Something about the night had seemed different from the moment Ziva opened her door to find Tony, bearing pizza and beer. The case they had just wrapped had done a number on her- domestic abuse was never easy for her to see nowadays- and him, because he had constantly kept one eye on his partner. As soon as Gibbs dismissed them that afternoon, she had headed for the elevator and stepped inside without turning around. Once she was inside and the doors were closed and she was alone, she inhaled, held her scarred side, exhaled. Repeated.

She was not entirely surprised when Tony showed up at her apartment; she simply moved so that he could step inside. Their eyes met for a fleeting instant as he passed her, and she found herself staring after him as he entered her kitchen and emerged ten seconds later with two plates. Not one word was exchanged; there seemed to be two gravitational pulls at work: one drawing her to his side and another stopping her from speaking. Because this was fine; they did not need to make noise to understand that this was an evening of mutual comfort. It was lopsided, yes, in favor of Ziva, but she knew that he needed it, too.

The pizza was hot and the beer was cold. She consumed them both as she sat against the arm of the couch with her bare feet thrown over his lap; he ate with one hand and used the other to rub her calf through her jeans. Normally, the TV would be on, but they knew, somehow, that this night was not normal.

And so it stayed off.

They ate in silence. Good silence. Companionable silence.

Intimate silence.

When her belly was full and the alcohol had made her just relaxed enough, she set aside her plate and allowed her head to loll against the back of the couch. Her eyes shifted upward, and she found that Tony was watching her. His fingers moved down, onto the uncovered skin of her ankle, and began to stroke in circles. She closed her eyes and was so immersed in his touch that she almost failed to notice when it was transferred to her face and was startled when he pressed his lips to hers.

Ziva immediately sat up and responded, grasping the neckline of his t-shirt. The fairly innocuous kiss he had initiated quickly grew into something hurried, passionate, as if there was an hourglass beside them and the last grains of sand were slipping into the bottom. When he pulled back briefly out of a need for oxygen, she only allowed him one quick breath before connecting their mouths again, nipping at his bottom lip, smiling at the tiny whimper he let out.


Now, they are still pressed together, arms encircling each other, but they have moved to her bed and their clothes are in a heap on the floor. Ziva has closed her eyes while Tony works magic on her neck: a combination of kissing and gentle biting has her making a valiant attempt not to moan, but there are a couple of times, when he does just the right thing with just the right spot, when it cannot be helped.

After all, she is a screamer.

He is breathing heavily when he raises his head and lays a couple quick kisses on her jaw before sliding under the covers and moving his lips down her navel. She gasps and clutches the sheets beneath her as his tongue traces patterns on her skin, and she is afraid, afraid of what he will inevitably find while he is down there.

His hand falls onto her side, and she inhales deeply, knowing it has happened: he has found the most prominent reminder of her time in Somalia, the white line that will forever mar her skin. She waits for him to gasp or pull away, but instead, he shocks her by reaching up and pulling back the covers, leaving her naked and shivering and vulnerable beneath his gaze. Their eyes meet for what is only about two seconds but feels like an eternity, and then he lowers his head to her hip. At first, she thinks he is going to ignore the blemish, and for that she is grateful, but instead, Tony kisses it. He starts at one end and leaves no spot untouched by his lips, and when he has covered the length of the scar, he whispers her name. Never in her life has she loved the sound of it as much as she does right now, and she watches him carefully as he takes in the length of her body with undisguised admiration. When he looks up at her, his eyes are so full of raw emotion and honesty that she does not hesitate to believe the next words that come from his mouth.

"You're beautiful."