A/N: I know a lot of people really enjoyed the premier and I don't want to go raining on anyone's parade, but I have to admit I was disappointed. I'm the person who always wants more, always wants to know what I missed, what was happening before I was let in. I hoped that we'd see the initial moments after the blast - Gibbs reaching for Abby in the lab, making sure she was okay and letting her cry over the destruction. Tony and Ziva picking themselves up, brushing off the dust, doing a cursory glance to make sure the other was not injured. McGee waking up and trying to get re-orientated to his surroundings, making sure he still held the zip drive that was important enough to risk his life for. Jimmy and Breena (or nice strangers) seeing Ducky fall or finding him on the beach moments after his world had been rocked. So I missed what I didn't get to see. And then I felt like the aftermath of the explosion was overlooked - T&Z never really talked, we didn't see Tim at the hospital, the building seemed to be repaired and back to normal in 24 hours. I guess I just hoped for more. Anyhow, rant over. I did like parts of the elevator scenes, but I still had to add a few things. Thanks for listening/reading and for everything, you guys are seriously amazing. I hope you like what I came up with.
The elevator shuddered and Ziva fell from Tony's shoulders and hung onto him until the shaking stopped. "We slipped," she managed, starting to feel a bit panicky.
Tony turned towards her. "Did we? I thought the earth moved." He stared into her eyes and Ziva's gaze dropped to his lips for a brief second before she looked away.
"You are sweating."
Tony had a feeling temperature was the least of their worries. "It's hot in here."
Ziva stepped back. "Really? I had not noticed."
Tony pushed away some hair sticking to her face. "Let me guess, this is like winter in Israel?"
She smiled faintly but it faded quickly as she looked up at him with dark, tired eyes. "For once do not change the subject Tony."
He held her chin gently and leaned down slowly, wondering what her reaction would be. Ziva froze until their lips touched, then her arms went around his neck and Tony pulled her close. The almost desperate kiss added a few degrees to the already intense heat in the metal box, and when they let go both were breathing heavily. Tony quirked a grin. "I'm really glad we're not dead. It would've been a shame to miss that."
Ziva swallowed. "What took you so long?"
He brushed his knuckles down her cheek. "It's all about the timing Zi. A couple months ago you would've laughed or pushed me away."
"I will not push you away now," Ziva promised, raising her face to press her lips against his for far too brief a moment before her phone rang and interrupted, just like always. She spoke for several seconds in a mixture of Hebrew and English to her father, while Tony struggled to wrap his mind around the fact that Eli David had initiated contact with his daughter, like a caring father would do. He'd never pegged that man as caring about anyone besides himself and his job.
Ziva hung up and returned her gaze to Tony. Their eyes spoke far louder than any words as they shared space and breaths and their hearts still beat out of rhythm at this unexpected change. Eventually though exhaustion from the case and the adrenaline drain after the explosion forced them to the floor. They sat close but not touching as the heavy, sticky air did not make cuddling a welcome distraction.
After awhile Tony rubbed his forehead. "How much longer are we gonna be stuck in here?" Waiting but receiving no answer from his partner, he called out, "Hello? Anybody?"
"It has been hours Tony," Ziva said, a hint of exasperation to her resigned tone that was all too similar to a stone cell in Somalia and made him pay more attention. "I cannot take much more of this."
Tony's expression betrayed his confusion even as he tried to keep things light. "What's that supposed to mean?"
She stared at the doors sealing them into a metal tomb. "Do you remember when we were trapped in that shipping container?"
The day marking his five year anniversary as an agent came back to Tony with startling clarity and he remembered the confession she'd made. That thought also triggered memories of their time together in the labyrinth of a warehouse maze while Gibbs shot up a computer and firemen struggled to find a way to get them out. Neither experience had been pleasant. "What happened before that?" he asked cautiously, knowing the story likely would not be a nice one if it made her afraid of small dark spaces. His ninja wasn't afraid of anything, or so he'd thought.
Ziva's gaze was on her dirty fingernails. "One of my first missions was to sneak into the base camp of an Al Qaeda terrorist cell with my team. We made it, collected the intel required, and were almost out when the alert was sounded. Myself and another officer were grabbed, the others escaped. We were dragged into cabins, tied up, then shoved into small root cellars and left. The air was suffocating, there was no light, I could not move enough to untie myself. It was like being inside a coffin and I thought I was going to die." She sighed and fingered her ponytail. "Eventually the rest of our team made it back and rescued us, but it took two days and time has...rarely seemed longer." Ziva met his eyes. "I am grateful not to be alone today."
Tony's hand found hers. "I won't leave you Ziva."
To her ears that sounded like a promise and she squeezed his fingers. Nothing more was spelled out about what exactly they were doing now, but Abby's comment about them probably being ready to kill each other caused smiles and a shared glance between the partners. Two days later when Gibbs left them with his final words, "Watch out for each other," Tony didn't look away from Ziva. She met his eyes and they silently agreed to do just that.
Four months later everything was back to normal, but it didn't look very much like the old normal. Jimmy and Breena were still at the blissfully in love stage of newlywed life and the young man - whose assistant duties were much more extensive even though Ducky was allowed back to work providing he took it easy and made sure to rest - walked around with a permanent smile on his face.
Abby's lab was once again in a state of pristine order and neither Bert nor McGee were ever far from her side at any given point in time. The probie's wound healed well but the scar from where the glass shard had pierced his side was a constant reminder of how close things came to being so much worse. With that reason as the catalyst, McAbby (as Tony had taken to calling them) were best friends with a hint of something more displayed in the frequent touches and shared glances between the two, and the way Abby linked her arm with his while they walked together in the sunshine.
Things had also changed for Tony and Ziva. They started out slow, once the Dearing case wrapped up, dinner and movie nights and getting comfortable being in each other's lives again. That progressed when Tony asked Ziva out on an actual date a couple months later and Rule 12 just didn't seem so important in the face of the opportunities they almost lost. Since then they'd stayed casual, but resolved that this was not a fling or another relationship that would end badly, but it had the potential to be something real, something permanent.
Being together provided a stability both partners craved, and it was awfully nice to have someone to go home to, even if there was still a necessary goodbye at bedtime. Occasional 'accidental' sleepovers on couches and fully clothed in bed were a good way to ensure peaceful sleep. Laying in each other's arms was a comfort neither took for granted, just like the kisses and gentle touches shared behind closed doors. And if the loud looks communicated across the bullpen became a little more intense, even Gibbs was willing to overlook it in favor of giving his family the shot at the happiness they'd previously been denied.
In the face of catastrophe they'd pulled together, picked up and carried on. Four months had made a difference for all concerned, even their fearless leader, who after that day kept family and friends a little closer than before. He even reached out to a woman from his past who had the potential to one day be a part of his future. All in all, things were good and it was possible, even likely, that in six months or a year they would get even better. Because the lives they'd always wanted were proving well worth fighting for and it was a commonly known fact that the members of Team Gibbs never quit. They kept on, they endured, and they looked forward to reaping the rewards only hard work and patience were capable of bringing about. This was their time and the future was nothing but bright.