A/N - I know that this has been done loads of times before, but I couldn't resist a bash at the 'ol rule 23 dilemma.


"Ziva that is not funny. It is serious and it is dangerous. Stop it right now!"

Officer Ziva David had never heard Tony be so serious with her, "I mean it Ziva. There are lines which should not be crossed and that is one of them!"

Ziva rolled her eyes, "Chill Tony, it's only a joke!"

As Tony shook his head in despair, McGee backed him up, "Ziva, remember rule 23, believe me, talking from past experience, you do not want to break that rule!"

"Look! He's not going to know, I'm Mossad, trust me!"

Ziva, replaced the lid on Jethro Gibbs coffee cup, after having topped up the half drunk cup with a mixture of earl gray tea, apple juice and milk. She sat back down at her desk.

A few moments later, Gibbs returned from the bathroom at the opposite end of the bullpen and made towards his desk, "McGee! Any news from Norfolk on those missing cctv tapes?"

Tim gulped, "Uh...no, boss, nothing yet, I'll give them another call."

Gibbs lifted up his cup and took a swig. He narrowed his eyes as though he was in pain and held the liquid in his mouth. Quickly standing up, he bent over and spat the contents of his mouth into his bucket and then slowly straightened up.

The bullpen went silent. Everyone and everything was quiet.

Ziva covered her mouth to stop herself from laughing out uncontrollably. McGee and Tony stared, wide-eyed and open-mouthed, preparing for the NCIS equivalent of hell.

Gibbs took the lid from his cup and peered inside, he replaced it and slowly raised his head.

"Who messed with my coffee?" he said coldly, calmly.

Silence.

"I said….who messed with my coffee!" he raised his voice and spoke firmly.

"McGee?"

"Uh, no boss. It wasn't me…..I wouldn't dream of doing anything to your coffee!" he squirmed, "n...not after the last time."

"DiNozzo!"

Tony paled and the chuckled nervously, "Don't look at me boss, you know I'd never pull a stunt like that. I mean I live Rule 23!"

Gibbs stared at Tony long and hard and then eventually let his gaze rest on Officer David.

"Ziva?" he simply said, his voice as cold as ice.

"It wasn't me Gibbs...honest!" she lied as she stared at her computer monitor.

Gibbs walked over to her desk and leaned over, eyeballing her. Any thought of laughing was now the farthest thing from Ziva's mind as she steeled herself to remain resolutely calm and confident.

"Are you lying to me Officer David?" Gibbs whispered all the while staring in her eyes.

"No I am not lying Agent Gibbs," Ziva said calmly.

Gibbs examined Ziva's eyes closely a few seconds more. There it was, only slightly, although faint, it was the proof he needed, it was always there, after years of experience, he had honed his skill perfectly.

"You are lying Ziva, I can see it in your eyes!" he rebuked firmly.

"Gibbs, I am a trained Mossad Agent, my eyes reveal nothing. I can assure you I am not lying!" she protested.

Gibbs stood up and walked to the middle of McGee and Tony's desks, "Did Ziva mess with my coffee?"

Both boys nodded knowing full well that there was no point in trying to cover it up or for them to lie. They could never lie to Gibbs anyway.

Ziva's jaw dropped and she gulped as Gibbs advanced towards her desk. As he made for the printer behind her she frowned in confusion. He roughly opened the paper tray and took out a small pile of paper which he then slammed down on her desk. Lifting her pencil, he leaned over, pointed the pencil in her face and barked,

"Rule number 23 David. Never mess with a Marines coffee if you want to live!...write it down!"

She took the pencil nervously and then began to scribble the words on the top of the paper. She thrust it to him when she was finished. Still stern-faced, he glanced at her scrawl and then handed it back to her,

"Another four hundred and ninety nine and then, and only then, you can leave."

As she opened her mouth to protest in the most strongest of terms Gibbs lifted his hand and whacked her hard on the back of the head with a resounding 'thwack!'

"Ouch!" she yelped.

"Unless you want to make it nine hundred and ninety nine, I would get writing. That's an order!" he barked fiercely.

She pouted in defiance, but the raised eyebrow indicated that an order was an order and so she picked up the paper and pencil and started writing.

"McGee! Get me a refill!" Gibbs snapped as he returned to his desk.

"On it boss!" Tim jumped and immediately went to the coffee store, glad of the chance to escape.

An hour later, Tony and Tim had left for the night, leaving Gibbs and Ziva alone in the bullpen. The audible huffing and puffing from Ziva during the first half hour had gradually lessened and she sat quietly writing her head down in concentration.

Gibbs looked over and smiled wryly and sipped the remainder of his coffee.

Ziva gathered the sheets of paper together and got up from her desk and stood in front of Gibbs.

"I've finished" she said sheepishly.

"and?" Gibbs replied, his eyes still fixed on his computer screen.

"my hand hurts"

He looked at her with a sweet smile as she stood flexing her hand.

"and Officer David?"

"Ok, ok, I'm sorry...I won't do it...again...do I have your permission to go now...please?"

Gibbs nodded and she returned to her desk to gather her gear for home.

"Officer David..."

She stopped in her tracks and turned to face him,

"...another stunt like that...and it won't be your hand that will be hurting"

Ziva David beat her personal best in getting from her desk to the elevator in 3.97 seconds.


A/N Let me know what you think...thank you!