A Week Without Ziva
It's only for a week, I told myself as I rode the elevator up. Ziva would be gone all this week, leaving me alone to fend off Tony, who would no doubt be extra cranky or tirelessly annoying with her absent. But it was only for a week, how bad could it be?
He would never admit it, but Tony had it really bad for Ziva. It was painfully obvious to any and all whenever the two of them were together. I think even Gibbs was ready to say 'the hell with the rules and get a room already'. Especially now, since she was going off to Tel Aviv. Tony had his suspicions that Ziva was going to be paying a visit to a lover and I had to admit that I did too. I couldn't help but notice the photograph of the rather handsome looking man on Ziva's desk. Not that I was snooping or anything, but I am an investigator and trained to notice details like that.
I stepped off the elevator and noted that Tony was already there. For once he was actually working, or at least appearing to be working. I crossed over the bullpen, flung down my bag and sat at my desk.
Booting up my computer, I hoped to get started on the day's tasks before Tony started pestering me, but it was too late. He was coming my way.
"Hey Probalicious." He greeted with a finger flick to the side of my ear. I sighed. Long ago I gave up trying to shake off the 'probie' moniker that Tony had dubbed me with even though my probational period as a federal agent had been over for years.
"Guess it's just us this week."
"Hey, cheer up. Ziva will be back next week, then we can tease her mercilessly about her new boyfriend."
"Uh, you can if you want. Me myself, I like breathing, it's really grown on me." I turned to my computer, maybe Tony would get the point that I didn't really want to be bothered first thing in the morning.
"Aw, c'mon McGoop. You're not really scared of Ziva are you?"
"Yes, and you should be too."
"So, did you see it too?"
"The picture Ziva had."
"Oh, you mean the one of the tall, dark, extremely handsome, shirtless, younger-than-you gentleman she had on her desk? Nope, can't say that I have."
"What did you think?"
"Why do you care Tony? Ziva's allowed to have a life outside of work, ya know."
"Yeah, it just that's she's never gone back to visit Israel before, especially since she's only been back for a few weeks. You think she's really hung up on this guy?"
"Not as much as you're hung up on you." I muttered under my breath.
"She hasn't said anything to you about him?"
"Why would she?"
"Because she likes you and talks to you. C'mon, don't tell me she hasn't said anything to you about this guy."
"She hasn't, Tony. So let's just drop it and get some work done, if that's okay with you."
"Fine. I'll get you to spill sooner or later."
I rolled my eyes at him and grabbed my coffee cup. Getting up, I wedged past him to get to the lounge and filled it up. It was going to be a really, really long week and I was going to need as much caffeine as possible.
I snapped off two more photos of the girl's bloody hand and wrist dangling out of the bathtub. Stepping back to get a better angle of the body, I nearly tripped on Tony who was crouched behind me sketching the scene.
"Dammit, Probie. Aren't you finished yet?"
"No, Tony. I need a few more. Can't you move back a little? I need to get a better view."
"I happen to be sketching here, McGeek."
"Look Tony, this bathroom is extremely small, so let's just try to share what little space there is in here." I was really starting to get annoyed. After an exhaustive yet unproductive day yesterday, filled with Tony's endless pranks, movie references and spit wads, I was grateful that we had caught a case. But of course, it had to be a possible suicide of a marine inside of one of the worlds smallest bathrooms. Ignoring Tony, I bent down and snapped off a few more photos. Suddenly, I felt a thud against the side of my head.
"Ow! What'd you do that for?" I asked him after he put the drawing pad he hit me with on the floor.
"Out! I need to finish and you've already taken a million pictures, what more do you need?"
"No Tony, my photos are just as important as your damn sketches." I ground out between clenched teeth. Feeling another slap against my head, I spun around to face Gibbs' steely blue eyes giving both of us his patented 'don't mess with me' looks.
"Enough you two, Ducky's here, so finish what you're doing now!"
"All done boss." Tony got up and stared at me as he left the bathroom. What the hell?
"McGee?" Gibbs turned his attention on me.
"Uh, uh... I just need to get a couple more shots and I should be done, boss." Gibbs got closer to my face, he never failed to intimidate me that way.
"Get it done." He ordered with a stern voice and turned on his heels. Tony stood outside the bathroom, grinning and giving me a finger wave before joining Gibbs. I narrowed my eyes and shook my head. I was so going to kill him.
"DiNozzo, McGee, grab your gear." Gibbs ordered as he strolled into the bullpen at a quick clip and reached into his drawer, pulling out his badge and weapon. I reached for my bag and also grabbed my badge and Sig. "Got a rape at Rock Creek park, you two take the truck and go to the scene. I'm heading to the hospital to interview the victim."
"On it, Boss." Tony jumped up and grabbed his things as well. "Shotgun!" He called as soon as Gibbs had disappeared. I groaned. I really hated driving the truck, especially through DC traffic.
After gassing up the vehicle, Tony hopped into the passenger seat as I climbed behind the wheel.
"Okay, McGee. The accelerator is the one one your right, don't be afraid to use it."
"Do you want to drive, Tony?"
"Nope. I was up late last night. Had a date with Jennifer, ya know, the hot one in accounting. So it's nap time for little Tony DiNozzo."
I shook my head, started the engine and pulled out of the garage.
"So let me ask you, Tony." I started, hoping to pay him back a little. "How is it that you've dated just about every woman in town, yet at the slightest inkling that Ziva might had a romantic interest in someone, you get all jealous and possessive? Don't you think it's a little hypocritical of you?"
"Hey!" He practically yelled at me, pointing his finger in my direction. "I am not jealous, McGrumpy. Just curious. Don't you want to know who would be able to melt the heart of ice that beats inside of our little assassin's chest?"
"Not as much as you."
"And I'm not a hypocrite. I have a reputation to uphold. Ziva on the other hand..."
"Right, I forgot how important it was for you to ensure that every available attractive woman within a 25 mile radius gets to date you at least once."
"Hey, at least I'm out there. When was the last time you even asked a woman out?" Oh, here it came; the old reversal and deflection, I should have seen it coming. I gave Tony an irritated look and he seemed to revel in it. "Ya see, Probie-wan. You are a perfect example of how it's not good for a man to go so long without sex. You live like a monk and you're so uptight, it would take the jaws of life to pull that stick out of you ass."
"That's not true. I date." I grew defensive and angry, how dare he criticize my private life? "I'll admit it's been a while since I found anyone that I wanted to ask out, but maybe I actually want to get to know the women I date, rather than just jumping in bed with them, like a certain someone else I know."
"Ooh, now that hurts. You wound me, Probinator." Tony mocked, placing his hand over his heart.
"Tony." I began, feeling the anger build inside of me. "Can we just get to the park without anymore conversations about my sex-life?"
"Sure. Why not? Wouldn't want to hit a nerve, would we?"
We drove on in silence for a total of two minutes before Tony just had to start drumming on the dashboard. Sighing, I gave Tony a look that asked him to quit it, but he just smiled back and drummed harder, knowing it would irritate the bejesus out of me.
"Hey, when we get to the park, you can take pictures, I'll sketch and we can both bag and tag."
"What? But you sketched yesterday. It's my turn."
"I hate to break it to ya, Timmy, but you kinda suck at sketching."
"I do not."
"There's an art to it. It requires creativity and a sense of the aesthetic, neither of which you possess in abundance."
"Hey now, that's just uncalled for. I'm creative, what do you call that novel I wrote? When was the last time you wrote anything besides a woman's phone number down?"
"I'd hardly call that novel of yours creative. It was almost verbatim from cases we had investigated and your characters were all based on us."
"Okay. I've just about had enough, Tony. One more word and I swear I might do something I'm going to regret."
"Uh oh. I hope it's not a strongly worded letter of complaint to the director. I'm literally shaking in my boots." Stopping at a red light I glared at him. If only Ziva had been there she would have been able to reign in Tony. I was really beginning to miss her. Staring back, we stood off. I so wanted to hit him, but the sound of horns honking behind us reminded me that the light had turned green. I snapped my attention back to the road and prayed that the rest of the day and the rest of the week would go by quickly.
"Hey Abby." I greeted our friendly neighborhood goth scientist. She turned from her computer and flashed that smile that always turned me to a pile of goo.
"Hey Tim. Whatcha got for me? Presents, I hope." She was quite possibly the sweetest person alive and she was always there to lend an ear to me when I just needed to vent.
"Sorry, it's just the rest of the evidence from yesterday's rape case." I plopped the box onto her work table and she came over and inspected the contents before turning her attention on me.
"What's wrong, McGee?"
"What makes you think there's anything wrong?"
"Because I know you and I sense a disturbance in the McGee force. So spill, what's going on with you?"
"It's Tony. " I flopped onto the stool by the table and Abby grabbed another one and sat next to me. "He's driving me insane. I don't think I can take anymore and I may have to kill him before the week is over."
"Awww, poor Tony." She cooed.
"What?" I asked incredulously. "Poor Tony? Have you been listening to me? The man is impossible! I've been teased, pranked and slapped upside the head so much that I fear a concussion is coming on. How can you take his side? You know, I still can't find my coffee mug and I know he stole it."
"I'm sorry McGee, but he's just missing Ziva, that's all."
"Well, I don't really care. I just want to be left alone for more than two minutes so I can get some work done."
"You know how he is about her. It must be hard for him to think that she might be meeting another man in a country all the way across the world doing God knows what. I think he's just scared that she's going to be falling for this guy and he's never going to have a chance with her."
"That might be true Abs, but that doesn't excuse him for being a jerk."
"Okay, maybe not. Why don't you send him down here and I'll straighten him out."
"Oh, that's okay. I think I can handle him for one more day. At least we have the weekend off."
"That's the spirit, Tim." she got up and pushed me off of the stool I was sitting on. "Now, shoo. I've got evidence to process." She waved me away with her hands and dug into the box I had given her. I left her to her work and proceeded to the elevator, not really wanting to go back to the bullpen again and to Tony's antics.
"This is the best part. I wish I had some popcorn for this." Tony gleefully stated as he stood in front of the one-way mirror watching Gibbs tear into the suspect we had collared for the rape case at the park. It really was entertaining to see Gibbs in action. He had it down to a science and I would hate to be the one on the other end of one of his interrogations. He was scary enough when he was being civil, but get him into a room with someone he suspected had committed a horrible crime, especially rape, and he was nastier than a shark attack on an unsuspecting surfer.
Gibbs slammed his hand onto the table and the man jumped, paling. "Okay, Okay. I did it. She was asking for it. Out running with her tiny little jogging shorts and sports bra. I just couldn't help myself."
"You sonuvabitch." Gibbs growled. "She is a naval officer and you're going away for a long, long time and I can't begin to tell you how much fun you're going to have when someone else just can't help themselves to a piece of your ass while you're in prison." Gibbs walked up to the mirror and knocked on it with one knuckle.
"DiNozzo. McGee, come and get him." Tony and I exited the observation room and entered the interrogation room. Tony slapped his cuffs onto the suspect's wrists and began to haul him out.
"Good job, boss." Tony brown-nosed. Gibbs merely glared at him as he left the room. I think that Gibbs had also had enough of Tony over the past week; his hand had to be sore from all of the head slaps he had administered onto his senior field agent.
"You know where to take him." Gibbs called out as he headed back to the bullpen.
"Let's go Probie, the sooner we get this guy locked up, the sooner we can start our weekend off."
We walked down the hallway; our suspect was starting to cry.
"Got plans this weekend, Tony?" I asked. "Going out with what's her name again?"
"You mean, Jennifer? Nah. She doesn't like film noir. I can't date a chick that doesn't dig Billy Wilder's Double Indemnity."
"There's always something wrong with them, isn't there Tony.?" Such as they aren't Ziva, I thought to myself.
"Well, when I find the perfect woman that loves movies, can put her legs behind her head and can beat me in a drinking contest, then I'll let you know, McGoogle. Until such time, the search continues."
By the time we made it to the car, Tony was practically dragging our man, who had begun to bawl mercilessly, begging for forgiveness.
"C'mon, man. Show a little backbone." Tony shoved the suspect in the back and locked the door.
"I'll drive, Probie. I know a great short cut. Besides, cars like these deserve to be driven by those who know how to go the speed limit." Sure, now he wants to drive because it's one of our cool Chargers and not the clunky truck. So typical.
"Fine, but I drive back." I handed him the keys
"Whatever, let's just get this over with so we can go home." We climbed into the car and took off, going dangerously close to outdoing Gibbs in the speed department.
It was already past midnight as I finished up the last paragraph in the latest chapter of the new novel I was writing. Satisfied with it, I neatly stacked the papers I had just written into a pile by my typewriter and shut off the lamp overhead. It was then that I heard a noise outside my door.
Cautiously, I approached the door as I heard another thud out in the hallway. Looking through the peephole, I sighed and opened the door.
"Hey Timmy!" an obviously drunk and alcohol reeking DiNozzo called out.
"Tony, keep it down it's after midnight for God's sake!" Tony pushed past me and entered my apartment. "What are you doing here?" I asked.
"Just thought I'd see what you were up to, burning the midnight oil, Probie?" He pointed to my manuscript "Is this the newest addition to the world of Tibbs, super-crime fighter extraordinaire and his team of dashingly handsome and incredibly insightful federal agents?
"Yes." Tony picked up a few pages and I panicked. "Please don't touch them Tony. I don't want them out of order."
"Fine." He dropped them back onto the table and I scrambled to put them back in order. He stumbled until he made it to my couch and flopped down. "Care for some?" He asked as he procured a bottle of whiskey from his coat pocket. I shook my head, disgusted. I hate whiskey.
"Suit yourself." He opened the bottle and took a sip, wiping his mouth with his hands.
"What are you doing Tony? Don't you have a date or something you should be on?"
"Nope. Just me and my hand tonight" he sang that stupid Pink song and I rolled my eyes. "I'm done with women." he hiccuped.
I snorted. I never imagined I would ever hear that come from Tony DiNozzo.
"Yeah right Tony, and I'm running for president."
"Seriously, Probie. They're more trouble than they are worth."
"Are we talking about all women in general or just a certain dark-haired Mossad assassin that shall remain nameless?" I asked him. He groaned and leaned forward. Suddenly aware that he may be sick, I quickly ran over to him and helped him off the couch.
"Oh no you don't!" I ordered him "You hurl on my floor and you're paying for the steam cleaning. C'mon." I pulled him up and dragged him to the bathroom where he thankfully, managed to be ill in the toilet rather than on my couch. When he was finished, I offered him a glass of water which he accepted and sipped at as he leaned up against the side of the bathroom wall and slid down to sit on the floor. I couldn't help but feel a little pity for him. Yes, he was a pain in the ass, but he was my friend. I sat down next to him as he held his head in his hands.
"You gonna be okay, Tony?" I asked. "This isn't like you."
"I'm so stupid, McGee. I'm sorry, I shouldn't have come here."
"Just don't tell me you drove here in your condition."
"No, I walked."
"You walked? You live three miles away."
"Yeah, it gave me plenty of time to think while I drank. I've been an asshole all week and I wanted to apologize." He rubbed his hands over his face.
"You did?" I really couldn't believe what I was hearing. This coming from the man who lived by the phrase, 'never apologize, it's a sign of weakness'.
"No, not really." he back-peddled "Actually, I'm not exactly sure why I came here. It seemed like a good idea at the time though."
"Ooo-kay, I guess." He was really confusing me.
"Anyway, as I was saying... Women. They're not worth it, Probie. You've been wise to stay as far away from them as you have."
"Gee thanks, Tony." I added sarcastically."What's really going on here?"
"Fine, McGoo. You really want to know? How about I've messed everything up. I'm too late, I waited too long and I'm going to be forty next month and alone for the rest of my cotton-picking life."
"Is this what this is about? This is about Ziva, isn't it?" Tony groaned and got up to be sick again. I turned away. I couldn't stand the sight of him in such a state. He flushed and washed up before coming back to sit by me again. He didn't answer my question, he just leaned his head back against the wall and closed his eyes. Figuring he was close to either falling asleep or passing out, I grabbed him around the waist and hauled him up.
"C'mon, Tony. No sleeping in my bathroom." Half-awake, he allowed me to guide him back to the couch and laid him down. I took off his shoes as he was already fast asleep and snoring loudly. I shook my head and laid my grandmother's afghan over him, hoping he wouldn't be sick again and mess it up. I looked around my place until I found a bucket and placed it beside him just in case. I placed a glass of water and a bottle of Tylenol on the coffee table, figuring he would need both when morning came.
Exhausted by the encounter with Tony, I made my way to the bedroom and went right to sleep. It was nearly 11 am when I got up and checked on Tony, but he had already left. On the coffee table next to the empty glass of water was the open pill bottle, I figured he must be hurting pretty bad at that moment.
Sunday came and went and I tried to call Tony, but he either wasn't answering his phone or was screening his calls since all I ever got was his voicemail. Come Monday morning however, he was back at his desk as though nothing had ever happened. I wasn't about to ask him about it in person though, obviously he didn't want to talk about it or he couldn't actually remember anything he told me while sitting on my bathroom floor.
Hearing the ping of the elevator I looked up to see a welcome sight. A smiling and refreshed looking Ziva waltzed into the bullpen.
"You're looking very tan Zee-va. Enjoy your vacation?" Tony asked smugly.
"I did Tony, how was your week?" she eyed him coyly.
"Oh, it was just great... the best if you must know." He stared back at her with that boyish and deceptively charming smile he like to whip out whenever he needed to cover his true emotions. Ziva finally broke eye contact with Tony and turned to me.
"Hey Ziva." I greeted, drawing her into a quick hug. "Have a good time?"
"It was wonderful." She replied grinning. "Did you miss me?"
"You have no idea." I told her. She smiled and nodded and went to her desk and sat down, giving Tony another glance. He had his head down, doing his best to ignore her and focus on his paper work. I walked over to my desk and dropped my bag onto the floor behind my chair. I sat down and immediately noticed the yellow post-it note on my computer screen. In Tony's handwriting were the words 'Thanks McGee' scribbled over it.
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