TITLE: Tired of Pretending
SEASON: Six (missing scene for Cloak)
DISCLAIMER: NCIS, its characters and situations, are copyright Bellisarius Productions and CBS Television. No infringement on, or challenge to, their status is intended. This piece of fiction was written strictly for the entertainment of other fans, and I am gaining no form of compensation for it.
ANOTHER DISCLAIMER: This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to actual people, living or dead, or actual places and locations, is purely coincidental.
She'd broken into his apartment before, not that she'd ever admit to that. It had been years before, and she'd been a whole other person. A lifetime had passed since then, since she'd spent weeks studying the members of Major Case Response Team who had, as she distanced herself from her past, become her family.
The man whose apartment door she was currently standing in front of had become more than that.
Ziva had sworn to herself that she'd never tell Tony how she felt about him. Gibbs would never allow them to work together if he knew that one of them was in love with the other, and she understood his reasoning. Her behavior during the break-in had proven nothing to her if not that she was willing to completely disregard both orders and protocol if she thought Tony was in danger. They'd been compromised, they'd both been beaten, they'd both been captured – all because she'd believed that Tony had been shot.
Even knowing all of that, even knowing how dangerous her feelings for him were to both of them, she'd almost admitted everything in the elevator. If she hadn't realized at the last second that Tony wasn't talking about the same thing she was, she would have. And at that moment, everything would have changed.
Gibbs would have split them up without a second of hesitation, and though Ziva had come to see Gibbs as a father figure and knew that he thought of her as a daughter, she held no illusion that he'd have chosen her over Tony. She'd have been sent to another team. She'd not have had another day with Tony as her partner. She'd never have complained about another of his silly movie references; he'd never have corrected another of her messed up idioms. They'd both have been the subject of Gibbs' disappointed looks for months, if not years, to come. She'd have thrown away everything she'd worked for and come to love.
Worst of all, she'd have done it without even knowing if Tony felt the same way.
She didn't really know what she was doing, or why she was standing in the hallway outside Tony's apartment. The last words he'd spoken in the elevator had made it clear that they were talking about two completely different things. She knew that Tony was tired of pretending that being used and betrayed by people he trusted didn't bother him, but did he understand what she had meant? Did he know – had he even imagined – that she was tired of pretending she wasn't in love with him?
She jumped and turned toward the voice, surprised to see Tony standing at the end of the hallway. She'd thought that he was inside, but the bag in his arms said that he'd stopped at the liquor store on his way home. She felt the blood rush to her cheeks and ducked her head, ashamed to have been caught out so blatantly, but not before she saw the confusion and concern in Tony's eyes. She heard his footsteps speeding up and felt her breath quickening along with them.
"Hey, Ziva," he said as he placed a gentle hand on her arm. "You okay? What's wrong?"
"I am …" She shook her head quickly and forced herself to raise her head, though she couldn't bring herself to look him in the eye. "Fine. I am fine. I was just worried. About you." The words were flying out of her mouth before she realized what she was saying. "Because of your head, and your eye. Mostly your head. I wanted to make sure that you were …"
Tony had put the bag down on the floor at some point, and both of his hands were wrapped around her arms. "Hey. Ziva, hey, calm down. Look at me."
"Head injuries are very serious, you know. You were knocked unconscious for several minutes. You should not be alone until we know for sure that you are not going to have any problems. Someone should be here to check on you, to wake you up, to …"
His shout stopped her ramblings. His hands moved to her face, and she was staring straight into his eyes before she realized it.
"I'm okay," he insisted softly.
She felt so foolish, standing in the hallway outside his apartment, and the tears that had sprung into her eyes from nowhere didn't help. His voice was so sure, so strong, so steady, and the look in his eyes matched it. He was worried about her, that much was obvious, and she owed him the truth. She owed it to both of them.
"Talk to me."
Suddenly, she didn't care about the consequences. She didn't care about how Gibbs would react. She didn't care about anything but Tony, and how much it hurt to keep lying.
"I cannot do this anymore," she whispered. "I have tried so hard, for so long, but I …" The tears were rolling down her cheeks, and she looked away from Tony, back at the floor even as she felt his thumbs brushing against her skin, wiping them away. "I thought they had shot you, Tony. I thought they had killed you. I thought that I had lost you, and I would never have the chance to …"
She knew what his lips felt like pressed against hers; she'd known for years. But it still took her by surprise. Her breath froze in her lungs and her heart stopped, but only for a second. Then she was leaning into him, pressing her fingers against the back of his neck, pulling him even closer, and returning the kiss with every ounce of love she had.
He waited until she broke the kiss, but he didn't let her pull back, instead leaning down until their foreheads touched. He didn't move his hands away from her face.
"I know," he whispered. "I'm sick of it, too."