Tony joins Ziva and Shmeil Pinkhas for an evening of entertainment and enlightenment. Spoiler Alert: Post Ep 10x8 "Gone".

Don't own CBS, NCIS or anything for that matter.

"Who Can Argue With a Smile Like That?"

Tony truly didn't mind being "forced" to join Ziva and her friend Shmeil Pinkhas for dinner. It was knowledge that Mr. Pinkhas had actually met DiNozzo, Sr. and wanted "to party!" that had Tony worried.

He vowed he was not going to get drunk, or inebriated enough that he might say something embarrassing, or worse, something he didn't want Ziva to know.

He had to give Ziva points. She had never rubbed Shmeil in his face, and he had totally misinterpreted her excitement at seeing this old friend. Instead, he had badgered her about it, albeit light-heartedly.

But he had no doubt that Ziva was just as shocked when Shmeil commented about meeting Tony's father. Tony could just picture it. He hoped his father hadn't embarrassed himself in front of this dignified Gentleman.

They went to dinner downtown. Ziva drove, much to Tony's dismay. He had wanted to drive separately, but she knew him too well.

He would have come up with some lame story of a flat tire or something and never shown up. He would rather endure the wrath of Ziva than be mortified by something his father said or did.

For the first thirty minutes, he just watched Ziva and Shmeil catch up and he realized that Mr. Pinkhas had been quite correct: "Who can argue with a smile like that?"

This was a side of Ziva that Tony had seen before, but not too often. It was nice to see how happy she was, and it suddenly occurred to him that she had wanted to include him in her happiness.

He didn't realize how dense he was. He didn't just happen to come back when Mr. Pinkhas arrived from the airport, Ziva had been waiting; For Tony to come back; to invite him to join her and her special friend.

He wondered briefly what she would have done if he had not arrived for another hour, but decided not to question it and thanked his lucky stars that he got back in time.

The easy laughter and comfort of these two friends finally caused Tony to relax and enjoy himself.

"So, how exactly did you two meet? You mentioned, Mr. Pinkhas, that you've known Ziva since she was three?" Tony took a small sip of the excellent wine that Shmeil had ordered.

"Ah, Agent DiNotzo, how do any people meet? On the street? In Church, or in our case, Synagogue? Through the efforts other people?"

Tony looked at Ziva, her eyes dancing. "So which was it?" He asked.

Shmeil slapped his knee. "It was none of the above." He chortled at his own joke. Tony looked at Ziva, amused. Shmeil was definitely an eccentric character.

"You may have heard Ziva mention in her gracious introduction that I am a Middle East Historian. I taught for many years at Tel Aviv University."

"Ziva's mother, Rivka, was a graduate student of mine, and helped me research several of my books. We had a life-long friendship that did not last as long as it should have." For a moment, Shmeil's joie de vivre dampened somewhat.

Ziva took his hand and squeezed it. "We lost touch after her marriage to Ziva's father, except for the occasional letter or card. I was traveling a lot and spent some time in Spain for several years."

"When I returned, I made it my mission to insert myself into her life again. And what a treasure I found when I did!" Shmeil kissed Ziva's hand.

"I do not remember our first meeting, but I have some wonderful memories from my very early childhood. Shmeil never missed any of my dance or piano recitals." Ziva looked at him fondly.

Tony thought he could almost hear the added comment "unlike my own father…" but said nothing. This was a special evening for Ziva, and he was damn sure he wasn't going to do anything to ruin it.

This was how he ended up going back with them to Ziva's apartment, instead of taking a cab back to NCIS to get his own car.

Shmeil insisted he join them and "party." He looked at Ziva and her smile melted him. There was no way he was not going to get back into Ziva's car, folding himself in half to fit into her back seat, and head off into the evening with them.

Tomorrow was Saturday anyway, so a late night wouldn't hurt him or Ziva for that matter. Especially if Shmeil had his way and they would be "talking until dawn."

Once they got to Ziva's apartment, Tony took care of Shmeil's luggage and put it in the second bedroom per Ziva's instructions. Shmeil busied himself in there for a few minutes.

"Are you sure you want me here? I don't want to intrude on private memories." Tony looked concerned.

Ziva looked surprised. "Is that not what we are doing? Sharing our private moments and thoughts? Sharing the important things? Shmeil is important to me, and I want you to know him. That is why I waited for you to get back."

Before Tony could respond to that nakedly honest statement, Shmeil returned, with two bottles of very expensive wine.

"Tony, you know where the glasses are? I'm going to change into something a little bit more comfortable." Ziva headed off toward her bedroom before Tony could open his mouth.

If they had been alone, that would have conjured up all sorts of images for Tony, but he knew he was only projecting.

Tony went into the kitchen and got the required glasses, as well as the wine cork screw.

"So, DiNotzo, will you do the honors?" Shmeil handed him the first bottle. Tony was amused that he pronounced his last name the same way Fornell did, which made absolutely no sense to him.

"Please, Tony or Anthony, whichever you prefer." Tony expertly removed the cork from the bottle, and placed it on the counter to "breathe."

"What does Ziva call you?" Shmeil asked. Tony almost caught himself saying "my little hairy butt" but fortunately decided that would be disrespectful.

"Ah, sweetheart, darling, love of my life…you know, the usual." Shmeil nodded sagely.

"She calls you Tony." He smiled. "I will therefore call you Anthony.

Tony grinned. He was liking this man more and more. "And you must call me Shmeil. Mr. Pinkhas makes me think one is talking to my father. I am not that old!"

Tony laughed. "They say you are only as old as you feel; or act."

"In that case, Tony, you are about seven." Ziva came back out after changing. She did look more comfortable: she was wearing dark blue leggings and a loose off-the-shoulder sweater that was multi-colored and looked quite expensive.

She kept her jewelry on, so she may have been more comfortable but she was certainly not dressed casually.

Tony laughed at her little joke. "Very funny, Zee-vah!" Tony handed her a glass of wine. "You look nice…again."

Ziva smiled and took the glass. "Thank you, Tony." They held eye contact for a little longer than was necessary. Shmeil came up to them.

"Anthony, your glass. A toast! To old friendships," He bowed to Ziva, "To new friendships," at this he bowed to Tony, "and to the future: may happiness and joy fill our hearts." The three clinked their glasses.

"I'll drink to that." Tony said, taking a sip of this unknown wine. It about blew his socks off. First of all, it had high alcohol content for wine. Second of all, it had to be the best tasting wine he had ever had.

He knew now he was in serious trouble. How was he going to stay sober and not make a fool out of himself if he drank this all night? He knew Shmeil had at least two bottles of this stuff.

Tony wasn't sure he could make it past three glasses. As if reading his thoughts, Ziva asked Tony to help her in the kitchen for a minute.

"Excuse us Shmeil." Ziva said. She turned to Tony when he followed her in. "I saw your face. This wine will kick your ass. I will make sure that I will pour your drinks for you and water it down. There is no refusing to drink it."

"Thanks, Ziva. You don't want me drooling on your carpet. Plus, I don't want to say anything I might regret."

"Like what?" Ziva asked, raising an eyebrow. "Tony, I have already told Shmeil everything I know about you, and he thinks you are wonderful."

Tony smiled at that. He wanted to ask, "Do you think I'm wonderful?" but let that go. "That's fine. It's the stuff you don't know about me that might come out in a drunken moment of wanting to bare my soul that I am worried about."

Ziva looked at him for a moment. "Something you have not shared with me, during our new-found favorite pastime?" There was no emotion in her voice, it was a simple question.

"Something perhaps I haven't shared with you yet." Tony emphasized. "There's a time and a place for everything." Ziva put her hand on Tony's arm.

"Do not worry. I have your back." She smiled again.

"Come out you young lovers, wherever you are." Shmeil started singing.

Tony and Ziva came out of the kitchen. "Shmeil, you are being very naughty. I told you Tony and I are very good friends."

"For now." He teased. Ziva rolled her eyes and pulled Tony down on the sofa with her. Shmeil sat in an easy chair, like a professor teaching his young students.

He had a rapt audience. His stories were compelling, humorous, and in some cases, downright unbelievable. If Ziva didn't catch his eye to nod occasionally to confirm what he was saying was true, Tony would swear he was making up half of the stuff he was saying.

Two and a half bottles of wine later, it was four a.m. Ziva had kept her word and watered down Tony's drinks, but he definitely had a buzz on.

Shmeil, on the other hand, looked totally unfazed by the wine. Ziva actually drank quite a bit before she started feeling the effects.

At the moments, she was sleeping on the sofa, her head on a pillow in Tony's lap. Any other night, he would enjoy this immensely, but with this elderly man in company, he was a little uncomfortable.

For one thing, he didn't know what to do with his left arm and hand. Natural instinct had him laying it across Ziva's waist and resting his hand on her stomach. A very intimate gesture.

He didn't think Ziva would mind; she was asleep after all. But he didn't want Shmeil to get the wrong idea. He found his left arm draped across the back of the sofa.

The position was a tiring one, and Tony felt himself losing the feeling in his fingers.

He was so busy thinking about his predicament, that he didn't realize the Shmeil had stopped talking.

Tony looked up, alarmed the Shmeil was regarding him so closely. He was shaking his head.

"You worry too much, Anthony. Do what you feel is natural. If you want to hold Ziva in your arms while she is sleeping, then do it. It will not bother me."

Tony swallowed in surprise, but brought his arm down to rest around her, bringing him instance relief.

"What exactly has Ziva told you about our relationship, if that is even the proper word for it?" Tony boldly asked.

Shmeil looked lovingly at "his" Ziva. "I know that she would not be alive today if it were not for you."

Of all the things he thought Shmeil might say; those were not the first words he expected to hear.

Tony looked embarrassed. "That's not entirely true. It was the whole team. Gibbs, McGee and I all went to Somalia."

"With death in your heart, ready to die to exact revenge for the death of this woman; my Ziva, to whom you admitted you could not live without."

"She told you that, huh?" Tony tried not to squirm too much, for fear of waking up Ziva.

"Yes. She told me the whole story, so I know the others were there. But it was your plan, your idea. Had you not insisted that your agency act, Ziva would be dead."

Tony hadn't ever really thought about that aspect of it. She was alive after all, they got her home. Period. No reason to think or worry about what-ifs.

A sudden concern entered Tony's mind. "So, naturally, she told you what happened when NCIS was bombed. How long we were trapped in an elevator together. What we talked about, how we decided to stop the silly games and try to be more open with each other about the things that mattered."

Shmeil inclined his head. "She did, although she has admitted to me that it is harder than she thought."

At Tony's confused look, Shmeil explained. "Ziva has had a lot of 'untraining' to do. It is like becoming a brand new person. A person that she herself must be comfortable being and like."

Tony considered that. He cursed himself for badgering Ziva over silly things. She was making a much bigger effort than he was, he felt. He vowed that would change.

But he still had this one idea in his head, and it was bothering him. "Shmeil, I would like to ask you a question, but I do not want to insult you or put you in an uncomfortable position."

"You want to know how many lovers I have had." Shmeil asked, amused. Tony dropped his wine glass, which fortunately was empty.

"Uh, no." Tony shook his head, to get that picture out of his mind.

Tony finally looked at Shmeil straight in the eye. "Are you Mossad?"

Shmeil chuckled sadly. "You are worried that Eli has sent me to take Ziva away from you?"

Tony's mouth tightened. "It's happened before. I am also not one of his friends on Facebook, if you get my meaning."

"Of'course I do. Michael Rivken."

Tony sat, stunned. Was there nothing this man did not know?

To his surprise, Shmeil looked angry. "That Rivkin! He was jiffa! Ziva was nothing to him. He followed Eli's orders. I thank God every day that you killed him. Had I been there, I would have pulled the trigger myself."

Tony sat silent, absorbing what he had just heard. Finally, he found his voice. "Jiffa?"

Shmeil laughed. "I am sorry. Filth, garbage. There are far worse insults I can bring up if you would like."

Tony shook his head. "No, that is pretty descriptive, and I concur. So you are Mossad."

At this, Shmeil did look insulted. "Mossad? Never! I have been consulted by them on a few occasions; as I have by your CIA and Interpol".

"Really? Why?" Tony was interested in this aspect of his life, and wondered briefly if Ziva knew.

"My knowledge of the Middle East and its history. There are many subtleties that are overlooked as unimportant. Some of my insights have meant the difference between success and failure." He spoke without pride, just acceptance of his contribution.

Shmeil looked at Tony closely. "But Michael Rivkin is not your concern. It is this, as you call it, new-found closeness that you and my Ziva are exploring. You are worried she may have mentioned this to Eli and he will try to interfere in case…"

"Anthony, what is your relationship right now with Ziva?"

Tony was surprised at the bluntness of the question. "Well, we are partners; we are friends, very good friends; we have each other's back. There is nothing I wouldn't do for her." Tony admitted.

"Like stepping aside while another man tried to get her to marry him?" Shmeil asked cunningly.

Tony looked unhappy. "I just wanted Ziva to be happy."

"Which does not necessarily equate to your own happiness, does it, hmmm?" Shmeil looked mournfully at his empty glass. He got up and went into the kitchen and returned with a full glass.

"This guy must have a hollow leg!" Tony thought to himself. Much to his dismay, Shmeil also brought Tony back a new glass for himself.

He thanked him quietly and took a sip. Thank God Ziva was asleep.

"May I ask you some personal questions, Anthony?"

"Ok…" Tony answered cautiously.

"Have you ever been married?" Tony looked surprised. "No, I was engaged once, but we broke it off the night before the wedding."

"We?" Shmeil asked kindly.

Nothing was going to get past this guy, so Tony took another sip of the wine. "No, she called it off. She showed up again last year, connected to a case we were working on. I briefly considered trying to see if we could make it work again, but then decided against it."

"Well, then you have already answered my second question."

"What was that?' Tony asked.

"If you had ever had your heart broken." Tony sucked in his breath at that.

"Oh…" he chuckled. "Oh, yeah, that's me. The King of broken hearts."

"And I assume you have broken a few of your own, yes?" Shmeil smiled.

Tony nodded, unhappy with himself. "Yes, and I am not proud of it."

Shmeil nodded, approving Tony's remorse. "So tell me, Anthony. What worries you the most: breaking Ziva's heart, or Ziva breaking your heart?"

Tony's own heart almost stopped at that question. "I…I don't know. Both would kill me."

Shmeil took a healthy sip of his wine and placed his glass on the coffee table. He put his hands together with his fingers pointed up, as if making a decision and debating whether or not to share it.

"From what Ziva tells me, and from what I have witnessed tonight, I do not see that there is anywhere else for you to go with your relationship but forward."

"If you were content with the way things were, you would not have made this decision, together, to work on your issues of communication. That was a very conscious and deliberate act that you decided on, to reach a desired end.

"Ziva has told me of this silly rule your Boss has, about co-workers dating each other. This is dafuk barosh, crazy."

"Well, our Boss can be quite intimidating, and we all try to stay on his best side."

"Is this a rule of NCIS as well?" Shmeil asked.

Tony took a big sip of his wine. This was getting into dangerous territory. "Uh, actually no. In fact, there is no rule about employees being married to each other either."

"Married? So this is what you working toward?"

"What? Wait! I didn't say that." Tony was worried he was starting to sound drunk.

"Tell me, Tony. Why did Ziva leave her homeland, and become an American Citizen?"

Tony looked confused. "Well, she had to do that to become an NCIS Special Agent."

"True. But she left her home land because she wanted a new life. She told you this."

Tony thought back. She had said she wanted stability, to quit moving around, to settle down. He had not equated those words with anything beyond the basic meaning.

"Are you beginning to understand? She almost married the wrong man because she wants to have a normal life. I know her hopes and dreams. She wants to be married and have children. I hope by saying this to you I have not scared you off."

Tony shook his head numbly, looking down at Ziva, sleeping peacefully in his arms.

"She came back to stay in America because of her friends at NCIS, her 'family' as she calls you. But it is really you she came back to, Anthony."

"She is working hard to fit in, to be a good agent, to be the best partner, the best friend she can be; because it is you that she wants to please most.

"I do not wish my Ziva's heart to be broken. So if you do not feel that you will ever have such feelings for her, please do not encourage her." He paused. "I believe that you do have these feelings for her, having watched you together. But do not confuse lust for love."

Tony looked at the glass in his hand, and placed it on the coffee table.

"You have met my father." Tony stated tersely.

"I make no such judgments about DiNotzo, Sr." Shmeil protested.

"But it's true. Although my parents fought like cats and dogs, she was the love of his life. Once she was gone, he never tried to replace her except in title."

"My father is interested in Trophy Wives. My father loves the idea of marriage; he just has no idea of how to make it work."

"I am determined to be nothing like my father. Growing up as a child of divorce, it is not unusual to have commitment issues. And I had serious ones!"

"Had?" Shmeil asked, smiling wisely.

"Well, let's just say that my concerns regarding trust and commitment are becoming less than they were. Will I ever be free of those fears or feelings? I don't know." Tony chewed on his lower lip.

"But I also know that I don't know what I'd do if Ziva suddenly wasn't in my life anymore. And I don't mean because of our jobs. That's a risk we take every day and we accept it."

"I mean what if she should decide to go back to Israel, or she should decide I wasn't worth all of the effort we are going through right now?"

"I am not leaving you, my little hairy butt." Ziva murmured in her sleep.

Tony looked down at her in shock. He looked up at Shmeil, embarrassed.

"Did she just call you…?"

Tony turned twenty shades of red. Shmeil chuckled. "Apparently my Ziva has not told me everything!"

Now awake, Ziva sat up and stretched. She looked at her watch. "Well, Shmeil you were right. It is almost dawn."

Surprised, Tony looked out the window. The pale orangey red glow of sunrise was just beginning to peak through the dark of night.

"Everyone to bed. You have a long day, Shmeil. What are you doing, Tony?"

Tony stopped midway from putting his jacket on. "You just told me to go home and go to bed." He frowned. Shmeil chuckled.

"He definitely needs some improvement in his communication skills. Goodnight, children." The old man made his way to the guest room.

Ziva walked up to Tony and took his jacket off. "I said everyone one to bed, I did not say Ziva and Shmeil to bed and Tony go home."

Light dawned in Tony's eyes. "I am pretty buzzed." He admitted. Ziva nodded. "Shmeil forced more wine on you, yes?"

"Yes, and it was most definitely not watered down!" Ziva chuckled. "Come on, before you fall down."

When Tony realized she was leading him to her bedroom, he stopped.

She looked back at him. Tony hesitated. "I can sleep on the sofa if that would make you feel better. I don't want Shmeil to think I got drunk and tried to take advantage of you or something."

Ziva's expression softened. "Would that make you feel better, Tony?"

"Well, it would make me feel that Shmeil didn't think I got drunk and tried to take advantage of you or something, but otherwise; no."

"That's what I thought." Ziva took Tony's hand and he followed her into her bedroom.

Hope you enjoyed. What a colorful character!