My plot bunny returned to Earth from his planetary orbit and dropped this in my lap. Better not to ask...


Just Add Fuel

"I'm just saying."

Despite her conviction to avoid the motion for an entire day, Ziva rolls her sleep-caked eyes. Which sets off tiny sparks behind the dense wall of her headache. He makes her do that, strain against vows and the sanctity of common sense. It's ten minutes beyond the six am alarm and five minutes past the reasonable self-promise to perform no functions that will pour rocket fuel down the throat of the idling migraine.

His grin is the opening volley for many a skirmish.

When she separates her tongue from the roof of her mouth, she musters this; "I have observed that people use that phrase to defend a notion for which they have no actual defense."

But Tony isn't one to be driven off-course by something as fundamental as logic. Reason would only be noticed if it arrived on long legs and bought him a drink. And then he'd charm it into a nonsensical stupor. They had a word for men like him back home but her mother forbid such language.

"Defense I have," he notes with unearned pride. "What I don't have is cooperation."

She would gladly cooperate with physics, which predicts that the toaster will need little force to slam nicely into his head. There would be a satisfying thunk, followed by an unconscious man, which would be equally pleasing. But the appliance has other duties this morning and thus she considers a verbal assault. A threat both brilliant and deadly is constructed in her head but sadly contains is too many syllables for the hour. Therefore an all-purpose grunt serves as warning.

A useless endeavor. The recipient only notices pointed sound effects during climactic parts of cinema.

"Should I outline the argument again?"

"No," Ziva mumbles in haste, knowing that repetition will merely sprinkle sugar on his enthusiasm.

And his... enthusiasm needs no sweetening. Its framework is visible beneath pricey sheets that her restless sleep had tangled mercilessly. Her clothes are laid out upon the wrinkled fabric, a proclamation of her intent to proceed with a day that Tony has not decided to join. Only oil paintings feature the kind of luxuriant reclining that he's undertaking. But she's not giving in.

It's still dark on his side of the bed. A half-opened curtain washes her portion in vibrant, cursed morning. They'll be late. And later still if his opposition prevails. It won't, because his rationale is silly.

"You'd be contributing to the salvation of the planet."

Actually she'll be contributing to Gibbs' wrath.

"I will shower later," Ziva announces during her struggle with her shirt, realizing only when the task is complete that something has gone rather broccoli-shaped. In the spirit of a toddler experimenting with self-dressing, the shirt hem arrives at her naked waist at varying lengths. The vastly interested man watches her fingers tug each rabbit from its hole, waits for the inevitable reveal.

Frustration muddles her radar, Tony's position lost in the sweep of irritation. A blink and he's behind her, large hands snatching her quest for cover, finding skin and repeating his request with lips that God made to test the resolve of the righteous.

"It'll cure your ills," the devil swears. "While saving water and thus earning you the praise of tree-huggers everywhere. And my own praise will be... loud." Cobwebs have no chance to collect on that grin. "Your planet needs you, Agent David."

Turning to face the embers of her losing battle, Ziva's fingers abandon the attempt to cling to the shirt he's trying to relocate and instead grip his... enthusiasm.

"It's not just the planet that needs me."

"Astute." His voice thickens to soup as her eyes flicker to the bathroom. The shower curtain is new, a tasteful French design that she'd selected. It had been her first stamp on his dwelling. The open door beckons like a buffet of chocolate. And it's possible that she hates this man for being so convincing. His body serves as a fine landscape for cascading water, which is problematic when attempting to maintain a staunch refusal.

They'll need non-coordinating, irrefutable excuses for dual tardiness that won't place the billboard of 'couple' over them. Except their boss isn't stupid . This is the third day in a row and Ziva considers that her partner wants to be caught. And damn, that shouldn't turn her on...

Apparently he keeps powerful defenses against responsibility under his pillow. Because it's her feet moving backwards, pulling him toward decadence in a fit of strident cooperation.

"Cure my headache, DiNozzo. Or I'm just saying everything to Gibbs., And I do mean everything."

Then there's tile at her back, water on his lashes and her anti-eye-rolling vow is broken yet again.