Sparring Partner

By Scousemuz1k

Who is this guy? Marching straight past me as if I'm not here? Can't he see the tape? Course he can – he's lifting it. What sort of a bozo –

"Excuse me. Excuse me, sir – this is a restricted area –"

Damn, why did I have to grab him? And then let go as if he's hot? No, I didn't mean that… he is hot, dammit. Why's he looking at Gibbs like I've got two heads?

"Boss?"

Oh, great. Now I look a fool for stopping him. "Oh, he's one of yours?"

"Oh, yeah." What does Gibbs mean by that tone of voice? Either the guy's a complete jerk or he's his best agent. I'll settle for jerk. Oh, now the jerk's turning on the charm. Sticking out his hand like I should be honoured to shake it!

"Special Agent DiNozzo. Anthony. Tony." Like I care. I won't even look at that hand. Even if it is strong looking, and lightly tanned.

"Detective Sparr." Yeah, I made it as clipped and off-putting as possible, and I won't feel guilty that there's the tiniest trace of hurt in his one word reply.

"Ah," he says, so softly I almost don't hear it. So he's not used to being blown away. I've been putting down guys like him since I was fifteen, so he'd better get used to it. Well I must say he bounces quickly.

"Detective Sparr, what's it look like?" Hmm, seems like I'm not gong to shake him off that easily; better play along or his boss won't be in any hurry to send me that video.

"Classic… rich guy, wants to get high, trolls known area to buy recreational drug. Deal goes bad." There. Succinct. And the egocentric twerp doesn't believe me.

"Mmm, you think so."

I'll be in his face in a minute. "You think otherwise?" OK, I'll credit him with not patronising me, but he sounds so damn certain. And what seriously hacks me off is that he could be right. And his boss is standing silently by, with a smile twitching at the corners of his mouth. I guess he meant best agent after all. I seriously dislike them both.

"Guy rolling round in a $90.000 car, buying drugs in a neighbourhood like this – I wouldn't turn the engine off, let alone get out of the car."

So I thank his boss for his help; it's the only way I can think of to get rid of them, but he's not done.

"I worked narcotics, Baltimore PD, two years."

Oh, bless him, he wants to explain. "Three. Before I transferred to homicide." OK, now he knows I know what I'm talking about. Hey, he's polite about it.

"OK, what do we have?" He's pointing to the length of pipe on the ground. "That the murder weapon? When did a pipe become a drug dealer's weapon of choice?" I've had enough, so I walk away, and I just know that he's checking out my ass as I go. So tell me, why do I put a bit of extra swing and sashay into my walk if I don't like it?


So I'm back at the crime scene a couple of days later, having spent a frustrating twenty-four hours. The picture of him extracted from Special Agent Gibbs' tape is clear enough, we have an ID; the over-upholstered peroxide professional lady hardly bothers to glance at the photo of the suspect before saying she hasn't seen him. I don't know why I bother to ask her to call. And as I'm walking back towards the crime scene, look who's following me. I wish my legs were longer – he's overtaking me without even bothering to hurry. And he's trying to feign interest in the case.

"Any good tips on the case?"

The case. Sure. "You're here because I didn't return your call." He's doing that unfazed thing again.

"Well, that would have been nice, yeah."

His voice is so level I could skate on it. It's quite a pleasant voice, and it's not being provocative – Andrea, reality check here! You know how these guys are. Wipe the grin off his face. You'll see what he's really like. "Well, when I'm in the middle of an investigation I don't return social calls." Oh, did that sound like a snooty cow! Well, it should put him in his place even if he thinks you moo.

"What makes you think it was social?"

Is he trying to tell me it wasn't? And if it was, what's wrong with having a guy as hot as him interested in you? Did I really just think that? "The way you stared at my ass the other day." Like he thinks I don't know.

"How d'you know my interest in your ass wasn't purely professional?" I cannot believe this guy. He's incorrigible. But he's not unique. Tell him so. So I put every ounce of contempt and cynicism I can muster into my voice.

"I've dealt with your type all my life." I expect him to crumple, to back off. What the – his voice goes up a fifth in delight.

"Really? What is my type?"

You fool, Andrea – he's happy that you're talking about him. So, I go for the throat. I should know better, considering how bad a job I've done so far, and if I didn't work in a department where all the guys think they're God's gift, I probably wouldn't do it, but I'm not stopping now. "Not my type. Rules don't apply to you. Can't imagine a woman who wouldn't hang on your every word."

Now, finally, the expression on his face seems to show I've got to him.

"Have you always lacked self-esteem?"

I wasn't expecting that as a comeback. I should be well honed by now, working with a squad-room full of full-scale oinkers, but I'm beginning to be afraid that I can't actually beat this one. Part of me's still wondering why I want to, but hey. "I've got a murder to solve. Haven't you got a drunk sailor to find? Try me again in a couple of months." That's it, gal, turn on your heel – walk disdainfully away. And yeah, give your hips a bit of extra wiggle, why not. The voice follows me, but he doesn't raise it to shout, meaning I've got to listen, dammit.

"Well, you do have a nice ass, but it wasn't a social call, it was business." I do? It was? "Scott Rowe wasn't murdered in a drug deal. He wasn't a user; there were no drugs in his system." I think I stopped with one foot off the ground. I turn so slowly, so unwillingly back to face him, and those green eyes are dancing. I hate him!

"How do you know that?" He has the nerve to look smug; but I'm too stunned to react. What has he done? Why?

"Autopsy report."

"I haven't seen it. You went around me." And more important to me right now than the fact that he has, is the knowledge that I should have done. I came straight here from my place, to keep a few hopeful new ideas fresh in my mind; if I'd gone into the precinct there might have been a copy for me. Or not. Our internal mail is slow… but I could have rung our ME. Damn. This guy's doing my job for me. And he has to rub it in. Can't blame him I suppose.

"Well, if you'd let m help, I wouldn't have to do that." He pauses for a moment, and I watch his face closely. I really don't see any sign of the jerk I originally assumed I saw, and all I can do is wait. "Hey… I have a gut feeling about this case."

"Why?"

"Why do I have a gut feeling?"

"Why do you want to help?" I don't understand. If it were the guys from my precinct, they'd stand around and watch while I floundered.

"Because I feel responsible. I could have stopped it. I saw what was going down, and I thought it was just a drug deal, just like you. And it wasn't, trust me. My instincts are usually right." And the weird thing is, there's no ego in that statement. He feels guilty?? He's helping me because he feels responsible? I haven't a clue what to say, so of course 'thanks for the help' doesn't enter my head. I know I don't have to do the hard woman thing with this fed, and yet I do.

"You don't do anything without telling me." And he agrees. I do not understand this man…he's not like any other cop I ever met.

"Absolutely," he says very sincerely, so why do I still not feel in control? As I'm filling him in on what we know of the suspect and the victim, he's all professionalism, listening intently, and I know he won't forget a word of what I'm telling him. His cell phone buzzes, he excuses himself politely and turns away. I wonder if he knows, as he shoves a hand in his pocket, which has the effect of lifting the back of his jacket, that I'm returning the compliment, and checking out his ass for all I'm worth?


Tony; yes, I use his name, although I kind of like 'DiNozzo', I can snap it, anyway, he calls and asks me to come down to the Navy Yard. The reason for his gut feeling has apparently surfaced – I told him on the phone I was glad it wasn't wind. Seems the tipster who told them where their stolen whatever classified thing was hidden, was my murder victim. So now I've got to cope with DiNozzo's boss on his home turf, as well as DiNozzo. He shows me into his squad-room, and I'm glad my colleagues at Metro can't see the equipment they've got here. Attack is the best form of defence, so I march up to Gibbs' desk.

"So our cases have crossed. Means you can tell me why NCIS were staking out the neighbourhood." I notice that the woman on the team goes all stiff backed at my attitude, the Boss seems unoffended. He is economical of speech.

"Classified navy equipment was hijacked. Got an anonymous tip it was in a storage building next to the alley where Rowe was killed." He continues to explain, and as the woman comes over to join in the discussion, I'm standing here realising just what I'm being told. They're pulling rank. They're taking the case. So I'm not exactly listening to the dark girl's attempts to introduce herself – I'm too mad.

"So you dragged me up here to pull the national security, need to know card? Rowe's murder is no longer a Metro case?" Gibbs is smiling that infuriating smirk that says he knows he's got me over a barrel.

"No, we investigate the murder together. The theft stays classified."

Now I feel as if I'm justified in being ungracious. "Do I have a choice?"

"No."

I really hate these people. I guess I'd better apologise to the woman; not surprised when she ignores me. As we're going down to their forensics lab, DiNozzo tells me that it's his team's collective asses on the line, and especially the boss's if the whatever isn't found,so I guess they're all a bit tense, but I'm not particularly mollified; they've helped themselves to my case without trusting me with theirs. So here I am in the lab, and after a while I stop trying to figure out their forensics expert, I even stop trying to covertly study DiNozzo, and tune out; until my phone rings. Well, well, Goldilocks has actually bothered to call. Our suspect, Dennis, has been spotted. The rest of team Gibbs travel in their own car; Tony opts to ride with me. That's nice. Why do I give a damn?

Dennis Moran is wired, half out of his skull, and screaming like a baby. Trouble is, he's got a teeny tiny revolver. He's also demented enough to use it, and I see another side of DiNozzo. The side that desperately doesn't want to kill another human being, especially a hapless individual like Dennis, but will if he has to. He keeps the urgency in his voice, doesn't let Moran hear any different, even when he can see Gibbs coming from behind, and then it's all done and dusted.

We watch the interview, and I don't hold out much hope; I want to take Dennis back to Metro; again I'm overruled, but gently this time. I think they've got other ideas, but I'm too tired to ask. It's been a long day, and I just want my bed. DiNozzo drags me into Starbucks on the way home, and we talk over the case. There are a lot of other things I'd rather be doing, and a lot of them involve DiNozzo, but we come up with a good idea for the morning, and he agrees to pick me up from home. I tell you, by the time morning comes I've hardly slept a wink, I keep thinking of DiNozzo's slouchy style of dress, and how it suits him; those green eyes, and oh, yes, that cute ass…

He turns up to collect me immaculately dressed in a grey designer suit, and a tie that must have cost as much as my favourite purse. He looks…. Go on, say it. He looks gorgeous. The plan we made last night works out even better than we could have hoped, but it makes us late. As we walk into Tony's squad-room, the woman, (he tells me she's Israeli and called Ziva,) jumps to conclusions.

"Sleep through your alarm, Tony?" Implication: with her.

"I wish," he tells her fervently, and I agree. "Morning, Boss. Morning, McProbious." As he launches into an explanation of what we've been up to, his eyes are dancing again, and I realise he loves this part of his job. When he mentions meeting an informant at 6.15 am, everyone else (well, except Gibbs) winces, and I can't help looking virtuous along with him. He smiles at Ziva.

"It was good old-fashioned legwork, Ziva," he tells her nobly, "it usually solves crimes."

The young guy, McGee takes the opportunity to get in a plug for computer police-work; trouble is, although I can see that his work has supplied a lot of the missing pieces of the puzzle, just as ours did, he simply can't seem to explain except in geek-speak. I'm trying not to laugh aloud at DiNozzo's silent mimicry, when Gibbs yells "McGee!" which turns the verbal tap off. But hey, now we know that the manufacturer of the missing thingy conspired with Rowe, and murdered him, and now I find out that Dennis is going to try to earn some brownie points with the judge by being the sting to catch him.

I'm sitting next to DiNozzo in the dark bar, trying not to imagine how I'd enjoy doing this for real. It's easier to study him in the dim light, without letting anybody know; he is seriously hot, and I wonder what he actually thinks of me apart from my nice ass, of course. I mentally shake myself and concentrate on watching the suspect. Dennis, considering that yesterday he could hardly frame a coherent thought, and was considering suicide by cop, (when I examined his revolver it was empty and hadn't been fired in living memory,) does a great job, and we have our thief and murderer. I'll do what I can for Dennis, although he's going to have to want to help himself…


So the rest of the day goes on paperwork, and then I pick up my phone. The idea that's been chugging around in the back of my brain isn't going to go away.

"DiNozzo."

"Hey, Andrea, good to hear you. I was just going to phone you."

"You were?"

"I er… wanted to buy you dinner, to celebrate our first collaboration."

"Well, er… I wanted to buy you dinner to say thank you."

"So… we agree on the dinner, then. Let's eat it, then toss a coin to see who pays. Pick you up at seven thirty?"

Which means that I'm on tenterhooks for the rest of the day. I go home as soon as I can escape, and I fret about what to wear, what perfume to use… out come the tight black leather pants that cost me a week's salary, but that I've never yet dared to wear. He likes them, I can see, and when we walk into the restaurant, he's steering me protectively along with one hand on my ass.

Do we have a good evening? Oh, yeah. He won't hear of me paying; he's intelligent, and funny, and the perfect companion on a date. Is this a date? I dunno. I don't want a relationship; I don't think he does. At one point in the evening I confess that I've been married, but it wasn't such a good idea. He nods as if he understands, but doesn't offer an opinion. I'm done with relationships; but hooking up with a guy like Tony from time to time… I realise this makes me sound way too easy even to my own ears, but I'm not sure that I care. Right now I'm happy.

We walk by the river, we kiss a couple of times, lightly, just to see how it goes. He drives me home; I invite him in for coffee. The front door's hardly closed before he's drawn me close, those dancing eyes studying my face to see how I feel about it. I slip my arms round his waist; he puts both hands on my leather clad backside and grins wickedly as he pulls me up against him. I close my eyes as his lips come down on mine… oh, DiNozzo……

AN: Add what you will; I'm very bad at writing steam!