A/N: I did a story where Gibbs comforted Ziva, and I did one where Ziva comforted Tony. Now it's Tony's turn to comfort Ziva. Yeah, I could write happy stories with lots of jokes, but that's just not the mood I'm in. Maybe another day.
This took me all day to write. I should have been cleaning my house and getting ready for the company that's coming this weekend, but once this thought popped into my head, I had to get it out. Reviews always welcome and appreciated. Thanks!
Disclaimer: I don't own NCIS or any of the characters. I do, however, own a raggedy purple mini van. Be jealous. Be very jealous.
It was exactly a year to the day since Ziva had walked out of the elevator, dirty and dehydrated. Beaten and bruised, but still breathing. A year since Abby had held her close, unable to believe that her friend was still alive. No one talked about it, but the thought was in the back of all their minds as they worked that day.
McGee remembered the shock he had felt when he first heard her voice there in Somalia. The shock that was quickly replaced by satisfaction. Even in the face of possible death. He couldn't see her face from his position on the floor, but it didn't matter. She was here with them! He had never really been able to give up hope that she was alive, and here she was, his friend, alive and with them.
Gibbs had been all business on that hill, and then again when he fought his way into the prison to get them. But later, on the plane, as he watched Ziva sleep, he had allowed himself to feel it. He had lost so many of the women he felt responsible for. Shannon and Kelly, Kate, Jenny, even Paula Cassidy. And now Ziva. But Ziva was back. He hadn't been able to save any of the others, but he had gotten her back. One of his girls. He had felt so relieved.
And Tony. He had been unable to eat or sleep while she was dead. Unable to imagine what life would be like without her in it. Without his partner. Sure, she'd been gone for months already, but that was different. Dead meant she was never coming back, never taking another breath or pulling another crazy ninja stunt. It meant that he would never again watch those delicate looking little hands take down a man three times her size. Never hear her mangle another American idiom. Never watch her face light up when she got one right. The pure, unadulterated joy he had felt when Saleem had brought her into that dark room, pulling the cover off her head, had been too much for him to vocalize.
She looked so preoccupied all day, lost in thought, that no one wanted her to be alone tonight. They could only imagine what she was thinking about. First Tim invited her out for drinks. Then Abby begged and begged her to come out with them, but she claimed to have a headache, and told them that she would be glad to join them another time. Even Gibbs had offered to take her out to dinner, but she had politely declined. None of them had told her why they suddenly wanted to spend time with her so badly, but she knew. And she didn't want to watch the pity and sympathy on their faces all evening. It was bad enough that she had watched it at work all day.
Tony watched the others leave for the night. Everyone but himself and Ziva. He got his things together and then went to lean on her desk while she was getting her coat on. He grabbed her arm to stop her as she started to head for the elevator.
"Hey, let's eat dinner at my place. I'll rent something funny, you bring the beer."
"That sounds very nice, Tony, But I don't think so.."
"You don't always have to be Supergirl, Ziva. It's okay to have a bad day just like the rest of us. Come on, come over and eat and drink and laugh with me." He made a puppy dog face. " Do it for me."
She thought about it for a minute and then nodded, giving him a little half smile. "Alright, I will be there in an hour."
And so they had eaten a whole pizza, threw back a few beers, and laughed their asses off at the comedy he had rented. Tony was glad she had agreed to come. It was almost like it had been before. Before Las Angeles and Jenny, and Vance splitting up the team. Before Michael Rivkin and Israel and Somalia. Before he had thought she was dead. Almost.
He found himself wondering what she would've been like if her life was different. If her own father hadn't sent his only living child on a suicide mission for no other reason than he was a bastard. At least, no other reason that Tony could see. If she had grown up with a dad like Gibbs or Vance. Someone strict but supportive. And a big brother like McGee. Protective and loyal. He shook the thought away, she wouldn't be Ziva if her life had been different. She wouldn't be the crazy Ninja chick that he secretly considered his best friend.
As the credits started to roll, Tony stood up and stretched, glancing over at Ziva. She was fast asleep, head resting on the arm of the couch. He grinned, thinking about all the tricks he could play on a sleeping Ziva, but then shook his head. If he wanted to live to see tomorrow, maybe it was better if he left her alone. He pulled the blanket down off the back of the couch and covered her up, watching her sleep for a few moments before heading to bed.
He didn't know how long he had been asleep when he felt someone watching him. He opened his eyes and jumped at the sight of her standing over his bed.
"Jeez Ziva, you could've given me a heart attack! Don't do that…" He frowned at her.
"Sorry… I woke up and…I did not want to go home yet…" She shrugged and bit her lip, looking as though she might cry. The nightmares that had played in her head all day had finally caught up with her, and she couldn't take it any longer.
He lifted the covers and she climbed in, scooting closer until she could lay her cheek against his chest. Her arms went around to hold onto him as if she were drowning and one leg was thrown over him, as if she couldn't get close enough. One of his hands tangled itself in the soft curls at the base of her neck, the other going to trace small circles up and down her arm.
He placed a kiss on the top of her head, breathing in the scent of her and rubbing his face against her hair. He held her tight to him and tried to chase away the lonely feeling that he had watched grow in her heart all day, threatening to break free and consume her. The first tear slid down her nose and dropped off of it, hot and wet. More followed, and they were coming faster and faster until she was sobbing, loud and desperate, face twisted and body shaking. She clung to him, soaking his shirt.
Ziva wanted to tell him everything she was feeling. All these things that kept building up inside her, but she had no names for these feelings. She knew it wasn't because of her English. They were bigger than words and bigger than her and when she opened her mouth to try to tell him, nothing would come out but a choked sob, and there was nothing he could do but whisper comforting words into her hair.
He wasn't sure how long they stayed that way, but after awhile she was still in his arms. She let out one more big sigh and then rolled over to lay on her back, face turned away from him guiltily. He sat up and pulled his wet shirt off, reaching over to use it to wipe her cheeks. She let him. She felt empty and numb, and her arms and legs were ridiculously heavy. Tony threw the shirt onto the floor and lay back down, propping himself up on one elbow to look at her. It crossed his mind to make a joke about finally getting her into his bed, but he pushed the thought away. Finally, she cleared her throat to speak.
"Thank you, Tony," She whispered. She wanted to tell him that she was sorry, too, but her throat was exhausted and raw now and the words didn't want to come. He grabbed her chin and turned her face to look at him. She looked so sad, so hurt and absolutely betrayed by her own emotions that it almost broke his heart. A kiss was placed at her temple and he gave her a small smile.
"Shhh…" He nudged her to roll over until they were back to front and he pulled her as close as he could, molding his body against hers. He put one arm under the pillow and the other over her waist, finding her hand and intertwining their fingers.
There were so many things he wanted to say to her. He wanted to tell her that he cared about her, that she was safe here with him. That he would hold her like this forever if she asked him to. But he knew that saying those things would only make her uncomfortable later. Besides, he was pretty sure she already knew.
"Go to sleep. Your secret's safe with me, Supergirl."
She squeezed his hand a little and then relaxed. Soon they were both lulled to sleep by the sound of the other's breathing.