This takes place at the end of 'Once of a Hero', early in the fourth season, and has light Tony/Ziva and Gibbs/Jenny. And, yes I'm aware that Ziva knew the word horny pretty early on, but I actually wrote most of this last year, before I saw that episode, so I'm just going to pretend she didn't.
"Am I not feminine?"
Jen's head bobbed up as the door closed, and a clearly troubled assassin stood in front of her desk. She didn't bother hiding her surprise at the question, but took off her glasses, and straightened up. Now was as good a time as any for a break from paperwork.
"Back-up, Ziva. Where did this question come from?"
The brunette dropped into one of the chairs set before the desk, her jaw taut and eyes set firmly on the desk blotter. She was obviously uncomfortable. "Something McGee said."
"Oh? What did he say?" Jen's eyebrows drifted north. She'd have expected it to be Tony's doing, accidentally making a bad joke. But McGee managed to make Ziva question herself? Jen had never known the Mossad Officer's confidence to waiver, especially about her femininity.
"He said I was not a woman. Or rather he went to, and sort of stopped himself."
"So…now you're concerned the guys see you as, well, one of the guys?"
Ziva looked at her hands, embarrassed by her weakness. "Yes. I know it is silly, but it troubles me."
Jen studied her for a moment, something telling her that it wasn't just McGee's comment that upset her. Ziva was not that easily bothered. "What else?"
Her head shot up. "What?"
"Ziva, I know you, something else is bothering you."
She leaned back then, and Jen knew she had her. Not that Ziva would ever tell her anything she didn't want her to know, but it was nice to know she trusted her. Without thinking, Ziva pulled out her knife, and began twisting it slowly between her fingers.
"I know I am…different than most American women. I do not wear as much make-up, or carry a purse, nail polish seems a waste, and for the death of me, I can not understand this obsession with shoes! What is that, Jen?" She rattled along, working herself up.
"It's the life of you, not death, and as for shoes, I don't really know what to tell you. Just think of it as an alternative to guns."
"Guns have a purpose though, there are reasons to use one over the other, but shoes? How many pairs do you need? Dress, casual, winter, rain-proof, and combat, that is all, yes?"
"Sure, but there are so many styles, and—wait," Jen stopped and waved a hand in front of her. "This discussion could go on forever; nice diversion tactic, Ziva."
The assassin shrugged and offered a little smile.
"Back to the point, this bothers you because…?"
She returned to playing with the knife. Jen was almost surprised she hadn't pulled out her gun to clean. "I…I was never girly, that's the word, yes?"
"It always bothered my mother, but it never bothered me. I've always spent more time with men, than women, and never…never did a lot of dressing up. I never worried that others did not see me as a woman, I know they did. I had no problems attracting men's attention…but here, it is different." She ended with a puzzled frown.
"Ziva, I really don't think you have to worry about the guys forgetting that you're female. I've seen the way Tony stares at you, and I can assure you, he knows you're a woman." Jen smiled at her younger friend, almost amused that she could be so concerned about it.
"Did he say something to you?" Ziva's eyes were suddenly almost glowing, her stance now at attention.
Jen resisted the urge to laugh out loud. This was a side of Ziva that she'd never seen before—a schoolgirl with a crush. The woman could seduce a man with a look, and shoot him in the head minutes later, but a cocky, juvenile, film-fanatic got under her skin? Jen had seen her trade threats with powerful gangsters, and never flinch, never drop her poker face. Yet, here was the same woman, unable to admit she liked a guy? It was almost surreal.
"No, of course not. But, I've seen the way he looks at you, and so has Gibbs, and it's enough to make him ornery."
Ziva drew back, startled. "That does not sound like Gibbs."
"What? That's his usual mood."
A frown settled her face, and she put up the hand that wasn't holding her knife. "I think maybe I am misunderstanding. Ornery is not wanting sex?"
Jen chuckled. "No, I think you're thinking of horny, Ziva."
"Yes! That's it!" Her voice and face were triumphant. "So ornery is…mad?"
"Yeah, sort of an angry temperament."
"Oh, that does sound like Gibbs."
"Too much." Jen sighed. "So, are you done feeling insecure?"
Ziva nodded and sheathed her knife. "I do not know why I let it bother me."
"Because you like him, that's why." Not that she'd ever admit that.
"He is my partner."
"Yes, and he's charming, funny, good-looking, and smart when he isn't acting like a child."
Ziva raised a skeptic eyebrow. "It sounds like you like him, Jen."
"No, not my type."
"Yes, you like ornery."
Jen glared at Ziva's knowing and all too amused smile. "Beside the point."
"Yes, it is. Tony has a new girlfriend that he's keeping very secretive."
"Oh?" Shit, was what she was really thinking. Ziva's jealous of a mission, and doesn't know it.
"Yes, he is using two cell phones, and disappearing all the time to see the doctor. And, he looks very run down."
Jen was touched by concerned look on her face, not something she was used to seeing on the assassin. "That's why you're upset? Did you and he have something going on…?"
"Really? You two have gotten pretty close."
"We are partners, we are supposed to be close, yes?" Ziva was getting defensive, and quickly shutting down.
Jen sighed. "Pretend I'm not you're boss right now, that's really all there is between you and Tony?"
"We are friends." Her very succinct response reminded Jen of Gibbs, though at least the Israeli hadn't resorted to monosyllabic responses yet.
"Well, it's probably for the best. I'm aware of Gibb's rules, and I'd hate to have to give you back to Mossad."
The smallest flicker of panic hit her face, before she pulled up a wall as solid as granite. "Yes, you are right. Thank you, Jen."
"You're welcome." She was a little unnerved how upsetting the suggestion of returning to Mossad seemed to be for Ziva. As she went to leave, Jen added in a lighter tone. "And, if you happen to feel insecure about your femininity again, just let Tony and McGee get a look at your cleavage. When they're still staring at your chest five minutes later, and Gibbs has to smack them, you'll feel much better."
Ziva shot her a smile before disappearing out the door.
Later that evening, another NCIS Agent came to see her, looking as exhausted and run down as Ziva had described.
"You okay, Tony?"
He fell into the same chair Ziva had been in earlier, but with much less grace. He seemed minutes away from going boneless. "Yeah, the double-life thing gets tiring, and oh, good news, Ziva is getting very suspicious."
"That's not a surprise. She's a spy."
"Yeah, so what am I supposed to do about it?"
"Lie, Tony." She knew how hard that could be, but it was the only solution.
"I already am, and I hate it. Not to mention that she sees through everything, Jenny. And, if she is, you know Gibbs is too." He chuckled. "I thought working with one human lie detector was bad, now I've got double the fun."
"I'll make you a deal, Tony. You handle Ziva, and I'll handle Gibbs."
"And, the next time he corners me in the elevator?"
"Tell him to come talk to me."
"Fine, but when the elevators stop working for a couple hours, you'll send someone to come rescue me?"
She smiled. "Yes, I will, but I don't think it will be necessary, Tony. Gibbs may be a human lie detector, but he can also tell when he won't get information out of someone."
"And, Ziva?" He put on his 'clown smile'. "I mean, you haven't forgotten the woman has a disturbing arsenal of interrogation techniques, right?"
"No, I haven't, remember I've actually seen her in action."
Tony offered an exaggerated shiver. "When did you guys work together?"
"About five years ago, and Tony, if you think she's scary now..." Jen shook her head.
"Oh? How's that?" He leaned forward, rapt with attention.
"It was only a few years ago, but…" Jen shook her head, and felt herself drift off into her memory, when she'd first me the daughter of the Deputy Director of Mossad. "The scariest thing in the world is a kid who can kill without flinching, and who's willing to die on someone else's command. That was Ziva."
"It still is, Jenny." Tony was looking at her seriously, a very rare expression for him.
"No, not quite. She's not a kid anymore, and she's not as…hypnotized by her father."
"You don't like him."
"I don't trust him." She offered diplomatically. Tony's dubious expression said he clearly didn't buy it. "Well, I've never met him—but, no I don't like him. Ziva's first assassination was months after she got out of the IDF, she was nineteen, how young do you think she was when he started training her? And, how do you think he earned her loyalty?"
"She doesn't talk about her childhood," he said. "I guess, really she doesn't talk about herself, except for her training."
"Because, she wasn't raised to see herself as a person, Tony. Just a disposable soldier for the cause."
"So, did you offer her a position here, or did she ask?"
"Neither, it was a mutual conclusion, and I was happy to sign the paperwork." She admitted.
"To get her away from her father?" Typical, cocky DiNozzo seemed to have vacated the conversation.
"To show her what it feels like to have a choice."
Truthfully, when Ziva called her after burying Ari, upset and confused, something Jen had never heard from her before, she was worried. Ziva had the thought of taking a vacation, the same moment Jen realized they had an open spot in NCIS. She was thrilled when Ziva called her to tell her she'd gotten permission to take a liaison position.
Tony nodded, his eyes unfocused with the thoughts swirling in his head. That was probably more incite into his partner than he'd gotten all year. Suddenly, a little uncomfortable discussing her friend, Jen switched topics.
"What about McGee?"
Tony was jolted, and his cocky grin was set back in place. "Decidedly not scary."
She chuckled. "I mean, does he seem to suspect anything?"
"McOblivious? No, not a thing, and I'm not worried. If he asks me anything, all I'd have to do is start flirting with Ziva, and he'd run down to Abby's lab. He's a bit of a prude."
"And Gibbs won't smack you?"
"Probably. I think that part of my skull is going numb though."
Jen grinned. "I bet, Jethro always had good aim."
"So, you're keeping Gibbs off my back, and I get to lie to the crazy, ninja assassin chick? I've gotta remember now, only public places, and no more car rides with her."
"You think she'll use her driving talents as an interrogation technique?"
"Sure. Doesn't even leave a mark, except maybe a pile of vomit."
"I'm sure you'll be fine, Tony. She won't damage you, not even to find out what you're hiding."
He knit his brows in exaggerated doubt. "You sound so confident."
"I have my reasons. Now, if you have nothing more to discuss, I've really got to work on this paperwork, before you four generate more for me." She said, picking her glasses up from her blotter.
"You know, we wouldn't mind less paperwork. Really." He said with a grin, pulling himself out of the chair, and heading toward the door.
"Take it up with the SecNav," Jen called, already studying her papers.
Her last visitor of the day was, unsurprisingly, Gibbs. He slipped into the seat in front of her desk, and practically lounged, like he hadn't a care in the world. Truthfully, she was almost surprised he even sat, half expecting that he was have walked to her side, and into her personal space. Characteristically, the former marine remained silent.
Jenny pulled her glasses off. "Yes, Jethro?"
"What's up? I don't read minds."
"You tell me, Jen. Two of my agents disappeared into here today."
She smirked. "I'm pretty sure they reappeared as well…or am I putting out missing bulletins on two NCIS agents?"
"They did. Why were they in here?" He leaned forward, almost, but not quite, challenging her.
"Private conversations, Jethro. Surely, you know what those are."
"They're my agents, Jen. I have a right to know what's going on."
She leaned toward him, pushing back. "And, if it were anything that would affect them on the job, I would let you know."
Gibbs frowned. "It's personal? They came to you with personal problems?"
"Yes, that's so surprising to you?" His disbelief was a little insulting. She was capable of listening to people's problems, and giving advice, or not as the case may be. Though, considering who came to her, maybe she shouldn't take it quite so personally.
"For Tony and Ziva? Yeah." His tone implied she was an idiot for not thinking that.
She threw up her hands. "I don't know what to tell you, then."
His frowned deepened, tinged by worry. He'd never ask, not even if someone shoved hot coals down his pants, but his face told her anyway.
"They're fine, Jethro. They just needed to talk." She smiled, amused that he was playing protective papa bear to his agents. It didn't really surprise her, he'd been protective of her too, even before they were intimate. It was part military-mentality, part father without a child mentality. That still broke her heart a little.
He eyed her skeptically. "DiNozzo could babble on for a half a decade straight, but David isn't the type to 'need to talk'."
Jen inhaled and shook her head. "Girl talk. Occasionally, every woman needs it."
If possible his expression grew more skeptical. "Did you paint each other's nails, too?"
"No. That's tomorrow."
His mouth opened, then closed as a smile blossomed on his face. "Okay, Jen, don't tell me. If I need to know about it, I'll find out."
"Oh, I don't doubt it," she grinned back. "Now, if you don't mind, I've been trying to get through this damn stack of papers all day, and the interruptions have been making it hard."
"You staying here for a while?"
"Until I can clean this up, and respond to Melinda's last three memos." God, she really was backed up.
He nodded. "Chinese or steak?"
"Huh?" That she wasn't expecting.
"To eat, Jen. Simple question."
"Chinese. I like—"
"Extra spicy, no seafood from cheap restaurants, I know." He filled in, walking right out the door.
Jen let out a breath, smile still on her face. She still wasn't sure if taking this job was the smartest or dumbest thing she'd ever done. Right now though, it didn't feel dumb.
Okay, this is my last NCIS fic. My muse is focused elsewhere now, and when that happens, the story quality suffers. That means it's time to call it quits in this fandom, and let my muse go after whatever it wants to go after. So, I just wanted to say thank you to those of you who follow my stories, it was very encouraging and it's meant a lot to me. It's makes it hard to leave, knowing there's still people who want to read stories I write. I just don't have the interest I did when I started.
Thank you everyone who's read and reviewed my stories, including this one.