Picking Up the Pieces - Chapter 8

Making aliyah. To Jews around the world it meant coming home, going home to Israel.

For the woman whose name used to be Ziva David, Israel was no longer home. Yes, it was her homeland, the land she was born in, where her blood family was buried...But it wasn’t home. Not anymore. It hasn’t been home in eight years.

She’s been preparing to make her aliyah for the past eight months. And she was here...Only ‘home’ didn’t want her.

All of a sudden, her surroundings became blurry and she knew tears were spilling down her cheeks. Her knees were shaking, her hands were shaking...She was shaking. And there was this strange feeling in the pit of her stomach, a lump in her throat...Oh, God.

Please, please, please, don’t let me break down now.

She couldn’t break down. Not now. Not in the middle of Tony DiNozzo’s living room. She had to keep going, she had to keep quiet. No sobbing, no wailing...There would be time for that later. Once she left his apartment. Once she sought refuge with Gibbs. She’d break down then. He’d understand. At least she hoped he would. He’d pat her on the back “There, there, Ziver”, offer his couch, muttered something about Tony being an idiot and deserving every single head-slap he’d ever delivered.

Only Tony wasn’t an idiot. God, she understood his reaction. It broke her heart, but she understood. He was hurt, she hurt him. How would she react if their roles were reversed?

Still, she’d hoped. She’d hoped he’d hug her at the airport, wrap his arms around her, welcoming her home. She’d hoped he’d embrace her in his apartment, kiss her, tell her he would never let her go again...No, she was the idiot in this picture.

Of course he didn’t want her, despite what that kiss eight months ago might had meant, despite what his reasons for coming and find her in Israel had been. Who would want someone like her? Damaged beyond repair by what she’s done, what had been done to her. Hands dripping with blood, heart cold and empty. Only it didn’t feel cold and empty when she was with him, when she was with her family.

Still, no matter what she did or said, there was and always would be blood on her hands. Who would want someone like that?

A sob broke from between her lips and she knew her time was up. She needed to get out of this apartment. Away from him, before she embarrassed herself any further.

She made her lungs draw in silent breaths, made her legs move toward that door that seemed so far away. One step at a time, one leg in front of the other. She made her fingers curl around the doorknob, twist. It took her four tries, but she finally turned it. She was such a mess.

And she needed to get out of there!

Yet everything seemed to be moving in slow motion. Hurry! Hurry! Get out of here! The doorknob slowly turned, the door oh-so slowly opened...And slammed shut with a loud crack.

Tears streaming down her cheeks, Ziva looked up from her fingers still curled around the doorknob. There, just on the left of her face was a hand. The hand that has shut the door before she could get out. The hand belonging to the male body. A fuming male body judging from the harsh breaths and waves of anger coming from behind her.

“Just where the fuck do you think you’re going?” he growled, crowding her against the door.

She’s never heard him use such language before. Come to think of it, she’s never seen him so angry before.

“Out of here,” she whispered, not trusting her voice not to break.

“Really?” he asked, his voice silky. “And when you get out of here, then what?”

“I’m going to Gibbs’—”

“The fuck you are!” he snarled. “You’re not going to Gibbs’ place, you’re not going anywhere!”

“You made it clear—”

“Clear, my ass. You can’t drop a bomb like that on a guy and expect him to just take it lying down.”

She felt his other hand on her elbow and she shuddered, shook it off. He must not touch her right now! If he touched her, she’d break down, and she couldn’t do that in front of him. Enough was enough.

“Let me go.”

“No.”

“Let me go, Tony,” her voice broke on the last syllable and she started shaking.

“You’re. Not. Going. Anywhere.”

“Please,” she whimpered, sickened by the tiny sobs escaping her throat, the spasms shaking her body.

“No,” he repeated, his voice gentler, calmer. “Turn around.”

She shook her head and whimpered again, when he put both his hands on her shoulders and slowly turned her.

“Look at me,” he whispered, but she kept her head down, not daring to look up, not wanting him to see her like this.

Another whimper escaped, when she felt him tuck his finger under her chin and force her head up. He was all blurry, when she finally looked at him, and she blinked furiously, trying to bring him into focus. She shuddered when he cupped her face in his palms and used his thumbs to gently wipe her tears away.

She couldn’t take it, this tenderness. She’d rather see him incensed, glaring at her, telling her the kiss didn’t mean anything to him, telling her he never wanted her, never cared for her the way she hoped. Why was he being gentle?

“Did you mean it?” he asked softly. “Was it all for me?”

She just stared at him, at his eyes, so different from when he looked at her in the kitchen. There was a swirl of emotions in those eyes, emotions she didn’t dare identify.

“Do you love me?”

God, he had to ask. He had to ask in that voice, with that expression on his face, with that look in his eyes, with his hands cupping her face, thumbs gently stroking. He had to ask.

“Do you love me, Ziva?”

She couldn’t bring herself to answer. Because she wasn’t sure there would be words coming out of her mouth if she opened it. So she merely nodded.

The smile that spread over his face, utterly transforming it, almost made her heart stop. Then, eyes wide, she watched his face lower toward hers, his eyes zeroing in on her mouth. And then his lips were on hers, gently brushing, and she closed her eyes. He exerted just the right amount of pressure with his thumbs to make her lips part. As his tongue slipped past her lips, the backpack slid from her fingers, landing on the floor with a soft thud.

She let him lean her gently back against the door. His palms still cupping her face, he slowly angled her head just so and deepened the kiss. Their tongues danced, mated, and she lifted her hands to lay her fingers on his wrists. It was heaven, it was torture, and she never wanted him to stop.

After what seemed like an eternity, and with a last feather-light brush of lips against lips, he finally lifted his head. She kept her eyes closed, not wanting to look at him, not daring to look at him. He was silent for so long, once more brushing his thumbs softly over her cheeks, she knew he was waiting for her to open her eyes.

She slowly lifted her eyelids, focusing her gaze first on his lips, before letting her eyes travel up to meet his. He was still looking at her with all those emotions in his eyes and her heart skipped a beat.

“I lied,” he finally said and something heavy settled in her stomach. “When I said it wasn’t special. The kiss,” he elaborated. “It was the hardest thing in my life, boarding that plane, leaving you there.”

She was surprised her eyes remained dry this time.

“I was such an ass before. I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said all those things to you. But it was either that or kiss you and fuck you blind against the wall.” The smile was rueful. “I needed an explanation.”

The next breath she took was shaky.

He sighed. “When they told me you were dead, I...” He shook his head. “I wanted to die, too. Because what I told you in Somalia was the truth. I can’t live without you.”

Tears were blurring her vision once more.

“I love you, Ziva David.”

She burst into tears.


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