So, I wrote this last night and saved the editing for today, and then when I woke up today the 30-second promo showed up and showed Ziva sleeping solo in Tony's twin bed, which sort of renders this story impossible. (This seems to be a bit of a trend lately with my tags.) I decided to publish this anyway. After all, I don't know what we'll end up getting in the episode between Tony and Ziva, but it's still fun to bounce around scenarios, however unlikely!
Disclaimer: Not mine.
Gibbs wants her babysat, and while Tony agrees that that's a necessary step, he's not so thrilled about being the one who gets the job. Partly, it seems sad that the first time he has his friend to his apartment is under such unfortunate circumstances. Partly, it's that babysitting Ziva isn't actually a very pleasant job. She resents it. Strongly.
It's 2300, which means she's been there for a little over seven hours, and she hasn't done much or shown much emotion. She spent the time looking around and staring at things, mainly. She brushed her hands over the piano keys. She paced. She got a glass of water, drank two sips of it, and then washed the glass. She ignored most of his efforts to make conversation and didn't respond when he tried to draw her out, or when he let her know that he was there when she was ready to talk. He reminded her that he absolutely would not be letting her leave when he caught her looking at the window a little too long—not out the window, but at the window itself, her gaze carefully evaluating the sash and the sill. She did have some words for him after that. There weren't many of them, and they weren't very agreeable.
He can't be upset with her, but he really wishes this whole thing were going better.
At 11:15, she asks if he has blankets.
"I'll take the couch," he tells her.
"Don't be ridiculous." She stands. "This is not the first time we've shared a bed."
"Just like Paris," he mutters into his own water glass.
He thinks her mouth twitches in a promising way when he says that, but he can't be completely sure.
His bed is new; he impulsively followed his father's suggestion and bought a bed big enough for two people this time, thinking the entire time that he was probably making a huge mistake. In light of the current situation in his apartment, though, it's the most practical suggestion his father has ever made. The newness still feels funny. It looks so big in his bedroom. But he's a little in love with the crisp new sheets he picked out, and he hopes that if Ziva's not going to talk to him, that she at least can enjoy his high thread count choice.
It feels very odd to crawl into bed next to her and click off the light. He's not really used to another person's breathing mixing with the sounds of his apartment.
She rolls to her side and stays very still in her half of the bed. "You need a rug in here," she says just when he opens his mouth to wish her a good night.
"A rug. So your feet aren't so cold in the mornings."
It's silent for a minute.
"Unless your feet don't get cold in the mornings?"
She should've just kept her mouth shut. She is so tired, and so unwilling to close her eyes, and she has no idea why she's rambling about his decorating choices and his feet.
Well, that's not strictly true. Somewhere underneath the layers of conflicting emotions she's been trying to keep tamped down lies a vague feeling that perhaps Tony doesn't deserve to have her cluttering his neat apartment with oppressive silences. Just like she's been doing all afternoon.
She's angry with the world, but she's not angry with him. And she's counting on him knowing her well enough to know that, because at the moment, a pointless comment about rugs is the most generous overture she is able to make.
"I guess they do," he says eventually. She hears his head shift on his pillow. He's not really sure what he's supposed to be doing with this conversation, she can tell. "Do yours?"
She is simply too tired for this.
She doesn't answer him.
Her eyes stay open, staring at the dark, and he sighs.
She's very good at keeping herself still and silent, and if he'd been asleep, he might not have noticed her three a.m. breakdown. But he's lying awake, feeling acutely her presence on his right and his gun's presence to his left, and he suddenly realizes that something is not right. The mattress quivers when she can't quite stifle the way her body shakes, and he's rolling over on his side and reaching for her before his mouth can even activate.
She shakes his hand off her shoulder and pushes her fist against her mouth, biting down hard on her first knuckle.
"Ziva," he says, and she responds with a sort of half-choke, half-squeak, and he sits up, because that's it for him. He's been respecting her space all day, but jesus, it's three in the morning and she needs somebody and he doesn't care if he gets punched for being that person. He grabs the hand at her mouth, grips her shoulder, and pulls her toward him.
It's a silent struggle for a moment, so he's shocked when her muscles suddenly stop resisting him and she goes willingly—no, more than willingly; covers go flying as she clambers into his lap, and her hands clutch desperately at the back of his t-shirt. He can't think of any words that would be appropriate, so he just wraps his arms around her as tightly as he can and digs a hand into her hair and holds on. Her pajamas are damp with sweat and her tears are hot on his neck and his strong grip on her does nothing to quell the tremors running through her body. Rather, they seem to be travelling straight down to his own bones, making him feel more than a touch shaky himself.
He doesn't need to see her face to know it's screwed up in pain.
"Shh," he soothes. He stops himself from telling her that it's going to be okay just in time and searches for something less untrue. "It's just me," he says instead. "I'm right here."
Her sob sounds like it has the word "why" in it somewhere.
How can she even ask that? "We're all here for you."
Her chin digs painfully into his shoulder when she shakes her head.
"Why did it have to be like this?" she chokes out.
He hopes he isn't hurting her, because he knows he squeezes her harder with every word she says. His jaw feels tight, and he has no response.
"No, you don't."
It's a fair enough point. Nobody's lost quite as much as Ziva has. Still, it makes his eyes burn. He shuts them.
"You could tell me."
She sobs so hard for a moment that she hiccups, and he wonders if that means no. Then slowly, the storm begins to slack off. Her breathing is shuddery, but the tears seem to have abated.
"It's my fault," she says, hoarse.
"It's not your fault."
She lets go of him to shove at his shoulders, but she makes no real effort to get away, and almost immediately her hands creep back up to cling to the neck of his shirt.
"Two children are now motherless and a good man is a widower and I am—I am the only one left, and for what, Tony, for what cause? What is the reason? What can I do?"
The words run together and catch in strange places and it's not easy to understand her, although he does.
Unfortunately, that doesn't mean he has an answer.
"I don't know." He strokes the back of her head with his thumb. "I'm sorry, Ziva."
And he is. He's sorry for the whole convoluted mess of it. He's sorry for her and for Vance and for the rest of the team, and he's sorry for being scared of how things at the agency might change now, and he's sorry for Vance's children, and he's sorry that he knows personally how awful it is to lose your mother before you're even close to driving age. He's sorry that Ziva hasn't smiled since she left the bullpen on Friday. He's sorry that he wasn't sure about having her here. He's sorry that her father was kind of a bad guy and kind of a good guy and completely confusing. He's sorry that he can't help more, and that she's not easier to help. And while he's not exactly sorry that she's leaning on him right now, he's sorry that she needs to.
Rule Number Six covers most apologies, but it does not cover the feeling that warrants them. For over an hour, Tony sits in the middle of his big bed, holds his partner, and feels almost sinfully regretful.
She falls asleep, exhausted, before he does, and she doesn't wake up when he shifts his legs so she's not cutting off his circulation and inches them back so he can lean against his headboard. It's still new enough to smell of varnish. It'll probably give him a headache by morning.
Maybe a little like Paris, he thinks, surveying the way Ziva remains cuddled into him in her sleep.
He remembers how peppy and lighthearted he felt the morning they woke up tangled together in Paris, and how willing she had been to chuckle and humor him.
And then again, he thinks, listening to her breathe, it's nothing like Paris at all.
I hope you're all as excited for "Shiva" as I am! Thanks for reading!