For the lovely lady, Mcgeekle: A very Happy Birthday!
"They're here. Go."
Their eyes meet, and Gibbs voice fills their heads as he speaks through the bugs in each of their ears. The transmission comes from the van that lays waiting just outside the hotel, monitoring the two agents that currently sit undercover in the hotel's massive banquet hall.
Ziva puts down the mojito that had only just begun to warm her belly as Tony empties his tumbler, leaving nothing but ice to clink against the glass. Together, they push back from the table, and he reaches to clasp her free hand in his.
They make their way swiftly out of the hall, slowing when they see their suspect moving down the hall that leads to the elevator. Ziva automatically falls into his space, clinging to him, and adding a stumble or two every few steps in her high stilettos, releasing a slurred giggle with each careful misstep.
The man they trail continues to walk on ahead of them, throwing a glance over his shoulder only once at their presence unpreturbed, satisfied with their appearance.
As far as he was concerned, there was nothing to see here. Just a drunken couple stumbling their way to their room.
Tony's hand unconsciously grips her around her hip with every stumble she feigns, reacting automatically even though he was well aware that his partner could easily wear stilettos while balancing on a tight rope and throwing back shots in the process.
They make it to the elevator before Gibbs' command echoes in their ears.
"Sell it, you two."
They move around their suspect towards the back of the elevator, and instantly Tony turns to shove her against the wall, pressing a kiss to her mouth with a low moan and trailing his lips down her neck.
"Is he watching?" He murmurs roughly, voice barely above a decibel, as he nudges her head back to press a kiss behind her ear.
Ziva makes a noise that isn't very definitive, and he realizes that in this moment, it doesn't quite matter.
She tilts her head to the side just as the elevator dings, and she tightens her grip on his belt as she pulls him along to follow the man that steps onto the fifth floor.
"Bedroom," Ziva laughs breathlessly, turning around to press herself into him as they stop outside the door two rooms away from where their suspect stands unlocking his own. As she gropes his pockets for the key it takes his brain several seconds to catch up that she's letting Gibbs know where they are.
"Stay in the room in case he leaves," Gibbs voice filters through once more, "We'll monitor him. Just make sure he's not monitoring you." The feed clicks off, and Ziva's pressing him into the room, her breath on his neck and her hands return to dragging over his chest.
At last, they're all alone.
Tony's mouth crushes hers finally, and the moan she'd been restraining is muffled against his insistent lips. Her hands rest idling against him now, one hand twisted into the hairs at his nape as the other presses gently against his torso.
His hands search.
They graze all over her body, clenching around her dress, causing it to rise up her thighs, and he nudges her legs aside to press one between her. He skims his hands higher as his lips drop lower, pressing warm, soft kisses across her neck and exposed chest, and she drops her head back against the door in response.
"Zipper?" He mumbles aggressively between each kiss, pulling at her sides, searching futilely.
"No," She sighs weakly. "Buttons. Tony- "
His hands are on her back then, and in the next second she feels him pop the buttons free with a tug, and the dress falls to the floor, already long forgotten.
Her sentence dies at the feel of his hands on her bare skin; his touch like fire as he makes his way down her body.
She loses herself in the feel of lips, the kisses he presses across her skin when his mouth isn't attacking hers. It's only when he drops to his knees and his mouth trails a path down her stomach that she swallows harshly, and grips at the back of his head with all the strength she can manage.
"Tony, stop. We have to stop."
She's panting as he pauses against her toned stomach, and she feels his breath come in warm gasps as he pulls his lips from her skin, letting his forehead fall against her.
They breathe heavily for several moments, as reality comes back to them with a shock, and they're suddenly very aware of what they are doing.
When she's sure he will remain still, she brings one hand up to press against her forehead.
"We have to stop."
Tony only nods resolutely against her, closing his eyes as her fingers comb through his hair, scratching his scalp slowly.
He breathes deeply, losing himself now in the feel of her touch.
His voice isn't more than a whisper.
"I'm gonna need a drink later after this week." Tony looks over the roof of the charger as he waits for his partner to climb gracefully out of the vehicle. She adjusts the gun that rests at her hip, blinking harshly in the sunlight as she removes her sunglasses and throws them onto her seat in the vehicle.
"Tell me what to bring over, since I owe you now." She glares briefly in his direction, and turns her attention to check herself over in the window's reflection. He smiles softly at the assertion that she would be joining him, and he finds that he doesn't mind all that much.
"Are you still on your Shock Top kick?" Ziva wrinkles her nose in distaste at his most recent preference in beer, slamming the door shut and coming to meet him around the front of the car.
He bumps her with his shoulder affectionately, walking up the path to the low level of the warehouse and stepping around discarded equipment. She pushes back against his arm as she finishes a text to McGee, informing him that they had arrived, and pocketed the device as his response comes back telling her that he and Gibbs were on their way from across town.
"At least I try new things," he mocks her as he lets her pass, so she can step through the framework first. "You are predictable. Don't you get tired of Heinekin?" He grins when she turns to frown indignantly at him, but he really only means to tease her. He gets a kick out of her taste and preference.
Ziva is about to respond when she freezes; throwing up her hand and tilting her head off in the direction in the depths of the warehouse where walls had been resurrected. Tony's hand instantly twitches to his side, becoming much more aware of the weight of the firearm that rests there. He waits as Ziva gives him a firm nod and turns, her hand moving to free her weapon.
A shot goes off in the space of five seconds, and Ziva's disappeared behind a corner before he has fully drawn his gun.
The building was a network of bright yellow steel supports and cement slabs; Unsuspicious as any crime scene could be.
The MCRT team had already canvased the area earlier in the week, after the first initial call in for the death of the fifth petty officer they were investigating. They'd gleamed quickly that his death was another in the long string that had been occurring over the course of the month. They'd been able to trace the fallen men back to a very successful broker who was inclined to work closely with men in uniform.
It appeared he had other motives than business.
From what they could gather, he'd been taking advantage of the last five victims, and while they hadn't had enough evidence to pin him for the crimes he'd been carrying out, they'd been able to learn enough through several stake-outs and an undercover mission at one of his recent banquets.
After the banquet though, he had disappeared quickly, and the only thing they had to go on was the warehouse they had discovered the body of the fifth petty officer.
Four days after the banquet, they had yet to track down his current where-abouts, even after Abby did her science thing and McGee did his "Q" impersonation, and Gibbs stormed in and out of the bullpen, taking in high levels of caffeine and breathing out ire. That left Tony and Ziva to steal exasperated glances from across the bullpen as the frustration amongst the team steadily became more suffocating and tension mounted with every hour that passed that didn't yield more promising leads.
They found themselves alone about an hour before all hell broke loose on Thursday afternoon. Gibbs had disappeared in a puff of coffee and fury, taking McGee with him as they headed out to the broker's last known address; leaving the dynamic duo mercifully to the desk jobs and a reprieve from the tension.
And as usual, instead of dealing with their own growing tension after their undercover stint almost a week ago, they had reverted to their typical way of handling the relationship that was blurring more with every passing day.
Pretending that it wasn't happening.
Ziva was attempting to covertly steal another bite of his General Tso's as he opted to feign ignorance, meanwhile considering just which movie he was going to coerce the not-so-stealthy ex-Mossad super spy into watching if they actually got out on time tonight; because she owed him a six pack after loosing their bet over whether McGee would be the first to receive a Gibbs slap that week, and she hadn't even turned to look at him when the Probie spectacularly fell victim to no less blunt force trauma to the back of the head, in retribution for dropping their bosses coffee when he was reunited with the duo for the first time after the undercover stint the night before. They had been posing as a couple the entire night, and had purposely attempted to fluster the Agent with suggestive comments to one another. McGee had taken one look at Ziva that morning and was instantly flustered, blushing furiously and knocking into Gibbs coffee that sat on his desk.
Tony was watching just as his partner popped another piece of chicken into her mouth, giving him a wide eyed, self aware smile around a mouthful of food, when her phone went off between them, vibrating across the surface of his desk they were sharing lunch at. Ziva's eyebrows went up as she tried to chew faster, and Tony couldn't hold back a chuckle as he reached around her iced tea to pick up her phone.
"Easy, lion. Even ninjas can choke." He chides, glancing at the screen before bringing the phone to his ear, and she pinches his arm half-heartedly with a mumble while she dabbed her mouth with a napkin.
Tony winked at her, grinning, before greeting the caller.
"Hey boss, Ziva's busy-"
"Happy hour's over. Need you two to head over to that warehouse again. Warrant came through to finally process the area."
Ziva frowns as she takes in Tony's demeanor morphing from joking to business, and waits until her partner makes a motion with his hands and points toward the elevator while getting up from his chair. Ziva quickly gathers up their food to dispose of it, and quickly scoots over to her desk to return her chair and grab her bag.
Tony still clutches her phone between his ear and shoulder as he gathers his things, listening as their Boss rattles off the address once more for them, and the partners fluidly fall into sync with one another when they meet at the entrance to the bullpen and head off toward the elevator.
His first instinct is to panic.
He'll leave the fury for later.
He whips around the corner just as Ziva barrels into their missing killer, both falling to the ground in a tangle of limbs as she fights for control of his weapon.
Tony kicks aside the ejected casing, and it clatters loudly in the cement space, the echo mixing in with the sounds of the struggle that continues on before him.
Ziva pops up feet away from him, and their suspect rolls to his feet, bringing his gun up and leveling it in her direction. His eyes are blazing, and he glances between the pair of them, judging the space that's still between them, before turning and darting for the direction of the concrete stairwell.
She wastes no time running after him, and he takes off on her heels, beginning to pant at the exertion that it requires to keep up with her.
"HEY," He shouts angrily, as they fly up one level and he trails below another, but the only response he receives is his own answering echo. He's made it the second landing when he finally hears his partner's voice ring out, rattling off her title and ordering the suspect to stop immediately. He has his gun raised before him as he comes out of the stairwell, and it's his sudden appearance that must startle the suspect because he pulls the trigger as his eyes drift panicky to him, behind the same woman he's got the gun trained on.
"Ziva," his voice chokes out, just as she crumbles.
The deadly sound ricochets off the cement that surrounds them, and that's when he unleashes no mercy. He takes quick aim, fires twice, and doesn't even wait to watch the suspect's legs crumble from underneath him, screaming in agony as he goes down.
He sits besides the gas pump as the fuel creeps slowly into the tank, and Ziva's muffled voice comes from behind the open trunk.
"I think the vests are getting tighter."
He looks up as she appears from behind the car, adjusting the Kevlar vest uncomfortably as she gives him a withering glare.
He frowns at her briefly before walking toward her to pull the pump from the tank.
"Maybe if you stopped eating half of my lunch all the time, it wouldn't be so snug."
He bites back a laugh as her predictable blow lands against his bicep, and shrugs out of her range as she moves to strike again.
"I would bet mine still fits better than yours," She sniffs, faking him out with a final punch so he jerks, and walks back to stand before the trunk.
"You sure you wanna take on another bet already, Sweetcheeks?" He calls to her over his shoulder, moving away from the pump and coming around to where she stands.
"Why are you putting your vest on anyway?" He moans when she slaps his own to his chest forcefully, and he pouts as he accepts it unwillingly.
"To make you suffer," She eyes his up and down, gaze lingering at his stomach. "And to prove a point. You ate more of your lunch than I did." She smiles deviously at him, and slams the trunk, walking around to her side of the car.
He grumbles at her back as he shrugs off his suit jacket.
"It's not that, I just hate taking the time to undo buttons."
Ziva gives him a final smirk, looking back at him once more before ducking into the car.
"Oh, I know." She murmurs intimately, and he snorts quietly under his breath, failing to reign in his smile.
The anger hits him with crushing force once Gibbs and McGee arrive on the scene.
He stands beside McGee as he relays the incident once more for the Probie under Gibbs' orders. Said man was standing over by the remaining ambulance that was on scene; the other having left with an unconscious, but stable convicted broker, who was very sorry indeed for messing with the wrong partner.
His eyes keep drifting to where she sits, half of her view obstructed from Gibbs' close proximity beside her. He watches as their Boss crouches before where she sits at the back of the ambulance, still clutching her stomach and taking careful breaths. Gibbs taps a a finger gently on her knee, leaning forward to whisper against her ear. She pulls back, shaking her head no, her eyes wide and carefully guarded. Their bosses piercing gaze drills into her, though, and he rests his hand against her knee again briefly, mouthing her name with a stern expression.
Even Ziva cannot hold under his penetrating gaze, and he watches as she dips her head, and a hand suspiciously comes up to wipe at the blossoming bruise along her cheek.
Gibbs turns in his direction then, and their eyes meet across the distance that separates them. He frowns slightly at the anger that radiates from his Senior Field Agent, palpable within the air between them, and though his face doesn't change, his eyes seem to soften in understanding.
He turns back to Ziva then, and he says something that causes her to look back up at him and shake her head mutely, but he merely leans down to swiftly peck her cheek, squeezing her shoulder before he turns and walks over to where they stand.
Gibbs nods at the pair of them when he approaches, turning to look at McGee.
"Tim, go let Abs know we have evidence on the way over to her."
McGee merely glances between the men, sensing his dismissal, and mumbles a dutiful, "On it, Boss," before pulling out his phone and tucking his pen and paper away, walking over in the direction of the Charger.
He stands looking off in the other direction silently, clenching and unclenching his fists at his side as he waits for his Boss to address him.
"She's fine." Gibbs murmurs, too quiet for others passing around them to catch. "Ribs are bruised, but no fractures."
Tony unclenches his jaw, rolling his eyes upwards and scratching at the stubble that was starting to show on his chin.
"She's lucky she had her damn vest on." He grunts, and says another prayer of thanks to whatever force that was watching out for them that afternoon.
The memory of their conversation in the garage earlier makes his stomach clench, and Gibbs watches the storm that it elicits across his face.
"You both are lucky," The older man urges, fixing him with a glare.
He only nods in response, jamming his fists into his pockets. Gibbs continues to appriase him, and he senses that he has more to say, but for once it seems his Boss is hesitant to reprimand him. Tony waits him out, but when Gibbs cast one more glance between him and where Ziva still sits across the scene, it's all that he can handle.
"I'll have my report in tomorrow," He grits out, and nods in Ziva's direction before turning his back on the scene. "Tell her to ice herself." He pauses, then says pointedly, "and that I will see her tomorrow." He knows that Gibbs will convey the message to leave him be for the night.
He doesn't think he can talk to her tonight, much less see her.
Gibbs doesn't fight him; he nods once, and lets his Senior Field Agent turn his back on the day.
His eyes aren't the only ones that are heavy on his retreating back.
He's attuned to her gaze more than anyone else.
Ziva lays motionless on the ground, and he scrambles manically to crouch over her.
"Ziva," he yells again, discarding his suit jacket with a violent jerk of uncooperative limbs and throwing his gun to the side.
It takes him a few seconds as his vision clears and his body adjusts to the adrenaline to see that she's breathing. Slow, heavy gasps expand and collapse her chest as she looks up at him; eyes wide and alive and dazed.
His hand searches her jacket and chest while the other palms the side of her head.
"Breathe, Ziva. Slowly," He grunts forcefully, freeing her from her jacket and breathing a huge sigh of relief as his hand finds the bullet embedded in the Kevlar, glistening clean, clear of the sticky, red he feared to find.
He rips the vest open, shushing her when she groans noisily and her head falls to the side against his touch.
"How about that drink later?" She wheezes against his palm.
He chuckles, relief flooding him, and shakes his head as he watches her breathing carefully.
"That's my girl," he laughs, looking down at her. His breathing slowly begins to return to normal, and she cracks a weak smile, closing her eyes and murmuring unintelligibly in response. He pulls his palm briefly from her face to pull out his phone and 9-1-1 Gibbs, and drops the phone to the side to reach for her once more.
They sit in silence as their breathing evens out, and Tony glances vaguely over to their suspect, now unconscious, clutching at the bullets that were embedded in his leg. He drops his forehead to rest cautiously against Ziva's open vest, uttering a thousand thanks silently in his head.
His mood is dark, but his apartment is darker as the arrival of night permeates the bedroom around him.
He had come straight to his bed the moment he'd gotten home, throwing himself against the mattress and only expending enough energy to toe off his shoes and unbutton his dress shirt, letting it fall to the floor in a heap at the foot of his bed.
His body may be exhausted, but his mind is anything but as memories from the past week filter through his mind, and he tosses and turns as memories of Ziva's body against his mix with the fear of what the very same body looked like as it crumbled to the ground earlier in the warehouse that day.
He's still angry, but frustration begins to take over. Angry, because she can never not throw herself head long into danger and pain and every other terrifying force in their universe. But he's spent the last several years accepting that it was something about her that he had no hope at changing. No, frustration is what currently fills him, and had so for much longer than this week.
It seems later than it truly is when he finally closes his eyes; but his head finally relaxes against his pillow when the clock blinks twenty-one hundred.
His brain registers the sound of his lock clicking; a door opening, and the whisper of it softly falling shut.
He's half-aware by the time he hears the almost inaudible tread of careful footsteps, and then silence truly settles again as minutes pass and he breathes deeply against his sheets.
"I know you're there," He murmurs quietly, only half sure she's standing in the shadow of his ajar door. She could very well be on his couch.
He hears movement then, and out of the corner of his eye her dark outline emerges from between his doorframe. She slowly shuffles toward his bed, and he hears a clink when she crouches to set something aside, and he continues to stare at the wall in the other direction as hears the shuffle of clothes, preceding a dip in the mattress beside him.
He feels her carefully crawl under the sheets beside him, her movements stiff and slow, and he realizes she must be feeling the significance of today by now.
She doesn't speak as she carefully molds her body around his from behind, slipping a bare leg between his own, and a warm hand snakes across his chest to hug him tightly. He feels her bury her head between his shoulder blades, and he sighs deeply in resignation as he reaches to curl a hand around hers, clutching it to his chest.
"What are you doing here, Ziva?"
His voice holds no malice, and he can feel her exhale a shuddering breath, layered with relief.
Curling herself tighter around him, she pulls her face away to rub her cheek along his back.
"I owed you a six pack."
He can't help the chuckle that escapes him, and he feels her smile as she presses her face once more into the space between his shoulders, and her other hand slips into his hair.
"For the bet." He recalls, groaning lowly at the feel of her nails as they scratch lightly against him. It seems like so long ago they were discussing how this night was supposed to turn out.
"No." She whispers. "A six pack for having my six."
Tony pauses his fingers that were tracing lines across the back of her hand, adjusting his grip to thread their fingers together.
"Are you okay?" He murmurs after several minutes, and he feels her lips press into the cotton shirt that covers him. Her hand stills briefly in his hair.
"I am now." She says softly, closing her eyes, and returns to running her fingers across his scalp.
His eyes closes along with hers, and they slip into oblivion at last.
He wakes, and he's so very surrounded by her.
She's curled, if possible, even tighter around him than she was the night before. He's far too overwhelmed by the smell and feel of her in this half-conscious state that it takes him more than a second to realize she's still here, and that's her leg innocently gliding up and down between his, and her warm hand smoothing over his shoulder.
But then he realizes that this is her, and there's no such thing as innocent when it comes to his partner.
He groans as he feels her lips join the equation; so different from that night undercover, but no less intoxicating.
He hums as he feels her kiss her way across his neck; along his jaw and up to press against the stubble of his cheek.
"Good morning, she purrs quietly.
And that's what flips the switch.
He rolls out of her grasp, and cool air slips through briefly between them before he lifts himself to hover over her, trapping her body between his. He glances down at her for the first time since she'd arrived last night, and even with the shadow of a bruise against her cheek, her smile is no less dazzling.
Brushing an errant curl from across her face, he lets his thumb graze over the purple that stains her cheek, leaning down to replace the touch with his lips.
"Hello," he presses against her warm skin, and moves to capture her answering smile with his lips.
The kiss doesn't escalate like the one they shared the other night.
But oh, does it build.
He moves against her mouth, languidly, unhurriedly, as if he had all the time in the world. His hand doesn't start exploring her until she moans as his lips drop under her jaw, and he presses open mouth kisses to her neck; soft, darting bites that will no doubt leave marks later.
As his hand moves down her body, he pauses at the feel of the shirt that obstructs him from the view he's on a mission to uncover. She stifles a groan as he pulls back , and he eyes her incredulously as he takes in the shirt he'd abandoned on his floor last night.
She laughs breathlessly as his eyes roam her body. She reaches up to wrap a hand around his neck, pulling him down for another long, deep, kiss.
"You took it off." She breathes, pulling back to look into his eyes.
His eyes darken, and he moves his hand between them to fumble with the buttons.
"Now I'm gonna take it off you," He grins, returning his lips to her mouth. But he finds that adding undressing into the equation of kissing Ziva is more difficult than he realized. His hand struggles between them, and he finally pulls away from her with a groan.
"Damnit, Ziva." He growls, his shaking fingers hastily undoing the buttons and quickly spreading out the shirt, finally exposing her bare.
He drops his lips to her ear.
"No more buttons." He growls.
She shivers as he kisses down her neck once more, her hand tightening in his hair when his face pauses its path down. He pulls back, and she sees his eyes darken as they take in the bruised expanse of her ribs and stomach, and the heat between them cools.
He hovers above her silently, and his eyes finally return to meet her gaze. His hands travel the length of her, coming to rest across the toned muscle of her stomach, smoothing delicately over the blossoming bruises.
Her throat tightens as she watches him, and she blinks rapidly to clear her vision.
"I am sorry, Tony."
He remains quiet, still, his touch ghosting over her skin, and then leans down to kiss across the expanse of blue and purple.
Her hand tightens around his neck as he moves back up her body, wrapping his arms around her and pulling her against him as gently as he could.
"I can't lose you, Ziva." He whispers into her hair, and she tenses against his hold. He clings tighter, smoothing his hands down her back until she begins to melt into him.
"You can't just throw yourself away like that," he continues, his breath catching in his throat. "I've waited to have you, now you have to promise to wait for me."
"So I can be there have your back."
She shudders against him, and he feels something suspiciously wet drip onto his neck.
His hands still trail up into her curls, and he pulls back to look at her.
"I've got your six, Ziva."
She curls a hand around one of his own, blinking furiously and nodding as her tears threaten to fall.
He waits as Ziva leans into him, her nose brushing softly against his cheek.
"You always have, Tony." She murmurs a breath from his mouth, and closes the distance to capture his lips once more.
He grins against her, pulling her down, down, down, under the cover of sheets and him and them.
They won't surface anytime soon.