A/N: Here you go, two chapters in one day! (No idea I had it in me ;p) Enjoy.
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"Tony, I dare you…" Three voices came. Abby was the quickest though.
"Tony, I dare you to wear your sling for the rest of the night!"
Tony groaned, glaring at Gibbs who leaned back in his chair and smirked.
"Abby, that isn't a real dare!", he complained.
"Does that mean you will not do it?" challenged Ziva.
Tony eyed his opponents. Gibbs found this incredibly amusing, judging by his uncharacteristic snigger. Ziva was openly mocking. Abby, well, Abby was looked inordinately pleased with herself. Tony sighed, defeated. He briefly considered if quitting now by refusing the dare was worth facing Abby's wrath. He decided not.
"Alright, I left it in the car. Lemme go get it." Before Tony could pull himself upright, Gibbs stood and demanded Ziva give him her keys.
"I'll get the sling, DiNozzo. I smell desert."
Tony grinned. Gibbs wasn't a big fan of cake, but he knew Tony was. It was a nice gesture, and DiNozzo sent him a grateful look.
Ten minutes later Tony was re-settled in his sling and everyone had been served a slice of cake.
"My turn!", Abby shouted. She paused, thinking. "Dare!"
"Abby-I-dare-you-to-poke-Ziva-with-your-fork-three-times" Gushed Tony with his most immature smile.
Even Gibbs couldn't hold back an entertained snort when Ziva glared at Abby, silently challenging her to go through with it.
Slowly, Abby reached for her fork. Poised to strike, she froze. Tony would have sworn he saw a light bulb go off over her head.
"Tony! That's against the rules! Nobody gets hurt, remember?" Tony just grinned slyly and shook his head.
"Now, Abbs, no one has ever seriously been hurt with desert fork. Besides, I doubt you could hurt Ziva if you wanted to."
The Goth glared.
"Maybe not hurt, but I can still make her mad" she mumbled, stabbing rapidly.
"Ouch! Enough, Abby that was like five times!" Ziva cried, looking just as mad as Abby had thought she would. "I blame you, Tony" she continued, rubbing her sore arm. Tony paled.
"Gibbs!" Abby chirped.
"Gibbs, you can't pass."
"Um, Boss, that's a card game… and that doesn't mean what you think it does."
Gibbs sighed gustily.
"Truth." He glared at Abby and Tony as he said this, effectively stopping them from blurting out whatever was on their minds.
"Gibbs, why did you hire Tony?" Ziva inquired sweetly, gloating because she hadn't gotten 'the Gibbs glare of doom'.
"He smiled" came the deadpan response. Her smile faltered and it was the other two's turn to look smug.
"That would be true, Zee-vah" Tony sing-songed. Abby nodded emphatically in support.
"My turn then" she sighed. Truth or dare? Tony was leering at her again. He wouldn't make her do a lap dance or anything equally embarrassing in front of his boss, would he? "Truth"
"Ziva, how'd you get those friction burns?" Tony smiled.
Crap, he tricked her. Oh well, it could have been worse. She thought about lying, but she was afraid Gibbs would catch her. She was not going to be the first one out.
"I was thrown across the mat this morning by my sparring partner."
Tony's eyebrows rose suggestively.
"Not like that, Tony!" Ziva corrected exasperatedly. "We were actually sparring."
"Did he win?" Ziva glowered. "Ha! He did! You got beat!"
"Whatever. I can still swipe the floor with you, Tony"
"It's wipe the floor, Ziva"
"Tony!" Abby intervened. "It's your turn"
Tony surveyed the other occupants of Ziva's small kitchen table warily. He still wasn't ready to risk truth.
"Dare" This time Ziva was ready.
"Tony, I dare you to headslap Gibbs." That got her some looks. Obviously, Ziva was trying to get back at Tony for loosing Abby and the Desert Fork on her earlier.
All three reactions surprised her, though. Ziva had expected a pale, trembling Tony, a fuming, growling Gibbs, and a mortified, somewhat sympathetic Abby. To her great astonishment, Tony merely shrugged, stood up, and walked around to Gibbs. For his part, Gibbs wore an unreadable expression as he tipped his head deferentially. Abby seemed bored.
Rather unceremoniously, Tony delivered a loud smack and then calmly reseated himself.
"What – " Ziva was speechless.
"Rule #47: Don't screw with family", Gibbs stated. Abby and DiNozzo nodded solemnly.
"But – you are not family!"
The three shared a look. Or, rather, Gibbs and Abby looked at Tony, who groaned and covered his face with his free hand.
"Abs, your turn" Gibbs' barked order startled both Americans.
The strange word confused Ziva, but the two men just rolled their eyes.
"Abs, I dare you to tell Ziva the truth about why Tony came tonight."
Tony glared at his boss, mumbling something vaguely unflattering under his breath.
"He was supposed to have The Talk with you" she said cheerfully.
"'The Talk'?" Ziva rubbed her temples. Things were getting strange again. She wondered if her partner slipped an 'extra ingredient' into the cake.
"Gibbs" Tony growled.
"I dare you to have The Talk with Ziva"
"Boss, Abby says you can't pass."
"You can't do that either"
"Um, actually, Tony, yes he can." Tony narrowed his eyes at Abby. She was…bubbly. Tony was not in the mood for bubbly.
"Fine. He loses. Ziva."
"Truth" Gibbs was out of the game, and Abby was making faces at Tony – trying, in her own way, to 'hint' that he should do something. The 'faces' might have meant something to Tony, but Ziva was once again lost. Yes, Tony was making faces back. After witnessing their strange brand of wordless communication all night, she could almost believe that they really were family.
After all, Gibbs would not have said it if it was not true, would he?
Thinking about it, Ziva realized that Tony was not the only one that had been acting out of character that evening. All three of them had been… free-er? Not 'out of character' like something was wrong (except for maybe Tony) but like they were with people they trusted implicitly. Like she had thought earlier, Ziva only knew of three relationships that trusted like that – long standing friendships, soul-matches (um, soul mates), and siblings – family.
Ziva had never been that close to her own family; she had been trained from a young age to be suspicious of anyone and everyone. Her own father had taught her that lesson personally more than once. She doubted that she could ever trust him like her co-workers were trusting each other.
Tony's sigh interrupted her thoughts.
"Ziva, why'd you ask Gibbs why he hired me?"
Gibbs' face clouded. Ziva knew that meant she needed to respond carefully. Honestly, she had only asked because she was curious.
The ex-Mossad agent knew that Tony was a very capable investigator, but she could not see Gibbs hiring someone like Tony because he exhibited potential. There was more to the story – maybe more to Tony – than she knew. Ziva did not like that they were keeping this a secret.
"Because I know there is more that you and Gibbs will not say." Well, that was close to the truth anyway.
"Ziva, he was a homicide detective with a record for insubordination. Joint case, NCIS lead. I told him not to get shot." He glared at his Senior Field Agent who smiled weakly.
"Tony doesn't really like being told what to do" Abby chimed in "So of course he got shot."
"Hey! I didn't do it on purpose! You make it sound like I got shot on purpose." Tony protested, but was quickly shushed by Abby. Ziva waited for someone to continue. This felt important somehow – even if she did not understand why.
"Right, DiNozzo" Gibbs drawled. "You got shot and I had to visit you in the hospital."
"Soon as the doctor told you I'd live you started yelling, threatening to chain me to my desk for the next month with cold cases. You were pissed."
"And, damn it, DiNozzo, you just smiled and asked if that was a job offer, because your last boss just fired your ass for getting shot – again." Gibbs was griping, but his eyes were proud.
Ziva watched as Tony gave his boss a single nod. They're communicating, she thought. She had never noticed that before tonight, but she knew in her gut that she had seen them to it before.
And that is when it hit her. They were letting her see this. They were relaxed and enjoying each others' company – and that included her, Ziva, ex-Mossad spy and assassin. They were trusting her.
If they were family…
"Tony, it is your turn" Ziva said. He smiled tiredly, stifling a yawn.
"You were supposed to tell me I am family, yes?"
"Yeah, Ziva, you're family."
Abby clapped excitedly. Ziva would swear she heard Gibbs heave a relieved sigh. And Tony – well, this time he was unable to smother his yawn.
Ziva grinned and offered to let him sleep on the couch – after all, that is what family is for, yes?
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A/N: Alrighty – there you go. It's finished HURRAY! (although I'm toying with adding a TIVA alternate ending, but I'm not sure I want to start this ball rolling again – maybe in a few weeks) Thanks for reading, and, as always, please let me know what you thought!