"So what's the big secret again?"
"Ziva does not know about this yet. You can't say anything, Abby, I mean it. Let Tony tell Ziva in his own time, in his own way."
Abby looked at McGee. "Promise!"
Tim smiled. "Promise!"
Chapter Six- "Your one and only"
Tony thought the day would never end. He and Ziva made plans to meet at her place.
He nervously got ready, laughing at himself. "For God's sake, DiNozzo, you're acting like a 12 year old going out on his first date!" Tony shook his head. "Twelve year old? I couldn't have been that young, could I?"
After giving it serious thought, he decided he was just psyching himself out. He didn't want to play smooth, suave, cool Anthony DiNozzo, lover and heartbreaker of beautiful women.
That DiNozzo doesn't exist anymore; well, maybe in DiNozzo, Sr. This guy was through with the games. He knew who he wanted to be with, and he wasn't going to do anything to screw it up if he could help it.
He stopped at a Florist shop and bought Ziva a single red rose, thinking a whole bouquet would be overkill.
He stood in front of her door, smoothing his hair. Taking a deep breath, he knocked on her door. After what seemed like an eternity, but was in reality probably only five seconds, the door opened.
Ziva looked stunning. Her hair was down, and wild, the way he liked it. "Hi Tony, come in." Ziva waved him in, and closed the door behind her.
He took her hand and gave her the rose. "This is for you. A beautiful rose for a beautiful woman."
Ziva took the rose, smelling its essence. She smiled and kissed Tony on the lips. She broke it off before it could deepen into something more.
Tony was clearly disappointed, but he saw the gleam in Ziva's eye.
"Talk first, play later." He thought to himself. Grinning, he followed her into the kitchen.
"Hey, I didn't expect you to cook!" Tony exclaimed when he realized that was exactly what she had done.
"We have to eat, do we not?" Ziva replied. "Besides, I was already planning to make this tonight anyway. There is plenty."
They sat at her table, talking easily about the days' events, enjoying each other's company and the delicious meal.
"You know, you really are a wonderful cook." Tony said admiringly.
"I love to cook." Ziva said. "But, thank you. It is always nice to hear."
She gathered her coffee cup and walked over to the sofa and plopped herself down, pulling up her legs underneath her.
Tony took that as the cue that the "polite talk" was over and it was time to get down to business.
Tony joined Ziva on the sofa, leaning his arm across the back so he was facing Ziva.
"Well, we've had some interesting few weeks, haven't we?" He began.
"To say the least." Ziva said, smiling. "Clearly, we both have things to say. Do you want to go first, or shall I?"
Tony loved her all the more for offering to go first, but he shook his head. "No, I'll start the ball rolling." He put down his coffee.
"You know, we have both been through a lot the past year, relationship-wise. I've always managed to screw things up, but in the end, no matter what, there you were: ready to help me pick up the pieces and go on."
Ziva listened closely, giving Tony her full attention. "Well, I have not exactly been the expert of relationships either, have I? I think I said at one time we were both 'romantically dysfunctional.'"
Tony smiled in remembrance. "You also referred to me as being in your life. Of'course I had to call you on it. We got interrupted."
That memory caused them to pause for a moment.
Tony took Ziva's hand gently in his. "The thing is, Ziva. I am in your life, and you are in mine. As best friends, as partners. I can't imagine my life without you."
"It took fate to step in to help me see what a treasure I already had. Now that I see it, I don't want to lose it. I don't want to lose you."
"You will not lose me, Tony." Ziva said softly.
Tony placed his other hand on her cheek, caressing it with his thumb.
"I don't know why I was so blind, not to see what was right in front of me. I guess I was afraid; afraid that you wouldn't feel the same, would turn me away. I couldn't take that chance, Ziva."
"But you are willing to take the chance now? What has changed?" Ziva's eyes were riveted on Tony.
"Well, for those of us too dense to see the forest through the trees, it always helps if the females in your life push you in the right direction."
Ziva looked confused. "The females in your life? Push you? What are you talking about?" She was a little apprehensive about the "females in your life" comment, and wasn't really sure she wanted to know what it meant.
Tony chuckled. "Ah yes. E. J. Remember when we were at the safe house?"
Ziva looked guarded. "Yes…" She replied slowly.
"Well, she figured out things real quick. She told me you and I should be together."
Ziva sat up straight. "She did what? When did this happen?"
"After you brought the breakfast goodies and then left to be a Ninja and bring down Cole. Blew me away, I have to admit."
"And then, Wendy. Wow, what a blast from the past! And it should have stayed in the past. The only good thing about that encounter was that she said the same thing."
"Wendy said you and I needed to be together?" Ziva was incredulous.
"Well, not exactly in those words. She didn't know it was you. She just knew there was somebody. And it wasn't her."
Ziva digested this piece of news.
"Ziva, we have been dancing around this for years. Somewhere in between you asking me if I was having phone sex, and then going undercover with you and having sex; somewhere in between me thinking you were dead and then finding out you weren't dead and bringing you home; somewhere in between Jeanne and E. J.; and Michael, yes I will say his name, and Ray; between life and death, good and bad: I fell in love with you."
"You let me get away with just enough that I didn't hang myself, and then pulled me back when I stepped out of bounds. You tolerated my movies, my impressions…even my Dad!" Tony shook his head at that.
"Ziva David, I think I have always loved you, but I resisted it, because of Rule #12, because I didn't want anything to come between our working relationship, and our friendship."
Tony looked momentarily embarrassed. "And because I was afraid you didn't or wouldn't feel the same, and then where would we be?" Tony hung his head at his admission.
"Tony…" Ziva placed her hand under his chin and brought his face up to meet hers.
"I do not think you need to worry about that." She let that sink in.
Tony turned so he was completely facing her. Taking both of her hands in his, he looked into her eyes.
"Ziva, I really want to make a go of this. Of us, being a couple. I don't know where we'll end up, but I want the journey to begin."
Ziva looked down at their entwined fingers. When she looked up, she had tears in her eyes.
"When you told me you and Wendy had decided to not, continue, I was very happy. I thought maybe then, the time had come for us…"
She paused as she got a catch in her throat. "But you did nothing. I thought I was wrong, feeling things you did not share. I was…sad and, yes, yes…angry. I thought you did not care about me…the way I wanted you to."
Tony looked like he had been punched in the gut. "I knew you were…distant, that something was upsetting you. I had no idea why."
"But Ziva, I swear. I didn't start going out with a different flavor of the week again. I just took time off, to think about things. About me…and you." Tony sighed.
"I believe you, Tony. Now I understand. At the time it hurt, but that was then."
Ziva moved closer to Tony and laid her head on his shoulder. "I have long felt feelings for you, Tony. Even when I should not."
"You have saved me, more times than you can imagine. Not just from the physical dangers, but the dangers we cannot always see, yet are there; waiting to tear us apart, little by little, until there is nothing left but a shell.
"After all I have been through, who has been there to pick me up, to care for me, to have my back, and to be by my side?"
She touched his mouth. "You. Anthony DiNozzo. My friend. My partner. My love."
Tony kissed her then, deeply and passionately. After an eternity, they broke apart, both needing to catch their breath.
"So, are we like, going steady?" Tony asked seriously.
Ziva looked at him like he was nuts, then realized he was teasing her.
"There is something we need to think about. Gibbs." She said. Taking a deep breath, she continued. "I have already spoken to him, of my feelings for you."
Tony sat up. "You what? When?" He couldn't believe Ziva actually talked to Gibbs.
"It was after you hit your head, and started acting…strange."
Tony thought about it. That was the same time he had also talked to Gibbs. "Well, that makes two of us. Tell me, did he give you his blessing or slap you on the back of your head?"
Ziva laughed. "Oh, I do not think he was pleased, but I twisted his arm."
Tony could just imagine Ziva working on Gibbs. That explained a lot, the way Gibbs was acting when he went to see him. He did already know.
"Well, he gave me his blessing. He just said keep it out of the office."
They both sat quietly for awhile.
"This is weird." They both burst out laughing. Tony caught her mouth in a kiss.
"This is definitely not weird." Ziva spoke through their kiss.
"No, I could get used to this." Tony murmured as he nuzzled her neck.
"So, Tony DiNozzo is my boyfriend now, yes?" Ziva teased him.
"Your one and only." He smiled at her.
Ziva snuggled in closer to Tony. "And I am yours." She breathed into his neck.
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