Tony sat in his car parked in front of Ziva's apartment. The scene was much like the week before, but this time he was expected. But not for fifteen more minutes, though. In his effort to make damn sure he wasn't late, he'd ended up super early. Usually he'd just head up to her apartment and flop on the couch, but this felt different. They'd made plans for a specific time—a real date—and that made him nervous. He'd give it five more minutes, and then present himself ahead of schedule, but not ridiculously so.

He was thinking his plan through when the passenger door opened and Ziva slid in. "Were you going to just it here?" she laughed, as she buckled her seatbelt.

Tony's brow furrowed. "I was going to come up. I was early."

"So?" She asked, looking at him curiously. He shrugged, eyes on the road as he pulled away. "You've never cared before."

He didn't say anything, not wanting to admit that this felt different from usual.

She slid her hand into his on top of the gear shift. "You are nervous." There was a hint of amusement in her voice.

He scowled. "I am not."

"Your palm is sweaty."

He yanked his hand away from her. It was a little sweaty.

Ziva sighed, loud and exaggerated. "Are you going to be silly like this all night?"

"Are you going to mock me all night?" he snapped back. Yeah, this date was off to a great start.

She reached over and tugged his hand back, stroking the top with her thumb. "We usually do that, yes? Relax."

He nodded. His curiosity got the better of him and he asked, "This doesn't feel different to you?"

"Perhaps a little," she conceded.

"A little?" Tony chuckled. "You don't usually dress like that to go out with me." He took advantage of being stopped at a red light to rake his eyes up her body—perhaps more blatantly than usual, but not out of character. The first thing his eyes landed on were her bare legs. She was wearing a dress—a short one. It was blue, and as his eyes continued up, he realized it was strapless. So hot. Her hair was down and curly, just the way he liked it.


"What?" he grinned.

"The light has turned green."

"Oh." He pried his gaze from her bare shoulders and back to the road. She was smirking. "That dress is hot."

Her smile grew bigger. "Thank you. You look nice also."

He had put more thought into his outfit than he wanted to admit. He was wearing a suit, like he usually did, but with a flashier shirt than he might where to work, and no tie.

"So where are we going?" Ziva asked.

"You will like it."

"You told me that already."

"So you doubt me?"

"No, but now I want to know—"

"It is somewhere you have wanted to try."

In fact it was a restaurant she had mentioned frequently, but it was definitely more of a date place then a two friends hanging out place.

"Zaytinya!" she guessed, with a huge smile on her face.

He nodded proudly, knowing he'd made the right choice.

The next day

"Anything new?" Tony asked Palmer as he walked into autopsy.

The younger man was standing at one of the metal tables, placing organs on the scale and carefully recording the values given. "Dr. Mallard just went down to talk to Abby," he answered simply, turning back to the slimy pink object in his hand.

"About?" Tony prompted. "Gibbs just went down there too, without telling me anything."

"There were some peculiar findings—" he held up the heart, indicating it was the location of the findings, "—that he's hoping the toxicology report can clarify. Abby got something."

"I see." Tony crinkled his nose at the heart. "Put that down."

Palmer continued to weigh it and make measurements, and Tony peeked at the file sitting on the table.

"Did you and Ziva have a good time at Zaytinya?" Palmer asked casually, as if it were not out of the ordinary at all.

"We did," he answered carefully. How did Palmer know? Gibbs had sent Ziva off to Norfolk with McGee first thing to talk to Lieutenant Finn's former CO, so she hadn't been around to talk.

Palmer continued and suddenly things were clear, "Breena and I liked it too. Middle Eastern food's not usually the kind of food I like, but she really wanted to try it after a coworker recommended it, so we went. I liked it though, more than I thought I would. We weren't sure what to order, and I wanted to go ask Ziva for suggestions, but Breena said I should leave the two of you alone."

Tony chuckled. They had definitely not noticed Palmer and Breena across the restaurant. "Sometimes I didn't know what we were eating, but everything Ziva picked for us was good. She grew up on that kind of food."

"You guys didn't see us, did you?" Ah, there was the smirk that usually accompanied these conversations. These days Abby couldn't help but grin and she had very nearly said something in front of Gibbs more than once.

"We didn't," Tony admitted sheepishly.

"Didn't think so," Palmer laughed. "You were in your own little world."

Tony grinned at the memory. It had been a good night, holding his partner's hand for much of dinner, and then getting to kiss her for a while on her front steps before once again bidding her goodnight and going home. Palmer was already talking again when he snapped out of his reverie.

"…so hard to find. And cake! There are so many different kinds of cake. She wants one of those pretty ones covered in fondant, which I said okay to, even though I think fondant tastes kind of gross. What's wrong with plain old frosting?" He had taken off the slimy gloves and was now tapping the pen furiously on the file folder as he ranted. "Gibbs said the easiest thing to do is just give her her way."

"Gibbs has been married four times," Tony pointed out.

"Should I fight for some things I want?" Palmer asked earnestly.

"The hell do I know," Tony chuckled nervously. Since when did people ask him questions like that. A playboy image he had no more, apparently. "I am only just figuring out the relationship thing," he added.

"Those first few months are the toughest," Palmer agreed.

Tony laughed. "Days."

"Days?" Palmer shot him a curious look. "No way."

Tony nodded. "Thursday."


"Is there an echo in here?"

"It really hasn't been longer than that?"

Tony shook his head. "Last night was the second time we'd been out—in a date kind of way, at least."

"It didn't look like a second date," Palmer smirked.

It had sure felt like one on the car ride over, but they'd settled into their usual banter at the restaurant with the added benefit of touching. Tony grinned again at the memory.

"Good for you." Palmer punched him in the arm, still smirking.

"Get back to work," Tony laughed, shaking his head in amusement as he left autopsy.