AN: This is basically me taking my drabble from tumblr ( search/drabble) and adding and editing to make what will probably be a two-shot. Hope you like it!
Somehow, no matter how long Tony stared at the single photo, worth much more than the thousands words suggested by many, he couldn't look away. The picture didn't have amazing quality, and it wasn't captured in a special moment, but it was a photo of him and his mother, and he couldn't quit staring at it.
A knock at his door startled him, and he laid the picture on the table in front of him, going to answer his door. He found Ziva on the other side, a pizza in her hands. He felt a small smile tug up the corners of his lips. "You know me too well."
She smiled, walking in as he opened the door wider. As she went to lay the pizza down on his living room table, she took note of the photograph sitting there. "How long have you been staring at it?" she asked, turning back to look at him.
"Too long." His response was simple, and he knew she didn't expect anything more than that. She nodded once, proving him correct, before sitting down on his couch. Something in her eyes softened him, and before he could register the movement of his body, he was sitting beside her, opening the box to grab a piece of pizza.
There was a long silence, but it was comfortable. They sat next to each other, close enough to be in each other's personal space, but not enough so to be strange. The pizza box slowly began to empty, both of them staring at the photo that lied on the table in front of them.
"She was beautiful."
Ziva's voice pulls him out of his trance, and he looks over at her. She's watching him, and part of him feels a rush of affection at the concern in her eyes. He knows it's genuine; there is no doubt about that. They seem to be good like that. They always know what the other needs and when they need it, and they have a system that works for them. Even though part of him feels as if things might slowly be progressing into something that could be more, he doesn't want to jump the gun on this one. He loves the relationship too much to risk anything.
"I know." His voice sounds strange to him, and he tosses a no longer appealing pizza crust into the box. "I know she was."
He turned, leaning his head against the back of the couch, and she mirrored his position.
"Are you okay?" her voice is genuinely concerned, and he isn't sure what the sudden tug at his heart is, but he knows that he isn't nearly ready to try to explain it.
"Yeah, I think so." He sighs. "It just brings back so many memories, and there are so few of them. Now, I have this photo, as simple as it is, to remember her by when I can't remember anymore."
Ziva's knee brushed against his. "You still have a while, I'm sure, before you can't remember."
He chuckled dryly. "Well, I appreciate that." He was silent for a moment, breaking off his connection to her eyes and gazing down at his hands in his lap. "She's why I love movies, you know."
He heard her take a breath. "If I had known that, I would not have made so many snide remarks about all of your references."
"No," he looked back up at her. "It's fine, really. You didn't know, and it didn't bother me, promise. But it was all her. She loved them, and after she died, I just…"
At a loss for words, he looked down at his hands. He felt her hand come to rest on his knee, her thumb rubbing soothing circles. He looked up at her after a moment, feeling strangely like a younger child who needed consoling. "I understand."
He felt his chin tremble and tears gather in his eyes, but instead of feeling ashamed, like he knew he would have around anyone else, he simply gave in when she wrapped her arms around him. He surrendered to his need to be comforted and allowed her to pull him closer. He buried his face in her shoulder, arm wrapping around her waist and holding her close, holding himself together at the same time.
At some point, Tony put in a movie, and they settled on the couch, slightly closer than before, and Tony found himself comforted simply by her being there. When the movie was over, she looked over at him, sighing, before speaking. "I should probably get home."
She stood, and he had spoken before his mind could process the sudden desire he had to be as close to her as possible. "Can you stay?"
She froze where she stood, not meeting his eyes for a moment, and his heart dropped when the realization of what he'd just asked of her sunk in. He opened his mouth to speak, but at that moment, she turned back to him and answered. "Yeah, I can."
He smiled at her, and she smiled in return, heading to his DVD collection. "What movie should we watch next?"
He felt a rush of affection that he couldn't quench, and so when she turned back to look at him after hearing no response, she was taken aback by the emotion in his eyes. He recovered, smiling. "Anything is fine."
She put in Lord of the Rings, and settled back down next to him on the couch, and he tried to keep his attention on the movie. At some point, she laid down, putting her head in his lap, and though the motion surprised him, he simply ran his fingers through her hair.
The tenderness in the gesture came easily, and he found that it felt right, as if it was the most natural thing in the world.
He looked down at her, smiling, because hey, maybe it was supposed to be.
When the ending credits rolled, he looked down to see that Ziva had fallen asleep, and he gingerly lifted her head and got up, only to lift her in his arms and carry her to his bedroom. She stirred, and her arms came up to wrap around his neck and she snuggled her face into his neck. It was probably the cutest thing he'd ever seen, and the second cutest thing he'd ever seen came when he went to lay her down on what had, over the years, been established as her side of the bed. She gripped his shirt in her half asleep mentality, and he had to physically remove her hands from his shirt.
He lay on his side of the bed for the longest time, staring at the ceiling. His mother's face lingered in his mind, and he felt tears gathering in his eyes again. He cast a glance over at his sleeping partner, and wondered what his mother would have thought about her. He figured she would have liked her, because he did, and he was a lot like his mother, at least from what he could remember.
Regardless, he felt an overwhelming gratefulness toward her at the moment, because when nobody else had noticed his distant behavior, she had, and she'd showed up at his apartment with pizza and a listening ear, which was exactly what he'd needed.
They wound up together in the center of his bed, just like they had in Paris, and when she woke up once, stirring in his arms, she didn't detangle herself from him or run, like they had a history of doing.
Instead, she snuggled closer, resting her head underneath his chin, and he couldn't help but smile to himself, because something about that felt natural, too.