He glanced sideways to see Abby regarding him with a determined expression.
"Why haven't I met Ziva's boyfriend yet?"
"Why are you asking me?"
"Well, I asked Gibbs, but he told me you were on it." Abby frowned at him. "You are on it, aren't you? You should be. I know Ziva hasn't been very nice to you recently, but she is still Ziva. And you kinda asked for it."
Tony sighed. He hated being reminded – he had been a bastard recently. Of course, he had his reasons. After talking with Travis in the bar, he'd realized what Ziva was doing. She was taking all her frustrations home.
And Ziva really deserved to be happy, so Tony had made a point to give her a chance to unload before she left for the day. Of course, it meant that Ziva was more or less miffed at him all the time. But he was okay with that – really.
"Why don't you just ask Ziva? After all, Travis is her secret boyfriend."
"That's just it, Tony!" Abby spun around to face him again, waving a pink fluffy pen for emphasis. "Travis is her secret boyfriend. I'm not even supposed to know about him. Neither is Gibbs or McGee or anyone. So you have to talk her into bringing him by."
"What – why me?"
"Because, Tony, you're the only one that can get away with it."
Tony grumbled to himself.
"You mean I'm the only one stupid enough to make her mad by admitting to being nosy."
"Exactly Tony." She stopped smiling. "You have until the end of the week."
Tony did the math in his head.
It would all be blown on Saturday anyway. If he took Travis up on his offer, he'd be made. If he 'politely declined' he'd be soused out for sure – how many obnoxious "Tony DiNozzos" could there possibly be?
Well, his dad was in New York, so that probably wouldn't fly. He sighed.
"Fine – it's not like I enjoy walking around in one piece, anyway." Tony shook his head, thinking to himself that Ziva was going to be beyond pissed when he showed up Saturday to causally catch a game with her boyfriend. He ought to practice his ignorant look – he knew Ziva would never belive his innocent puppy-dog eyes. "I could be like the Headless Horseman – only without any fingers and toes… because, you know, Ziva's gonna cut them off – but I'll still haunt you."
Abby smiled sympathetically and patted him on the back, deciding to ignore the haunting comment.
"I have a coupon for that chocolate that Ziva likes – and maybe some perfume, too."
For once, Tony's startled jerk was genuine. He turned around to face a curiously stern Gibbs.
Huh, he wondered, what the hell have I screwed up this time?
"Did you super glue Ziva's hand-written report to her desk?"
Really, why Gibbs bothered asking him such questions, he would never know.
"I had a really good reason, Boss."
"Tony!" Abby looked one part aghast and two parts reproving. He clearly wasn't helping his case.
His boss snorted.
"Tony, I'm ordering you to stand down." The words were spoken sternly, brooking no argument, but Gibbs threw in a truly intimidating glare for good measure.
"What? Boss, I've no idea what you're talking about." Please, please don't mean what I think you mean.
Gibbs continued to scowl at him. Tony put on his most innocent expression, knowing full well that it had never fooled either of the people currently in the room with him.
Abby snort her amusement and Gibbs rolled his eyes.
"I don't know what Gibbs thinks you're up to, Tony, but whenever you pull out the goo-goo eyes, I know you're guilty."
"No, Tony." Gibbs took a step closer. "You will stand down. Ziva has to learn to take care of herself."
Tony growled. Ziva was his… partner. He would always take care of her – Grumpy Gibbs or no Grumpy Gibbs.
"Tony…" Gibbs sighed, and his expression softened a bit. Abby reached up to grip Tony's arm sympathetically. "It's not your job any more – it's that Trevor guy's. Either get serious or let go."
Tony's eyes hardened. Gibbs had been pressuring him recently about the Travis issue.
Travis wasn't the first guy Ziva hitched up with he wasn't even the first serious date she'd brought home.
And, always, it was Tony's job to evaluate anyone Ziva so much as looked sideways at. If 'he' was under-par, Tony was tasked to get rid of him. There'd always been some very good reason that this or that guy wasn't good enough for Ziva –
Of course, Gibbs had disagreed, but Tony refused to 'off' Travis. Gibbs had dropped the matter… mostly.
Gibbs was not a subtle man.
He was just sometimes hard to read – for people who didn't know him like Tony did.
Little hints, warnings, and mild threats had peppered their daily banter, but Tony would not let himself be swayed.
Travis made Ziva Happy.
Therefore, Travis stayed.
And Gibbs could just rot in his damn elevator.
** * ** * ** * **
It was Friday night, with the Saturday evening football game just around the corner. Travis was uncharacteristically excited about the next day's get together.
It just so happened to be the first 'event' that he and Ziva would be hosting together. They had both invited guests – although Ziva had made a point of excluding both of their co-workers. Travis got the feeling that the people Ziva worked with were more than just 'coworkers', but she refused to say much about them. He had learned not to push the subject – she would introduce him when she was ready, not an instant before.
And he wouldn't ask her to.
Honestly, they both had dark scary secrets that they hid behind clichés such as "what's past is passed" or "the present is the only time that counts". Travis didn't ask about Ziva's past – he didn't question her when she refused to go on carnival rides, slept with a gun on the nightstand, showered with the door open, or bought erasers by the pack. She had a lot of strange quirks that Travis didn't understand – but he never asked.
But Ziva never questioned him, either, and that made his silence worth it.
Travis shook his head – he was being far too pensive for a Friday night.
Ziva was working late, but had called to say that they'd just caught a major lead on their current case. She expected to have everything wrapped up in a tidy bundle before Saturday.
Thinking about Saturday again, Travis decided to distract himself with a trip to the grocery store. He and Ziva had already stocked up on the common fare – chips, dip, beer, hotdogs, and etc. – but he justified the trip by rationalizing that they hadn't any diet sodas or dairy-free dips.
A car door slammed outside and Travis' mind darted back to one of his many dark, scary secrets. He firmly shut off that line of thought – instead, he concentrated on listing all the foods he was going to hunt down at the grocery store.
Tony had said something about liking pork rinds once.
Travis added pork rinds to his mental shopping list.
Tony DiNozzo slammed his head down on his desk in obvious resignation. Tim and Ziva were nowhere to be seen. They'd jetted before Gibbs had even finished dismissing them. Abby was puttering around in her lab, and Ducky was teaching Palmer to play a Chinese poker game thingy in the break room. The bull pen was mostly empty, but that made it all the more noticeable.
Gibbs was staring at him again.
He didn't know how – nor did he care to know – but he was certain Gibbs had learned of his plans for the weekend.
For once Tony couldn't tell whether Gibbs approved or not – he had the half formed opinion that Gibbs didn't know whether he approved or not.
But that didn't really matter much. Whether his mentor approved or not, Tony was going to watch some football on Saturday.
Er, well – he'd catch the second half, at least, after Ziva kicked him out of her boyfriend's house.
Tony grumbled under his breath, head stilled plastered to the sticky surface of his messy desk. He could feel the boss glaring at him.
Huffing in exasperation, Tony levered himself up to meet his boss' gaze.
"Hey, Boss," he said, deliberately contrasting his irritated facial expression with a bright, cheerful tone. "I've been invited to watch the game tomorrow at a friend's house. Well, not really 'friend' I guess. We met at a bar." Tony paused, giving Gibbs a flat look. Gibbs just raised an eyebrow. "Apparently it's gonna be quite a party – casual, with just enough people you don't know to guarantee at least one awkward situation apiece. Care to tag along?"
** * ** * ** * **
A/N: Wow, I really don't know why Tony is so upset. What's the worst I could do to him? Anywho, thanks for reading and please drop me a review. Hopefully the next update will come much sooner than the last.