A/N: This sprouted out of the abyss. Speculation-ish for Dammed if You Do, but not really.
It's late when she arrives at his door. Very late and she has to testify in court at eight tomorrow. But lately, lately the days seems so delicate. Like she doesn't know if tomorrow will really come and if it does, what it'll hold. So, despite the hour, she shows up at his door.
"Hey," he sputters when the he pulls the door open. And she's pretty sure that she woke him, but that's not important right now.
"Hi." She says. "May I?" She gestures to the inside of his apartment.
His eyes widen. "Yeah, yeah, come on." She walks in and takes inventory of the room. Her eyes wander over the blatant messiness of the place. There's clothes strewn everywhere.
"Sorry about the mess," he says. "It's a been…well, you know."
She turns back to him and she didn't realize how close he'd approached because she's suddenly bumping into his chest and it causes her to stumble backwards.
He lets her.
But once she's regained herself, she tucks a hair behind her ear and comes right out with it. "I heard about what you said in there today."
He cocks his head to the side, as if he momentarily doesn't understand what she is referring to, but the characteristically DiNozzo smirk of discomfort betrays him within the instant.
"Tony," she presses and she's pretty sure that the two glasses of wine she downed before leaving her kitchen are beginning to talk, because she doesn't do this.
"Ziva," he echoes. She knows he can't help that smirk – that smile and she doesn't care because it makes her relax.
"I'm serious, Tony – why'd you say that?" She shakes her head at him and walks away. She slumps into his couch and without really even realizing what she's doing she slips her shoes off and curls her legs under herself. "Do you know what that adds to their case?"
He sighs and joins her. Sitting across from her on the other couch. He rubs his hand across the back of his neck, "Yeah, yeah I do."
She's indignant now. "So what were you thinking?" She raises her arms at him, but continues, "I mean…despite the ramifications that this could have on our individual careers and lives – Tony, we can't let Gibbs go to prison. He'd…He'd die in there and after…after all we've all been through together – we must stick to the plan. Everyone needs to come out together or….or we must…go down together."
He looks up at her once she's finally done ranting. "I couldn't, Ziva. I'm sorry." He shrugs and it lights a fire inside of her.
"Tony!" And he's making her blind with anger and confusion and frustration. "Do you understand that…that you came close to incriminating yourself?"
The conversation slows pace then because he looks at her with genuine confusion. "How does telling a court room that I'm in love with you classify as incriminating myself?"
And in that moment, Ziva was convinced that the world and their lives just stopped at that moment.
"What?" she stammered.
"Isn't …that…isn't that the thing you were referring to?"
"Uh," she blinks – rapidly, "No. No, I was referring to you saying that you have disobeyed orders for me in the past and would do it again."
"I actually never said that. It's…heavily implied in the other statement, but…who told you that?"
"Odd." She supplies.
"We'll," and his uncomfortable smirk is back, "Now you know what I really said."
She takes a shaky deep breath because the wine seems to have retreated to shore for safety. "Yes…I do…don't I?"
She looks down to the floor and so begins seven and a half minutes of heavy and painful silence. She doesn't know how to respond to that. No…not, it's not news to her. She knows he loves her – she suspected that he was in love with her, but for him to say that out loud – in a courtroom, nonetheless when everything – everything in their lives is on the line. That – that is news to her, because that is bold, so very bold and Gibbs was there. Gibbs was there so if they do, by some divine intervention, manage to get out of their latest predicament as a team – well then – Tony, he has altered that irrevocably.
But it's hard for her to focus on her negative thoughts in regards to his public admission because this meant more to her than anything he'd ever done for. Yes, he'd saved her life before, but this … he doesn't just want her existing in the world – he wants –Ziva can't even finish that thought and she certainly doesn't know how to respond to it. Her cheeks are growing exceptionally warm and she now cannot remember which of them spoke last and therefore who should be speaking next.
But before she can delve further into panic, he speaks again and it causes her head to snap up.
"I'm sorry if you think I went against the plan or if you think I've jeopardized something, but…it didn't feel right saying no. I couldn't do it."
And in that exact moment, she realizes why she's always loved him. Why she's never been able to stop. Because in this moment, he's picked her. He's picked her when he should've picked duty or country or authority. Unlike those in the past, he picked her.
He picked her – Ziva – in public when he shouldn't have and yet, he did and she knows that he will.
She feels like everything has brought her to this moment, because, yes, they may be about to loose everything but she feels like she's been given the universe.
"I don't know what to say." And it's the first time she's spoken in moments.
He shrugs. "You don't have to say anything." And he looks a bit defeated – like he's won a battle that he's proud of, but knows that he's losing the war.
But she feels just the opposite.
She shakes her head, "No, I'm sorry that's not what I meant."
"Ziva, it's fine." But she knows it's not. She can tell and anyway – silence will not convey her truth and who knows what she'll be asked about tomorrow and how things will go in the days after that and that's when she realizes she's crying because he's quick to move across the small space and take up a seat next to her.
"I'm sorry." He whispers, "I didn't mean to upset you." And his arm has come around her shoulders and she goes far too easily into his chest.
She grabs onto him and through the silent tears running down her face, she tries to explain, "You did not upset me. I just…you overwhelmed me. You should not have said you loved me…you should not have picked me. There are so many things on the line right now and yet…you did and, it is that other have had less on the line and not picked me."
He shrugs again and though she cannot see his smirk re-emerge, she can feel it. "I can't help it. You must've gotten that by now."
"I love you, too." She grips him tighter. "I…so much, Tony. And if …if it comes up tomorrow – I will pick you too."
A/N2: Let me know what you thought. And to anyone reading Vicissitudes - I'm sorry, I working on it.