You know those situations you find yourself in from time to time, where you can't be entirely sure it's actually happening? And not in that, "it's too good to be true" kind of way. No. More like, "I'm pretty sure I just stepped out of reality and into an alternate universe."
For Tony DiNozzo, this was one of those situations.
Tony adjusted his bow tie and continued polishing the shot glass in his hand. Secretly, he'd always thought he'd make a pretty good bartender (of course, if the career in sports commentary hadn't worked out). He looked quite the part tonight. Then again, the glitzy image of chatting with sophisticated upper class businessman and their classy, diamond-and-fur-clad ladies faded in a shady bar such as this one, in the wake of so many sly black-market dealers and buyers.
In the low light - so low in fact that a good was enough to conceal a dangerous face - he had to squint, but he saw the red curtain at the front of the bar move and it soon began to rise, revealing a wide, brightly lit stage with a small runway. Four girls in tiny black outfits appeared, and Tony heard applause coming from the audience, though scarcely saw it through the haze of cigar smoke. They positioned themselves on the sides of the stage, making way for their leading lady, whom a man side of stage introduced loudly as "Summer".
A fifth dancer emerged in a red outfit that immediately set her apart from her peers, and left…very little to the imagination. The outfit was in two pieces, the top half covered (though barely contained) her breasts and had a strap that snaked elegantly around her neck. Lace panties, high cut to show off her long, perfect caramel legs, sat on her petite hips. Stilettos completed the ensemble, excluding the various pieces of distracting jewellery she wore. The cheers for here were the loudest of them all.
There was something else about this dancer, though. A certain beauty that wasn't false, like the others. She was clearly a woman who would be beautiful in any room, no matter where she went. The others were perhaps only called so when in the right circumstances. She looked strong and athletic, and her stomach was toned. A Hebrew tattoo was hidden on her inside thigh, and wild curls framed her face, which was made heart-shaped by a prominent widow's peak.
Oh, she wasn't just any dancer.
"How's it going there, DiNozzo?" Abby asked through the earpiece. She was back at the lab with McGee.
"Fine," Tony hissed in reply. Abby scoffed. "Like I'm even watching."
"Right," Abby said sarcastically. "Come on, Tony. Frankly, even I'm a little turned on right now."
"Good to know I am doing my job well, then," Ziva said as she turned away from her loyal fans to walk upstage.
"Remember, you've got to locate our guy. Don't let him leave. And once you have him, block all possible escape routes for him until Gibbs can get in there and make the arrest," McGee reminded her.
"Got it, McGee."
Ziva was a little more than relieved when that mission was over. She didn't much enjoy being an 'exotic dancer', no matter how much everyone else had.
But that relief soon turned to worry, as she opened the drawers of her desk (while still in her dance costume) to look for clothes and found empty space. Her head shot up. Tony.
"Something wrong, Zee-vah?" he asked smugly.
"Where are my clothes, DiNozzo?" she asked in a way that made her even more undeniably sexy.
"Well, I certainly don't know," Tony started, feigning innocence. She began to storm off, in annoyance. He followed her. "But you know, you really pull that off - maybe Vance could change the dress code a little!"
Ziva's phone started to ring, though it had been in Tony's pocket for safekeeping - she hardly had a place for it. He handed it to her.
"What?!" she snapped.
"Abby needs you in the lab," McGee replied, sounding more than a little terrified.
Tony pushed the button for the elevator and it arrived empty almost immediately.
"Creepy Steve just entered the stairwell so unless you want to be in a confined space with him in that…"
Reluctantly enough, Ziva stepped into the elevator. But the second the doors closed, she grabbed Tony by the tie and rammed him against the wall.
"I let you do that," he wheezed.
"Right," she snapped. "Give me back my clothes or I will ram this cell phone so far up your nose that your grandchildren will feel it," she threatened.
"You know, red's your colour, you should wear it more often," he jibed.
She tightened her grip, and lifted her knee quickly, letting it only just brush past the part that would cause him extreme pain if hit.
"I could cause some serious pain here, Tony," she said in a softer tone.
"Or some serious pleasure," he added. She smiled.
"Yes. If that's what it takes."
For a moment, they shared a heated glance. One that was rare between them. Raw. Hot as fire. The kind that made your heart race.
"Look, Ziva, as much fun as I'm having with this, I didn't hide your clothes. You used your spare set after going to the gym last week."
She looked suspicious of him, but seemed to believe it, which was good, because it meant he was becoming better at lying. Tony smiled and patted the key in his pocket to the locker containing Ziva's custom NCIS sweats and hoodie. They were going to be here till late, and his partner was prancing around in lingerie.
This was definitely one of the better days.