Patience

-pandorajones

It was a nice room.

Big, clean, nice smell, soft bed, 255 channels. What more did he need, really?

It was a computer glitch; that's what the front desk had said.

One room, one night for NCIS.

One room... not two.

Some sort of pastry chef convention... Seriously?

All booked up.

So you make do, right?

They made do.

He could have taken the couch...

She could have.

But...

'We are adults, Tony,' she had said. He had nodded in a very grown up fashion. 'And it is not as if we haven't shared a bed before.'

He wished she hadn't added that part.

Because for the longest time last night it was in his head. Again. It still lingered there now, milling about in the corners, dusting the cobwebs.

'There's only one thing I'm interested in right now.'

That's what she'd said, wasn't it? Then she'd given him that look. The look. Only this time she hadn't laughed and walked away. This time she'd held it and he'd kissed her. And she'd kissed him and he can remember rapid removal of clothing and falling into bed. Then it got kinda blurry for a bit... Her hair in his face, his teeth scraping her shoulder... A jumbled mess of everything and nothing. It was the job. It was a job. It had to look convincing.

They'd fooled the FBI.

It bothers him now that he can't quite remember her kiss. He knows it was hot, remembers the rush, remembers wanting more, wanting her... But he can't remember the taste of her lips on his. It bothers him. Nearly five years ago now... The girl he'd taken to bed that night was bold and brash and reckless and well... kinda crazy. She challenged him. She made him laugh. She'd give him that look, then that grin, and then she'd walk away.

It hardly ever happened anymore. He missed it. He missed her. Sometimes he really missed her.

It has to be nearly morning. Through the gap in the curtains he is sure the sky is getting lighter. He checks his watch. Just past six. He'll get up soon, he tells himself, he'll make coffee and watch the sun rise. It is Paris after all. They say Parisian sunrise is beautiful.

She shifts a little beside him. He takes the opportunity to move his arm; just a little, just enough to restore the blood flow. He resists the urge to play his fingers through her hair; he doesn't want to wake her. If he woke her she wouldn't be curled against his chest, if he woke her she'd be on the far side of the bed with her back to him... like she was last night. Ziva David does not need comforting. She does not want it. She does not deserve it.

He wonders how many times she's told herself that.

He watches her sleep. He likes to watch her sleep. She looks... comfy: Her head on his shoulder, one arm across his chest, right thigh overlapping his. She looks... peaceful. He's grateful for this. It's been far too long.

It was about 2 o'clock this morning when she'd woken him. She hadn't meant to and he'd pretended she hadn't. He'd watched her in the darkness; the demons that torment her clearly audible in her breathing. Swallow, rapid, choked...

Fear.

He hated the sound. It was too clear a reminder. When will it be over? Will it ever be over?

He'd wanted so badly to say something, but he couldn't find the words. To do something, but what? If she'd even known he was awake, she'd have been sleeping on the couch or in the bathtub or anywhere else she could hide. So he pretended it wasn't happening.
At least he'd tried to.

Suicide is for when you are captured. She'd said that to him once. She had sworn to herself to never be captured alive - And then she was...

He could remember the smell: dirt and piss and burlap. The scratch of the sack on his face, sand everywhere, chained and in the dark. He and McGee had lived it for two days. Ziva was with Saleem for four months. Four months chained, on her knees, in the dark. He wondered how often she'd thought about death. He wondered if she had tried to kill herself. He wondered if she tried to provoke her captors into doing it for her... He wondered how often she had begged to die.

She won't talk about it. He's tried. 'What is there to talk about?' is her response. The past is the past.

Some days he's wondered, if she were to open up, would he be prepared to hear it? How much does he really want to know? Would she be better off talking to Ducky or Gibbs or anyone but him? He knows 'chained and in the dark' is the best case scenario. He doesn't want to think about the worst. Four months - the Mossad officer in the lion's den...

He hates what it's done to her.

He could still hear her beside him, trying to regulate her breathing, trying to calm herself down. It tore at him, turned his stomach to knots. Does she sleep through the night at home? Do nightmares wake her there too?

He couldn't help it. He couldn't just listen anymore. Rolling over, he threw a heavy arm across her and pulled her to him. He mumbled something about Salma Hayek and Desperado and hoped she bought it. She couldn't be angry if he was asleep, right?

He'd felt her whole body stiffen.

And he waited.

She wasn't going to shoot him, her gun was on the chair.

She might break his arm...

She didn't.

But it was a full ten minutes before he finally felt her relax.

Another ten and she was asleep.

When he woke up this morning she was as she is now - head on his shoulder, dark hair spilled over the pillow. He was going to get up. He was going to make coffee. But he doesn't want to move... She's asleep...

The first rays of sunlight creep yellow fingers across the white linen, play in her hair, on her shoulder. He watches as they light her ear, her cheek... It's a slow process.

That's what Ducky says.

She just needs time.

How much time?

Be patient.

He can do patient. He doesn't always like it but he can do it. Patience is good. Patience allows you to appreciate what you do have.

The light creeps further, catches her eyelashes, her nose, her lips...

He smiles.

They were right, whoever they are.

Paris does have the most beautiful sunrise.

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