Word Count: 2k-ish.
Author's Note: Done in about three hours. Unbeta'd and just as fragmented as everything else I've ever done. Ninety percent of this was written while listening to Maria Taylor's Xanax, for reasons.
Summary: Spoilers for the "Double Blind" promo. She hasn't been able to sleep for more than an hour at a time since Berlin.
They take away her security clearance.
Parsons strips her of it, and then has security called to come up and escort her off the premises, a call which Gibbs voids from a phone in the Director’s office while the door is still swinging closed.
By the time Tony finds out, he’s still in the vicinity of MTAC, listening to McGee make vague noises about treason, and Parsons has come to gloat because -
Tony declares the interview over.
Parsons pulls Ziva in to interrogation and it takes fifteen minutes for him to ask did you sleep with him?. The preceding question had been about the acquisition of Yaniv Bodnar in Berlin, and Tony’s hands had been curled into fists at his side since Gibbs left the gallery to -
Ziva has a comeback at the ready, has narrowed eyes and a glare that should make Parsons uncomfortable, but Tony has rage and a mouth that works faster than his brain does, so Tony comes through the door and declares the interview over in a tone usually reserved for people like Trent Kort. He puts himself between Parsons and Ziva and stands straight enough to make use of that inch he has on the other man.
She puts her hands on his shoulders and her mouth by the shell of his ear when she says his name, Tony, pulling him back, and there is no part of her body that is not pressed up against his when she does it.
Parsons smiles, and Tony wants to put his fist through the wall.
Later, Parsons comes to gloat because -
Security does not come to escort her off the premises.
Tony clears the distance between MTAC and Vance’s office in forty-seven seconds, but not before Parsons tells him that he really shouldn’t try to play ball with the Department of Defense when he doesn’t have the stones for it.
Once inside, Gibbs tells him about the guard Parsons wants posted outside Ziva’s apartment, to watch her every move, and tells him to take her home in a tone that leaves a lot of room for interpretation.
Gibbs puts his hand against the curve of her cheek, then, his thumb just barely avoiding the worst of the cuts she sustained from her fight with Bodnar, and promises that they will fix this. Ziva nods, but with little in the way of conviction, and Vance watches intently from his perch behind his desk.
This is how they end up at Tony’s apartment.
In Berlin, she had told him she couldn’t sleep.
In Berlin, she had stretched out on her side next to him and bent at the knees to keep her shoes off the bed, and he had listened to her breathing even out as her body betrayed her words. Her hand was on his arm and every few minutes or so he would feel her fingers twitch against his skin, until he covered her hand with his own and scrubbed his thumb down her knuckles in a way that she seemed to find soothing.
He woke her up ten minutes late and she called him irresponsible and apologized within the same breath.
Tony thinks about, on the car ride to his apartment, when he’s trying to figure out when the last time she slept was.
By the time Tony finds out that Parsons has had her security clearance revoked, he is still in the vicinity of MTAC, listening to McGee make vague noises about treason and the ethics of hacking into their own database in order to remove references to -
Gibbs said, “Take her home, Tony.”
Gibbs said, “Take DiNozzo with you.”
Gibbs said, “I want you on Ziva’s ass,” in an elevator, once, and Gibbs had cited Rule Number Eleven, not Twelve, the first and only time he bothered to tell him to walk away.
So when he’s standing in Gibbs’ basement with a plunger and the keys to Ziva’s Mini heavy in his pocket, and Gibbs asks anything you didn’t tell me about Berlin?, it’s not that he’s scared of what the other man will do with the answer he gives, it’s that he doesn’t know whether everything or nothing is the more truthful answer.
“I’m going to go for a run,” she tells him, barely inside the door, her gear still slung over her shoulder, the go-bag she keeps in her trunk sitting on the floor next to the door to his bedroom, spare clothes, toiletries, the kind of things they need on overnight trips.
He doesn’t point out that it’s almost nine o’clock at night and she isn’t entirely familiar with her surroundings, and twenty minutes later it starts to rain.
He calls her cell, only to find it ringing on his coffee table, and he thinks about her bruised knuckles and how he can’t remember the last time she went home to sleep while he waits.
She comes back, and her hair is a knot at the back of her head so it doesn’t drip all over his wood floors.
The rain has slowed to a drizzle and he’s watching the tail end of a baseball game on television. If she asked, he wouldn’t be able to tell her who the Nats were playing against, but she doesn’t, and he stands before she can get more than a few steps inside. Her chest is heaving and every three breaths or so her whole body shakes; she doesn’t seem to notice.
“You know, this whole keeping an eye on you thing doesn’t work so well when you go running off like that,” he says, and hands her a towel. Her fingers brush his and they are cold, shockingly so, and the temperature has been hovering in the mid-fifties for the last three days.
She tells him she’s going to take a shower, then, but she stops in the doorway to his bedroom for long enough to tell him that she’s fine and almost sound like she means it.
“What makes you think I’m going after Ziva?” Parsons asks.
An hour later, Tony busts into interrogation and tells him the interview’s over in a tone usually reserved for people who have tried to have him killed, and Parsons smiles.
He tells her he’ll take the couch, and she spends the prerequisite three minutes arguing about how it’ll kill his back, how the gesture is appreciated but completely unnecessary, and how she would have been just fine at home, unwelcome invasion of privacy or no, before she gives up in a huff.
She comes padding out of his bedroom sometime later, and settles on the couch next to him. The television is still on low, and there’s a stack of sheets, a blanket, sitting in the chair to his right, untouched. He watches her, for a moment, watches the way she has to force herself to relax by degrees, and he keeps his hand on the remote to stop from reaching out for her.
“I cannot sleep,” she says and then, as if it takes everything she has, adds, “I have not been able to sleep since before Berlin.”
He isn’t surprised by that admission, and she does not look as though she expects him to be. He saw the bruised knuckles and the thin sheen of sweat on her skin when she came to work in the mornings, and she gave him her keys. He knows. She is no longer making an effort to hide these things from him.
“After, technically,” he tells her, when his mouth gets away from him.
“Fine,” she concedes. Her hands fidget in her lap and he thinks that’s new, the nervous energy, the inability or perhaps unwillingness to tamp down on it. “I have not been able to sleep for more than an hour at a time since before Berlin.”
“Is that why you were taking the scenic route to work?”
She shakes her head. “No. I was - training. Ilan was inches away from me and I could not - “ she makes a small, frustrated noise in the back of her throat, and he frowns, “I could not let him get away again. My injuries put me at a disadvantage and I needed to compensate.”
“Yeah, but,” he leans, ever so slightly, to his left, just enough to bump his shoulder against her uninjured one. The sharp turn of her head brings their faces close enough that he thinks he might have miscalculated this one. “You put him down, Ziva. There’s no one left to chase.”
“There’s always another bad guy,” she tells him, and he thinks of the elevator and -
“Did you sleep with him?” Parsons asks, and the part of Tony’s brain that has not yet caught up to his feet is able to understand that if he were in that chair instead of her that particular line of questioning would have been avoided entirely.
Tony comes through the door and there is no part of Ziva’s body that doesn’t end up pressed up against his back when she says his name, low and under her breath, accompanied with the word don’t.
As in, have sex with. As in, take off your clothes and let someone else slip inside. As in, fuck.
Asked another way, the answer would have been yes.
Gibbs asks anything you didn’t tell me about Berlin? and Tony doesn’t know whether everything or nothing is the more truthful answer, because holding hands on the way back from the airport doesn’t seem like a momentous occasion when all she does in the aftermath is push, and push, and push.
“There’s always another bad guy,” she tells him, and he thinks of the elevator and her wet, wide eyes.
He grabs her hand. He grabs her hand and she looks from his face to the knuckles at the base of his fingers and just below. There are four near identical marks there, still faintly red and likely to scar, and the unspoken is that they were put there by her nails, digging in upon impact. She swallows, hard, but leaves her hand in his, and he says, “You need to sleep.”
“It’s not that easy, Tony.”
“Sure it is.”
“No, it’s not,” she snaps. He flinches, despite himself, and she looks remorseful, insofar as she’ll allow herself. “I have spent the last four months hunting down the man who murdered my father. There is no switch I can flip to just - return to normal. I need time.”
“You need to heal,” he says.
He sighs, and then he does something braver than just reaching for her hand. He lets his arm fall along the back of the couch, his fingers just barely grazing the back of her neck if he lets them. He lets them. He says okay and he lets them, and after a moment, she lets herself lean closer, until all it would take for her head to be resting against his shoulder is a sigh and about an inch of give.
“I need time,” she says.
Parsons has her security clearance revoked pending a full investigation and he feels like he’s watching an hourglass run down on them.
Roman Holiday is on.
Gregory Peck is standing on the Spanish Steps telling Audrey Hepburn to live dangerously, and Tony feels her shift against him. Tony feels her shift and looks down, angles his head just so until he can see that her eyes are closed and the hand of her bad arm is twisted into the fabric at his side, threadbare cotton under her fingertips.
She hasn’t slept for more than an hour at a time since before Berlin.
He curls a careful arm around her and listens to her start to snore softly against his side, determined to help her break that record even if the crick in his neck he’ll be left with will likely be worse than whatever a few hours flat on his back would’ve done.
She can have all the time that she needs.