Disclaimer: Mrs. McTwitter the babysitter, I think she's a little bit crazy. She thinks a babysitter is supposed to sit upon the baby.

Spoilers: Outlaws and In-Laws and the season 5 ep Corporal Punishment.

Summary: Damon Werth gets something he desperately needs.


"We could do something to fix your hair."

Damon Werth smiled over his container of Chinese take-out as Ziva picked up the chopsticks he'd dropped on her desk in favor of a much more user-friendly fork. "I think it might be best if I get straight to writing my statement after I finish eating. Gibbs didn't seem too happy we were taking a dinner break."

"Gibbs has other things on his mind," DiNozzo said, grabbing an eggroll from a napkin in front of Ziva and retreating rapidly.

"Tony…"

"Senior agent's stomach gets priority over a probie's."

She waved her hand dismissively as she stood, still holding the chopsticks. Damon noticed DiNozzo watching surreptitiously from behind his eggroll as she moved to stand behind him. The tension on his scalp suddenly released as she untied his hair. "You must be using a good conditioner." He closed his eyes to shut out DiNozzo's glare as she combed through it with her fingers. "Still, I think it looked better…high and dry, is it?"

"High and tight," he corrected with a smile he turned toward her.

She pushed his head straight. "Hold still." A moment later she stepped around him and handed him a mirror. "I think the effect would be better with ribbons."

He grinned at his ridiculous image, which was sporting two buns supported by the chopsticks he now regretted not making the effort to use. "Okay, point taken. I'm seeing the barber as soon as he opens."

"Why wait?"

"What do you…"

"She means that you've presented her with an opportunity to use a knife, which is like throwing chum to a shark." DiNozzo finally took a bite of his stolen eggroll and mumbled, "Right?"

Damon found she was still focused on him. "Only if you would like me to."

He pushed the loose strands behind his ears as she removed the chopsticks in one quick movement. "I figured since I was a merc I needed the right look. Now that I quit…yeah." He suddenly felt less content as he realized he didn't have a job again. "After today, I wonder how many other missions I completed for the wrong reasons."

"It was not your fault," Ziva stated quietly.

"Better off without 'em if stupid haircuts are a job requirement. I guess we should be thankful you resisted the beaded cornrows, at least."

He ignored DiNozzo as Ziva seized his forearm. "Where are we going?"

"We can do it in the bathroom."

She was pulling him with one hand and dragging a chair with the other. His mind started moving a million miles a second, but he was only able to articulate, "Uh…what?"

"There is no reason to put it off and I am almost certain you will feel better once it is done." Her smile was bright and inviting.

"Why…why do we need the chair?"

"So we will be comfortable," she replied, as if it were the most obvious answer in the world. Did she do this on a regular basis? Damon glanced over his shoulder as they exited the main room and noted that DiNozzo's fuming lack of surprise was probably a sign.

Of course he'd thought about this, but he'd always imagined a bouquet of flowers and a couple of nice dinners happening first. Things were moving too fast for him to process, a strange sensation for him in and of itself. Maybe if she had given him some indication that she…well, she'd spent the past few minutes playing with his hair, but…it wasn't like he didn't know she was unpredictable. Of all his hazy memories from his steroid-induced fugue, her coming back at him after he'd landed a blow that should have downed a camel was one of the clearest. Had he ever apologized for that?

He lost his concentration again as she shoved through a door and he found they were in the bathroom. A man hurriedly zipped up and ran past them with an embarrassed flush on his face, some of which was hopefully related to the fact that he hadn't washed his hands. Damon knew that this was going to be his last chance to slow things down. "Ziva, I don't know if…"

"Relax. Don't you trust me?"

"Of course, but…"

"Just take off your shirt and sit down."

"No foreplay with you," he muttered under his breath.

"I did not think it was necessary," she whispered into his ear as she pulled his shirt off his arms and pushed him into the chair. "Now…"

"Ziva…" He felt his hesitation crumble as she collected his hair in her fist. His eyes shot open a moment later. "Um…"

"Do not worry." She ruffled the shorter locks now present on his head with the fingers not grasping her knife. "I will clean it up."

The clump of hair she'd just lopped off was soon joined in the garbage by shorter and shorter strands until she was washing the stubble off her knife directly down the drain. Damon spent the entire haircut trying to convince himself that he was a complete idiot for thinking he had a chance with Ziva. He hadn't even managed to get her phone number; she wasn't going to risk her career fulfilling a fantasy he didn't even realize he had until the situation had arisen. Sort of. He continued to watch in the mirror as she stroked his head to ensure that her work was even. "I think…" He made a conscious effort to lower the register of his voice. "I think it looks good."

"Yes, much better."

He grabbed the warm, wet paper towel she was using to wipe his neck and shoulders. "I can…I can manage."

She seemed concerned as he shot out of the chair and turn to look at her directly instead of watching her mirror image. "Damon, I did not mean to…"

"No, I…you did a good job. I think it was long overdue. I felt weird buying those elastic things at the drugstore anyway."

She held out his shirt after pulling it off her shoulder. "I will be in the squad room."

"Ziva?"

"Yes?" She paused at the door.

"Thanks. And I'm sorry I hit you."

"You did not hit me. I was down because of…"

"I mean from…back when I…I'm sorry about the grenade, too, but…"

"It is all right. I will go make sure Tony has not confiscated our fortune cookies." She moved closer for a moment, but his tension proved unwarranted. "I should take McGee's chair back, too."

Damon turned back toward the mirror as the door closed. Even without sucking in his gut, he looked almost as good as he had when he'd left the Corps. He was off the juice so he had been even more conscientious about maintaining himself. He peeked at the door before performing a quick flex. Still…there was probably some regulation barring her from going out with him even if he did ask, as he had been the subject of an official NCIS investigation. He certainly wouldn't question it if that were her excuse for saying no. And if it weren't an excuse, it would probably be for the best if he didn't put her in that situation in the first place. Although there wasn't any more hair dotting his neck, he continued to splash water over his head. He would leave the bathroom, write up his statement and say goodbye, nice to see you. Then he'd just…

"Looks better, Corporal."

"Thanks, Gunny." Damon hurriedly dried himself with a paper towel as Gibbs stood at a urinal. He was pulling on his shirt when Gibbs walked up to the sinks.

"Put on a suit and they might even let you into Bourbon Steak."

"Where?"

"Restaurant at the Four Seasons. I hear good things about it."

"Why would I be eating at the Four Seasons?"

Gibbs shrugged. "She's kinda a steak person." He ran a damp hand through his hair and moved toward the door. "Couple of other places outside the city are good, too. Little more casual."

"Would Ziva…?"

Gibbs shrugged again. "Don't think it'd hurt to try, Corporal. Just don't make a reservation for tonight, because I'm not leaving all that broken glass in my front hallway much longer."

"Of course not, sir. I'd be happy to get to that as soon as I've written out my statement regarding…"

"I think the proper order is statement, conversation, clean-up."

"Agent Gibbs, do you really think…?"

"Yes," Gibbs interrupted, then walked out without another word.

"Okay." Damon gave himself a final once-over in the mirror and returned to the squad room.

Ziva was frisking DiNozzo at his desk. "I want those fortune cookies!"

"And if you find them, you can have them." He suddenly doubled over laughing as she touched a spot on his side. "No fair! Moussad torture techniques are off limits!"

"Knowing where you are ticklish and taking advantage of it does not count as torture."

"I'll still never…top drawer! Top drawer!"

Damon took a seat in his chair beside her desk as she dug through DiNozzo's. "You said they were in one of your pockets."

"And you believed me, proving that you deserve the probie tag for the time being." DiNozzo's grin faded as his eyes moved to Damon. "Well, good morning, starshine. I guess the Age of Aquarius has ended?"

Ziva ran her hand over her head as she passed back to her chair. "I think he looks good."

"Yeah, you'll be sure to pass the hair-dressing portion of your citizenship test."

Damon accepted the cookie with a quiet thank you and the idea that he might be better off going straight from statement to clean-up, especially if DiNozzo's continued glare was any indication. He cracked open his cookie and read the slip of paper inside. "I should probably get to my statement."

Ziva was held out a pad and pen but didn't relinquish her hold on them when he grabbed them. "What was your fortune?"

"Just one of those vague sayings that don't mean anything." He brushed the paper into the wastebasket. DiNozzo announced he was running to the bathroom a few minutes later. Damon gave the fortune another glance and lifted his gaze to Ziva. "Do you, uh, ever have dinner?"