A/N: Okay, so in this story, Tony's a homicide detective in current-day Baltimore. Tim McGee works there with him in the IT department. Tony is twenty-five, McGee is the same age. Ziva is twenty-one. Danny, Tony's partner, is not a dirty cop, just a supporting player, really. As far as canon goes for Tony, everything up to joining Baltimore PD before meeting Wendy (or, re-meeting her, really) is still applicable. Ziva, not so much. More on that later.
Tony DiNozzo laughed, slapping his friend on the back. "It's okay, Tim, you'll always be the guy who plays Minecraft on Saturdays to us, buddy. Still, can't believe lil' Timmy McGee's getting married."
"I'm the same age as you, Tony," McGee said, biting back a laugh.
"Can't believe he's getting married before one of us," said one of the guys across the room, Danny.
Tim rolled his eyes, but smiled all the same. The guys may be teasing him the way they always did, but he was (mostly) sure that it came from a place of affection. Besides, they had a point: he was the first to get married, and to a beautiful, amazing woman, too.
Tony sipped his beer and let the cool, bitter liquid run down his throat, which was a little sore. In a bunch of guys drinking, being heard was tricky, to say the least. Yelling was basically the only way to get any words out. He looked around at the gang that had assembled to spend Tim's "last night of freedom" with him. There was Tim's friend from college – his old roommate – and a bunch of guys from the Baltimore PD. Danny, Tony's partner. Jimmy, one of Tim's gaming buddies, he had said. Though, he hadn't said much else.
There were eight or nine guys in total, sitting on everything from fold out chairs to bar stools to beanbags – whatever the 'planning committee' (that would be Tony and Danny) could find around Tony's little apartment, the destination of the party. Each man had a beer in his hand. Most of them had cigars too, except Tim and Tony. The whole apartment was kinda hazy by this point.
Tim had been forced into a party hat, which he found extremely demeaning. They'd all been to watch a basketball game and then hung around until after all the players and spectators were gone and had a few games themselves. Tony had showed off the most, of course. Lay-ups and three-pointers all over the place. Enough to work up a serious sweat. He'd played for Ohio State, after all. He would've gone pro, too, if it hadn't been for that kid and his sister...
Tony tuned himself back in to the conversation – one of the other guys talking about a case. There had apparently been a punch line at some point but Tony didn't get it, so he just smiled fakely and waited for someone else to start talking. They always did. There was always a girl to ogle or a crazy con to remember or a sport to talk about. The thing about these guys was that, even though conversation was shallow, it was existent. Safe.
Danny looked over at him with suspicion. He'd been tuning in and out of things a lot lately. They were good friends, so naturally they had awkwardly ignored the problem for a while and then once it started bugging Danny so much that he couldn't take it anymore he brought it up with Tony. Tony just mumbled something about him getting a little bored with "stuff". Danny started to think that maybe Tony needed a companion with a mind a little more complex and, well, perhaps female reproductive parts wouldn't hurt either. After all, Tony's two favourite things in the world were females and challenges. But Danny was a simple, down-to-earth guy. He couldn't provide complexity, and he especially couldn't provide any feminine needs that Tony had. Whatever, the guy was lonely. And yeah, that was sad, but what Danny could do as a friend was pretty limited. Between the two of them, Tony pretty much had a monopoly on the pretty girls.
"So when's the stripper getting here?" Danny called out, interrupting someone. That ought to distract DiNozzo for a while. The intellectual in him was often drowned out by the natural part of him that just really wouldn't mind seeing an attractive woman entice him to loud music.
Poor Jimmy looked like he would wet his pants at such a thing – the guy had a girlfriend, a bombshell, apparently. Though Tony hardly saw how that was possible.
"I thought you organised that one, Danny Boy," Tony replied, frowning. He felt butterflies for a moment. Had they overlooked a crucial aspect of the party that they had so intricately planned? Tony had a reputation to uphold. A bachelor party without this was like a cake without icing...deceiving, really.
"Don't worry, I did," Danny said with a wink, though it was hard to be sly when yelling over the loud 70s rock ballads playing over Tony's stereo. His phone went off, and he reached into his pocket and stared at the screen with a green. "Three...two...one..."
The door burst open as a new song started – Rock You Like a Hurricane by the Scorpions. The room was dark and smoky but honestly, that just added to the effect. One long, shapely leg hooked around the door frame, covered up to the knee by very pointy black boots. The girl to whom the leg belonged gave a kick and then boldly stepped through the door and the entire party gave a 'whoop', even Jimmy.
She was dressed as a sexy police officer, appropriately enough. This was hardly an accident, and Tony couldn't help thinking that it was a nice touch before he saw her face and all coherent thoughts flew out of his head.
Beneath a black police cap was a wild mane of dark chocolate curls that contrasted perfectly with her skin. She had big brown eyes and prominent cheekbones and a dark smile across her face. The rest of her outfit was leather, showing off her midriff, tight-fitting. Her stomach was toned rather than flat. Her tiny little shorts covered her ass but really not much else, not that any complaint would be heart from anyone. She was small but had long legs and perfect honey skin and a glint in her eyes that, Tony remarked, he had never quite seen before.
Her straight, white teeth sunk into her bottom lip as she examined each member of the party before singling out Timmy. She had been trying to figure out which one was the lucky man. Once she did, the look on her face changed. She had a mission to complete, and she would complete it. Even a stranger could not doubt her on that.
She flounced past the men to Tim's right offering each a brush or the ghost of a touch, enough to entice them. They would get their turns later. Tony watched her. He was furthest left. Oh, she was good.
Tim was in the middle and she reached around from behind and pulled open his jacket and stroked his chest. His entire body stiffened. She leaned closer to whisper in his ear:
"What's the matter?"
If possible, he felt even tenser. And embarrassed. "Look, I...I don't know how comfortable I am with this," Tim murmured. It was lucky she was close or she never would have heard over the music. He felt a little ridiculous for his embarrassment, considering cold feet was probably a common occurrence for her. Or maybe it was just him. Whatever. For some reason, he didn't want to insult her. "Give the other guys a show, though. They're way into it."
"You got it, Groom," she whispered coolly and danced back towards the centre of the room, popping just one tiny button on her skimpy top, earning another round of cheers. She began giving each man special attention from the front, dancing in their laps, whatever she had been paid to do. She got to Tony last. He sat back, his fingers clenching into fists as she hovered over his lap. She circled her hips a few times and he bit back a groan. And all the while he couldn't help thinking she was far too beautiful to be doing this for a living.
But again, those thoughts were silence by the music and the smoke and the alcohol and the sheer surreal feeling of her hips almost grinding against his. He lifted his hands so she could get closer, and for a moment he was unsure of where to place them. She leaned in close to him, her nose brushing against his cheek. \
"You can touch," she whispered and oh, God words so enticing had never been spoken. She placed her hands on his shoulders and then ran her fingers down his arms until she had his hands and moved them to her thighs. The gesture was almost...intimate, and Tony wondered for a moment how that could be in a room full of other, equally horny men.
She leaned backward, throwing her head back. She tossed her hat to one of the other men, and he rubbed circles on her silky smooth skin with his fingers. Her eyes snapped open at the touch and she looked at him, almost in alarm. There was a beat. A moment. A spark. His heart raced faster than it already had been, if that were possible. But she left him once that moment was over, and he watched her more closely, hoping she would look at him again. She did. More than once. And each time he struggled to figure out what it meant. She was truly intriguing.
By two in the morning, the men began to clear out. The girl's time was up. She was waiting in the kitchen for her ride.
Tim thanked Danny and Tony with a handshake each and they wished him all the best for the wedding, though they would both be in attendance on Sunday, the day after tomorrow. Having the party a day early had been the groom's idea. The others had had to comply.
The other men left slowly, finishing long conversations that Tony would rather they finish during last call at a bar someplace rather than in his apartment because certain people had to work in the morning, as if a hangover wasn't bad enough.
Each man took a long, lingering look at the girl as they left, hoping for the ego boost they had all received from her earlier. Coldly, though, she either ignored them or sneered. She clearly did not appreciate being ogled when off the clock. She had a bit of fire in her. Tony liked that.
Danny left eventually, too, and he was the last to go. He gave Tony a look – he had the beautiful, scantily clad girl in his apartment all to himself. Tony laughed it off and went to talk to her. Could do no harm to talk to her, right?
She was enticing, though. She sat on one of the now-free kitchen stools, one leg crossed over the other. Her "police hat" and her phone sat on the counter beside her, and she tapped her fingernails impatiently, waiting for someone's call or text. Her cheeks were still red and the room was hot, which didn't help.
The first thing Tony did was silence the stereo. He sighed in relief at the ability to hear his own thoughts once more, and she sighed too.
"Thank you," she muttered, checking her phone again. She seemed desperate to leave. Then again, a stranger's apartment in the middle of the night wasn't always the most appealing concept.
"Not a fan?" he asked, sauntering over towards her with as charming a smile as he could muster. He picked up an apple from his fruit bowl. He offered her one; she shook her head no.
"I prefer jazz," she replied dryly.
"Oh," he said, "well, in that case." He picked out a CD and put it in the stereo. Jazz music began to play and he smiled hopefully.
The smile she returned was half-hearted, or perhaps she just wanted it to seem that way. She wouldn't tell him that she loved this song, even though she did. She wouldn't do that.
"I don't believe I introduced myself. I'm Tony," he said, trying again. "DiNozzo."
"Ziva David," she replied. "And, before you ask, it is my real name." Meaning, it wasn't her stripper name, which were usually things like Glitter or Sparkle. Ziva, though, was unusual. Like her name.
"Ziva," he repeated, testing how it felt on his tongue.
"It is Hebrew," she informed him, answering his question before it had begun to form. It was clear this conversation was so common that it was almost scripted in her head. "For 'brilliance'."
"You forgot modest," he said. She actually let out a laugh at that, and he almost felt proud of himself. "Is that an accent I hear?"
"It is, actually," she said. "I thought perhaps it had faded but, apparently not."
"Where are you from?"
She leaned forward with a mischievous look on her face and sipped one of the half-empty anonymous beers sitting on the counter. "Guess."
"Well, you're not American. At least, you weren't born here. Judging by your complexion, I'd say...Middle East?"
She looked content with his answer. "Tel Aviv," she revealed.
He looked a little stunned. "Israel?"
"My family moved here when I was ten. My father was part of Mossad. He was assassinated. My mother wanted to get us out of there."
"Oh. Wow. Sorry," Tony stammered, not really knowing what else to say.
She shrugged and stood up, unzipping the side zip on her shorts. On the very top of her thigh was a Hebrew word, tattooed on. "Family," she explained. "Though that is just my sister and I. She is twelve."
"What about your mother?" Tony thought for a moment that this was getting a little personal but she seemed open about it and frankly she was too interesting for him to care. She could speak about taxes and it would be interesting.
"She died after my eighteenth birthday." She did not say how. "Even before she died we did not have much money, and we had no relatives in the country. The landlady let us keep our little apartment, even if we did not make the rent on time. That was at the start of senior year but I dropped out. I had my sister to take care of and had to have an income. We struggle, but we get by. Even if that means no heat or grilled cheese for dinner five nights in a row and takeout the next."
"Weren't there welfare payments or something?"
"Not enough," she replied.
"So you do this?"
"It is just nights," Ziva explained. "That way, I leave when she falls asleep and I am back to pour milk into her cereal in the morning."
Tony felt a pang inside of him. That was really, really sad.
"Would you...maybe like to get a cup of coffee sometime? Or lunch, maybe?"
"When I dance for people, my hips tell them a story. But they only hear the parts that they want to. That is no fault of mine."
"Is that a no?"
She raised an eyebrow.
"I'm not asking for a commitment here, just a cup of coffee."
"And what makes you think I want coffee with the happy-go-lucky cop with the big wallet?"
She held up two fifties in her hand. He looked inside his wallet, which held none of the cash it did earlier that day.
He looked alarmed. "How did you...?"
She smiled slyly. She was cunning, alright.
"Keep it," he said helplessly.
With a laugh, she tossed the bills at him. "I don't take charity."
"Think of it as an investment, then," he said.
She scoffed at him. "Put your money away, Mr DiNozzo."
"Tony," he corrected. "Funny, how you only seem to want what you can't have."
"You know, you seem to know me awfully well for someone who learnt my name about ten minutes ago."
"I know you're too proud to accept something you actually need. You've done me a service, let me do you one."
"Ha!" Her phone began to vibrate, and she picked it up and showed herself into his bedroom to talk in private without a single sign of hesitation. He smirked at her boldness, but didn't protest. He bit the last, browning bits off his apple before hearing Ziva yelling into her phone and then making a noise that, whatever it was, certainly wasn't in English.
"What's going on?" he asked. She seemed completely alarmed when she came back into the kitchen.
"My manager had 'somewhere else to be'," she hissed. "He was my ride."
"I can offer you my couch. I'll even pay you for your extra hours."
"I have to get home. I do not have enough for a taxi." She was really beginning to freak out. Tony was a little worried.
"Do you want me to drive you? If you give me directions I can –"
"You have had too much to drink just in the time that I have been here," she told him. He was a little taken aback by that. How observant of her. "Driving drunk and being a cop would be even more of a conflict of interest than having someone like me at your apartment in the first place. No, I will walk."
"Forget it, I'll call a cab. That money you were gonna steal from me should cover it." He gave her a look and picked up the phone.
"No, no, you cannot," she protested.
"I can and I am. You've got your sister to get home to, right? Milk and cereal and all that?"
That was what convinced her to let him, in the end. Her little sister was her first priority, more important than her stupid pride would ever be. They were all each other had. Tony could understand that. It was pretty clear that she hated having a weakness that was sensitive enough for her to compromise her morality but Tony thought she was lucky to have someone in the world that meant that much to her.
He walked her to the curb. She shivered in the night air. Understandable, since he outfit didn't really leave much to the imagination. He looked up and down, and noticed that without her hells she would be a noticeable amount shorter than him. But now, they were the same height, and she could look in his eyes like she did before, the way that made him forget every other thought in her head except the one that was wondering what it was that made her so damn intriguing.
The cab pulled up to the curb rolled the window down.
"Are you Ziva?" the man asked her. She nodded and told him she would be just a minute.
"You know the reason I hate charity?" she asked, looking back at Tony, and he shook his head, stuffing his hands into his coat pockets to keep warm. "I hate being indebted. I mean, I can hardly offer you more than a lap dance in return."
The taxi driver, overhearing them, frowned in confusion.
"Please," Tony said. "As fun as that sounds, I think you have more to offer than you think you do." He handed her the two fifties and she smiled and climbed into the cab.
He watched her drive off as his breath made clouds in the night air, and he hoped to God this would not be the last he saw of her.