*A/N: Set the night before everyone leaves on their new assignments as per Vance in Judgement Day Part II. Touches on their last team "night out," but also deals heavily with Tony and Ziva's conversation in autopsy during aforementioned episode. As always, reviews are most welcome and appreciated.*

*A/N EDIT: OK, so this didn't turn out quite the way I thought it would. This is a fluff warning, really. In fact, toward the end, this story gets so fluffy it would give Sammy's Miss Flora a run for her money and we all know how cute she is. There is some smut, but not as much as I would have liked. These things tend to write themselves, I'm afraid. I'm just doing the typing.*

Nothing Is Inevitable

"Vance can't do this," the fiery Goth slammed her lace gloved fist into the table, which rattled everyone's glasses. "He just can't!"

"I think you'll find he can, Abs," Tony replied, caustically, which earned him a admonitory look from McGee. He sighed, sipped his drink, then said, "What does it matter? Vance has spoken and, since he's now Director, we must do as he says."

"But it's not right...he can't just," Abby waved her hands in the air and looked on the verge of tears.

"We have our orders, Abby," Ziva pipped up for the first time since they sat down. "We must follow them."

McGee sighed. "I suppose this was inevitable." Both Ziva and Tony turned identical looks of shock on him. "Well, what I mean is...I kind of get the feeling Vance has it out for Gibbs."

"What do you mean?" Tony demanded.

"Well," McGee shrugged. "I think it's rather obvious if you look at how the two the them interact with one another. I think Gibbs did something to Vance and splitting us up is...payback."

Tony looked dubious. "Would you hold a grudge against Gibbs?"

"No," McGee replied quickly. "But I'm not the new Director of NCIS."

"You guys can't leave me." Abby said, meekly, from next to McGee. She clamped down on his arm and buried her face in his shoulder.

"Technically, Timmy's not leaving," Tony said tightly. "Technically he's right across the parking lot. He's not going to be onboard a ship for the next six months."

This only made Abby's frown deepen. She reached her hand across the table and grabbed Tony's hand, squeezing it hard. It was a sweet gesture, but one that wasn't quite enough to get Tony's jaw to relax.

"It's punishment, that's what it is. For me." Tony said, morosely.

"Not this again," Ziva sighed and knocked back the rest of her drink.

He shot her a look of barely contained rage. The look only made Ziva roll her eyes. "Jenny's death was not your fault. How many more times must I say it?"

"He's sending you back to Daddy," Tony ground out and his tone made Ziva frown. "You don't think he blames you, too?"

Ziva quirked her eyebrow. "So, you blame me?"

That brought Tony up short. "No," he confessed, his tone softening. "Of course I don't."

"Right, but you'll blame yourself from now until castle come!"

"It's kingdom come and yes, I do blame myself."

Ziva made a small noise at the back of her throat and shot up from her chair. "I'm getting another drink. Who wants one?"

McGee and Abby both nodded and the latter got up to help carry the other's back to the table. When they were out of earshot Tony slammed his palm into the table and growled.

"Tony," McGee began, but the other man cut him off.

"I don't want to hear it, Probie."

"I think you need to hear it," he started to say, but the look Tony threw him shut the younger man up. He waited a moment before beginning again. "This won't last long. You know Gibbs will raise hell and we'll all be back at our desks before the month is out."

Tony picked up his beer bottle to keep his hand from shaking. "That's easy for you to say, Probie. You'll be in some cushy basement nerding out with all the other computer geeks. I'm the one who'll be on a damn ship in the middle of the damn ocean. A month to me will go a hell of a lot more slowly than it will for you."

"And Ziva?" McGee demanded.

Tony shot him a quizzical look. "What about our ninja?"

McGee shook his head in exasperation. "Right, because who the hell cares about anybody else when poor Tony DiNozzo is going to be agent afloat for the next few months?"

"Careful, McGee," Tony hissed through clenched teeth.

"No, you know what, Tony?" McGee shook his head, tone reproachful. "You want to have your little pity party you go right ahead, but don't you dare take your anger out on the rest of us. We are just as affected by the Director's death as you and we're all being reassigned. It's not just about you, DiNozzo."

Tony ground his teeth together. "You done, Elf Lord?"

"I don't know," McGee replied, his tone measured. "Has anything I've said penetrated that skull of yours?"

Tony was spared any sort of retort by the return of the women and the drinks. When Ziva handed Tony his beer she gave him a strange look. He knew she could see the emotions whizzing behind his eyes.

"It appears our little Probie Wan Kenobi has grown up." Tony commented, to no one in particula,r before taking a swig of his beer. Across from him McGee's ears reddened behind his own bottle.

Ziva clicked her glass with McGee's bottle. "Finally stood up to him, yes?"

McGee's face went as red as his ears. "I didn't mean for it to sound as bad as it did," confessed McGee.

Tony scoffed. "Yes, you did," he replied and quirked his eyebrow at the man across the table. He, too, clicked his beer bottle against McGee's. "It seems a shame I have to leave just when you decide to grow a pair, Probie."

McGee's mouth quirked into a small smile. "I learned from the best."

"Ha," Ziva snorted. "We shall be sure to let Gibbs know that."

"I believe Little Timmy was referring to me," Tony countered, his tone matter-of-fact.

No one responded to that and the table of co-workers and friends plunged into silence. Strained small talk took over a few minutes later and two hours after that Tony looked at his watch.

"I think I may have to call it a night, kids," he shook his head once in annoyance. "Apparently, I have some packing to do."

His statement caught Abby in the middle of a very detailed description of her last party, and when her face fell he felt like slapping himself.

"Tony," she whimpered, her lower lip quivering. She got up and walked around to his side of the table where she threw herself at him. Tony patted her back, kissed her hair, and pulled her into his lap. "What are we going to do without you?"

Tony smiled. "You'll manage."

Abby's lower lip jutted out and so he kissed her on the cheek. "I promise to write you a postcard every time we make port, Abs."

"No," her pigtails bounced vigorously as she shook her head. "No, you write me once a week, Anthony DiNozzo, or so help me I will find you and...and..." she dissolved into tears and buried her face in Tony's designer Oxford.

"OK, Abs. Once a week. I promise," Tony whispered into her ear as he stroked her back. The slender forensic tech nodded and slid off Tony's lap, only to fling herself at Ziva, who was halfway out of her chair. The sudden weight of Abby caused her to fall back into her seat rather heavily, but Tony saw a smile on her face.

"Oh, Abby," Ziva half-giggled, half-sighed.

"And don't think that some silly Mossad op exempts you from writing once a week, too." The pale woman practically sobbed into Ziva's neck.

"I will do my very best to stay in contact with you, one way or another, as often as I can," over Abby's shoulder she smiled at McGee and Tony. "With all of you."

Finally, Abby disentangled herself from Ziva and was now clinging to McGee like a lifeline. Tony helped Ziva into her coat and the four of them made their way out to the parking lot.

"You sure you're OK to drive Abby home?" Tony turned to McGee as he unlocked his car.

The younger man nodded. "I'm fine. Are you OK to take Ziva home?"

"Yeah," Tony said, then hesitated. He looked over his shoulder and saw, again, that Abby was hugging Ziva as if her life depended on it. He smiled, then stuck out his hand to McGee. "Take care of Abby, Tim."

McGee shook Tony's hand and nodded once. "I will," he vowed.

"Take care of yourself, too, OK? Give those nerds hell." Tony joked, his eyes glinting, but the smile didn't quite make it to his lips. Before he could think better of it he pulled the younger agent in for a quick man-hug. If McGee was at all surprised by Tony's action he didn't show it when the two broke apart.

"You take care of yourself, too, Tony. This isn't goodbye, though."

Tony smiled, but they both knew it was forced. "Yeah, kid, I know."

Suddenly, Ziva was next to McGee and the two were embracing. She kissed his cheek, fondly. "Be well, Tim."

"And you, Ziva," he answered, his voice gruff.

With one last kiss to Abby's cheek, Tony and Ziva got into his car and drove out into the night.

"What did Tim say to you?" Ziva inquired when they were almost at her place. The journey up to that point had been silent and her sudden question caused Tony to jump slightly.

"He told me I was being an ass." Tony answered after a moment.

"Ah, I see," Ziva turned to look at him. She opened her mouth to say something more, but seemed to think better of it. Instead she turned back in her seat and the rest of the ride to her apartment was made in silence.

When they were in front of her door a few minutes later Tony felt heavy with dread, like he used to feel before a football game in college.

"Ziva," he began, but then realised he had no idea what he wanted to say. She turned to face him at the sound of her name and he saw the same hesitation in her eyes. They simply stared at one another for several seconds; thoughts of what he should say chased thoughts of what he wanted to say through his mind.

"Do you want to come inside?" she inquired, her eyelashes fluttering. Her tone was light, but the look she gave him was anything but.

He thought for a moment about how to answer, then opted for the simple truth.

"Yes."

Her door was open and she was pulling him inside before a single coherent thought could form. Then, the door was closing and she was backing him up into it, her hands on his shoulders. It was pretty automatic after that, really. Their lips met as if of their own accord; hungry, frantic, needy. Tony grabbed Ziva's coat and peeled it off her, while she did the same to his. Button's were made short work of as her shirt met his Oxford at their feet.

Their lips broke apart only long enough to suck in much needed air as Tony backed her clumsily to the couch. It seemed to take him ages to get her there, but she wasn't complaining, and why the hell had they left this until the last minute? Why hadn't they done this ages ago? As Tony fell with Ziva onto the couch he came to the realisation that kissing her was like fucking other women; that simple act was more satisfying than sinking his cock into other girls. Her lips were plump and ready, her tongue nimble in his mouth. She didn't so much as kiss him, as sucked the life out of him through his mouth.

He kissed his way from the corner of her lips, down through the valley of her breasts, and followed an invisible line from her bra to her navel. All the while Ziva squirmed under him, her hands in his hair, tugging it in all directions. She moaned his name and he thought he might actually lose it then. He slid to his knees on the floor, instead, and continued his unholy assault from her navel to the top of her black skirt. While he kissed and licked the caramel flesh of her stomach, he unzipped her skirt and slid it down her long legs. A green lace thong, to match the green lace bra, met his gaze and he could only gape at her.

She said nothing; simply grabbed him by the arms and pulled him back up to the couch and to her. She maneuvered him so that he was sitting on the couch now, and she stood before him for an instant before going to her knees in front of him. That sight alone made him groan, and a second later when her lips were on his chest, he may have blacked out. When he could see again, Ziva's head was bobbing dangerously close to his crotch, but it wasn't until her cold fingers slipped inside his pants to gently brush against his erection that Tony's brain found lucidity. He placed his hand over hers, stilling her ministrations through his boxers. With his other hand he cupped her cheek and, gently, pulled her head up to meet his gaze.

"If you keep doing that I won't be able to stop what happens next," he confessed, gruffly. His head was swimming with the scent of her perfume and his lips craved her taste, but Tony managed to fight it all down until he could get her answer. It was pure agony, worse than any injury he'd ever sustained while on the job, but he managed to keep himself from attacking her.

"Well," Ziva panted and licked her lips. His cock jumped when he noticed that he lipstick was smeared sexily. "If what happens next is sex, then that is the general idea." Her eyes were darker than normal, her hair was tussled, and she was on her knees between his legs, but there was something in her tone of voice that didn't sit right with him.

Tony blinked. "So that's it? Just sex?" he asked, and his voice rose an octave.

Now it was Ziva's turn to blink. She pulled her hand from his pants and gave him the trapped look. "Is this not what you want?" she asked, uncertain.

"No," Tony answered without missing a beat, but then he mentally slapped himself at the look she gave him. "I mean, yes. Yes, of course this is what I want, but...tomorrow we're both gone, Ziva. Who knows when the next time will be that we see one another."

"And?"

"And?" Tony said, anger rising in his throat. "That's all you can say? Am I just a pity fuck for you?"

"Oh," Ziva barked once with laughter, though it wasn't a very jolly sound. "That is rich coming from you, Tony. A pity fuck?"

His eyes narrowed dangerously. "Do you only want to sleep with me because we may never see one another again?"

Ziva's hands went immediately to her hips, but when she opened her mouth to refute his claim nothing came out. She did a great fish impersonation for all of five seconds before Tony threw up his hands.

"Unbelievable," he muttered and got up from the couch.

"Why am I getting a lecture from you about sex, Mr. Playboy?" Ziva seethed as Tony stalked past her and bent to pick up his shirt.

He straightened up at that and turned an icy gaze on her. His tone was barely contained rage. "As I recall you're the one who thought that the man I was becoming needed a woman. Not meaningless sex."

Ziva frowned. "I did not think you took that to heart, Tony."

"What if I did, Ziva? What if I thought..." he stopped suddenly and shook his head in disgust. He returned his gaze to his partner in time to see the look of understanding pass behind her eyes before the mask clicked back into place.

"Tony," she began, softly, but his look shut her up.

"I have not outgrown sex, but meaningless sex..." he shrugged. He was suddenly very sad, and that made him a bit angry. "Rule number twelve, Ziva."

"We're not dating Tony. Number twelves says nothing about sleeping with a coworker." The words were out of her mouth before she could censor them, and she bit her lip in the silence that followed.

Tony smiled bitterly. "Right," he said and turned toward the door. "I guess we won't get a Paris after all."

Ziva's mind flashed back to the conversation the two had had in autopsy the night before.

It was inevitable.

Nothing is inevitable.

"Tony," his name was out of her mouth before she knew what she was saying.

He stopped, hand on the doorknob, and turned to look at her. She still hadn't put her clothes back on and, boy, was she a sight to behold in nothing but her underwear. Tony's hand twitched with the overwhelming desire to run his hands all over her body, but he made himself stay put. He waited for her to speak again, but she didn't seem inclined to continue.

"Be safe, Ziva," Tony sighed and turned back to the door.

"Don't go."

It was a whisper; so soft that, at first, Tony wasn't entirely sure it hadn't been a breeze through an open window. He turned back around and found that Ziva hadn't moved a muscle and that she appeared to be shivering slightly. Tony's hand was off the doorknob and he was at her side in an instant. He took his suit jacket and wrapped it around her shoulders. She was looking at the carpet, and try as he might, he couldn't get her to meet his gaze. Instead, he steered her to the couch and sat her down. He dropped down next to her and brought her, wordlessly, to his chest. She tensed at first and fought the motion to pull her to him. Then, she gave in and leaned her head on his shoulder, throwing her left arm around him.

"I do not wish to part on these terms," she confessed after a long silence. She lifted her head and met her partner's intense gaze.

"I don't wish to part at all. Not now." Tony replied, with a small half smile.

"Do you really think Gibbs will fight to keep us?" Ziva asked, her voice small and fragile sounding, which kind of scared Tony if he was honest with himself. Ziva was his warrior woman, his ninja. She wasn't frail, and she certainly wasn't a damsel in distress. At that moment, though, with her eyes looking pleadingly up at him Tony wondered if she was as tough as he gave her credit for.

"I'm counting on it," he answered, but he didn't sound as confident as he hoped. Ziva heard that lack of confidence, too, and sighed.

"Stay the night?" she asked, quietly against his chest.

"I don't think-"

"We do not need to do anything, just...I'm not ready to say goodbye."

Tony acquiesced because, aside from the fact that he had a half naked, smoking hot beauty practically in his lap, he was also not ready to say goodbye. She slid off the couch and he followed her into the bedroom. It was a bit awkward getting ready for bed, but in the end Tony was down to his boxers and Ziva sported a tank top and shorts. As they slid under the covers, and automatically turned toward one another, Tony was struck by the memory of the last time they shared a bed.

"Do you still snore like a drunken sailor?" he asked as he reached to drape his hand over her hip.

"I do not snore," Ziva replied, defensively, as she sidled up to him.

"Ah, who needs sleep anyway?" Tony said jokingly, which earned him a rather sharp jab in the ribs. He was surprised to realise that, much like kissing Ziva, snuggling up next to her was almost as good as sex with other women. It was also very surprising to him that, while he was in very close proximity to a women he'd been undressing rather passionately only minutes before, sex was far from his mind at the moment.

No sooner had that realisation come to mind, than Ziva decided to turn over so her back was to his chest.

Her gasp caused him to cringe.

"Tony," she cried, half surprised, half aroused.

"Yeah, well, if you'd stop wiggling," he ground out through clenched teeth. He placed his hand on the small of her back to reduce the friction, but it was having little effect.

Ziva turned onto her stomach and gazed at him sidelong. The darkness of the room barely hid her grin. "I did not say I minded."

It was all pretty automatic after that, really.