Disclaimer: I don't own NCIS.

Spoilers: Reference to the Shmeil episode, but nothing specific.

Setting: Mid-S10, before Christmas (or the episode that takes place ... tomorrow, if that's "Christmas." Well, my tomorrow; your today if you live in the US, I guess.) Basically, this fic takes place on the premise that Tony and Ziva haven't broken their 'open book' streak and that, as a result, they are much closer and have spent more time together outside work lately.

Merry Christmas! Or Happy Holidays, or any festival other than Christmas. Something like that. Maybe if you're Chinese, I'll wish you 冬至快乐 Dong Zhi Kuai Le :P just know that this is a fluff-filled fic, and that I got a toothache writing it. I don't know why it's this sweet; I just needed the happiness, I guess. So, enjoy! Have a good ... around-Christmas-time, everyone!


P.S. For those of you who read A Step Closer, I'll be updating later. I think.


"You ever regret knowing me?"

The question sounded contemplative.

Ziva turned her head away from the television screen to look at her partner, whose own eyes were fixed straight ahead of him and showed no signs of straying towards hers at all. His Adam's apple bobbed up and down in his throat once, betraying the nervousness that he wouldn't admit to; in his lap, hands that had been massaging her feet a minute before had stilled.

"Hmm?" Ziva asked quizzically, because she hadn't the faintest clue where the idea had come from.

Tony chuckled, a sound that barely passed his lips. "Just wondering. Y'know, I'm not exactly an easy guy. You ever wonder what it'd be like to have an easy partner? Not easy easy, y'know, just—"

"Tony, I have had other partners."

"Mossad guys," he filled in the blanks with a voice too casual to be believable. "Less complicated than me, huh?"

"Complicated in a different way." She shrugged and dropped her feet from his lap so that she could shift closer to him.

His hands—now empty—clenched tight on his knees; at least, they appeared to, because his knuckles were white even though the rest of him was the very picture of feigned indifference.

"What is this about?" she asked softly.

"Just contemplating." His shoulder made a tiny up-and-down movement. "Christmas is a time of contemplation—haven't you heard?"

"No," she answered in amusement, and she could see the corner of his lips twitch. "And even if I have, it isn't Christmas yet."

"I'm gettin' an early start this year."

"Tony," she said reprovingly. "What happened to 'baring our souls'?"

"Doesn't work all the time."

She cocked her head. "No?"

"No." He shook his. "Sometimes you bare your soul and then you wonder if maybe you have a little too much baggage for your partner to handle."

With a start, she realized that he was baring his soul in a roundabout way: Telling her that he feared her abandonment preceded by his full disclosure. His Adam's apple bobbed up and down for a second time, and she tilted her head a bit so that she could see his eyes—they were moist. Sighing, she shifted even closer and wrapped her hand around one of his.

"You think you have too much baggage," she concluded, and he cleared his throat.

"Well, it's not just that. Y'know, it's what we've been through all these years."

"Are we not past that, Tony?"

He stared down at their hands. "How do you ever get past … y'know, what we've been through?"

"By understanding that the past is the past, and this … is the present."

The entire room was still for a long beat. And then, he slowly, slowly turned his palm upwards so that he could fit his hand with hers, his fingers making a motion as if they wanted to curl around hers but didn't quite dare to. So, she gave his hand a squeeze; by the time her grip had loosened by a millimetre, his was already strong and steady around her.

"I like our present," he finally whispered.

"I like it, too," she answered softly.

"But it wouldn't be this way without … our past."

"I agree."

"So, you ever wonder … if you could rewrite your past and," he hesitated, "have a present without me here?"

"I have never really thought about it," she told him honestly.

"But now that you have?"

"I think that I would miss this—us—terribly if I were to do that."

Something of a shy expression grew over his face, and she couldn't resist the urge to squeeze his hand once more and move even closer; at last, he turned to her, his eyes partway between shining with tears and twinkling with a hint of the smile that pulled up a corner of his lips.

"Can't miss what you never had, y'know," he informed her simply.

"I know," she answered, her free hand brushing over his cheekbone, his temple, and his unexpectedly soft hair. "I don't."

The smile widened. "Happy enough with what we have here?"


"Even with the crap we keep sharing?"

"Even with the trust we keep building."

His gaze bore into hers, searching, searching. She didn't know what he was looking for, but she was careful not to look away, instead running her fingertips through the fine hairs at his nape as she waited from him to find what he sought.

And then he said, "You trust me." It wasn't a question; it was a realization.

She nodded to reaffirm his statement and replied, "I do."

"So, you wouldn't mind if … if I shared one more thing with you?"

She could feel a smile tugging at her own lips as his eyes searched her features once again. She reciprocated the favour; studied the smile lines at the corners of his eyes and the tiniest of furrows in his brow and the way his jaw quivered, trembled so minutely that she would have missed it had she not been looking carefully.

And, when she was sure her voice would not waver, she said, "What would that—"

The kiss was carried through before she could finish with her question, but she found that she didn't mind. His breath fanned warmly over her skin and his lips were soft, and she brought her hands up to his face—the stubble scratching her palms—and indulged, indulged, until he moaned and she was intoxicated on his scent. And even when she pulled away, he wouldn't let go; it was a kiss on the tip of her nose, her hairline, and her right cheek later that he finally leant his forehead against hers and breathed hard.

"A kiss," he gasped in reply to her earlier question, and laughter bubbled low in her throat.

"I think that was more than one kiss."

"I cheated," he said, and it made her laugh again. He lifted his head, and she looked up to see him staring at her, his expression carefully guarded against the emotions swirling about in his eyes. "So…"

"So," she returned, stroking her thumb against the skin of his jaw.

"Was that too much information?"

She was certain that her grin was blinding. "I was hoping that we could share some more, actually."

And his eyes lit up the night.