A/N: Filler moments from 'Love and War' and some re-enactment of actual scenes. Didn't you just love all the teammate harassing in this one? Picks up right after DiNozzo and David get to the Poltergeist dungeon-house place.
None of them are mine.
"Like McGee, and his new sorceress friend!"
Ziva looked almost wistful as she replaced the photo frame back onto the table. Tony made a noise, and she turned to look at him, only to realise he'd walked into the other room and was circling back into the hall. She narrowed her eyes at him, an unspoken question in her eyes.
"Oh. Yeah. I was gonna talk to you about that – heh – it's kinda funny, actually." Tony started.
Ziva waited impatiently for an explanation as Tony hemmed and hawed searching for a way to tell her.
"Uh, let's see. How do I put this delicately? Um, she's not real." He looked back at Ziva with a combination of a sheepish, yet proud look on his face.
Almost immediately, the pieces fell into place; Tony's sudden interest in McGee's love life and his reaction in the bull pen when McGee had revealed his new acquaintance to them.
"You did not."
But as wrong as she thought it was, even she had to admit that it was a good prank, not that she would ever tell him.
"I did, I was bored, it was late, I just watched Weird Science. Next thing I knew, I was building a fake online profile and – IM-ing with McGee." He explained in a single breath. He watched Ziva expectantly. If she approved, they could have even more fun with the Probie, and if she didn't, well, he was going to have to hide all her stationary from her for the next week or so.
"He really likes her, Tony! You have to tell him!"
Ziva surprised even herself with her sudden interest in McGee's well being, only to realise that it was because she was feeling somewhat jealous she had not thought of such a prank before her partner did.
Tony noticed she had not condemned him for his actions yet, and tried to sway her onto his side.
"Heh – I know. But it's actually kind of flattering, in a creepy way." He began, but a glare from Ziva silenced him. He mentally thought of the many spots he could hide her pencils, pens and rulers in. He'd have to find a special one for her paperclips and letter openers. And her stapler. Staplers were dangerous.
"What did you think would happen?" She wrung her hands in exasperation over her head and Tony decided he would rather be in her good books than trying to get her to his side. He decided to backtrack.
"I didn't know! The flaw in the plan – was the plan. But I got another plan, okay?" He said, the gears in his head turning as he tried to think of a way he could redeem himself in her eyes.
"Which is?" Her accented voice was laced with irritation.
"You ever see Fatal Attraction?"
He was saved from elaborating on his new plan as he noticed Ziva's line of vision had shifted from glaring at him to a curious look over his shoulder. A sudden mental image of a static-y television and a pair of hands coming out from it made him shudder involuntarily.
"Poltergeist is behind me, isn't it? "
"So, hows it going with your other – special friend?" Tony started, earning a curious look from Ziva as she turned back to watch the exchange.
"Claire? Nah she's gotten a bit clingy. I didn't respond to an email of hers right away, she freaked out, started going on about how computers are destroying civilisation, which is weird 'cause she's a computer programmer."
Tony took the chance to get out of the web he'd mistakenly weaved around himself.
"Kick her to the curb!" He told him, and turned back intending to leave to Jenning's lab.
"I think I'm going to give her another shot." McGee called out, and Tony blinked back a look of surprise before turning back to him. He saw Ziva smirk from the corner of his eye and groaned inwardly. The plan was not working.
"We connected, you know – it's not every day that you find a –"
"Level 5 sorceress." Tony completed his sentence for him, regretting instantly the stupid Wikipedia article he'd stumbled upon that had lead to the mess he was in.
Ziva tugged at the sleeve of his suit impatiently and he followed her out with a grimace thinking of a Plan B to the Plan B of the Plan A. Which would make it - Plan C?
"You have to tell him the truth!" Ziva whispered at him as they made their way to the exit.
"Maybe, but not until I'm absolutely sure lying won't work."
Their walk to across the parking lot was quiet, and it wasn't until something McGee said earlier in their investigation while in the forest came back to him that prompted him to break the comfortable silence.
"Do you think that I'm undesirable, Ziva?"
Accustomed to Tony's random outburst like this, but not to the subject matter, Ziva had to adjust her train of thought for a few moments before replying him.
"Not undesirable, no. Why do you ask?" She asked cautiously. They had not had such conversations since the incident in the elevator. Which, she suddenly remembered, still had not been properly resolved yet. She glanced to her side at Tony, concentrating on his driving.
"Nothing, just something the Probie said." He said. "But if you, super ninja extraordinaire think I'm still 'date-able', then obviously the problem lies with the McGullible." He let out a bark of laughter and flashed Ziva a grin before turning his attention back to the road.
"I said you were desirable, Tony, I did not mention that you were 'date-able'." She replied. She watched in enjoyment as Tony processed her words and let a look of confusion, then indignation cross his features.
"What is the diff - I am so date-able, Officer David. Let me tell you that I –" He started indignantly before rudely being cut off by a snort from Ziva.
"Right, and this is why I have not heard you talk about a date, let alone a woman, in the last few weeks. Months, even!" She added, for sheer measure.
"I'm just – I needed to - I will have a date by the end of today and when I do, you're buying me Chinese!" He exclaimed, shooting his partner a nasty look.
This was not the way he had envisioned the conversation going. Well, he technically did not envision the conversation, but it definitely had not involved him promising to get a date by the end of the day. Hopefully Jennings' lab would have some pretty interns or secretaries he could charm into joining him in a night out.
He thought his prayers had been answered when the lady at the reception had told them one Miss Jessica Shore, the Doctor's assistant was going to take them to the laboratory. He could not decide which one he was more excited for, the opportunity to prove Ziva wrong, or the once in the life time chance to enter the lab where spy gadgets were made.
When the assistant turned up to lead them away, Tony grinned in delight, eliciting a knowing groan from Ziva.
"Please, Tony, she is out of your team."
"Oh ZeeVah, I'm pretty sure she plays for my team – but I think you're looking for the word 'league' in this case." He mumbled to her and quickened his steps to get catch up with the assistant. He cleared his throat when he thought he was close enough.
"So," He began. "What's a nice girl like you doing in a top secret government counter espionage gadget lab like this?" He could feel the glare Ziva was giving him without looking at her.
"I bet that sounded better in your head." The assistant replied, and Tony thought it was pretty much a bad start, considering the fact that he also couldn't really remember her name. Round Two, he decided.
"No, not really. I like your glasses." He tried again, this time fully aware of the weird face Ziva was giving him. He realised he was grasping at straws, but he had to at least exhaust all his options first.
"Let it go, Tony." Ziva whispered harshly at him, and he logically agreed that he probably should, no point in angering someone who possibly might help in their investigation. But he couldn't. Tony DiNozzo was not losing a bet, not this way at least.
"Can't." He told her, and then continued to address the assistant. "Lemme guess, camera, infrared X-ray vision –"
This time, he managed to get a reaction from her, albeit not the one he'd expected.
"I'm Doctor Daniels' assistant, Agent Dinozzo – "
"Tony." He insisted. But she obviously made a point to ignore him.
"I make copies, get coffee – I don't play with the toys." She turned away and unlocked the door with a swipe of her keycard. Ziva smirked again, knowing full well that Tony's attempt to charm her was failing miserably.
"That's my job," a voice called from inside, and they all entered the lab. An aging man greeted them as they walked to the center of the room.
"Doctor Rod Daniels, you must be Officer David, and you are –"
"Very Special Agent Tony Dinozzo" He made one last attempt at the assistant, glancing backwards at her as he emphasised the Very Special, earning another exasperated sigh from Ziva.
The rest of the lab visit though, was a collection of little distracting wonders, to Tony at least. The little flying mechanical machines intrigued him, together with the various seemingly normal items, although Tony guessed they were secretly used for worldly spying missions – he'd have to ask Ziva if she had ever used them before in her Mossad days.
He was thankful Ziva had taken over the line of questioning from then on. He was too busy admiring the scientists' handiwork. He spotted a hidden webcam on an LCD screen and noticed that his hair was out of place. The resulting smack on his arm from Ziva pulled him back to what the Doctor was saying. A minute of McGeek perfect mumbo jumbo later though, he was handed a toothpaste cap and he grinned in childish delight as he toyed with it before Ziva yanked it away and returned it to the doctor.
The subsequent search conducted in Jenning's office had revealed nothing out of the ordinary. They both subjected themselves to a thorough search before leaving and it was not until they were buckling their seat belts that Tony realised, after noticing a very uncharacteristic smiley Ziva; that he was on the verge of losing his own bet. He groaned inwardly.
Gibbs seemed like he was on a warpath, and Tony was certain his quip about writing 'Gibbs' Gut' on a warrant hadn't helped the situation much.
"So much for my date tonight." McGee sighed.
Tony reacted instantly, reaching out and grabbing McGee's arm.
"Whoa! What are you doing? You giving the psycho another chance?" But even as he said it, a light bulb went off in his head.
"Well I was, now I guess I gotta cancel." McGee said forlornly.
Tony braced himself for the onslaught of what he was about to do, but he could not give up a chance at one-upping Ziva. Who, coincidentally was now looking very suspiciously at him, almost as if she could see the gears working in his head.
"What is that sillyness –" He started, still gripping McGee tightly.
McGee glanced down at Tony's hand on his arm, slightly miffed.
"Sorry." Tony mumbled, and quickly pulled back.
"Ziva and I will cover the interviews for ya." He offered generously, knowing that McGee would probably not give up such an opportunity. He would think of the consequences later.
"That's awfully un-Tony of you Tony!" McGee said, trying to figure out if Tony had anything to gain from him going out with Clare. It was really uncharacteristic of him. But still, Tony seemed to have changed since his stint as Agent Afloat.
"Just doin' ya a solid, Probie, because you having a date is about as rare as me, not having one."
He shot a victorious glance at Ziva, took in her narrow eyed glare and scampered away towards the exit. Ziva gave McGee a small wave goodbye and followed her partner out, catching up with him before he got into the car.
"I – I did not! I said I would have a date by the end of today and –"
"That was cheating!"
Tony swore if she had so much as a pencil within her arms reach, his eyes would have been gauged out.
"No! You did not specify the terms, and I have a date – yeah with the McGeek – but I have one! I win!" He teased her and reached for the door handle.
Ziva suddenly loomed up against him, trapping him between her body and the car door, her hand clamped over his on the handle.
"You used a co-worker, who was under the false impression that he was going to get lucky tonight to gain the advantage in our bet. That is not only cheating, it's wrong!" She snarled, evidently not at all happy with the outcome. Tony pushed up against her more, suddenly aware of their position and not exactly disliking it.
"I still win, sweetcheeks."
He pried her hand off his with his other, and quickly got into the car, starting the engine.
He spent the rest of the entire trip ignoring the heated glare from his partner all the way to their destination.
It was ten minutes into the first interview when Ziva excused herself to go to the ladies.
She made sure she was out of ear shot before quickly punching in a series of numbers into her phone violently.
"McGee, there is something I have to tell you."
And so, the tables were turned.
It had taken Tony the half an hour for him to drive home to be a hundred percent sure that Ziva had betrayed him to the Probie. It was after he'd left NCIS, feeling all stages of guilty for toying with his co-worker, that he realised the Probie was never usually that persistent with women, unless someone else was pushing, or in this case pulling his chain. It had Ziva's name written all over it.
He'd given the an extra twenty dollars and his last piece of pizza to the manipulative Probie. No, he corrected, it was his sneaky partner who was manipulative. He resigned himself to his fate, contemplating karma and a higher being before he realised that someone was knocking on his door.
Tony glanced at the clock before walking towards it, taking note that his Sig was conveniently placed on the table beside the door before he peered through the eyehole. He yanked the door open, scowling at his visitor.
"You lost me twenty dollars. And a slice of pizza. And not to mention my self respect." He growled at Ziva, standing at his doorway smirking at him with two bags full of what seemed like food.
"Your twenty bought you supper, Tony." She said, nudging past him. He shut the door and followed her to the kitchen. She started placing what looked like boxes of Chinese take out on his kitchen counter. He wasn't about to let it go that easily.
"You told him what I did! You're such a sore loser." He muttered as he inched closer to the food, not able to resist the delicious smells wafting towards him. Ziva smiled at him almost genuinely as she opened his cupboards with easy familiarity and took out some utensils. She disliked using the chopsticks that came with the food.
"I merely saved him the trouble from being embarrassed by your stupid prank. And I bought you Chinese, so I will assume that our issue is settled."
"Yeah, with my twenty!"
"Which, Tony, you gave to McGee, who gave it to me, who decided that you deserved more food after you so generously gave McGee your last piece of pizza." She was openly irritated now, and Tony knew better than to agitate her more.
"Well, okay. Fine, but next time-"He took one look at her and backpedalled. "Eh. Let's just take this to the TV. We can eat and I can put James Bond on and show you the wonders of Q."
Ziva smiled, remembering her earlier curiousity at the man Tony had rambled on and on about in the bullpen. Tony came up to her and grabbed a box of noodles, ignoring the plate she had taken out. Ziva stopped him, glaring at him before producing a fork seemingly out of nowhere and stuck it into his box.
"In case I want to share." She clarified.
He flashed her a wide grin and tugged on her arm. She barely had time to pick up a box for herself before she got dragged into the living room. She watched Tony as he picked out his beloved DVD. She thought back at the series of events that had lead to her being in her partner's apartment at that moment and realised with a start that she actually meant what she had said almost a year before.
"You are a good man, Tony."
Tony hesitated before inserting the DVD, and then settled himself next to her comfortably. He leaned towards Ziva, letting an arm drape around her and coaxed her head to fall neatly into place between his head and his shoulders.
"Yeah, so you keep saying."
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