Title: Heaven After All
Show & Pairing: NCIS McGiva (McGee/Ziva)
Summary: When Tony is away on special assignment McGee contemplates his love for Ziva
Disclaimer: NCIS belongs to CBS
Spoilers: “Dog Tags” and slightly the movie “Resident Evil”
Author’s Note: I was inspired by the song “Didn’t We Love” by Tamara Walker but decided not to make this into a song fic. If you’re interested in checking out the song it can be found on the soundtrack and in the credits of the movie “Coyote Ugly”
It had been hell for Timothy McGee, with Tony away on special assignment. McGee had missed him. Missed his friend, his big brother. He worried about him. Where he was, what he was doing. He could be in trouble at any given second and they would never know until it was too late.
McGee had been trying to focus on that. On the fear, the absence, the hole that was there because Tony was not. He didn’t look up from his computer at his co-workers. Didn’t make quite so many jokes or friendly comments. But it wasn’t all because of Tony. A good portion of it was because of Ziva. Because he knew that if he looked up from his computer at this very moment then Ziva would laugh or smile, or maybe not. But either way she would look over at him. And when her eyes were focused on the side of his head he could not help but look back. It was a compulsion. Then he would really in trouble.
Because it was heaven too now that Tony wasn’t here. Now, for once, he had Ziva all to himself. Without Tony her companion of choice was always him. She gave him all her attention, all her smiles, all her anger. And he loved every single bit of it. He wanted to keep it forever, keep her forever. He knew it was wrong. Like stealing his brother’s girl. Only she wasn’t really his…yet. Yet! Yet Tim, it’s only a matter of time. Look at them together, they way they play off each other and how she lights up around him. No, Tim knew that even if, and it was a big if, he could seduce Ziva, once Tony came back it would all be over. It wouldn’t happen right away. Ziva was a good soul and would try to work it out. But the tensions and fear would mount up until finally one of them ended it. And then he would be crushed, broken, destroyed. Like Alderaan after it was hit by the Death Star. KaBoom
He was doing really well too. He avoided Ziva’s quips, never allowed himself to enter her personal space, he was even able to avoid being alone with her a couple of times. But it didn’t last long. She had become suddenly needy and actually clingy. She started following him down the staircase when he tried to use exercise as an excuse not to be alone in the elevator with her. She invited herself to lunch with him even when he never left his desk, her chair being pushed across the room with an eagerness he‘d never seen her push a chair across the room with before for one of Tony‘s campfires. She tried following him into the men’s room so often he was forced to lock the door behind him, just in case. And she had even started to stroke the back of his head while she hovered behind him at his computer. She was driving him crazy!
And yet he didn’t flinch, didn’t fall to her charms. Tony owed him one and he didn’t even know it. That was what really pissed McGee off the most about the whole situation . Because he knew that, places reversed, Tony would not have had the same restraint. Not for one single second. Would it ever occur to Tony to notice how McGee had been falling in love with Ziva since that first case they worked with her? No. Would Tony pull back from making a play at her in respect for McGee’s feelings if he did know? Hell no. Actually even if he knew, was absolutely positively sure that McGee had feelings for her, Tony would not give a second thought to taking her right there on the bullpen floor if given the chance! So really, would it be so wrong if he just let certain tensions that were building play out?
No Tim! That’s bad! Bad Tim! You’re being a bad boy, a bad bad boy….When the voice in his head picked up an Israeli accent he knew it was time for a break. He left his desk suddenly and retreated to the sanctuary of the community water bottle. And sure enough just as he was finished filling his mug a feminine hand reached around him with her own. She was wearing that green shirt today. He loved that shirt. She had kissed his cheek wearing that shirt. He poured water into her mug, trying not to think about how close the front of her was to the back of him.
“What are you doing for dinner?” Dear God, please shoot me.
“Eating.” he said, hoping his snappish tone would push her away.
“With me.” she said firmly, having only taken his attitude as a challenge. She loved a challenge. He should’ve known better than to take such a tactic with her.
“Yes.” he said, before he realized what he had said. He hadn’t expected her to say what she had said so really he’d said the wrong thing. Sort of. “No.” he correctly quickly, turning to face her just in time to see her pout. He hated it when she pouted. It made him hurt for her, and it also made him want to lean down and start sucking on her bottom lip.
He blinked. “I can’t.”
“Why not?” she asked in that tone of voice that made his knees turn to jelly and not in the good way.
“I have…” Think quickly Tim. “a date.” She raised an eyebrow and he could swear he saw anger flash in her eyes. No doubt she saw it for the lie it was and she hated being lied to.
“Fine.” she said firmly. “You do not want to be with me. I understand. You can simply tell me so you do not need to lie. I am not a child McGee.” she turned on her heel to walk away and although his brain was telling him that this might be the break he needed, his arm had already reached out to snag hers. Stupid arm, ruled by his stupid heart, ruled by stupid Ziva and the hurt look in her eyes and her sexy pout.
“Ziva, no, it’s that I don’t want to be with you.” It’s all the ways I want to be with you. Especially those listed in the Kamua Sutra. “It’s just that well…aren’t you kind of sick of me? I mean, I’m not sure I’d be good company tonight that’s all.” She smiled then, as if he’d given her a gift.
“Nonsense McGee, I am a big girl you do not have to entertain me. I will come over to your place and cook dinner. You can sit around in your underwear and watch TV. Every man’s fantasy, yes?” Only if you‘re planning on being dessert.. he thought.
“Yes. That sounds great Ziva.” Sucker. But despite the fact that he was only torturing himself, the bright smile on her face made it all worth it. She needed her friend. He couldn’t let her down. Not now not ever. Especially when she leaned over and kissed his cheek so sweetly.
At home that night McGee showered, changed, walked the dog, and waited. Up and down the block in front of his building, again and again. The German Shepard on the end of the leash did not complain. Happy he was to have an extended chance to sniff anything and everything he came across. The human holding the other end of the leash, however, was oblivious to the dog’s enjoyment. He was trying not to think about his impending dinner guest, and how he was so in love with her it hurt. He glanced up at his window, he wouldn’t be surprised to see the light come on, indicating Ziva’s presence. Ziva didn’t have a key, but that hadn’t stopped her before. Like Abby, Ziva seemed to feel as if she had complete rights to every aspect in his life. He wondered what she would think if he broke into her place. Hell, it was probably booby trapped to the hilt. Some giant scythe would swing across and decapitate him as soon as he opened the door.
“That’s an idea,” he said aloud, “at least it would end my misery.” Jethero looked up at him from where he had his nose buried in a bed of flowers and gave him a sad look. Guilt, what was it with the power of guilt people had over him? Suddenly Jethro yanked the leash out of his hand and took off running, he knew before even looking up that the hour had come. He followed the dog’s mad dash down the block until he spotted Ziva’s car. She was standing by the door, unloading two bags of what he assumed to be groceries. It was dark out, the quarter of moon in the sky doing little to brighten the street. And yet Ziva was lit up with an angelic glow that was almost surreal in it’s brightness. Like the moon just gravaited towards her. Isn’t that what ‘Ziva’ meant, aglow, or something like that?
“Sitzen Sie!” Ziva command, and the dog obediently dropped his haunches to the ground. McGee simply shook his head and joined them by the car.
“Can I help?” Ziva paused for a moment, as if she was going to say no and scold him for thinking she couldn’t carry two bags by herself. Instead she smiled lightly and handed him one of the bags, said thank you, then leaned in to kiss his cheek. Again, twice in one day. She’s secretly trying to kill me I just know it. McGee led the way to his apartment, and the three of them proceeded inside. Dinner itself was comfortably uneventful. He helped her dice, chop, and stir ingredients. She was delightfully amiable and open; asking and answering various questions. It was a relaxing time with the woman who had become McGee’s best friend and he was glad for the time alone with her. He sat there, sipping the last of his iced tea, thinking they should do this sort of thing more often.
“I brought some movies.” Ziva said as she started to stand and gather her dishware. McGee jumped up and reached to take the plate from her hand but she gave him such a scolding look that he settled for cleaning up his own mess. It had been such a nice evening, he’d hate to end it with a fork in his hand.
“Movies are good.” He said before he could stop himself. Ziva laughed lightly but didn’t seemed otherwise deterred by McGee’s on the nose comment.
“I rented Resident Evil, Pretty Woman, and Below.” McGee couldn’t help but smile broadly at Ziva, she was a woman of many layers, and he loved watching them unfold .
“You have eclectic taste in movies Ziva.”
“Genre does not promise quality.”
“True.” he said firmly, enjoying the feeling of being agreed with. Ziva filled up the sink and set the dishes to soak.
“So, which movie shall we start with?” Start? As in it’s already late and you’re going to stay later? As in I don‘t have a couch and you know that. McGee’s first thought was to say ladies choice, but he knew that probably would not go over well with Ziva. So, thinking quickly, he said “Chef’s choice.” and kissed her cheek. He figured that was probably safe, seeing as how she’d kissed him twice in one day. When she smiled at him he knew he’d made the right choice, or at least a non deadly one. He liked to think that he was allowed the special privilege of kissing her cheek, even though he knew it probably wasn’t true.
“Resident Evil it is then.” Ziva said with a smile, heading to his bedroom, where she knew the television was.
“Do you want some popcorn?” McGee called after her.
“And more iced tea please.” she called back. After getting the popcorn started in the microwave he rushed in after Ziva who he could hear straightening up his bed.
“I’ll do that.” he said, virtually snatching the covers out of her hand. She laughed lightly.
“I am just pulling up the covers McGee not passing judgment. You are a good housekeeper. I forgive you for not having the bed made. After all it is only going to be used again no?”
“True, but still, you’re company. And it’s the least I can do considering I don’t have a couch.”
“Bed is more comfortably anyway.” Ziva said in that ‘is it what it is’ way that always charmed him. “Do you have more pillows?” she asked, heading out of the room to check on the popcorn.
“How many pillows do you need?” he asked as he followed her into the kitchen and started seeing to their drinks.
“Two.” she countered, obviously thinking it a silly question.
“There are already two. Did you want more ice?”
“Yes, and if I take the other then you will be left with no pillow.”
“Oh, well,” he said with a nervous laugh and a slight blush, “I wasn’t going to sit on the bed.”
“And why not?” There is was, that tone, that ‘I can kill you eighteen different ways with this paperclip’ tone. He hated that tone, especially when he didn’t see it coming.
“Ah,…because…” Oh yeah, that’ll work.
“Because why McGee? Because you do not feel comfortable sitting on a bed with me? You think I smell? You think I will fall asleep and snore? Or is it just that you do not like to be spending time with me at all? Yes, that is it. You did not want me here tonight and now you are sorry I am staying.” she looked angry and hurt and McGee sighed, feeling the strings around his heart tighten. He went over and turned her around to face him, his hands gently resting on her slim shoulders.
“Because you’re a beautiful woman who is not a relative and therefore it would be presumptuous to expect you to share the bed with me. I want you to feel comfortable and safe with me so it is only polite and gentlemanly to offer to sit in a chair while you sit on the bed. That’s all Ziva.” he said the last sentence with a firmness to show Ziva that he was telling the truth. And he was, just not all of it. She studied him for a while with her head cocked then reached up and smacked his face gently.
“You were raised to be a gentleman.” He didn’t defend himself further, or try to convince her that his way of thinking was correct. He had said his piece and would accept their difference of opinions. She had always admired that about him. “I am not uncomfortable sharing the bed. And it would feel strange to have you sitting in a chair while I use the bed. So…” she said, knowing very well she would get her way, she usually did.
“So…” be strong be strong be strong “we will share the bed.” you wuss. He turned and, taking the popcorn bag from her hands, went back to the bedroom. “You bring the drinks, I’ll get the pillows.” he said with a defeated sigh. Ziva stared at his back, a satisfied grin on her face. Oh God, if she touches me I’ll melt and she’ll be left sitting in a little pile of McGoo. That’s what’ll be written on my tombstone; Here lies Timothy McGee touched by a woman and melted.
Although McGee was very nervous about sitting on the bed with Ziva, eventually he was able to relax and let himself get lost the in movie. He liked zombie movies, and so did Ziva apparently. She liked to comment on what was happening and the mistakes people made.
“I would have killed her. Without hesitation. Wouldn‘t you?.”
“I don’t know Ziva.”
“She is infected.”
“It’s not that simple.”
“How McGee? How is it not that simple? If it were me who was infected I would want to kill me to save yourself. Wouldn’t you want the same?”
“It’s different when you’re the one offering yourself up for sacrifice Ziva. They’re hanging their hopes on an antidote for their friend.”
“So you would not kill me?”
“Once you became a zombie I would.”
“But that is why you should kill me before. So I don’t become one and cannot hurt you. It is the only option for having any control over the situation.” she thought she was being completely reasonable and that fact alone frustrated him. As if her kick ass first ask questions later training was always the best way to go about things. McGee sighed heavily.
“Ziva! Your way of doing things isn’t always right. Sometimes there isn’t a right or wrong there’s just a choice. You’re my best friend and I love you and if there was one glimmer of hope that I could possible save you I am going to take it and to hell with whether you like it or not.” He thought he saw a light flicker in her eyes, as if he’d touched something in her, but he reasoned it was probably just the reflection off the television set.
“You are a hopeless romantic Timothy McGee, and one day it will get you killed.” He scoffed at the insult and turned away from her.
“I hope it does Ziva. I hope that I die fighting to save someone I love. Because I’d much rather do that than live without them and wonder for the rest of my life if there was something I could have done to save them.” His voice was defensive and hit her in a very powerful way. She had to see his side of things, his simple honesty had left her no choice. He was almost lost in the action again, feeling the subject had been dropped, when he felt her warm lips on his temple. He closed his eyes and sighed, enjoying the sensation, not expecting it to be repeated a little further down the side of his face, just beside his eye. Then his cheek received a kiss and he felt her small, soft hand on his other cheek, pulling him to face her.
“You are my hero Timothy McGee. What is the phrase, ‘knight in shining armor‘, yes?” He couldn’t respond, so close were their faces, so deep were her eyes. “But it would break my heart to know I was the cause of your demise.”
“I can’t loose you Ziva.” He confessed before he could stop himself. “I can’t go to any more funerals of people I care about.” McGee was relieved that he didn’t say ‘love’ again. He had gotten away with it once, but it would be stupid to press his luck. Especially with a trained killer who still had her hand on the side of his face.
“Nor can I.” she countered. “But life will not stop McGee, and we will lose people we love. And very likely each other too. We have very little choice in that.”
“So where does that leave us Ziva?” He wasn’t even sure what he expected her to say back. He wasn’t sure how some theoretical conversation about T-Virus infection had led to this intimate emotional outpour.
“I don’t know McGee. We can only enjoy the people in our lives while we have them. And after their loss we can only pray for something to help us pull through the grief.” She was holding his face in both her hands now. And as much as he tried to fight it, when she spoke of something to pull him through he couldn’t help but think about having a child with her. A beautiful little baby who looked just like her and would force him to go on and be happy. Someone to carry on their story for them. He blushed and forced his eyes down and away from her, and she smiled. And she kissed him. Really kissed him. On the lips! McGee’s brain did in fact start to turn into McGoo. Ziva’s kiss was heavenly. It was like dying and being born. It was electric and magnetic. He fought a losing battle to hold still but it was short lived, and then he was kissing her back and leaning closer. She leaned back and he stilled, letting her pull away and end the kiss. Instead she held onto his head and drew him back with her, until she was laying prone on the bed and he was hovering over her. That didn’t last long either. A well placed hand on his lower spine and he knew very well where she wanted him. What could he do but give in? He saw now the signals he’d been missing. She was wearing a dress, she’d cooked dinner, she lured him into this position. He had spent all his time building up the wrong defenses, stopping himself from seducing her, and she had slipped past unnoticed and he was captured by her. She offered up her neck to his lips exploration and he knew all was lost. They would not be watching any more movies tonight, and they would not be leaving his bed.
McGee woke up the next morning in bed alone, he knew it before he even opened his eyes. He also knew he shouldn’t have been surprised or disappointed, but he was. He had wanted to believe, to hope. To know what it was like to wake up with her strong yet gentle arms around him. To know what she looked like when she slept. Was that so much to ask for? Duh. You’re a place holder; a comfortable, safe, exercise option. Nothing more. He figured he might as well open his eyes. He did so, and jumped when he saw the two brown orbs staring at him.
“Must you do that Jethro.” he complained to the German Shepherd who was staring at him opened mouth, waiting for him to get up.
“Jethro!” a soft feminine voice called from the other room. McGee would not have believed it was anything other than his imagination except that the dog responded, trotting off eagerly. McGee got up and searched out his underwear, finally locating it bunched up in the corner underneath Ziva’s dress. He held the garment in his hand for a while, enjoying the realization of what it meant. Ziva had stayed the night. The whole night. She was still here. He took time to use the bathroom before finally searching out the beautiful Israeli, having just about wiped the giddy smile off his face. He needn’t have bothered, as soon as he saw her standing in the kitchen clad only in her underwear and his MIT t-shirt, his expression went right back to giddy. He came up behind her and wrapped his arms around her waist. She paused from her pancake flipping and leaned her head up expectantly for a kiss. McGee did not disappoint. He didn’t know how long he would have her but he might as well enjoy her while he did.
“Good morning.” she said.
“Great morning.” he countered. She smiled broadly at that, though he didn’t see it as he had his face buried contently in her neck. And so it was. Heaven on Earth.
Even though McGee knew it was coming, he was still not prepared for Tony’s return. And he knew as soon as he walked into the bullpen that fatal morning, that it was only a matter of time before things between him and Ziva started to unravel. He tried not to think about it. Tried not to blame Tony. But all day, all he could think about was every single look Ziva had ever given Tony, every little flash of vulnerability in her eyes that Tony hadn’t yet noticed. And how could he not think about how wonderful it was to be in love with Ziva. How she liked to sleep in his t-shirts and make love in the shower. How she seemed to still smell of his sheets even by lunchtime, how she seemed to enjoy sharing her morning workouts with him and Jethro. They were always together, and she seemed happy, or at least content with that arrangement. Even when they argued she never left, never even seemed to consider it. He felt like her soft place to fall, he felt like she loved him. But now, with her and Tony quipping at each other like old times, he didn’t know what to think. Only that life was suddenly coming at him like a semi-and there was no way to swerve, he was going to be hit. Hard. So when Gibbs ordered them out for celebratory drinks, McGee didn’t argue, figuring he might as well get it over with.
“Star Trek?” Abby said, making him jump. “Is that where your mind is? The new movie? Have you decided when we’re going to see it?” McGee frowned at the Goth sitting to his left.
“No.” he said firmly. Abby sat back in her chair and looked at the others around the table. She wasn’t used to angry McGee, he was actually kinda scary.
“What’s the matter buddy?” Tony said, reaching around Abby to clap his friend on the back. “The DiNozzo is back, all is well.” Tony cheerfully replied. McGee only scoffed and took another sip from his glass. His glass full of hard liquor, only it wasn’t quite as full as when the night had started. Tony looked around desperately to the others for support, not understanding what had happened to his friend that he was missing. Everyone look just as confused as Tony felt. Except for Ziva who was starting at the side of McGee’s head as if she’d suddenly developed x-ray vision. The entire group watched in wonder as she reached out and touched McGee’s shoulder, letting her hand slide down his arm. This earned his attention and she smiled softly at him, prying his hand off the glass and taking it in her own.
“Will you dance with me McGee? Please?” Despite the obvious attempt to remain stoic he could refuse her nothing and so he didn’t fight as she pulled him to his feet and led them away from the group.
“What the hell did you all do to McGeek while I was gone?” Tony said, giving each of the group a look in turn.
“I think my boy,” Ducky challenged, “the question isn’t what we did to him while you were gone, but what you’ve done to him since you’ve been back.” Tony gaped open mouth.
“Me? I didn’t do anything thing to him.” He looked around but was met with only distrustful looks. “I swear! Whatever’s wrong with Probie it’s not my fault.” Eyebrows were raised. “This time, anyway.”
On the dance floor McGee allowed Ziva a respectful distance between them, much to the woman’s disappointment. She sighed heavily and forced their bodies closer together, giving him a look that said she meant business. What business he didn’t know, but one should always trod carefully with an assain.
“What is wrong with you McGee? You’ve been acting funny all day.”
“It’s nothing.” he lied, laying a kiss against her temple and leaning down to whisper in her ear. The group at the table did not miss it, even from across the room. And they all exchanged stunned glances. McGee was never shy with affection, sure, but around Ziva? What was more shocking to them however, was that Ziva didn’t flinch. In fact she reached up to stroke the back of his head, running her fingers through his hair.
McGee’s breath brushed against her ear as he sang quietly along with the lyrics of the song. The words were sad, but it was the tone of his voice, the feeling of him sagging against her dejectedly were what made Ziva’s eyes well up. She could feel his heart breaking, it was devastatingly painful and she closed her eyes against it. What was it? What was doing this to him? It wasn’t her. She was fine, ecstatic, she had everything she had ever wanted, even the things she had been too scared to ask for aloud. But what was wrong with McGee? What was he saying? Or worse, what was he not saying.
“McGee…” she whispered breathlessly. “talk to me, tell me what’s wrong. I can feel it. Feel the pain you’re in. Please, talk to me.” She moved her face to nuzzle and kiss his cheek, but he refused to look at her. His eyes were glassy and far away. He was already in that place he’d knew he’d wind up in. That one where Ziva warmed Tony’s bed, and made a life with Tony, a family with Tony. But it should’ve been him. Him Timothy McGee. He loved her first, and he would love her forever.
“You smell so good.” He murmured against her neck, finally turning his attention back to her and away from the dark place that was calling to steal him away. The brush of his lips made her skin tingle, and she could feel her control and conviction slipping away. He always did that to her. That switchover from friend to lover. A look, a touch, a single word and she knew she was completely undone. Then she could only offer up her complete submission and let him do with her as he would. It was dangerous, deadly, and something she swore she would never do. But she did. And she even liked it. The trust. She had been lucky, that this one man in the world who had such control over her only ever used it to please her. She felt his lips against her neck and closed her eyes, giving up the fight. They would talk about it, she would get it out of him. But not now, she was completely incapable of doing it now. Hell, she was lucky she could still breath now. This was her brain on McGee. How it had been for so long. She wondered why she had ever bothered fighting it in the first place. She had met her match in him. She didn’t even notice that the others watched in stunned silence from across the room as McGee’s hands roamed softly and freely across her back, bared to him by the low scoop of the dress she was wearing. The dress that Timothy McGee had assumed when he watched her dress earlier, was only chosen for Tony’s delight and not his.
“Took me a while.” Ziva struggled to say, afraid of what she might do if she didn’t try to hang onto some composure. “Find the one you liked.”
“Hmm?” McGee murmured
“Scent is a powerful trigger. I don’t ware perfume because it dulls my sense of smell. But I thought if I kept trying different shampoos and lotions…” she trailed off, his fingers so close the edge of her dress, so close to the place where her skin started to be concealed. She could already imagine how wonderful it would feel when he finally slipped it off her tonight. If they went home together tonight. She didn’t know what to make of this sudden change in her lover’s demeanor, and she feared what it might mean.
“Why?” It took her brain a moment to focus.
“Because if you didn’t like what I smelled like you wouldn’t want to linger in my personal space. And if you didn’t linger it would be harder to get close to and subsequently seduce you.”
He pulled away then and started down at her as if she’d just said she was an alien from mars and by the way was also pregnant with Elvis’ baby. He continued to search her eyes for something but she didn’t know for the life of her what it was.
At the table Tony started to jump up but was stopped by a hand on each shoulder. “Easy Tony.” Gibbs said “Let them work it out.”
“Work what out boss? What is there to work out? What happened? McGee looks like he’s gonna go postal on her any second and she looks….”
“Well yeah, and that’s not how she’s supposed to be.”
“Around you.” Abby said. “She’s different when she’s around Timmy. He’s different like that. He makes people feel safe. He loves Ziva, he would never hurt her.” Tony was doubtful, this being a new and scary side of McGee they were witnessing tonight. Still, he stayed put, and just watched. Ziva’s hands slide down his arms and stop just above McGee’s elbows.
“Please Timothy. Whatever it is, it’ll be okay. Let’s just go home. We can talk, or not talk. Just please come home with me tonight.” He only nodded but was rewarded with a smile as Ziva started to lead them back to the table where the rest of the team pretended they hadn’t been watching the entire thing.
“It’s getting late. McGee and I are going to head out.” Ziva said as she retrieved her coat from the back of her chair. McGee helped her put her coat on then gathered his while Ziva made her way around the table giving hugs and goodbyes.
“You two need to call a cab?” Gibbs asked in a fatherly tone.
“No, I haven’t been drinking.” It was true, no one had noticed before but Ziva had only had one glass in front of her all night, and it was filled with club soda. It was a good thing, Ziva was a bad enough driver sober, though certainly still better than a drunk McGee. After getting squeezed tightly by Abby, the forensenic scientist held out her arms for McGee.
“Come here Timmy.” her voice held worry, and McGee went into her arms only to satastify it. “You need anything…” she whispered in his ear.
“Thanks Abby.” He replied, feigning a small smile. He was glad to pull away as Ziva had reached Tony.
“Goodnight Tony. Glad you’re back safe.”
“Me too. You know I never feel truly safe until I’m back in the company of an assain, a ex-marine, a vampire, a computer genius, and a guy who talks to dead people.” He teased. He smiled in McGee’s direction but it was not returned. Ziva had already moved away and was holding her hands out to McGee.
“Keys please.” McGee reached down into his coat pocket but did not come back with the keys.
“Why my car?” He complained.
“Because we came in your car.” she said, grinning evilly. He produced the keys and dangled them in air. She made a quick grab but he snatched them away. They played the game again and this time he snagged one of her hands and twirled her around to pull her back against him. She cocked her head and grinned up at him, encouraged by the playful smile on his face. And he took a moment to bury his face in her neck as if he was mourning the impending loss of something.
“I promise I will be careful with your baby McGee.” she said, and he finally dropped the keys rewardingly in her hand. They headed out and Ziva gave one more goodnight wave to the group.
“Okay.” Tony was forced to admit after they left. “Maybe it is me, but I swear I don’t know why.”
He was quiet on the drive back to his apartment, staring out the window blankly. Ziva did not force conversation, but he could feel her looking over at him from time to time. Back at his apartment he didn’t even bother to take off his coat or greet his dog, he simply went into the bedroom and plopped down face first onto the bed. Ziva and Jethro shared confused looks, then while Ziva took off her coat the dog padded in to check on McGee.
She found them on the bed together. The dog lying on his stomach beside a still prone McGee. The sight would have been comical if she had been in any mood for laughing. She came over and started to undress him, when she was undoing his belt she considered just making a grab for him to see what kind of reaction he would give her. But he obviously wasn’t feeling amorous and she didn’t want to put him on the defense any more than he was. So she only stripped him down to his underwear before she crawled onto his back and started to massage his shoulders. She would have much rather just stripped him naked but he insisted on sleeping in clothing of some sort. He sighed and began relaxing under her touch in spite of himself.
“I’m sorry.” he whispered.
“What are you sorry for?”
“I don’t know. Being stupid.”
“About what?” He hesitated and she let him, knowing whatever it was he was going to say he was gathering up the courage to do so.
“Us.” Her hands stilled on his back and McGee tried to fight down the fear that crept into him, knowing what she could do to him in that position. Or any position for that matter.
“What did you do that was so stupid McGee?”
“Us, I let it happen, I shouldn’t have let it happen.” Ziva could feel her icy heart start to crack, but she didn’t flinch.
“No McGee.” she said, resignment in her voice. “I did this. I knew you liked me and I thought in time you would learn to love me.” She climbed off his back then and went about the room gathering her things.
It was the shock alone that got McGee moving finally. “What?” he asked in absolute confusion.
“I shouldn’t have done it. I know that. I knew that even while we were doing it. But I just thought….”she sighed, “it was stupid and selfish of me. I know that. I just thought that you….” she sighted “I don’t know what I thought. But how could you…?” she began, turning on him. “no,” she continued, turning back, “that is unfair of me.”
“Ziva,” he began, approaching her slowly. “I have no idea what you’re talking about.” she scoffed at that, headed to the bathroom and started collecting her make-up. There was so much to pack up. And every little piece of herself that she started to remove from their, no McGee’s, apartment represented a touch and a kiss; a laugh and a smile. Pieces she had thought were building their life together, now falling apart as if they never had belonged together in the first place. Just things.
“I am talking about us breaking up because I coerced you into a relationship you did not want in the first place. I am talking about how I’ve been grooming you to be my mate for years and it has finally blown up in my face McGee, that is what I am talking about!” McGee stared after her, confused.
“Well, I’m talking about how I let you get into a relationship that you didn’t really want in the first place and how it’s now blowing up in our faces. And what do you mean ‘grooming’ anyway?”
“I mean….why, what do you mean?” she said, chickening out. McGee continued to stare at her, his mouth agape.
“I mean…it’s only a matter of time isn’t it? Now that he’s back.”
“Time for what McGee? Now that who’s back?” Something, either in his thinking or her words caught his attention and his eyes flashed anger and he took a step towards her. Ziva wasn’t the type of woman to back down from any man but Tim’s anger surprised her and she tried to take a step back, only to be stopped by the sink pressing into her spine.
“Who? Who?! Oh I dunno Ziva, maybe Tony? You remember him right? The guy you’ve been in love with since day one!”
“What?!” Ziva said, her voice high pitched with shock. “Tony?!” she started laughing then, hysterically, her face turning red and tears running down her cheeks. “You think I’m in love with Tony?”
“This isn’t funny Ziva!” McGee countered, refusing to hold her when she leaned her forehead against his chest. She brought her face up and tried to shake her head no but couldn’t. It was just too damn funny. He started to pull away from her but she grabbed his wrists and held tight. She tried harder to pull herself together.
“I am not in love with Tony!” she said, trying to hold back the continued laughter.
“Well that’s news to me!” She sobered up then, seeing McGee’s serious face and hurt expression.
“I have never been in love with Tony. I have a crush on him yes? Like I have a crush on Tom Selleck and Johnny Depp, but I would not leave you for any of them. Don’t you know how much I love you Timothy?” McGee couldn’t help but be uplifted by that, though he had his doubts.
“But you flirt with Tony all the time and…”
“Of course! Tony thinks with his pants, keeping him off kilter that way gives me the upper hand. It is a part of my training McGee, it does not mean I will cheat on you. I will not!” Her eyes were pleading and made him want to reach out and touch her, but he held back.
“Then….then why did we get together as soon as Tony left?” McGee questioned.
“McGee!” she said, smacking his cheek as she often did when she was trying to bring him around to her way of thinking. “I have had my eye on you for a long time now, are you really so stupid you did not see it?”
“Apparently….yes.” She sighed then and offered him a soft smile.
“You are the man I want to spend the rest of my life with and everything I have done since I realized that has been to convince you of the same inevitable truth. That you and I were meant for each other McGee.” She watched as he smiled then, that goofy grin that always tickled her heart. She leaned up and kissed his lips softly.
“Yes Timothy really.” She reached up and held his face in her delicate hands. “You are a logical person McGee, and I knew I had to seduce you with logic. And short of that I just had flood your senses with me until you woke up and realized you are madly in love with me.”
“I am Ziva, I love you, more than anything.”
“And I love you Timothy McGee.” She kissed him passionately and was rewarded when she felt his lips press back against her.
“But,….I mean…” he said, trying to reason things out in his head. He was trying to see it. Trying to see how her behavior towards him meant more than her flirting with Tony. He started to see some of it. How Tony constantly tried to infuriate and bait her. Something that would put her on guard and annoy her. With him though she was relaxed and content. Safe. But how did that lead to love? How did that counteract the draw that women seemed to have to Tony’s bad boy ways? He just didn’t get it. Ziva could feel his frustration, knew he didn’t like being in the dark about understanding something. She decided she couldn’t let him suffer any longer. She loved him far to much.
“Come, let me show you something.” she took his hand and led back into the bedroom. She got on the floor and pulled something out from under the bed. McGee watched with a confused expression, wondering when she had put anything under there. She sat back on the bed, what looked like a photo album resting on her lap. She patted the spot beside her and McGee sat down obediently, his curiosity getting the best of him.
“Now before I show you this you have to swear absolute secrecy to me.”
“Okay.” Ziva stared at him for a moment before moving the book from her lap to his and opening it to the first page. “I started this when I was in school. It was an exercise in future planning and I think a reality check as well.” McGee looked over what looked for all the world like a wedding album. Yes there was what looked like a young Ziva, her head pasted onto a model of woman in a white dress.
“Tom Selleck huh?” McGee asked, looking at the manipulated picture of a the groom. Ziva just laughed. “They said to pick someone, what can I say, I was young and we hadn’t met yet.” That made McGee smile and he started flipping pages. It was a lifetime of fantasies, cars houses, kids. Possible dreams Ziva had dreamed. He watched her grow as he turned the pages, the dreams changing with the passage of time. He could see her changing, taking and exploring a world of life’s choices and trying to decide what it was she really wanted. And, shockingly to McGee, it was him. There he was, or more correctly, there his head was. Plastered on top of a well dressed groom’s body clipped out of a magazine. He stared at the picture of them as bride and groom for a long time. He recognized the pictures of their faces. A shot of them at a party, smiling at the camera. It had been taken a couple of years ago, the first time they had seen each other in formal ware. He remembered an odd twinkle Ziva had had in her eye that night. He wondered now if this was why, that the whole time she had been thinking that this picture could be used this way. That made him smile even more. He turned towards her, after he felt her kiss his cheek, then looked back when she reached to turn the page.
It was perfect. It was home. Yellow siding, scrollwork, porch swing. A beautiful house. And what was even better was what she had done to it. Scrapbook stickers of a German Shepard and a white picket fence had been added to the page. She turned the page and he was able to take a tour of the house. Ziva’s dream house. Their house. He stopped her page turning at the nursery. He couldn’t stare at it enough. Little baby in their little sleeper. It was just a place holder of course. Some baby Ziva thought might resemble their child. But that was the whole point of it. Ziva had thought about having a child with him. A life with him. McGee was so touched he almost cried.
“Ziva….” He said, not being able to find the words. He wanted to apologize, to declare his undying love for her. To propose marriage and starting on baby making all at the same time.
“You are my one, Timothy McGee. I have known that for a long time.”
“Ziva, you’re a nerd.” he said, starting to laugh.
“What?!” she asked in shock; having expected, well, anything but that.
“The tough ninja chick is a closet nerd. You have our whole lives planned out in a scrapbook. Since before we even started dating.” She started smacking his shoulder then and he let her, still chuckling, until it started to hurt more than his liking.
“I bare my soul to you, tell you all my hopes and dreams and this is how you react?” she asked, clearly heading towards anger. He grabbed her attacking hand and looked at her with his goofiest McGee smile and she calmed down in spite of herself.
“Ziva, I was sitting there thinking tonight that it was inevitable that you’d leave me. That there was nothing at all keeping you with me. That we aren’t enough alike. But don’t you see, you’re just like me. You can be kick-ass tough and ridiculously silly, and while everyone thinks your jaded and cold you’re not. You’re warm and wonderful and a dreamer, just like me. And I see it now. I can see it now. I can see how you love me as much as I love you and I want to be with you forever and live in your dream house and have your babies and live happily ever after.”
Ziva laughed happily and, sitting up, pushed McGee down and straddled his waist. “So you’re going to have the babies, now that is something I’d like to see.” She leaned down and kissed him deeply. “And especially practice”.
The next day McGee strolled into the bull pen with confidence. And coffee. Ziva was already at her desk. Having left early from McGee’s apartment so she could get some packing done on her own. McGee was planning on helping her with the rest that evening and hopefully, if they could keep their hands off each other long enough to get any work done, Ziva would be all moved into his place by the weekend. Their place.
He served his love first, sitting a cup of coffee down in front of her on the desk. She was on the phone but mouthed a sultry ‘Thank You’ and made a kissy face at him. He smiled and his heart skipped a beat. It wasn’t that she was his, it was that they belonged to each other. With each other. That together they were better, and happier, then they were apart. And he knew now that nothing and no one would ever change that.
Next he sat a cup down on Tony’s desk and clapped his friend on the shoulder. “Sorry about yesterday Tony. I’m glad you’re back safe and sound buddy.”
“Ah yeah,” Tony said, looking at the coffee suspiciously, “me too Probie.” He turned to stare at McGee while the obviously cheery man delivered a coffee to their boss before sitting down at his own desk. Then he promptly got up and switched coffee’s with Ziva. Just to be on the safe side. They all laughed, except Tony.
“Yep,” he agreed with himself as he sat back down. “must be me.”