"You smell different," Ziva said out of nowhere, face pressed into his shirt. They were sitting in the Charger, inching slowly along in morning rush hour on their way to Quantico. They'd been stuck in this jam for over an hour. He was hoping it would ease up once they were through the Mixing Bowl.
Tony quirked an eyebrow up. "Different?"
"Mmmhmm," she murmured. Once it had been clear they weren't going anywhere quickly, she had tipped her head onto his shoulder and fallen asleep. He hadn't said anything, just wrapped his arm around her shoulder and held her tight. He always enjoyed holding Ziva.
"In a bad way?"
"Not entirely?" he asked, amused.
Tony chuckled. "You've memorized my scent?"
She shrugged. "I am familiar with it."
He dropped a kiss on the top of her head, and the teasing comment that was about to come out of his mouth died on his lips. Her hair usually smelled like oranges, but today it smelled like coconuts. "How come your hair smells like coconuts today?"
"Ha!" Ziva exclaimed, jabbing her pointer finger into his abdomen—
"You notice these things as well!"
"I—" But he really had no come back for that, because he did, clearly. "I like the orange better."
"That is because you like it curly."
She shook her head with a laugh. He ran his fingers into her hair, something he always enjoyed doing, but was rarely allowed. He figured that while they were talking about her hair was as good a time as any. It was straight today. She was right. He preferred it curly. At least it was down. He always preferred it down.
"Do you use a different shampoo when you straighten it?" He sniffed the top of her head. The scent was vaguely familiar, now that he thought of it. He wondered why he had only associated orange scent with her.
"Yes," she answered, amused by his realization. "It's a straightening shampoo."
"Girls and their hair products."
"Are you seriously mocking hair products? You?"
He chuckled at that, because she was right. He did spend a fair amount of time on his hair. They rode in silence for a few moments, Tony inching the car forward bit by bit.
"You did not answer my question," Ziva noted.
Tony gave her shoulder a squeeze. "I don't recall you actually asking anything."
"I asked why you smelled different."
"You said that I smelled different. You didn't ask why."
"Well, I'm asking why now."
She wasn't going to like the answer. "I…uh…," he fumbled, toying with a bit of her hair in his fingers.
She sighed in frustration and sat up, arms crossed
He missed the warmth of her against him immediately. "You don't have to get up," he said quickly. Too quickly.
"Are you going to answer my question?" she asked.
He looked out at the mess of cars in front of them and took a deep breath. "EJ wanted me to try something new," he explained, quickly and quietly.
Ziva was scowling when he snuck a glance at her. He had known she wasn't going to actually like hearing the answer, even though she surely knew it already.
"She did not like your old cologne?" Ziva asked, voice even, free of emotion.
Great, Tony thought, she was shutting down on him now. "No," he answered truthfully.
"You have worn that cologne as long as I've known you."
"Since college," he smiled.
"You were quick to change it for her," Ziva noted. She wasn't looking at him, but staring out the window at the sea of brake lights.
Maybe the decision was a little quick. "I thought maybe it was time for a change."
Ziva snorted a laugh, but didn't say anything.
He couldn't help but push her. "What does that mean, that little snort?"
"You did not think it was time for a change. She did."
Well, that was true. "Why is this bothering you?"
She turned to face him now, silently. After a moment, she answered, "She's trying to change you."
"It's just cologne!"
"It's not just the cologne! She is distracting you! This…whatever it is…is hurting the team because Gibbs is angry about it."
Tony took a deep breath again. "I don't know what to do about the Gibbs thing."
"You could stop seeing her like he asked you to," Ziva shot right back.
Wow, she was really riled up about this. Truth be told, he was more worried about pissing her off than Gibbs. "I…" he wasn't sure how to phrase what he wanted to say. "Rule twelve is stupid. It exists because Gibbs couldn't work out the relationship between him and Jenny."
Ziva looked back to him. Her anger seemed to have softened somewhat. "I agree," she said quietly.
"Other agents have made it work."
She nodded. They weren't really talking about EJ anymore, he realized, and he could tell she had realized it too. They sat in silence again.
"Gibbs does not like her. He does not trust her," Ziva told him, after a minute.
"I do not either," she added.
"I know." Tony raked his fingers through his hair, and flopped back against the headrest. "I am listening to that opinion, you know. I've cooled it off a little with her since I talked to you and Gibbs."
She was giving him a curious look. No doubt she'd caught that he hadn't just said that he'd cooled things off a bit with EJ after he talked to Gibbs, but that he said that he'd done it after he talked to her as well.
"Good," she said finally. She scooted back over, and tipped her head onto his shoulder. He wrapped his arm around her.
"You might want to keep that on the steering wheel," she laughed.
He didn't move his arm. "I don't need two hands to drive five miles an hour." The traffic seemed to be clearing up ahead, as I-395 merged with I-95, but he was no longer in a rush. He rather liked holding Ziva.
"I like your old cologne better," she murmured into his shirt.
Yeah, he was going to switch back tomorrow.
Note: If you're interested in the traffic reference: .org/wiki/Springfield_Interchange "The Mixing Bowl"