A smile that's all it took. She didn't think about it prior to coming to the MCRT, but the moment that he smiled at her, she knew deep in her heart that she'd come home. She could feel the warmth reflecting in his eyes, something that came from his heart and echoed in her soul. She ignored him at first, he was too innocent, too young and she was Mossad. But his smile followed her. She started seeing that bright smile in her dreams, and she had to try and do something to eliminate it.
She dated other men, she even dated their co-worker and team mate. It didn't stop the smile from following her. He always had one at the ready. Usually first thing in the morning as they emerged from the elevator and then when she got her apartment near him, it was the first thing she'd see when she walked downstairs.
When he suggested they carpool to work she worried that she might cave under the pressure of that easy going smile. He didn't change though. If anything the smile became sweeter, more loving, more understanding. She wanted to hate it and she couldn't. She had to respond to it and finally one night as he dropped her off at her door, she had to ask him.
"Why do you smile at me so often?"
"Because, no matter what happens, all I have to do is look at you and I'm reminded that there is still hope in the world."
"Me?" she was flabbergasted to say the least.
"You…" he whispered as he kissed her cheek for the first time. She looked up at him in surprise and the smile was still there, but a slight fear that he might have overstepped his boundaries was reflected in his deep green eyes.
"I've loved you since the day we met. All I have to do is wake up and think about seeing you, about being able to work beside you and my day is already happier than it had been."
"You've never mentioned anything."
"You never acted like you wanted me to." He said simply and she stared at him floored by the honest answer. He turned as if to leave and she put a hand on his arm, stopping him in his tracks. He turned to face her and she put a hand to his face.
He shook his head. "You need to think about what I've said. I need to think about what I just did and we both need to get a little sleep tonight."
She nodded at him and he sighed in temporary relief that she was not mad at the steps he had taken that night. Baby steps some might call it, but for Tim McGee it was one big step for him. He had always admired her, loved her from afar and hoped that one day she'd be open enough for him to talk to her, to tell her how he felt without recrimination.
That smile was back in place the next morning and Ziva had to smother a giggle at what he was wearing. Oh it was his traditional Tim McGee outfit, of suit and coat but this time he was wearing a bright red hat on his head with white trim and a white fluffy ball on the end.
"Why are you wearing that McGee? You know Tony will call you McElf or something if you go into work with that on."
"I have a stop to make on the way in. I've already let Gibbs know we'll be a bit late and he said it's okay as we're only working cold cases today."
Ziva walked by his side as he escorted her to the car. It was laden with many gifts in the backseat and she knew at that moment why he was wearing the hat.
"You are dropping off Gibbs' toys at the hospital aren't you?"
He nodded and smiled at her. "He called when I left last night and said that if I didn't want the biggest head smack this side of the Potomac I had to come and get them. Worse, I had to wear this hat when I came to get you and while we're at the hospital."
"He is almost psychotic when it comes to knowing if someone breaks his rules."
"I think you mean psychic but yes, he does have an uncanny way of knowing things. Then again he's been with the MCRT and NCIS for a long time now. I'd almost expected him to say something sooner truth be told."
She looked at him in surprise and he was twiddling his fingers as they waited for the light to change. It had been a long time since she had seen him this unsure of himself and she placed a hand on his.
"You waited for me to open my eyes and see with my heart. The way you do...the way you always have. I just wasn't always willing to see what you have to offer. I was afraid of what you might want to offer."
Tim glanced at her, "And now?"
Ziva exhaled, "Now it is time for you to drive."
They finished delivering the toys and much to the kids' delight he was able to call all of them by name when he gave them their toy. Afterward she thought about the children and how natural he'd been around them. This wasn't the shaky man who couldn't hold a baby a few years ago. This man was more confident and this man was someone she wanted in her life. She looked up at him as they pulled into the Navy Yard and said, "If that offer is still open, I would like to accept."
The smile that responded to her words was the brightest one she had ever seen and she couldn't help smiling in return. He escorted her inside and as they disembarked from the elevator, she watched as Gibbs gave him a gentle headsmack.
"Told you to call me when you left the hospital McGee."
"Sorry Boss." The tone was sheepish, but the smile on his face was not. Even Gibbs couldn't help responding to that smile.
"I take it you had a good reason for worrying the boss McSanta?" Tony said from his desk and Tim's smile as he looked at her was one she would never forget.
"A very good reason Tony." Tim replied as he sat down and started working.