Rating: I'm calling it T, but there is an M chapter later and will give fair warning so you can avoid it if you like.
Summary: Immediately following Rule 51, Tony and Ziva work through their issues while away from the team.
Disclaimer: Look, I clearly do not own the characters or show. First sign is you are reading this on a website and not seeing my name on your TV as a credited writer (though that would be pretty awesome).
Hello lovely readers! I am thrilled to be back with another multi-chapter fic for everyones fav duo, Tony and Ziva. Since I started this WELL before the premiere, it's officially AU, hope that doesn't bother anyone and beside, the plot is only there as background noise for Tony/Ziva to confront several issues in their working and personal relationship. I will hopefully be posting every few days here.
AN1: Each chapter title is a song title (from a song I think fits the chapters theme) and a sampling of the lyrics will be at the end. Play along and guess the artist – I have no treats except a shout out to the first to guess.
Reviews are appreciated and always welcome!
Goodness shall be repaid with goodness, and evil repaid with evil; never fear; the day of reckoning will come soon. - Anonymous
Chapter One - Contagious
The bullpen was fairly quiet when Ziva got in that morning; Gibbs and McGee both notably absent from their desks. Dropping her bag in its customary location she stared at the desk across from hers. It was empty as well. She let out an audible sigh and turned on the computer.
Tony had left for Mexico just over two days ago, taking a transport out the night before her ceremony. No one had heard from him directly since, though Ziva suspected Vance had been in contact, mostly because Gibbs seemed unconcerned about his Senior Agent's status.
After her ceremony she and McGee had been read in on the mission and how his return timeframe was unsure. That was shortly before Gibbs had arrived. He'd apologized profusely for missing her moment, wrapping her in a warm hug as he did so. The fact the man had apologized – and so adamantly – had told the newly-minted American all she needed to know to accept his apology. Though curiosity still made her wonder where her father figure had been, she knew better than to ask.
Scanning through her email, Ziva let her mind wander to Tony once more. It seemed they were never in the right place at the right time. The obstacles that kept them apart were starting to wander into absurdity. The undercover assignment to catch an arms dealer, the disbandment of their team to catch a mole, the man she met and foolishly trusted while back in Israel, Somalia, and now Mexico. Not to mention Rule 12, which they spouted to people and each other at increasingly frequent intervals. Sometimes she thought they used barriers like these – especially Rule 12 – more as excuses for staying apart rather than as legitimate reasons for things not going forward. Ziva knew they were both terrified of what would happen if they ever actually acted on their feelings; both convinced that "happily ever after" was only for movies.
Now at least she had the comfort of being a citizen, not having to worry about being recalled to her home country at any time by a bitter father. She knew Tony's disbelief at her citizenship was a show of sorts, and that he was excited for her to finally get out from under the presence of Eli. Renouncing her ties to Israel had been difficult, but she knew that in order be free from her past, her country would have to become an innocent bystander.
Former country, her mind reminded her. She was an American now.
A small smile graced her lips at that as movement from the catwalk above caught her attention. She slowly lifted her head, and her heart stopped.
He was back.
Tony was engaged in conversation with Gibbs and Vance, but as soon as that was done, he looked down at her. Green met chocolate. They held the gaze for several moments until Gibbs' movement towards the stairs pulled Tony's eyes from hers. He followed their boss down into the bullpen.
As Tony eased back into his chair, she smiled gently at him. "Nice of you to show up."
He gave her a crooked smile, but in his eyes she could see the apology for missing her ceremony. "I try."
She snorted indelicately, but gave him a meaningful glance of acceptance before looking back down.
"Ziv…" he started, but he was cut off by Gibbs barking that Vance expected his report before end of day, so he'd better get cracking.
"No problem Boss," he replied, and he turned to his computer without giving Ziva another glance.
The only interruption the remainder of the morning was McGee returning from the lab and welcoming Tony back from his "vacation." Tony had mumbled something back that it was definitely NOT a vacation.
Lunch was ordered, eaten, and long gone by the time they paused again. Tony was finishing his report as McGee and Ziva completed paperwork on the case they'd just completed. It was wrapped up in just over a day's time (the suspect had confessed easily) while he was still away.
The senior agent made a show of stretching in his chair, complete with an annoying noise that earned him a look from McGee.
"Hitting the head," he announced loudly, giving Ziva a pointed look.
Several minutes later the former Israeli wordlessly got out of her chair and made her way to the men's room. While they had talked several times in the bathroom, this was the first time one of them had instigated the action, as opposed to their usual MO of barging in on one another. So this time when she walked in he was just standing against the counter, arms crossed. Assuming the room was clear she turned, locked the door, and then approached her partner.
With a smirk he said, "Took you long enough."
"Well, I did not want it to be obvious."
He rolled his eyes. "The men's room is to us what the elevator is to Gibbs. I doubt anyone notices or cares anymore."
Shrugging her acceptance of his words, silence reigned for several seconds as they stared at each other before he broke the silence.
"I'm sorry I missed your ceremony."
She shook her head. "You do not need to apologize; Vance filled us in on your mission."
"I do need to apologize. I promised I would be there…"
Taking a step towards him, she invaded his personal space – if there even was such a thing with them - and placed a hand on his chest. "Tony…if anyone understands orders, it is me."
"I still feel bad."
A head shake then said, "Do not feel bad."
He smiled at her, but not his usual goofy grin. This one had a hint of seriousness behind it. "I got something for you, something to commemorate your newly-American status."
Curiosity covered her face as he dug a small, white jewelry box from his back pocket. He watched her expression change to something indefinable as he handed the white box to her.
Taking the item she spared him a glance before slowly opening it. The second she saw it tears threatened her eyes even as a smile graced her face.
Set in the box was a small gold necklace, the center of which was an American flag just about the same size as her Star of David. Carefully she picked up the necklace and investigated further. The stripes were made of small diamonds and rubies, and the area where the stars would be was four small sapphires making the shape of a square.
"Tony," she breathed, touching the flag almost reverently before speaking again, her voice small and cracking. "You should not have done this."
"Yes, I should have. After everything we have been through the last year, it was actually the least I could do," he said with a small smile, taking the necklace from her and indicating for her to turn so he could put it on. She complied, moving her ponytail out of the way. Gently he placed the gold chain around her neck and closed the clasp, reveling in the feel of her warm skin under his fingers. It had been so long since he had touched her, even in passing. Sure they had shared a room, and bed, in Paris, but both were careful to keep everything professional and their proximity at arm's length. So he allowed his fingertips to remain on her neck longer then he would have normally. Brushing across the hairs at the nape of her neck, he could almost feel the electricity between them increasing with each stroke.
Involuntarily her eyes flittered closed as he lingered at the back of her neck, and suddenly the air in the room felt heavy. Every one of her nerve endings seemed to be on alert, responding to his touch. And suddenly she realized this was the first time a man had touched her in a way that could be considered intimate since Michael.
For some reason that made her emotional, because it seemed so…right that it would be Tony.
Suddenly his fingers were gone. She took a moment to compose herself, looking in the mirror and noting that the chain on the necklace was long enough that it lay slightly below her star. Touching it again on her skin, she decided that she would not remove it.
Facing him, her face became serious. "It is beautiful, thank you Tony." With that she placed one hand on his cheek and leaned in, giving him a kiss on the opposite cheek – much the same way she had done nearly ten months ago. This time, though, her kiss was closer to his lips, and when she pulled back, she left mere inches between their lips, their breaths mingling.
Tony opened his mouth to say something, but his brain short circuited at her nearness. Instead he slowly closed the gap between them, his lips just brushing hers…
"TONY!" McGee's voice from the other side of the bathroom door kept them from getting any farther.
They pulled apart and Tony looked at her frustrated, they had come so close. But perhaps McGee's interruption was a good thing. He now realized that making out with his partner in the bathroom at NCIS was probably not advisable. A small smile tugged at her lips, she had clearly been thinking the same thing.
When they didn't respond, McGee's voice became tenser. He banged on the door sharply and now added her name to his call. "Tony, Ziva!"
"Jeez, McGee…" Tony hissed under his breath as he walked to the door, speaking as he unlocked and opened it. "Where's the …" The look on the younger agents face told Tony something unspeakably bad had happened. He was practically white as a ghost. Tony's tone changed instantly to serious as Ziva appeared next to him. "What happened?"
McGee spared a glance at Ziva's neck, but he said nothing. "It's Gibbs' dad…"
I was sick of restriction, sick of the boundaries, about to close the door
Such a lack of conviction, no real connection, what should I settle for
But you caught my attention, you built on the tension
You left me wanting more
Now I don't know what to do with myself, do with myself
I don't want nobody else
I let you in, I let you in and you infected me
Cant get enough of you, cant get enough of you
I breathe you in, I breathe you in and now Im in too deep
Don't think Im pullin through, don't think Im pulling through
Cant get enough of you, cant get enough of me