Disclaimer: Why is my nose getting longer?!
Spoilers: 7x13 "Jet Lag," but barely.
This was originally meant to be another smut fic :P the prompt given by Anne was "Paris sex." But it just wasn't happening, based on the direction the story was travelling in, so I cut it short and decided to publish this. I don't consider it one of my best work, especially considering I've written other stories like it before, but I hope you like it, anyway!
Muted sounds of traffic from the main road floated into the picturesque street. Ziva inclined her head, taking in the gentle mid-morning sunlight and the sound of a glass door sliding open behind her.
"Ah, Paree," Tony said gleefully, stepping out onto the balcony. "Well, we've been here once before, but—"
"You have been here once before, Tony." She smiled as she swung around to meet his eyes. "I have been here more than twice."
She lifted two fingers to illustrate, and he deflated. "Well, you're a party pooper."
She laughed and patted his chest in consolation. "Well, we are … unemployed now. We have time to explore, yes?" No more being given pressure to return immediately, she wanted to say, but she knew that the wounds were still too fresh for either of them.
Deep in her heart, she had to admit that she missed her job.
A warm hand rubbing her arm brought her attention back to him, and when she looked up at him, he said, "Paris, with you." His green eyes were steady on hers. "I think that's pretty much all the exploring I'll need."
She stared at him, her heart hammering in her throat at his unexpected honesty. He had simultaneously unnerved her and put her on guard; it was merely Tony, she knew, but while she trusted him to never hurt her, there was an unwritten rule that they never spoke about their feelings.
Had the status quo changed now that they were there outside their jobs?
The light in his eyes dimmed, and then he was casting his gaze downwards. He cleared his throat and asked, "So, the Louvre first?"
She nodded and he put on his best I-haven't-a-care-in-the-world grin, and suddenly she found herself wishing she'd been just as unexpectedly honest with him as he'd been with her.
"You know, I have never been here in the capacity of a tourist before," she said contemplatively as she leant back in her chair, full from the lunch they were currently having in a little Parisian café.
"Is that why you chose it?" he asked. "I mean, you've been to Paris, like, numerous times. You had to have seen all the landmarks before. So, why'd you still choose to come here?"
"I like it," she answered simply. "It is nothing grand to me—it is neither the City of Lights nor the City of Love to me. But it is my third home, behind Tel Aviv and DC."
"You mustn't be very well-acquainted with your homes since you probably haven't been to Tel Aviv or DC in the capacity of a tourist before either," he observed. She raised her eyebrows in question at him. He explained, "Well, that's how you get to know your city best. You take a day off and go 'round exploring all its nooks and crannies."
"And you have been a tourist in DC before?" she asked sceptically.
He frowned, scratching his nose. "DC is like a stopping place for me. Long Island is my home, and I've certainly been all over New York before. And, well, I guess DC is my home too—sort of—but I've just never found anything there to help me settle. Y'know? Kinda makes me wonder if I'll leave someday."
She swallowed hard at his words. "I'd miss you if you left."
He sent her a look so full of longing, it made her ache everywhere. "You could come with me."
"Or you could stay," she said quietly, and he chuckled humourlessly.
"I need to know I'm staying for something."
And this was her chance to be honest with him, she knew. He was being kind enough to give her an opening, and she'd be a fool not to take it.
Perhaps she was foolish, but she didn't want to be any longer.
So, she spoke up. "You are," she whispered, and his answering smile was small but full of warmth.
Somehow, he managed to get away with wrapping her in one arm as they strolled along the Seine River.
"You know, they do have a cruise in the evenings," she told him, snuggling into him. "And the Eiffel Tower is supposed to light up just as you finish. Are you interested?"
"I don't know," he replied. "I think I'd prefer to take a walk here with you than be on a boat with, like, a hundred other people."
She chuckled. "It is the touristy thing to do."
"I already did the tourist thing the first time 'round."
She furrowed her brows, puzzled. "Then why did you agree to come along?"
He shrugged. "You asked me."
And yes, she had to admit to herself then that even though the way he hugged her could be construed as a friendly thing and even though neither of them would dare to suggest otherwise, she had, perhaps, asked him along because she wanted just as much as him for it to be him and her, alone in another world.
After dinner, she settled down in Tony's bed to watch a movie. He squeezed in next to her once he had picked a title; side by side they lay, pretending not to be acutely aware of each other's proximity.
Eventually, she gave up and thumped her head into his shoulder. "What are we doing?" she asked him. He looked at her.
"What d'you mean?"
"We are in Paris alone," she said haltingly. "And I have just spent the whole day trying to figure out the significance of being here with you. It should not be significant, but it-… it just feels different and I don't know … if it is different."
"I have wanted 'different' with you for a long time, Ziva."
The indirect confession left a bitter taste in her mouth. She blinked rapidly. "Do you remember…" She cleared her throat. "Do you remember the last time we were in Paris?"
"Yeah?" he prompted.
"Do you remember having to wake me up from a nightmare?"
"Do you remember the nightmare I had again, the night after my father died?"
"I don't forget, Ziva."
His impatient reply made her bite her lip. "Well, that is what 'different' with me would be like. You'd forever be waiting for me to fall. You'd forever be waking me up from the next nightmare. That is not a good life to have."
"It's the one I want," he answered with determination.
"Are you crazy?" she blurted.
"Maybe." She rolled her eyes, fed up, and he grabbed her hand and said, "If I don't do this, Ziva, it's going to be me waking myself up from the nightmare. Every single night I'd be waiting for myself to fall because I let you go when I could've had you. And I don't want that. I don't want to do that when you're right here and I have a chance—please, Ziva, please just give me my chance."
She breathed out, shaken by his implorations. She didn't know what to say.
And it was clear that he was nervous, because his grip around her hand was slackening, and she could feel him edging away without really seeing it.
So, she flipped her palm over and smoothly slid her fingers in between his, holding on tight. "I do—I am attracted to you," she started. "You know that, right?"
"I wasn't sure," he answered gruffly, but his voice wavered.
"I am," she reiterated. "But attraction … it changes in form as time passes. I am not sure if we have it in us to go the distance. One day, you are going to have had it with my baggage."
He was suddenly sitting a lot closer and leaning his head against hers. "You severely underestimate me, sweetcheeks."
"I have a lot of baggage."
"So do I."
He shushed her, pressing a finger to her lips. "I don't need you telling me I don't have baggage or there are plenty of other baggage-less fish in the sea or something. I know myself; I know the baggage I have. And I know no one's ever put up with me as much as you have. I need you. I need you, Ziva, and I don't know if maybe you don't need me, but if baggage is the only thing holding you back, then I can assure you that I will be weighed down all the more if you walked away than if you stayed."
His voice was almost cracking by the time he finished, and she felt her heart thud with guilt over his pain. She lifted her fingertips to his jaw and stroked him lightly. "You don't need me," she said gently. "That's a silly concept."
"I'm a silly person," he answered stubbornly, and she sighed.
"I suppose I do have a thing for silliness."
His breath audibly caught. "Is that—Does that mean…?"
She opened her mouth, shut it, and then opened it again. "Yes."
The force of his kiss almost knocked her over.
It wasn't particularly hard or even particularly insistent; it was just passionate, so passionate that it blew her away. Tony DiNozzo was kissing her.
How did she even get to be so lucky?
"You won't regret it," he promised her when he pulled away, and there wasn't a single part of her which didn't believe him.
Hooking a wrist around his neck and weaving her fingers through his hair, she drew him to her again.
Oh, she was the luckiest woman in the world.