Summary: "I think you will charm her pants off, like you do with every woman. But I also think that you will be the person I know you to be. Sincere. Warm. Lovable." Sequel to Along the Way; third installment of the Memoir series.
Disclaimer: I own Nettie? :D ... No? :( Okay. I own NCIS? ... Still no? Waiii?
Spoilers: General NCIS S3-S9, and spoilers to Along the Way.
Okay, this story is a little different from Along the Way in that it is written from Tony's POV and is a little more introspective than the other story. It's also a tiny bit dirtier :P at least, this chapter is. Also: I will not be able to keep up the crazy updating schedule that I did for the previous story, mostly because real life is starting to catch up, lol. BUT I promise that I will finish this, and will probably be able to get maybe eh ... two chapters out a week, or something. This story will also be a lot shorter than Along the Way, so maybe two weeks is all I need, lol.
He'd thought that his nerves would've calmed down by now, but they haven't.
When he wriggles and tries to settle back more comfortably in his seat on the plane, the little voice at the back of his head just reminds him that this is it—this is the flight (or rather, half of the flight) that will take him to see Ziva's Aunt Nettie.
Beside him, Ziva shoots him an amused look. She's used to his fidgeting by now, though, so she doesn't say a word. Instead, she simply reaches over and covers his hand with hers, lightly brushing her thumb over his knuckles. Back and forth, back and forth, again and again. The message is clear: I got you.
He flips his hand over so that they are palm to palm and slips his fingers in between hers. She squeezes lightly and just lets him hold her hand as she pulls out a magazine—She still reads GSM?—and flips through it with great interest. He bites back a laugh and leans over to read the magazine with her. She pretends not to notice, but he knows she does.
She's Ninja Ziva, after all.
"Bedtime," she tells him three hours into the flight.
He's still a little too awake to follow her instructions obediently, so he leans over and whispers suggestively into her ear, "There's no bed here for us to spend time on."
She snorts and tweaks his nose rather dismissively. "We have four-and-a-half more hours to the landing, my little furry bear, and if you want to get any sightseeing done around Brussels, then I suggest sleep."
He juts out his bottom lip and sits back reluctantly. "I can't sleep."
"You have not even tried."
"I haven't gone to bed this early in thirty years." She opens her mouth, the corners of her lips threatening to turn upwards in a smile, and he waves a finger warningly. "Don't say it's because I'm old."
She clamps her mouth shut and tries her best to look composed. Taking a deep breath, she answers, "I was going to ask if you still needed a bedtime story."
"Ooh, no. What I need is bedtime companion," he replies, and she slaps her hand to her mouth to prevent her laughter from bubbling out. She pinches his forearm lightly with her other hand, but then snakes her it down to fit comfortably in his.
"Sleep," she repeats gently, and he kisses her forehead and closes his eyes.
He awakens after two hours and scowls at the top of her head on his shoulder. Told you I wasn't used to sleeping this early.
And yet … and yet, seeing her eyelashes flutter as she sleeps, and the way her hand seems so relaxed and trusting in his, he can't help the feeling that wells up in his chest.
An odd feeling, it is.
He can't really say whether it's love. Certainly, he is in love with her; but he's always thought of it as a more or less constant, if not always consistent, thing. But every once in a while, he gets a strange sense of pride and wonderment that makes his mind spin and his breath catch, as if it's just struck him that she's with him.
She's with him. She's no longer just his work partner or his best friend, or simply the person who happens to be around him the most. No, she is now the person who has chosen to spend her life with him, hopefully for months, years, and—dramatically—until the end of time. With him.
He wonders how he got to be so lucky.
"Tony, go back to sleep," she mutters, shifting her head to a more comfortable spot on his shoulder. "Your staring is waking me up."
He chuckles at her interruption of the introspective moment.
Yeah, she's a ninja, alright. His ninja.
The plane lands in the Brussels Airport in Belgium on a layover two-and-a-half hours later. At 06:30 local time—what he supposes would be half past midnight in DC—they make their way to the budget hotel where they have a room booked.
Two people, one room. He bounces down onto the pink patterned comforter that covers the large mattress and gives in to his moment of gleefulness that, at least this time, no one will ask them who took the bed.
She laughs when he pulls her down atop him after she comes back from putting their luggage away.
"Now we have a bed," he tells her as he releases her hair from its hair tie. He's always liked her hair down better. The dark brown locks tumble over her shoulders, tickling his face and shrouding them both in a tiny bubble of privacy.
Ziva smiles, her eyes lighting up as she studies him. A slender finger runs along his cheekbone; her hand gently brushes his forehead and runs upwards to mingle with his hair.
"What?" he asks with no small amount of confusion, and her smile widens before she shakes her head and kisses him.
"Do my highly sculpted features appear particularly good-looking in Europe?"
She rolls her eyes. "Oh, Tony. You cannot be serious for once?"
"You're kinda groping me in a way that makes serious thinking really hard."
"It is obviously not the only thing that is getting hard."
He chuckles and flips her over as she raises her eyebrows in a wordless challenge. God, does this woman have any idea how hot she is? "So, three hours and a hotel room," he mentions as lazily as he can while he runs his hand up her top and presses a hot kiss to the side of her neck, just under her ear. "Can you think of anything we could do?"
"Tony?" she asks, sounding a little breathless now.
"Shut up and just kiss me."
And so he does, and he makes a vow to himself never to forget just what Ziva David means to him.
At 10:00, they step out for some sightseeing. She complains as they walk towards the suburb of Laeken about how they will be tired when they arrive in Tel Aviv eleven hours later; he laughs and asks her how one can trade either sex or sightseeing for sleep. That makes her roll her eyes and snap her mouth shut until he rubs her shoulder and promises to buy her cotton candy to make her smile. She is halfway into an indignant remark about how cotton candy has too much sugar before she realizes that he's pulling her leg, and then her eyes narrow, and they fall back into the pattern of playful squabbling that they both so love and are both so familiar with.
It amazes him how, despite the fact that they'd been partners for almost seven years prior to the (quite literally) life-changing road trip, he knows so little about her. It had never occurred to him to wonder about her bedtime routine, for instance. That is one of the greatest mysteries he has yet to unravel, because he certainly hadn't been short of fantasies that revolved around her in bed. Whether he'd wondered or not, though, he now knows that while Mossad has trained her to do without a lot of things, she really likes tobrush her hair before bed if she is at home and has the time; and she likes it even better if he is patient enough to brush it for her.
He's learnt about how tidying up when she's in a lazy mood simply means stuffing everything out of sight (under the bed, behind curtains, and twice, into the oven). The first time he'd seen that happening, he had almost fallen out of his chair in laughter. When he'd recovered enough to ask her if she wasn't afraid of being unable to find her things, she'd answered in the negative and elaborated that she always remembered where she put her messes. He'd thought that the explanation would have been a lie for anyone other than her.
He's discovered that it makes her blush when he puts his arm around her waist. He hasn't yet figured out why that happens or if it happens to her with anyone else, but he has figured out how to use it to his advantage when Gibbs isn't looking. So he does that now, and her cheeks turn a lovely shade of rose as she shakes her head in amusement and never utters the retort about to leave her mouth. She knows he does it to win their harmless little debates and lets him because she doesn't mind all that much. Instead, she just leans into him and warns him not to try that in the middle of an actual argument. He kisses the top of her head and whispers to her that he's figured that out, already.
They take a tour around Mini-Europe in Brussels. The miniature park with 350 scale models of famous buildings around Europe is magnificent; while she enjoys the miniatures for their aesthetic value, he feels like running wild in the park because he has simply never had the opportunity to see these buildings before. His arm at her waist keeps him anchored to her, however, and he does nothing more undignified than grin like a fool when the chimes of the mini-Big Ben float to their ears.
A plus side of being far away from the rest of the team, he has learnt, is that she allows him slightly more touching in public than she otherwise would. He thinks that fact doesn't surprise him as much as the fact that he likes keeping her by his side in public, though.
His arm stays on her waist as they tour the Belgian Comic Strip Centre. He tells her about his comic-book-filled childhood—which he promises to obstinately deny in McGee's presence—and how the cartoons might've kept him from sinking into depression during his early teenage years; she listens with sympathy and understanding that almost makes him feel guilty. Every single word he says is true, but even so … perhaps despite so, he cannot fathom how she could care about him so much. He gives silent thanks that she is willing to take him on for all the trouble that he is. But then she tilts her head as if she might know what he's thinking about, shocks him by planting a fierce kiss right on his lips, and tells him that she thinks Europe does bring out his "highly sculpted features," after all.
They go back to the hotel for a little more than an hour's rest. He finally decides to take a nap and feels decidedly grumpy when she wakes him up after what feels like five minutes; she pats his cheek with an 'I told you so' expression, pulls out their luggage bags, and makes him get up, anyway.
At 16:50, they depart for the airport.
They land in Tel Aviv at 00:20, which he calculates to be early evening in DC. She hails a cab after they pass through customs and collect their luggage, and they head to the hotel they have booked for the night.
He pauses to stare around the lobby as they enter the tall building. "Wow," he remarks, taking in the white walls and shiny marble floors that are in stark contrast to the vibrant green, red, and yellow carpets and couches. "Nice!"
She chuckles and leads them towards the check-in counter. "Impressed, Tony?"
"Very. I don't suppose your Aunt Nettie's place is like this?"
"She lives in an apartment, Tony, and it is not big. Be good."
He frowns, startled by her insinuation that he might insult her aunt. "Wait, you don't think I'll be good?" he asks, but Ziva has already turned to the undoubtedly multilingual staff and started speaking in rapid-fire Hebrew.
Her words make his skin itch all the way from the lobby up to their room, and the beautiful wooden furniture is lost on him as they once again stow their bags away into the wardrobe.
"Seriously, you don't think I'll be nice to your aunt?" He doesn't know why her words bother him so much, and he is aware that—as her surprised expression would indicate—he is overreacting a slight bit. Still, he has to know.
"Tony, I was joking."
He lets out a breath he hadn't known he'd been holding. "So, you don't think I'll be mean?"
Her face lights up with a warm smile as she moves forward and takes up his hands in hers. "I think you will charm her pants off, like you do with every woman. But I also think that you will be the person I know you to be. Sincere. Warm. Lovable."
"Not mean," she confirms, and kisses him. "Don't worry, Tony. I am not thinking that you will screw up; or else, I would not introduce you to Aunt Nettie. I am actually thinking that you are someone I would be proud to show off."
"Really?" he asks doubtfully, even though he oddly glad to hear her words.
"Yes. You are a capable agent, and a very good best friend and partner. Not to mention a very good lover in bed," she adds, tongue in cheek, and he has to give her credit for making him chortle, "although I won't tell Aunt Nettie that. But, yes. I would gladly show you off to my doda."
He fervently hopes his smile doesn't look as shy as he suddenly feels. "Thanks."
"You're welcome. Now we need to go to bed." She holds up her finger to stall him as he opens his mouth. "No dirty jokes. I think I have reached my limit for today, Tony."
"Okay," he replies sheepishly. "Can I brush your hair?"
Her musical laughter tinkles through the air. "Yes, I think we have time. I will fetch you my brush after my shower."
She does accordingly, and so the night ends with her settled onto one edge of the bed and him sitting cross-legged behind her and running the brush through her smooth strands, over and over again, until they both grow sleepy.
16:50 is 4.50PM. The standard time zone for Brussels (which I'm made to understand is in common with most of the rest of Europe) is GMT+1; the standard time zone for Tel Aviv is GMT+2. The Daylight Saving Time for both is +1 hour. This means that at any time of the year, Brussels is six hours ahead of Washington, DC, while Tel Aviv is seven hours ahead.
Doda means "aunt" in Hebrew.
Mini-Europe is a park in Brussels, Belgium, full of interactive attractions and miniatures of buildings from all over Europe, including Big Ben, the Grand-Place in Brussels, the leaning Tower of Pisa, the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, and Mount Vesuvius. Website: www(dot)minieurope(dot)com(slash)en
The Belgian Comic Strip Centre is a museum housing permanent and temporary exhibitions on comic strips and their history as well as the artists who draw them. The aim of the Centre is to promote the comic strip as a valuable cultural medium and to maintain the architectural masterpiece (the Warcquez warehouse designed by famous architect Victor Horta in 1906) which it is housed in. Website: www(dot)comicscenter(dot)net(slash)en/home
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