Disclaimer: I don't own any of the characters. I'm just borrowing them. I'll have them home before midnight.

Tony DiNozzo was clockwatching. 8:04 and 23 seconds on a Friday night—three hours past when he'd hoped to leave the office for the week. The team had worked around the clock for the last four days on the kidnapping of a lieutenant. The case had cut Gibbs close to the bone; the lieutenant was a single mom to an 11-year-old girl. From the moment that nugget of information had been revealed, Tony, Ziva and McGee all knew what they were in for: Grumpy Gibbs to the power of 10. And Gibbs hadn't disappointed. He hadn't communicated in anything other than a deafening yell until the lieutenant had been found alive 12 hours ago, and Tony had a dull ache on the back of his head from a four-day slapfest.

Finding the lieutenant hadn't been the end of the case. She was alone when the team did their hero thing, so they still had to find the kidnapper. The information she'd provided helped them track down the bad guy in under an hour, and Tony, Ziva and McGee had barged into his mother's house with guns drawn and Gibbs frothing at the mouth. But when he resisted arrest and became violent, it was Ziva who got to unleash her crazy ninja skills on his unsuspecting (and suddenly very sorry) ass.

Back in the squad room, Tony smirked at his computer screen. On one hand, he hated it when Ziva threw herself into hand-to-hand combat, especially when there were guns around. But on the other hand, sweet baby Jesus how he loved it. He would never get over the pure entertainment value of watching a 5'7, 100lb woman take down 6'5 slabs of muscle with the flick of a well-placed wrist. The fact probably said more about his twisted psyche than anything, but he knew he wasn't alone. They'd never say it, but McGee and Gibbs would always take front row seats to see her in her element.

Ziva David: crazy, hot and dangerous to know.

"What are you smirking at, Tony?" the woman herself asked in her slightly accented English.

Tony looked across the dim office at his partner. Just as he expected, she was smirking herself. Tony had gotten used to seeing that look in the last four years. Usually he tried to resist it so he could get one up on her. Tonight, he didn't bother.

"Thinking of a movie, Zeevah," he replied, drawing her name out in the way that always caused her eyes to narrow. "The Big Sleep on TCM tonight." He made a show of looking at his watch and raised his voice so Gibbs could hear. "I'd planned on watching it, but I don't think I'll be home in time."

"Wow. You're admitting to spending your Friday night alone?" McGee piped up, sharing a raised eyebrow with Ziva. "You must be really tired."

Tony shot him a stony look. "Who said anything about watching alone, McNosey?"

"Beer doesn't count as another person," McGee returned. Ziva snorted.

"Then what are you doing hanging around here, DiNozzo?" Gibbs asked, not bothering to look up from his paperwork.

Tony blinked in surprise at the intended meaning. "I…paperwork, boss."

"You're not done with it yet?"

Tony looked at his files. Were they good enough to hand over to Gibbs? "Just finished," he said cheerily.

Gibbs took a long draw on his fifth jumbo coffee of the day. "Then get out of here."

Tony looked from Gibbs to a frowning McGee, then an indignant Ziva. He shrugged at them like the situation was completely out of his hands, grabbed his backpack and was on his feet in two seconds. "Thanks, boss."

He dropped his paperwork file on Gibbs' desk and prepared to literally moonwalk out of the room before Gibbs spoke up again.

"After you go downstairs and find out if Abby's finished working on her fibre analysis report."

Tony's smile dropped a little. Of course he was never going to get out of there scott free while the others were left working. Still, on the scale of jobs Gibbs had forced him to do as punishment over the years, spending some time with Abby in her lab was pretty weak.

"On it, boss!" he boomed, then headed for the elevator. He'd be on his way home in five minutes.

Tony could hear the music blaring out of Abby's lab before the elevator doors even opened. When they did, the wall of sound that hit him made him wince, then grin. Abby had worked at NCIS longer than he had, but she still refused to toe the Navy line. The fact that she got away with it said a lot about how great she was at her job, and how well liked she was by the big bosses.

He found her at one of her computers in the lab's inner chamber. The doors swooshed open, but Abby gave no indication that she'd heard or seen him come in.

"Abby!" he yelled over the music.

Abby jumped and spun around, pigtails flying as she grabbed a stapler off her desk and took aim. Tony's arms flew up to protect his head and he dropped to his knees to escape the fine of fire. Ziva may have been the ninja, but he didn't underestimate what Abby was capable of.

Abby recognised his cowering form and turned down the music. "Tony, I could have maimed you! Don't sneak up on people."

Tony slowly stood up straight again, ignoring the creaks and pops in his joints. "Sorry, Abs. Gibbs sent me down to too his lab work. He wants to know if you're done with your report on the fibres."

Abby tilted her head to the side and replied slowly, like she was trying to work out if this was a joke. "Why, yes, Tony. I finished it an hour ago and sent it up. Didn't Gibbs tell you?"

Tony paused as he churned the information. Of course Gibbs had it. Sending Tony down to check was just another head slap for wanting to leave before the others. "I must have misunderstood," he told her. There was no point whining to Abby about Gibbs unless he really did want that stapler to hit him in the face.

He picked up the phone on Abby's desk and hit Gibbs' speed dial. While it rang, he smirked at Abby's choice of footwear for the day. Over-the-knee lace-up PVC boots with what had to be about a 4" platform.

"So, how tall are you, Abs?" he teased. "Barefoot, I mean."

In response, Abby kicked him in the shin. He cried out just as Gibbs answered. "Ahh…hey Gibbs. Just down here with Abby. She said she sent you that report already."

Gibbs feigned surprise. "Well, how about that, DiNozzo. It's right here in my inbox."

"How about that," Tony repeated.

Gibbs hung up without further comment, which Tony took to mean he was now excused for the day.

"You going home?" Abby asked.

"DiNozzo is leaving the building," he confirmed.

"Where's DiNozzo heading? Got a hot date?"

Tony smiled his Joker smile. "Never can tell."

"Does that mean no?"

His smile dropped. "Yes. It means no."

"Want to go down to Filthy's?"

His smile reappeared at the mention of the Gibblets' favourite bar. He clicked his fingers and pointed at her. "Let's do that."

Abby clapped her hands. "Okay. I just gotta visit the little girls' room." She jumped off her chair and Tony watched her toddle off out of the lab as fast as her boots would let her. He took her seat and killed time spinning and rolling around the lab.

Abby took a couple of minutes in the bathroom to fix her lipstick and hair before dashing back to the lab. It'd been a hard week for the whole team, with longer than long hours and extra super duty stress levels, and what she really wanted now was to chill out with buddies and beer. She hoped Ziva and McGee would be up for it. She wouldn't even bother trying to convince Ducky or Gibbs. As soon as he left the building, Gibbs would be thinking of nothing but his boat and hard liquor. In fact, he'd probably been thinking of them since lunchtime. Yesterday.

She rounded the corner into her lab and spotted Tony standing by the windows, staring at the wall. Abby craned her neck to look past him, expecting to see a half naked co-ed somewhere. Then she saw it. His attention was indeed fixed on a woman—a photo of Ziva that Abby had taken with her phone and put on the wall with all the others. Abby's eyes widened for a moment, then she fought the urge to giggle gleefully.

Abby knew that Tony loved Ziva. She also knew that Ziva loved Tony. She wasn't sure if either of them knew they were in love. In fact, she'd bet a month of CafPow that they were both trying to live in their very own denial bubble. But Abby did not live in that bubble. She knew what was going on. And suddenly here was Tony, gazing—and that was really the only word for it—at Ziva with a small smile pulling at the corners of his mouth. Had he really worked it all out? She'd been sure that Ziva would be the first to wake up to the fact.

Man, she couldn't wait to get some booze in him now.

She made some noise as she walked further into the lab, trying to give him fair warning, and shrugged off her lab coat. "Ready for some tequila shots, Special Agent DiNozzo?"

By the time she looked at him again, he was facing her, smiling his lady killer smile and looking totally composed. "Let's blow this joint."

He offered her his arm and Abby took it. As they left the lab, she smacked him lightly and said, "Don't make bomb jokes, Tony."

Chapter 2 coming soon