Post Ep Fic for borderland. Shoutout to the Tiva peeps on CBS forum who gave me the inspiration for this fliclet.

Still don't own NCIS...

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He dragged another box out from under his bed. It had to be here somewhere! He hadn't used it for almost three years but it was not the kind of thing that you just threw away. Sure, it was well out of date now, but at the time it had been top of the range. Built in wireless, webcam, microphone and speakers. Everything he needed. One of the perks of being a trendy 'university professor'.

"There it is!" he thought. Surprisingly, despite his depression at the time, he had even had the foresight to put the powerpack in the same box as the laptop. The laptop about which McGee knew nothing. The laptop with the browsers which were as yet untouched by the McHacker...

Tony looked at his watch. 1330. It had taken longer to find than he had expected. He had to get back to work immediately. Gibbs was in a bad enough mood already, even by Gibbs' standards. Tony grabbed the bag and hightailed it to his car.

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The rest of the day inched by slower than a month of probie's driving Sundays. Every few minutes, Tony looked anxiously at the clock, then his desk drawer, willing the time to go faster. His unusually twitchy mood was not unnoticed by his team mates but they wisely remained silent. McGee was too nauseous to try and decipher Tony's odd behaviour and Ziva was too amused. She knew he was up to something but could not imagine what. After his antics with the online chatting the day before, Tony had been unusually determined to prove himself an interesting person to meet. It was sad, but Ziva had to admit that she took a slightly twisted delight in seeing him squirm.

Gibbs disappeared at around 1630. It was almost unheard of for him to be gone so early but his three agents were too distracted by their own thoughts to pay it much attention. Besides, his surliness had reached a new low and they knew he was probably in his basement by now, punishing an innocent piece of timber. McGee followed soon after, his Mexican stomach having gotten the better of his willpower.

The moment the clock on his monitor flicked to 1700, Tony opened the bottom drawer of his desk. He pulled out the bag which Ziva had seen him hastily stash earlier. She pretended to continue with her case report, but shot furtive looks over the top of her monitor. She almost let slip a gasp of surprise when he pulled out the shiny laptop. It was clearly not new but was rarely used.

Tony was determined. Without McGee's 'help', he was sure he could keep the attention of a total stranger for at least five minutes. More if she was slightly older and more than slightly lonely... Ziva realised quickly what he was up to. She decided that teasing him was not a good idea. He needed this. Despite his joking around, she could see that he had actually been worried when no body would talk talk to him for more than ten seconds. When he did not know that the couldn't...

She watched as he logged on and began chatting. Without the hinderance of Browser Booby-Trapping, he was more successful. She recognised that he used the same poker face he used for the 'DiNozzo Method' of interrogation. Seemingly dense yet witty. Tricking the suspect into thinking they were smarter than he was so they would let down their guard and slip up. It worked well in the interrogation room. She thought to herself that it was ironic of him to put up the wall when he seemed to want to make a real connection. He probably did not even realise he was doing it. She was glad that he seemed to be enjoying himself more than he had yesterday. Although she couldn't help but wonder, what did he hope to achieve when the people he met could be anywhere in the world?

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Tony thought he was doing pretty well. It was 1715 and he had only been nexted four times. That was far better than he had dared hope. He was chatting with a nice looking woman from Calfornia when he became aware that he was being watched. He knew she had been looking up form her work on and off for the last quarter of an hour. He could see her at her desk when he glanced over the top of the laptop screen. But now Ziva was actually staring at him with an intense, curious look on her face. It distracted him for a moment and he had to ask the woman online to repeat her question. He shot Ziva an angry look. Which she ignored. His anger beginning to rise, he hissed at his partner "Back off will you!"

He realised too late that the other woman, in California, had just asked him if he was single. "Oh Crap. Sorry, I didn't mean you I was..." he fumbled. But it was too late.

He glared at ZIva, his anger barely contained.

"Look what you made me do!" he pointed at his screen. "She nexted me! She was hot!"

"She lives in California, Tony!" Ziva countered. "What did you think would happen? That she would fall in love with you online, you would communicate by email, secretly in love with each other for months and meet on top of the empire state building in six months time?"

He scowled at her. "I will not even begin to decipher how muddled those movies were. I counted at least three. Maybe four if you count 'An Aff..' But that does not matter! Butt out!" he warned.

"Or what?" she asked. "You will 'next' me?"

"Don't tempt me, Probette!" he warned her again. "Stay out of my business."

"Perhaps if you did not conduct your business in the middle of the office it would be easier to stay out of it!" she suggested. "I do not know why you are making such a big show of this, Tony. What are you trying to prove?"

"Prove? I am not trying to Prove anything Zi-Va" he responded childishly. "I am simply using modern means to interact and to meet nice people and talk with someone who is not going to jump down my throat or give me the third degree or jump down my throat because I am trying to mo..." He stopped himself just in time.

"Trying to what?" she asked.

"Nothing. None of your business, ok?" He turned his attention back down to his laptop screen and put on his fake smile. A young guy in his early twenties popped onto his screen and Tony greeted him with all the calm he could muster.

"Hi. I'm Tony. I might need you for an alibi if a certain Israeli woman does not get her nose out of my business."

"Um, Hi. I am...leaving?" The face stammered and disappeared from the screen.

"You are being an idiot" came the voice from across the office space. "Just do your work and let me do this!" he ordered in his best Senior Agent voice. He returned to the screen once more. "Why is she making this so hard?" he asked himself.

"Why is he trying so hard"? she asked herself. "He does not need to prove anything. He has totally lost his mind. Again!" She considered what he had been saying. She had been giving him the third degree. Well, so had McGee. First over Brenda, than Dana, now McGee had messed with his computer and ego. Perhaps he had not taken it as well as they thought he had.

Ziva, having given up all pretense of finishing her work, began considering what Tony could have been about to say before he stopped himself. "I am trying to mo..." Could be a lot of things. She admitted to herself that she was not entirely sure how to respond to this latest slip in confidence. It was happening more and more frequently. She looked over at her partner, striking up another conversation. He wrinkled his nose and hit the desk with his fist. Nexted again.

"This is too much to watch" she thought. "He is torturing himself trying to prove he is interesting. I am going to kill McGee tomorrow. If his stomach does not do it for me first."

She saved the open file and shut down her computer, a plan forming in her mind.

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by 1725, Tony was getting bored. He was not being nexted every ten seconds but he was beginning to feel old. Most of the people he was talking to were in their twenties and he was starting to think that maybe Ziva was right. Maybe he was trying too hard. He looked up at his partner's desk but she was not there. She had not even said goodbye. He pushed aside the flash of guilt, and hint of disspointment he felt and looked at his screen, waiting for the next face to pop up.

Why would she leave without saying goodbye? He had not been that mean. It was not like her to...

"Crap!" he exclaimed, pushing his chair back from the desk. His laptop screen had just slammed shut and her face appeared where it had been.

"I have told you NOT to sneak UP on me like that!" he growled, recovering his composure. "Are you trying to give me a heart attack? You know McGee would be Senior Agent not you right?"

Ziva stood up. Her bag was over her shoulder and she wore her coat. She leaned across his desk and offered her right hand.

"Hi. I'm Ziva. I'm a ninja" she introduced herself.

He took her hand "I'm Tony. I'm confused?"

She shook his hand. "You want to talk to someone, yes? You can talk to me. I am real, I am ready to go and you are not working. Let us go and...interact."

"Talk to you?" he asked. He considered her offer. "The VideoChatConnection thing kind of lost its appeal yesterday. McGee totally ruined it for me." he admitted. He picked up his bag and turned to his partner. "Interacting hey?" he asked in 'that' DiNozzo voice. "Can we interact for more than ten seconds?"

She raised her eyebrows and tilted her head to the side, and regarded him thoughtfully. "That," she replied, "Is entirely up to you, Tony." She turned and walked towards the elevator, perhaps a little more slowly that was necessary.

"Ziva David." he muttered under his breath "You are killing me!" He followed her to the elevator, and gave himself a swift head slap for wondering just what kind of interaction she had in mind...