into her burnt sienna eyes, stroked her cheek and pushed back her abundant black hair in one move. Without breaking eye contact, he quoted Rhett Butler, but didn't use the accent.
"You should be kissed, and often, and by someone who knows how."
Ziva shocked Tony by closing the short distance between them, putting her left hand around his neck to draw him into a passionate kiss. His right hand migrated downwards, caressing the black camisole towards the small of her back where her camisole and pajama bottoms met. He drew her to him, leaving no space between them.
After a few minutes of slow, passionate kissing, they broke apart. Tony looked into Ziva's eyes again while rubbing circles with his thumb on her left shoulder.
"Ziva," Tony began, "what came over you?"
Perhaps it was Paris. Perhaps it was the wine. Or, perhaps, it was these things combined with the need to cling to the man who had led the charge in her rescue from that hellhole in Somalia where she had endured unspeakable tortures. How could she explain this to Tony without bearing her soul – something she just realized she wasn't prepared to do?
"I am sorry, Tony," she said without meeting his eyes. She tried to turn away from him, but Tony still had a gentle but effective grip on her shoulder.
"Sorry you kissed me?"
"I am sorry I started something I cannot finish . . . at least, not . . . ." Ziva's voice trailed off because she was dangerously close to revealing too much again.
"I have drawn myself into a corner, haven't I?" Ziva asked, finally meeting Tony's eyes.
"You mean painted," Tony replied softly. "And yes, you have. Just talk to me, Ziva. Tell me the truth – at least a little of it."
Tony was being incredibly patient and mature. Ziva had seen him grow, especially over the past five months. He deserved to know the truth, but she wasn't sure how to deliver it, or how much to reveal. This wasn't an interrogation, but a moment with much longer-lasting consequences. A little of the truth, Ziva thought, might suffice.
"I care for you, Tony. But given everything, it is not wise to act on those feelings."
"Well, Rule 12."
"Don't hide behind Gibbs's rules. Not here, not tonight. It's just us." Tony was upset, but it wasn't for the reasons he would have been a few years ago. It wasn't because he wasn't going to get any "action," but rather he wanted Ziva to be honest with herself and with him. This was a woman who wouldn't flinch in the face of a dozen armed assassins, but could not admit she was afraid of being in love, or maybe she was haunted by the ghosts from Somalia. Tonight, her go-to expression of "it is what it is" wouldn't work.
"You are right. Our work relationship is not the only reason. There were things that happened to me, out in the desert, things that I had never considered. I never thought, with my training, that a man would be able to . . . be in a position to . . . ."
Tony held Ziva against him. She buried her face into his bare chest. He felt her tears fall against his skin while his left hand – in its somewhat immobilized state by being under her – tried to rub her back. His left hand stroked her head, starting from near her forehead and ending with the ends of her hair. She tried not to make noise as she cried.
"C'mon, Ziva. Let it out. Don't hold back."
Ziva hadn't allowed herself to cry in front of someone in a long time. In slow increments, she let herself fully release the anguish she'd tamped down for months. Tony carefully shifted himself and Ziva so she was on top of him and fully in his arms. This change in position didn't even register with her for awhile because she was so overcome with her sorrow. She began to still as Tony held her close, still stroking her head and back.
"Sshhh, sshhh, tesoro," Tony whispered. "You're safe."
Ziva's sobs had subsided. She raised her head. "What does 'tesoro' mean?"
"A name Grandpa DiNozzo used with Grandma DiNozzo. I'm not sure of the English equivalent. I just remember how he said it and when. He'd say it when she was sad."
Tony realized he'd revealed more to Ziva than perhaps he should have, given the circumstances. Then he saw her smile through what little remained of her tears. Any regrets he'd had dashed from his heart. The warm glow of the street lamp diffused through the gauzy curtains, showing the softness in Tony's expression as he looked at her. Her heart skipped a beat and a lump formed in her throat. Ziva's hands had been resting on Tony's shoulders, but now she gripped them so she could pull herself up to face him. He searched her eyes, trying to figure out what to do next. Ziva supported herself with her left arm while she brushed away the hair from his face with her right. She was staring into his green eyes, and she couldn't fight the impulse to give Tony a series of soft kisses, starting with his left cheek, then his left temple, then onto his forehead. Tony closed his eyes, overcome by the intensity of the moment. Ziva then kissed his closed eyelids. A moment later, simultaneously, Tony and Ziva kissed each other's lips with an uneasy mix of love, desperation and passion.
"Yakiri," Ziva gasped when they finally came up for air. Tony didn't ask what it meant. He didn't want to ruin the moment, but he made a mental note to find out later. Ziva buried her face in the crook of his neck, the rest of her body still fully on top of his. Her hands wrapped around his biceps. She inhaled his scent, cologne, deodorant and a hint of sweat. Tony's nose was filled with the aroma of Ziva's shampoo, which smelled like green tea. He tightened his hold around her waist. He wanted more of her, but he wouldn't push. Considering what she'd hinted at, he knew complete physical intimacy would take time. Being with her meant too much to ruin it with a momentary desire to quench his lust.
While Tony mulled over these ideas, Ziva was thinking, too. She wanted more. She couldn't believe she had called him 'sweetheart' in Hebrew. She wanted all of him, but she knew she wasn't quite ready. Before she realized it, she had spoken.
"I feel safe with you, here, like this."
Tony gave her a reassuring squeeze.
"There's nothing to fear here. I'm not going anywhere. Nothing is going to happen tonight that you don't want to happen."
Ziva knew desire was coursing through his veins as well as hers. She felt his erection straining through his pajama bottoms. She could feel things she thought she'd never feel again: the ache between her legs, the building warmth in her breasts, and the fire under her lips that was temporarily extinguished by his kisses, yet re-ignited when he pulled away. Ziva bent her head back a bit so she could whisper into Tony's ear.
"I'm torn," Ziva said. "I want to be with you, but I have all of these other feelings, and I want to know I'm not using you. I want to quell my fears and be with you without all of this . . . what's the word-"
"Baggage," Tony replied. "I understand."
"But I don't want you to think I'm a tease, either. I meant what I said before; I care for you, Tony." It took everything Ziva had not to say what she really meant. "Love" wanted to jump from her lips and her tongue gave it a roundhouse kick to hold it back.
Tony kissed Ziva's lips with fervor, knowing it might be the last time for a very long time that he'd have the chance.
"I care for you too, Ziva," Tony whispered into her ear as she sunk her head back into the crook of his neck. As they drifted off to sleep, Ziva heard Tony mumble.
"I love you."
In the morning, Ziva woke up first. She carefully moved his hands off of her back and set them down at his sides. She straddled him so she could get up without displacing him. Before backing up off of the end of the bed, Ziva found herself hovering over Tony's sleeping form. She whispered into his ear, half-hoping he could hear her, half-hoping he couldn't.
"I love you, too."
After Ziva got off of the bed and shut the bathroom door so she could shower, Tony let a wide grin loose upon his face.
"This is going to be a good day."