A/N: I know there's a lot of Tony-gives-Ziva-a-SoD-Necklace fics out there, I've read about ten and love them all, but I hope this one's a little different, or at least it is from the ones I've read. It's a cliché, I know, so I put it at the end and it's really small and, I promise, Ziva does not cry. Also, the no gifts rule is a bit modified to fit my plot bunny, so it's only totally AU if you include a scene from SWAK...and that one scene where McGee has the tear-off Calender...I think? This fic is based on the gift giving anxiety I get most years (which was saved by a Secret Santa pack this year at work) but I still remember from Christmases before and judging by Faith I get the feeling Tony's not really to good at it either.


No one or nothing military related had been busted, attacked, shot, stabbed, strangled, robbed, displaced, stolen or otherwise maimed. Merry Christmas.

Tony was not usually a wallflower, but standing in the corner knocking back the hardest liquor available was slowly lulling him into a state of holiday fog. It wasn't so bad; it gave him a chance to reflect. Reflection's good, right? A part of him wanted to make the best of this Holiday party, they only came around once a year and he'd missed the last one due to an untimely stakeout. He remembered sitting in the car with Ziva, he didn't want to talk for once and she did, possibly to both distract him from the fact they were freezing their assess off, and she'd asked him if Christmas was about family. Unfortunately, he'd been too busy wallowing in the wave of bitterness brought on by the appearance of detective Kemp to respond properly. The answer was, of course, yes, Christmas was about family.

And presents.

…But, mostly family. And this little shindig was as close as a lot of the MCRT would get this year, as most of those they considered their family were there. Other employees floated in and out to say hello before dashing off to buy last minute gifts or spend the precious Holiday time with their loved ones at home, but Tony was sure he would be here all night.

He looked at the clock. Nine p.m. He was already here, too late to bale all together on the party and make up a reasonable excuse on the next work day, forget the task he's assigned himself tonight and it was also too early to leave period. Time for another sit-rep on his coworkers.

Gibbs had not shown, which was not surprising, everyone knew he'd never made an appearance at a NCIS office Holiday party to date. Tony knew also that they had all secretly hoped he would make another fashionably late appearance like he had on Thanksgiving, but it looked like another Yuletide no-show.

Abby was laughing as she held up an obviously inebriated Palmer as they moved in a slow circle. They both looked like they were having the most fun out of anyone there. But it was only Nine o'clock, the night was still young. He wondered who would have to carry Palmer to a cab this year.

McGee's dance card seemed to be full, as every time Tony looked up his teammate had a different dance partner. Since when had the little Probie become Mr. Popular? Was that Alison from Legal who had just transferred from Norfork that he was dancing with? Tony had been trying to reel her in for a dinner date all month.

Ziva was operating in a similar nature as Mr. Probular, currently occupying the dance floor with agent Chad Dunham who was luckily not out on some field mission in Siberia or somewhere and had swung by the party. Lucky, ha. Ziva had said herself that Dunham was not the type of man she was looking for. Although, she had also said that brute force was a tempting method to "get him". But Tony reassured himself, dancing was not exactly brutal.

Maybe that part comes after, an evil little voice in the back of his head taunted. Tony took another drink and with his free hand fiddled with the small box in his pant pocket. He looked at the clock in the corner of the room (which had been taunting him all night along with the voice of uncertainty and wondered how long he could procrastinate.

Tony groaned inwardly, this was the first year he'd cursed inventing his once brilliant 'no gifts' rule.

There was an unspoken rule for Team Gibbs around the Holidays: absolutely no gifts. Everyone agreed upon this… except for Abby who no one could talk out of getting gifts for everyone even though she found it nearly impossible. She always pulled it off by Christmas Eve, somehow, and witnessing her struggle every year made him glad that he was able to keep his Christmas shopping list very short.

Ducky found a happy balance in giving out an assortment of baked goods including coconut squares and various fruit cakes that were made with love and years of experience, but always smelt faintly of autopsy.

It's the thought that counts, you know what they say.

The 'no gifts' rule was very important to the overall balance of the team in the stress brought on by the holiday season. When Kate joined the team Tony had pulled her aside right before they hopped a flight from Colombia back home after a tricky shootout and warned her not to worry about gifts for him or Gibbs. And he'd pulled McGee aside the next year when he was a fulltime team member and did the same. So, the year after that he took it upon himself once again to inform the new team member of the rules.

December, 2005

"You weren't really going to hurt her, were you?" Tony asked Ziva suddenly as they arrived in the parking lot, at the end of another long day. She stopped and turned to face him, her keys jingling in her hand.

"Why, are you considering trying to sleep with her?" Ziva's eyes narrowed at the random question, but she knew instantly that he was referring to her lunging at a particularly nasty - but hot - suspect.

"There is to try or try not, there is only do or do not."

"So you'll be doing her then?" She asked with a smirk. "She seems a little out of your league. That is the phrase, yes?"

Damn, her English was getting good, now she could broaden her range of insults using slang. "Out of my league? No woman is out of the DiNozzo league. And I wasn't talking about that. I was just making sure I don't have to keep a closer eye on you then I already do."

Ziva laughed. "Please, I have some self control, as you know." She shot him a significant look.

"I have no idea what you're talking about, wild woman."

"It really does not make much difference," she shrugged, "we accused her of murder, Tony, so I doubt you will even get so much as another autograph from her."

Tony felt like rolling his eyes and throwing his hands in the air; this was not what he hoped to talk to her about. "Hey, speaking of gifts..."

Tony kicked himself for one of the worst segways he'd ever conjured. He really didn't care about Hannah, the model. Okay, he did, but Tony knew a long lost opportunity when one past him by. He'd really been trying to have the honorary Holiday talk, which he'd been tempted to avoid since he had a hard time picturing the Mossad Liaison shopping for and wrapping up gift. But he couldn't risk it, truth be told he was finally getting use to Ziva, as crazy as she was, and he'd hate to have to break in another team member over something as silly as this.

"Yes?"

"I'm not sure what you're expecting or if you even had Holiday parties or Secret Santa back a Mossad, but we don't all set in a circle the last day of work and exchange gifts. So, you don't have worry about getting Gibbs or me a gift…"

After a pause she said, "Okay."

"Okay? Wow, you were much easier to convince then Kate or McGee. I'm positive Kate had gifts stashed in her car on Christmas Eve just in case I was messing with her..."

"Well, this works out great for me, I had no idea what to get you."

"Likewise."

Tony shivered as he remembered they were still standing outside in the parking lot at night. The tempeture seemed to be dropping a degree every minute, the wind picked up causing Tony to shiver and curl himself tighter into his overcoat and it whipped open the bottom of Ziva's coat revealing the distracting bright red lining.

"Have you ever gotten Gibbs a gift?" she asked, folding her arms in front of her.

"Ah...," he stumbled, "Kate and I kind of had the same idea my first Christmas working for Gibbs, the gift stash. I never got up the courage to actually give it to him."

"So that is why you tell everyone not to get him anything, because you are too scared to?"

"What? No. Listen, as I've told both Kate and McGee: Gibbs doesn't do gifts. Except for Abby. And Ducky. Maybe. But, no word of a lie, in my second year working for Gibbs, there was this one Probie we got assigned to our team that tried to give Gibbs a novelty mug one year," he pause for dramatic effect, "he was transferred that week."

"I see, but just so you are aware," she said, "when it comes to things like this, I don't really trust your opinion as far as I can toss you." She pointed a finger dangerously close to his face. "Which is quite far, need I remind you..."

"Throw," he corrected.

"Threw?"

"Nevermind."

"However, I will take into consideration what you have told me, as you have been here longer than I have."

And that was pretty the last they talked about the rule that year, and Tony believed she had taken his advise to heart, trusting in his experience. He breathed private sigh of relief when the holidays came and went and Ziva showed no signs of any gift-giving.

That is until a few days later, when he learned she, like Ducky, had found away around the rule and invited all of Team Gibbs, excluding him, to a dinner party at her apartment.

On the bright side, at least she hadn't gotten him anything.

Now I know what a fool I've been
But if you kissed me now I know you'd fool me again

Tony had moved to sitting at one of the tables pushed up against the wall. Sitting down alone was viewed by some to be even more pathetic then standing alone, but this was he didn't have to worry about falling down.

Maybe he and Palmer can share a cab.

He looked up from examining the red tablecloth someone had smothered the table in to check on his teammates.

Ducky was talking with Abby, no doubt telling her about some fabulous Christmas adventures in a foreign country he'd experience years ago. Abby seemed genially interested as she listened to the story while sucking a bright red drink through a straw.

Palmer was standing beside the Christmas tree erected in the corner of the conference room with Alison and McGee. The autopsy gremlin seemed to be doing most of the talking and was making wild hand gestures. He made a sudden dramatic swing of his arms like he was regaling an epic Zombie battle and the force of the movement caused him to lose his balance and Alison had to catch him.

Ziva was still dancing with Dunham. He whispered something dangerously close to her ear and she laughed.

Tony downed the remainder of his drink and stood up. He pointed himself in the direction of the bar and made a point not to look at the pair as he headed for a refill. He'd have whatever would get that image out of his head the quickest.

Once upon a time there was no Dunham or Michael or any random guy she was scoping out. It was just them. And McGee. And Abby. It was just the gang, and he was the one making her laugh.

December, 2007

Tony grabbed Ziva's hand and they ran after McGee and Abby, Tony almost knocking Jenny over in the process.

"Sorry, Madam Director!" He yelled over his shoulder, and he saw Ziva press her lips together to keep from laughing as Jenny's eyes narrowed at the use if that particular title.

A few people watched the two pairs run out of the party, but no one was really surprised by the childish display of enthusiasm. The MCRT had a reputation for being an offbeat bunch, always being spotted doing weird things to each other ranging from minor pranks to public assault.

"I'm dreaming of a white Christmas…" Tony sang aloud and Abby joined in as all four of them piled into the waiting elevator. McGee pushed the down button.

Once outside, they ran down the steps and into the small grass covered area that separated the building from the parking lot. It was the first snowfall of the year and they'd just noticed it coming down as they were doing shots and swapping stories. Maybe it was the liquor talking, but running outside to experience said snowfall seemed like the only option. It was shaping up to be more than a light dusting, small wet flakes were pelting towards the ground in rapid succession and already a few inches had taken up residence on the ground and it showed no signs of stopping.

Tony breathed in the cold night air and whooped, he kicked the ground and sent snow flying. He turned to find the others and saw that McGee and Abby were doing some kind of uncoordinated two-step and nearby Ziva leaned against a tree watching them, she was by far the most sober of the group. Tony smiled as he watched them, and for a moment was silently thankful that he was with his friends tonight. Without them, he was just another crazy drunk in the streets who couldn't feel his feet. But together, they were a group of people having a blast, celebrating the first snowfall and blissfully ignoring the fact that they would have to dig themselves out tomorrow and for the next few months to come.

Remembering the last Christmas Eve was painful, he had ditched them all to spend the Holidays with Jeanne, giving everyone some lame ass excuse about visiting his family. He'd used some of the vacation he'd been saving up and even with late notice at a season when time off was in high demand, it wasn't hard to get the Director's approval. When he'd told the team he was leaving on the 23rd and wouldn't see them until next week he remembered Ziva looking at him skeptically. She'd been very suspicious of his random absences and taking a week off, even if it was Christmas, didn't help. He felt a prang of guilt and turned his head upward instead to watch the show falling from the sky, letting himself he hypnotized by the patterns.

When he looked back to earth he smiled as he saw Abby encouraging McGee try and catch snowflakes with his tongue. The normally buttoned down Probie didn't need much prodding and soon joined her.

"Tony…."

He turned around came face to face with Ziva. She was looking at him with such a serious expression on her face that it actually sobered him up a bit.

"Yeah, Zeeee-vah?"

"I have been thinking," she declared. "This 'no gifts' rule between us is silly, we have known each other for over a year now….and, well, I actually do have a present for you this year."

"You do?" he asked, excited and a bit wary at the same time.

"Yes, I do. Now, close your eyes."

"Ummmm…" He hesitated

"Come on," she encouraged and moved a step closer to him. She looked so innocent with those big brown orbs staring up at him that he reluctantly complied and shut his eyes.

He felt her move, was she bending down? He heard scraping. What was she doing?

"Ziva…what are…"

But the rest of Tony's sentence was halted when a mass of wet show hit him square in the face.

"Happy Hanukkah."

Tony spit out a mouthful and cringed as his teeth stung like he'd just chugged a fresh slushie. He shook his head back and forth and wiped the snow out of his eyes with his hand. He heard the sound of Ziva's musical laughter and opened his eyes to see she had already scampered away to put a tree between them, anticipating his retaliation. Tony couldn't believe he had fallen for her trick, he blamed the alcohol.

But nothing wakes you up like a snowball to the face.

"You're dead meat, David!"

Tony wasted no time scooping up a handful of show. He ran and threw the snowball at his ninja nemesis, but she was too quick and ducked, scooping up another handful of snow while she was crouched. Her small hands swiftly formed a tight ball and she hurled it in his direction. He swerved to the right and hid behind a tree. As he ducked down to make another snowball he felt another one of Ziva's come dangerously close to his head. He popped out from behind the other side of the tree and caught her in leg with his snowball. He was pleased to hear her admit a small squeal as the snow came in contact with her bare knee. He'd just been aiming in her general direction, catching the few inches of exposed skin between her boots and dress was pure luck.

Too busy laughing, he didn't have time to dodge the ball that struck him dead center in the chest.

"Ooof." Tony groaned, she had quite an arm. "Hey, aren't you from the desert?"

"I'm good with projectiles," she said, smiling. And before he knew it she'd hit him in the head again, right in the chin, snow splattering his upper chest. He shook himself off like a dog.

"That's it!" He yelled and ran towards her.

Ziva threw the last snowball she had in her hand, it struck him in the chest but did not deter him from his course. He grabbed her around the middle, not caring if she flipped him on his ass with one of her crazy kung-fu moves. His coordination was more than a little off that night and he caused them both to topple into a patch of yet undisturbed snow.

"Okay, truce?" he asked between panting breaths.

"Never."

A crowded room, friends with tired eyes
I'm hiding from you and your soul of ice
My God I thought you were someone to rely on
Me? I guess I was a shoulder to cry on

Tony took another swing off…what was he drinking? Didn't matter. He knew he had made sure to get the strongest drink they had. This was not a time for eggnog. Maybe it was bourbon he was drinking. He wondered if the dancers would mind if he tore off some chair legs and began building a boat on the floor. They probably would. Although, they might be more sympathetic if they knew why. He chuckled at the image of himself sitting on the floor surrounded by splintered wood and empty bottles pouring his soul out to his coworkers. Maybe after a little more…whatever this was.

Here sits the great Anthony DiNozzo, in the corner, people watching. The last office party he'd attended had found him pleasantly buzzed with a full dance card, happily taking on the role of life of the party. According to photo evidence collected by Abby, he'd had a snowball fight with the gang outside, partaken in importune carol Karaoke with Palmer, preformed his best Gibbs impression to date, started a conga line and kissed Ziva at midnight thinking it was New Years, all while sporting red felt anthers.

He looked at his clock. 10:30. Where had to time gone? It was slowly slipping away and he hadn't even talked to Ziva yet. McGee had talked with him earlier and he was pretty sure Palmer had stopped by the table to try and engage him in some kind of ill-advised drunken shenanigans but Tony had waved him off. Couldn't a guy brood in peace? Ba Humbog. He scanned the room for Ziva and panicked when he didn't spot her right away, had he missed her when he'd been too busy wallowing in memories of Christmas past?

Maybe his punishment for screwing this up would be getting visited by three creepy ghosts. He was pretty sure what Christmas past and present would hold, the one that worried him was Christmas future. What would the mute Grim Reaper show him? He was afraid to think about it.

The crowd shifted and he breathed a sigh of relief as he spotted Ziva's hunter green dress and long brown curls. His relief quickly shifted to discontent as he realized she was still with him. Dunham.

He was really starting to not like this guy.

Suddenly, his vision was blocked by a skull wearing a Santa's hat, he blinked and looked up to see Abby standing before him.

"Well, if it isn't Mr. Scrooge himself."

Sometimes Tony got the feeling Gibb's mind-reading abilities had rubbed off of her.

"Hey, Abbs," he greeted her, returning his eyes to his glass.

"Don't you 'hey' me! I don't know what's wrong with you, but you're dancing with me right now."

Rather than argue, he allowed himself to be led onto the dance floor.

December, 2008

A rather chilly winter morning found Tony surprisingly chipper (especially for a Monday) as he stood in the elevator humming the tune to the first song he'd heard on the radio as he'd been in the process of waking up. It was some golden oldie he couldn't quite remember, but he just skipped over the bits he didn't know. Ziva was beside him, probably mentally reciting European capitals or doing deep breathing exercises to keep herself from ripping out his vocal cords.

"Somebody wake up in the right bed this morning?" she asked, trying to sound offhanded.

"Yes, as a matter of fact I did, Ziva," he replied taking a sip of his coffee and smacking his lips together. "I got a full 8 hours last night and when I woke up it was so warm there wasn't even any ice on my windshield." The elevator dinged and the doors began to open. "It's been so warm lately easy to forget Christmas is…"

Tony and both Ziva were stopped in their tracks as they were confronted by a large Christmas tree beside the windows, it was fully dressed and even had a few gifts already wrapped and laid beneath it.

"Okay, that wasn't there before," Tony said, frowning.

"With those powers of observation it's no wonder you became a cop, Tony," Ziva said as she brushed past him and continued to her desk. After a beat he followed her into the bullpen and dropped his backpack on his desk.

Tony began to inspect the squad room, his eyes squinted and his expression slightly baffled as if he was struggling to unravel a particularly tricky crime scene.

Most notably, above his head the banister that ran along the stairs that led to MTAC was wrapped with fake foliage and sparkling white lights. Around the room, his eyes picked up on little bits of holly and ribbons peaking out of the little nooks and corners of the office. He took off his overcoat and folded it over the back of his chair before walking over to where Ziva was sitting at her desk, booting up her computer.

"Did somebody set Abby loose up here?" He asked. Everyone knew their favorite forensic scientist tended to get a little Christmas crazy.

"How should I know? And I do not see what the big deal is, it's just a tree," she said not taking her eyes off her screen. "This is one of your customs, yes?

"Yeah, but I don't need it right there…" his eyes flicked unconsciously to the docile tree, "…staring at me."

Ziva spared him a disapproving glace before returning to her computer.

Tony turned to McGee, who had bet them into the office and was, as usual, already typing away at his computer.

"Hey, Probie, did you see who decked our halls?"

"Nope," he replied. "They probably did it over the weekend, but I have my suspicions…"

Tony followed McGee's eyes as they saw Vance adjust a loosened strand of foliage on the catwalk before continuing on to the elevator.

"Vance," Tony muttered, "that explains it. Jenny never bothered with anyone of this…" he waved his hand in the general direction of the tree. "Figures...our Grinch is really the one filled with Holiday joy…"

"Speaking of Holiday joy!"

Instead of Gibbs appearing suddenly in the bullpen, it was Abby who interrupted Tony.

"You haven't picked who's Secret Santa you will be this year."

"Secret Santa?" Tony blanched. What was next, mandatory caroling?

"Yes, this year Director Vance authorized an office-wide Secret Santa operation," she explained excitedly and for the first time he noticed she held a brightly decorated bowl filled with slips of paper. "I've been trying to get one started for years now. Vance and I may have out differences, but I have to commend the man on his Christmas spirit!" She held out the bowl. "I already got McGee and Ziva. Choose."

Abby's tone was demanding and left no room for argument. Tony eyed the small pile of names in the bowl, each small strip was folded in half to hide the names. He looked at it from different angles trying to spot a name he knew through the maze of paper, but it was no use.

"Hey! No peaking!"

Tony shut his eyes, prayed he got a hot girl, and picked a name out of the bowl.

When he unfolded the paper he cringed and Abby's eyes narrowed.

"What's wrong?"

"Nothing," Tony said, quickly shoving the paper slip into his pocket.

"Good," Abby said firmly, "because no do-overs or trades."

With a threatening glare that did not reflect her usual Holiday charm she turned on her heel and left.

Tony sat at his desk and felt the name in his pocket weighing heavily on his mind. He'd gotten Ziva's name. Out of all the freaking people who worked in the building he had to get his partner. The Fates were laughing at him.

Later, when Gibbs had taken Ziva to chase down a lead he'd ran to McGee for help. After much negotiation (begging), McGee gave in and agreed to swap names with Tony in exchange for a week's worth of paperwork. McGee's name turned out to be some random guy in the mailroom neither had ever spoken to but had heard was slightly grabby with the ladies. They both agreed that Abby must never know, both fearing her wrath.

McGee ended up getting Ziva something boring and conventional and she thanked him and everyone was happy with the successful first-ever Secret Santa. Except the person that should be most happy.

Abby refused to speak with either man for three days straight and never told them why, but Tony always had a feeling she knew what they had done. Although, he never could figure out how as McGee swore he never told anyone and Tony believed him.

A face on a lover with a fire in his heart
A man undercover but you tore me apart

It was 11 O'clock and Tony knew he had to do it soon. At the last party he'd attended, two years ago, all four of them had stayed until the wee hours of the morning and the then retired to his apartment, which was closest, to continue drinking and watched It's A Wonderful Life, quoting the best parts. This year, however, he had no way of knowing how long Ziva would hang around.

Maybe she'll leave early with Dunham, the taunting voice suggested.

He needed coffee.

Normally, the gruel from the machine in the break room was not tolerated by anyone on Team Gibbs, but there was no way he was going anywhere in his condition. The first cup tasted like muddy water but he continued to drink, putting some more money in the slot, knowing he'd need more than one.

The break room lights were shut off, only the faint glow from the vending machines illuminated the small space and the effect made him feel even more isolated. He sat down on one of the small tables and watched the snow fall on the Navy Yard and if it wasn't for the faint noise from the party down the hall he could have been the only person there.

Just down that hall, blissfully unaware of his state, was Ziva. And Tony wished for a hundredth time that he didn't have this burden weighing him down, he could be in there with her and McGee and Abby. They could drink themselves silly again. Instead, he was hidden away in a dark, depressing corner drinking bad coffee.

And it was really all McGee's fault.

December, 2009

One week ago.

Ziva and Gibbs had already left for the night and he and the Probie had shared and elevator ride down to the lobby. Tony had been lost in thought planning his night: sweatpants and Magnum reruns, when McGee suddenly hit the emergency brake.

"You should give this to her," he said suddenly, holding out his hand, his expression unreadable.

"Delores?" Tony asked, wondering if McGee had found the perfect gift to save his ill-fated Secret Santa mission.

Tony reached out and McGee let the object drop into his palm. It wasn't something for Delores. It was a very dirty and broken, yet very real, Star of David necklace, but not just any necklace, it was...

"Ziva's?" Tony gasped despite himself as he examined the piece of jewelry he never thought he'd see again. He traced the charm with his thumb. "How did you..."

"It was digging into my back."

"What?"

"In Somalia," McGee explained, "When you're lying on something as long as I was, you get a feel for what it is. I slipped it into my pocket; there isn't much else to do when you're pretending to be unconscious."

"Okay...but why didn't you just give it to her after we were done hobbling away from danger? I bet she'd like it back. She used to wear this every day."

"It never seemed like the right time, plus, look at the shape it's in..."

"So you think I can find the right moment?" He let out a nervous chuckle, timing had never really been their thing. "We don't exchange gifts, anyway. You should give it to her," he said less decidedly than he would have liked to have sounded. He held the necklace out to the younger agent.

"Tony..."

"Come on, Probie, I'm pulling rank. Take it."

"No, you take it."

"As senior field agent I'm ordering you..."

"As senior field agent you should be the one to handle..."

"I'm delegating. Here."

"No way."

"It's your gift, what are you going to get her instead? Another waffle iron?" He taunted, referring to his Secret Santa gift last year.

"Hey, she said she liked it!"

"You can still top it with this!" He waved the necklace in McGee's face, the broken chain dangled back and forth.

McGee shook his head. "No...I...I can't. You should be the one."

"Come on, you found it. It'll earn you some major points with the ninja." He took McGee's hand and placed the necklace in it. Surprisingly, McGee didn't fight him. He flipped the emergency switch and the elevator finished its brief descent.

Tony sighed in exasperation, a part of him wanted to be the one to reunite Ziva with her long-lost and probably treasured possession. The other part understood why McGee was likely not so thrilled with the task of returning it, no one wanted to give a gift rescued from the setting of worst four months of the recipient's life. It was a gamble, no doubt.

"You should be the one," McGee repeated as the doors opened and he stepped out. "You know it. I know it. Ziva would know it." McGee slipped the necklace carefully into the pocket of Tony's coat. "I'm not the one who could use the points."

With that he left Tony alone with his fate. With his hand he reached into his pocket and closed his fingers on possibly the most risky gift he could break the gift rule with.

Which might be why he was still procrastinating giving it to her.

hold my heart and watch it burn

"Tony?"

A gently voice and a hand on his shoulder caused him to jump half a foot off his chair. His second cup of coffee went flying out of his hand and landed on the floor sending the brownish liquid streaming over the tile.

"On the edge, Tony?"

"It's 'on edge'," he corrected automatically. Sometimes her english mistakes were cute, but sometimes it made him want to google ESL courses for her.

He watched as Ziva grabbed a handful of paper towels from the dispenser above the sink and bent down to place them over the spilt coffee as if on autopilot. She was never the type to leave a mess lying around.

After a beat, Tony got down to help her pad the paper towels into the escaping coffee. Ziva was focused on the minuscule task, but Tony couldn't help but stare at her. He swallowed audibly.

Now or never.

"I got you something," he blurted.

"Hmmm…?" She looked up from the floor and met his panicked gaze.

"I got you a gift," he said bluntly and with fumbling hands withdrew the small box he'd been carrying around the whole night.

Ziva didn't say anything. Her eyes went from the ground to the box, to his face, then back to the box then back to his face. She looked mortified.

Then, Tony looked down and realized he was kneeling on only one knee.

He looked back at Ziva and opened his mouth to apologize but no words came out and instead he jumped to his feet. Ziva followed, still looking as if she was fighting the urge to either bolt or smack him in the face.

He quickly pried the box open, displaying the contents for her to see.

"Is that…"

"It's a new chain, I still have the old one if you want it. The charm was in good shape, the guy at the shop just had to polish it up a bit. It's a resilient little thing, just like someone I know." He paused and Ziva just continued to stare at the necklace. "Say something."

"I thought we had a rule?"

"We do."

"Not anymore, you just broke it."

She carefully picked the necklace out of its box, running her fingers along the new chain and over the charm.

"A onetime exception," he informed her. "Here, let me help you."

He took the necklace from her hands and she deftly lifted up her hair as he fastened the clasp.

"There," he said, "right where it belongs."

"How did you…?"

"McGee, actually, he said it was just lying there," Tony admitted as he watched as she fingered her newly reacquired necklace. "Apparently, he'd had it for months, the little Probie was holding out on us."

"I'll have thank him…" She looked up from the necklace and into his eyes. "And thank you, Tony, for returning it to me, even if it meant breaking our rule."

"You're welcome, Ziva. But, next year back to business, so try to lose anymore prized possessions."

"Tony," she said in that condescending tone she had to use with his sometimes, "this has gone on long enough, don't you think? You have to promise me that next year you will officially put this rule to rest."

"I know a rule we can put to rest right now," he suggested jokingly, leaning a little closer to her.

The Twelfth one.

"Tony…" she repeated.

"It's just the way things are, Zee-vah. I thought I explained this all to you before."

"I know. But did you ever stop to think that the reason there's a no gifts rule is because you prefer it that way? Maybe McGee and I would like to get Gibbs something, or maybe we'd like to get you something."

"You want to give me a present?" he cocked an eyebrow and plastered on a goofy smile.

"Maybe I will."

"That's all well and good, but what am I suppose to get Gibbs? The man's not exactly easy to shop for."

"I will help you," she promised.

"Are you sure? You'll have your own gift for Gibbs to worry about."

"I never had as much trouble as you thought I would."

"Right."

"Gibbs has known you for almost a decade Tony, he knows you. We know you." She laced her fingers with his. "He's not going to think any less of you if you get him a novelty mug for Christmas."

He laughed nervously as he squeezed her hand. "I wouldn't be so sure of that."

"I am," she said firmly as she began to lead him back to the party. "You never know, he could have a stash of gifts in his truck, too."

I've got you here to stay
I can love you for a day


A/N: And I apologize if this is all a little off, my muse has not adjusted to my laptop yet. It also decided in some bits that we were writing a parody, whereas I wanted to try and keep it grounded. Also, I always avoid my office Holiday parties so I just made stuff up, hope this wasn't to off the wall. So drop me a line below, constructive critism is welcome, I need to get back on track for my next one. P.S. lyrics are from 'Last Christmas' if you didn't reconize them.