Title: Tell Her
Genre: NCIS - Romance
Pairing: Tony and Ziva
Rating: T – only for some touchy – feely stuff.
Timeline: Season 9. AU - Only to be safe.
Spoilers: Everything was game up until season ten – and they're there
Summery: Sometimes we want more than we have, and although we fear how things will change, we take that chance to tell those we care about what they really mean to us… I really have to stop being so philosophical with my summaries. In short, Tony finally bucks up the courage to – tell her.
Disclaimer: They say imitation is the most sincere form of admiration.
A/N: My muse would not let it go, not that I can blame her, it is the first real spark she's had for the season. It's touchy, feely and even dare I say, cliché, in places. The writing is very informal.
Written: 2 March 2012, my muse had quite a light hand and vomited this out in one sitting just before the update, therefore very little editing was done and mistakes are a plenty.
Word Count: 5,609
Tony had spent the whole week looking at her across the bullpen. Five whole days had gone by that he had not been able to rack up the courage. Not too long ago he would have thought it utterly impossible, that there would not be a snowball's chance in hell of him being able to ask her. Because back then it had been Ray, and he had really thought that she would be going with him. But even as he sat looking at his plasma screen TV, with one of his favourite movies playing, he could not understand how he could be such a pathetic wimp when it came to her. How much courage did it take to ask your partner, "hey wanna accompany me to Palmers' wedding?" It is not like they weren't both already invited. It's just that he had learnt a long time ago that you did not ask a chick to accompany you to a wedding, unless you were serious about her.
There was something about weddings that made women view the men they were with differently. Not that that would be a bad thing where Ziva was concerned, it would actually be quite welcoming if he was honest with himself. Because it would make it easier for him to buck up and tell her… but that was also why it seemed so difficult for him, because that is what he wanted to do.
He wanted her to look at him differently, to be affected by the wedding and to maybe even push him for something. He knew he would be willing to meet her half, no even three quarters of the way if she would just let him in, give him a chance. As it was, he could not even get excited about the following day. The thought that she might have a date, and that the lucky bastard would get to stand and sit next to her, got to be at the one place he wanted to be, ate him. Or, worse, she would be on her own, and some of Palmer's crazy med school buddies will move in on her, being closer to her age that was a much more likely outcome, and he would have to stand on the sidelines and watch whilst some med school grad tried to get his game on with his partner…
Ziva settled on her bed with a glass of wine and glanced at her dress, shaking her head slightly. She was not even certain as to whom she was planning to impress. A few weeks ago she had thought her life finally seemed to be heading somewhere, now she simply envied Breena. She knew it was wrong, that she should not covet what the other woman had, but she could not help it. The last few months it seemed as if it was the only thing twirling around in her mind.
Tony had been right, marriage is a leap of faith, and she knew now that she had not loved Ray enough to go through with it. For one, he had hardly ever been around, and when he was, everything had been on his terms. She could see that now, because hindsight has this nasty habit of being twenty-twenty.
She gazed at her dress, she knew whom she wanted to impress, who she would not mind knocking speechless for once. Okay maybe that was not that difficult to do, because with him she could accomplish that without trimmings, since she knew how his mind works.
But just for once, she wanted him to really see her, to really look at her, and even desire her, if only for a short while… Ziva just grunted in response then got up from her bed intending to get ready for bed. All week he had seemed in thought, and knowing Tony, he was most likely to arrive with some beautiful woman on his arm. Some blond bombshell, who will get to spend the latter part of the evening in his arms and possibly his bed. She fought the longing that assailed her at that thought. She knew the closest she would come to wrapping her legs about him and having him move within her was her dreams, because it was only there where she could feel his caresses on her skin, his lips upon her and imagine him pushing his hips down onto hers… Her body warmed at the thought, and she quickly chided herself for it then got into bed. Dreams like those were meant for naive women…
Tony was nervous, and he had no idea why he was nervous. He was not the groom, not even the best man, who would be next in line if Palmer decided to make a run for it. Not that he thought the gremlin would, he loved Breena, and nothing short of death would keep him from marrying the woman. No, he actually knew why he was nervous, there was no denying it, it was Ziva. This love from afar was not working for him anymore.
He had arrived at the church slightly earlier than needed. Found probie and Abby, both of whom had brought dates, although they appeared to be eying each other's dates more than their own, as if weighing up the competition. Gibbs had, like him, flown solo. Not that he blamed the man; with four ex wives, it was easy to understand that the man would have an aversion to weddings. Ducky had brought along probie's grandmother, and Tony was not even sure what he should think of that, or if he even wanted to for that matter.
He tried hard not to look about for her, not to appear as if he was searching for her. But his eyes were automatically drawn to the doors a moment before she appeared, as if he knew she would appear… and within a heartbeat of her appearance he had to fight his reactions. The first one was relief, because she was on her own, no partner, the next was an overwhelming sense of possessiveness that overcame him, at the sight of her in a dress. Ziva in a dress was not good for his equilibrium. If anything there should be a law against Ziva wearing a dress, especially one that had so much of her skin exposed… skin he wanted to trace his fingers along. His mouth went dry in seconds flat as she approached them, his ninja chopping, fierce fighting partner, had transformed into the woman, not that he was not already aware of her as one, just there was so much… he could not even describe it, word it, or bend his mind around it for that matter. She was goddess-like, and he doubted he could come up with any fitting adjectives to describe her. Exquisite, even fell way short of those he needed.
Ziva joined their party, which for some reason always seemed to be drawn together. She nodded her head at Tony in greeting, and was introduced to Abby and McGee's dates. She glanced them over for a moment, and like Tony observed their respective disinterest in their own dates, as they weighed up the other's. Sometimes she wondered for how long Abby and McGee would keep it up. It was plain to see that the liked each other, and if she were to believe the scuttlebutt – had once been into each other. She had often been tempted to rile them about it – especially Abby, whenever McGee got serious about someone. But then Abby did the same with her and Tony, and although she could never be certain of his feelings for her in such a sense, she knows he that cares about her.
When the time came for the ceremony to start, it seemed that by some unspoken agreement everyone seemed to place her next to Tony, on Tony's left to be specific. Ziva took up her position, knowing that after having spent as many years next to him, it was not surprising that everyone would draw that conclusion. They have inevitably always been drawn together, at times, not even liking the presence of probie between them whilst working.
Ziva had just settled properly when his scent assailed her, and although she was familiar with it, there was a lingering level of agitation in her very special agent that caused her to be more aware of his presence next to her. She found herself placed between Gibbs and Tony with Abby and her date on Gibbs's other side. Abby in turn was squished between her date and McGee.
'Tony,' Abby called him, causing Tony to look past Ziva towards Abby, who was holding out a program for him. Without thought, Tony's left hand landed on Ziva's thigh as he reached past her to take the folded paper from Abby. The moment his hand landed on her leg, heat coursed through Ziva's body, causing her to hold her breath, in a way wanting to encourage him to leave his hand there, but in another way needing him to remove it just to be able to breathe again. She tried hard to school her features, in order to appear unaffected, and when his eyes met hers for a moment, having realized what had occurred, he smiled slightly in apology. She wanted to still his hand that was lifting from her thigh, wanted to tell him that it was okay, and that he could leave it there, the area on her thigh immediately chilling at the loss of contact.
Tony's heart was pounding, having realized the thoughtlessness of his action the moment his hand had made contact with her leg. He had to fight every instinct he had, not to move his hand and curve his fingers slightly to grip her thigh. He had really expected her to call him on it, possibly ninja kick his ass off the bench for daring to touch her in such a way. He chanced a glance at her, and saw her neutral expression then smiled in apology. But deep inside he was not sorry. If only he could, he would have left his hand there. His fingers were alight with a tingling sensation that had erupted the second he had touched her, it always seemed to these days. His entire left side started to tingle as well, as their close proximity and her scent filled his conscious mind. His attention turned to the door as the wedding march started, and Breena entered, looking as pretty as a picture. He was proud of the gremlin, he had done well, having taken the leap.
His gaze followed her down the isle, wondering what Ziva would look like in a gown… then stilled that thought, because he would definitely not be present at her wedding if he had to watch from the sidelines. He would not be able to live through the ceremony if that were the case. Glancing at her quickly, he knew that it must have been difficult enough for her to attend one, after only a few weeks prior having received a proposal of her own. That like Breena, she could have been planning her own wedding… well then again maybe not, considering where Ray had ended up. But still it must have affected her in some way…
Ziva watched as Breena came down the isle, having noted Tony's gaze fixed on the woman, wondering if he was thinking about his own failed attempt. She could not help the relief that coursed over her at that thought, because had it not been for that, she doubts they ever would have met. Knowing that he could have been somewhere else, rearing his kids… And she, she would most probably have been dead by now.
She tried not to envy the woman, tried to be happy for Palmer. But she realized that it might have been better had she not come. She did not feel up to celebrating the union of two people, when her own life seemed to be in tatters again. She knows that the others would have understood if she had not shown up.
They settled for the service, and Ziva having been used to the length of a Jewish wedding service, was surprised at the speed the ceremony was over. And when they stood to view the couple exiting the church, she felt Tony's hand next to hers. She was tempted to simply turn hers slightly and take it. It would not be the first time that they would touch each others hands, but it would be the first time it was done as more than a warning, restraint or a call for attention. She held her hand as quietly as possible next to his, settling with it knowledge of having his as close to hers, when she felt his move slightly and his pinkie taking hold of hers, causing her to look at him. He smiled in encouragement and she realized that he must have picked up on her reflective mood, and was trying to cheer her up and draw her out. She tightened her pinkie hold on his, thankful for the consideration, but also wanting to hold onto his. She felt his also tighten in response before they had to move.
Tony released her finger and allowed her to turn from him, stepping behind her as he waited for their pew to move. Just before reaching the isle, he automatically reached out to her, placing his hand on her back in order to guide her. The moment his hand made contact with the bare skin on her back, his brain ceased up. Ziva's skin was something he knew he should never touch, not if he planned on remaining sane and in one piece for any period of time.
The feel of her warm soft skin under his hand, reminded him of what it was he so desperately wanted. It awoke desires in him he spent so much time fighting to contain. He pushed his hand into her back, expecting her to move forward, but was surprised when she stood her ground for a few moments, allowing him to soak up the sensation of touching her. When she finally moved, he followed by instinct. Their years together having made his following of her lead at times as normal as breathing.
Ziva had to fight her response to not lean back into his touch. She knew Tony to be a gentleman, and that it was a gesture he would have made to any woman escorting him… and that was her problem, she wanted to be that woman, wanted to be the woman that could soak up his simple touches and caresses. She knew Tony, knew how much he liked to touch and caress.
But mostly, she wanted to feel that simple gesture turn to one of desire, to have him desire her and have his hands trace over her body stroking her desire for him. She expected his hand to drop when they reached the isle, but was surprised when it remained there as he moved with her to the door. She halted for a moment for an elderly lady, and felt the pressure slightly increase. Then once gain fought the desire to push back into it more. She reached for the rice confetti, and felt his hand move, so that he too could. Drawing in a beep breath she stepped forward, and out of the trance he had so easily placed her. She awaited the appearance of the couple, and rolled the rice in her hand. Rice, a symbol of prosperity; when cast at a bride and groom it is said to symbolize ones hope that their union will prosper… however Ziva was uncertain if she could wish prosperity on another, when she felt envious of it. Envious of what they had, and she was likely never to have. She swallowed her reflection and cast the rice as they passed, her heart heavy.
Tony had let her go, realizing that she needed space. He stood close enough to her to keep her in his line of vision, but not that close that she would consider him protective or possessive. He had watched her play with the rice, and had wondered what was passing through that mind of hers. If he was honest enough with himself, he spent a considerable amount of time doing that – especially when it came to what her thoughts about him could be.
The photos took too long. They always take too long… Tony thought as he watched as some of Palmer's friends engage her in conversation. He needed a drink, a stiff drink if he was going to get through this reception without interfering with her. The chick in front of him was also irritating him, asking questions about his work. It was just not appealing to him in any way. He saw the slightly forced smile Ziva bestowed those around her, he had spent nearly seven years as her partner – he could tell the difference. He wanted to drag her out of there, knowing that like him she found the situation tedious. Then take her to go drown their respective sorrows, that is something he knew they could do together, something that did not feel weird. And maybe if he got enough Dutch courage together he could tell her… and she could kick his ass and he would have forgotten about it when morning came.
The reception only turned from bad to worse as Breena and Palmer had placed the entire team at one table, and to no one's surprise, Ziva was once again placed next to him. It was as if someone was out to torture him, by placing his greatest desire so close to him, bearing so much skin. He wanted to run his hand over it, brush kisses across the expanse of it, and loose himself in the sensations that came over him whenever he touched her.
He drank more champagne than he should have, and ate less than he should. It was after all a celebration, and Italians eat when they celebrate, or mourn, but he seemed incapable of doing either.
Ziva was her usual engaging self, her and Abby had started discussing the girls dresses and other things girly, things he never thought he would hear them discuss. But then he had also not thought that Abby would be dressed to impress, having expected something short, coupled with a pair of her boots. He took a moment to glance over the woman, who yes, was actually in a dress and high heels. He had also noticed probie also having a few long, thoughtful, at times even wistful glances in her direction.
'DiNozzo, keys,' Gibbs demanded at some stage during the evening, and he knew then that he was in trouble, especially considering that the boss had his back. Without argument, he handed them over and returned to his drink.
'You might want to take it slow on that stuff,' Gibbs forewarned.
'Thanks boss,' Tony replied looking at the glass. Not sure if he should explain to Gibbs that it was more his mood than the quantity of alcohol he had consumed that was responsible for his demeanour.
'Get McGee or Ziva to drive you home, or take a cab.' Gibbs commanded, then walked away from him.
'Okay boss,' Tony replied, before turning to look at the dance floor, where Ziva was doing a round with Ducky, earlier the evening having had a turn with both Gibbs and McGee. They seemed to be out to ensure that she had a good time. His gaze followed them for a while, whilst he envied the man. Later, after they had retuned from the dance floor and Ziva had once again settled next to him, he pondered on things. And just as one of Palmer's buddies came to ask her, he reached for her hand, causing her to turn her head to look at him.
'Dance with me,' he blundered out, and saw a frown form on her forehead. But also saw her agreement before she even voiced it. He had always seen them to dance a fiery tango. That was how their relationship had always felt. However, when they drew together, in the last moments of a song that he did not even recognize, he knew that their tango had already been danced. The ballad that followed saw him automatically draw her closer, swaying with her in his arms, his one hand slightly caressing the skin on her back. Closing his eyes, he dropped his head slightly and drew in the sensations of being so close to her, having her willingly remain within in his arms.
'Ziva he grunted a few moments later.
'Yes Tony,' she softly replied.
'Yes,' She replied, and he could hear the uncertainty in her voice. Her answer caused him to smile. His ninja never left home without a weapon, never going into any situation unprepared.
'Whatcha got?' he whispered into her neck.
'A knife,' she replied, uncertain as to where the conversation was likely go.
'Strapped to your thigh no less,' Tony returned, already knowing where the weapon would be located.
'Not the one you were touching earlier,' Ziva goaded him, wanting to know what he was getting at. To Tony's mind it made sense, she was right handed, would make it easier to access a knife strapped to her left thigh, oh how he envied that knife.
'Why do you ask?' Ziva questioned when Tony remained silent for much longer than she had anticipated.
'Promise you won't use it on me,' he requested in reply, causing her to stiffen slightly, wondering what he was up to this time.
'Why would I do that?' Ziva asked, not understanding his behaviour or mood.
'Just promise,' Tony insisted, tightening his hold on her for a moment.
'What, are you going to say something nasty again?' she bit back, her guard having gone up again.
'I might, so promise you won't gut me or ninja flip me, at least not here where everyone can see,' Tony replied, causing her to pull back slightly. His words caused Ziva to frown lightly, guesstimating that he was well past the legal limit already, especially with Gibbs having earlier asked her to look out for him.
'You're worried about your ego,' she challenged him slightly as his hold on her increased, preventing her from moving from him.
'No, it would be harder to cover up my murder if you have a lot of people bearing witness to it.' he replied, casing Ziva to pull back, this time resisting his hold, she wanted to gauge his condition. Maybe even suggest that she take him home, because he had obviously had too much to drink.
'What is it Tony?' she asked as she felt his grip on her tighten again, pulling her to him, his fingers once again tracing along her back, weakening her resolve.
'You haven't promised,' he insisted softly.
'Okay, Tony, I promise,' she finally relented, in exasperation. Then felt his arm close around her as he held her closer. However, he still said nothing, and that puzzled her even more.
'I love you,' he finally murmured into her neck.
Ziva felt a hot flush of awareness bolt through her body, causing it to stiffen immediately as her mind processed the words. Halting all movement, she felt his arms tighten around her again, drawing her with him. And it was just as well, because her heart was sent racing and her legs suddenly weakened from the shock. Her body followed his by instinct, whilst her mind tried to reconcile the meaning of his words, trying to figure out what she should do.
Tony felt her stiffen, his heart pounding in his chest as he awaited her response. He was thankful he had made her promise not to floor him, because that would have been the most likely place for him to end up. His legs felt decidedly numb; a sensation that only worsened the longer Ziva remained silent. For a moment he even contemplated that he had not said them loud enough for her to hear, at least then he would only to be faced with the consequences of not having uttered them loud enough the first time, as compared to pulling himself together when she rejected him… but he would find some way of coping…
Ziva was trying to calm her thoughts long enough to make sense of them. Her heart was pounding in her chest. She wanted to pull back to assure herself that she had heard him correctly, but was too scarred her mind was playing tricks on her. How long had she longed, dreamed, hoped to hear those words? – from him no less.
She knew that a drunken man's words were a sober man's thoughts, and Tony only ever stopped lying to himself when he was too drunk for it to hurt… She wondered if he meant them in the context she wanted them to be, or if it was just a simple declaration of affection, one he would as easily profess to Abby.
It was only when he started stiffening against her that she realized it might be more, that her failure to respond was stressing him in some way. Hoping he was too drunk to remember his words, or hers for that matter, especially if he did not mean them, she replied, allowing herself the fleeting fancy that it could be real, 'I love you too Tony.' She allowed her voice to convey her heartfelt sentiments, because for her, it was decidedly real. And if he was too drunk to remember, she at least got to tell him.
Ziva immediately felt his body relax against hers, holding her to him even more possessively. 'Good,' he husked into her ear, as he continued to guide them over the floor, his legs having regained some sensation and his heart pounded less erratically. 'I expected you to karate chop the women to the bouquet earlier.' Tony said as a means of steering them away from the moment, his behaviour was the first indication to her that he may just have meant what he said.
'I didn't see myself needing it. It is not like I am the next likely quest to be married,' Ziva honestly returned.
Tony didn't answer her. He instead ran his hands over her a little more possessively, causing her heart to race as her body to heat up in response to the unspoken desire in his touch. However, she knew that for her own good she had to place some distance between them, or else she would allow her emotions to get the better of her, and believe that it was real that it was her that he wanted.
'Come on Tony, I think it is time you went home,' she finally said drawing back from him slightly.
'I don't want to go home, I want to stay here,' he defied her holding onto her, 'I get to hold you here.'
Ziva for a moment considered that he could be drunk to the point of delusion, and pulled back again, her resolve set in getting him home, before he makes any further declarations of love to other less enamoured women who may have partners. 'Come on Tony, I'm taking you home,' she stated, before taking his hand and leading him back to their table, looking for Gibbs who had his keys.
Tony blindly followed her. Just the thought of being taken home by Ziva was enough to keep him happy, and compliant. Ziva collected his keys from Gibbs, who did not even bat an eyelid when she asked for them. Tony's submissive body language and the fact that he could read Ziva's concern for the man, spoke for themselves.
He followed her to her car got in without a complaint or goat, and leant his head back against the headrest. Ziva drove carefully, he realized a short while later, it was either that or he was drunker than he thought.
Fact was Ziva was driving slower than usual, not wanting to jolt him into gagging in her car. She carefully pulled up outside his apartment and got out to help him out. Locking the doors, she turned and escorted him up to his apartment.
Once inside, she played with the idea of getting a cup of coffee down his throat, wanting to get to the bottom of things, wanting to know why he had felt the need to drink so much… or for saying words that once again got her hopes up, made her want to reach for something that could never be hers.
He disappeared down the passage and reappeared a few moments later, handing her one of his shirts, before wrapping his arms around her. 'For you to sleep in tonight,' Tony breathed into her neck, effectively answering the question she had not even had the need to ask.
Ziva took it the shirt form him, without saying anything, not certain as to how inebriated he was, especially since he still seemed capable of walking without staggering.
'I like it here as well, I still get to hold you,' Tony mumbled slightly, his eyes closing in content.
'Tony, I think you should get to bed,' Ziva firmly said, her hands resting on his sides, applying slight pressure to move him from her.
'Yes, bed, you coming?' He asked, stepping away from her and causing her to frown even more, not having thought he was serious and also never having seen him to be as tactless. She must have taken too long for the next moment her hand was taken and she was dragged along. She wanted to resist him, but found that she couldn't.
'You can have the bathroom first, I don't trust myself enough to take that dress off you,' Tony stated, his words making Ziva realize that he was intending to sleep with her in the same bed, like they had in Paris.
'Tony wait,' Ziva commanded outright, 'what's up with you?'
'I love you, I wanna hold you,' he returned, not for a moment showing any hesitation after his declaration. To Tony the words were easier to get out the second time round. Ziva looked at him in surprise, and thought it over for a moment, considering him slightly delusional, as she had listed him as crazy years ago. She recollected their evening together in Paris, and the languor that she had experienced the following morning. Waking in his arms had just made the world seem like a better place. She was sadistic enough towards herself that she could willingly inflict the pain that would come in the morning, if she let him hold her tonight. The few hours would be worth the desolate feelings that would later fill her, because she wanted him to hold her, needed it. She could cope with another night like Paris. Taking a deep breath she relented, nodding her head slightly she saw his chest swell slightly, possibly with relief, before stepping into the bathroom
Tony's heart soared, Ziva in his bed for the night, he would take it slow, ease her into things with him. Not pounce on her like some hungry tiger, having been starved for a meal for months already – although it was true. He wanted her to know that he wants her, Ziva, not her body, but god that body could tempt even a saint. And he was as far removed from a saint as they came. Quickly he dropped his clothes, being capable of focusing on something other than her in her absence, he stripped down to his underwear. Drawing back the sheets he dropped face first onto his bed, his mood soaring – Ziva was spending the night, and she was willing to let him hold her.
Ziva knew Tony to be a gentleman. That behind all the boasting and bragging lay a man, who puts a woman first, he would never push for something she would not willingly give. Her only problem was that there wasn't anything she wanted to withhold from him.
Ziva appeared from the bathroom to find him already scrawled over his bed. She draped her dress over the chair then carefully made her way to the bed and lay down. She had barely settled when she felt him move, drawing the sheet over her and wrapping her into his embrace whilst settling behind her. Her body was hyper aware of every movement he made as he fitted himself around her, pressing himself along he back.
'Good night Ziva,' he murmured into her hair as he finally settled.
'Good night Tony,' Ziva replied, her body burning in places where they came into contact. Just then, she realized that no evening together would ever be like Paris, because there it had been out of necessity, this was by free will. She felt Tony's hold on her loosen, realizing he must have drifted off to sleep, knowing that the alcohol must have helped to a great extent. Closing her eyes she listened to his breathing, allowed his scent to fill her senses, to dominate them, as she permitted that softer side of hers, the one that has always yearned for such a moment, reign. Drawing in as much of the moment that she could, building up memories, for there never could be enough of them. Her actions allowed her to drift off, feeling safer than she has ever felt before, and for the first time in a long time, she allowed herself to dream.
I know, I'm a cow for stopping the muse there,
but I was going more for squee then all out hot smut.