Tony blinked awake and instantly wished he hadn't. The squad room was bright and sunny, and it made his head throb. He groaned, putting his head back down in the nook of his elbow. The desk was nice and cool beneath his forehead. Ahhh. Maybe if he just sat still it would pass. Unlikely, but it was easier than trying to sit up. His whole body felt like lead, and it was like his mouth was full of cotton.

The elevator dinged, and he hoped it was someone from another office. He needed a few more minutes before he tried to pry his head from the desk. Laughter quickly dashed those hopes.

"Haven't seen you like this in a long time," McGee noted. He sounded entirely too happy about it. "Didn't you have a date last night?" He was hovering over Tony's desk.

"Yes," Tony mumbled, though it came out more like a groan.

"Unsuccessful?" McGee asked, still amused.


More of that evil laughter ensued.

The elevator dinged again. Great, just what he needed: both of them mocking his poor, hungover body. Or worse, Gibbs. Even that terror couldn't wrench his head from its resting place though.

"What is wrong with him?" Ziva asked. She didn't seem to think it was as funny as McGee did. She didn't seem super concerned either, but at least she wasn't mocking him.

"Someone had too much to drink last night," McGee told her, crossing to his own desk. Tony heard McGee put his bag on the floor, sit down, and commence his usual furiously-fast typing. Hopefully the teasing was done.

"Why?" Ziva questioned.

The tapping on the desk beside his head told him that the question was directed at him, not McGee. Why? That was the big question, wasn't it? Leave it to Ziva to look right past the effect in pursuit of the cause.

"Needed to," he answered around his cotton-tongue, though it wasn't really an answer. Not one she'd settle for.

"You needed to?" she sighed.

He heard her cross away too, then some rustling, and a bit of rattling. It sounded like a pill bottle-dare he hope? Then she came back, sitting right beside his head.

"Why did you need to?" she asked again.

Of course she wasn't accepting that as an answer. "Bad night."

"Hmm." He didn't like the contemplation in that sound. She was studying him. "Sit up."

"No," he protested. He didn't think his poor body could take it just yet.

"Sit up," she asserted again, this time tugging on his shoulders, and forcing him upright.

"Ugh…" The pulsing in his head got worse, and he nearly toppled forward onto her lap…which wouldn't have necessarily been a bad thing. She'd make a nice pillow right about now. Returning to reality, he blinked and squinted in the bright light, trying to focus in on Ziva.

"Open your mouth," she ordered.

"Open my—" he tried to make a joke out of it, but laughing made the headache worse, and he settled for obediently holding his mouth open for her to place the proffered Advil in.

"Sip the water." She handed him a bottle.

It was a fight to get the two tiny pills down, but he managed.

"Now, you had a bad night?"

"Mmmhmm," he affirmed.

She sighed again at his lack of answer.

"He had a date," McGee offered.

Maybe it was a trick of his throbbing head, but he thought he saw her scowl at this. McGee seemed to catch it too, adding, "I don't think it went very well."

"It didn't," Tony affirmed.

"Why not?" Ziva asked.

Truthfully, he wasn't sure. This girl was smoking hot, blonde, buxom, all the things he used to prize in a date. And it got him out of his lonely house. But sitting there in that restaurant, listening to this girl go on and on about her purse (not a fake), her dress (too short? yes, though he told her it was fine), and her old sorority sisters (all settling down, which she was clearly interested in, for status' sake), he wished he were back in that empty apartment. This girl was big on the little things, and he realized he wasn't anymore. At least she was also big on drinking, so it was easy to match her drink for drink, and escape.

"I…" he stumbled, trying to put all that into words.

Ziva nodded though, and their eyes locked. She got it so clearly it was like he'd been shouting, and that scared the hell out of him.

"You what?" McGee asked, breaking the moment. He always got uncomfortable when they had silent conversations.

Tony sat back in his chair, carefully not looking at either of them as he answered, "I realized I'm not interested in girls like that anymore."

"No?" McGee snorted.

"You have grown up," Ziva asserted, quickly cutting off McGee's amusement.

Tony didn't begrudge him his fun, though. He sure poked a lot of fun at McGee's dating habits as often as he could. He caught Ziva's gaze again, and nodded, affirming her observation.

"What kind of girls are you interested in then?" McGee asked.

Tony breath in, and out, brow furrowed. He was starting to admit to himself exactly the kind of woman he wanted. The one sitting on his desk, eyes locked on his. Fierce, smart, funny, and incredibly beautiful. He wasn't ready to say it aloud though, not just yet. Judging by the intensity of her gaze, she knew it though. But with Ray kinda-sorta still in the picture, he needed to her to make that move. Or at least acknowledge that that relationship was done, and not just put on hold.

It was Ziva who ultimately answered McGee's question, some time later. "Tony needs a woman, not a girl."

She'd told him that before, even implying that she could possibly be that woman, though at the time he wasn't in a place to hear it. This time they were on the same page.