Author's Note: I don't ship Tiva, but the plot-bunny for this story just wouldn't leave me alone! It starts out right in episode 9x16 "Pysch Out," then goes in its own direction. There will be both angst and something bordering on smut, with Tiva all around. I hope you enjoy!
"Someone tried to give our victim a tumor?" Tony asks, picking up one of the field emitters from McGee's desk and turning it over in his hands. For all the trouble that this thing must've caused Banks, it looks so small and insignificant.
"More like headaches and nightmares," McGee corrects him.
It only lasts for a second, but Tony notices the troubled look that passes like a storm cloud over Ziva's face just then. He hears her draw in a sharp breath as her dark eyes look down at the floor, ashamed. Then, because she can tell that her partner has noticed her reaction, she turns her face sharply away from Tony. He's half-glad that she does, because if he had to see that wounded look in her eyes for one more second, he couldn't have resisted the urge to wrap his arms around her and hold her close again.
McGee – naive, innocent McGee – doesn't notice, of course. He just continues working, and Tony is almost jealous of how blissfully ignorant their Elf-Lord can still be sometimes. Of how much he doesn't know.
McGee was the one who had actually asked Ziva what she would do if she were raped, back when they were working the Kaylen Burrows case. Tony still wanted to head-smack him for that one.
And McGee doesn't know – no one does, besides the two of them – about that night in Paris when she started screaming in her sleep. Tony had sprung up from where he'd been sleeping on the floor, thinking that the hotel must be on fire. Then he saw Ziva, and he understood. She stopped screaming as soon as she woke up, but she looked so sweaty and shaky that Tony climbed into bed with her and held her. He expected her to object and push him away, but he wanted to comfort her so badly that he didn't care. To his surprise, Ziva had let him stay in bed with her and hold her for the rest of the night.
She never talked about her nightmare, though, and Tony never asked.
The elevator dings just then, and their boss strides in with a tall Starbucks cup and a thick stack of files, which he dumps in front of them on McGee's desk. Ziva immediately moves closer to Gibbs's side, distancing herself from Tony. Of course, Tony thinks, a bit bitterly. She doesn't feel comfortable around him now because she knows that he noticed, and because even after all these years, she still trusts Gibbs more.
But Tony can't be angry at her after the horrible thought occurs to him. God, what if she's still having nightmares? What if she still wakes up screaming?
He tries to convince himself that surely Ziva isn't still having nightmares, not after all this time. But the question won't stop nagging at him. What if she is, huh? What are you gonna do? He can't just do nothing, and he can't stand not knowing. That look in her eyes when McGee mentioned Banks's nightmares... Ziva didn't sympathize with him. No, she understood. Because she had been there. And maybe she was still there. Tony has to know, so that night – after he stays late in the bullpen, scrambling to figure how he owes NCIS three grand, and where the hell he's going to get that kind of money – he drives to Ziva's apartment.
But in the hallway of her apartment building, Tony comes to his senses. What is he going to do, knock on Ziva's door at this hour and demand to know if she's still having nightmares about something that happened... God, has it really been two years now? At worst, he'll rip open old wounds that took so long to heal, which might make their whole partnership blow up in his face. At best, she'll be mad at him for bringing up a painful subject that she obviously doesn't want to talk about. And besides, Ziva could already be asleep. It's later than he thought.
She's never opened up to him about what happened to her in Somalia. Never. The one time that he tried to get her to talk about it, she shut him down. "What is there to talk about?" And since then, Tony has never dared to bring it up again. Maybe he was stupid to think that Ziva might ever trust him with it.
Get real, DiNozzo, Tony scolds himself as he paces back and forth in front of her door. He decides that this was a bad idea, and with a deep sigh, he turns away and starts to leave.
That's when he notices a strange, silver flash of light from the side of Ziva's door, even though it's still closed. The investigator in him has to get a better look. So Tony turns and walks back, until he's standing right in front of her door, staring at the source of the flash.
It's a slender, silver case, fastened at an angle to Ziva's door frame. A few ornate Hebrew letters decorate the front of it. Tony feels certain that it was flashing on purpose, to beckon him over to Ziva's door just when he was about to leave. He wonders what the Hebrew letters on it spell out, and curious, he raises one hand to touch it. His fingers have barely brushed the cool metal when Ziva's door suddenly swings open.
Tony jerks back a bit, surprised, and quickly lowers his hand from the little silver case on her doorframe. He was being as quiet as possible, but of course she would know that he was out here, with her ninja super-senses.
"Tony?" she asks, blinking at him in confusion. At least she isn't angry.
Ziva's dressed for bed in a tight white tank top and boxer shorts. Her hair is loose, attempting to revert back to its natural curls, and her heavy-lidded eyes make Tony wonder if she was sleeping. She has tiny a smudge of something red and sticky-looking on the side of her mouth.
"I..." Tony begins, but he hesitates. Hey, I was just coming over to see if maybe you're still having nightmares about being held captive for three months? Thank God that he's always been good at thinking on his feet, and quickly recovers. "I wanted to get a raincheck on drinks with you and McGee next time." Or just you.
"It is not raining," Ziva frowns. Tony opens his mouth to explain it to her, but she beats him to it by giggling – Ziva? Giggling? he thinks. How much did she have to drink?– and says, "I am kidding. I know that word." She leans toward him as she speaks, which pulls that flimsy little tank top even tighter across her small breasts, and Tony has to struggle not to stare.
To divert his eyes, he glances back at the little silver case on Ziva's doorframe. She sees him looking at it and says, "My Aunt Nettie sent it to me from Israel." He must look puzzled because she adds, "It is called a mezuzah. It is a... Jewish thing." She waves her hand lazily, as if she's too tired to explain in any more detail than that.
There's a pause, and Tony feels like he should say goodnight and leave, but he can't bring himself to do it. No, he can't possibly walk away from Ziva when she's wearing boxer shorts that give him such a nice view of her legs, and a tank top so tight that he can tell she isn't wearing a bra beneath it.
"Would you like to come in?" Ziva asks, tilting her head towards him. Tony catches a whiff of strawberry jam. That's what the little red smudge on corner of her mouth is. He has a sudden, almost irresistible urge to raise his hand to her lips and wipe it away – or better yet, put his mouth against hers and lick it off.
He resists that, but he does accept her offer to come in, and his heart beats a little faster as he steps inside. From Ziva's unusual behavior – the giggling, the inviting him in so late, and when she's dressed like this, no less – Tony gets the distinct impression that this is going to be a memorable evening.
Most of you are probably still waiting for that semi-smut you were promised. I tried to give you a little taste of it here, but most of it will be in Chapter 2. :)