setting: Shortly before "Patriot Down", for the chemistry of it. Also, in this universe the OOC atrocity that was "Obsession" never happened.
warnings & rating: The shippy part of this is drunken, very adult almost-sweetness - well, as sweet as two emotionally inept people can get. The Somalia/backgroundy part is anything but sweet.
word count: around 7,400
comments & feedback: very much appreciated.
When it happens, they are halfway through their second movie and even further through the bottle of tequila they've been doing shots from. Tony has just watched her throw popcorn at the screen, and when he tries not to grin while he tells her that this was supposed to be one of the best parts, she turns and throws more popcorn. At him.
Movie Night, that delicious little ritual they picked up a short while after they shared a pirate movie at the office and an even shorter while after Ziva has finally accompanied him and Abby for a drink and a dance after work.
He never asks to go to her place, shrugging it off with reminding her that she still doesn't own a TV, just a bookshelf, so Movie Night is kinda tough to arrange there. In truth, she knows that there are other reasons for it, too, but since they are both not big on dwelling on things, she never presses the issue. She likes his couch, by now. She has fallen asleep on it a few times, and it's comfortable and wide enough that she is good even through the occasional nightmares.
She also likes it when he makes her breakfast in the morning after these sleepovers, and she likes it enough to not look too hard for someone else to occupy her Friday nights lately. He's different in the mornings, much more quiet, much less of a clown, and sometimes he even smiles at her sideways with a certain expression on his face while he's brewing tea for her. She's still not sure about the reason for that. Maybe it's just because his mind is finally off work then. Maybe he just likes to look at her in the morning. She doesn't ask. He doesn't tell.
So, when it happens - and she is not sure why exactly it happens, just that he suddenly snorts in reply to something she forgets the moment it has left her mouth and turns to her and says, "I already went to the end of the world for you, Zee-vah, what else do you expect from a guy?"
And she feels giddy and drunk and for the tiniest moment she doesn't take care, and so she slips up and says, laughing, "Africa is hardly the end of the world, To-neeh."
The sudden silence, filled by the soundtrack from his plasma, makes her turn her head, and she sees something in his face, something that wasn't there before.
"Felt like it, going in," he says with a shrug, and something inside her gives, too, because she knows what he's talking about. Knows it so well that the giddiness is momentarily replaced by a hollow... thing. An echo of how it felt which is so far from how she was just a minute ago that it makes her head spin.
"Yes," she says, and for once he just keeps looking at her, not closing down, not hiding anything. It's a bit like Somalia all over again, just that she can reach out this time and touch him.
His cheek is rough under her palm after the long day they had, and it feels eerily familiar. She blinks, tries to focus, and then she suddenly finds that she is running her thumb over his mouth. His mouth that is always agile, but so enticing in its softness, yielding against her fingertips now and in stark contrast to his stubble.
So, when it happens, it is decidedly unspectacular and not all that much different, and he has his hand under her shirt and has already coaxed her nipple into a tight nub before they both realize that they're doing the things that usually turn them on. And that these things don't fail their purpose now.
He is so weirdly unhurried when he kisses her that she thinks for a moment it's because he's too drunk to get it up anyway. When she straddles him and settles in his lap, though, she is proven wrong, and she draws back to look at his face, slightly confused. She isn't quite sure what she expects to see, really - lust? Triumph, maybe, or smugness?
He gives her neither of these things, only looks at her like he sometimes does in the field, with no walls between them, no pretense, no deflection. One of those moments when he's just Tony, looking at just Ziva, and things just work because sometimes they just get each other.
Still, he takes that as his cue to say, "Are you sure?", and her closeness-drunken mind has to actually think about pulling away now versus leaning back in for more.
"Would anything change back if we stop here?" she asks eventually and gives up on the thinking, and when a hint of confusion crosses his face, too, she runs a hand through his hair. His eyes flutter shut at the sensation, and she smiles while she watches him enjoy her touch and thinks that yes, this could be interesting. She runs her hand down his neck and lower, and then she flicks her wrist to open the first of his shirt buttons and leans in to brush her lips against his, saying, "If you are going to look at me all weird on Monday, I want a good reason for that at least."
He appreciates her logic, and so he leans into her as if he never stopped kissing her. His hands slip back under her blouse, taking the short route to feeling her up, and he runs his fingertips up and down her sides until her skin is tight with goose flesh and a small moan escapes her.
His hands never hesitate because he already knows her scars, ever since she showed them to him in Paris. Ever since he caught her running around in just a bath towel and his eyes were suddenly fixed on something she had forgotten just long enough to startle him. He never touched her back then, just looked at her patiently while she explained to him each mark's origins. He also never gave her the pity she half expected. If anything, it had been pride shining in his eyes, unreasonable pride over his strong partner who had survived, despite.
When she stands now to drop her pants, he watches her silently and with some of that pride crawling back into his face. He licks his lips while she slips out of her panties, and then he scoots towards the edge of the couch and presses his mouth to her, just like that. She gasps in surprise when that draws a sudden rush of heat from her. She hasn't expected this, neither the touch itself nor the way it feels natural to have his lips on her, sucking her, his tongue teasing her until she feels the muscles in her thighs tremble with the effort to hold herself upright.
His mouth, like his speech, is a little slurred, and that gives his tongue the lazy quality of a naughty tide, lapping away at her. He is absurdly talented at what he does to her, and soon her head falls back and her hands tighten in his hair. She's already closer to coming than she's been in months, and she wonders how he does that.
"Showoff," she mutters, panting, and he laughs against her soft flesh, sucking her one last time before he gets to his feet, too.
"You're welcome," he says with a wink, and his smile is slightly smug after all when he slips a finger into her, making her gasp again. He seems to be in no hurry to get naked himself, but Ziva suddenly is, and her hands work on his pants, slightly uncoordinated, but nevertheless effective. He laughs when she pushes him back onto the couch, naked now, but his amusement quickly makes room for a clear goal when she climbs his lap again.
Her breath catches when he slides into her, and just like their kisses earlier, this feels ridiculously familiar, like they have already done this a hundred times before. And maybe they have. It's just a different kind of touch, after all.
His breath comes faster when he makes her move on him, and she follows his lead easily, rising slightly and then falling back down on him again until he moans into her mouth. She moves slowly, lazily, like his kisses, and she's not sure why - maybe it's just the way he feels inside her that does it, or the way his arms are so strong around her - but it only takes a few strokes until she feels herself tighten, and then she suddenly comes, hard and fast, and that takes them both by surprise.
"God," he gasps, and now he stares at her with wide eyes, watches her with something like wonder until her almost violent shudders subside to a mere trembling, because this is the point that is decidedly not normal and not what they do to each other every day, and he has never seen her like this before, that much is sure. It's like he suddenly realizes that, yes, this is actually going somewhere, and now he's throbbing inside her, and she feels his hands tighten on her hips when she starts moving again.
He breathes "I love you" into the curve of her neck when he comes, and something inside her unravels. She knew it, of course, but she's a woman, after all, so hearing it does make a difference. There's still a part of her that hopes he won't remember this in the morning.
He is restless when they find their way to the bed later, and it takes him longer to settle down, maybe because he has almost sobered up by now. She knows that he is still watching her when she falls asleep.
She likes his bed better than the couch, and she thinks that she could get used to it.
He is warm beside her and soundly asleep, finally. She knows that this is the reality. She knows it because she can feel it.
The voice she hears is not real, at least not tonight. It was real once, a steady part of her life and a ritual she could trust in to mark the passing of the days.
"What's keeping you?" the voice says, and it sounds almost as if Saleem is a bit sorry for her. "You know you will talk in the end. Why are you making this harder on yourself?"
She feels herself tense in anticipation of a touch that never comes. Never came.
Tony stirs beside her, and her eyelids flutter. She almost wills him to move so she can wake up, but he doesn't, not enough, and so Saleem turns back to her with a sad little smile.
"No one will come for you, woman."
Her eyes burn with the sand she feels under her eyelids, and she's tired. She has no more tears, and the fight has long left her, and she has no idea why Saleem still doesn't get the answers he is looking for.
"I know," she says, and he cocks his head and watches her with puzzlement on his face.
"Then why are you not answering my questions? Why are you still fighting this?"
She looks up to meet his eyes, and she knows that her look is as empty as her heart feels. "I'm not fighting," she says, and the rasp of her voice hurts her throat. "You are asking the wrong questions."
This is when he loses it and slaps her hard across the mouth after all, and the impact of his hand makes her head snap back. Suddenly there's the taste of blood in her mouth, mixing with the dust and the chemicals, and a distant part of her mind wonders why he is so upset when she has simply been truthful.
If he would ask her just once about why she is here, she would answer in a heartbeat. She would tell him about betrayal and manipulation and infiltration because these are the things she knows. She would tell him everything she knows about Mossad's operations, too, even though she is almost as much in the dark about them as Saleem is because her father doesn't trust her anymore. She would tell him gladly because these are things she knows for sure, at least, things she has grown up with.
But he never asks about Mossad, and so she cannot answer him truthfully because she does not really know anything about the people she has spent the last four years with. She thought she had finally figured out how her life was set up and what she was supposed to do with it and how this was all going to play out in the end, but events have proven her wrong, and Tony has proven her wrong, and Gibbs has, too, and since they have all left her alone she no longer knows what she thought she knew. She's had a glimpse of a nice, predictable life, and it has turned into something she no longer recognizes, and maybe her perceptions have been wrong the whole time because she is just a killer after all, not someone who is supposed to fit in, so how can she tell Saleem a truth when she has, in all honesty, no idea about what it means to--
Tony moves beside her, his hand finally touching her arm, and she sits up in bed, stifling the scream that rises in her throat. Desert sand grinds in her joints, and there is the taste of blood in her mouth while the jagged pieces of a puzzle click together in her mind, and suddenly, after more than a year, she understands a new and ugly truth.
Tell me everything you know about NCIS, Saleem's voice whispers in her head, and for the tiniest moment, she feels his hand in her hair again, jerking her head back.
She barely makes it to the bathroom before she throws up, and it is such a violent reaction that her whole body clenches up, leaving her shaking on the bathroom floor. She's hardly able to hold her hair out of the toilet, and even when the heaving stops, the trembling doesn't, and she has no strength left to get up again and clean herself up. Her throat hurts, and it's not from what she has just done.
"Jesus, Ziva, don't tell me it was that bad," she hears Tony voice behind her, very quiet, and he's trying to play it down like he always does when he's hurting. She hears the insecurity, though, hears the hint of guilt and the question if what happened was maybe a dumb idea after all, and it wasn't, of course, but she can't tell him that because she is still shaking and her throat is still clenching up while she fights her own truths. And then he suddenly gets that this is about something else, and he says her name again, and when she still doesn't answer, he's suddenly beside her, on his knees, brushing her hair back.
"Fuck, Zi," he says when he sees her face, her eyes, the tears streaming down her cheeks, and he holds her tight, not caring that she isn't exactly smelling like roses. She shudders in his arms, and she isn't sure how long they sit like that, with him just pressing her to his chest and running a hand through her hair until she calms down enough that her breathing goes back to something almost resembling normal. He doesn't let go of her until the tears stop, though, and then it's only to get her to her feet and gently nudge her until she climbs into the shower with him so he can clean her up.
She closes her eyes and turns her face into the spray of warm water, and Tony keeps holding her. His hands try to draw the tension out of her shoulders and fail because the shudders keep coming back and she doesn't know how to stop them.
A few times, the tears come back, too, and she isn't sure if he notices it with all that water around them. Probably. If he does, he doesn't ask. She doesn't tell.
She's leaning across his lap and resting against his chest while he has his arm around her, and after a while her left hand comes up to his neck where it curves into his shoulder. His arm tightens around her when she turns into his embrace. He isn't even aware of the possessive way he holds her, but Ziva is, and it surprises her that she doesn't mind.
Her hair is still damp, spread out all over her back and his chest, and she knows she should blow-dry it to keep the curls under control. But she doesn't have the energy left for it, even though Tony will probably tell her that she looks like a poodle tomorrow.
She listens to his breathing, and she finds that her own heartbeat eventually adjusts to match his, calm and steady, even though her mind is anything but. His fingertips keep running over her hip, up and down, not tiring while he is just as lost in his thoughts as she is and busy with not asking questions.
Finally, he can't help his nature and his mouth, but he shows enough restraint to settle for just one, the really obvious one. "Are you okay with this?"
She blinks when she feels his heartbeat quicken under her cheek because he is actually afraid she will blow him off. For a moment, thoughts swirl through her like butterflies in a storm, and she is tempted to ignore the question or answer with a deflective one of her own or just get out of bed and run, as far and as fast as she can. Then the moment is gone, and she sighs softly and turns her head so she can press her face into the curve of his neck. Her lips leave a soft peck there, and she knows that makes him smile even when she doesn't see his face.
"What does it look like?" she murmurs, and he chuckles softly. His arm remains firmly wrapped around her, and even when he falls asleep much later, he doesn't let go of her.
"I need to talk to the Director," she tells him while he is making breakfast, and that throws a wrench into his stride.
"Why?" he asks, and she wants to answer him, she really does. Her lips refuse to part, though, and after the silence stretches for too long, he turns to look at her.
"Okay," he says after a while, wiping his hands on a kitchen towel. "But you're not driving."
Leon Vance isn't too happy when she shows up at his doorstep early on a Saturday morning, especially since he was just about to load his wife and kids into the family car and haul them off to an amusement park. He stares at her with narrowed eyes, and she feels self-conscious all of a sudden, especially when he takes in the bordeaux men's shirt she's wearing and then glances at DiNozzo, who is waiting in his car across the street.
Jackie, who liked her the last time she met her, now actually frowns at Ziva behind her husband's back, asking if whatever this was about couldn't wait until Monday. Ziva feels her eyes widen, and for a moment she's at a loss for words.
Then Vance sighs and assures his wife this won't take long. His eyes tell her this better be good.
It takes longer than he thinks, and she twists her own hand nervously while she waits for him to react. When he does, it is certainly not in a way she expected.
"I thought you were already aware of that, Agent David," he says, and her eyes widen. She can't help looking shocked.
"What?" This is one of the moments when she wants to swear that she can literally feel the color draining from her face. He knew. He knew already. And he didn't tell her.
"Certain sections of Dr. Bracco's reports suggested that you were aware of this... situation," he explains, then cocks his head at her curiously. "In fact, that was one of the factors that led to you being accepted as a probationary agent, David."
She tries to breathe evenly but it doesn't work too well, and Vance's eyes narrow while he scrutinizes her.
"If you didn't know, it certainly brings up the question why you are telling me this now," he says, and she stumbles over the next breath. Her hands tighten on the arm rests, and she hears the leather creak softly.
"I no longer have ties to Mossad," she answers after what feels like a small eternity. "But it might compromise NCIS, and since I..."
Her voice falters, and Vance tilts his head, staring at her like a curious bulldog. She takes a shaky breath. "It's just that you have a relationship with my father, sir." And I want you to be careful.
He keeps staring at her, his brows narrowing while he lets that sink in. Eventually, he leans back in his chair, still holding her gaze, and for a second she feels like she has been caught doing something naughty.
"If there is one thing I can assure you of, Agent David," he says, and his voice makes her jump a little, "it is that I know much more about your father than he knows about me. And about you."
She blinks, and the simple statement makes her head swirl. But she actually believes him, so when he asks her if that was all, she gets up with a nod and lets him escort her out.
And then, when she is almost out of the door, something else clicks in her mind, and she turns to face him once more.
"One question, sir?" She waits for his slight nod, and her hands tighten around the hem of Tony's shirt. "What were the other factors?"
His face shuts down, and for a second she wants to pull back, wants to forget the question ever happened. But he hasn't told her to get off his lawn yet, and he is still thinking about it, so she stands her ground and waits for his answer.
"Aside from you being a good agent and an asset to NCIS," he says slowly, "I owed you one."
She frowns at that, not getting it, and he looks grim at the fact that he not only said that to her but now has to explain it, too.
"It was my decision to hand the location of Saleem's cell to your father," he states, and that is when she understands.
It doesn't matter that Eli would have found out sooner or later anyway. It doesn't matter that maybe he even knew before Vance told him. His decision had set the chain of events in motion that eventually led her to Somalia. In his head, he had indeed owed her one.
Tony turns his head and looks at her when she gets in the car but she can't meet his eyes right now, so she keeps staring ahead, her hands busy with the hem of his shirt again.
"What was that about?" he asks after a while, and she shakes her head. Her throat is tight and her mouth refuses to talk, and when she still can't look at him, he unfastens his seatbelt and turns towards her, saying her name. She flinches when he reaches out to touch her hand, and then she meets his eyes after all. She sees him frown at her expression, and her lips part, but no sound comes out.
"Ziva," he repeats. "Talk to me."
"I can't," she whispers, and it's true, she can't bring herself to say it out loud to him because he's not Vance. He matters.
He takes a deep breath and turns his head, looking away from her, and she turns her hand in her lap to grab his because she thinks he's pulling away now, because she certainly would, and she can't blame him for it. He blinks and stares down at their clasped hands for a moment, and then he frowns and shakes his head.
"We can't keep doing this," he says, and her heart hammers away in her throat because part of her doesn't want to hear this, doesn't want to deal with whatever is about to come. "Last night, we were just partners and friends, and I had no right and no reason to know. But today is different." He hesitates and looks at her, and her skin prickles when she meets his eyes. "If we want this thing to work, we have to stop lying to each other."
Her pulse is a deafening roar in her ears, and just because it is easier and she has gotten used to it over the years, she falls back into pushing him away. "We have a thing now?" she sneers at him and tries to let go of his hand while sudden panic throbs in her throat.
He keeps his hold on her, though, not allowing her to butt out, and there is something hard in his eyes, something she has only seen a few times over the years. And then his brows draw together into a deep frown, and when he speaks, he throws the same acidic tone back at her. "We don't?"
She draws in a deep breath, and the way he suddenly looks at her tells her that he's already sorry, but just like Ziva, he can't say things like that because just like her, he has no experience with this kind of... thing. And even less with being honest.
But she does want this to work, so she leans towards him to press a quick, sloppy kiss to his mouth, and after the caress ends he takes a deep breath, too, and lets his forehead rest against hers, and that's a kind of intimacy that makes her heart pound even harder.
"Okay," she says, and his fingers tighten around hers, hovering on the edge of painful. "But Gibbs first."
He blinks, drawing back, and she can see that for a moment he is no longer sure he really wants to know.
In some ways, Gibbs is easier. He just glances at her over his shoulder when she comes down the stairs quietly, hesitantly, and when he gets a good look at her face, he throws her a sanding block and points at the back of a chair he is working on.
She shrugs out of her jacket and gets to work, and he watches her for a few moments before he moves in and puts his hands on top of hers, gently correcting her speed and direction. He is such a strong presence against her back that for a moment all she wants to do is lean back into his arms and let him hug her, but that's not how things work between them, and so she clings to the slow movements of his hands.
"I am sorry," she says, and there's a little stutter in her voice because this is the point where Gibbs is harder to talk to. She is surprised to feel something wet on the back of her hand. She blinks, tries to hold back the tears, and that makes more of them fall, naturally. "For a lot of things."
Gibbs just sighs against her cheek, and after a few moments spent in silence she finds herself starting at the beginning. This time she doesn't leave anything out and tells him everything he didn't know, which is a lot. She never turns her head to look at him. He never stops the calming motion of his hands, guiding hers.
She takes in a deep breath when she leaves Gibbs's house more than an hour later, and breathing seems a little easier than it was before. Tony still waits for her outside, leaning against the hood of his car, and when he looks up, she sees a weird mixture of fondness and concern in his face. She knows that he notices the red around her eyes when she crosses the lawn, and she waits for him to comment on it, but he never does. He just reaches behind his back and then hands her a big cup that makes her mouth water just by looking at it. Maybe he knows her a little better than she gave him credit for.
"For the soul," he tells her, and she takes the cup with the straw sticking out of the top. Not coffee, as she expected, but a cold shake, and when she raises her eyebrow at him, he breaks into a wide smile that is all DiNozzo charm. "Java Chip Chocolate Cream. With an extra helping of cream, triple chocolate and a double whoop of caramel, just for good measure."
She sniffs at it and shoots him a glance. "Non-fat?" she asks, and he actually snorts.
"Nonsense. This is comfort food, so it has all the real chocolate and fat and sugar crammed into it that a cup can hold, and then some."
She's skeptic, but when she takes a sip, chocolate and cream dance all over her tongue and she feels like her eyes might roll into the back of her head any second now. "Oh God," she moans, licking her lips and then taking another sip. "This is better than sex."
"You're just saying that to make me prove you wrong," Tony grins, winking at her, and maybe it's his closeness, maybe just the sugar rush, but she feels weightless suddenly and strangely giddy, and so she rises to her toes and kisses him.
He moves into it easily, and she feels his hand press against the small of her back while he takes her mouth leisurely, his tongue just a little greedy. He's out of breath when she draws back eventually, and it takes him a second to snap out of it.
"On the other hand, you might have a point there," he says, and she laughs when he grabs her hand to raise the cup so he can take a sip himself. Apparently, he no longer has a problem with her germs.
Her neck prickles, and she glances over her shoulder at the same time Tony does. Gibbs is standing in the doorway, watching them, and when he sees them look his way, he just nods his head at his senior field agent and goes back inside, closing the door.
Tony's face is slightly baffled at his boss's non-reaction to their show, and she knows that now he really wonders what she told Gibbs.
"'Trauma Amnesty Night'?" she asks, and he gives her a shrug while he steers the car around another corner.
"Yeah. You know, we just tell it like it is, and we don't comment on it and don't judge, no matter how bad it is," he says, not looking at her.
She blinks, thinks about it. "Do you really think that will make this honesty thing easier for us?"
He gives her a glance after all before he concentrates on the traffic again. "I don't know," he admits, and it is a tiny shock to her that he already began with being honest without telling her.
He calls it strip truth or dare, just without any dares. Part of her suspects that he just invented that to get her naked and drunk as fast as possible because he can't seriously expect her to answer personal questions truthfully when she has spent the last five years avoiding them.
Strangely, though, it does make things a little less heavy between them, because clothing this into the pretense of a game takes some of the edge off it, and so, when he asks her "Truth or truth?", she can't fight the hint of a smile.
He's easy on her with the questions, and she wants to thank him for that, but then she gets lost in remembering for him how she lost her virginity, which happened two years after she has killed for the first time, and in retelling them, she finds that both incidents have left a tiny hole in the place where emotions should reside.
She has to think about what to ask him at first because the few things she wants to know she is also afraid to touch, and so she settles for his childhood, for his father, for his mother. His expression tells her that these aren't the easy ones for him, but he sticks to the rules and only balks a few times, losing a piece of clothing and doing a vodka shot each time he refuses to answer.
The more drunk he gets, the more intense his own questions become, and soon Ziva finds herself losing clothes, too, because she can't deal with the answers he wants, and she is pretty sure he can't, either. But the more drunk she gets, the more careless her own answers become, and sometime around midnight she tells him that she was in love with him when she heard him say it to another woman. Twelve minutes and two shots later he tells her that he knew.
They move the party down to the floor a while after that, with her leaning back against the couch and Tony across from her, resting comfortably against his massage chair. His legs are stretched out while hers are bent, but she keeps brushing her calf against his thigh every now and then, and she finds that lowered inhibitions make her touch him more often. Which is an interesting side effect of Trauma Amnesty Night.
They are already well on their way towards getting wasted when he asks her if she loved Rivkin, and her mind does a little double take at that because even after a year she has no real answer to that. She wants to tell him that it doesn't matter but she isn't sure about that, either. She wants to ask him why he tortures himself with this. Why he doesn't let go. But then she meets his gaze, and she finds that there isn't the slightest tension between them for a change because he doesn't even expect her to answer this one. He just gave her an easy way out.
Her heart stumbles over itself at that realization, and she feels a slow smile spread on her face while she hooks her thumbs into the waistband of her panties and pulls them down, wriggling her butt so she can pull them off without lifting his shirt an inch. She sees how the pulse in his neck quickens when she spins the panties around her index finger once and then drops them to the floor. He breathes in deeply while she leans back against the couch. Mission accomplished without granting him the tiniest flash. Her smile is slightly smug after that non-show.
"I'll have you know that I'm thinking impure thoughts right now," he says, and the corner of her mouth quirks up while she stretches out her leg and presses her toes against his crotch.
"Is that so?" she asks with a playful lilt to her voice. She feels him twitch against her sole, and something flares in his eyes. She spreads her toes, moving them along his length in a way that is close to fondling him. She knows he's not partial to that particular fetish - she knows, in fact, much more about his likes and dislikes than he would be comfortable with - but he's still getting hard under her teasing exploration. She slouches down slightly so she can rest her foot better on his cock, and she sees his eyes flick to her thigh when his shirt rides up her leg a little. "Next question?"
He blinks, still distracted, and she knows he's having trouble concentrating now. Then he says "Do you love me?", and this time it's her who blinks, her lips parting, but no sound leaving her mouth because she is too busy listening to the sudden pounding in her ears.
And then she sees the hint of a smile around his lips, and she realizes that this is his idea of a trick question. Because in some things he is so much like her that it's scary, and this is one example: he already knows. And because by now she's already down to just his shirt, he'll win either way.
So she licks her lips and starts to unbutton the shirt, slowly, drawing her fingers down, playing with the button holes for show, and she feels him twitch against her toes again. Slowly, she pulls her leg back and gets to her knees, and while she lets the shirt slide down her arms to pool behind her on the floor, she crawls over to him, naked now. His eyes follow her every move.
"Cheat," he says, his voice suddenly rough, and she laughs while she leans towards the coffee table to grab her shot glass, then turns back to him while she puts her right knee between his legs, half-straddling him. She knocks the vodka back, taking great care to spill a good amount of it onto her body, and his hands come up to her hips while she pushes closer to him. All that's missing now is a fake-innocent "oops" while she looks down at him, waiting for him to clean up the mess she made.
He twitches hard against her thigh when he leans forward to lick the wayward drops from her belly and chest. "And subtle as always," he chuckles into her skin, and she bites her lip when he moves his mouth too gently along the curve of her breast, only teasing her when she clearly wants something harder.
"So does this make me winner or loser?" she asks, her hand coming up to run through the hair at the back of his neck, pressing him closer and hoping that will be enough to make him move things along.
"Not sure," he says, and he grazes her nipple with his teeth until she moans. She guesses that means he is pleased with her way of answering. "Rules are kinda... fluent..."
"Right." Her breath comes faster, and her head falls back while his hands hold her, his thumbs brushing down the curve of her hip, dipping between her legs and pulling back before something really interesting happens. He starts to suck on her breast now, and for a moment she is reduced to semi-intelligent sounds.
Just when her thighs start to tremble with the delicious tension rising in her, he draws back to look at her face. There's fire in his eyes now, and she bites back a groan while she runs her fingernails down the back of his neck. His hands tighten on her hips, but he doesn't lean back in to finish his exploration. He just keeps looking at her, curious, open, almost vulnerable in his want. And even though she gets it, it freaks her out, too - or maybe she freaks because she gets it.
"So what's tomorrow night?" she asks suddenly to break the silence, and when a hint of confusion creeps into his face, she elaborates. "We have Movie Night on Fridays and Trauma Amnesty Night on Saturdays. What are the Sundays going to be?"
He swallows hard at that, stunned by the thought that she's thinking about having whole future weekends with him, not just an evening every now and then, and she can tell that this is the point where he almost freaks out.
"BLB?" he offers eventually. "'Boff Like Bunnies'?"
She pretends to think about it for a whole minute.
Part of her wants to fall asleep because she feels sated and warm and comfortable in his bed, with his arms around her and his hands all over her. The bigger part of her mind, though, feels too sated and comfortable to let go of that feeling just yet, and so she keeps indulging him, keeps him awake with her own hands on his body and in his hair, making him moan contentedly.
And for some reason, they haven't stopped with the honesty yet, even though their game is long over. Maybe it's because they are both totally wasted by now, but they keep nuzzling each other and trade kisses lazily, and they keep talking. They give each other a few bright moments with that, but every now and then a pretty bad one creeps in, and later a few no-longer-quite-as-painful-ones join them, and they know that they will probably have a hard time dealing with all of these moments in the morning, but right now, it doesn't seem to matter all that much because everything is told in that quiet, hushed voice, the kind of voice you have when you're already halfway asleep and not really responsible for the things you say.
And just before he really wants to give in to sleep, she feels his lips move against the curve of her neck, and her skin tightens under his breath when he asks her if she can tell him one day what last night was about.
She hesitates, and his hand moves to the small of her back, pulling her close and rubbing her all over his body to distract her from how serious a thing he just asked her. And that is when she realizes that if she can't tell him now, she never can.
She breathes in deeply, and he pulls back with a slight frown because he senses that something is going on. She brings her hand up against his cheek, her fingertips slipping into his hairline every now and then, and holding his gaze is hard work while she searches for the right words.
"How would you tell someone that your father didn't just send you to be a liaison, but the perfect insider informant?" she says, and he frowns, but keeps silent while he waits for her to continue. "That you did your job poorly enough to fraternize with the objects of your mission? Even fall in..." She bites her lip just in time because her sense of self-preservation rears its head after all, and for a second, she can no longer meet Tony's eyes because this is too much and too fast. Her breathing is fast and shallow by now, and she feels very awake by the time she finally continues. "How would you tell someone that, in the end, your own father was right in not trusting your loyalty enough to deliver the intel you gathered truthfully? How would you even hint that he was the one who came up with an elaborate scheme to torture your knowledge out of you, somewhere in Africa?"
He is quiet for such a long time that Ziva starts to think that maybe she was too subtle in her phrasing, maybe he didn't catch her drift, but she is not sure she can say any of this again, even though she desperately wants him to understand, and--
And then his arms are suddenly so tight around her that she has trouble breathing, and she clings to him in return, holds him tight, because true to his premise for this night he doesn't judge, at least not her. He just gives her the comfort she needs right now, and she bites her lip hard this time because she refuses to cry out of relief.
Later, when he has settled on his sleeping side and Ziva has spooned up to his back with her arm around his waist, she feels his breath even out. His heartbeat is strong and calm against her cheek, and when she closes her eyes and turns her face into the soft spot between his shoulder blades, she realizes that in the long run she doesn't have to be drunk to be comfortable with this.
And because he is already asleep, it's not that hard to whisper that yes, she does.
"Ha," he says, and she jumps a little even though she can almost hear the smile in his voice. That's all he says. And after a while, she understands that it's really all that needs to be said.