Author's Note: Yikes! So sorry for waiting you guys wait over a week. I was majorly mind-blocked and I didn't want to put up something dumb. Of course, it still might be dumb. I'm struggling with going from adrenaline and tension to more..comfortable scenes. I still hope you enjoy it! This is likely the last chapter for this particular story - I may include an epilogue. We'll see. Either way, thank you so much for all of your support and, most of all, for reading. I hope to offer you more NCIS stories in the future. :) If you feel so inclined, you can look at my tumblr (under the name sinnersheart) and find some artwork I did to go with this story. Love y'all.
Suggested Soundtrack: Broken Wings - Flyleaf
The sun was unpleasantly glaring. It was one of those horrible, white-bright days that made you squint even with sunglasses. It wasn't particularly hot, but it was certainly annoying. Ziva spent the car ride with her head against the window, eyes shut. Not that she was trying to nap.
"Are you sure you're going to be okay, Ziva?" Tim asked from behind the wheel. His intelligent eyes flickered over to her, masked with concern. "They offered a nurse to stay with you for a reason."
"I am aware, McGee." Ziva replied, not moving or looking up. "I will be fine."
She was just being stubborn. She knew it and everyone else knew it. But Ziva didn't care – she didn't want a stranger in her apartment doing mundane tasks for her. She could handle herself, crippled in pain or not. The hospital made her take a wheelchair, which was stuffed into the trunk. She angled to get crutches. She could at least use one. So Ziva ended up with both.
McGee was quite for a minute. "Yanno, if you need something, I could –"
"I know, McGee." Ziva said with a little smile. Her eyes finally cracked open, focused on her friend. "Thank you."
Tim smiled back with a curt nod. He was such a good friend. They all were, really. More than Mossad had managed to be. Even in the tough times, in the hard conversations, the occasional accusations and in the strains and the lulls and the heartache – they loved her and one another. She loved them. Gibbs, Abby, Ducky, McGee, Tony.
Ziva felt what could have only been butterflies when she thought about Tony. It made her feel like a goofy teenager with a crush on the quarterback. She wasn't sure if she liked that feeling, but she certainly liked Tony. He was talking to Gibbs last she saw – likely telling his version of the events of yesterday if he hadn't already. That wasn't something she looked forward to doing – though not as much as she dreaded the inevitable psych evaluation. Oh God.
McGee's car came to a pleasant halt. He parallel parked with expert precision and got out of the vehicle. It took him a minute to get the bulky wheelchair out and properly unfolded from his trunk. Irritating. Grating. Ziva jerked her car door open with her good hand and began shuffling herself out.
"Don't you want to wait for the uh.." McGee started as Ziva stood one wobbling leg, supporting herself against the vehicle. "I do not wish to use the wheelchair, McGee." Grumbled Ziva stubbornly.
"Come on, Ziva. It'll be safer." Tim implored. "Please."
She stood there for a moment, staring at her friend with a tense exasperation. It really would be easier. "Oh, alright." Ziva finally conceded, motioning for McGee to roll the chair to her. She sat in it started to wheel herself forward before McGee could push her. She didn't want to be pushed.
Needless to say, it was a battle getting up to her apartment. At least she never rolled backwards into traffic. "Home sweet home." Tim smiled warmly, borrowing Ziva's key to get it. Once the door was open, he insisted on maneuvering the wheelchair just right to get her in. "You want me to help you get on the couch?"
"No, McGee. I am fine." Insisted Ziva with emphatic hand motions, palm down.
He was worried. It was painfully obvious. He probably felt like it would make him a bad friend to not offer his help. It was sweet, but Ziva didn't like being helped if she could..well, help it.
"McGee!" she addressed firmly. "I'm fine. You do not need to worry."
He blinked. "..Sorry Ziva."
"It is alright. I know you are concerned. But I am okay, really." She smiled at him. "I have been through worse. And I appreciate all that you are trying to do for me. But right now I would just like to rest."
Tim nodded. "If you need anything – " he started.
"I will call you." Ziva inclined her head in an appreciative nod. "Thank you, McGee."
He brushed Ziva's good hand with his before he left, but he didn't try to stick around, for which Ziva was grateful. She had a lot of thinking to do, and that was better done in solitude. The first thing she did, though, was wheel herself to her bedroom for a change of clothes. It was a struggle. Ziva got a hold of a pair of gray sweats and a dark blue tee. It would do. She pulled Tony's Ohio State Shirt over her head with some difficulty. It had blood on it, to which Ziva frowned. She'd need to wash it before giving back to Tony. In the meantime, she let it sit on her bed. Her bed. God, that sounded good. Though she'd been sleeping near constantly, the idea of being home, snuggled under familiar sheets in blessed solitude was beautifully enticing. Ziva slipped a clean pair of cotton underwear over her legs and up, followed by the pants. They fit comfortably enough over the cast. She was already sick of wearing it, though. Not about to worry with a bra clasp, Ziva donned the soft shirt. It smelled of detergent, which was a blessing. She was tired of smelling like blood and dirt.
Her dark eyes drifted to the shirt on her bed for a moment and Ziva's lips went tense. Tony. A part of her wanted to call him and ask how he was doing. But the other part rebelled and smashed the other part to bits. Ziva flopped back on her bed with an exasperated sigh, followed by a grunt as she unintentionally jarred her arm. It was going to be a rough few months. How was she going to shower? She needed one, which was painfully obvious. The cleanest of clothes would never help her greasy, tangled hair. She felt disgusting. What had it been? Two days?
"Knock knock?" A muffled voice.
To be honest, Ziva had half-expected him to show up. "Come in, Tony." She heard the door swing open, but she didn't move from the bed. A vague, warm scent drifted into the room. Oh God. Ziva felt a wave of nausea – Tony brought pizza. She liked pizza as much as the next American, true, but her stomach flip-flopped at the very notion of putting food in it. Ziva rolled onto her side and swallowed hard to keep from retching. She knew when Tony was standing in the door to her bedroom, even if she wasn't facing that direction.
"Hey.." He started awkwardly. "You okay?"
"Why does everyone keep asking me that?"
"Cause, well. You know."
Ziva sighed and refused to say anything more. That question was really grating on her. Rolling back over (and keeping her hurt arm up for safety) she turned her head to face Tony. He'd had a shower and a clean set of clothes. Shaven chin, too. He didn't look as sharp as he would have on a normal day, but he was no less attractive.
"Come on, Da-veed. Be honest with me."
"I have been honest, Tony."
A skeptical stare.
"I am just tired. I have pain killers and I will heal and I am at home." Shrugged Ziva again. "I would call that 'okay'. Why does no one believe me when I say that I am fine?" Her good arm pounded against her mattress for emphasis.
Tony smiled a little, then blew out a breath of air like he was gearing up for something. "I called EJ."
Ziva sat up, acutely aware of how her hair felt matted and tangled at the back of her head. Great.
"We're done." He smiled a bit broader, uncharacteristic of a man who'd just broken up with his girlfriend. Ziva'd barely processed the information before Tony leaned down and had her trapped in a kiss. It startled her a little, but with his hands around her face, his lips capturing hers in barely stifled passion, it was like they were undercover again. They flowed together, merging with perfect transition. Tony pulled back, smiling. "Want to get a bite? I brought pizza."
Before Ziva could disappoint him, Tony had gathered her up in his arms like a bride and was carrying her to the living room. Under non-injured circumstances, Ziva would have fought against it. But as it was, it was a lot easier for her to be carried as opposed to hobbling around.
Tony didn't let his showboating last too long – it hurt his shoulder to carry Ziva, as light as she was. "We've got supreme, pepperoni…" He was excited to eat a meal with her, even if it was out of a cardboard box. He set her down as gently as he could. She balanced with her hand on the countertop near the sink while Tony flipped open the lid to reveal the delicious Italian confection inside. He was in the middle of pulling slices onto a plate when Ziva bent herself over the sink and made a terrible gagging sound. "Ziva!" called Tony, rushing to support her as she threw up into the basin. A hand went to hold her hair back and brace against her forehead. He noticed how her body was shaking with weakness, even from such a small exertion. Thankfully, there was very little emptied from her stomach. After a moment of breathing heavily to regain her composure, Ziva straightened up and wiped her mouth with a dish towel. Tony touched her face and held her close to his chest. But Ziva pulled away after a few seconds – afraid she'd throw up on his shoes instead of in the sink.
"I am sorry, Tony. I am feeling a little nauseous. Could you, ah.." Ziva motioned to the pizza.
"Yeah, sure!" Tony instantly shoved the slices from the plate back into the box, before grabbing the stack of pizza (three boxes was probably overkill, now that he was thinking about it) and shoving them haphazardly into the refrigerator with his apologetic exclamation. He felt awful. He should've known she wouldn't feel like eating. And he brought pizza. Greasy, fattening pizza. "Sorry.." he said with a grimace, turning to find Ziva rinsing her mouth out with a glass of water.
"Do not feel bad. It was…thoughtful."
Tony didn't think making her hurl was particularly thoughtful, but such was life. "You feel like eating anything?"
"Not right now, no." Ziva took a swig of water from her glass. Her tongue peaked between her teeth to pull excess moisture from her lips. Tony just watched here. "I did not expect you so soon."
"Just wanted to be with you," He said, smiling softly. "Hope it's not too much. I could go." Tony was half teasing. Ziva knew that and shot him a look.
"If you did that, you would miss me attempting to wash my hair." Ziva ruffled her hair with a crinkled nose. Now that she was up, she might as well try. It was the most immediate irritation. Tony got a wolfish, stunned expression on his face. "In the sink, Tony." He looked away with an innocent smile as if to say 'What? I don't know what you're talking about' while Ziva reached to the cabinet under the sink to fish out the spare shampoo she kept there. She fully intended to wash with one hand. Paying no mind to Tony, Ziva slapped the faucet on, briefly letting it rinse the sink before bending over to dunk herself under the warm stream. It felt glorious. A pure blessing.
Tony thought so too, but for different reasons. He stood sentinel, just enjoying the view of Ziva's rear. She looked good in anything, even those sweatpants. Ziva squeezed a glob of shampoo directly onto the back of her head and slammed the bottle down, purposely startling Tony. She knew precisely what was occupying his eyes. "Too distracting, Tony?" Ziva murmured while trying to lather her hair up with one hand. The blood was rushing to her head and it was proving to be nothing short of a challenge.
"Hmm." Tony grinned. "You could say that."
Ziva smirked to herself and began to rinse. "Can you get a towel for me, Tony?" She waited awkwardly, water running over her face and bits of soap managing to barrage her eyes. Ow, ow, ow. She screwed her eyes shut and shook her head under the faucet for one last rinse before shutting it off and manually. A few seconds later, the soft weight of a towel settled on her head. She shuffled it over her hair with one hand, though Tony did have to catch it from sliding off a few times. Ziva straightened up and instantly felt better.
God, she was beautiful. Tony liked her hair messy – tangles drawn over her forehead and curling against her cheeks. Those dark, intelligent eyes of hers. Strong cheek bones and brows. Her hand supported her weight against the light countertops, a sandy faux-granite with flecks of other colors. Tony moved his arm under her shoulder and around her back to help. Ziva didn't say anything, perhaps out of pride. Or embarrassment, he wasn't sure. She had her eyes on the couch, so that's where he got her.
Ziva dug her fingers into the firm, ribbed fabric of her couch and she nodded a small fraction while making eye contact with Tony. He smiled lovingly and joined her on the furniture. "I talked to Gibbs," He said as he plopped down.
"So did I." Ziva said with a faint smile.
"I'm not going to lie – I'm surprised."
"I am also. But.." Ziva jutted her chin to the left in a quick head-tilt. "I am also not."
"What makes you say that?"
Ziva shrugged. "Perhaps it is because you and I already treat one another as more than partners. We have for some time now." She pushed her bottom lip out, then bit it back it.
"Yeah, I guess you're right." He heard his voice in his head, a replay, shouting at Ziva for 'kimbo slicing' through a room of guards against orders. For him. Trying to protect him. Then there was his going off-grid against Rivkin, among small myriads of events.
"Tony," Ziva said, an uncharacteristic hesitation in her tone, "Is this…going to work?" She had drawn her good leg up and set her chin on it.
"I think so, Ziva, yeah." Tony answered honestly, a firm contemplation on his brows. He watched her intensely.
"I just am…hesitant. Not because of you –" she added quickly, "I just have no had the best track record with men and you are very new to serious commitment and I…"
"Want serious commitment." Finished Tony.
"Anything less would fail. And be unfair."
"Ziva," Tony began to expound, first savoring her name on his tongue and the way the 'z' buzzed in the back of his throat. "I've told you..I can't live without you." He smiled again, a constant need to refresh the expression to ease himself. "And I meant it. I was under truth serum, yanno?"
"I cannot picture my life…without you in it, Tony." Ziva uttered. It seemed like she could cry at any second, but she didn't.
"Then this is good. Look, Ziva." Tony said earnestly, "I love you." He shrugged as if there was nothing more he could say, as if it was the only thing he needed to say. "I love you." He reaffirmed, gripping her forearm.
Ziva looked to him, those damp curls of hers twisting over her shoulders. The fabric of her t-shirt was wet where her hair fell. When she spoke, her voice was sweet and soft, like the ring of a tenor toned bell. "I love you too, Tony." A smile curled her petite lips and her eyes glinted behind her thick lashes. She leaned as gently as her body could, hooking her arm under Tony's. She kissed his chin, a tender, giving gesture of affection. Granted, the desire to be more than affectionate was growing. But the wasn't really in the cards with half of her body incapacitated. And that seemed like it was moving too quickly anyway.
Tony craned his neck to reroute her, meeting her kiss with one of his own. Their faces stayed inches away even as those soft pecks dissipated. "It's going to be fine, Ziva. Promise." He planted another one against her mouth, just as giving in its nature as it could be, perhaps the most affectionate kiss he'd ever given. It was a slow burn, simmering with desire that faltered under the noble need to offer love to this woman, the love of sacrifice and dedication that was deeper than lust and far beyond infatuation. The sort of love Tony felt for Ziva. And when he kissed her, she knew.
Crazy eyes have you
Are they gray or blue?
[lyrics by Jaymay]