"So," Ziva began once they were all settled into the Charger, barely able to hold back her smirk. "You both had a good night?"
"It was biblical," Tony replied, and then swallowed a burp.
Ziva couldn't quite work out what he meant. "What do you mean by biblical?"
"Old Testament," Abby threw in. "Real wrath of God stuff. Fire and brimstone coming down from the skies! Rivers and seas boiling!"
"Forty years of darkness!" Tony continued, acting it up just as much as Abby had. "Earthquakes, volcanos…"
"The dead rising from the grave!"
"Human sacrifice! Dogs and cats, livin' together…mass hysteria!" Tony finished, and then promptly joined Abby in a gale of laughter.
Something pinged in Ziva's memory, and she shot a look at Tony sitting behind her. "Are you quoting Ghostbusters at me?"
Tony was so shocked by her pick up that he stopped laughing, and then threw his arms around her and the driver's seat. "Oh my God! Ziva, you got it! Abby! Abby! Ziva recognised a movie quote!"
Abby dropped her balled hands onto her thighs, creating a beat. "One of us! One of us!" she recited.
Tony shook his head. "No, I don't think she's going to get that one."
"Tony, I need to change gears," Ziva said quietly, and shrugged her shoulder to try to loosen his grip. He let go and fell back into the back seat.
"Four years of training," he declared. "Evening classes on everything from noir to buddy movies. And she hits it out of the park on Ghostbusters. I'm so proud."
Ziva shook her head, trying not to look as pleased as she felt. "Well, I am glad that you still managed to have a good time without me and McGee."
Tony leaned between the two front seats again. "As excellent as it was—"
"Excellent!" Abby sang.
"It was still not as good as that time you rapped Gold Digger in the middle of the street on my birthday."
Ziva breathed out a laugh at the (half) memory as Abby fell into very un-Abby-like giggles.
"That was awesome!" she gasped. "I can't believe we didn't film it!"
"I am glad we did not," Ziva replied, cringing slightly and deliberately avoiding Tony's eyes. After that night, they had both conveniently forgotten that as soon as she had finished the song, Tony had fallen to his knees, wrapped his arms around her waist and begged her to marry him. Ziva had smacked the back of his head and helped him to his feet, and they'd never spoken of it again. Of course it was a joke, there was no denying that. But Ziva thought it was best that there was no video evidence of what could happen after ten too many shots of tequila.
"Best birthday present ever," Tony insisted. "But Absigail and me did an epic version of I Got You Babe tonight."
"For real, he does the best Cher impersonation," Abby said.
As they gave Ziva her own (unrequested) performance of the Sonny and Cher classic, Ziva could only shake her head at her life now. Five years ago, it was all about espionage and undercover work. And now…she was ferrying her closest, drunkest friends in all the world home from the police station so that they wouldn't get a smack from their boss.
Somehow, it did feel like a fair trade.
When they pulled up across the street from Abby's apartment block, Ziva got out and helped Abby out of the passenger side.
"Bye, Tony!" she was singing.
"I miss you already!" Abby said, and then pulled her head back with a 'whoa!' just before Ziva slammed the car door.
"Let's get you inside," Ziva said, and let her friend lean against her shoulder as they passed the bonnet of the car. She glanced inside to make sure Tony was behaving himself, and saw him start to climb from the back seat through to the driver's side. Fearing all manner of strife, Ziva let go of Abby with a curse and wrenched the driver's door open just as Tony was reaching for the keys in the ignition. She grabbed them before he could get a finger on them, and then pointed at him sternly. In response, Tony gave her a huge, get out of jail free smile and wordlessly slunk back into his seat again. She slammed the door and hit the central locking button for good measure, and then returned to Abby, who was wobbling at the front of the car.
"Okay. Let's go."
"Hey, Ziva? You're not gonna tell the G-Man, right?"
Ziva frowned. "The FBI?"
Abby swung her head to look at her, and Ziva got a pigtail in the face. "Huh? I mean Gibbs."
"Oh. Tell him what?"
"That me'n Tony got arrested for being drunk an' disorderly."
Ziva chuckled, and paused as Abby navigated the step at the kerb. "No, Abby. I will certainly not tell him that."
Abby sighed and leant her head against Ziva's shoulder. "Okay, good. Because I don't want him to hit Tony in the head with a shovel and bury him in the backyard."
"Well, nobody wants that."
"You gonna blackmail us?"
"Not you," Ziva assured her. "Maybe Tony."
Abby snorted. "Okay. Jus' don't be too mean to him. Cuz then I'll have to bury you in the backyard."
Ziva patted her back. "Thank you for your honesty. But I won't be mean to him."
"It's hard to be mean to him," Abby said as she started searching for her keys. "He's got that big smile and he's just this faithful little…Oh! He's like a Labrador! You know? He's like this really pretty, big bouncy thing that just wants to make you happy. And he acts all doofy but he's actually really intelligent. And he has these paws—"
"You need help getting up the stairs?" Ziva asked, and took the keys off Abby to unlock the door to her building.
"Nah, I'm fine," Abby said, and then grabbed Ziva in a tight hug. "Thanks for taking me home."
"I will see you in the morning."
At Tony's building, Ziva helped him all the way up to his apartment and inside. After forcing him to drink three glasses of water—an activity that earned her a scowl that was worthy of a four-year-old—she got him into bed and pulled the covers up around his neck. Then the patted his head, turned out the light and made for the door.
"Night," he slurred. He closed his eyes, preparing for blessed unconsciousness, but then a thought occurred to him and he lifted his head off the pillow. "Wait! Ziva?"
In the hallway outside his bedroom, Ziva rolled her eyes but turned around to go back to him. "Yes, Tony?"
"C'mere," he said, and beckoned her closer with his finger.
Against her better judgement, Ziva headed back to his bed and knelt on the floor beside him, her arms crossed and resting on the mattress. "What's wrong?" she asked patiently.
He leant closer to her, and Ziva prayed to God that he wouldn't try to kiss her. Not now, when he was so far removed from his best and probably wouldn't remember it in the morning.
"First of all, I've been meaning to tell you that you are very beautiful," he said matter-of-factly. "I don't think I've ever told you that, but I should have."
Ziva appreciated the sentiment, but for the moment she just humoured him. "That's very kind of you."
He winked and held up a finger. "The second thing, is that I tried to cancel Family Night because I wanted to go over to your place and wait for you so I could apologise for being a handful this week. Even through I kind've like being your handful…" He trailed off to snicker before regaining what could only loosely be described as composure. "But Abby really wanted to go out, so I went out with her cuz, you know, McGee's away and she gets pouty, even if she doesn't think she does but she totally does."
Ziva nodded. "She does."
"I think she's still holding a torch for him," Tony whispered, as if imparting one of the secrets of the universe. "But even if Gibbs didn't have that rule, I still don't know if she'd…" He trailed off as a new thought occurred to him. "Well, it's not so much a rule, is it? I mean, it has an official number but it strikes me as more of a guideline. Cuz it's the one you can't promise with certainty that you'll follow. Like, Gibbs broke it, you know? Twice. And Abby broke it, and McGee broke it, Palmer and Lee broke it, and I may as well have broken it."
Ziva pursed her lips and hoped to God that, when he looked up at her again, her face was impassive.
Tony scrunched his face up in a wince. "I didn't mean to say that last bit out loud."
"I promise I won't tell anyone," Ziva said, still trying to humour him.
He nodded and collapsed back down on the pillow. "Okay. Thanks for bailing my ass out of jail. I swear it was Abby's fault. I gave her some money and she came back with tequila, and…"
"Tequila? I thought she was supposed to buy your shorty Tyco with your money."
It took him a moment to place the quote, but when he did, he blinked up at her with adoring eyes and mouth that was desperately holding back the words on the tip of his tongue.
He squeezed his eyes shut. "I am…very fond of you," he finally said, in a tone so painfully restrained that she had to laugh or else she'd cry.
She stood up and couldn't resist gently pushing his hair off his face. "Well, I am very fond of your ass, and could not leave it in prison. Get some sleep."
Tony shrugged nonchalantly. "It's a pretty great ass. Hey, just to warn you? I'm going to be really hungover tomorrow."
She stopped at the door. "Thank you so much for preparing me."
He gave her a thumbs up. "I only have your best interests at heart."
Ziva rolled her eyes one more time and headed down the hall to his door.
"Hey, if we get a squelchy body tomorrow, can you please take the photos so I don't have to?" he called out. "Cuz I'll prob'ly barf."
"Goodnight, Tony!" she called, and left his apartment.
Walking down the hall, she couldn't help but smile. There was no way that she was going to miss Family Night again.
With thanks to Ghostbusters and Kanye West. Okay, so this was really a whole pile of nothing. But like I said, I'm just trying to get myself writing again. And hopefully I can amuse some people along the way.