Chapter 33

As Tony turned the key in the lock on his front door his stomach dropped. The door was already unlocked.

He thought back to leaving for Florida and was certain he had locked it. His hand went to the gun at his hip before readying himself to enter. He slowly turned the handle and pushed the door open, his gun preceding him into the darkened recesses of his living room.

He spotted Ziva immediately. She appeared to have been pacing in front of his coffee table. He sighed with a combination of frustration and relief as he looked down and started holstering his weapon.

Tony kicked the door closed behind him, about to give her a lecture on how she should learn how to knock and wait outside like a normal person. Just as he got the gun situated in his holster she was suddenly in front of him shoving him into the door.

She planted her feet and braced her arm across his chest, elbow at his collar bone, but forearm so close to his neck he was actually a little nervous she might choke him out.

He racked his brain for whatever he could have done to set her off. He was certain he hadn't done anything on the drive back. He thought work had gone fine, aside from the recovery of his memory. That had all been in his head and he hadn't shared it with her at all, hadn't brought it up.

His brain flashed through several things and dismissed them in the matter of a split second before he was responding, "What the hell, Ziva?"

She was silent for a long moment, simply staring angrily into his eyes from so close. He could feel the heat off her body even through his winter coat and her proximity was having an effect on the resolve he had built up.

If he moved his legs or rocked his hips forward their bodies would be in contact more than just her arm holding him against this door. Would she kill him right there? And what would happen if she didn't kill him?

He willed his brain to stop tormenting him, but it continued the battle of noticing her features, her feminine curves and then trying to dismiss the perception.

He was losing the battle with himself and finally gave in and let his more carnal thoughts take over as he thought that if she would just move her arm a little he could move his head enough to kiss her A real kiss, not like on the beach a week before.

"You have to stop this." She finally responded.

"Stop what?" he asked with genuine confusion.

"Stop thinking about me as anything more than your partner and colleague." Her voice was whisper soft, but the glare was still hard and aimed directly at him.

That glare usually stopped him in his tracks, but for reasons he would probably never be able to explain, that part of his brain seemed to be off.

He considered whether she had a penchant for mind reading or if he was just that easy to read. Either way, the part of his brain that kept him from walking in front of the bus on the street was markedly absent as he gave her a cocky grin.

He moved his head closer to her, still too far away to reach where he wanted to. She had him pretty thoroughly pinned against the door, "It's pretty hard to do that," he said in a voice that was huskier than he expected, "when you're this close." As if to illustrate his point he shifted his left foot and rocked his hips forward into hers. The sudden nearly full body contact sent a jolt through him as he waited for death.

There was a flash of something in her eyes that he didn't recognize, but it was gone in an instant and replaced with a burning anger as she took a small step back.

He knew he was dead in that instant as she placed both hands on his chest and forcefully shoved him into the door, but instead of killing him she turned and took a couple of steps away.

"I'm sorry, Ziva, I didn't mean,"

She cut him off with a glare over her shoulder and this time he headed the warning. "This ends here."

He groaned in frustration and confusion as he covered the space between them in a single long stride. He grabbed her arm and turned her forcefully towards him, "I don't have the slightest idea what has gotten into you." His tone was fire and ice.

He did not like being blindsided. He was incredibly confused by her sudden switch from playful minx who took a strawberry from his hands with her mouth to deadly vixen with an eye for a kill.

Had she been reading his mind and hearing his thoughts about her over their time in the hospital or in the bullpen earlier, just then standing against his door? Or had she just finally gotten sick of his jokes and come-ons, which as of very recently were more than just teasing and lighthearted?

If that was the case, he supposed, this was the end of that fantasy.

If she has this negative of a reaction to him just thinking of her, then there was no chance of anything ever happening. He felt his hope fade a little as he took in her expression in the stony silence. It wouldn't have ended well, anyway.

What if it did? His brain shot back at him.

She hadn't pulled away from him. She was letting him hold her arm in his tight grasp as she stared up at him. Sometimes he wished she would drop that mask of anger and let him see what was really going on inside her head.

He knew it wasn't fair to ask when he didn't let his guard down either, but the thought left him reeling. If she was being guarded that meant she was scared of something.

Was she having all the same doubts he was. Was she thinking that they would be a huge disaster and they would mess up the only really pure friendship that either of them had?

Or perhaps, much like him, she was scared what it would mean if it worked out.

Tony would never be able to explain why he did what he did next.

Perhaps it was the look in her eyes as she glanced past him to the door as if preparing to run again. Perhaps it was her body pulled close to his and her arm firmly in his grasp. Or maybe it was the primitive heat that surged through his body as she absently licked her lips.

Whatever it was, pushed his resolve, shook whatever normally held him from doing anything that might result in her killing him, and caused everything he had made himself swear to on the long drive home to be thrown out the window.

He watched her eyes widen slightly as he leaned towards her, but to his surprise she didn't pull away. He stopped, his mouth hovering near hers, her breath mingling with his which has increased due to her proximity.

He knew she wanted to run, but she hadn't yet. He knew she had been pulling away from him ever since the hospital, but he wouldn't push her. He stayed there, not closing the last of the distance, giving her a chance to run away again, but knowing it would tear his heart out if she did.

"What are you doing?" she breathed and he felt every word as if it was rolling through his body which was already humming from her heat.

"Not a thing," he whispered back, eyes locked on hers. "Just trying to figure you out."

"Oh, like I am the one that is so confusing?"

"Confusing, irritating, frustrating," he began before his voice dropped, becoming husky, "Playful, intriguing, irresistible." he couldn't wait for her to move anymore. He was right, she was irresistible.

He closed the space between them and finally captured her mouth with his.

He felt her gasp against his lips as her soft flesh molded with his. She stood stock still for a moment and he didn't push her. He didn't try to go any further, but he also didn't pull back from the gentle contact.

After a moment he felt her relax into him and his hand came up to her face. He let his fingers brush across her cheek before moving them into her hair.

It was as if that gesture were her undoing.

As his fingers tangled in her hair she pulled back enough to let out a trembling sigh before sucking his lower lip into her mouth and gently nipping it with her teeth.

He felt a sudden chill down his spine as his other hand finally released her arm to move to the swell of her hip and gently pull her to him, molding her body fully against him.

Her arm, now freed, allowed her hand to travel up and run through his hair. Her hand stopped in the longest of his short hair, baling into a tight fist and holding the hair tightly. It was as if she were concerned he might pull away If she didn't hold on to him.

Just the thought that she was concerned he might pull away from her after how much she had turned from him over the past few days would have made him laugh if it weren't for the fact that laughter was the furthest thing from his mind.

The raw heat of the moment had weakened his knees and given him the unsettling feeling that his legs might actually collapse under him.

It was as if she could actually read his mind as she took a few very small steps backwards until they were standing next to his couch.

Unfortunately, neither seemed inclined to break the embrace. So they stood there, locked in heated kisses, heavy breaths, weak knees, but not able to transition to the couch.

Suddenly, Ziva pulled away from him with a frustrated growl, grabbed the lapels on his jacket. She forcefully swung him around, and shoved him. He felt an instant wave of hurt and sudden regret that she had finally come to her senses.

He felt himself stumble backwards from the sudden change in emotion from grasping and clinging heat and passion, to sudden violent shoving.

The back of his legs hit the front of his couch and he lost his balance, falling back onto the cushions.

It was the briefest of moments between their separation and Ziva straddling his lap as she brought her mouth back in contact with him, her body flush against his.

Tony's heart was racing. Every nerve ending in his body seemed to be on fire from her touch, the weight of her on his lap, the feel of her chest against his as she breathed as frantically as he did. Her hands in his hair, holding his head as her glorious mouth made swift work of wiping out any thought he had ever had with any of the women he had ever been with.

Her kisses were sweet and seductive one moment, hot and impatient the next. Her tongue dancing with his in a tango like none other.

He felt his hands gravitate to her hips as she began rocking them against him as if unable to wait for what she could feel growing at their touch. Her breath was fast and ragged when he pulled back a moment to pull in large gasps of fresh air, breathing through his nose had proven ineffective when his heart was racing so quickly.

Her face was flushed with desire, cheeks far past pink at this point, and he found himself suddenly lost in her eyes. He wasn't sure what he saw there, but the desire was heavy and overpower any other thoughts that might be swimming in her eyes, far darker than the normal brown depths.

When her hands shifted from his hair to the buttons on his shirt, he lost all coherent thought. He had dreamed this moment more times than he could possibly count, but nothing he ever thought had prepared him for the intensity of sensation that overwhelmed him in this moment.

"Ziva," he gasped out as her fingers met the bare skin of his chest and brushed the hair there. Her lips moved to kiss a trail down his neck and a jolt went through his body. His brain screamed at him to pull her face back up to his, capture her mouth again, bite his lip, anything to stop what tumbled out of his mouth next, "What are we doing?"

It took several long seconds for her lips to stop as if she were so caught up in the moment that thoughts weren't registering immediately. She rested her head against his shoulder, breathing ragged. "This is what you want, yes?"

He felt a groan rip from him, rattling his entire body, "Oh God, Ziva." he gasped out, "You have no idea how much."

She lifted her head to look him in the eyes, he saw hesitation there, mingled with the heat and desire. Saw something else that didn't fully register until she spoke, her voice forced to a level tone, but the tremble of concern registered immediately, "To notch your bedpost?"

The anger was immediate and sweeping. He had never gone from zero to pissed in less than a second. Tony grabbed her shoulders forcefully and pushed her off of him to the cushion next to where they had both been sitting.

He saw her wince from her still fresh injuries, but at the moment he couldn't bring himself to care about the physical pain she was suffering as his hope crumbled and he shot out of the seat and spun to face her.

"Don't you dare." he hissed, "Don't turn this into a joke about me."

He registered the uncertainty on her face. Did she really think so little of him? Did she really think that he would be willing to throw away everything they had for a single night, or was that uncertainty tied to something deeper? Was she just feeling out whether or not he had let his instincts get the better of him or whether he wanted something more than just a single night together?

He couldn't possibly know because she was so guarded and seemed to be pulling back inside herself again. It broke his heart to watch the passion fade from her eyes as she looked once again for an escape route.

He couldn't take it if she left now. Not just because of the burning need his body was telling him not to ignore, but because his heart was already breaking just thinking about it.

He stepped forward and leaned over her, bracing himself against the back of the couch, "I wouldn't throw away what we have just to screw you for a night." she was so close that he had to fight the urge to kiss her again as he saw her looking up at him with pleading eyes, asking all the questions she didn't seem to be able to voice, "If you really think so little of me or if one night is all you want, then you should get the hell out of here before we take this any further."

He saw her start to move and felt his heart shatter as he contemplated her leaving and them going back from this to whatever messed up relationship they had before.

But then she stopped, eyes staring up at him and a ghost of a smile on her face, "And if I want more?" she asked in a voice he didn't recognize. The soft tone and subtle hints of fear and insecurity were not the Ziva he knew.

He couldn't stop the huge grin that spread across his face as he leaned back into her, "Then stay." he said as he captured her lips again.

This time their kisses were tender and slow, tentative and gentle. Gone was the rushing urge to get wherever they had been going, replaced with the knowledge that they would have plenty of time for everything they had ever wanted.

He guided her down onto the sofa cushion, careful of her injuries as he arranged himself over her and pulled away to look into her eyes.

He rested his weight on his elbow so he could bring his fingers up to brush gently over her face, "I want this, Ziva. And it might kill me in the long run, hell, you might kill me someday for being idiotic, but if you let me, I will do everything in my power to make you happy." he swallowed around the sudden lump in his throat as his eyes took in her smile and a slight sheen that clouded the brown of her eyes from his view, "We don't have to do anything tonight, but please stay."

She gave him that playful smile that always made a bolt of heat race through him, but with her body pressed full length against his the heat made him tremble.

Ziva shifted her hips provocatively against his, "Your body says we should be doing something."

He couldn't stop the groan or the increase in his breathing at the erotic gesture, but he had to swallow his desire, "I don't care what my body is saying. Listen to my words, Ziva. I want us. Not just tonight, but tomorrow and for as long as you'll have me."

Her grin was immediate. "Let's start with tonight." she whispered huskily as she moved her mouth back to his and slipped her arms up his back under the shirt, raking her fingernails down his back. "Not because I doubt your words, but because I'm not so sure I can ignore my own desire."

With a wink she set him loose, relief mixed with something indescribable in his body, causing his stomach to tighten into knots and his heart to fill to bursting.

He grudgingly pulled himself up off her, helped her to her feet and led her down the hall to his bedroom.



A/N: So there it is, the first story I have ever finished that was longer than 20 pages and the first thing I have written in almost 10 years. I hope you enjoyed the ride.

Now, I have a question for you...

I have a sequel spinning in my head that is tied to this case and explores further into the bomb that was only peripherally related to this case. A related case that would take Tony and Ziva back to Florida on an undercover assignment.

So the question is, do you want to read it? If I hear enough feedback wanting a sequel, then a sequel you will get, otherwise I will be taking a break as I wait for inspiration to hit again on another story started from scratch.

Thank you for reading and being a part of this journey with me.