Twenty Three Minutes 'Till Midnight

"So, what you're saying is that no one could ever surprise you?"

Ziva looked across the bullpen, still surprised and slightly irritated that Tony was still pushing this conversation. It had been an hour since she had admitted that it had been a long time since anyone had done anything that had surprised her, or at least done something she hadn't seen coming. Looking back at her attempts to find a date in the past years she'd spent in America, she'd noticed that she had picked up the starting signs of when Robert had been trying to 'surprise her' with a dinner at an expensive restaurant, when Jake had been planning to 'surprise her' with the last minute trip to Vegas (which she had gracefully declined after a four day somewhat relationship), and also when Lewis had decided to 'surprise her' by announcing that he'd been married all along. And that was just recently. She supposed her training was to blame, as it was with a lot of things she'd more than readily overlook for a chance to be a slightly normal relationship for a chance, a healthy relationship, one that didn't end because he was sick of her getting up and running at four in the morning because she had to be at work for seven, or because she was sick of him calling her in the middle of a big case asking when she was going to be available for a date that wasn't arranged at the last minute.

"I am not saying that," she told Tony, trying to stay involved in the paperwork that had piled around her while he made no attempt to work on his. "I am simply saying that it has been a long time since a man has planned something without my noticing."

"So, you know what they're up to?"

She resisted the temptation to throw a stapler at him, even if her hand did twitch closer to it for just a moment. "It is-"

"Your training?" he finished for her.

"Yes," she stressed, hoping this would be the end of the issue and that they could all go back to their work. Even McGee had stopped pretending to be looking at his work and was now blatantly eavesdropping on the conversation.

Naturally, Tony wasn't done.

"Does that bother you?" he asked her. "It would bother me."

"You and I are not the same person, Tony," she pointed out.

"Well, yeah, I know. That's kinda obvious what with you being a gi…" he trailed off, noticing the death glare she was now sending him. "…woman," he corrected himself, "and all."

She just shook her head, ignoring the original question and going back to her work. He didn't want to go back to his work, however. He wasn't in the right frame of mind anymore. He couldn't concentrate knowing that that Ziva thought it was impossible for anyone to surprise her. He wanted to prove her wrong. He wanted a challenge that didn't involve finishing his report by midnight rather than three in the morning.

He wanted to surprise her.

"I bet I could surprise you," he announced proudly, leaning back in his chair and linking his arms behind his head.

Ziva just laughed, not even looking up from her paperwork.

"I could," he defended.

She looked up, folding her arms and leaning on them. "You believe it is that easy."

"Not easy," he told her. "I just know you."

She laughed again. "There are many things you do not know about me, Tony," she reminded him.

"Because you never share," he said quickly. "You should share. It's good to share."

"This is your excuse when a potential date has a sister, yes?" she shot at him quickly.

McGee laughed, but was silenced with a look from Tony, who was far less impressed. "You'll see," he said, poking his pen in her direction. "I'll surprise you by the end of the day."

"It is 11.37, Tony," she pointed out. "You have a total of twenty-three minutes to surprise me."

"And if I do?" he asked.

"You will not."

"But if I do?" he pressed. "What's in it for me?"

"Why should there be anything in it for you other than personal satisfaction?" she asked. "You have set this challenge for yourself."

"Twenty four hours of whatever I want," he decided.

She stopped for a moment, wondering if she'd heard him correctly before remembering that this was Tony, and she more than likely had. "Excuse me?" she asked, a daring tone to her voice.

"You heard me," he told her with a grin.

"Do I get to know what it is you want?" she asked him.

"That would be telling," he smirked.

"If you do not tell me, then whatever it is you have planned will become very painful for you," she threatened.

That seemed to do the trick. "Now that you mention it, I do have a lot of movies that I didn't want to watch alone," he told her. "Because, like I said, it's good to share, and some movies you just have to appreciate with another person."

"I am not watching any of the movies that you keep in your closet with you, Tony," she told him simply.

He was about to answer when something stopped him. "How do you know I keep them there?"

She just smirked at him.

"Twenty-one minutes now," he said, looking at his watch. "Twenty-one minutes, and you're all mine."

Seeing the determined grin, the one that made him think he'd already won, she had to smile back with the same determination. "We shall see."

After fifteen minutes, he'd started to sing. Hum, really, with added instrumental effects. By this time, all of the team were waiting for the opportunity to go home to the warm bed that would await them, if only for a few hours sleep before they were back at the same desks. It had begun with pen tapping, and then had progressed onto an actual tune. She just hoped he wasn't planning this as his 'surprise' as he would have failed miserably by picking something that he did all the time. She was more than used to him pen tapping and humming. It didn't surprise her. It made her realise instantly that something was wrong when he wasn't doing this, but it certainly didn't surprise her when he did.

But when he started to sing, she had looked up from her work. Usually when he sang, just like when he quoted a movie, he'd be trying to make a point of it.

"You're just to good to be true,

Can't take my eyes off of you.

You'd be like heaven to touch.

I want to hold you so much.

At long last, love has arrived

And I thank God I'm alive.

You're just too good to be true,

Can't take my eyes off of you."

She shook her head, even though she was smiling, when he got up from his chair and stood behind it, placing his hands on the backrest as he looked directly at her. He grabbed the handset of his phone, holding it up to his mouth like a microphone.

"Pardon the way that I stare,

There's nothing else to compare.

The sight of you leaves me weak.

There are no words left to speak.

But if you feel like I feel,

Please let me know that it's real.

You're just too good to be true.

Can't take my eyes off of you."

As he started to pick up the instrumental of his song again, he pushed the chair away from him, kicking the backrest so that it rather dramatically wheeled into the centre of the squad room. He jumped up on his desk, still holding his makeshift microphone and dancing around with all the enthusiasm of a karaoke champion. When he started singing again, he threw his whole effort into it, even his facial features getting into his performance.

"I love you, baby,

And if it's quite alright,

I need you baby,

To warm a lonely night.

I love you, baby,

Trust in me when I say:

Oh pretty baby,

Don't bring me down, I pray,

Oh pretty baby,

Now that I've found you, stay,

And let me love you, baby,

Let me love you…"

As he slowed down again he jumped from the desk, placing himself before Ziva's desk. Unfortunately this meant he had to abandon his microphone, seeing as the handset was firmly attached to the actual phone. By this point, Abby, Ducky and Jimmy had arrived from downstairs and were standing by Gibbs' desk, and McGee had his camera phone out and was filming without trying to hide it. Tony serenading his partner was a sight that none of them could let escape their memories, for whatever reason he was doing it. The most important thing was that he was doing it, stone cold sober, and would have every memory of this potentially embarrassing event in the morning. He paid no attention to his co-workers, however, but only focused his gaze on the Israeli ninja chick, who sat at her desk insisting she couldn't be surprised, and he was pleased to see there was actually a stunned side to her gaze. She actually couldn't work out where he was going with this, and that only fuelled him on.

"You're just too good to be true,

Can't take my eyes off of you.

You'd be like heaven to touch.

I want to hold you so much.

At long last, love has arrived.

And I thank God I'm alive,

You're just too good to be true,

Can't take my eyes off of you."

As he had done with the last time he felt it were the right 'dramatic time', he jumped up on the desk. This time, however, it was Ziva's desk that felt his weight, it was Ziva's phone that became his microphone, and it was Ziva's paperwork that got kicked to the ground. She went to cry out a protest at first, to threaten him in a thousand different ways with a thousand different tortures, but she realised she could have easily stripped off in front of him at that moment and he wouldn't have noticed until he finished his song. He had his eyes closed and his head thrown back, so he wasn't even watching her anymore. He was completely involved in the song; so involved she suspected that this might not even have anything to do with the bet, he just wanted to sing this song. However, his downfall was that because he had his eyes closed, and because his questionably good singing was so loud, he hadn't realised that Gibbs and Director Shepherd had come out of MTAC and were now standing halfway down the stairs, watching Tony embarrass himself to high heaven on Ziva's desk while the rest of his co-workers documented the evidence on any available electronic device.

"I love you baby,

and if it's quite alright,

I need you, baby

To warm a lonely night,

I love you, baby.

Trust in me when I say:"

She didn't know quite how she'd ended up on her desk with him, but she remembered him reaching out for her hand and some part of her, definitely not the logical part of her brain, taking it. Anyway, she'd ended up on the desk, standing before him. Her lamp had been kicked to the floor in the process, the light bulb shattering as it hit the corner of the desk on it's way down, but she didn't make any move to pick it up. She was stunned into stillness, which didn't help with Tony's attempts to get her to dance along with him. She could only stare, slightly open-mouthed as Tony danced along to the song that only he could hear the music to in his head and the others all filmed it. Even the Director was attempting to show Gibbs how to work the camera in his phone.

But she wouldn't admit that she was surprised. Not just yet.

"Oh pretty baby,

Don't bring me down, I pray

But now that I found you stay,

And let me love you, baby…"

He stopped singing, dropping to his knees on the desk. All the humour had vanished all of a sudden, all the noise sucked from the room the second his mouth had dried up. He knelt there, looking up at her, still holding her telephone handset in one had, and her hand in the other, and taking in her shocked expression. He had surprised her. He knew he'd be able to. He'd surprised her.

But he wasn't quite done yet. There was still one line of the song left. One lyric that he knew he still had to sing.

"Let me love you," he whispered, realising that he wasn't actually singing anymore, but he still had her undivided attention. "Forever," he told her.

She looked confused. "Tony-"

"Marry me," he blurted out.

Abby squealed, breaking the moment for them completely. Ziva looked over to find that McGee was clamping her mouth shut and hissing at her not to interrupt, the two of them still videoing the moment on their phones. A tug on her hand caused her to look round, and she found herself looking back at Tony; kneeling on her desk and now holding something else instead of the phone.

A ring.

"Tony-" she said.

"Don't make me ask again," he told her, a smile on his lips.

"You are serious?" she asked.

"Are you surprised?" he asked her in retaliation.

The shock of the situation dissolved, and a strange expression took hold of her. "You are doing this to win the bet?" she realised rather angrily.

"No, I'm doing this because I love you," he corrected her. "And it's time everyone knew that. I don't want to hide it anymore. I just…" he looked down for the moment, looking at the ring before returning his gaze to her. "Let me love you?" he asked her, bringing them back to the song once again.


More silence.

And then…


His eyes widened. "Yes, you'll let me love you?"

"Yes," she nodded. "And, I suppose I shall have to, seeing as my father would be very unhappy if I had a child out of wedlock."

Again, there was more silence and another muffled scream from Abby in the background.

"Wait…you….Ziva…uh….what, exactly, are you saying?" Tony asked her.

"I am saying that I shall marry you," she informed him.

"No, I mean…I mean the part that came after that," he told her, a tiny confused frown setting in that she found rather cute. "The child part."

"Oh, that part," she said innocently.

"Yeah, that part," he nodded. "It sounded kind of important."

"I'm pregnant, Tony," she told him, blurting out her news much as he had done, only with much more control. He stared at her, open mouthed, unable to move or speak. In the end, she had to do it for him, taking the ring from him and placing it on her finger. Then she took his hand, and raised him to his feet so they were standing face to face. She could only grin at him, patting his cheek as she said the one thing that could sum up this very strange twenty-three minutes:

"It is good to know I can still surprise you, Tony."

After I wrote this I let Toxic-Beetle be the first to read it...I tested to see if my two attempts at big surprises were actually surprising...were they surprising for you?

Oh, and you guys won't believe the fun we had planning out Tony's dance sequence...