You know how a lot of my tags are only mildly shippy? Like where you really can choose if you want it to be friendship or more?

Yeah, this isn't one of those. I'd say I'm sorry, but I'm not remotely… :)

Disclaimer: Not mine. Which is fine because even if they were, I wouldn't change a thing with how things are going right now.

Tony let her sit in brooding silence for exactly nine minutes after take off before he called her on it.

"What?" Ziva said distractedly, squinting at him. He leaned in closer so she could hear him over the drone of the C130's engines.

"What'd Monique say that's got you so pensive?"

Ziva sighed - the quiet noise instantly swallowed up by the hum - and just shrugged. "There is something she is not telling me. More to her being in Cartagena."

He was glad that she was staring off across the dimly lit plane, for she missed his mouth twist with a grimace. He hadn't liked Monique. Well - that wasn't strictly true. She was sexy and captivating and mysterious, and she packed an arsenal of Ziva-stories that made Tony wish they had another week in South America. But still, in his brief interaction with her, it was clear that she was too comfortable with lies and deception. He didn't trust her. And if he were being honest, it freaked him out more than he was willing to admit how very much it felt like he was looking into Ziva's future when he saw Monique.

Ziva turned then, taking in his expression with a quirked eyebrow. "Who is the pensive one now? What are you thinking?"

He grinned quickly, shoving his musings aside. Because regardless of his own feelings about Monique, he could tell that Ziva loved her and trusted her. Instead he offered her another answer, something else he had realized as they sat across from each other, eating arepas before their dinner was ruined by a hail of gunfire. "I'm thinking that I'm not dead weight."

"Huh?" she asked, confusion etched on her face.

He turned slightly on the cold metal bench to face her and slung his arm through the netting at their backs. "I'm not dead weight, so why didn't you want me to come along?"

She pursed her lips, crossing her arms over her chest as she shrugged stiffly. "You are a high maintenance traveller."

"Am not."

"You always whine about your back and knee after a long plane ride. And then there is inevitably only one room and one bed and you are a cover dog."

"Cover hog, and that's only because I need to bury my head to muffle out the sound of you snoring."

Ziva scoffed, staring in the opposite direction to where Castro and Wade dozed restlessly under a thick blanket. But Tony wasn't about to let it go. Not when he knew he was right, and certainly not when he had the chance to get a rise out of her. She gasped when his fingers suddenly plucked out her earplug, wincing against the increase in noise. He leaned in dangerously close, his nose brushing across the skin of her earlobe as the plane jostled about. "See, I think you didn't want me to come along because the idea of me and Monique on the same continent scares the hell outta you. You say that no one knows you better - 'cept maybe me - and the thought of the two of us meeting and comparing notes was just too frightening to allow."

She stared at him, mouth slightly agape, and he could see the torrent of indignant denials coming his way so he cut in before she could start. "You said it yourself, Ziva. You're a terrible liar and I know it, so don't bother denying I'm right." He popped the earplug back in place and leaned his head back, shifting as he tried to find a more comfortable position on the hard seat.

"You think you are so clever," she grumbled and Tony chuckled, closing his eyes even though he knew he could never fall asleep.

Ziva tsked and sighed and fidgeted for several minutes before giving a huff and leaning towards him. "Did you hear? Jimmy picked Abby as his best man...woman…"

He squinted one eye open and rolled his head to the side to stare at her. "That your idea of a smooth topic change David?"

She scowled at him. "It's a long flight, I am bored, and there is no one else to talk to."

Tony laughed at her flimsy excuses to get him talking about something else. "Yeah, yeah I heard. I also heard the words nude ice hockey and Atlantic City being thrown around when I was on the phone with McGee, so God only knows what we're getting into now. If I get arrested for indecent exposure in Jersey, I'm expecting you to bail me out."

"Who says I will not be in the cell beside you? Am I not invited to the bachelor party?"

"Don't think that's allowed. You're a bridesmaid, that's wedding taboo or something."

Ziva shuddered delicately. "Don't remind me. I am terrified to see the bridesmaids dresses after that tux."

"Meh. I bet you could make neon taffeta look hot."

She crinkled her nose at the thought and huffed. "I hate weddings."

He glanced sideways at her, leaning in so the length of his arm pressed against hers. "No you don't. You like weddings. You like the sappy vows and the cake and the dancing. You're just not a big fan of weddings this year."

Her eyes narrowed and she looked annoyed that he was steering the conversation in a serious direction once more. "Why are you being so observant all of a sudden?"

He just shrugged. "Not exactly sudden. I'd like to think my powers of observation have improved like a fine wine with time. Especially when it comes to you."

She frowned, sucking in her bottom lip to worry it between her teeth. Tony wondered if she even noticed the action, and he suddenly wanted - needed - to see her smile again.

"Would your outlook on weddings be any brighter if you had a very Special Agent in pastel polyester at your side to point out all the silly frivolity and quote wedding movies all night?"

She turned towards him, surprise evident on her face. "Are you asking me to be your date at Jimmy's wedding?"

He panicked just a little at her shocked tone and so gave a look of mock horror. "You think I would want our first date to be the autopsy gremlin's nuptials? That would make for a truly terrible story to tell our children someday." She rolled her eyes but he could tell she was trying not to smile, and he knew his efforts to cheer her up were working. "But it'd be nice to know that someone had my back when Jimmy's drunk cousin tries to make a pass."

"Since when would you turn down an inebriated woman?"

"I didn't say Jimmy's cousin was a woman…"

She laughed outright now and patted his knee over the blanket. "Very well Tony. I will be your non-date for the wedding to quell your homophobic fears." His smile fell slightly, his brows knitting together, and she looked over when she instinctively sensed his mood shift. "I was kidding; I know you're not homophobic."

He shook his head, because that was not the part of her answer that bothered him. He almost - almost - bowed out with a joke, but then he forged ahead before he lost the nerve to say the words that had been brewing for months. "I never said I wanted you to be my non-date. Just that it would make a shitty first date."

He could tell she was confused again. "Tony, we have never been on a date before. would be a first date."

He shrugged nonchalantly. "Wedding is still a good month away. There might be a Tuesday night at 2300 in there somewhere when we're not actually working. We could grab some food, watch a movie..." Despite his attempts at a cavalier tone, her eyes still went wide and he could sense the current of panic running through her now. "Don't freak out on me. It's just dinner and a movie. We've done that a hundred times before."

She swallowed hard and yeah, Tony got it. Because what he was proposing would be nothing like what they had done before. But then something in her expression shifted, and she studied him carefully as a cautious and playful smile quivered on her lips. "If you are set on having a memorable first date it should be something like skydiving or dinner and theater in New York."

He gaped at her for several seconds before cocking his head and regarding her curiously. "You're secretly one of those really high maintenance women aren't you?"

She laughed and shook her head. "Too much? How about a movie at the Avalon and drinks at Bobby McKEY'S."

"Last time we went there, you got drunk and danced on top of the dueling pianos."

"I made a hundred bucks and Abby and I didn't pay for another drink the rest of the night."

"True. And that certainly was memorable…"

Ziva grinned, and if Tony didn't know any better he'd say she was blushing. "So it's" she asked, stumbling slightly over the word.

He nodded. "A damn good one by the sound of it."

"Something that will make a great story to tell our children someday?" Ziva teased, and though Tony grinned back, there was something suddenly smoldering in his eyes that she couldn't quite place.


Yeah, I know. It's shippy and sappy and all that but in the words of the lovely Kate Winslet: "I like corny. I'm looking or corny in my life…"

Hope it put a smile on your face!

If any of you are tumblraholics, I finally broke down and joined this week. I'm starryjules22...lemme know who ya are and I'd love to share more NCIS crazy with you! :)