Tony rolled over in bed, which would have seemed strange if the pain in his head didn't provide a suitable distraction. If his head felt this terrible and he tasted puke…oh, crap. He tentatively felt around his body, but didn't find a telltale damp, chunky spot. That was a good sign. He expanded his search and found…
"Stop groping me and go back to sleep."
His hand remained where it was, but his brain managed to leap out of his head and smack against the ceiling before smashing back into his head. God, he needed an aspirin. He thought he was NCIS Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo, but the only logical explanation for the voice and the body in bed with him was that he was actually ex-Marine Corporal Damon Werth. Strange, because Little Tony didn't seem to be suffering from any after effects of steroid use, so…he ceased his tactile examination before it go too involved to ask, "Who am I?"
"Tony, it is early and you kept me up late. Go back to sleep."
He wanted to demand a complete explanation for why he was waking up with a woman who had called in the big dog on him when she'd caught him being a peeping Tony the previous night. He wanted to know how he'd gotten out of his suit and into nothing but sheets. He wanted to order her to tell him why she was wearing his favorite Ohio State t-shirt and – his hand slid over her hip and down her leg – nothing else. He said, "Huh?"
She shoved his hand away before saying, "I knocked on the door. When you did not answer, I let myself in. Based on how loudly you were snoring, I decided that you had had too much to drink for me to bother waking you, so I went to sleep."
He struggled to form a timeline of the previous night. Gibbs came to save him from himself, dragged his ass home and…and… "I thought I was on the couch."
"You were. You wandered into the bathroom at two-thirty and vomited for awhile. I checked on you and you decided you were comfortable on the floor beside the toilet, so I threw a blanket over you and went back to bed. Then you stumbled in to join me around four."
He was careful to make statements and not questions. Questions would probably just make his head hurt more. "And you just…stayed in bed. With me."
"I was here first."
"It's my bed."
"Fine, I will go put some water on."
"No, wait!" His struggle to understand what was happening was superseded by a more concrete goal as he grabbed at her and caught an arm. "You're nice and warm." He inhaled deeply as he buried his face in her hair. "And you smell good."
"At least one of us does."
He allowed himself a few more deep breaths before asking, "How did I get naked?"
"No idea. You were fully clothed when I checked on you in the bathroom. I took off only your shoes, belt, tie and watch."
"Uh, thanks?" He'd been right earlier; questions made his head hurt. He didn't think it could get much worse, so he asked, "Shouldn't you be with Werth right now?"
"I am not going to sleep with him. Happy?"
"I…" He suddenly felt bad admitting that, yeah, it did make him deliriously happy that she didn't have any intention of letting that loser ex-jarhead spoon her in bed, like he was doing now… He lost his train of thought as he snuggled against her, nearly forgetting his crippling hangover. Little Tony took over all the thinking duties as he pulled her body tighter against him. "Ungh…" He was suddenly pinned on his back.
"I said, go back to sleep." She didn't respond positively to his happy groan. "What?"
"You're on top."
"And you're a pervert."
"Hey, you're the one sleeping in my bed in nothing but my t-shirt." He let his hands perform some quick reconnaissance. "And a thong."
"Can't help it." He pressed his luck further as his hands crept up her back. "Oh, Ziva…"
Her weight pressing him into the mattress suddenly became less comforting, though no less exciting. "Tony…"
"So get off me." He regretted saying it, as he had to chase her to the other side of the bed a moment later. "No, don't go…"
"Just stay where you are. I will be back in a few minutes."
He kept his eyes open long enough for her bare legs to disappear down the hallway. Scooting further over, he occupied her vacated space, enjoying the warmth and scent she'd left behind. Werth would never appreciate this, even if he had the opportunity, which he never would. Tony wrapped his arms around the pillow, pushing his face deeper. It was going to be a while before he changed these sheets. If he ever fell asleep in her bed, is this how it would smell and feel? He liked that idea, not that it could happen. Still…
He enjoyed the scent of the pillow until Ziva returned and pushed him back toward his side of the bed. Why did he suddenly have a 'side' in his own bed? "Drink this."
"Uh, thanks, but…" He inhaled a less welcome scent from the hot mug she had shoved into his hands. "Oh, I don't think so."
"That was not a request."
He made a face at what he suspected was some kind of tea, but with Ziva looming over him, he decided not to fight too hard. His hangover made a full-on argument out of the question, anyway. A tentative sip told him he'd at least be able to keep it down. "Satisfied?"
"Keep drinking. It will make you feel better." She sat down on the edge of the bed, tucking her legs under the covers after a moment and leaning against the headboard beside him. "And I had to go to the market at midnight for the limes."
"Is this your crackpot hangover cure?" It wasn't that bad, but he wasn't about to admit that.
"Just finish it."
"I'm not saying it's terrible, I just don't know why you're drinking it too, unless you're…hey! How come you got coffee?"
She shrugged. "Because I am not hungover. Your coffee pot came on by itself while I was making your tea and I did not think it should go to waste."
Tony nearly dumped the remaining contents of the steaming mug into his lap. He risked a look at the clock, forcing himself not to jump when it confirmed the new feeling of nausea in his stomach. "We're gonna be late! Gibbs is gonna kill me!"
"We are taking a sick day," Ziva answered calmly, raising an eyebrow as he leaped out of bed.
"What's this we? Gibbs told me that I…at least I think he told me I couldn't call in sick."
"When I spoke to him last night, he said that we were to take the day off and work things out between us."
That was…weird. Gibbs was telling them it was cool to break rule twelve? Had that come up the previous night? Tony wanted to bring both hands to his head, but he was still holding his mug in one. He settled for covering his eyes. "What…what does that mean, exactly?"
"It means that we have time to figure that out." She was watching him closely as he brought his hand away from his eyes. "Now either put on some clothes or get back under the covers and finish your tea."
"Uh…" He climbed back into bed and resumed his position, sitting shoulder to shoulder with her. "So…"
"Is your problem specifically with Damon, or would you behave like this with any man I choose to date?"
Of course she was cutting right to the chase. "I thought you said we had all day. And that it wasn't a date."
"I said it was just dinner, never that it was not a date."
"You kiss him?" Tony asked resentfully, wishing her hangover cure wasn't working so well so he could hold that against her too.
"On the cheek. Does that bother you?"
"No," he lied.
"Fine. I don't like the guy. He's violent and dangerous and…and… no good."
"So you problem is with Damon."
"Damn right it is."
"And you would not behave like this if it were someone else?"
"Uh…" He sipped his tea to buy himself more time. It was far too early for him to play it cool. "Would depend on the someone else."
"I see. So the next time I meet someone, I should send them out with you first so you can approve of him?"
"Yes, it does. Do you have a better solution?"
Her gaze was fixed on him, offering him no chance to equivocate further. She was going to make him ask. "You, uh, could date me?"
"Well, then I'd be sure you weren't out with some jerk who wasn't, uh…well some other jerk, anyway." He placed his empty mug on his nightstand and turned on his side to face her. "And where else are you gonna find a guy who'll chase you to Somalia even though you're supposed to be dead?"
She turned to him bodily. "There are two others in our office."
"But you're not wearing an MIT shirt or sleeping in a boat in the basement." He reached out and caressed the skin on her arm, just underneath the edge of her sleeve. "Should I read into that?"
"Tony, we have known each other for four years and you have rarely given me an indication that you want to see anything below the surface, and sometimes that you do not even want to see what is directly in front of you."
"You're in front of me now." His fingers traced a path up her arm, shoulder and neck to her cheek. "Is it really this easy?"
"If we let it be."
"Which is gonna be the problem."
He stopped her from pulling away. "Hey, I just meant…it's never gonna be perfect. I just wanna make sure that's out there."
"Who expects any relationship to be perfect?"
He secured one arm around her waist, being careful to keep a fold of the sheet between their bodies. No need to make all the moves at once. "So this is a relationship now?"
"Not if you insist on…"
He cut her off with a long kiss and tasted coffee and… "Did you eat my Danish?"
"You want to talk about pastry now?"
"I'm trying to get my mind off…well…" He aimed a significant look downward. "We do have all day to talk, right?"
He felt the fabric of his favorite t-shirt against his chest instead of the sheet. "Only if you can agree, right now, and not just because you want sex, that this is serious and that you will not always treat it like a joke."
"I…" He met her eyes, not knowing what to say. "I meant what I said when…about…when you were gone, I really…I just don't want to live without you."
His shirt was suddenly on the pillow by his head. "I only ate half the Danish."
He smiled as her hands stroked the stubble along his jaw. "That's reason number eighty-three this is going to work."
"What are reasons one through eighty-two?"
"We may have to take another sick day tomorrow."